Is Pakistan’s sovereignty under threat?

December 4, 2008

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said non-state actors may have been behind the attacks in Mumbai and therefore big nations shouldn’t allow themselves to be held hostage to their actions

But what is the world to do if such actors operate from the territory of a state and the state is unable or unwilling to act against them, especially because they were created by its intelligence agencies in the first place, asks leading U.S. scholar Robert Kagan at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting the region to try and limit the fallout said even if non-state actors carried out the attacks, it would still be the Pakistani government’s responsibility to take “direct and tough action.”                                                                         


[U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with Pakistan PM Yousaf Raza Gilani. Reuters photo by Mian Khursheed]

But Kagan isn’t sure the government in Islamabad could act and certainly not Zardari, who keeps saying he himself is a victim of terrorism, and therefore recommends foreign intervention.

The international community, he argues in a rather extraordinary piece for the Washington Post, must take matters into its own hands in such a situation and re-define the whole issue of sovereignty of a nation.

So in the present case, given that an outraged Indian people are demanding decisive action for the attacks, and Pakistan is unlikely to cooperate in the way the Indians want, the only way to forestall a conflict would be to “internationalise the response” to the attacks, he says.

Which means get the international community to declare that parts of Pakistan have become “ungovernable and a menace to international security.” Second, set up an international force to work with the Pakistanis to root out militant camps in Kashmir as well as in the tribal areas.

That way an India-Pakistan war would be avoided and Islamabad might even be able to save some face since the international forces will re-establish its authority in areas where it has lost it.

But what about Pakistan’s sovereignty? Yes it would be violated, Kagan says, but advocates the principle that the Bush administration has already been quietly pursuing: if a nation cannot control the territory from where militants, even if they are “non-state actors” operate, then it cannot justifiably claim sovereign rights especially over that part of the territory.

“In Pakistan’s case, the continuing complicity of the military and intelligence services with terrorist groups pretty much shreds any claim to sovereign protection,” he writes.

Hence the unrelenting U.S. Predator “drone” missile attacks into Pakistan’s tribal areas near the Afghan border over the past few months and even a ground raid by U.S. Special Forces in September. In the 21st century nations such as Pakistan will have to earn sovereign rights; you no longer can take them granted especially if there are militants operating from there, Kalgan says.

[Closed circuit TV footage of gunmen at a Mumbai station. Pic by Reuters TV]

Is this at all workable? As Bill Roggio writing in The Evening Standard said it’s not just Pakistan’s tribal areas and Kashmir that the militants are concentrated. They are in the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan. They could be in Islamabad as last year’s assault on the Red Mosque showed or in the teeming streets of Karachi and even the garrison city of Rawalpindi where former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack last year.

So where do you start?


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“…asks leading U.S. scholar Robert Kagan…”


robert kagan just happens to be the co-founder, with bill kristol, of PNAC.

…and PNAC, you may remember, is well-known for its wistful yearnings, in september of 2000, for a “new pearl harbor” that would kickstart the PNAC (project for the new american century) project, just before PNAC signatories like cheney and rumfeld were installed in positions from which they could make their “new pearl harbor” happen.

Posted by wadosy | Report as abusive

I have a couple of questions to Mr Kagan and his ilk:

1 )Since we live in a world that emphasizes democracy so much, will there be a referendum held in these areas of Pakistan that are to be “internationalized” so that the people have a say ? Or will the “international community” just barge in there with guns blazing and seize lands?

2 ) Who will supply the troops, money and civilian manpower for these “internationalized areas ” ?

3) Didn’t Western intelligence agencies themselves have a big hand in the creation of the jehadis of the 1980’s who are the terrorists of today ?

Posted by Bangash Khan | Report as abusive

Hang on, would you consider bombing London or Birmingham in the UK beacuse the July Bombers came from there. Stop this fixation with the ISI generated by the Americans and Indians. It was the Americans that twisted Pakistan’s arms for it to develop and train the Taliban against the Russians- and then left them to it once their objectives were served.The region was at some peace before the Russians/Americans stuck there butt in.

Posted by S. Ayub | Report as abusive

Robert kagan is absolutely right. Form a international force and kill them all..A few innocent pakis may be killed also..but who cares it is important so that many millions in other countrys live.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

One option is Military Government another one is US take over and make it into their territory. Change the system and make it like US where everybody has rights, liberty and justice!

Posted by fauzia shah | Report as abusive

The picture of the terrorist shows him wearing an orange wristband. This orange writband is a symbol of hinduism where sisters tie this string around their brothers wrists for protection.
The indian story doesnt add up, they claim the terrorists came by boat and made their way to their targets. Then how can they explain the bomb on the train. Did they go to the station jump on the train plant the bomb and get off.
Furthermore the terrorists asked hotel guests questions regarding the indian caste system which muslims would not know about. They asked one guest if he was brahmin the highest hindu caste.
Most likly the terrorists were indian tamils(lowest indian caste) displesed that the indian army not supporting their war with the sri lanken government.
They most likly arrived by train from southern india. thats where the shootings first started. Furthermore the deccan mujhids have accepted responsibility. Tamils live on the deccan plain.

Posted by km | Report as abusive

Ok, I have had enough of opinions about who the suspects behind the Mumbai massacre, I think it’s important for the Pakistan government to act up and talk to their countrymen that their faith and prayers should be confined to their homes or mosques and once they step out they should think of securing the economic future of their family. That’s the only way to live a blessed, prosperous and secure future.

Why does Pakistan not control its own people who harbor terror and hatred on their own soil? Pakistan has been paying a heavy price for harboring all terrorists and underworld elements, I am sure this is not what is being preached in the religion under question?

I am not sure at this point in time as to what the cost or action by the authorities is going to be but sincerely hope this will end terrorism in India and it’s left to the people of Pakistan to decide if they need to place religion above all or work towards economic prosperity? Your thoughts are welcome.

Let me end by saying, India is not a perfect country, we have hypocrite politicians who are elected by people like me, there are communal violence in pockets, there is hatred propagated and instigated by fundamental elements in the name of religion. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs have all been victims of this,

Lets us wake up and like responsible universal citizens control the destiny of our future and country by being more responsible and discharging our duties by electing the right kind of people to lead our Nations.

What are the normal citizens like you and me doing, cant us propagate the message of love for fellow humans “Live and Let live”.

PS: Please ignore KM’s knowledge abt India, its customs and people

Posted by Babu Paul | Report as abusive

km, I assume you aren’t a hindu. If you know about brahmins, why shouldn’t the terrorists?

Posted by Arun | Report as abusive

Km, especially since you’re so ignorant of the caste system – Tamil Nadu is a state and a Tamil is someone who speaks the language. Has nothing to do with caste. – and you know who brahmins are. Live in Pakistan, do you?

Posted by Arun | Report as abusive

To All Bloggers:

1) Cut off all Funds to Pakistan, no IMF, no more U.S. help.

2) Sanctions against Pak. for not stopping terrorism and corrupt ISI and corrupt Army.

3) Block all Borders.

4) No medicine, no trade, no commerce with Pakistan.

5) No travel to/ from pakistan.

6) No more technology.

7) Wait 2-3 months.

8) Send in 6 million plus invasion force to

-obliterate the army and denuclearize
-dismantle the ISI
-destroy each and every madrassa and remove all the terrorists

9) Under the U.N. dismantle Pakistan along ethnic lines.

10) The world is now much safer.

Posted by Save the world from Pakistan | Report as abusive

Non-state actors based in Pakistan are not just accidentally working w/o the givernments direct complicity– I would argue that they have been created to grant the Pakistani leadership plausible deniability. These terrorists were not asked to launch this particular attack– they were trained to carry out any such attack. Their autonomy from Pakistan government is not accidental and undesirable– it is intended, designed, and counted-on by the Pakistani establishment. With this said, I compeletly agree that the areas of Pakistan that breed terrorists should be accessed by international anti-yerrorist forces.

I would go further– portions of Pakistan, like Karachi– that donot originate such terrorists, should be carved out and isolated so they can prosper, while the infested areas are flushed out.

Finally, the international community should declare, as a rule, that terrotroy claimed by militant means (like Kashmir, by Pakistanis) will be declared legally unavailable to the offending side. If Pakistan is told clearly that, irrespective of its claims to it, it may not have any claims on Kashmir while terrorists from within its borders operate in the claimed regions, then the core rational for militancy will vanish.

Posted by hersh | Report as abusive

Dear km, please come out of your spider hole and live in the real world. Don’t let madarsas dictate your country’s foreign policy and your world views.

Posted by Samir | Report as abusive

Pakistan is a peace loving country, who asked the Pakistani government to train Pashtuns, USA/CIA. Once we defeated the Rissians USA turned blind eye and left poor Pakistan to deal with the problems. They were refugees, drugs, influx of weapons and with that security problems.

For last 2 years the army has been deployed so many soldiers killed infact thousands as well as many pakistani civilians. How dare people sitting thosand of miles away are poining fingers at Pakistan. Hands off enough is enough or we will chop em off.

We had Marriot bombinf, incident in karchi and many more butnever have we pointed finger at anyone. All indians know what their army is doing in Kashmir and many places in Pakistan e.g. balouchistan, NWFP as well as Afghanistan. Grow up be a amn and face the probs. The easiest thing to do is point finger and thats all you lot do.Please grow up and think outside the box rather than spoon fed by your media.

Posted by Majid786 | Report as abusive

It is no wonder that Pakistan is in such a state,because of people like you.
Let me answer your questions.
1. Wrist band? Recogonise this chap and his wrist band? s/2007/12/js03akhtar_narrowweb__300x5030 .jpg

2. Why Brahmins? Ask any Pakistani about India and the first thing he is going say is “Brahmins discriminate Muslims”! The whole nation is brainwashed in the “Brahmin conspirarcy”.

3. The railway station? Believe me no train comes at 10 from “South Indian” in to Victoria terminal.Look at the map and you will find how close is Victoria terminal from the Taj Hotel.

4. And yeah the Deccan thingi. The terrorist must be highly educated to even mention “Deccan”.A normal run of the mill chap doesn’t even know what Deccan Plateau is,let alone “using the name”. Ever wonder what Pakistanis call Hyderabad area as ? Have a guess.

Posted by Nit | Report as abusive

Americans have only one dream and that is to occupy all Muslim countries one by one. After Afghanistan and Iraq we were expecting Iran or Syria to be the next target, but now they’ve turned their attention on Pakistan.
They’ll be humiliated in every country, just as they’ve been in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Indians are playing the same game in the hands of Americans. as Pakistan was playing during the cold war. Soon their fate will be the same.

The world was at peace till America was found. God curse Columbus. Soon in next decade America will be all but gone, and humanity will live in peace.

Posted by Imran | Report as abusive

[…] Pakistan?s sovereignty under threat? Pakistan: Now or Never? Blog Archive Is Pakistan?s sovereignty under threat? | Blogs | Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said non-state actors may have been behind the attacks […]

Posted by Is Pakistan?s sovereignty under threat? – Pakistan Defence Forum | Report as abusive

Clearly, Pakistan’s claim to sovereignty is weak. It has no control over large areas that it claims as part of its national territory and it apparently cannot control violent non-state actors that operate within its territory and threaten its neighbors. It seems likely that Pakistan cannot continue to exist in its current form. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan’s leaders, perhaps with assistance from the international community, can manage a peaceful transition to some new arrangement in the region.

Posted by keith | Report as abusive

What else others can do?
Pak govt is no able to act at the same time they cant acknoledge their inability.If you are not able to do so..let other do.
If international community plan to wait and see with in next two years,paks nuclear arsenals would be controlled by Jehadis.

Posted by Jinu | Report as abusive

I totally agreed with KM, Fauzia and Majid786. And Nit before posting picture of Shoiab Akhtar, please notice the type of band, he is wearing leather, while the hindu terrorist is wearing ornage thread band, Secondly Shoaid is celebrity may be some of you consiratual hindu gave him that he wore it in innocence, but you hindus wear it for success, succes for defeating pakistan prosperity a dream that will never come true – Peace

Posted by PEACE | Report as abusive

Pakistan has no right to be a sovereign state ,as Pak has abused its freedom .They have only produced Muslim Terrorist, to kill innocent people arround the world.World Leaders are figuring out the way to wipe out this land of terrorist and evils.It seems only a full scale war against pakistan is a feasible solution.I’m sure world community is not going to stop until pakistan becomes past.

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

‘Is Pakistan’s sovereignty under threat?’
—was it ever a Nation? under threat? Pakistan itelf is a global hazard.
–Pakistan is synonymous with terrorism.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

S. Ayub
—stuck in the butt–sounds more appropriate, lol

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

I do not know what is fed to all these indians, because they all are saying things for which their exist no evidence only media news which we see on TV and press is again repeated here. What makes them think Pakistan is involve in terror attacks in India. One question that I am asking all indians that ok if you say it is Pakistan tell us one thing was their navy sleeping when ten people were crossing border, hijacking boat and killing their people. Further, everybody watched the CCTV video of police being hidden behind some pillar, I agreed police doesn’t have weapons to fight, but they could have call with any phone, why didn’t they do that. Please stop raising finger on Pakistan, and start revamping yourself and think out of box – Peace is the only solution.

One more thing don’t even think of harming prosperity of Pakistan – the country of great nation – because this will never happen. india had tried it earlier through element of RAW in Karachi, now this false propaganda on media, this dream of your will never come true.

I am 100% sure that india has no courage to even cut trade with Pakistan. Although it is claiming to take stringent measures against Pakistan – only words of mouth with no truth.

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

Pakistan has survived bigger problem’s than these in the past, but will india exist as a single entity in the forseable future with all its home grown insurgencies/terrorists and border disputes with all it’s neighbours? being a realist; probably not.

If there is another major war; which happens to be in the asian region there is no doubt India will be targeted from all directions and probably with non-conventional weapons; leading to the end of india as a viable state, for this reason indian politicians will continue to spout unfounded unallegations and point fingers just so they can play the victim without any intention of action.

India is primarily a market for western products, cheap labour for call centres and a ‘collateral damage’ cushion incase of hostilities between regional and international powers.

The media can portray pakistan however it wants it doesn’t change the fact that a number of regional and international players have an interest in pakistan’s status quo, whereas india has once again put it’s eggs into a single unreliable basket.

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

The opinion of Pakistani citizens or their innnocence is not a matter of relevance anymore. Pakistan is allowing itz territory to be used by “non-state” actors. Such actors cannot be operating without some level of state support or civilian support and hence the state and itz civilians bear the reponsibility for terrorism emanating out of Pakistan. There has to be cost and consequences for Pakistan. They are trying to limit their actions to just words and wait this crisis to blow over. Abrogate Indus waters treaty stop every drop of water that can be dropped. Stop trade. This is a country which is on life support from IMF. They dont have hard currency to purchase even military spares. Attack and attack now. Be ready for first-use of nuclear weapons and use it at the first sign of prolonged battle.

Posted by Indian_Liberal | Report as abusive

Pakistan in itself is a violation of sovereignty of the Pashtuns, Balochis and Kashmiris. How can you call an artificial and colonial legacy sovereign? Pakistan’s borders were disputed before its unfortunate creation by the British colonialists, who are still in love with their ugly, evil but dying baby.

Paki-apologists, most of them British, would go to any extent to defend their evil creation. They would blame it on anyone but Pakis or Punjabis. Fortunately there are plenty of evidence at all levels that Pakistan is the incubator and epicenter of extremism and terrorism, which must be neutralized and eliminated for the good of all human beings.

Pakistan is the enemy of freedom and sovereignty. It is a shame for Muslims around the world. Pakistan is destroying the Islam and Muslim’s image around the world.
Therefore it’s time is up before you know it. Forget about sovereignty and let’s concentrate on how to dismantle the evil creation peacefully, if that is possible. I doubt.

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

Since modern recorded history the tribal belts along the Pak-Afghan border were never under the control of any powers. Even the once mighty British Empire found it hard to control it, how naive is the claims of Pakistan sovereignty over these lands.

Pakistan is the hub of International terrorism and FATA is its epicenter. Pakistan has acknowledged its inability in dealing with terrorists and fundamentalist in these areas. The perpetrators of 9/11 were in Afghanistan and since there rout, they have moved into their new offices in FATA and operating from there. It is up to the international community and UN to liberate these lands and innocent people from these medieval forces.

Recently UN has passed a resolution to pursue pirates into Somali waters as no government is in place. In similar lines the world community has to act now to save the world from terrorism being perpetrated from these lands uncontrollable by Pakistan.

This is in the best interest of Pakistan and world alike. Ever peace loving Pakistani will support this as they are the ones who are reaping what was sown by Zia in cahoots with CIA & the Saudis. If this Jihadi mess was created by Pak, US & Saudi they should take responsibility in doing the cleaning act.

Posted by Srinivasan | Report as abusive

Time to get real.

Pakistan’s civilian govt. is simply a puppet in the hands of its army (ISI is controlled by army). We all know that Pak’s army is the de-facto ruler in the country. They know that their importance in the eyes of their public will be there as long as the public have fear of India in their hearts. Unfortunately for them, India is a very peace-loving country, and are not at all bothered about wasting time on eliminating Pak. India has its other huge problem of corruption, bureucracy & dirty politics, which has to be dealt with separately (internally). Coming back to Indo-Pak stuff, now that there is actually no threat from India, Pak army has to create the same, for their very survival. The only way out for them is to promote terrorism in India, and provoke India to maintain a war threat on Pak. This way Pak’s army has its importance & Power in the country.

We now need to get real. There is no point anymore in trying to submit documented proof for showing to the world that Pak is a terrorist nation. While we are wasting our time on generating proof & arguing among ourselves on the authenticity of such proofs, the Pak army is already planning its next terror attack somewhere else in the world. The only reason why US is under pressure to support Pak is because it needs Pak forces for its anti-terror operation in Afghanistan. But unfortunately for US, this support is backfiring, because terror camps have now accumulated in Pak itself. Hence US now has no option but to eliminate these terror bases from Pak soil. For this pupose, US must join hands with India & Israel, and march into Pak & Afghanistan, to ensure this menace is destroyed from its roots, once & for all. In the process, we may have to sacrifice a lot of innocent civilian Pakistani lives, for the sake of safety of many more innocent lives all over this planet, but for this, only Pak army is to be held responsible, not us.

Please at least give the above a thought.

Posted by Guest | Report as abusive

I hard Pakistan was bankrupt a month ago and it had asked for a loan from IMF and got $5 billion loan. Yesterday, they brought missiles from Brazil by paying millions of dollars.Seems something fishy happening there(may be Saudi pero dollars). They always comes up with conspiracy theories whenever a large scale terror attack happens be it 9/11, 7/7 or 26/11 which noone believes except themselves and they won’t provide any evidence for that conspiracy theory.This terrorist Ajmal(non state actor) will be subjected to narcoanalysis and brain mapping and he can’t tell any lies there. These people have been living in the state of denial and i see the country name Pakistan disappearing soon.

Posted by Sudhir | Report as abusive

enough of indian propoganda…what is the indian media trying to achieve? increase in TRP or wanting to hide their weakness. Pakistan’s approach towards dealing with the situaion is quite appropriate. we have been blamed for the attack on the parliament .but what came out???then secondly have we forgotten the carnage of samjhotaa express when more that 70 pakistanis lost their lives and india again accused pakistan but the criminals were within their (indian)army and nationalist party instead of blowing the same drum again and again apply your own intellect you indianssss

Posted by pakistani | Report as abusive

(1990-2002)Terrorism in Kashmir, we provide only moral support. And we are not directly involved
1999-Kargil War, these are non state actors. We have no control of/on them
Nuclear yard sale, Ohh AQ Khan was a rogue element, who just happened to use the military aircraft and personnel. Pakistani Government/military was not involved.
Now Mumbai incident- OMG were these terrorist from Nortern hemisphere, we thought them to be from Antartica :) And Indian and Americans are trying to frame them to be Pakistanis and somehow we have to take action on them?

Pakistani leaders take pride in lying in front of domestic and international audience. We can give millions of solid examples.

Posted by k | Report as abusive

Could anyone answer this? When Pakistan was created on the 11th hour, was the founder of Pakistan Mr. Ginna interested in Kashmir at all?

Posted by AsliJaT | Report as abusive

–forget Kahmir, he was not even interested in Pakistan,his only dream was to become the first Prime Minister of India.

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

ndian U-turn; india itself involve in mumbai mass killing:
India’s foreign minister denied Sunday that he had phoned Pakistan’s president at the height of the Mumbai terrorist siege, prompting its air force to go on high alert, but Pakistani officials insisted he — or someone else in his ministry — had placed the call.
Meanwhile, India’s investigation into the attacks was running into similar theatrics, with security officials demanding the release of one of only two men arrested so far, saying he was actually a counterinsurgency police officer who may have been on an undercover mission. The arrests, announced in the eastern city of Calcutta, were the first since the bloody siege ended. But what was touted as a rare success for India’s beleaguered law enforcement agencies quickly turned sour as police in two Indian regions squared off against one another

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

Dig a whole for Pakistan, But india fall…..
Psychiatrists in India’s financial hub are reporting increased cases of panic attacks and insomnia after last week’s attacks, telecast live into millions of homes. “There was no sense of balance or reasoning. The coverage was so jingoistic and nationalistic. This is a complex issue with various dimensions to it. Simply reducing it to ‘politicians are villains’ and ‘Pakistan is the enemy’ without discourse or debate is a deep failing of the media, but it does influence public opinion,” said Manjula.

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive


Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

“Peace” and other Paki’s who still think Mumbai attacks are propaganda by India.. You guys are living in Dark Age. The whole world says one thing and you guys think the other way.

Did you see the investigation from Observer reporter he went to Faridkot in Pakistan found identity of Kasab/v anf the whole village know who he is.. If you have little bit sense take a bus and travel to Fardikote and see whats the reality. Because you are living between terrorist, I don’t have access to come to your terrorist failed state….

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

first make all religious books like quran, vedas, geetha bible etc., as adults only books. one should learn after he attains 25 age. stop kids and youngsters attending religous meetings. make education compulsory. bring liberalisation in education. open up education. close all state run schools. give the students or parents to select the school, language, subjects they or their children wants to study. remove history from primary, secondary and senior secondary school subjects. let history be the subject to study in degree. teach humans, human rights, human rights values, conventions, avoiding racism etc from standard primary level students should study only schience, social science, human rights and values education, one regional language and one international language. if this is followed all nooks and corners of the world, we can eradicate terrorism from world in the next twenty years.

Posted by venkat | Report as abusive

Pakistan has no right to be called a soveriegn country. Pakistan is an uncivilised place with terrorists roaming around freely with ISI support. Pakistani ISI is full of liars and cheats, they are even now defending these murderous animals. Please save the common, innocent people of Pakistan from this rogue Army. Every big attack anywhere in the world can be traced to Pakistan. Make visas impossible to get for Pakistanis and also block all their funds…in short just screw Pakistan.

Posted by akant | Report as abusive

There are no easy answers for Pakistan. It is a completely messed up country. Poor, uneducated and completely wild and ungovernable in most areas. Most of the educated and rich people of Pakistan migrated to the UK in the 50s and 60s. The ones left became the agents for US. People like Imran Khan should be running the country, democratic minded and good leadership skills. He can rid the country of the evil role played by the Army-ISI nexus.

Posted by akant | Report as abusive

what is india trying to prove do they think pakistan responsible for the bombay blasts but i m sorry to say that u r living in fools paradise
is this not true that ur serving army officer prohit is arrested for blasts on pak bharat train.
and the men who were investigating this fact all are killed in bombay blasts this shows that the game of the blasts is waged to target them and save prohit who was working for raw.
this all is done by indians them selves and to pressurise pakistan on the order of america to destruct the sovreignty of pakistan.

Posted by pakistani | Report as abusive