Will Obama chart his own course on Pakistan?

May 1, 2009

President Barack Obama’s statement on Pakistan at a news conference on Wednesday appeared to be more measured than the spate of alarmist comments about the country in the past week or so.  It is worth reading in full:

“Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I want to move to Pakistan. Pakistan appears to be at war with the Taliban inside their own country.  Can you reassure the American people that, if necessary, America could secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and keep it from getting into the Taliban’s hands or, worst-case scenario, even al Qaeda’s hands?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m confident that we can make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure — primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognises the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.  We’ve got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation.  I am gravely concerned about the situation in Pakistan, not because I think that they’re immediately going to be overrun and the Taliban would take over in Pakistan; more concerned that the civilian government there right now is very fragile and don’t seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services — schools, health care, rule of law, a judicial system that works for the majority of people.  And so as a consequence, it is very difficult for them to gain the support and the loyalty of their people.

So we need to help Pakistan help Pakistanis.  And I think that there’s a recognition increasingly on the part of both the civilian government there and the army that that is their biggest weakness.

On the military side, you’re starting to see some recognition just in the last few days, that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally.  And you’re starting to see the Pakistan military take much more seriously the armed threat from militant extremists.

We want to continue to encourage Pakistan to move in that direction and we will provide them all the cooperation that we can.  We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognise that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear armed militant state.

Q    But in a worst-case scenario –

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to engage –

Q    — military, U.S. military could secure this nuclear –

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals of that sort.  I feel confident that that nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands.  Okay?”


Obama’s acknowledgement that he was alarmed about Pakistan, and his reference to the military’s “misguided” obsession with India, have been widely reported.  But personally, I was struck by his comments that the real cause for concern was the fragility of the civilian government and its inability to deliver basic services — because, if nothing else, they seemed to echo more closely views written from inside the country.

Pakistani newspapers ran a couple of excellent news analyses earlier this week.  In this editorial in Dawn newspaperMohammad Waseem explains why there is such a cacophony of views about Pakistan, by comparing those expounding on it to the blind men who tried to make sense of an elephant by touching different parts of its body and reaching different conclusions about the nature of the beast. In the News International, Asif Ezdi picks up on what has become a recurring theme — that the struggle under way within Pakistan is not just between religious obscurantists and secularists, but between the great mass of the poor and the feudalandmilitary elite which dominates the country.  Unless the elite moves quickly to deliver social justice (the basic services mentioned by Obama), he says, the poor will continue to see the Taliban, with their speedy Islamic law and free schools, as a viable alternative

Do Obama’s comments, therefore, suggest a shift in U.S. thinking about Pakistan? The United States has traditionally been criticised by Pakistanis for heavy-handedness, buying Pakistan’s loyalty with heavy doses of aid while simultaneously bombing its territory with missile strikes from unmanned drone aircraft. Or are these merely reassuring words, offering style rather than substance?

There is clearly an intense debate under way within the Obama administration over how to handle Pakistan.


According to the New York Times, Obama and his advisers have been meeting almost daily to discuss Pakistan.  After announcing only weeks ago that Afghanistan and Pakistan were inextricably linked, it says, the administration is now trying to work out a Pakistan policy. “We’re no longer looking at how Pakistan could help Afghanistan,” it quotes a senior administration official as saying. “We’re looking at what we could do to help Pakistan get through this period.”

We know from history that U.S. presidents, particularly inexperienced ones, tend to be bombarded by conflicting advice from within their administrations and the military — whether it was Truman coming under pressure to use nuclear bombs in Korea, or Kennedy’s decision to go along with the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961.  So let’s not take anything individuals say at face value and assume it to be final Obama policy.

In this article in the Huffington Post, Sunil Adam complains that the current approach towards Pakistan continues the old Bush policies while adding the interventionism of the previous Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton. “Pakistan is an unconventional problem that demands an unorthodox response from an unassuming president,” he writes.

So what are the big issues likely to be debated within the administration, and which ultimately will have to be settled by Obama?

The drone attacks

According to this story by a Reuters colleague in Washington, the administration is divided on whether to widen drone missile attacks into Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The attacks so far have been restricted to Pakistan’s tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, but for several months now there has been speculation that Washington might widen the operation to target the Afghan Taliban leaders it believes are based in Baluchistan.

The drone attacks are already controversial. Pakistan complains they are an invasion of its sovereignty and are counter-productive since they cause civilian casualties that drive more people to support the Taliban and fuel anti-Americanism. U.S. officials (always speaking off the record since the CIA-operated drone attacks are not officially acknowledged) say they are an essential part of its strategy to disrupt al-Qaeda-linked militants who might otherwise be planning another 9/11.

For an interesting discussion on the drones, it is worth reading this article on TomDispatch, headlined Filling the Skies with Assassins. It asks how we will feel if the use of unmanned aircraft becomes the norm in wars between countries, so much so that all of us might eventually be threatened by them. From the U.S. right, this post in the American Daily Review also challenges the drone war escalation under Obama.

I recommend browsing the website of Lockheed Martin, which says it won contracts to supply Hellfire missiles to the U.S. Air Force’s Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles. Check out its descriptions and photos of the Hellfire missile to get a sense of the nature of U.S. warfare in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Obama’s comments about the United States having “huge nationalsecurityinterests” in Pakistan suggests there will be no halt to the drone attacks on the tribal areas. But will he authorise an escalation into Baluchistan?

The Pakistan Army 

The United States has traditionally preferred to deal with the military in Pakistan which it saw as more reliable than the country’s more unpredictable politicians. That view seems to continue to prevail in the U.S. military, if this story on Fox Newsis to be believed.  It quotes “individuals familiar with the discussions” inside the Obama administration as saying that General David Petraeus and senior administration officials believe the Pakistan Army is  “superior” to the civilian government  and could conceivably survive even if President Asif Ali Zardari’s government falls to the Taliban.

Yet as discussed on an earlier post, the Obama administration has stressed its commitment to civilian democracy in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis complain that the power of the military, encouraged over the decades by Washington, has prevented the development of a healthy civilian democracy in Pakistan, and the country can only really change if it permanently renounces military takeovers.  The Pakistan Army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, has himself stressed his commitment to democracy. For Washington, it will require a leap of faith if it is no longer to see the military as the ultimate safety net that can guard Pakistan’s nuclear weapons against the Taliban, and accept the slower and more chaotic decision-making processes that come with democracy.

Will Obama take this leap of faith?

Relations between Pakistan and India

Diplomatically, this is one of the trickiest issues for the Obama administration since virtually anything it says is guaranteed to annoy one country or the other, if not both.

Washington wants the Pakistan Army to concentrate on fighting Islamist militants and to see them, rather than India, as the main threat to Pakistan.  (This is not just about whether Pakistan sends troops to its eastern or western border. Probably more important is whether it gives up all support for militant groups which it has nurtured to use against India — whether in Kashmir in the east or to curb India’s growing presence in Afghanistan in the west.)

Yet simply bashing someone over the head and telling them not to feel threatened is unlikely to yield results. During his election campaign, Obama suggested the United States could help resolve the Kashmir dispute in order to improve relations between India and Pakistan and encourage the Pakistan Army to focus on fighting Islamist militants. That idea was shelved after protests from New Delhi, particularly after last November’s attacks in Mumbai which India blamed on militants based on Pakistan. In an interview with India’s Outlook magazine, Bruce Riedel, who advised Obama on his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said it was unrealistic to expect India to move forward on improving relations with Pakistan ”without further resolution of the Mumbai issue”.

India, in any case, is embroiled in a national election. Once a new government is in place next month, how will Obama balance the competing interests of India and Pakistan?

Aid for Pakistan

During his election campaign, Obama complained that U.S. military aid given to Pakistan to fight Islamist militants had been diverted into preparing for war against India. He promised to monitor much more closely how U.S. money going into Pakistan was spent.  Yet with Congress now trying to set conditions for aid to Pakistan, the Obama administration is discovering it does not want its hands tied as this would undermine its room for negotiation with Pakistan, according to this article on Politico.

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been extremely murky in the past, and one reason why nowadays it is difficult to untangle the web of Islamist militant groups that once thrived on secret U.S. funding for the mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. How far will Obama insist on transparency in the future?


If Pakistan was once seen as secondary to Afghanistan, the suggestion now is that Afghanistan may end up becoming secondary to Pakistan. Of the two countries, a destabilised nuclear-armed Pakistan, with a population of nearly 170 million people, would be a far bigger nightmare for the United States.

Just as the United States argued that for it to succeed in Afghanistan, it needed a stable Pakistan, Pakistanis argue that instability in Afghanistan is washing into Pakistan. It’s probably too early yet to say whether the deteriorating situation in Pakistan will force a rethink of America’s strategy towards Afghanistan.  But the next Af/Pak review could include a rebalancing of the two.

Some time in the future, historians will study the decisions Obama made on Pakistan and judge whether he was right or wrong. Surrounded by his many military and foreign policy advisers,  will he try to follow their often contradictory recommendations? Or break out with something fresh?


Myra says: “Pakistan is not just driven by India, any more than India is driven by Pakistan. It has its own internal problems, like any other country.”

I think India is not driven so much by Pakistan in its priorities. India’s response to Pakistan has been reactive mostly. I can tell that Indian threat occupies the Pakistani psyche quite a bit. We find this Western comparison quite irritating. The two countries are treated at par by Westerners. I guess for a long time not much attention was paid towards India by the Westerners due to cold war geo-politics. And this has skewed their perspectives. This is like comparing China with Mongolia. Perspectives really shape a lot of things including political policies. India is dancing many dances at the same time and the tango with Pakistan is only one of them.


” We find this Western comparison quite irritating. The two countries are treated at par by Westerners.”

Disease: Superiority Complex.
Treatment: Self introspection.
India and Pakistan can be compared to each other in many respects. Both are nuclear powers, both are developing nations, both have growing populations etc. Most of the times when west is comparing the two countries, the comparison is among the above lines.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Umair writes: “India and Pakistan can be compared to each other in many respects. Both are nuclear powers, both are developing nations, both have growing populations etc. Most of the times when west is comparing the two countries, the comparison is among the above lines.”

I am not saying anything from a superiority complex. We are comparing apples to oranges. Let me list them here.

1. India is about 8 times more populous than Pakistan. It compares with China in this regard

2. India has more than 30 states divided on linguistic basis mostly. Pakistan has four similar states based on ethnic division.

3. India is a secular nation. Pakistan is an Islamic nation.

4. India is a secular democracy since its founding. I do not know what to call Pakistan as. It has been ruled for 34 years out of 62 under military rule

5. India is an industrial and agricultural power. It does not import food. Pakistan buys wheat on credit. Indian companies own companies in USA, UK etc. The famous James Bond car is now made by an Indian owned company.

6. Area wise India is about five times larger than Pakistan.

7. India’s industrial and agricultural output is somewhere below that of China.

I did not even bring any military comparisons here. For nations, I would not use military capabilities for any comparison. That truly does not serve as a metric. If that metric is used, North Korea stands pretty high.

You can always say things like similar languages, similar heritage, nuclear parity etc. But we have to call apples as apples and oranges as oranges. There is no comparison. India cannot compare itself with Russia or the US. It does not compare with UK or Sri Lanka either. One has to take into account similar features for comparison – area, population, type of governance, output etc. If I were to use superiority complex, then I’d say India is the greatest country in the world.


Mauryan, you write “We find this Western comparison (between Pakistan and India) quite irritating.”

Right. So if you read what I wrote, it was that India and Pakistan should be considered separately. “Pakistan is not just driven by India, any more than India is driven by Pakistan. It has its own internal problems, like any other country.”

I then suggested that for a fresh historical perspective that takes the whole thing out of the Pakistan-India context, then it is worth looking at the origins of the Spanish civil war, where you had a combustible mix of religion, army, feudalism, fragile democracy, poverty and anarchy, for possible lessons. That would be Spain, not India.

So the hyphenation came from you, not me.

As I have said before, anyone in the outside world reading comments on this blog would believe the whole issue comes down to Pakistan and India. I would encourage you to look at Pakistan in ways that do not always compare it with India, rather than repeatedly making the link yourself and then complaining it is an irritating western habit.


Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

Mauryan, Your welcome. Although I wouldn’t underestimate their intelligence and how it applies to our Presidents’ course for America’s role/s in the region.
Azad, GB vindicated? Not in my book.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

I just watched the Spanish Civil war documentary and the similarities between Spain at that time and Pakistan today seem clear to a certain extent. Still, many questions remain, how things will unfold in Pakistan in coming years? It is very clear that Pakistan needs focused policy changes and disciplined implementation by the government so that there are no large imbalances i n the society. The feudalism in Pakistan will have to be dismantled somehow, I am not sure how. Probably the way Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe chased out the white farmers and redistributed land among the native Africans, or in neighbouring South Africa where the government has adopted policies such as BEE(Black economic empowerment) where you give priority in jobs etc to individuals who were previosuly disadvantaged. Pakistan might have to do same with the disadvantaged poor who have resentment and greiviences against the elite. The social divisions will have to be abolished.
Also, what resembles the Catalan in Spain , in Pakistan can be termed as the Sindh province. With Karachi port and much economic activity and ethnic mix. So we could say if Sindh demands greater self rule, what will that mean for Taliban groups in North west?
On the Church, I would say where there is some influence of Taliban or radical clerics etc. There is another side to it, for example the “Tableeghi Jamat” the peaceful and apolitical preaching movement with its centre in Pakistan located in Raiwind near Lahore and lot of followers across Pakistan. The Tableeghi Jamat is apolitical, it has its huge gathering across the country but there are no media reports, while just 500 Taliban enter a certain area makes a lot of news. So there are peaceful movements in Pakistan which are counter balance to those violent few millitant minded so called ‘religious’ people or Taliban.
On the Army, in Pakistan the army though has a sound chain of command and less chance of a coup. Still the loyalty could come into question. The officers of Pakistan Army are largely from feudal class, while lower ranks from the village farmer class. So in case of a revolution, it has to be seen if the soldiers turn their guns against the feudal class officers or the Army chain of command withstand such pressures.
And ofcourse the feudal elite, can we see a situation where the feudal class comes forward and take part in reforms. As you pointed also, it will resist out of inborn desire to own land. How will the Army play it?
Can you say if Pakistan is heading towards a vilolent revolution? If so what can be done to avert such outcome?

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Clinton and the Taleban
by Eric S. Margolis 4 May 2009, Khaleej Times

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArtic leNew.asp?xfile=/data/opinion/2009/May/o pinion_May18.xml&section=opinion

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

” But Pakistan is headed into very dangerous waters and its political class is largely discredited. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif increasingly seems – even to some in the Obama administration – as Pakistan’s last chance.”
Eric Margolis

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

US should push for Pakistan’s unity
Gulf News
Published: May 04, 2009, 01:12
http://www.gulfnews.com/opinion/editoria l_opinion/world/10310058.html

The time for denial is over. As the Obama administration prepares to host Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week the priorities in South Asia have changed.

The much touted Af-Pak plan has become Pak-Af. The focus will now be on Pakistan and its attempts to combat the twin menace of the Taliban and Al Qaida in its backyard, instead of taking stock of the progress – or the lack thereof – in Afghanistan as its elections draw near.

As Washington prepares to hand over another cheque to Zardari it will want reassurances that its principal ally in the ‘war on terror’ will successfully control the threat posed by militants. But to do this and attain some amount of initial success, Washington must first try to forge an alliance between Zardari and his rival, Nawaz Sharif.

The prospect of a united Pakistan is more appetising than an internally fragmented one. Sharif has tremendous mass appeal and is able to mobilise the people of his country. His march to restore the judiciary is a case in point.

The morale of the common people, as the Pakistan military continues its offensive against the militants, must be restored.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive


You are right. I losely used LeT as kashmiri terrorist. I said so since they are created by Pak for Kashmir and India and thanks to US/UK $$$ and Pak support (Punjabi group), LeT monster is a possible suspect in the London underground bombings as you said.

So I see that you share Indians’ view here that all terrorists (incl Kashmiri) must be eliminated for the so-called US/NATO/Pak’s GWOT. Else we wait for another set of goons who want to take over Isloo/Pindi.

Thanks for the youtube link–I did not watch that yet. That’s a nice perspective. It will be great if you continue to post such relevent informations.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

” But Pakistan is headed into very dangerous waters and its political class is largely discredited. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif increasingly seems – even to some in the Obama administration – as Pakistan’s last chance.”
Eric Margolis
- Posted by Umair

-Sharif wanted to arrest Musharraf in that infamous incident when he had to take Saudi g’s help to save his life. I mean was that nice if him to do so, although that showed Pak Army command control efficiency as you claim. Admire him or not. Plus any danger Sharif importing wahabism by Saudi money?

Same goes for Zia, admire him or Bhutto—Zia executed Bhutto, but both are admired–who is better for pak interests?

Just some questions that come to mind.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

“Just some questions that come to mind.”

Being a Pakistani, it is sometimes difficult to understand my own country, being an outsider I understand it should be confusing to you. By the way, I was just reading this:

Pakistan: Struggling to See a Country of Shards
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/weekin review/03tavernise.html?scp=6&sq=Pakista n%20&st=cse

See if you can make something out of it.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Rajeev to Myra:
“So I see that you share Indians’ view here that all terrorists (incl Kashmiri) must be eliminated for the so-called US/NATO/Pak’s GWOT. Else we wait for another set of goons who want to take over Isloo/Pindi.”

Can the following article be of interest to you?

A real offensive, or a phoney war? THE ECONOMIST
30 April, 2009

“Another act of Pakistani slipperiness, the government’s failure to dismantle the latest incarnation of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) terrorist group that is alleged to have carried out a murderous commando-style attack in Mumbai last November, may be most troubling. In response to strong American, British and, naturally, Indian pressure, it arrested half a dozen mostly mid-level LET members, and vowed to try them for this crime. But there is little prospect that the group’s senior leaders, currently under house arrest, will face justice. And the government has already failed in its obligation to take over LET’s assets, which include schools, dispensaries and hospitals. In Punjab, which is home to LET (a group formerly trained by the ISI to fight in Indian-held Kashmir), the government has taken over 20 LET schools and five hospitals. Yet the group is estimated to retain control over an estimated 50-70 other properties, which it holds in other names.

Pakistan’s failure to suppress LET invites the thought that the army has not entirely abandoned its old proxy. And it still considers India, against whom it has fought three full-scale wars, to be its main enemy. To some extent, this obsession with India illuminates the army’s troubles in the north-west. By maintaining its readiness for a conventional war on Punjab’s plains, it has been slow to acquire the necessary counter-insurgency skills; hence its brutish reliance on artillery fire in Swat.

Worse, the army stands accused of protecting some of its former militant allies in the tribal areas, to preserve them for future (or perhaps current) use in Afghanistan and Indian-held Kashmir. This allegation is often cited to explain the army’s failures. But there is rarely evidence for it. Increasingly, though, senior American officials decry Pakistan’s obsession with India. General David Petraeus, chief of America’s Central Command, argues that Pakistan faces greater danger from home-grown extremism. With a smile, General Abbas suggests he doesn’t think much of this: “When people come here and tell us about our neighbour, how good or bad he is, allow us to take it with a pinch of salt.” “

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

“Else we wait for another set of goons who want to take over Isloo/Pindi. ”

Ok, if you think Islamabad and Rawalpindi can ever be taken over by Taliban, that would be a very serious misconception. I would like you to please clarify that ASAP. Here is what I suggest to read:

Clinton and the Taleban
by Eric S. Margolis 4 May 2009, Khaleej Times

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArtic leNew.asp?xfile=/data/opinion/2009/May/o pinion_May18.xml&section=opinion

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

“Else we wait for another set of goons who want to take over Isloo/Pindi. ”

Ok, if you think Islamabad and Rawalpindi can ever be taken over by Taliban, that would be a very serious misconception. I would like you to please clarify that ASAP.

–Don’t be overesensitive. Taliban wants to take over the world and LeT wants to sit in the White house are their intentions, not the end product–but the fear cannot be negated since it all depends upon how much support they get or don’t get. I hope that explains. This was just for the sake of Rice Diplomacy.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Rajeev, you said,

“So I see that you share Indians’ view here that all terrorists (incl Kashmiri) must be eliminated for the so-called US/NATO/Pak’s GWOT.”

You know that I won’t be drawn that easily. Just asking you to define your terms.

Umair, thanks for watching the Spanish Civil War video and for your observations. I was particularly struck by the chap who said you can’t achieve land reform without a revolution. Presumably the alternative is a strong central government that is willing to impose it?

I’ve noticed recently there have been more stories about Pakistan selling farmland to Gulf Arab investors, but have not had time to follow them up. Do you know where that fits into the overall picture of land reform?

As for the Pakistan Army, I’m not qualified to make a comment on the current thinking of Pakistani jawans. However what I can say is that after the Mutiny/First War of Independence in 1857 the British deliberately changed their recruitment policies, seeking out farmer’s boys who could be trusted not to rebel. That tradition of rural recruitment has pretty much held in both the Indian and Pakistan Armies (which is why you get so many soldiers from both countries coming from Punjab). From what I could see based on my own experience, and this is going back a few years now, both armies had also retained from the British a powerful notion of loyalty to the unit. Unless something has changed radically, the nature of the Pakistan Army means it will remain cohesive. (I can’t comment about the Frontier Corps as I don’t know much about it.)

Finally, the NYT piece you quoted is great and perhaps all the better for being written by someone newly arrived in Pakistan. It is rather like the Pakistani journalist I quoted who compared people looking at Pakistan to blind men touching different bits of the elephant and then coming up with different conclusions about the nature of the beast.


Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive


Thanks for the posts.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

—Rajeev, you said,
“So I see that you share Indians’ view here that all terrorists (incl Kashmiri) must be eliminated for the so-called US/NATO/Pak’s GWOT.”
You know that I won’t be drawn that easily. Just asking you to define your terms.

Myra you said:
@2) You mention another “Cold War blunder”. One of the mistakes the United States made in the Cold War was to see everything in the context of Soviet, or communist, aggression and become blind to other factors (Vietnam is a case in point). To repeat the same mistake would be to see everything in the context of the so-called GWOT.”

Myra: It was not inadvertant. I meant the terrorists on the Eastern Pakistan (operating in Kashmir should be included). It will be much easier if you can define it.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Ooops! Correction
Myra: It was inadvertant.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Myra, Sanjeev,Umair

This is not pak bashing, trust me.

writers like you and others ought to read the following to understand as to why Pakistanis hate India?

http://www.sdpi.org/whats_new/reporton/S tate%20of%20Curr&TextBooks.pdf

-The Subtle Subversion: The state of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan.( Research paper by Pak scholars)

quote- In May 2002, a group of academics were gathered by SDPI to examine the curricula and textbooks that are presently being used in public schools.The gathered academics shared the view that the curriculum encourages ideas that are incompatible with the ideals of Pakistan as a forward looking modern state committed to equal rights and equitable treatment for its citizens. Moreover, the textbooks are factually inaccurate,poorly written, pedagogically unsound and contain material harmful to young impressionable minds.-end quote.

Shocking revelation indeed, which was never discussed on these forums by many.Thus, in my opinion, the problem lies in regular municipal schools and not just in Madarassas.Umair and Ali, hopefully will reasearch and comment on this rather than sweeping this under the carpet.


Here is what I found in referenced report:

Four themes emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks of the three compulsory subjects.

1. that Pakistan is for Muslims alone;

2. that Islamic teachings, including a compulsory reading and memorization of Qur’an, are to be included in all the subjects, hence to be forcibly taught to all the students,whatever their faith,;

3. that Ideology of Pakistan is to be internalized as faith, and that hate be created against Hindus and India; and

4. students are to be urged to take the path of Jehad and Shahadat.

That the pathological hate against Hindus is only because of adopting the so-called Ideology of Pakistan is borne out by the fact that the pre-Ideology (before the 1970s) textbooks of Pakistan did not contain this hatred.

That is a very detailed report and is worth reading and discussing.

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

Punjabiyaar writes: “Four themes emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks of the three compulsory subjects.”

This is called systematic indoctrination. And this bears strong resemblance to propagandist and brain washing methods used by many other systems of ideology – Communists, Maoists, Naxalites, Dravidian parties, Nazis, Aryan nations, Black Panthers, Hindu zealots, Khalistanis, LTTE and even Indira Gandhi (to some extent).

The first step is to “catch them young.” The second step is to deny them a world view. What they get fed is a continuous bombardment of one sided views. A victim mentality is set up that blames others, specifically targeting a community. The same thing is repeated with distortion of history where important facts are carefully removed or modified. Typically a leader is projected as a savior. Atrocities that happened elsewhere are taken and inserted into the context. Once the seed is sowed and watered with emotional bombardment, what grows is a monster that is now unleashed to engage in violence. When retaliation comes, it is used to amplify the emotion even more. People start dying for the “cause.” And it begins to self sustain. People who are helpless, surrender to it or get eliminated. If you look at any ideological organization, you will find the same symptoms.

I read the book on Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Russians brought their helicopters and planes and simply carpet bombed the Afghans without caring if they were civilians or fighters. Napalm was spread everywhere. Water sources were poisoned. Rape became a mean for terror. This is what the book, written by an American says. Now look at the Soviet side. There they say that Afghanistan called them for help to support progressive forces that were building schools and hospitals, distributing land to the poor and spreading the wealth equally, and eliminating religious fundamentalism. There is an element of truth in both campaigns. But somewhere truth got buried. The Soviets slaughtered anything that moved and the Mujahideen were motivated to kill any Russian that they could see.

In 1989 when the Soviets left, what they did in Afghanistan or whatever was said about them got translated to Kashmir. Now Indian soldiers were accused of mowing down Kashmiris at sight, razing down mosques, raping women, imprisoning all Kashmiris and burning the Koran. This kind of propaganda has worked well to motivate the radical Muslims to fight the Soviets with zeal. Now the same zeal was turned against the “evil Indians.” It was tough to take them on in the 1990s. India had no international status for sometime and it had to wait for its economic liberalization to work and change perceptions about it in the West. After 9/11, things have gone in a different direction. But I see enough signs of propagandist indoctrination echoing from the hearts of many Pakistanis, educated and illiterate. And it has not subsided. Look at the Mumbai attackers’ venom and fearlessness. There is a huge population that is confused now due to internal issues. They are now seeing the problem internally that they were being told was happening outside of their borders. Only those Pakistanis who have sufficient exposure to Western countries and have spent time there are taking a more mature stand. But the majority is still under the influence of propaganda.

I have seen LTTE sympathizers in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu. They realized that the Tamils hated the Brahmins in their state. So they began to exploit that. Suddenly Brahmins became the most vicious people on earth, devising ways to subjugate others, scheming things to destroy the Tamil culture, cruel, heartless etc. By this time the Brahmins had become a dead snake in the state. In 1991, the LTTE came pretty close to Talibanizing Tamil Nadu. The locals were utterly scared of them, including the politicians. There were posters of LTTE leader everywhere and money was being collected for “the great cause.”

I have read Gowalikar’s works too.


@Punjabiyaar, Sanjeev and Myra

Thank you for your coles notes version of Azad’s link to the Pakistani Educational System report.

It is apparent then, then, that Pakistan, is founded on a religiously driven racist and supremicist mindset that is pervasive and mandatory in every facet of one’s education from Childhood.

Sanjeev, Myra, we can write about complicated complexities and pluralities and discuss them to no end, but only for the purpose of discussion, is not the purpose of discussing to find a solution?

Please, let’s not overcomplicate all the matters we discuss here, sometimes, things really are simple, this posting confirms what I have been saying in most of my posts, all of Paksitan’s problems are based in its racist and supremicist mindset, fueled by the fact that Pakistan its formation and it national identity is formed on the basis of religion.

It is this basis, which has propagated Pakistani behavior towards India and the west and explains the collective mental illness of Pakistan itself.

Please let’s just be blunt and honest once in a while, let’s not resort to calling it bashing.

Pakistan is in dire need of institutional and societal reform and Pakistan must move away from its religious national identity.

This is where I keep saying that Pakistani’s don’t view Indians as human beings, this is the cause and source and it is also the cause and source of Pakistani’s impotence to fight Islamic Radicalism.

Pakistan’s reason for being and programming is on of a racist, hateful mindset and flawed from day one and must be reformed, if it wants to be taken seriously as a modern and sovereign nation.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive


You should be president of India. You are more eloquent and well read than most of the Indian leaders.

I thank you for your information, forward thinking posts, your written word reflects much wisdom, knowledge and breadth and depth of understanding.

Thank you.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

@You should be president of India. You are more eloquent and well read than most of the Indian leaders.
-by GW to Mauryan

-hey GW, I hate you for this. you are not invited to the party at my place. :-)

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive


Nehru, Indira, PV narasimha Rao and Vajpayee have onething in common.
(Im not sure of Morarji Desai and Advani).
No, not just they were all PMs of India. But they all belong to the same social group, that you say was oppressed in TN.

Time to move forward.( Besides this is not the right forum)


Azad writes: “Time to move forward.( Besides this is not the right forum)”

Agreed. I was only showing the same agenda, but different ideologies, mainly to get to power and keep it by using human emotions. I see the same thing in a number of “revolutions” that have led to human misery and loss of lives. I’d recommend Naipaul’s “India – A million mutinies now.” There the author rediscovers India and he is very sympathetic to its issues. He goes from one end of the country to the other and finally says that the million mutinies happening around the country are basically the nation rediscovering itself and re-adjusting. And he mentions that in a positive way.


Mauryan writes-mainly to get to power and keep it by using human emotions

Yes.Happens all the time all over the world, including in the recent precidential elections here in USA


Rajeev you posted:

@You should be president of India. You are more eloquent and well read than most of the Indian leaders.
-by GW to Mauryan

-hey GW, I hate you for this. you are not invited to the party at my place. :-)

I would make you deputy president, you guys can fight for the top spot, you are also in the same league as Mauryan how could I forget you. Will you let me crash the party, if I bring Shah Rukh Khan with me? LOL

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

The conversation has gone off topic again.

I put up a post on funding for schools in Pakistan a while back. Unfortunately some of you decided to turn it into a discussion of why you believe all Pakistanis hate all Indians and I had to close the post.

Here I see a comment about Pakistani scholars urging a change in the curriculum — ie suggesting a plurality of thinking within the country – and again it turns into a discussion of why some of you believe all Pakistanis hate all Indians. Anyone beginning to see a pattern here?

Please do not make sweeping generalisations about all Pakistanis, or all Indians, about all Hindus or all Muslims. It’s not just offensive – it’s really boring since it gets in the way of an intelligent discussion.

Given how far the conversation has gone off topic, I’m closing comments again on this post.


Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive