Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
Kashmiris in the part controlled by India have, by all accounts, turned out in far higher numbers than expected to vote in elections to the state assembly this week.
While New Delhi sees each such vote as an implicit recognition of the legitimacy of its rule there, the Kashmiris themselves are trying to make a distinction between voting for representatives to help improve their lives and the larger, long-running goal of freedom.
Independence is a separate issue and there isn’t a contradiction in lining up to vote for a state assembly that is under the Indian constitution an integral part of the country, a 70-year voter told our reporter.
He said he would be back on the streets shouting slogans for “azadi” (freedom) if there are more demonstrations of the kind that shook the Valley just a few months back, sparked by a government decision to hand over land near a shrine in the troubled region to a Hindu trust for the benefit of pilgrims.
Of all the reports I have read recently about what the United States should do about Pakistan, none so forcefully puts it in the context of its relationship with India as this latest study by the Center for American Progress (see the full pdf document here).
It’s worth reading not least because the think tank is expected to play an influential role in shaping the policies of President-elect Barack Obama. “Come January, perhaps none will be more piped into the executive branch than the 5-year-old Center for American Progress,” according to politico.com.
Pakistan has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $7.6 billion emergency loan to stave off a balance of payments crisis.
Shaukat Tarin, economic adviser to the prime minister, said the IMF had endorsed Pakistan’s own strategy to bring about structural adjustments. The agreement is expected to encourage other potential donors, who are gathering in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a “Friends of Pakistan” conference.
Will Israel and India – the first the United States’ closest ally and the second fast becoming one of the closest – emerge as the trickiest adversaries in any attempt by the United States to seek a regional solution to Afghanistan?
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran.
If Pakistan is to dig itself out of its current crisis it needs two things to happen. It needs strong economic growth to tackle poverty and undercut the appeal of hardline Islamists; and it needs peace with India if it is to permanently cut its ties with militants it has traditionally seen as a reserve force to be used against its much bigger neighbour. Or so goes the prevailing view.
This week’s United Nations report on pollution in Asia — and the melting of glaciers which feed the rivers of India and Pakistan — suggest there are serious risks to that scenario of an ultimately prosperous Pakistan at peace with its neighbours. In other words, can it achieve the economic growth it needs without worsening pollution further? And can it make peace with India if the two countries end up at loggerheads over dwindling supplies of water?
Afghanistan’s Taliban are appealing to the United Nations, the European Union and the Red Cross to stop President Hamid Karzai from carrying out executions of people on death row, many of them their fighters.
They don’t think the Afghan judicial system is fair, according to a statement by the hardline Islamist group. The UN and the EU have asked Karzai to halt the executions.
A U.S. raid into Pakistan’s tribal areas in September, which produced much furore, was not the only time U.S. forces had gone inside Pakistan in pursuit of al Qaeda, according to a report by The New York Times.
The U.S. military has since 2004 used “broad, secret authority” to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, the newspaper said, citing American officials.
When the British left India in 1947, they bequeathed what was arguably a European notion of the nation state on a region for which the very concept was alien. I say ”arguably” because anything one writes about Partition or the nation state is open to dispute. And until the financial crisis, I relegated this argument to the realm of historians – a subject that interested me personally, but did not seem relevant today.
That was until I noticed a new debate bubbling up on the internet about the future of the nation state. Will it become more powerful as countries scramble to protect themselves from the financial crisis as George Friedman at Stratfor argues in this article? Or does the need for global solutions to the crisis sound a death knell for the nation state, as John Robb suggests here?
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has assured Pakistani President Asif Al Zardari of his support for democracy in the frontline nation during a telephone call on Friday, Pakistan’s official state agency said.
Obama’s conversation was part of a round of phone calls he made to world leaders including Britain, Israel, Japan, Australia, France and Germany, mainly to thank them for their messages of congratulation following his victory.
In his new book about the Pakistan Army, “War, Coups and Terror”, Brian Cloughley recounts how the British general, the Duke of Wellington, responded to democracy in his first cabinet meeting as prime minister: ”An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.”
The story is told as part of an argument about why the Pakistan Army has never been particularly successful at running the country.