Pakistan: Now or Never?

India, Pakistan locked in their animosities

January 20, 2009
 A few readers have pointed out an article that appeared in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper several days ago that urges Pakistanis to begin thinking out-of the-box, stop being defensive and face up to harsh realities.
 
It is interesting because it stands out in the feverish, and often involved reporting that has characterised media in both India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks. The author, Shandana Khan Mohmand, who is a doctoral candidate at the University of Sussex, says Pakistan must really accept the reality that it is not the equal of India, a belief that he thought had stunted its development  
“We cannot win a war against it, we cannot compare the instability of our political system to the stability of theirs, we cannot hope to compete economically with what is a booming economy well on its way to becoming a global economic power, and we certainly cannot compare the conservativeness of our society to the open pluralism of their everyday life,” he writes.
 
Pakistan’s most beneficial economic strategy would be to get in on the boom next door in India, he argues. But for this, “we need to think outside the box – outside the two-nation theory, outside the box of the violence of 1947, and outside the box of the ill-conceived wars of the last six decades.”
 
Strong words those, and one that apply to both nations walled off from each other nursing their animosities over the years. As political commentator M.J.Akbar wrote in the Times of India, India and Pakistan aren’t neighbours, they are worlds apart. He believes the two fully turned away from each other after the 1965 war. ”Walls of regulation were raised to block knowledge, and then vision. If you do not see a neighbour, he is not a neighbour. There are no neighbours in the huge apartment blocks of Mumbai, only adjacent numbers.”  
Is it any wonder then that a popular Pakistani comedian who made thousands laugh on an Indian TV show has had to return home  after being threatened in a Mumbai studio?   [Reuters pic of India and Pakistani border guards)  

India-U.S: advancing a transformed relationship

January 19, 2009

In the space of a decade, the United States and India have travelled far in a relationship clouded by the  Cold War when they were on opposite sides.

NATO leader slams Afghan government

January 18, 2009

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has attacked the Afghan government over its failure to tackle corruption and inefficiency, saying that “the basic problem in Afghanistan is not too much Taliban; it’s too little good governance”.

Pakistani Taliban force girls’ schools to close

January 17, 2009

Taliban militants have banned female education in the northwest Pakistan valley of Swat, depriving more than 40,000 girls of schooling. Last month, the Taliban warned parents against sending their daughters to school, saying female education was “unIslamic”.  The warning was reiterated by a close aide to militant leader Mullah Fazlullah in a message broadcast through an illegal FM radio station on Friday night. Government schools have been shut down and some 300 private schools due to reopen next month after the winter break will probably remain closed, a senior official said.

And now the strategic encirclement of Pakistan

January 15, 2009

An Indian military presence in Afghanistan to put further pressure on Pakistan? That would be the red  rag for Pakistan, and the end of its long struggle to seek strategic depth  in Afghanistan against its much larger eastern neighbour.

Pakistani society in the throes of tectonic change?

January 14, 2009

Pakistan is dealing with multiple challenges all at once – its sovereignty and its very idea of itself as an independent nation state are tested in the northwest by both the Islamist militants and U.S. forces hunting them. To its east, the old hostility with India is back in full force following the Mumbai attacks. Then above all, some think the economic meltdown is a more serious risk to Pakistan’s survival than the threat of a conflict with India.

Afghanistan’s ground realities

January 14, 2009

There’s been much talk about the need for a new U.S. strategic approach to Afghanistan, that would combine a regional diplomatic initiative covering Iran, Russia, China, India and Pakistan with plans to send in thousands more troops.

Obama and his South Asian envoy

January 12, 2009

There’s much talk about President-elect Barack Obama possibly appointing Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy to South Asia. The New York Times says it’s likely; while the Washington Independent says it may be a bit premature to expect final decisions, even before Obama takes office on Jan. 20.

Pakistan and its nuclear weapons loom large over Obama administration

January 11, 2009

Pakistan and its nuclear weapons are back in the centre  of the U.S. foreign policy frame as a steady stream of reports from think tanks and newspapers build the case for President-elect Barack Obama to recognise and act urgently with regard to the potential threat from the troubled state.

Biden in Pakistan: Where’s the baseline?

January 9, 2009

U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden held talks in Pakistan as part of a regional tour expected to focus on terrorism and tensions between Pakistan and India following the Mumbai attacks.