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?

Afghanistan

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?

Comments

Obama could alter the current strategy related to Pakistan or adopt a new one but the truth is that there’s no short term fix to get out of this extremely sticky situation. He can keep pressurizing Kiyani & Zardari to fight Taliban but how does he change the mind-set of the Pakistani army, which has been radicalized over the years (since Zia-ul-Haq) and the soldiers who, since birth are told to hate India & taught to fight only India? It’s not a switch, which can be turned on or off, overnight. Pakistani soldiers are being told to discard their fixation with India & fight a war, they don’t believe in & an enemy, whom they ideologically, look up to.

One thing that Obama can do to ease tensions between India & Pakistan is, to put pressure on the Pakistanis to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to quick justice. That will suffice India enough to re-start the dialogue with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue & ease tensions between the two.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Myra
Excellent article and informative links, and thank you.
I have to only quote the following from the Atlantic Council of the United States:
http://www.acus.org/publication/pakistan -report
Pakistan Report: Comprehensive U.S. Policy Needed
February 24, 2009
the report states the following:

“Pakistan faces dire economic and security threats that threaten both the existence of Pakistan as a democratic and stable state and the region as a whole, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Given the tools and the financing, Pakistan can turn back from the brink. But for that to happen, it needs help now. Such a reversal demands far greater and more urgent support and assistance from the international community in general and the United States in particular. And it needs to be based on focused policy changes and disciplined implementation by the Pakistan government, with adequate oversight to ensure that Pakistan can do the job.” whole pdf report available for download

President Obama has correct situational awareness, as per Atlantic Council report Pakistan is the priority now, while Afghanistan is at the backend. infact afghan problems are making Pakistan unstable. Obama is satisfied about Pakistan nuclear weapons safety because recently Pakistan opened up slightly and western diplomats were briefed in Islamabad about the elaborate security mechanism and secrecy which surrounds Pakistan nuclear weapons. I am of the view that Obama has very little margin of error and he knows it very well. This is the crux of the matter, Pakistan’s regional interests will have to be taken care of. No one should expect Pakistan to reign in its proxies, denuclearize, downsize its military and give up its ambitions in Afghanistan or claims on Kashmir. In challenging times, Pakistan must forge ahead and take the challenges by storm and create opportunities for itself. At the end of this , we want to emerge stronger than ever before. No one has the right to interefere in Pakistan’s internal matters, if the US values its longstanding relationship with Pakistan and recognizes Pakistan’s strategic importance and is willing to help the right way, Pakistan will also reciprocate by willing to accept the assistance, make right policy changes and become a stable, prosperous and responsible muslim nation standing on its own feet and not depending on external economic assistance. In the midst of this, if there is any blunder by Obama administration, or if anyone in his right mind even thinks of an invasion of Pakistan, than the US will be doomed because of the destruction it will cause.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive
 

Myra
In reply to your question, I think Obama is a leader, he should trust his gut instincts and go it alone instead of making the mistake of getting misled by his advisors. this will be the test of leadership, the stakes couldnt be higer, the fate of many in pakistan also depend on the decionmaking of both Pakistani and American leaders. We have no room for error and misjudgement, look what happened with Iraq. No WMDs were formed, US ended where it is today with the abuses of Abu Ghraib and shame of Guntanamo Bay.
President Obama had promised the americans that he will regain America’s standing and respect in the world. i hope he makes the correct decisions.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive
 

I always wonder why the US lets things deteriorate to the point of collapse and then suddenly starts expecting changes in a dramatic fashion? Their efforts to bring down the Soviet empire by encouraging Islamic radicalism seemed like a strategic plan and it paid the dividends. But then, they assumed that things will return to peace after that. They have made major errors based on assumptions, the latest one being the belief that once Saddam Hussein was removed from power with a quick action, Iraqis will run in from all directions, embracing them with love and taking up democracy right away. Only after settling on the ground did they realize the depth of ethnic and religious rivalries that have been kept under the floor by Saddam’s brutal methods. They surfaced and it has taken more than 8 years to control this beast.

At the same time, Bush government ignored Afghanistan for 8 years without helping them build a military, encouraging war lords, allowing Pakistan to keep the tribal Taliban in tact and regroup and pumping money into Musharraf’s hands without caring to see what he was actually doing with it. The end result is what we see today.

This is like the Financial system collapse that one saw in 2008. Too much of abuse led to that collapse. Now the government had to pump in trillion dollars to make it work. But that collapse has hurt other businesses like manufacturing in the US. With unemployment soaring, money may not flow easily and consumers won’t drop their worries and start taking risks. People are not paying attention to the psychological factor.

The same applies in Pakistan today. One cannot suddenly expect Pakistanis to change their perspectives overnight. They may realize they have been wrong on a number of things. But they may not realize the seriousness of it and play the game according to US wishes for the time being, assuming that once there is a slight hope, things can go back to what they were before and life will be better. Look at the attitude of Pakistani posters here towards India or Kashmir. These things take a lot of beatings before the true perspective sinks in. I hope Pakistanis use this opportunity to come good and try not to trust their military and keep it under control.

A lot depends upon how the common people change in their world views in Pakistan. That will have an impact on how things will shape. Unfortunately time is short. They should not hesitate to root out the Taliban. Any half hearted attempt will result in proving the pundits right about an eventual doom.

 

the most important correction that President Obama needs to make with regard to his Pakistan policy is reducing the emphasis on ‘AFPAK’. The AFPAK may be a good strategy for Afghanistan, but is resulting in misguided policies with regard to Pakistan. President Zardari and Ambassador Haqqani are presenting Pakistan as a ‘suicide bomb’ threatening to explode if its demands are met. http://thetrajectory.com/blogs/?p=494

 

I personally feel that situation in Pakistan is like watching a high speed train collision in slow motion..

Posted by belligerent | Report as abusive
 

President Zardari and Ambassador Haqqani are presenting Pakistan as a ’suicide bomb’ threatening to explode if its demands are met. http://thetrajectory.com/blogs/?p=494
- Posted by thetrajectory

I would actually take it a step further & say that the Pakistani leaders are presenting Pakistan as a ‘Suicide Bomber’, which is threatening to take others down with it. The mind-set of the Pakistani leadership has been reflected by the Pakistani bloggers on this site, who unanimously threaten to use nukes, at the blink of an eyelid. As mentioned in the article, it’s about time, Obama & the world stop coercing & bribing Pakistan and start dealing with it as a kidnapper, who’s holding the world hostage.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Myra:

According to this Dawn Article, US is sending confusing signals to Pakistan

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/news/world/12-us-s ends-confusing-signals-to-pakistan–bi-01

@Diplomatic observers pointed out that President Obama ‘gave an F minus to the Pakistani leader’ days before a very important trilateral summit which includes the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They noted that President Obama not only made negative remarks about the civilian government but also praised the Pakistani military as an institution capable of taking important decisions.

‘The Pakistani military is taking much more seriously the armed threat from militant extremists,’ he said.

Mr Obama also said that he believed that the Pakistani military, and not the civilian administration, was capable of protecting the country’s nuclear weapons because it ‘recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.’

Is it the old method of promoting the Army for US’s self-interest?

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Mauryan, you said

The same applies in Pakistan today. One cannot suddenly expect Pakistanis to change their perspectives overnight. They may realize they have been wrong on a number of things. But they may not realize the seriousness of it and play the game according to US wishes for the time being, assuming that once there is a slight hope, things can go back to what they were before and life will be better. Look at the attitude of Pakistani posters here towards India or Kashmir. These things take a lot of beatings before the true perspective sinks in. I hope Pakistanis use this opportunity to come good and try not to trust their military and keep it under control.

A lot depends upon how the common people change in their world views in Pakistan. That will have an impact on how things will shape. Unfortunately time is short. They should not hesitate to root out the Taliban. Any half hearted attempt will result in proving the pundits right about an eventual doom.

This is the best time now for India to make peaceful overtures to Pakistan. The peaceful overtures would be to make roads, services and provide food. This would be a huge political roadblock to the PA and ISI to continue its aggression and a huge roadblock to the Taliban, because the public opionion in Pakistan will turn against the Taliban and PA and ISI, as India, even after being attacked by the ISI and PA in MUMBAI, even after being aggressed, is willing to forgive and forget.

This alone will solidify India’s stature and moral standing even higher than it is. It will also provide a whole new range of options for the Obama administration in terms of leveraging the PA and ISI to kill off the Taliban and its proxy army assets built to fight India.

Just image the possibilities if the public perception of India could be changed in hearts of Paksitani’s, this is the worst nightmare that the PA and ISI could ever imagine. They will have nothing to stand on any more, and the Pakistani citizens will realize that they have had decades of lost potential from the lies they have been fed about India.

Obama should approach India for this card at the right time and leverage it fully and India should co-operate. How will Pakistan look refusing free aid, while its people starve? India has starving people too, but if it willing to be unselfish and think of others, while sharing what it has, even after being attacked, ie MUMBAI, that will provide an inncalculable public opinion leverage against the PA and its ISI.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

Mauryan,

and all of this without war, religious hatred, weapons, proxy armies, jihadi’s. All done peacefully. The citizens of Pakistan, when they wake up, they will revolt against the ISI and Army. That is their destiny if the status quo continues.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

Is it the old method of promoting the Army for US’s self-interest?
- Posted by rajeev

Looks like the Obama Admn made a deal with Kayani to promote the PA back to power in exchange for the PA fighting the Taliban.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

You said:

“Looks like the Obama Admn made a deal with Kayani to promote the PA back to power in exchange for the PA fighting the Taliban.”

If that is what Obama has done, he is a short sighted fool, for much cheaper, he could have achieved the unachievable and may have wasted a huge opportunity to leverage the Pakistani citizens against the PA and ISI, just enough to keep them honest and he could of also helped remodernize India’s reputation with the Average Pak citizen.

The Americans are short sighted buffoons and can’t see past their own feet. That is characteristic of a civilization and country that is only 250 years old, in its infancy and lacks wisdom and foresight. Stupid americans repeating the same mistakes over and over.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

Is it the old method of promoting the Army for US’s self-interest?
- Posted by rajeev

I think the Obama Admn. realized very quickly that in spite of the sham civilian Govt., the epicenter of power in Pakistan still rests with the army. They probably tried, in vain, to get the PA under the control of the civilian Govt. but realized that it will take a very long time, to be able to do so & Pakistan simply doesn’t have time, while the Taliban is advancing at a rapid pace. So, it’s quite possible that they stuck a deal with Kayani. The timing of all this, would certainly suggest so.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

It is time that Obama and the West collectively line up and ream Pakistan until it can’t stand or sit straight. I cannot believe how much leverage power Obama and the West have to bring a lasting peace to the subcontinent, they are letting a couple of uneducated, poor english speaking, womanizer, buffoons plead their pathetic case for free cash.

Since when did the west start bowing down to beggars, who have a suicide vest attached to them? I did not like Bush or his Israel lobby hawks, but one thing I did respect about them, is that they did not take crap or entertain BS, like Zardari, Queraishi and Gilani, they flexed muscle and were more than happy to give heavy punch to let the other guy knows who is boss, albeit the wrong guy. Just to even things out, Holbrooke is an idiot too, he has not achieved much.

As I said earlier, the west has an unforseen and excellent window of opportunity to school the Pakistani Army and ISI and win the hearts of avg Pakistani citizens, if India is leveraged as a benevolent player.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

Time is of the essence, here. What else could be done, if the PA refused to fight the Taliban, unless it’s driven back to power? I think the logic here would be to let Pakistan live to see another day & then there will be time for democracy later.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

@Myra, all bloggers:

Umair said:

“No one should expect Pakistan to reign in its proxies, denuclearize, downsize its military and give up its ambitions in Afghanistan or claims on Kashmir.”

Can any of you believe the audicity of this guy Umair. He is giving a thinly veiled entitlement that Pakistan be allowed to carry-on proxy terrorism. It is evident that Umair and military families like his, are a part of the establishment, living an economically parasitic existence on the heads of average Pakistani’s.

Umair and his gated community army bretheren want to keep their parasitic existence using their proxy armies, keeping the Pak population stupid all to leverage Ca$h.

Just admit it Umair, you want to keep animosity and hatred alive towards India and you want to keep every option alive to re-resume the Proxy war against India once the Taliban situation is dealt with.

Myra, please be willing to take a moral and journalistic stand on this sort of behavior. Umair represents the racist, supremicist, parasitic side of the PA and the ISI. It is this exact selfish thinking that has wasted Billions on defense for India and pakistan. These are the backdoor people who have started three wars with India and wasted Billions of Pakistani citizens and wasted decades of Pakistani potential so a very few in those Gated communities can live a poshe, cushy life, while average Pakistani’s are kept stupid.

While I respect your career, crudentials and your intelligence, please don’t shy, have the courage to take a stand and say the right thing once in a while.

Umair represents Radical Islam and terrorism and keeps his thoughts alive with his undertones of keeping proxy armies alive for the PA to use at their disposal to keep their neighbours in an antagonistic state.

When will an awakening happen in Pakistan?

This guy has the audacity to appear, cool, educated, calm and collected and has the gall to say such stupid things.

Myra, as I said, please take a stand on things once in a while. There is nothing deplorable to say the right thing, it will not be taken as a reporting bias, trust me. Even unbiased and neutral people like Dan Rather are not afraid of speaking their true mind.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

GW writes: “This is the best time now for India to make peaceful overtures to Pakistan. The peaceful overtures would be to make roads, services and provide food.”

I like the noble sentiments. However, I wouldn’t do it this time. I want Pakistan to make the first move by solving the Mumbai attack investigation. They owe us one. We cannot keep on playing big brother. These guys are abusive in nature towards privileges given. They have grown up that way. I’ll leave the ball in their court regarding building real trust worthy acts:

1. Help complete the Mumbai attack investigation.
2. Extradite the culprits to India for punishment.
3. Hand over Dawood Ibrahim, Masood Azhar and Omar Sheikh
4. Dismantle all camps in PoK designed to instigate insurgency inside India.
5. Work for a joint patrol with India in monitoring the shared borders.
6. Stop mis-information and propaganda against India in Afghanistan.
7. Start a campaign within Pakistan that India is not really an enemy and Pakistanis need to work with Indians to build peace.
8. Apologize for all Kargil and past attacks on India.

They need to do all this, either one by one or in parallel for us to trust them. I can’t speak for everyone. But my trust is completely zero at this time. If they did all this and showed sincerity, I will support starting civilian projects in their country. A lot of damage has been done by Pakistan in sheer arrogance and contempt towards India, assuming that the West will always bail them out every time.

With a civil war going on inside Pakistan, I wouldn’t recommend any Indians going into that country. They will be prime targets. They are already targets inside Afghanistan. Now is not the time. Let the Pakistanis come forward this time.

 

GW writes: “This is the best time now for India to make peaceful overtures to Pakistan. The peaceful overtures would be to make roads, services and provide food.”

The last time we talked peace with Pakistan, we got Mumbai attack, when Vajpayee govt took the Lahore bus we got stabbed in the back by Pak Army (Kargill). We should learn from the past and realize that Pakistan still has medieval mentality.

Mauryan writes: Can any of you believe the audicity of this guy Umair. He is giving a thinly veiled entitlement that Pakistan be allowed to carry-on proxy terrorism.

What did you expect from him?

Posted by Indian1127 | Report as abusive
 

I totaly agree with Obama, that its the PA which is taking the Taliban threat seriously even though its a bit late. But better to be late than never, Mr Kyani had to give time to all players to to deal with Taliban, which is the newly elected government, provincial goverment as well other who are involved in peace negotiation to bring a peaceful end to the insurgency.

These so called elected leaders are NOT in the intrest of Pakistan, I mean Dictatorship brought us Musharaf who was bad but democracy brought us Mr 110% (Zardari).

Which is worse ask any Pakistani they will we ll have Musahraf. US has always backed the Dictators in the world be it in uniform or in suits from Mushraf, Zia, Husni Mubarak, King Abdulla to the most corupt Saudi Royal Family. After all that, they want to shine the beacon of democracy in the far corners of the world.

I ask what kind of democracy? I think if US had not poped its nose in every corner of the world, the world would definetly had been better place.

In regards to the so called Taliban personaly I think they should be carpet bombed and no negotian with people who kill innocent in pakistani streets, the army or harm the intrest of the nation whoever they maybe and whereever they may hide.

To my fellow Indians I think they need to take a chill pill, since this is all hapening in Pakistan. I wonder why have they got their (dog) tails up. We dont need your lectures to understand what is good for us or bad for us, mind your own business! You ask for peace but then one wonders why do you guys support the BLA, use your over dozen counslates to pump anti pakistan properganda as well help the rougue elements who want to destablise Pakistan.

Posted by aLI | Report as abusive
 

We have many indian bloggers ready to pounce on any chance to defame Pakistan. But let me assure you people dont make up their mind about a nation, based on what their enemy says about them!

The fact is we have Indians that are totaly anti Pakistan, anti Islam, even though Islam brought so much diversity into India. Muslim NEVER looted India unlike the so called civilised world the British. The muslim enriched the culture brought new teachings, n even today when you ask anybody in the world when you think of India whats the first thing that comes in your mind. I bet you the answer is Taj Mahal and I wonder who built that.

If Muslims were so backward, barbarians then my indian friends who are writing on this blog with the name like – Mortal/Rajeeve/Mauryan/GW/ etc – surely they would all been converted. But thats not the case, Islam is not to be imposed on anybody the fact is Islam spread through Sufism in the sub-continenet. We will NEVER accept the wahabi form of Islam which is a export of Saudis who fund it, run it. I think a few question should be directed to Saudis in regards to this. But surley the Americans dont want to upset them.

Personaly I think we should get rid of the black sheeps in the country get rid of militancy. Send all the Afghan refugees back to Afghnistan surley the world can look after them especialy USA. Fence the border with Afghanistan let them deal with their problems. But then who will lead this country Zardari lol………

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

To all Pakistani Bloggers,

If you are getting bothered by comments from Indian bloggers, please remember this is not a pakistani web site and everyone has right to share thier thoughts.

For all these years India faced 3 wars, various Pak army adventures (Kargill)and continues to face STATE SPONSORED TERRORISM from Pakistan (Punjab & Kashmir), if ever confronted with facts the Pakistanis (people of Government) have a standard response “We have made mistakes in the past, we are not doing it anymore”.

The non commital response might be very cute and innocent but given our history, its very much the business of Indians to comment on Pakistan since your future course of actions decides the level of terrorism in India.

Even today the Mosques in Pakistan collect donations from people for Jihad, terror camps and Madarssahs churn out Terrorists, these very same terrorists have commited crimes in India, US, UK, Europe, Africa and other countries. They continue to plan more acts of terrorism like 9/11, 7/7, 26/11, so its our BLOODY BUSINESS!!

To John,

Stop hiding behind Islam, and stop playing the victim, India or any other country is not against Islam but we are all against Islamic terrorism (coming out of Pakistan).

Please do not put Indian muslims in the same category as yours just because they muslims, our record speak for itself. If you would like to know the opinion of Indian muslims towards Pakistan I would love to provide you the links.

India has plenty of Muslims who rejected the idea of Pakistan so please dont try to claim Taj Mahal or our muslim history as yours. Try and create your own identity and a better image.

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive
 

Someone has already started getting touchy… maybe you can explain out of your ignorance…

“Please do not put Indian muslims in the same category as yours just because they muslims, our record speak for itself.”

What record???!!!!

Murder, Rape, Staged Killing, and most of all denying the Kashmiris the freedom which they deserve which is backed bu UN resoulution. By using any dilectory tactics to oppress Kashmiris….even today we are still finding the graves of Kashmiris…and death of over 70,000 kashmiris. Is that youur RECORD!!!

The killings of Muslims in Gujrat over 2000, destruction of babri mosque, dont forget the murder of sikhs in 80′s as well as murder of christians and buring of churches as well as force conversion.

Is this your record!!! We admit there is serious problem we will solve it we need help from our friends and NOT digs from our BIG bully neighour!!!

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive
 

Someone has already started getting touchy… maybe you can explain out of your ignorance…

“Please do not put Indian muslims in the same category as yours just because they muslims, our record speak for itself.”

What record???!!!!

Murder, Rape, Staged Killing, and most of all denying the Kashmiris the freedom which they deserve which is backed bu UN resoulution. By using any dilectory tactics to oppress Kashmiris….even today we are still finding the graves of Kashmiris…and death of over 70,000 kashmiris. Is that youur RECORD!!!

The killings of Muslims in Gujrat over 2000, destruction of babri mosque, dont forget the murder of sikhs in 80′s as well as murder of christians and buring of churches as well as force conversion.

Is this your record!!! We admit there is serious problem we will solve it we need help from our friends and NOT digs from our BIG bully neighour!!!

By the way since India,Pak, Bang were ONE so prior to 1947 I think we can agree on thats all of our history… u ignorant fool ur history is from 1947 and show me the record from there…

Posted by khan | Report as abusive
 

The reason why Pakistani bloggers get nailed on the head every time here is because I see nothing new in their arguments. And most of their points are irrelevant to the topic. No matter how much we tell these guys about truths with valid references, they keep parroting the same thing. We are used to the following comments:

1. Kashmir is more important to Pakistan than anything else.
2. Indian Muslims are tortured, raped, driven from their homes, their mosques destroyed etc.
3. We have the fourth largest military in the world.
4. We have Nukes
5. We are victims of Western greed
6. America made our dictators strong
7. India is mired with poverty, illiteracy, AIDS and what not
8. We won all wars against India
9. Mujib ur Rehman was an Indian agent and Indian RAW helped cut East Pakistan off
10. India has 100 embassies in Afghanistan and they are sabotaging Pakistan from the West
11. BLA is supported by Indian RAW
12. MQM is run by Indian agents
13. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. Pakistani Taliban is run by the RAW
14. Muslims are greatest people on earth. We ruled India for 800 years.
15. India is the real enemy.
16. Pakistan’s economy is where it is today because India keeps arming itself and poor Pakistan has no choice but to buy arms beyond its means to protect itself from its evil neighbor.
17. Everything India does is to dismember Pakistan. India’s democracy is only for the purpose of not letting Pakistan’s democracy take root.

And so on.

Can you guys come up with something different? Like what the new realizations are and how you can look at yourselves and see what you can do to set things right. We have been telling you that India is not that evil. We do not have any evil plans against you. Even your supporters like the US have begun to say this. But your emotions are blinding you so much that you want to hold on to the old beliefs. They will never get you to the next stage.

We say what we say (sometimes poking too much) because some of you are so idiotic. But in between we do say right things and provide valid references where available.

So hang up your old clothes and wear a new one. If you people cannot change in the mind, your country will not and your old attitudes have brought you to the brink so far.

 

Time & again, I’ve seen Pakistanis point a finger at India about ‘atrocities’ being committed on it’s minorities. Yes, I do agree that mistakes have been made & there have been undesirable incidents like the Gujarat episode, Sikh riots etc. but such incidents, unfortunately, are a part of the secularization & evolutionary process of every diverse democracy in the world, including the US, where blacks were treated as slaves till the 60′s.
But with the a strong democracy & rising literacy, Indians are becoming wary & tolerant and realize that diversity, secularism & pluralism are India’s biggest strengths.

For those, who wanna compare India’s secularist values with that of Pakistan, one needs to look at just one statistic:

The population of Minorities in Pakistan, which stood at 20% of the total population, after it’s independence in 1948 are down to 1.9%, currently. On the other hand, the minority population in India, which was at 14% in 1948, is up to 21%, currently. This should pretty much explain, as to who has persecuted it’s minorities & who hasn’t.

Another latest news related to Pakistan’s minorities:

(ANI): The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has listed Pakistan as a country where the governments have been unable or unwilling to counter religious violence, and discriminate against people on religious basis.
Pakistan joins countries like Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam, as being the world’s biggest and worst violators of religious freedom and human rights.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Can we get back on topic? The discussion in this post is about how Obama will handle Pakistan. Will he chart his own course and find a new approach to Pakistan, or fall back on old ways?

As I have said before, anyone outside South Asia reading the comments posted here would come away convinced that the root cause of all the problems in the region is rivalry between India and Pakistan. We all know that the situation is far more complex than that, but this endless point-scoring in the comments does not do the people of either country justice. So for the sake of national pride if nothing else, can you please address the topic.

Rajeev, thanks for posting the link to the Dawn article,
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/news/world/12-us-s ends-confusing-signals-to-pakistan–bi-01

My reading of Obama’s comments was quite different – that he was really saying the United States needed to help support the civilian government to deliver basic services, which struck me as rather new.

Everyone seems to have different views of what Obama meant, which is why I posted the complete text of what he said.

In my list of issues that seem to be up for debate within the U.S. adminstration, I should also have mentioned the question of whether Washington might court Sharif as covered in this NYT article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/world/ asia/02policy.html?_r=1&exprod=myyahoo

More meddling? Or are they just trying to shore up the civilian government? And if so, doesn’t that suggest that the United States is indeed determined to support democracy in Pakistan, rather than falling back on the army?

Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

its right india is not pakistans biggest enemy. America is the biggest enemy… of the world!

Posted by khan | Report as abusive
 

LOL now listen up class! which is more true…
The millions of Pakistani muslims who are “average” are going to try as hard as they can not to change anything about their lives as they have known them for lets say, one generation back, or..
The millions of Pakistani muslims who are “average” are going to want change in their lives as they have known them for one generation back.
and for extra credit: which do you think the American political establishment prefers, in light of the current U.S.A. world standing.
sharpen your pencils, and … go!

Posted by N-NW | Report as abusive
 

@N-NW
Please re-phrase your question.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

John/Ali:

I, as an Indian, am concerned about the situation inside Pakistan based upon the genuine concern. When you think about kewords like India, Pakistan, terrorism, Punjab, Kashmir, and know the superficial history of the region, you will admit that Indian concern is genuine. The fallouts of the situation will be on the bordering states India and Afghanistan.

Tajmahal etc. and history prior to 1947 is the Indian history. Unnecessary and wasterful exercise that I have done many times. Prior-1947 and Mughal history: Major point is what you feel proud of that history, much of that we despise, much of that we liked and already assimilated into our culture. If you want to touch that and feel the need to discuss, come prepared open-minded. If not, leave that that untouched. For example, you should be sympathetic towards the workers who built Tajmahal, the beautiful piece of architecure, designed by Isa Khan. Shahjahan cut off the hands of the workers after the completion of the Taj so Mahal that no one would ever be able to build such a marvelous monument again.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Can we get back on topic? The discussion in this post is about how Obama wThough he has to inherit the legacy of past US policies the current generation of Americans dont need tois not

Myra,

Obama doesnt have a magic wand, although is he great leader he is still a mortal. He has openly said that Pakistan’s civilan govt is weak, the US generals have time and again said the Pak Army & ISI is working with Taliban. Who does he turn to chart out a new course??

Democracy in Pakistan never really took roots, radicalization has crept into the society. Unfortunately there are no easy answers.

The best option is to address priorities and reduce high level risks and wait for the flux to subside. Hopefully the future events will offer a solution

Ali/Khan (split personality??)

What I meant to say was Indian muslims have not committed acts of terrorism in foreign countries. Like all countries we have problem but we dont export it. Anyway its beyond the scope of this discussion.

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive
 

To All people in Pakistan : Have pride for your country. Don’t trust the Americans or Any one with western ethics.The only strategic interests Americans,Brits,French have done is plundering our lands & pocketing the difference between India & Pakistan for selling arms & ammunitions.

The taliban menace should not be fought by bullets but by negotiation & respect.if people living closer by can’t come to a understanding how on earth can someone like US solve people’s problems.Obama business should be managing USA not managing the world & giving them instructions.he has no business to intervene in pakistan.pakistan army should sincerely work in eliminating or feeding weapons to any terrorist groups.Since they feed them means & use those weapons on other countries then independant country needs to punish such countries which abuse others.

All the evils created in this world is coz of americans & they are the worst enemy of humanity.I hate Americans..Americans & Americans, their arrogance,loud mouth,brute power will one day be punished by nature.All their bad karma will bite them.

Posted by vijay | Report as abusive
 

Myra:
Obama said: “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.”

You posted the article on ghost schools. That painted the picture that funding was available for the schools, but has been going somewhere. So with such corruption and Pakistan not accepting the US management of the civil aid, who will make sure this will not continue on the path it is. Umair said and could be true that Taliban is helping the poor and gathering support. Much like what JuD did for Kashmir earthquake where govt machinery was not working and JuD did that and that has been the motto of such agencies like JuD using Saudi money to show the humanitarian face of LeT and gathering public support. Terrorists are winner here. Corruption happens everywhere including India and China. I think India and China can compete with each other in corruption–my discussion with hundred chinese. But that does not stop both these countries to progress.
Myra, I think Pak Ambassador to US, Mr Haqani should have promoted oversight into the aid. That will take the pressure off Pakistanis who want to help but the corrupt lobbyists prevent that. Additionally that $$$$$$ can be siphoned off to terror-promoting proxies and buying jet planes from China. But I guess those who take these decisions/lobby has succeeded in pressurizing Haqani in influencing US to not demand accountability from Pak. Means worlds gives $$$$ with the HOPE that the money is used for the purposes civil issues (as stated by Mr. US President and as felt by some Pakistanis like Umair who consistently upload Mr Saxena’s article on the role of poverty in terrorism in Pakistan) . HOPE is never a policy.

The dawn link I sent said “f minus” to civil govt but I could not find the original source—is it some gibberish floating around?

But in any case, recently Mr. Holbrooke clarified much of it and updated Obama’s speech.
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/news/world/14-holb rooke-insists-obama-has-full-confidence- in-pakistani-govt-zj-01
“US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke disagrees with President Barack Obama’s description of the Zardari government as ‘very fragile,’ which is incapable of delivering even basic services to its people. In an interview hastily arranged by the Pakistan Embassy to undo the impression created by President Obama’s remarks, Mr Holbrooke said he believed the Zardari government was capable of doing what his boss said it was not.”

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news  /2242810/posts
“Referring to stories that spoke of the Obama administration considering the civilian government weak, Holbrooke, special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, said, ‘I don’t understand these stories.’ “This is journalistic garbage. This is journalistic gobbledygook. It’s a story being hyped by journalists,’ he added, when asked to comment on interpretations in the Pakistani Press about President Obama’s remarks in a Press Conference.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Myra,

For all the lovely article which you have written is it not a valid question if a Pakistani Journalist ask Zardari what his opinion about Obama is ?.

The Answer would be he is the biggest dictator in the world trying to sabotage a elected regime.Just because he is the world’s most powerful man with a powerful military he cannot make any statements he likes.It is the attitude of USA which has bred terrorism in the world.Their unneccessary provocation in Iraq,stationing of army in the middle east & all other things is what has caused rebellious nature among free men & women.U can trust your enemy but you cannot trust the americans.A time will come when entire Asia will be united & we will throw the Americans back to their countries.We don’t need Americans in Asia not we need the WASP policy of divide & rule.

Posted by vijay | Report as abusive
 

Vijay writes: “we will throw the Americans back to their countries”

But we want their business and money. Nehru dealt with the US in the same vein and for 44 years, India became a socialist/communist backwater. I don’t want India to ever go back to those days. There is only one country in the world that is the champion of freedom. As I see it, there is only evil ruling this world and I’d choose the lesser of the evils anytime and that will be the US.

 

Myra:
Holbrooke updated Obama’s speech saying US civil govt is not weak in Pak.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/news/world/14-holb rooke-insists-obama-has-full-confidence- in-pakistani-govt-zj-01

“US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke disagrees with President Barack Obama’s description of the Zardari government as ‘very fragile,’ which is incapable of delivering even basic services to its people. In an interview hastily arranged by the Pakistan Embassy to undo the impression created by President Obama’s remarks, Mr Holbrooke said he believed the Zardari government was capable of doing what his boss said it was not.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news  /2242810/posts

“Referring to stories that spoke of the Obama administration considering the civilian government weak, Holbrooke, special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, said, ‘I don’t understand these stories.’ “This is journalistic garbage. This is journalistic gobbledygook. It’s a story being hyped by journalists,’ he added, when asked to comment on interpretations in the Pakistani Press about President Obama’s remarks in a Press Conference.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Pakistanis:

What do you think about Mr. Vijay’s idea? that India/Pak …unite (not merge) and solve the problems among ourselves—forget US.

Vijay: You cannot talk to the beheaders–the Taliban. Yes there will be some who were forced into this. Take them away. majority fall into the same class. Taliban is rich enough to feed the poor for them to embrace guns.
talk to them? They did and look they got new SWAT.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Rajeev,

Thanks for the update on Holbrooke. I don’t see any contradiction between what Holbrooke and Obama are saying, and was surprised at the way Obama’s comments were originally interpreted.

Is it not a statement of the obvious to say that the civilian government is struggling to deliver basic services to the people? That does not suggest that Washington is about to engineer a military coup; but on the contrary that it acknowledges the importance of basic services for ordinary people.

The bigger contradiction appears to be between U.S. aid and the drone attacks, since it is hard to convince people that you are there to help if you are also bombing part of their country.

Joshua Foust had an interesting post on this recently at Registan.net:
http://www.registan.net/index.php/2009/0 4/29/new-data-for-drone-bombing-pakistan  /#comments

Also in response to those who say Americans do nothing but damage wherever they go, it might be worth considering what the United States did for western Europe after World War Two. It basically bought western Europe’s loyalty in its battle against communism by pouring in financial aid (just as it is trying to buy Pakistan’s loyalty today); but as a result, democratically elected governments were able to build prosperity, create the European Union, end decades of war in Europe and launch the euro. That’s not to defend everything else that the United States has done over the years, but rather to highlight that there are always two sides (or many sides) to every story.

Mauryan, since you mentioned Nehru, and at risk of going off topic, I was thinking about Nehru a few days back while reading various articles about how Pakistan is still dominated by the feudal elite. It occurred to me that perhaps Nehru does not get enough credit for making this change in India. Maybe 44 years of socialism was a heavy price to pay, but he did level society out more than has happened in Pakistan. Anyway, that’s something of an aside – though it does rather reinforce the original point, that you can’t build stability in a country unless you provide basic services to the people.

The much harder question is how to do it…

Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

Myra:

@I don’t see any contradiction between what Holbrooke and Obama are saying”

There is a difference–saying “very fragile’govt is a big statement. Holborooke does not agree with Obama on that.

“US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke disagrees with President Barack Obama’s description of the Zardari government as ‘very fragile,’ which is incapable of delivering even basic services to its people.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Myra You said:

“It basically bought western Europe’s loyalty in its battle against communism by pouring in financial aid (just as it is trying to buy Pakistan’s loyalty today); but as a result, democratically elected governments were able to build prosperity, create the European Union, end decades of war in Europe and launch the euro. That’s not to defend everything else that the United States has done over the years, but rather to highlight that there are always two sides (or many sides) to every story.”

Response: You have to also realize that what the U.S. did in Europe was only possible, because the U.S. society and Europe share the same common values and the same religion. Pakistan is Islamic at its core, most muslims are not extremists, but moderates, but they are not forward thinking either, they are static or retrograde in their outlook. Technology, McDonalds and Walmart cannot democratize a muslim country, the people in their hearts, their core values have to value the human being first. This value system is lacking in many Islamic countries, that is why there are little minorities there, Pakistan being no exception. This is not bashing, but a truth, please acknowledge that. Pakistan at its core, its thinly veiled mission statement is to attack India, conquer a large part of its land and keep its people stupid, in a state of perpetual hatred, thanks, to the army.

The U.S. is naive, they cannot change the hearts and minds of Pakistani’s, as most while they are not radical Islamists, they quietly sympathize with the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, that is a fact, based on polls taken over the years.

You can ask most Pakistani citizens, while they may not hate India as much as they used to, deep in their heart, they do not view their Indian ancestors as equal human beings, due to religion, this extends to Christians as well, ie the US.

There is still hundreds of years of cultural disfunctionality, partly based on religion that has to be weeded out or fixed, before Pakistan comes on a playing field to be even considered honest, transparent and considereing others equal. Until this happens, no good deed given to Pakistan will ever go unpunished.

Any country trying to help Pakistan will continually be lied to, cheated and backstabbed, because it is a cultural norm there, starting at the street level.

At this point the only way to deal wit Pakistan is extreme overwhelming force, or the at least the threat of it, that is the only thing that generates results.

Pluralities, nice talking and hand holding is taken as as sign of weakness by Pakistani’s.

A person born in a democratic christian country just does not understand how Pakistani’s view the outside world, I don’t think Barack Obama does either. Mideval men from the 7th and 8th centuries mindset, just because they have technology, it does not make them secular, democratic and intelligent, it makes them even deadlier than ever. As I said the only thing they will ever understand is the threat of extreme overwhelming force. Peaceful overtures will be taken as a sign of weakness.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

South Asian culture has a double face. We call ourselves as “Desis”. This includes all denizens of the sub-continent. Desis have two different rules – With foreigners (read as “white Caucasian people”) they are fully of courtesy, promptness and will work with them in an exemplary manner. Between themselves, they treat each other very differently. There are ethnic, linguistic, religious, community/caste contempt that comes into the fore. Most of the time we treat each other with minimal respect, argue with each other, never agree on anything and do not trust each other either. Sometimes things said as an ethnic joke has a much deeper feeling of contempt hidden behind it. Many of us laugh this of, but we know that things can turn ugly. The way Indians and Pakistanis treat each other and they way they deal with Westerners (full of politeness, courtesy etc) can be seen in this very blog. I am a part of this too. So we are looking for certification from Westerners as a measure of our own self worth. A Pakistani will never listen to an Indian and vice versa on an issue. But if it comes from a Western citizen, the same point will be taken with politeness. We are looking up to what Obama or Holbrooke has to say to take as a stamp of approval. This is sad.

Pakistan’s situation might be worse than what Obama or Holbrooke is saying in public. Democracy takes a long time to take root. And the culture of a land plays a big part in it. Martial people generally do not like democratic systems. They have evolved over centuries in the form of clans and tribes. This is prevalent all across the middle East, including up to Pakistan. For them democracy, secularism etc sound very effeminate and they do not easily adapt to them. Indian people are used to being dominated over eons and as a result, are relatively calmer (on an average). This is one reason why, despite the relatively much larger size and diversity, not to mention illiteracy, democracy was able to take root and grow in India. Pakistan, being a much smaller nation took to military governance which paid little attention to feudalism. Even now one can sense a lot of pride and knowledge about military in Pakistanis. In India, politicians dominate more, even though a lot of them are known criminals and mafia bosses. Pakistan’s culture has become worse in terms of war mongering and being belligerent. In this situation, it is very difficult to plant democracy and expect it to grow with time. If enough attention is not paid constantly, democracy will be derailed by impatient leaders in that country. It could not take root and grow over these sixty years there. I doubt it will grow all of a sudden because Obama wants it. The Americans clamped down on the Germans and the Japanese after WW II and had to bring about a cultural change in those countries. Pakistan cannot be controlled that way. So it is going to be hard to force democracy on them if they are unwilling to take it up. They are going through that exercise only due to Western pressure and I don’t expect it to stay on for too long. The US wants a democracy in Pakistan only to stabilize Afghanistan. A military controlled Pakistan has been a problem for that purpose. So I do not know how sincere the US is in insisting on Pakistani democracy. They did not care all these years and honey mooned with Military generals.

 

Mauryan,

quote-So I do not know how sincere the US is in insisting on Pakistani democracy-end quote

Agree. Look at the insistence on eliminating only Taliban and Al Qaida,without any mention of other terror outfits like LeT, JeM etc. Clearly, clarity and perception are lacking here. With the decision of 10Bil dols more getting pumped into the snake pit, and their (US) enormous influence over Wahabi Sauds, big borther US can do lot more than making squeking noises . Kerry says ‘we need Pakistan’. (So lets pump in more).We had it for a longtime senator, look at what we did to it. Wake up before US ( and chinese) made weapons are turned against our men in unifrom. Politicians have no clue about the ground reality, no changes will come out of that land, at least in near term.

US will have to listen to all nations in the neighbourhood, otherwise the arrangements/ agreements will be shortlived and problems will continue remain exactly the same. Yes, now, Pak is the bigger problem. Time for Obama to take off kidgloves that too immediately.

 

Azad writes:”Kerry says ‘we need Pakistan’. (So lets pump in more).We had it for a longtime senator, look at what we did to it. Wake up before US ( and chinese) made weapons are turned against our men in unifrom. Politicians have no clue about the ground reality, no changes will come out of that land, at least in near term.”

American political system has powerful politicians and lobbyists. It runs more like a business than like a democracy. Issues are resolved by back stage deals and mutual favors. I am reading the book, “Charlie Wislon’s war.” Though we all assume that the US just came into the region and took over the war against the Soviets in 1980, the truth was far from it. It is mind boggling to read about the odds that were against the US involvement in that covert war. Here are some points I’d like to share with you.

1. Carter was the President when the Soviets ran into Afghanistan.
2. There was a drive to cleanse the CIA from covert operations that involved weapons trading, assassinations etc. CIA had literally become a rogue organization by that time. Their efforts on Nicaragua were completely curtailed as a result.
3. Three key people, totally unconnected to each other, but driven by their deep patriotism, background and hatred for the communists came across each other – Charlie Wilson, the Texas senator, Joanne Herring, a rich Texas baron, Gust Avrakotos, a CIA operative of Greek descent who worked in Greece for CIA helping military dictatorships one after the other. Greece and Turkey were American allies and were like India and Pakistan regarding Cypress. Until 1985, it was a monumental task for these three to manipulate and work against the odds (funds for CIA, getting old Soviet weapons made and smuggled into Pakistan, getting Pakistan’s co-operation etc) to make the Afghans take on the guerrilla war. In 1986, after the effort gained enough momentum, the CIA got the clearance to use the Stinger missiles which became the Silver bullet that pierced the heart of the evil Soviet empire.

4. Americans in general are very ignorant of the rest of the world. The book mentions in many places about top officials not knowing where Afghanistan was on the map, yet cheering up the war against the Soviets there.

Now their ignorance has not changed much. It got amplified more during Bush years. Ahmed Rashid in his book, “Descent into chaos” says that when Bush came to power in 2000, he had no knowledge of who Musharraf was and he though Taliban was the name of a high school cheer leader squad in Texas. And these kind of people have the knobs of global power and money. Imagine what ignorance can do in critical operations. Such people can be manipulated very easily. And they approach the world with ignorance. There is no understanding of cultures of the world, their depth, feelings etc. So they get engaged in many parts of the world through CIA, business ventures etc which have very different motives to get in. And they get misled in their policies as a result.

Obama seems to be an exception. I hope he makes the difference. Americans are IGNORANT. And in general, SO ARE THEIR LEADERS. This is why the world loves them.

Pakistan manipulated their ignorance all these years. American politicians were taken off their feet by the charm and hospitality of many Pakistani officials over the years and fell for their crafty words. Now America has to seriously come out of its ignorance and do something serious if it has to make a long lasting change in the region. Otherwise, centuries of tested and tried double talk will win over.

 

The president does not make these decisions. The NSA does.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive
 

Jason,

then george bush is vindicated
good, i like him.

 

Jason writes: “The president does not make these decisions. The NSA does.”

Thanks. I’ll include NSA to my list of ignorant people who make official policies for the rest of the world.

 

@Look at the insistence on eliminating only Taliban and Al Qaida,without any mention of other terror outfits like LeT, JeM etc. Clearly, clarity and perception are lacking here. With the decision of 10Bil dols more getting pumped into the snake pit, and their (US) enormous influence over Wahabi Sauds, big borther US can do lot more than making squeking noises . Kerry says ‘we need Pakistan’. (So lets pump in more).We had it for a longtime senator, look at what we did to it. Wake up before US ( and chinese) made weapons are turned against our men in unifrom.”
-posted by Azad

Azad, GW, Mauryan and Myra: I agree with the need to eliminate LeT, JeM etc. Especially that so much money, lives of US/NATO/Pak soldiers, civilian death, it is obvious there is a need of ethnic cleansing of the terrorists. Until it is done, depsite the best intestions of a Pakistani establishment, the temptation will take over for the use of terrorists for dirty purpose and the region will be unsafe. we Indians and Pakistanis blame US of being ignorant, then how ise are our leaders if that is not done. Are we to complain about civilian death due to US drone and not by the terrorist that were selectively saved.

LeT has links with A-Q and JeM and LeT have interests outside Kashmir on western targets. Masood Azhar-former HuM member, now JeM chief (arrested by India, but released on dec31, 1999 at Kandhar in the Indian plane hijacking Christmas on Dec 24, 1999 was resonsible for killing Daniel Pearl. One of these involved in aborted British plane hijacking. Above all let us not forget Mumabi 26/11 in which LeT terrorists killed westerners/Jews. Rather terrorists were specifically looking for the Briish and US citizens. It will be some stupid reason if these guys lare left alone without convincing Pakistan to eliminate them. well Masood Azhar already disappeared (whatever that means–hidden Minus 7 floor basement in pakistan).

Myra: Do you think by not elimiating kashmiri terorists groups 1. the (global) WOT is Won? 2. the West is safe (the purpose of the War)?. 3. Isn;t from the POV of the region/India/pak/ and proper use of foreign aid for civil purpose, it is essential to eliminate Kashmiri terrorists. if Antibiotic course is incomplete, the residual bacteria become resistant to the drug later on. Fits well with the terrorists in the region, the sytemic treatment need to eliminate all types of terrorists otherwise it will be cold-war type blunder.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Rajeev, it’s hard to answer your questions without straying into the realms of opinion but here are a few thoughts:

1) You write of the LeT as a “Kashmiri terrorist group”. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe it has actually been defined by the Indian government as a Punjabi group? It has also been named as a possible suspect in the London underground bombings, which if true, would make it a global threat. In that case the label “Kashmiri” is misleading.

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.

3) 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.

If you can face it (and it’s a bit long and frustrating on youtube) do please watch this documentary on the origins of the Spanish Civil War:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7aEG__LZ 3g&feature=PlayList&p=0FC681229DBBCB99&p laynext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=28

I didn’t know much about the Spanish civil war, but having just watched the documentary, I was surprised how the country had many of the same elements that you find in Pakistan today — army, church, feudalism, anarchy, poverty etc — that ultimately led to a terrible civil war. I’m not saying the same thing will happen in Pakistan, but it does provide an interesting historical perspective. Among the arguments made — you can never have land reform in a feudal society without a revolution; the army will take whatever measures are necessary to maintain the unity of the country etc etc.

Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

Myra asks: “You write of the LeT as a “Kashmiri terrorist group”. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe it has actually been defined by the Indian government as a Punjabi group?”

I’d say that the LeT is a group with its base in Pakistani Punjab and its goal is to win freedom for Kashmiris from India. Since it is officially not sponsored by the Pak establishment, and their activities are based on insurgency, they can be termed as a terrorist organization.

 

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.

 

Mauryan:
” 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.

Myra

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.
Thanks

Posted by jason | Report as abusive
 

Myra
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
 

Myra

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
 

Rajeev:
“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
 
 

Rajeev:
“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
 

@Rajeev:
“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.

Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

Umair:

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.

 

Azad:
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
 

@Mauryan,

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
 

Mauryan,

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.

Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 
  •