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from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

The Pakistan Army and “the history of the stick”

In his book on the Pakistan Army, South Asia expert Stephen Cohen quotes a senior lieutenant-general as warning the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto against using the military to control political opposition. "If you use a stick too often, the stick will take over," Cohen quotes the general as saying. "This has always been the history of the stick."

There's no sign yet of the Pakistan Army reverting to its usual role of wielding the big stick. But with the police out in force to quell protests in Punjab over a Supreme Court ruling excluding former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from office, the obvious question to ask is whether we are about to see a repeat of the old cycle in which security forces are called out to restore order and end up taking over altogether. Indeed, the Pakistan Army's first involvement in politics is generally dated to the 1953 imposition of martial law in Lahore -- where protests erupted on Thursday over the court ruling.  Sharif has blamed President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the late Benazir Bhutto, for the ruling.

Historical parallels can, of course, be misleading.  Pakistan Army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, has made it clear he wants to keep the military out of politics. He is currently visiting the United States, where the administration of President Barack Obama has repeatedly stressed its commitment to civilian democracy in Pakistan.

And Zardari, who has imposed governor's rule in Punjab to replace an administration run by Shabaz Sharif, may yet find an accommodation with the powerful Sharif brothers over the issues that divide them -- the restoration of judges sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf along with Zardari's retention of presidential powers he inherited when Musharraf quit last year. Or we might be set for a long period of political manoeuvring between Pakistan's bickering politicians which drags on for weeks or months.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Assessing U.S. intervention in India-Pakistan: enough for now?

In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India's response has been to look to the United States to lean on Pakistan, which it blames for spawning Islamist militancy across the region, rather than launching any military retaliation of its own. So after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's trip to India and Pakistan last week, have the Americans done enough for now?

According to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Rice told Pakistan there was "irrefutable evidence" that elements within the country were involved in the Mumbai attacks. And it quotes unnamed sources as saying that behind-the-scenes she “pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of the perpetrators, otherwise the U.S. will act”.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Zardari says ready to commit to no first use of nuclear weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari says he would be ready to commit to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, in what would be a dramatic overturning of Pakistan's nuclear policy. Pakistan has traditionally seen its nuclear weapons as neutralising Indian superiority in conventional warfare, and refused to follow India's example of declaring a no first use policy after both countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998.

Zardari was speaking via satellite from Islamabad to a conference organised by the Hindustan Times when he was asked whether he was willing to make an assurance that Pakistan would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

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