India and Pakistan: the missing piece in the Afghan jigsaw

November 26, 2009

One year ago, I asked whether then President-elect Barack Obama’s plans for Afghanistan still made sense after the Mumbai attacks torpedoed hopes of a regional settlement involving Pakistan and India. The argument, much touted during Obama’s election campaign, was that a peace deal with India would convince Pakistan to turn decisively on Islamist militants, thereby bolstering the United States flagging campaign in Afghanistan.

As I wrote at the time, it had always been an ambitious plan to convince India and Pakistan to put behind them 60 years of bitter struggle over Kashmir as part of a regional solution to many complex problems in Afghanistan.  Had the Mumbai attacks pushed it out of reach? And if so, what was the fall-back plan?

One year on, there is as yet still no sign of a fall-back plan for Afghanistan and the tense relationship between India and Pakistan remains the elusive piece of the jigsaw.

After some attempts at peace-making which culminated in a meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in July, and despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s own determination to try to repair relations, the two countries have descended into mutual recrimination.

India accuses Pakistan of failing to take enough action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group it blames for Mumbai and which analysts believe is still in a position to launch fresh attacks, and refuses to reopen formal peace talks broken off after the three-day assault. Pakistan has put seven men on trial over the attacks but has refused to arrest the group’s founder Hafiz Saeed nor, analysts say, to dismantle the infrastructure of an organisation whose original role was to fight India in Kashmir. It says it wants to resume talks with India.

As a result of the deadlock, both countries remain bitter rivals for influence in Afghanistan; while Pakistan, fighting its own battle against Islamist militants who have turned against the state, is seen as reluctant to move more troops from its eastern border with India to press home a military campaign against the Pakistani Taliban in its tribal areas. India in turn remains vulnerable to another Mumbai-style attack which could trigger Indian retaliation against Pakistan, running a risk of escalation between the two nuclear-armed countries.

“Now India and Pakistan are both playing for broke. Pakistan says it will support a U.S. regional strategy that does not include India, while India is talking about a regional alliance with Iran and Russia that excludes Pakistan. Both positions — throwbacks to the 1990s, when neighboring states fuelled opposing sides in Afghanistan’s civil war — are non-starters as far as helping the U.S.-NATO alliance bring peace to Afghanistan,” writes Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid in the Washington Post.

“To avoid a regional debacle and the Taliban gaining even more ground, Obama needs to fulfil the commitment he made to Afghanistan in March: to send more troops — so that U.S.-NATO forces and the Afghan government can regain the military initiative — as well as civilian experts, and more funds for development. He must bring both India and Pakistan on board and help reduce their differences; a regional strategy is necessary for any U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to have a chance. The United States needs to persuade India to be more flexible toward Pakistan while convincing Pakistanis to match such flexibility in a step-by-step process that reduces terrorist groups operating from its soil so that the two archenemies can rebuild a modicum of trust. ”

Obama and the U.S. administration are being very careful to avoid being seen as trying to mediate between India and Pakistan — India is sensitive about outside interference, particularly over Kashmir, which it sees as a bilateral dispute.

But in reality, the United States has been involved in easing tensions in every recent crisis between the two countries – from the 1999 Kargil war when India and Pakistan fought a brief but intense conflict along the Line of Control dividing the disputed former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir, to a military standoff in 2001/2002 when close to a million men were mobilised along the border after an attack on the Indian parliament. Following the attack on Mumbai, it was to the United States that India turned to to put pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Will Obama be able to find a way forward to ease tensions between India and Pakistan, in turn creating a firmer regional foundation to stabilise Afghanistan? Or more precisely, is there a method to his initiatives over the last few months involving not just India and Pakistan, but also China, that in the fullness of time will be seen to be part of an overall strategy to drive a regional bargain that will underpin his plans for Afghanistan?

As discussed in this analysis, the United States faced a difficult balancing act in its relations with India, Pakistan and China.  The financial crisis had made it more economically dependent on China, while its need for support in Afghanistan made it more militarily dependent on Pakistan.

India, which was defeated in a border war with China in 1962, has always been suspicious of Beijing’s role as one of Pakistan’s closest allies. And since Obama’s election it also became wary of what it feared was a U.S. tilt towards China which might undermine burgeoning U.S.-India ties which flourished under his predecessor George W. Bush.

The United States has tried tonavigate its way through these competing rivalries by promising aid and support to Pakistan, while also inviting Indian prime minister Singh to make the first state visit of his presidency. During a visit by Obama to China, the two countries promised to work together to promote peace in South Asia. Analysts variously interpreted the pledge as unwarranted interference between India and Pakistan, a detail in a lengthy statement about U.S.-Chinese relations, and a sign that China might encourage Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants in ways that would also reassure India. (As yet, the jury is still out on which interpretation is correct.)

When Obama unveils his latest plans for Afghanistan next week, we might get some clues as to whether he has used the long delay in announcing his strategy to build regional support for a grand bargain on Afghanistan.  Failing that, we might get an answer to the question I asked a year ago. What is the fall-back plan?

(Photos: The Taj hotel during the Mumbai attacks, the Dal lake in Kashmir; artillery at Drass on the Line of Control; the Obamas ahead of the state dinner for Prime Minister Singh)

182 comments

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The supposed US dependence on China is over rated. Because China is dependent on US. As this author says,the US and China have put themselves on an economic path of mutually assured destruction.http://articles.moneycentral .msn.com/Investing/SuperModels/mad-world -chinas-bind-is-ours-too.aspxFrom an Indian perspective, the fundamental problem in your thesis is you make it sound like India should do or could do something so that it would alleviate pakistani hostility towards India. We know better.your speculation China may ask pakistan to dismantle terrorist apparatus is way too utopian.This author has summarized Chinese startegy on India better:http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/p osts/2009/11/18/obamas_asia_trip_a_serie s_of_unfortunate_eventsQUOTE-First, Beijing has supported Pakistan’s nuclear and conventional military programs. Second, China wants an acknowledged sphere of influence in South Asia. And third, Beijing wants to resurrect the so called “hyphenated” approach to India. It thus needs the United States to again think of India as part of an India-Pakistan problem, rather than as an emerging great power.END QUOTEI would add China’s support to Pakistan’s terrorist programs in the first sentence above. Even banning JuD post-Mumbai apparently China had to be persuaded to go along with other powers.

We Indians have not understood why Pakistan has been pampered so much by the Western powers. Unlike Iraq, Pakistan is not sitting on top of an ocean of oil. It is a poor, third world nation that never focused on being a responsible country and build institutions that would support national growth. India has been advised to go easy, be flexible, be diplomatic and take all the abuses from the Pakistani side, including 20 years of state sponsored terrorism. India has lost thousands of victims to Pakistan based militants. Yet the Western powers have tried to remain non-committal to the Indian needs. We do not understand what kind of equation they were trying to balance by allowing Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons and sell the technology to rogue nations.Indians are losing faith in this diplomatic game. We know that the Western powers cannot be completely trusted. Today they shake hands. Tomorrow they can leave their third world allies bleeding to their deaths.So long as Pakistan is allowed to keep its nuclear assets, it is not going to listen to anyone. This wrong sense of security coming from the possession of nukes has encouraged them to engage in irresponsible activities. If any progress has to be made in this region and if Afghanistan has to be returned to normalcy, it is only possible by removing the nukes from Pakistan forcibly. It is threat to everyone, including the Pakistanis.With increased troops a likely possibility in Afghanistan, the Taliban is going to get desperate and it might try to unleash more terror inside Pakistan, thereby weakening its security. In that scenario, the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups might shift the war into Pakistan. They might try to take over the country and make it hard for the Western powers to act decisively. And it will bring the dange of the nukes going into their hands.I know Pakistanis on this forum will refute this. But two years ago they would have denied that their military would ever be engaged in a war with the Taliban. And they would have refused to believe the degree of suicide bombs and terrorist attacks inside their own country.Mumbai attack was a big mistake by LeT and its Pakistani sponsors. It has made things worse for Pakistan. In the past international sympathy was not much for Indians suffering from Pakistan based terrorist attacks. But Mumbai changed the perspective. And India’s restraint has made things worse for the Pakistani strategists who probably expected a retaliation from India so that they could charge at the Indian military, unite all the different factions and divert the war on terror away from Pakistan’s vicinity.India’s mature response has weakened Pakistan more. That is why it would be prudent for Pakistan to wipe out all forms of terrorism from their country. Just paying lip service to buy time and pretending to fight terrorism will make them pay dearly.Here is my heart felt sympathy for all those who lost their dear ones at the hands of the mindless monsters a year ago.

@Myra,The missing piece is not enough pressure on Pakistan to destroy its proxy armies.You can’t have an incoherent Pakistan, that is not good enough for Indians, where on one hand, Pakistan wants to claim it is try to talk peace with Indians and wants to move forward on bilateral issues, and on the other hand, State Agencies, or non-state actors, still given open sermons on Destroying and dismembering India. At the same time these groups keep fomenting and plan further attacks on India, as Dr. Manhoman Singh gets actual intelligence of these attacks on a daily basis, as well as the 60 odd Militant Jihadi’s, trained by the Pak Army and ISI amd those militants who cross the LOC to do terrorism in India.I am sorry, Myra, that is unacceptable to any sensible, thinking, rational person with a univeral sense of right or wrong. Terrorism is unacceptable in any form against anybody. Indian leaders cannot bow to terrorists, otherwise Indian anger will erupt and it will be uncontrollable and serious consequences against communal stability in India.Pakistan must be forced to deliver with the threat of losing something, that threat must come from the U.S.With every new Mumbai on India, Indian union grows stronger, but its restraint may weaken. The missing piece here is the pakistani army itself, everything starts and ends with them.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

It’s amusing to read such US-centric views of the region. I guess a “great power” will always try and see things from its own point of view. It’s up to emerging powers like India to assert themselves and let the US understand that there are other viewpoints.It’s really not that important that the US capture or kill bin Laden, however heretical that may sound. It’s far more important to stabilise the region and lay the foundations for economic cooperation and growth. It’s tragic that policies affecting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people are being pursued for, at its heart, reasons of ego. The US believes it will lose face massively by walking away without being able to declare victory. That’s the only reason why the terms of its engagement in South Asia are being framed the way they are.If Obama is half the statesman he seems to be, he will recognise this and look for a real long-term solution for South Asia, a solution that will benefit the US itself manifold in the long run. This is not an anti-militant play. It’s a play for lasting peace, stability and growth.What this means is that the US doesn’t really need Pakistan as much as conventional thinking there may suggest, because it’s not about militarily hemming in the bad guys and destroying them. This is a constructive endeavour, not a destructive one, and so the US needs India, not just to stabilise and develop Afghanistan but also to build bridges to Iran and Russia that are key stakeholders in the region.[My view on Iran: We should no longer be guided by the impressions we may have formed of Iran thanks to the lunatic fanaticism of Ayatollah Khomeini and his current heirs. Iran is an extremely civilised country that has suffered a dark period lasting a generation. Those watching events in Iran during the last election and immediately thereafter cannot help but be impressed by the radically more modern generation that has come of age in that country. They are Internet-savvy to an impressive degree and have widespread English-language skills as well. Their international isolation is unnaturally imposed by their current government. Ahmedinijad and Khamenei will be history within 5 years. The real Iran is its next government, which will come from the far more moderate and civilised populace that the world caught a glimpse of this year. India can help convince the US that Iran is not the Great Satan by boldly engaging with that country.]The US should have the courage to pull out of Pakistan and turn to India to help stabilise Afghanistan and the wider region. Once the focus shifts from punishing the attackers of 9/11 to this far more constructive enterprise, the problem becomes much more tractable. If India is given a more prominent and legitimate role in Afghanistan (not only through the invitation of the Afghan government and the welcome of its people but through US support), India may also be willing to supply troops and relieve Western countries of some of the burden of peacekeeping in that country. I believe Afghanistan can be quickly pacified once the focus shifts from punishing the 9/11 attackers to building up the country. Swatting militants should be purely incidental to building up the country.India has staying power in Afghanistan because the country is vital to its security interests. The US must play a supporting role. Iran and Russia will almost certainly support India because it is in neither country’s interests to have a Pakistan-backed Taliban regime in power. This will also be to the liking of the Afghan people (economic development, and no Taliban).What about Pakistan? Well, they’ve been wanting the US to leave their country, and they will get their wish. They will get no more US aid, though. The US gets to keep its money. It doesn’t have to keep spending on ungrateful “allies” who dislike them but want their money without strings attached. I doubt if China will move in to plug the funding gap. When they see how isolated Pakistan is, they may well hesitate to throw their money into a black hole.But what about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons?Shastri said:> If any progress has to be made in this region and if Afghanistan has to be returned to normalcy, it is only possible by removing the nukes from Pakistan forcibly. It is threat to everyone, including the Pakistanis.I agree that Pakistan’s nukes pose great danger not only to India but also to Pakistan itself, but attempting to remove them forcibly is very risky. A carrot-and-stick economic policy would probably work better. The embargo against Libya forced that country to renounce nuclear weapons. Pakistan currently suffers zero percent economic growth and is very vulnerable to economic pressure. It is only when the US realises that Pakistan isn’t that precious that they will turn to this option.In short, that’s my formula for peace in South Asia. It isn’t dependent on the whims of a country known for blackmail. And it’s not necessarily a punishment for Pakistan because their prosperity and international rehabilitation are entirely in their own hands. When they’re left alone to fend for themselves and very obviously isolated, they may acquire the wisdom to engage with the civilised world in a civilised way.Regards,Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

Myra,In your analysis, you seem to have forgotten the most vital aspect of troubled Indo-Pak relationshipand its effect on the region including Pakistan , which has nothing to do with regional balance or vying for power in Afghanistan : the present generation of Pakistanis are taught in schools or in madarasa or by mullahs that this whole land of the sub continent was ruled by their forefathers and some hindu “Infidels” conspired with British to throw them out. In an atmosphere where superiority complex among Pakistanis are so high , there can never be peace or tranquility in this region. Secondly, the biggest problem with Pakistan and Pakistanis are that they consider themselves as self-appointed protector of islam and muslims in the whole world. Pakistani hands are visible in almost all the terror attacks through out the world.It is the time that international community led by UN should intervene in Pakistan by taking over the possession of nuclear arsenals , and secondly dismantle Pak Army who is responsible for all the terrorist training , as well maintaining all the terror infrastructure.

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

First of all, any intelligent and knowledgable person will find faults in “The argument, much touted during Obama’s election campaign, was that a peace deal with India would convince Pakistan to turn decisively on Islamist militants, thereby bolstering the United States flagging campaign in Afghanistan” for three reasons:1. Any civilized and freedom loving country would be self convinced to turn against Islamic militants which harm innocent people of ANY country. Using terrorism as a state policy is wrong whenther done by USA or Pakistan.Pakistan should have turned against Taliban without any conditions or else every freedom loving citizen of earth should call them hypocrites.2. Any dispute between India and Pakistan has been consistent only from one side, the Pakistani side. The Indians would rather go on in the status quo situation, if it is peaceful for a few more centuries at the same time growing and partying inside India.3. Kashmir has been used by Pakistan, USA and China as an issue to contain all aspects of India. Now USA and India have grown closer in geo-political and strategic sense but what about China? Will China let there be peace between India and Pakistan. Raising the issue of Kashmir earns a salary for Pakistan from China. Obama is naive and dangerous.

Posted by Elephone_to_party | Report as abusive

“As I wrote at the time, it had always been an ambitious plan to convince India and Pakistan to put behind them 60 years of bitter struggle over Kashmir as part of a regional solution to many complex problems in Afghanistan. Had the Mumbai attacks pushed it out of reach? And if so, what was the fall-back plan?”Well I think I a year later, I am optimistic about Indo-Pak recriminations cooling down a bit. I think a beginning is being made.Firstly, Chidambaram, who was widely quoted elsewhere on this blog for having escalated fears of war yesterday clearly stated that war is not a consideration. Having just commented there about it I will refrain from repeating myself here.http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/chid ambaram_on_handling_pakistan_post-2611.p hpSince analysts here claimed that it was his statement – even though he is the Home Minister and not in charge of either defence or foreign affairs – that spooked the Pakistan think tank, maybe they will now find some satisfaction and see some light at the end of the tunnel.Secondly, at last the trial in Pakistan has made initial progress even though it is early days yet. The decision to charge the seven accused is grounds for optimism. Later events will either justify this or pour cold water on it.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

All the talk ans solutions mentioned are impossible to attain.The day the indians realise that it is not Pakistan who is responsible for india’s troubles,all the regions troubles will be solved.My advice to indians is STOP THINKING about AKHAND Bharat at once,it will never happen.Pakistans Atomic Weapons are here to stay for ever.Day dreaming will get you no where.Do not under estimate people of Pakistan.Our Scientist are far superior than indians.Remember we do BANG not flop,admitted by your own people.

Posted by Sardar Khan | Report as abusive

As to US plans and strategy, in my opinion, there seems to be a shift coming. The war in Afghanistan started with the aim of getting Osama and toppling the Taliban. Then caught in a quagmire, gradually confusion set in as to what the real aim there was.Recently I heard Hillary Clinton saying that though its very well to talk of bringing democracy and stability to Afghanistan it needed to be reiterated that the US went in there with one aim only – US security. Maybe this will be the theme in Obama’s new Afghan strategy. However, I also think that US security will be determined more by homeland security and there the US has done a good job. To bring down threat levels of attacks being initiated or planned from Afghnistan or Pakistan, that is downright impossible to predict or achieve other than reduce the percentage. That too has been done.The real issue though is that Afghanistan cannot be left just yet. There is a moral responsibility to restore a greater degree of security and some form of credible governance in that country. To that extent I think Hillary Clinton is looking more at an exit strategy than an overall Afghan strategy. In the bargain the US will be planting the seeds of another potential threat in the future. To a large extent what Obama unfolds will also show whether the US has learnt post 1989.Perhaps the new strategy will lay emphasis on improving conditions there; a surge is imperative, concentrate on making the country a little more self reliant in looking after its own security and law order and lay down yardsticks. Also involve the Afghans more in what effects their lives and their country. Train them to train themselves.Personally I think the UN must be involved far more in developmental work there. Perhaps one reason why the country went downhill so fast was because the US wanted to call the shots and retain decision making powers over all activity. These should be delegated to the UN – even with all its faults – it is far more experienced in development works.As for Plan B, considering that Plan A was so difficult to arrive at, if it has been finalised at all, I think Plan B be covered just one word – optimism!

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

India has moved past the post-colonial era into an era where they want to be a respected world power. Threatening Pakistan at every turn does not fit into that.Mumbai showed that India is able to maturely react to terrorism. Unlike after Indira Gandhi’s assasination, there were not race/religious riots. All religions united.The allies against the forces of terror must unite if we want to win this war.http://neoavatara.com/blog/?p=8958

This is the day, WE INDIANS have been waiting for last 20 years. OUR day has arrived. ISI and militants had given India enough reason in the past 20 years to invade and clean the terrorist training camps. But we restrained and reasoned that USA will comeback one day to clean mess. Why should India spend it’s limited resources to drain THE SWAMP. India’s restrain and wisdom was remarkable.USA can do the same job more professionally and and with little LOVE. And ISI/army will feel the pain but can’t cry loudly.So friends, lets celebrate. OUR day has arrived. Obama has sanctioned another 35000 soldiers to drain THE SWAMP. WE, THE INDIANS should cheer the BRAVE US/NATO soldiers.We have been waiting for this day for last 20 years with remarkable restraint and vision.

Posted by SOman | Report as abusive

Indians Indians Indians… always playing the propaganda game. BBC once told India to get over the obsession of Pakistan. All neighboring countries of India feel terrorized by India except Pakistan of course. Agreed that militants are not normal people and the army is doing it’s job and has made them homeless. The weapons Talibans get from Afghanistan are Indian weapons, so who is sponsoring terrorism? The day we mine our border with Afghanistan, the Afghans will realize that India is not their friend, they were helping them against Pakistan. Our nukes scare the hell out of you, and our more sophisticated missile technology really is the edge we have on India. If it wasn’t your threat to attack, we would have not built an Army, Air force and Navy. You keep threatening us instead of minding your own business. If you would have done that, you have been more prosperous but the fact that you want to gain prosperity and destroy Pakistan in the process makes the West wonder who you guys really are. So no one can really trust you guys. We have our own problems to handle and you should worry about your own problems.

Posted by Imran | Report as abusive

Myra, let me add to my original statement, the biggest missing piece in the puzzle, is a “Movement of the Willing” in Pakistan against hatred, blame and terrorism.”All the talk ans solutions mentioned are impossible to attain.The day the indians realise that it is not Pakistan who is responsible for india’s troubles,all the regions troubles will be solved.My advice to indians is STOP THINKING about AKHAND Bharat at once,it will never happen.Pakistans Atomic Weapons are here to stay for ever.Day dreaming will get you no where.Do not under estimate people of Pakistan.Our Scientist are far superior than indians.Remember we do BANG not flop,admitted by your own people.- Posted by Sardar Khan “–>Here you have it, another Pakistani hurling bravado blame, touting nuclear status and superiority, the missing link is Pakistani’s who are willing to think outside of the box as responsible, rational, conciliatory, anti-terrorist thinking, moderate, non-conspiracy thinking types in Pakistan.Mr. Khan, we are not going to destroy your precious military owned colony or the military’s nukes, but we do want you to be responsible and rid your country of madrassa born terrorism and join the modern world in rationality, reason and critical thinking. Please divorce your self from conspiracies, it is doing you no good, while the Taliban ravage and rape your country.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

@During a visit by Obama to China, the two countries promised to work together to promote peace in South Asia. Analysts variously interpreted the pledge as unwarranted interference between India and Pakistan, a detail in a lengthy statement about U.S.-Chinese relations, and a sign that China might encourage Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants in ways that would also reassure India.”-MyraMyra: Obama declines to meet Noble peace prize winner Dalai Lama so that he doe snot offend Chinese but he cares less about offending India knowingvery well that India rejects outside interference and asking China to intervene is foolishness of the highest order. Never knew he is that dependent upon China. This is such a BS that China will convince Pakistan to take care of anti-India Islamic militants. Obama needs to know that Indians did not borrow trillion dollars from China or US so they do not give damn to either._________________________________ _________________@To a large extent what Obama unfolds will also show whether the US has learnt post 1989.-DaraDara: We know that already that US has not learnt. US made startegic blunders after 9/11; they since they started Iraq war rather than focusing on Afghanistan. Used unreliable cheap locals allowed Taliban to regroup. So the question is what does Obama do? He has no room to play. This might be his last move.while US has taken defensive measures and no terror attack happned. Their strategic blunders in Afghnaistan has not reduced the PROBABILITY of attacks in the west but in this region, the whole mess has given REAL problems to people–innocents dying every day. India next door has become vulnerable to the attacks, connsidering how much Mullah Omar “loves” India and how much he inspires Islamic terrorist groups.After US-exit, Pakistan can make peace with the terrorists/talibans but the soft target is India. will there be a US exit from Afghanistan in near future? I seriously doubt US will leave in next 5yrs (near zero) and US will likely stay around for our life time. If it has not happend in Iraq, forget Afghanistan.____________________________ ______________________Imran:Dude, have cool sharbat after the needless tough talk.There is nothing to obsess about Pakistan; rather it is just an abscess. India is healthy and proseperous without it.@If it wasn’t your threat to attack, we would have not built an Army, Air force and Navy.”–A lie that sounds cute.___________________________________ __

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Mr. Imran, you write: “Indians Indians Indians… always playing the propaganda game. …” and so on.I just want to know how many Pakistanis share similar views today. Because that is going to determine the future course your country is going to take. It everything is a problem from outsiders, and if Pakistan is all innocent as you believe, you will never realize the ticking bomb you are sitting on top of. When it explodes, you might still believe that it was planted by someone else.Things are going from bad to worse for Pakistan and it might reach exponential increase. Just the past one year has seen an increased intensity of unprecedented violence inside Pakistan. Indian weapons are available in black market. When the CIA ran the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, it made sure that all the ammunition were Russian made. For this, it courted Egypt and other countries that imported weapons and ammunition from Russia. Until the Stinger missiles were delivered, all weapons used against the Russians were Russian made. So finding Indian ammunition and weapons does not mean anything. You people are self destructing with warped mindset and beliefs. Your entire establishment does not seem much different. You must be more worried about your nukes than we do. We can take care of ourselves. I can only feel sorry for you.

STOP THINKING about AKHAND Bharat at once,it will never happen.- Posted by Sardar KhanDear Sardar,I don’t know what is AKHAND Bharat, but I do wish and pray for AKHAND(United) Pakistan. That’s all I can do! If ISI is determined to shoot their own foot or burn their own fingers, hardly anybody can save!!! Hope one day, Pakistanis will get some wisdom and vision and save Pakistan from the menace of mullahs, militants and ISI!!!We INDIANs take no pleasure in seeing Pakistanis in misery or dying in droves. But your ISI had invited and nurtured the monsters in your backyard for some strategic advantage! And the monster is out of control now! Hope you will soon get out of this strategic advantage ambition and gain some strategic vision for your own good!

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

The missing piece in the Afghan jigsaw & in the relations between India & Pakistan is Pakistan’s unwillingness to take any concrete action against India specific terrorism emanating from it’s soil. In the past, India’s approach was “lets talk to Pakistan, build relations & they will reciprocate by dismantling the terror infrastructure, directed towards us”. Pakistan did reciprocate. But with Kargil, Parliament attack & Mumbai 2008 (not to mention, many more terror attacks all over India). So now, when the Indians say “take action first & we’ll talk later”, are they wrong?Today, one year has passed since the Mumbai attacks. What action has Pakistan taken against the people and/or groups responsible for Mumbai attacks or for any other terror attacks in India, for that matter?Sure, there has been some renaming of old groups, some arrests & subsequent releases, some superficial indictments etc but no concrete action, whatsoever. In spite of being provided a mountain of credible evidence (accepted by the international community), Pakistan keeps dragging it’s feet & saying that there’s not enough evidence to try the mass-murderers of Mumbai as per their ‘judicial system’. And this is a country where ordinary people hire judges instead of lawyers to get ‘justice’. This is a country where the most powerful & revered civilian leader (ZA Bhutto) is hanged just because the military establishment wants to. Please give us a break!So, if the international community wants peace between India & Pakistan, it would have to discipline & straighten out Pakistan & pressurize it to fight & eliminate ALL terrorism from it’s soil instead of being selective about it, which is it’s current policy.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Mumbai attack was a big mistake by LeT and its Pakistani sponsors-posted by Shastri====Please consider the above is perhaps a slight misreading of Mumbai.The primary goal of Pakistan army was to target economic capital of India in the desperate hopes to disrupt Indian economy. The secondary goal was to provoke India to do something like troop mobilization in 2002 post parliament attack. This would have been repeat of the same strategy that has failed several times to seek “international mediation” with India to achieve imaginary “strategic goals”.Pakistanis roaming the platforms using AK-47 rifles to mow down unarmed civilians at Mumbai train station went well. Provocation was enough, operation was successful.What was not anticipated? None of the Laskhkar Pakistanis was supposed to be caught alive. One getting caught and spilling the beans about his village, lashkar training routine, etc unraveled the whole operation. The rough comparison would be the entire space shuttle of NASA worth several hundred million dollars burning down because of small problems with the insulation.The whole operational strategy, execution were innovative, but also had the downside of potentially one of them getting caught alive which the Pakistan army didn’t plan well. If the sole Pakistani Kasab had not been caught alive, the spin would have been Indian muslims did it or “non-state actors in the region” may have done it and so on. That’s the thinking behind them carrying fake Indian college IDs, saffron arm bands to suggest “Hindu zionists” and so on.This man who only had a lathi (wooden stick) and did not have bullet proof vest caught hold of Pakistani Kasab’s rifle and took the bullets into his intestines.http://www.facebook.com/pages  /Tukaram-Omble/39993460035Pakistani terrorism under nuclear umbrella is new to humanity. But then counter-strategies do evolve.

Sindh follows Balochistan for freedom!With no freedom to chose within Pakistan, people of Sindh will chose freedom: Iqbal TareenWith no freedom to choose within Pakistan, people of Sindh will likely choose their freedom without Pakistan.http://www.pakistanchristianpos t.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=1531

Posted by Ramin | Report as abusive

If it wasn’t your threat to attack, we would have not built an Army, Air force and Navy.- Posted by Imran1947:Are you forgetting history? It was Pakistan army which invaded Kashmir in tribal uniforms in 1947 (barely months after birth). It was between a plundering raping marauding Pak army and innocent, unarmed Kashmiri villagers. Indian army was in Delhi that time and was hesitant to save Kashmiris until the Kashmir King begged for help and signed the accession agreement.1971:It was Pak army that killed 3 mil Bangladeshis, raped 30K women. Indian army didn’t intervene till India was flooded India with 3-10 mil refugees.2009:Today also, Pak army is the reason for separation of Balochistan and Sindh and Army is the only thread holding the country together. Otherwise Balochis and Sindhis have no love for Pakistan.So, you do need the army, but you need to control the army and NOT let the army control you. You need to control the wild ambitions of your army if you want to avoid the repetition of 1947 0r 1971.

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Myra,Do you believe in Karma? Good rewards for GOOD Karma and Bad rewards for bad Karma?USA is reaping what Regan had sown in 1980s. Pakistan is reaping what Gen. Zia had sown in 1980s and Pak army continues to water till today.What is there for India to do? Why should India sacrifice anything for their (mis)deeds?Pakistanis and USA are adept in their games and understand each other better.Sadly, Indians(including Kashmiris) and Afghans were the biggest victim of this US-Pak-Saudi game for the last 20 years without any role in the game.If anything Indians and Afghans need to do, they must help themselves, improve their internal security and help each other to get out of the trap, set by others. There is no genuine interest by USA-Pak-Saudi to solve the problem or improve conditions in SE Asia. USA-Pak-Saudi-China are more interested in their own agenda than helping SE Asians.

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I don’t know if India and Pakistan can be brought on in time to have any impact on Afghanistan.All Obama can do is deal directly with Pakistan and get their assurances that they will contain the Taliban (Afghan and Pakistani).The most Obama can do for Pakistan is to try and convince the Indians to be less visible in Afghanistan. There’s really nothing beyond that the US can do.India is not going to respond to pressure to talk about Kashmir. And if ever there was hope, that went up in the smoke from the Taj with the Mumbai attacks.When it comes to dealing with Pakistan, I support the Christine Fair approach of carrots and sticks. They need to be given solid economic assistance to deal with the repercussions of their involvement of the war on terror. But they need to be told by the US, that should they cause failure in Afghanistan, they will be held to account.

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Myra Says:As a result of the deadlock, both countries remain bitter rivals for influence in Afghanistan;You always stretch things too far to make up a story to suit your blogs. India is not competing with anybody for anything. India just DOESN’T want to see women abusing, child raping, drug runing taliban tribes back in power.And this is the goal of the whole world. If India builds a road or a school or power-plant or a parliament building or donates 1.2 bil to Afghanistan, you call that competition!!! When did Pakistan do any of those for Afghanistan?According to your logic, Pakistan is rivaling the whole world to save Afghanistan (as if they ever had a vision for Afghans)!!!How can you so easily comply to the Pak conspiracy theories? You do have access to international media. I expect better from you.

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Several Indian commentators here have suggested that the US should seek out Indian assistance in Afghanistan.Can anyone expand on this? What kind of assistance? And why should the US do it?The last thing the US/NATO wants is to drive Pakistani insecurities to the point that nothing moves forward in Afghanistan. At this point, India doesn’t have much skin in the game other than its aid projects and some workers here and there. It’s not Indian troops dying daily. And Obama is not going to sacrifice the lives of thousands of US troops just so that India and Pakistan can keep competing in Afghanistan forever.I am not suggesting India should not be consulted or have a diminished role. I just want to know what role do those of you who advocate Indian involvement in Afghanistan see for India, particularly given the triangular relationship between the US, India and Pakistan in Afghanistan.

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@ Comments from Sardar Khan & Imran:Pretty much sums up, what’s wrong with Pakistan & Pakistanis.Anyways, happy thanksgiving to the folks in US.

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“Kashmir is an integral and important part of India”: EUhttp://www.rttnews.com/ArticleView.asp x?Id=1140028&SMap=1Is Pakistan going to wake up to the reality now and work with SE Asian partners for the development of the region?Around 47000 Kashmiris dead and Pakistanis begging all over the world while Pak army is chasing unrealistic dreams! But for how long?

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Several Indian commentators here have suggested that the US should seek out Indian assistance in Afghanistan.- Posted by KeithYou have very few choices if you want a quick and cost-effective exit. When US/NATO are betrayed by their own allies (i.e. Pakistan), we feel sorry for your situation and deaths.India is not offering help to US/NATO. India is helping Afghans cuz they asked for it. If US/NATO need help, they can ask for that too. Don’t reject help before it is even offered. We don’t mind if you want to play your betrayal game forever with Pakistanis.India can help (but you need to ask):1. Financial assistance2. Infrastructure reconstruction assistance3. Education and HR development assistance4. NATO/US non-military supplies through Iran5. NATO/US refueling assistance6. Training Afghan manpower/Police/army/Judges/Civil Servants7. Bring the non-Talib tribes and warlords to discussion table8. Make things easy to negotiate with Iran and Russia9. Conducting peaceful and reliable democratic elections and building institutions.But you need to ASK if you need help. DON’T take help for granted and reject before offered. We don’t mind if Pakistanis or someone else is going to help in above areas.

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When it comes to dealing with Pakistan, I support the Christine Fair approach of carrots and sticks.- Posted by KeithGood Luck to you! Very soon you will run out of Carrots and the donkey will get resistant to sticks! The donkey is smart enough to know you have limited time and patience and the donkey can keep you busy for sometime in this carrots and sticks game till you run out of both and run away.Given the limited time and patience, I like Richard Arimtrage plan. No games .. clear goals .. 48 hours .. with us or back in stone ages. I wish if Obama csan find the Arimtrage guy again!

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Soman,Many of the things you mention though, are items that the Indian government has appeared unwilling to do in the past. For example, any real efforts to train the army, police or judiciary will require Indian bodies on the ground. It’s news to me if India’s changed its stance on deploying more personnel beyond the construction workers and the minimal forces to protect them.Some of the other stuff is nice but not likely to make a big dent (financial assistance for example). Some of the stuff is just not needed (refuelling for example). Even number 8 is not needed. Several NATO countries have been shipping stuff through Iran (except the US) and Russia. In fact, the US has been developing transit routes through Russia as an alternative to pakistan. Both countries have actually been reasonably co-operative with NATO over Afghanistan. They have no interest in seeing the Taliban come back either. I don’t know what India could offer above and beyond what NATO and the US have already achieved in this regard.7 and 9 are interesting. Do you really think that India has sufficient influence to help bring the Talibs to the table? That’d be more than the Pakistanis can seem to do. It would be huge if India could actually deliver on something like this. And could you expand on how India could help in developing democratic institutions. What can India contribute here, over and above what NATO is already doing in Afghanistan.

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@ Soman, Keith,One of the questions you hear frequently from Pakistanis is why India is investing so heavily in Afghanistan when it has so many problems of its own to deal with at home.(Chhattisgarh and the Maoist insurgency spring to mind)Included on Soman’s list:1. Financial assistance2. Infrastructure reconstruction assistance3. Education and HR development assistanceThis is not to suggest that India does not have legitimate interests in Afghanistan, but perhaps a more forthright discussion of what India is doing there would be helpful?The Asia Times had an article recently suggesting that Pakistan and India might eventually be able to find common ground on Afghanistan:http://www.atimes.com/atimes  /South_Asia/KK25Df01.html@ Keith,Let me know what you think about this piece; (scroll down to read) “Mumbai in the Shadow of Kashmir”http://www.counterpunch.org/pras had11262009.html@ all,On China, does it not have an interest in stability in South Asia/Afghanistan, and in making sure Islamist violence does not spread into Xinjiang?As discussed in this analysis, China is likely to gain most from stability in Afghanistan:http://www.reuters.com/artic le/newsOne/idUSTRE5323ZB20090404?sp=true Myra

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Myra: “One of the questions you hear frequently from Pakistanis is why India is investing so heavily in Afghanistan when it has so many problems of its own to deal with at home.(Chhattisgarh and the Maoist insurgency spring to mind)”Once upon a time, India had Pakistan on both sides of its border. India cut off East Pakistan by taking advantage of the internal strife there.Now the world has come to a new reality. India is on both sides of Pakistan. So they are worried about India’s presence in Afghanistan.Even doing constructive project seems to bother them in Afghanistan. First of all Afghanistan is a sovereign nation. Pakistan has no say in the foreign policies of Afghanistan. If the Afghans do not want India there, they will spell it out and India will close its missions there. But Pakistan is treating Afghanistan like its own province. They are trying to deflect attention away from themselves in this war on terror, being led by the US. It is interesting that the US or Afghanistan never asked Pakistan for building roads and hospitals there. I wonder why.

Keith said:> Several Indian commentators here have suggested that the US should seek out Indian assistance in Afghanistan. Can anyone expand on this? What kind of assistance? And why should the US do it?My point is that the current driver for the US presence is Afghanistan is, at its heart, one of ego. If they get bin Laden, I predict that they will declare a face-saving victory and get out in double quick time. As long as bin Laden remains at large, they cannot leave. They would lose face big time. He was the reason they went in in the first place.Look at the parallels in Iraq. They created the mess in Iraq but were able to declare victory of sorts because they got Saddam Hussain and executed him after a victor’s trial. (I’m no fan of Saddam Hussain’s but the US actions in Iraq were quite transparently self-serving.)Reconstruction of Afghanistan or stabilisation of the region is not the primary concern of the US (even though they talk about it a lot). I’m saying it should be.If the US can align itself in word and in deed to the constructive idea of stabilising the region and helping Afghanistan’s development, they will find that the current role being played by India in that country is complementary to their own efforts, and it will lend legitimacy to their own activities, in much the same way that the international coalition that George Bush Sr mustered at the start of the first Gulf War legitimised the US action.So, to answer your questions:What kind of assistance? More of the same – construction, health, education, training in governanceWhy should they do it? Legitimacy from being part of a broader coalition.Regards,Ganesh

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Myra Says:One of the questions you hear frequently from Pakistanis is why India is investing so heavily in Afghanistan when it has so many problems of its own to deal with at home.Why are US/EU investing so heavily in Afghanistan when they have so many problems of their own to deal with at home? Do you think US/EU have spare dollars and lives to spend in Afghanistan?US/EU are there because, 9/11, 7/7, Madrid originated in Afghanistan/Pakistan. India is there because Indian-Airlines plane IC-814 has hijacked form Nepal to Afghanistan. LeT, JuD, Mumbai terrorists draw inspiration and funds form Talibans. Kashmir violence started with CIA-Saudi funded Mujahideens.With 180 mil muslim population (2nd largest in the world), India has more reasons than anybody else to see a Taliban free stable Afghanistan. INdia will be Taliban’s next target, Once Talibans are given a land to survive and breed in Afghanistan.With or without US, India is going to work with Iran and Russia to make sure that Talibans never come to power. US can stay or leave when they like. US never belonged there other than quickies!India might like if US runs away from Af-Pak. We would like to see how long Pakistan stands without free US money and arms.

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Myra says:On China, does it not have an interest in stability in South Asia/Afghanistan, and in making sure Islamist violence does not spread into Xinjiang?China is more interested in economic leadership and super power status than social stability. China can kill 1000 people in one hour to bring social unrest under control. So they are not very worried about Islamist violence or Xinjiang? Chinese communists know that they can hold on to power and control social stability as long as they show economic growth and power status.What China achieved in 40 years, India achieved 40%-50% of that in last 20 years. In many areas INdians are doing better than Chinese like, moon landing or access to US/Russian technologies or aircraft carriers. India is catching up fast with China with some help from democratic friends in west. India is standing between China and it’s ambitions!That is why China is more interested to weaken India in SE ASIA (with support of Pakistan or Maoists) than fight with India in world stage. China will always avoid a direct confrontation with INdia for same reason India always avoided a direct confrontation with Pakistan.China’s biggest worry is not Xinjiang or Taliban. It is India and its rapid growth.

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7 and 9 are interesting. Do you really think that India has sufficient influence to help bring the Talibs to the table?- Posted by KeithIf you need to talk to hard-core Talibans, Only ISI or Saudis can deliver that. India/Iran and Russia are against the hard-core Talibans.India can accept and support the rented/hired talibans if they abjure violence and join mainstream political life and adopt democracy. I believe Karzai is already doing that and India is encouraging him.India doesn’t interfere directly in Afghanistan affairs. India only does what Afghan Govt asks to do. Both Afghan Presidential candidates (Karzai and Abdullah) are pro-democratic and pro-India (and not necessarily anti-Pakistan). They were educated in India and their families are still in INdia.India can work with Karzai, Abdullah, Iran, Russia, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turks to bring the non-Talibs and moderate Talib tribes to discussion and in to democracy.But if you ally with hard-core talibans, you have to kiss goodbye to democracy, Karzai and Abdullah. You will be stuck with ISI and Mullah Omar and UBL.

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Keith,Thanks for your clarification on Indian visibility in Afghanistan in the other thread.However, may I ask you something? Feeling insecure, feeling paranoid, worrying about encirclement, worrying about others ganging up on you- ARE THESE SPECIAL PRIVILEGES afforded only to Paks, Americans, and the Chinese?Would you kindly consider granting these unique privileges to Indians also ??.The USof A champion of liberty has propped up, and supplied billions of dollars and military gadgets to be used by paks in wars and terrorism against our people for the last 62 years.What was the West’s reaction, response to India’s pleas about pak terrorism until the jihadis started bombing the West? cocky, arrogant, insensitive dismissal.All we are saying is this is a selfish world. We have to take care of ourselves. For 62 years since our grand fathers generation , we have pleaded with the paks to shed hostility and live in peace, but to no avail.Your suggestions India should be less visible in Afghnaistan etc don’t cut ice with us.We have to pay the paks back,keep pursuading the paks thru various means to abandon their aggression.We don’t understand your suggestions to supply more carrots to pakistan. How much carrots has the West given and what are your results? They beg around, collect ransom from the world, meanwhile use rest of their resources to run terrorist training camps? The even make fun of our poverty, what will be their poverty level if you syop pumping them up?The demand that Indians should be less visible should be coming from Afghans. Not from Paks or Westerners. Why are you not responding this question?Hope you try to understand this:Your comment that since pak soldiers are dying they have rights to demand less visibility of Indians in Afghanistan is VERY offensive to us. We don’t care for them. We have zero sympathy for them who have sent terrorists to bomb our temples, villages, buses, trains for the past 30 years.Regards,

Keith,You are right. India doesn’t want to get involved too much in Afghan affairs. Only whatever asked by Afghan Govt! I believe already 5000-10000 Indian police are manning various construction sites and the 5 embassies. India is already training Afghan Army/Intelligence/police/education/Agric ulturists/teachers in India. But not on a bigger scale than what India does for Nepal/Bhutan/Sri Lanka/Maldives or Mauritius.But US/EU can force INdia to take bigger non-military role. India can never deploy army without UN mandate, but it can definitely finance/train the Afghan Army in Afghanistan or India. INdia is not worried about losing lives as many Indian policemen had lost lives to ISI/Taliban agents while constructing the road.But before India can convinced, US/EU need to make their own mind. Right now they seem to be standing on two boats: Negotiating with Talibans and fighting with Talibans. We still don’t know what are US intentions. Under this conditions, how can anyone blindly support US!

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And could you expand on how India could help in developing democratic institutions. What can India contribute here, over and above what NATO is already doing in Afghanistan.- Posted by KeithDid you forget the recent election fraud and 6-8 month long counting/recounting process in Afghanistan. You could have avoided all that if you had borrowed Indian expertise.INdians have developed a very efficient, sophisticated and corruption/count/recount free election system. Even in US people go to courts after 10 recounts, but it doesn’t happen in INdia. 500-700 mil votes are counted and results are out within 48 hours without any room for dispute or debate.Indians don’t need translators to talk to Afghans. An informative Bolywood movie will go far enough to motivate and guide people and politicians. Afghan politicians have strong ties to INdian politicians. UUIDs (Unique User IDs) will go a long way to save vote casters from Taliban threats and avoid ballot stuffing.The newly elected Afghan Govt met under the Parliament built by India. INdian election comission and observers are very independent. Had India helped/trained Afghans in recent election, all the corruption charges could have been easily avoided.Afghanistan’s nearest and oldest stable democratic neighbor is INdia. So Indians can help every possible way. Even Indians have the same goals and want to see a democratic and stable AFghanistan.But can US/EU come above the Pakistan syndrome?

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When it comes to dealing with Pakistan, I support the Christine Fair approach of carrots and sticks.- Posted by KeithAnd that’s exactly what ISI wants too.ISI doesn’t want you to surge or leave. ISI just wants you to stay there forever, free-wheel in mud, pay them billions in arms and US aid yearly/monthly and you are free to play any game you like (carrots and sticks, hide and seek, drone-seek and drone-bomb or whateverrr). But you can’t leave.I often wonder what will the ISI agents feed on and wear when Afghanistan becomes peaceful and US leaves!

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Myra,Your comparisons between India and Pakistan are a bit offending to Indians and to all freedom loving people around the world.ISI is deliberately trying to feed Afghanistan to the Taliban monsters, who sent one of the oldest and prosperous civilizations on earth to stone ages in a matter of 10-20 years. Afghans had suffered so much under Pakistan/Taliban rule that the entire civilization is almost wiped out.India on the other hand is investing in blood and treasure to get Afghanistan back to the democratic, civilized, multicultural, free world.While India is busy constructing new roads and buildings, ISI/Taliban are busy planting IEDs on roads and bombing buildings. ISI trained talibans are busy killing brave soldiers who are guarding Afghan freedom.And you call this competition? I am a bit sad and disappointed.Hope, one day you will appreciate the sacrifices of the brave lives and proud nations, who continue to invest in blood and treasure to see a happy and prosperous Afghanistan!

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@Myra: “One of the questions you hear frequently from Pakistanis is why India is investing so heavily in Afghanistan when it has so many problems of its own to deal with at home.(Chhattisgarh and the Maoist insurgency spring to mind)”-MyraMyra: If money spent in Afghanistan is the reason for Mao insurgency, you have point. But that’s not the case. Mao ins is internal and India-Afgh is external national interest of India.You are asking this FAQ by Pakistanis, but what’s your own thinking.Acc to this, US should fix its finacial meltdown before helping Israel and Pakistan.__________________Myra/Keith:An y idea how much money US/NATO spend on civil non-military projects in Afghanistan.________________Keith: By “reducing Indian presence” in Afgh, do you mean India should cuts its consulates from 5 to 1.India need Afghan people to know that India is their friend. But can you please Pakistani whiners by reducing presence.

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The crux of the matter is, indians and pakistanis are fighting over kashmir, which is bad, and also the crus is that yaseen malik on a number of occassions has said that in urdu “Indian Fauj ki Mai maa chod dun ga” which translates to “Indians should take the dialogue approach”

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S.Oman.At last the truth came out from an indian’s mouth.Since 1947,you are trying to destroy Pakistan by hook and crook.It was your terrorism in 1971,whichcaused the sepration of East Pakistan,but what you gained as a result,Bangaladashi’s still hate your country.We both are still friends but they still hate hindu kaffirs.Ask any bangali,because your RSS a terrorist orgnation suported by RAW and hindunationalism runs india.Before accusing others look in your own closet for the skeletons hidden their.

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There is a method to this tilt in editoral persuasion of reuters over the past few weeks on the issue of AFPak and a sometimes direct and at other times less overt reference to Indian intentions vis Afghanistan and Pakistan.India’s aims are simple. Poverty irradictaion in our own country and keeping the diverse segments of the population together to allow social cohesion. We have no interest in Pakistan or Aghanistan. Pakistan has been using several methods to product instability in India by trying to promote rift between Indian Muslims and Hindus. Indians believed this was to facilitate their claim over Kashmir by making the muslim population feel like aliens within India. few have argued that the Pakistani intentions are more grave than that and that their purpose is to somehow beak India down as somehow they will never be safe until India remains powerful or influential.This second argument is silly!! I firmly believe that Indians at least a majority have attained the maturity to see rationally that an unstable Pakistan is a very bad thing for India. Instability spreads across borders quite easily especially posous one’s like ours.All India wants is that 1. no such terrorist and communal violence should be used as a state policy by Pakistan. 2. Indian men women and children should not be killed ruhlessly.India has no territorial interest in Pakistan as such an interest is untennable and we already have enough to deal with.The westerners should not abue the ignorance of the people in India or Pakistan to resolve their own issues.The reason why Indians want to help build a stable Aghanistan is because terrosists are travelling fom the west of Pakistan (bordering with Afghaistan) to their easter border with india and carrying out anti -india activities as a price for safe sanctuary by Pakistan.As we cannot help the moderates in Pakistan even if we want to as they will never trust any Indian influence and because we do not want to use aggression or retaliate as far as possible in a Military fashion against pakistan, as the cost will be big for us as well and we know that. the only way to reduce attacks on our houses and families is to keep a stringent watch on the idia Pak border and try and stabalize afghanistan and have them be friendly towards India. there isn’t any rocket science in figuring that out. None of that is an aggressive military stance. Trust me we really need war only like the plague!!! If we could puts some oars out and float away from Pakistan we would be very very happy to do so and become an Island nation! we are not interested in them one little incy wincy bit!

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Also, to add one more little point. We do not have big agendas and any stake in these civilizational fights between Christianity and Islam. We have no axe to grind. Please take these crusades and stick them!!With due respect, we are poor and quite messed up in many ways but what we will not accept is tutoring from some religeous zealots writing for their civilizational/ national interests on the web or some parchment!. We are trying very very hard to marginalise the idiotic RSS and extreme righ winged BJP type folks into a corner in our own country to clip their wings and have some semblence of common sense. We need no distractions from working on poverty alleviation, building hospitals, schools and cleaning our streets. So please go away!!!!

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@Myra: “One of the questions you hear frequently from Pakistanis is why India is investing so heavily in Afghanistan when it has so many problems of its own to deal with at home.(Chhattisgarh and the Maoist insurgency spring to mind)”-MyraA relevant question to Brits is that they could not bring any lasting peace in Northern IReland ( 60 plus yrs?) and are still occupying the Irish land, and at the same time giving sermons to others. Look who is declaring themselves a champion of equality, freedom and justice? First the Brits should fix the mess in their backyard before descending on far off lands with guns and tanks. Mao insurgency is fuelled by Pak and China( NorthEast). Maoists are not looking for just free Rice, butinstead they demand changes in constitution, just like the Klansmen in USA do, which is not acceptable.

@ RajPlease read my posts carefully before you respond. I did not say anything about Pakistani troops. I said that the US will not be interested in staying for long if Afghanistan turns out to be a contest between India and Pakistan.Do you really think that India would stay in Afghanistan by itself if US/NATO were to pull-out tomorrow? It is the presence of Western troops that is facilitating India’s involvement in Afghanistan. That’s why its incumbent on India to co-operate with the West to help the mission in Afghanistan succeed.

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Your suggestions India should be less visible in Afghanistan etc don’t cut ice with us.We have to pay the paks back,keep persuading the paks thru various means to abandon their aggression…..The demand that Indians should be less visible should be coming from Afghans. Not from Paks or Westerners. Why are you not responding this question?Hope you try to understand this:Your comment that since pak soldiers are dying they have rights to demand less visibility of Indians in Afghanistan is VERY offensive to us. We don’t care for them. We have zero sympathy for them who have sent terrorists to bomb our temples, villages, buses, trains for the past 30 years.Regards,- Posted by RajFair enough. But if that’s the attitude, why should the West stay in Afghanistan? If the fight in Afghanistan is between India and Pakistan, why are we sending our young lads to die there?The West is not going to sacrifice soldiers in Afghanistan simply to protect India’s interests (on common interests maybe, but not so that India and Pakistan can bleed western soldiers). Some co-operation on the part of India here is called for. Such an inflexible attitude will either result in the US leaving early or India leaving Afghanistan…which ultimately won’t benefit either the US, India or Afghanistan.I have not called for a reduction in Indian involvement, closure of missions or anything like that. Just a bit of discretion that would help soothe Pakistanis (albeit a little), help secure Indian efforts (by not drawing attention to them), help legitimize the Afghan government, and maintain Afghan public support.Keep in mind that if Afghans keep dying because of this Indo-Pak contest, they aren’t going to find the Indian presence favourable either. Sooner or later they will get fed up with being caught in between (just like they are today between US/NATO and Taliban).Finally, I don’t know where you get the impression that Pak soldiers are dying in Afghanistan. They aren’t there. Nor did I write anything of the sort.

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Soman,Keep in mind that IEC in Afghanistan is still somewhat reliable. Yes, they suck at administering the vote. However, they were independent enough to label and expose the election fraud being committed. They largely need help developing their capacity in running elections. And this comes down to issues like manpower, security, corruption, etc. I am curious to know how you think India can contribute to those issues specifically.India does indeed have excellent election monitoring and administrative institutions. However, I don’t see how they could have helped in the recent elections. The context under which India’s election administrators operate is very different. They don’t have to worry about the kind of violence and intimidation that the Afghans get. Keep in mind that much of the worst rigging happened in the less hospitable parts of the country where the deployment of monitors was hampered for various reasons.What could India offer under this scenario that would make things different? Is India willing to deploy election monitors to remote areas of Afghanistan? If it is, why doesn’t it contribute more to the offices and processes already in place? The existing IEC could certainly use every bit of assistance they can get. Particularly, when it comes to manpower willing to deploy to risky areas.

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Keith: By “reducing Indian presence” in Afgh, do you mean India should cuts its consulates from 5 to 1.India need Afghan people to know that India is their friend. But can you please Pakistani whiners by reducing presence.- Posted by rajeevAs detailed in the other thread: No. Keep the consulates. Dial back the parties. That’s all. This would also make Indians less of a visible target in Afghanistan.Nobody is calling for a reduction in Indian aid or assistance. But a more discrete approach can’t hurt.

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Nobody is calling for a reduction in Indian aid or assistance. But a more discrete approach can’t hurt.- Posted by KeithIn other words west has no courage to confront Pakistan’s double game or treachery?At the least, can you stop giving them billions and arms? People in Mumbai, Kashmir are dying and the funds come from West.WHat is India doing wrong in Afghanistan that it needs to stop or hide?

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What could India offer under this scenario that would make things different?- Posted by KeithIndia won’t get involved directly in Afghan internal matters like security, politics or election. But India can train election personnel. India can donate Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), that are 100% reliable and tamper-proof, and other election related materials. India can send election observers under UN mandate. Last Afghan election (2004) was conducted with Ink and paper donated by India.But Afghans must conduct their own election process, believe in it and take pride in it as we INdians do.

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Nobody is calling for a reduction in Indian aid or assistance. But a more discrete approach can’t hurt.- Posted by KeithIndia is also fighting for influence in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives by making donations and aid for development. By investing in their development and opening more trade routes and FTAs. INdia is not sending terrorists and suicide bombers to these countries.So why is it wrong if INdia does the same thing in Afghanistan?Instead of telling ISI to stop sending terrorists, you want to tell INdia to stop building schools, hospitals, parliament in Afghanistan?Would you also tell the Afgahanis that this the freedom, liberty and prosperity that you can offer them?

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If the fight in Afghanistan is between India and Pakistan, why are we sending our young lads to die there?The West is not going to sacrifice soldiers in Afghanistan simply to protect India’s interests- Posted by KeithYou are wrong dude! US/NATO are not in Afghanistan to help India. US/NATO are in Afghanistan after 9/11 to correct their past mistakes.INdias and Afghans were the biggest victims of US/NATO mistakes since 1980s. 48000 INdians died in India by CIA-Saudi funded and ISI trained terrorists. More than 2 mil Afghans died when US/NATO handed over Afghanistan to Talibans and withdrew. WHen Indian plane IC-814 has hijacked to Afghanistan, a taliban delegation was making business/oil deals in Texas.INdia has been crying loudly since 1980s about these islamic terrorists. Did anybody help INdia? Instead Pakistan was rewarded with more arms and aid. And more Indians died.Afghans were being killed like goats by talibans since 1990. Where were US/EU that time? Nobody heard their cries?So it is hypocritical to say that US/EU are there to help Afghanistan or INdia. And you really think you can withdraw from Afganistan with eliminating Taliban/AQ?Even if India completely shuns Afghanistan, that will not solve the ISI/Taliban problem, nor can US/NATO exit.Indians have been telling since long, problem is not Afghanistan, problem is Pakistan, Problem is ISI. You also know this but you don’t want to say it loudly.The line between taliban and ISI is very thin. One day you will have to address that. The sooner you address ISI, the sooner you can leave Afghanistan!

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Also, to add one more little point. We do not have big agendas and any stake in these civilizational fights between Christianity and Islam. We have no axe to grind. Please take these crusades and stick them!!With due respect, we are poor and quite messed up in many ways but what we will not accept is tutoring from some religeous zealots writing for their civilizational/ national interests on the web or some parchment!. We are trying very very hard to marginalise the idiotic RSS and extreme righ winged BJP type folks into a corner in our own country to clip their wings and have some semblence of common sense. We need no distractions from working on poverty alleviation, building hospitals, schools and cleaning our streets. So please go away!!!!Very well said Rajeev, you have hit the nail on the head.The crusaders want to bleed India alongwith the Islamic world. No wonder, the yanks have been absolutely quite about Chinas nuclear aid to Pak. Now we have the evangelical president obama at the helm.The British govt has lost all leverage in Intl affairs, Zimbabwe and Srilanka give it the 2 finger salute. However in the case of India, a compliant pak is a very good tool to extract benefits. As a pension all deposed pak leaders get a apt in Mayfair with security, Sharif, Bhutto, Musharaf et al.Well it is all coming back here too. I had mentioned to Myra about the rise of BNP and how al-qaeda will manipulate this in the next elections here. There was a poll at the start of the week, wherein they mentioned that the Tories have lost their large lead over labour due to the BNP factor.

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That’s why its incumbent on India to co-operate with the West to help the mission in Afghanistan succeed.- Posted by KeithOK, so you have prescriptions for India on how to behave in Afghanistan.Would you tell us how are going to clean the SWAMP LANDS in Pakistan? Do you even see the SWAMP LANDS in Punjab and PoK? Before India can help you, you need to be honest and committed to the cause?It is really sad that CIA knew, inspected and funded LeT training camps in Punjab on the conditions that no foreigner get trained there? So attacks on INdia were fine and Indian lives were expendable? DO you know how INdians feel when know CIA was funder/partner of LeT training camps?But again ISI tricked CIA during that time and hid the foreign terrorists in mountains during CIA inspections.

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The West is not going to sacrifice soldiers in Afghanistan simply to protect India’s interests (on common interests maybe, but not so that India and Pakistan can bleed western soldiers). Some co-operation on the part of India here is called for. Such an inflexible attitude will either result in the US leaving early or India leaving Afghanistan…which ultimately won’t benefit either the US, India or Afghanistan.I have not called for a reduction in Indian involvement, closure of missions or anything like that. Just a bit of discretion that would help soothe Pakistanis (albeit a little), help secure Indian efforts (by not drawing attention to them), help legitimize the Afghan government, and maintain Afghan public support.- Posted by Keith==Keith,Fair enough, point taken. Diplomacy is the art of the impossible. You suggest discretion on the part of India to be flexible and work with US/Western forces. Your assertion is even if Afghans are not demanding it, such discretion on the part of India will help our common goal.There ends the good story. PAKS WILL NOT STOP THERE.Paks will keep demanding more. Their only goal is to keep Afghanistan as its colony. What is your response if we say you are way too optimistic here. Other countries have militaries, Pakistan army is the only army that owns a country. Only source of revenue for the country is ransom money from the rest of the world in the “war against terror”.Your suggestions to “soothe” Paks is continuation of Western policy of appeasement of pak militarism for the past 62 years.

Keith: “The West is not going to sacrifice soldiers in Afghanistan simply to protect India’s interests (on common interests maybe, but not so that India and Pakistan can bleed western soldiers). Some co-operation on the part of India here is called for. Such an inflexible attitude will either result in the US leaving early or India leaving Afghanistan…which ultimately won’t benefit either the US, India or Afghanistan.”Actually India is not desperate for something in Afghanistan. The US can come and go as it likes and nothing would change in this region. Hamid Karzai went to college in India. He can speak fluent Hindi. And he has long standing ties with India. Afghans love Indian movies and there are many Afghans settled in India, as far South as Hyderabad. When Indians interact with Afghans, there is absolutely no consciousness about religious differences. No one even senses about them being Muslims or vice versa. Interestingly as soon as anything regarding Pakistan is sensed, immediately the Muslim identity sets in and becomes some kind of a barrier to any kind of friendship between the people of the two nations.The level of hatred for India and “Hindus” is so high in Pakistan that they are going to create a ruckus on some matter or the other. If India closes all its missions inside Afghanistan, then it would be Kashmir. If Kashmir is settled, it would be 1971. If not, 1965 or the BJP or no one likes India in the neighborhood and so on. We know this will never end. So toning down India’s activities will achieve nothing.McChrystal is desperate for ideas and he is looking at any excuse he can get to explain his situation. Buying out the Taliban, making peace with them, asking India to move its military from Kashmir, telling them to tone down in Afghanistan etc sound silly to us. But he is the man with the power and the weapons. We feel that he is slowly falling into the trap laid by Pakistan.Pakistan is already warning that increasing the allied troops inside Afghanistan will not be successful. I’d like to see if the Americans consider Pakistani concerns and tone down their military presence or not. If they leave the place abruptly, it will only make things worse for them. India has always been at the receiving end and knows well not to rely on any external powers for its survival.

Keith,Why can’t the US/NATO completely withdraw form AFghanistan and middle east and and go home? That is the only demand of Taliban/AQ and talks failed on that condition!!!”The talks eventually failed due to the obstinacy of the Taliban representatives who wanted the withdrawal of the US-led allied forces from Afghanistan before initiating a formal dialogue with the US and the Karzai administration”http://www.thenews.com.pk  /daily_detail.asp?id=210843It is really sad that a superpower is surrendering to Talibans and negotiating a surrender deal with Ta

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Myra,Pakistani objective in Afghanistan is very limited: drugs and terrorism. Pakistanis need Afganistan as terror laboratory where they can research terror technics developed by ISI and other pakistani institutions. Pakistanis also need Afghanistan to grow drugs to fund their terror infrastructure spread across length and breadth of Pakistan.The reasons why Pakistanis are worried about Indian presence in Afghanistan are very simple : Indian presence is a deterrent for Pakistanis to achieve their objectives .India like other countries in the world definitely have their share of problems , but this does not mean India should assist Afghanistan in its development activities.

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Keith,Going through your comments and views there are three aspects which I would like to take further.Your recommendation that India channelise aid through the Afghan government being the first. I was under the impression that all aid or any involvement in Afghanistan is through the approval and knowledge of their government. Surely it is all on a govt. to govt. basis? Am not familiar with the situation on the ground there and your comment gives the impression that India has either gate crashed the party or that their private organisations operating independently there.Secondly:”And this comes down to issues like manpower, security, corruption, etc. I am curious to know how you think India can contribute to those issues specifically.”The Election Commisssion has tremendous experience in this regard; what with battling naxalites, insurgents and the criminal-politicl nexus. In fact because of the law and order problem and the resources required for it, India has now gone onto staggering the whole process. It is cumbersome but the end has justified the means. This exercise also includes positioning of teams and election machinery in very inhospitable terrain and hostile conditions. The Indian Election Commission, may have other faults but has a spectacular record in conducting free, fair and peaceful elections. In fact very few states today can perhaps match it in scale or efficacy.Lastly, when you ask as to why India does not contribute towards this exercise, I find this statement at loggerheads with the clamour for India to keep a low profile and scale down its exposure. The one thing I am sure of is that their experience and record is unmatched and a very positive contribution can be made. Maybe the Indians haven’t been asked to help out in this regard. Pakistan may blow another fuse and go ballistic if that were to happen! But hey, that would make for so many interesting posts and threads here ;)

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Myra:“One of the questions you hear frequently from Pakistanis is why India is investing so heavily in Afghanistan when it has so many problems of its own to deal with at home.(Chhattisgarh and the Maoist insurgency spring to mind)”By this yardstick the one country which is least qualified to invest anything, anywhere must surely be Pakistan. Closely followed by the UK for the fragile state of its economy and the mess its political system is in today. Yet Gordon Browne thinks nothing of actually championing the cause of a surge in Afghanistan and motivating his EU and NATO counterparts to become proactive.That such a question was considered worth discussing in this forum is quite revealing.

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On one hand NATO is perceived as oblivious if not complicit in raising Pakistan’s paranoia of Indian encirclement and on the other they are not gaining any Brownie points with the Pakistani public.The only way to have any semblance of stability and to rule out Afghanistan as a safe heaven for terrorists is to include India in the equation and that is why Pakistan wanted the Af-Pak-Ind troika as India has professed that it has as much at stake in Afghanistan, if not more as Pakistan. To single out Pakistan and not have India accountable for the outcome of any grand plan implemented in Afghanistan is not only disingenuous but also utterly impractical.I must give it to the Indians. They have come up with a strategy to gain influence in Afghanistan at the expense of the NATO forces and the NATO alliance has so far not been able to understand that the presence of Indian personnel instead of complimenting NATO’s mission is actually hurting it.Like I have said before. The moment NATO leaves Afghanistan India will follow suit. It cannot succeed where the mighty Soviet Union failed in creating a satellite state out of Afghanistan.

Keith, you point regards discretion is well taken. Please do note that it is not India beating drums about any involvement in Afghanistan. Well hopefully not. as firstly even we don’t want to be there. It is Pakistani Intelligence thats make a big issue of it and putting a spotlight on it even if we give humanitarian aid there.Cannot emphasize enough that India does not want to de-stabilize pakistan. we cannot wish away 170 million people living there. Some of the extreme elements in Pakistan (not all are extreme) put a negative spin on anything we do to make the west nervous about the situation or threaten to take away support of the war. We want the agendas in south asia to change from politics and religion to economics. thats the reason of our involvement in Afghanistan.The other reason we are there is so the NATO forces don’t turn a blind eye to our fate as a consequence of this war which is for all our future security. We don’t want the conversation to go like this:ISI: “We will get rid of the guys who attack the west, give us aid, but turn a blind eye to what we do in India as that is for our future. so lets shake on it!!”This argument will anyway not hold as the guys everyone is fighting are against civilized society at least the way we all understand it and it is naive to think that pakistan army can change the agenda of the extreme elements in the central asia and middle east.Also it is unreasonable to expect India to allow such an agreement to go through. thats the entire game!

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The world is cracking down on Pakistan to the extent that it can. Again, there aren’t a lot of levers to convince the Pakistanis to give up their policies of supporting insurgencies and terror groups. The US has tried to bolster democracy there by seeking to build civic institutions (via the KL bill).- Posted by KeithHave you tried sanctions? Have you tried to declare them a terrorist state (What more proof do you need)?Why not give the KL bills to Iran, Saddam, Libya, Cuba and put sanctions on Pakistan. What Pakistan has done to the world is 1000 times is worse than what Iran, Saddam, Libya, Cuba could have possibly done!France/Germany are competing to sell submarines to Pakistan. US is giving 15 bil and arms, IMF another 12 bil. Honestly these are just rewards for bad behavior. So why would they ever behave nice? Do you ever reward nice guys?Have you ever been to a drug rehab? Do they use sweet talk and reward to fix drug addicts and criminals?

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One of the reasons I asked why India was in Afghanistan was because there has been so little discussion of this in either the Indian media or the Indian parliament.By contrast, the question of why western troops are in Afghanistan is discussed every day in the media; it has also been debated in parliament.You would not expect a country which has its own security and development needs at home (eg the Maoist insurgency) to spend resources in Afghanistan out of pure altruism. So what are India’s interests there? Among the arguments put forward are:1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.Taking that further, you can even see the possibility of a convergence of interests between India and Pakistan on points 3 & 4 but not on points 1 & 2.It is clear that for many of the people who comment on this blog, it would require a leap of faith to believe in the possibility of a convergence of interests, a point that Pervez Hoodbhoy makes here:http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/28/sto ries/2009112855360800.htmKeith also raises some interesting questions about how Indian interests would be served if western troops withdraw from Afghanistan.One argument that comes up frequently is that western countries should withdraw their troops, secure their borders and do their best to prevent attacks at home with strong domestic counter-terrorism strategies rather than fighting an unpopular war far away.The United States is probably best placed to do this, Britain less so; but the two countries which would be most vulnerable to any resurgence of al Qaeda and other Islamist groups in Afghanistan would be Pakistan and India.It would be interesting to know how people in Afghanistan see things, but I don’t think we have many regular Afghan contributors. If so, please speak up.Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

I think the Indian leaders are making a big mistake by helping Afganistan. We Indians should first take care of our poor and our exploited and then go outside. However much the world call us an upcoming superpower, we should always have our feet firmly on ground. We must remember the vast poor people who are devoid of basic need like a stable shelter, 2 time food and 24 hours electricity. We should concentrate on the providing education/ employment oppurtunities/ safe water/ pollution free air to all our citizens.Afganistan is not our war. To be inclusive and not get disturbed on your path to be great is good. The US and its NATO allies hearts fill with glee as we Indians rush into Afganistan where angels fear to tread.

Posted by Surya | Report as abusive

We Indians should not be so Pakistan-centric in our analysis. If we leave Afganistan, how will it harm us? Even if Taliban resurfaces, we have survived it before but this time can USA survive another terrorist attack on its mainland? Will China react if there is an attack in its Uigher dominated areas? Will Pakistan really benefit from “being the most important ally in war against terror”? Will the US and then China keep on giving money to Pakistan even after NATO has withdrawn from Afganistan? We Indians should develop our internal markets, our industries, provide all facilities to our citizens and just increase security on our borders for illegal infiltration. Let the troika of USA/Pakistan/China solve this mess.

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Myra,To help its all weather friend China, Pakistan has enabled itself to be another country that “encircles” India. Why is India not allowed to do the same to Pakistan via Afghanistan? At least, India is not fueling proxy terrorism or insurgencies, as their work in Afghanistan is nation building for the Afghans among other good works.Pakistani’s claim victimhood, while they are the ones that fuel state terrorism and proxy wars on India.I think India should keep its profile high in Afghanistan, very transparent and open and set an example for other countries to come and help build there. Pakistan is free to compete on a project basis there, if they want to give lasting things to the Afghans, besides the Taliban.India is sowing good Karma through good works. Pakistan continues to sow bad Karma. It is sort of like making friends in your neighborhood and ensuring that good people live there, so that it will be safe for your own existence. We Indians also have our own hungry people, but are not selfish, like Pakistani’s, we have the ability to break-off a piece of our Chapatti, even though at times, we might only get one a day to eat. WeIndians are capable of managing many fronts at one time and the Maoists will come into line one day as well, once China stops exporting and fueling tyranny and proxy dictatorships. China will reap its own bad Karma the way Pakistan is doing right now.

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You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.– Posted by Myra MacDonald==India’s interests in Afghanistan are as much altruistic as China’s interests in Pakistan. Chinese don’t share language, religion, heritage, culture; yet we are intrigued by the depth of their friendship with Pakistan. We are curious what binds them so much- Cricket?, Ghazals? Bollywood movies? Tikka Masala?? We are floored.We feel threatened by the extreme visibility of Chinese in Pakistan and Pakistan in China. Zardari wants to visit Beijing every 3 months invited or not.The perceived India’s elbowing on Pakistan from Afghanistan cannot be and should not be viewed in isolation. This is a necessity for India in the larger context of Chinese elbowing of India through Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.India should not spend energy like Pakistan in confronting China, our much more powerful neighbor, but then we have to speak up to protest blatant support provided by China to sustain pakistani aggression and pak strategy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.That’s what our defense minister Antony just did:http://www.reuters.com/article/lates tCrisis/idUSDEL339934Indians would also like to have the privilege of “feeling threatened”. One hopes this unique privilege is made available to everyone in a democratic fashion.On the one hand paks repeatedly say they are the only ones in the region to challenge India eyeball to eyeball. Post Mumbai they were teasing India saying we are chickens and we only talk. And then turn around and say they feel threatened to demand strategic advantages from the West. Paks cannot have it both ways and the West should not keep supporting this.

Honestly India & Pakistan should not converge.India should pack its bag from Afghanistan & ask the Afghan issue to be solved between Pak/Afghan & their supporters the west. The only Indian assistance should be some grant in aids through NGOs for a limited number of years.As to Haddhoboy article it is absurd & absolutely crappy,it is duty of every country when they have their freedom to act responsibly for the welfare of their citizens,acting very irresponsibly for 60 years & allowing violent culture to progress has resulted in this chaos.They should have built their factories,created jobs,provided education which could have alleviated their citizens.I never followed Pakistan strategy of aligning with West.The truth is what goes around comes around.As to fact the flames in Pakistan & Afghanistan will spread to India,The answer is yes it can but i am just reminded of what Kasparov said in a HT leadership meet to keep flames alive you need to have a water pipe of money & resources,i am not sure if both these countries have that to fight India.Resources from India will not be given to them to fight us since we are a different religion.Throwing few bombs may scare people & make foreign investors flee but it can’t make even a small dent to a large country called India where 90% of economy is reliant on internal demands & consumption with 50% of capital of this economy made up by small & medium enterprises spread around 600000 villages & more than 1 lakh towns like we say says “our country can provide for needs not greeds for people”.There is no point talking to Pakistan since their only desire is to harm Indians.We may be near in boundary but far far away in thoughts,minds or in culture.The more distance we maintain with them the more we progress.Our talks with their people will be what Give me Kashmir, Give me water, Say Islam is the greatest religion in the world never mind even if all poorest people belong to that religion & they keep fighting everyday.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

Dara,Finally a sensible post from an Indian, not comments erupting from some kind of hurt national pride.About the aid. Countries are free to contribute as they wish to whatever efforts they wish. The Afghans rubberstamp projects. There is no co-oordination coming from the Afghans. Of course, that’s partly the fault of Afghans. And there’s been a big push on to remedy that situation by trying to get the Afghans to better coordinate their development policies. India could help here by taking on more Afghan priorities rather than Indian priorities (the higway to Iran being an example where Indian priorities trumped Afghan ones).That’s not to say NATO has not been guilty of the same practices, of course. But on our end, we are doing our best to encourage the Afghans to be more independent too. Surely India can help.Interesting comments on the Indian Election Commission. I have met several high ranking retired Indian military officers who’ve made the same points. But to my understanding, India never offered its expertise on this front, in substantial capacity to the UN.You could be right though, that India might have held back because of Pakistani concerns. Ironically though this assistance might be far more valuable from India than any of its development work. Since both would probably offend the Paks just as much, surely there’s a better cost-benefit ratio for India to work on elections than development!

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U.S. Tries New Tack Against TalibanCoalition Works With Afghan Officials to Offer Militants Jobs and Protection if They Lay Down WeaponsBy ANAND GOPALKABUL — The U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government are launching an initiative to persuade Taliban insurgents to lay down their weapons, offering jobs and protection to the militants who choose to abandon their fighthttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB125 936488818367181.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLEN exttoWhatsNewsSecondFinally, the NATO allies are getting somewhere. Instead of pumping billions into the insatiable Paks bellies which never helped US in any way with containing terror outfits, is nt it going to be rewarding to provide some form of financial incentives to locals, just the way India is already spearheading in the direction. Now, in terms of locating the whereabouts of Mulla Omar and OBL, learn to speak the language of Paks and Saudis, very simple indeed.Myra,I read Pervez Hudhboys article. Thank you Pervez, I couldnt have said any better:”But most Indians are probably less than enthusiastic in stoking the fires across the border. In fact, the majority would like to forget that Pakistan exists. With a 6 per cent growth rate, booming hi-tech exports, and expectations of a semi-superpower status, they feel India has no need to engage a struggling Pakistan with its endless litany of problems.”

@Myra, Keith,The Pakistani’s are so short sighted and daft, fighting a counterproductive enmity with India.If India, Pakistan and the U.S. worked together, it would spell progress on so many levels for all three.In such a case, Kashmir would not even be an issue. Islamic identity or the need for it, has been counterproductive and cost too many lives. It is not worth it. India, Pak and Afghanistan should have ideally, an economic union, like the European countries with open borders. But first the terrorists, militants and madrassas must go and this backwards, unproductive mental infatuation with Islamic identity and Ummah must stop, it is robbing Pakistani’ potential dry and wasting Indian efforts as well as U.S. efforts. and Afghan redevelopment.The Pak Army is the key here, they have to lead this effort to secularize the region and cease and desist these unproductive, unfruitful activities.Religion or political pursuit if it has failed miserably and it is time for a paradigm shift in Pakistan.

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Myra: “You would not expect a country which has its own security and development needs at home (eg the Maoist insurgency) to spend resources in Afghanistan out of pure altruism. So what are India’s interests there? Among the arguments put forward are:1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?”Your questions are valid if India has its military presence in Afghanistan. The reason why Western presence is give so much publicity is because they invaded Afghanistan and have been there for 8 years and their military is fighting its enemy even now.It might be very difficult to set up constructive activities there by the Western powers, who do not have the degree of cultural connectivity that India or Pakistan have with Afghans. Pakistan should have offered to help constructively as well. But they had sided with the Taliban earlier and as a result, the current Afghan regime and its supporters will not trust them. And Pakistani units might be targets of revenge. That leaves either India or China. Chinese involvement would have been all right for Pakistan. But the Western allies will want none of that. Iran could have been involved as well. We all know where Iran is in its relationship to the Western allies. That leaves only India. And India has taken up the task of helping rebuild Afghanistan. India supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. India is there to build long term relationship with Afghanistan by engaging in acts of goodwill.Pakistan objects to Indian presence for only one reason. It is really not a threat of being surrounded as some of their posters project it to be. While they mention that reason, they also say that theirs is a nuclear power and can pulverize India against any threat. In fact they have been audacious enough all these years in taking on the Indian military with proxy armies, because of this nuclear empowerment. Musharraf in the interview with Fareed Zakaria says that Indians will never dare attack Pakistan. His assured demeanor clearly shows that Pakistan has no fear of India. But they use this “Indian threat” and being “surrounded by India” as their counter moves in the regional geo-politics. If you understand this from the Indian stand point, you will realize that India will not lower its guard. It is simply a political game. And India has seen Afghanistan under the Taliban as a major threat to its security. So it will make sure that it has some kind of presence there and build on it to prevent future situations that can be as hostile. Indians have not forgotten the hijack of IC184 when the Taliban ruled. Definitely it is a political move by India to gain support and allegiance in the long run. After all Pakistan has always seen India as an enemy and has reacted from that stand point. May be if Pakistan stops looking at India as an enemy state, there is room for lowering tension in the region. Even the American leaders have begun to say this to Pakistan -India is not their enemy. They should probably drum beat this into their ears more and Pakistan will stop demanding unreasonably. The burden is on Pakistan. No one is preventing them from doing constructive projects inside Afghanistan. We Indians do not understand why Pakistan should decide our foreign policy. Will they give up Chinese sponsored activities in their country because we are uncomfortable with it? Keith, let me see if you have anything to say here.

Myra,India needs to better articulate what it’s intentions, policies and roles are in Afghanistan. This would help assuage Pakistan (I really don’t think India is there just to needle Pakistan, although there’s probably an element of that). And it would help better co-ordinate their efforts with NATO and the Afghan government. That would be much better than all the ad hoc cooperation going on today.Indeed, if we can understand what India wants to do, NATO may actually be able to help them on various projects, better plan for their security needs, etc. Right now it’s frustrating that nobody’s talking to each other. And that leads to a lot of mistrust and misinterpretation.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Keith:@what seems to offend the Pakistanis the most, is how omnipresent the Indians are. They are everywhere. It wouldn’t hurt the government of India to be a little more discrete in its aid…maybe channel a bit more through the Afghan government (which would help increase its legitimacy).From your several posts you make two make two points about Indian presence in Afghanistan #1. reducing their visibility and keep on sending aid through Afghan govt, making Pakistanis happier or less anxious and #2. Why should NATO troops baby sit Indian-Pak great game?#1. I have not seen in print media talking about Indian presence as a source of big worries. But I agree with your point of Indian aid through Afgh govt if that helps Afghan govt image. But this point works against your Pakistan POV because they are anti-Karzai, so anything that stabilizes him works against Pakistan’s interests. If I were Singh, as long as Indian projects are running and the Indian aid is not asked to be slashed, I am all for cutting the unnecessary functions. But this will not make Pakistan happy, it has just flower-saving value.Do you know what hurts Pakistan the most? 1. Five Indian consulates (number varies up to 8-50), the source of everything that goes wrong in Pakistan. 2. India’s ability to spend $1bn in Afghanistan on non-military projects that make more Pashtuns looking at India as friend. Pre-9/11 Indian aid was for non-Pashtuns (Nrthern Alliance), Pakistan sees this as major problem.Pakistan has its own experience of being in same boat as Afghanistan (Gawdar port by China), and Pakistanis take that as further evidence of China as their friend. China gives less aid and is considered a friend but not US which gives more aid and gives them more weapons since Pakistanis in general are anti-US. In Afghanistan, India replaces China and Pakistan replaces US. Pakistan’s image is worse in Afghanistan because Pak always destroyed Afghanistan and the evidence is the gallop poll where Pakistan is at the bottom of how much they are liked. Indian work in Afghanistan is making Afghans people and its govt strengthen bonds. To make Pakistan happy, consulates has to be reduced to 1 and aid stopped. Pakistan’s demands directly match with Taliban’s—- both want India to get out of Afghanistan.So reduced Indian presence is not what Pakistan wants, rather it wants absence of Indian presence.#2. NATO losing precious lives, time and respources for India for India-Pak game. First off, it is commendable that NATO risking/losing lives for Indian projects in Afgh. I am pretty sure Indian presence is not in way of NATO achieving its goals there. Call it babysitting India-Pak great game, you got to keep this on because Afghans may or may not give credit to NATO for protecting Indians who are involved in projects, but NATO will surely get discredit for not protecting Indians who are helping Afghanistan reconstruction.You suggest an option below.@ For example, if it’s willing to deploy forces to Afghanistan if the US leaves, than why not now? Or is their commitment to Afghan development limited to the US/NATO presence there?–This works against Pakistan becoming less anxious about India. That is the reason that from day 1 after 9/11, Pakistan’s demand from US and the policy of US/NATO of not involving Indian troops and that has been PK with India and all parties. Is there a suggestion by US/NATO? I do not see any. But for the sake of discussion, India taking care of its security of Indians in Afgh with zero help from NATO et al would mean a significant number of Indian troops and you know that having Sikh regiment in Afghanistan is going to send Pakistanis through the roof. Also, that would mean more Pakistani ISI backed and Taliban-backed attacks against Indian troops and that is going to indirectly affect NATO troops missions. So that option is also off.Qn to you: Why not take Pakistan’s help in Afghanistan? Is it due to India at the LoC problem or is it that Pakistan not willing to work against Afgh-Taliban?One cannot wish away that regional rivalries disappear just because one wishes. NATO walked into the problem and has to face it just like people in the region are facing the consequences of US/NATO foreign troops walking into Afghanistan.Again, these small moves (Indian visibility) are not going to help Pakistan. Pakistan’s best bet is positive involvement in Afghanistan. I do not know what they have to offer to Afghanistan.One thing that comes to my mind is that if majority of the Afghans (especially Pashtuns) are anti-Taliban, Pakistan can come out open against Taliban and that is going to be everyone’s goal and will take care of India-Pak, US-Pak tension too. Pakistan can start playing the game at political level rather than blowing up people and buildings.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Mr. Dara, you write: “The Election Commisssion has tremendous experience in this regard; what with battling naxalites, insurgents and the criminal-politicl nexus. In fact because of the law and order problem and the resources required for it, India has now gone onto staggering the whole process. It is cumbersome but the end has justified the means. This exercise also includes positioning of teams and election machinery in very inhospitable terrain and hostile conditions. The Indian Election Commission, may have other faults but has a spectacular record in conducting free, fair and peaceful elections. In fact very few states today can perhaps match it in scale or efficacy.”I am sorry to disagree. The Westerners might be naive in admiring the glorious Indian democracy. But those of us who are from this region know what goes on in this grand democratic circus. It is no different from that in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Bangladesh. People are so illiterate that they are voting for movie actors, criminal dons, bandits, corrupt goons etc. Most people stay away from participation. Most do not vote and their votes are taken by goons. Military has to be brought in many places to protect the election officials.They have a famous thing called horse trading where corrupt politicians are bought with ton loads of money and people jump from one party to another like monkeys.In short, Indian democracy is a joke. Pakistan’s democracy too is a joke. There is nothing surprising about Afghanistan. India going there to help run elections is like a thief trying to teach another thief how to steal.Afghanistan will revert back to tribal system once all this drama of western democracy ends. Pakistanis never liked the Western democracy. It just did not work. India has a namesake democracy. But for a majority of their political years they were ruled by one family and one dynasty. So in all, democracy is a joke in the sub-continent where some people are above others and cannot be held accountable. It just does not fit our cultures. So I do not understand why the US and its allies are running a farcical drama of elections there. The Taliban will return to power and there are already signs of it emerging. Sorry Indians, you will need to close down your missions in Afghanistan pretty soon. It is better to leave now rather than get kicked out.

@One argument that comes up frequently is that western countries should withdraw their troops, secure their borders and do their best to prevent attacks at home with strong domestic counter-terrorism strategies rather than fighting an unpopular war far away.”The United States is probably best placed to do this, Britain less so; but the two countries which would be most vulnerable to any resurgence of al Qaeda and other Islamist groups in Afghanistan would be Pakistan and India.”"It would be interesting to know how people in Afghanistan see things, but I don’t think we have many regular Afghan contributors. If so, please speak up.”–MyraMyra: I see you are getting ready to pack up. I am not an Afghan, but suerly none in the region will ever forgive the west including those who did drum beating for the war.Rule is that if one cannot mop it up, one ought not to splatter. The west has done the splattering part–generously and piping hot form Iraq to Pakistan, save Iran that escaped due to recession. It remains to be seen how good they are at mopping. this piping hot s..t. Knowing the nature of enemy and I have grave doubts in the ability of the West.But then perhaps, the West thinks it is someone else’s house.@You would not expect a country which has its own security and development needs at home (eg the Maoist insurgency) to spend resources in Afghanistan out of pure altruism. So what are India’s interests there? Among the arguments put forward are:1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.Taking that further, you can even see the possibility of a convergence of interests between India and Pakistan on points 3 & 4 but not on points 1 & 2.”-MyraMyra: people have responded to these questions already and you do not take the discussion forward.”Points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view ..” is Pakistan’s problem to fix their paranoia. you are also assuming that Indian in means Pakistan out. Is India running terror organizations to force Pakistan out. Pakistan is out because pakistan is out. Logical right? so do not drum beat their paranoia and assume the way Pakistan does. CHina and India are not dear friends but they are in Afghanistan, right? what the hell is problem with Pakistan. Let us move beyoynd poetic explanations like “percepetions”.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Correction to my eralier post to Keith:”In Afghanistan, India replaces China and Afghanistan replaces Pakistan.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Myra:@1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.”Myra: In #1 and #2, you start with a wrong assumption that if India in Afghanistan means Pakistan is out. Now CHina is in Afghanistan, should India take that as India out. I will like to hear why you think so.Let us quit perception part for a change. There is a limit to it.Now I will appreciate if you have my message posted.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

India is a developing country. All analysis of India as a superpower or an important entity in world politics is based on future actions and results. Any wrong major step by India will be detrimental in its growth and future predictions.The government of India should get out of Afghanistan and provide the money it is gifting to Afghanistan, to the poor in India. NGOs and private companies can take care of humanitarian needs. Ego and false pride should not make India over-exert and exhaust itself in a conflict which has brought the NATO to its feet.

Posted by Arihant Singh | Report as abusive

Mr Anjum,”People are so illiterate that they are voting for movie actors, criminal dons, bandits, corrupt goons etc. Most people stay away from participation. Most do not vote and their votes are taken by goons. Military has to be brought in many places to protect the election officials”How is the election commission resposible for who should stand and whom one should vote for? If the military or any force has to be brought in that is to the credit of the EC that they take adequate measures.What you refer to is perhaps the standards to which politics has been lowered, there you have a valid point and I agree. But the EC cannot be blamed for that.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Dara,The point of Anjum is Valid as you said.The EC has a responsibility in driving democracy within the party system. Unless they take measures to solidify internal party dynamics the quality of representatives are going to be abysmal.A bigger bold move could be state funding elections so fighting election through illgotten money can be avoided.But at same time i do think Certain acts like RTI, UID, etc can reduce incidence of public scams.I would think our society may need 50 more years before we can claim matured democracy will be attained.But the faith that this is right way to do it is to be strenghthened.Like what Arihant says India is still a country replete with many challenges, the aspirations projected in media or by a limited number of people that we can influence outcomes in International Politics is to me very foolish.We got to lie low & build a stronger base in terms of economy,education & arresting erosion in public values.Going away from afghanistan is the right thing to do.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

I say we take care of our INdian TAliban before we go to some godforsaken country like afgh to sort out their problems. Mark my words if we don’t fix our TAliban which are the Naxalites and Maosists there will be no INdia left what to talk about super power. Fix farmers problems first.

Posted by Sanjay | Report as abusive

Rajeev,You have suggested that the India-Pakistan manoeuvering in Afghanistan should be viewed in light of all the regional competitions and alliances (ie China in Pakistan, Pakistan in Sri Lanka).A lot of talk has been focused on India’s right to be in Afghanistan, or it’s right to have a visible presence there, etc. Nobody here is disputing India’s right to do anything. It’s a sovereign state and it can deal with Afghanistan as it wishes. The suggestions I’ve made are ways that I see that India can better co-operate and integrate its efforts with the other partners and allies in the region. They are, of course, free to take those suggestions or not.Then these are the questions I’ve been asking:1) Is this India’s intention in Afghanistan or their primary policy driver? Are they there solely to counter/encircle Pakistan or is that a secondary driver/benefit?2) If 1 is true, then should NATO stay in Afghanistan? What’s the point of having young lads from Alberta and Saskatchewan baby-sitting a great game between India and Pakistan? Keep in mind this is not just about the US. Canada has taken the highest per capita casualties of any NATO partner in Afghanistan (twice that of the US and UK in Iraq).Nobody has yet answered the two questions together.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

M. Anjum:“People are so illiterate that they are voting for movie actors, criminal dons, bandits, corrupt goons etc. Most people stay away from participation. Most do not vote and their votes are taken by goons. Military has to be brought in many places to protect the election officials”Americans voted for Reagan. Californians voted for the Terminator. Does that mean their democracy is flawed?If that’s your standard then why have democracy at all?Democracy is a process. What it produces is left up to the people. But ultimately the beauty of democracy is that the people get the government the want and deserve. And really what’s the alternative? Has military rule really worked out that well in Pakistan?To quote Winston Churchill:Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Arihant SinghYou got it wrong. It is the necessity mate, not ego or pride.Trade and security is the name of the game if you will. Imagine having another hostile nation in its backyard as we can see clearly religion will factor in. A hostile Afghan will be detrimental mainly because of security concerns, partly because of restrictions that maybe imposed to its trade movements. In a difficult neighborhood there are not many options. Inspite of pressure from others India is not pushing Myanmar towards democracy, for example. Have you heard of this expression- “in our national interest?”. Im sure you did. Already Pak refuses our trucks to traverse their nation hampering our trade. Our access to central asia will be completely blocked if Afghans turn away from us.Thanks to technology I watch Indian TV channels LIVE on the web and read all News papers. As if Afghan doesn’t exist, I have nt seen any Indian politician or bureaucrat ever talking about Afghanistan in general or Indias aid in particular, so where is the jingoism and bragging other than quiet diplomacy here. If Afghans want Indians to cease all developmental activities, India will do so. I agree with you, and I was thinking like you before. Sadly, the needs of Indians will keep mounting, with the population growing leaps and bounds. Poverty is there but not much of hunger with food subsidiary programs operating in full swing. Holistic approach is needed for its size. It is like buying the satellites from others for ever to save costs of running its own sat programs, certainly not economical in the long run. Now there is foreign exchange coming in from the expensive satellite program. The leaders in Satallite te technology are refusing technology transfer to India under pseudo pretext of “duel use concerns”. Whereas in reality they see competition in the business and want to thwart the same. Stop buying Paks bluff….

“To quote Winston Churchill:Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”FALSE — If you care to find out than try to do little research on the Umar Farooq (He was Prophets companion p.b.u.h.) read that, to me that was the time when the PERFECT system of rule was practised.Democracy is good, but only if its true, NOT hijacked by few as it is the case in most poor countries. How about Hamas being DEMOCRATICLY elecetd by the Gazans. So what hapenned to your democracy? NO western wants to embrace that democracy but dont care dammn about the rulers in Egypt 30years dictatorship, Saudis, Pakis and so many more. Democracy is just Western pretext, Capitilism, rich getting richer and poor gettins poor. So thanks but no thanks, If you know whats BEST for you then we know whats best. CALIPHATE!!! is the solution to Islamic world.Now to the blogg..Till their is NO regional strategy Afghanistan will be as it is. EspecilLay when you Indians/Pakistani both for their right reason trying to have more say in Afghanistan. NATO/US so on will move on sooner or later just like the USSR but we will have to live in this region and also live with the consequences.Indian seriously need to get out of their hollow minds that Kashmir is theres,was or ever will be. Kashmir is for kashmiris how hard is that! By sending in your army enables you to claim part of the land than I guess British would have owned the world. But as per UN resoultion of self determination which is surley a democratic way of getting concensus what the Kashmiris want in ALL of Kashmir and work on it from there. More than India/Pakistan it is the Kashmiris that have suffered from both sides. Its their land, their Kashmir ONLY they should decide what they want.By writing essays from idiots will not change the Kashmiris minds, when their sister/mother/daughetrs are raped by cowrds indian soldiers. Their brothers/sons/ father shot and than labelled terrorist and any anti indianleader under house arrest and the people can NOT even allowed to pray. It easy for the idiots to say all Kashmiris are terrorists kos their religion is Islam. As the world media portrays them terrorists so maybe little easie for the people in west to buy that. But if one has been to Kashmir they will know the reallty.So sort the MAIN issue of Kashmir the rest is walkover. Be it in the graves of empires, afghanistan or any other problem. It is minor the rest of issues water sharing, terrorists and so on.

Posted by Majid786 | Report as abusive

Keith. I will answer your queries.1. Honestly, we have our own strategic reasons to go to afgh beside road building to help the trade to iran. Like any other super power we also like to influence others for our own benefit. you can not deny that is our right too. Biggest benefit is to keep the Paki ISI from recruiting new taliban to fight in kashmir and our motherland.2. Soon we will have enough influence and good will in afgh that we will not need the NATO soldiers. Then you can go. Afgh will say good bye to you and welcome us with garlands. We will drop our own brave NSG commandos in afgh when NATO leave to safeguard our own projects. Then you will see how to wipe out the terrorists.

Posted by Ravi Venkatesh | Report as abusive

Mr. Keith you write: “Americans voted for Reagan. Californians voted for the Terminator. Does that mean their democracy is flawed?”American system is set up such that anyone can be a head of state, but the laws of the land take care of most of the public needs. And it is unique to the American culture. Every culture has some uniqueness and things become successful only if they fit into that cultural uniqueness. If the US had been run over by the Southerners in the 1860s, it would have evolved very differently. It probably would have ended up like Mexico or some of the South American countries. It came pretty close to collapse when Lincoln was President. They have managed to come out of it and their independence in terms of resources, isolation from the other parts of the world etc helped them evolve with time. Cultures in the sub-continent are very ancient and they have their own uniqueness. That is why a Western style democracy struggles to survive there. Here too Reagan like leaders come to power. But they are mostly like war lords with a lot of muscle power and loyalty. Imagine Reagan with such powers. Indians would agree with me if I quote Indira Gandhi who was almost like a tyrant. We had our Bhutto who was no less in that regard. These kind of leaders love backwardness and poverty so that they can champion those causes while keeping them alive in order to strengthen their hold on power. Look at how their lives ended. This is the culture in the sub-continent. That is why trying to fit in a puppet democracy in Afghanistan makes no sense. In the case of India, the people chose one family to rule them for more than 75% of their “democratic” history. In the case of Pakistan, we put our faith in the military for the same reason. Afghanistan has the tribal system that has worked there for centuries. If they fight each other, that is the way it has been. It is not new. Might is right in this neighborhood.”If that’s your standard then why have democracy at all?”That is my question too. Do you understand why Pakistanis feel comfortable under the military? Do you understand why Indians feel comfortable under one family’s dynastic rule? Even their cook can be politically powerful. These are not really democracies in the real sense. These are ancient systems that bear the facade of democracy, but they function according to the cultural mindset of the people. Hero worship is a big thing here.”Democracy is a process. What it produces is left up to the people. But ultimately the beauty of democracy is that the people get the government the want and deserve. And really what’s the alternative? Has military rule really worked out that well in Pakistan?”Democracy was not brought from Mars and imposed on to the Western nations and “civilize” them. It evolved within their culture on its own. A European Union can blossom in that setting. It is only a Utopian idea in this part of the world. I can bet in India people elect leaders because they have limited choice to make. I do read Indian newspapers a lot and I have a good understanding of what goes on there. Indians, of course, will be very proud and will try to hide their drawbacks. Politicians there are no different from the War lords of Afghanistan or the generals in Pakistan. People can be cheated with promises. Many movie actors there do it and they do not deliver when they get to power. If no one is looking, elections get rigged. That is what happened in Kashmir in 1989 and the people rebelled.Democracy is definitely a great institution. I do not question that. I only look at it from the view point of suiting the culture of this land. It does not. Or the culture is not ready for it yet. In 1991, India almost faced a collapse with no leader in sight. They were so used to figure heads that there was a massive vacuum when their young national leader was assassinated. I’d say that opening up the economy was an attempt to survive and it clicked. That is all. And politicians did not have the time to recover from the momentum it gained. So Indians lucked out.Pakistan would have done well under a dictator too. We did not have our Pinochet or Trajuillo. And we got sucked into the global wars. Our country and Afghanistan had become the battle fields of world’s powers. Otherwise, Pakistan has all the resources to emerge as an economic power. Who cares what system is good so long as economy is good? Look at China. They do not have democracy, but are doing better than Americans now. That is all matters for this land.Myra,Sorry for pushing the topic away towards democracy. May be you should do an article on why democracy is a farce in the sub-continent and its effects on the current situation.

Keith:I also commented on your another question. any comments.here it is again:@ For example, if it’s willing to deploy forces to Afghanistan if the US leaves, than why not now? Or is their commitment to Afghan development limited to the US/NATO presence there?–This works against Pakistan becoming less anxious about India. That is the reason that from day 1 after 9/11, Pakistan’s demand from US and the policy of US/NATO of not involving Indian troops and that has been PK with India and all parties. Is there a suggestion by US/NATO? I do not see any. But for the sake of discussion, India taking care of its security of Indians in Afgh with zero help from NATO et al would mean a significant number of Indian troops and you know that having Sikh regiment in Afghanistan is going to send Pakistanis through the roof. Also, that would mean more Pakistani ISI backed and Taliban-backed attacks against Indian troops and that is going to indirectly affect NATO troops missions. So that option is also off.Indian troops in Afghanistan works against your suggestion of making Pakistani less anxious.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Who cares what system is good so long as economy is good? Look at China. They do not have democracy, but are doing better than Americans now. That is all matters for this land.- Posted by Mohammed AnjumCan you please keep INdia/Nepal/B’desh/Srilanka/Bhutan/AFgha nistan/Burma out of your subcontinent theory and keep the theory confined to your borders. We are proud of our faulty system and trying to make it better. 1989 is not repeated since 1989.You make a perfect case for Pakistan’s integration in to China. There is no vision, no value or contribution to have an independent nation called Pakistan. At least if you merge with Pakistan, they might share their toxic dollars with you.

Posted by SOman | Report as abusive

Then these are the questions I’ve been asking:1) Is this India’s intention in Afghanistan or their primary policy driver? Are they there solely to counter/encircle Pakistan or is that a secondary driver/benefit?2) If 1 is true, then should NATO stay in Afghanistan? What’s the point of having young lads from Alberta and Saskatchewan baby-sitting a great game between India and Pakistan? Keep in mind this is not just about the US. Canada has taken the highest per capita casualties of any NATO partner in Afghanistan (twice that of the US and UK in Iraq).Nobody has yet answered the two questions together.- Posted by KeithResp 1: India’s role in Afghanistan has nothing to do Pakistan or China. Even if Pakistan didn’t exist, we would have been doing what we are doing and any sensible democracy would do that. Our main goal is to not allow the Talibans kidnap the Afghan society again. So we are helping them anyway they ask for till they are strong enough to stand on their leg and fight the Talibans. We’ll stop helping when Afghans when they ask. I believe these are the goals of US/NATO/Civilized world too.India has no hidden agenda other than development and stability of Afghanistan. India has two different and distinct policies for Afghanistan and Pakistan they don’t criss-cross.So I agree, we should work closely work with US/NATO and complement their efforts in Afghanistan. We all sink together or swim together.Resp 2: We can’t ask you to stay in Afghanistan. You guys are making a lot of sacrifices and it breaks our heart too. But we’d like you to stay and finish the job so that you never have to return in future. And that is why India is there: to complement US/NATO work so that they can leave faster and Afghans can be on their own.But I think it is wrong to think that India is in Afghanistan to play any kind of game with Pakistan (Please provide any evidence if you have?). You can’t blame India if Pakistan bombs up Indian embassies or kills Indian road construction engineers.We have our share of sad and painful experiences with Talibans and we just don’t want to see Talibans kidnap a nascent country again. We’ll leave Afghanistan when they stand on their legs. We don’t have military bases in B’desh or Nepal or Bhutan nor do we plan to have one in Afghanistan.

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

@Mr. Keith you write: “Americans voted for Reagan. Californians voted for the Terminator. Does that mean their democracy is flawed?”American system is set up such that anyone can be a head of state,-Anjum–NO, practically speaking Christians only.In India, religion is not bar, if you know India so well.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

“Cultures in the sub-continent are very ancient and they have their own uniqueness. That is why a Western style democracy struggles to survive there” – Posted by Mohammed AnjumDemocracy has nothing to do with cultures or uniqueness of various regions/countries. But for democracy to become perfect, a progressive & literate society is a must. The more advanced, developed & literate the country, the more flawless it’s democracy becomes. There’s an inverse relationship between literacy & quality of democracy. That’s why democracy in developed countries nations like US, Canada, EU countries, Japan etc are close to being perfect, whereas they are quite flawed in lesser developed countries like India and Pakistan. In case of India, it’s recent development & rise in literacy levels are starting to reflect in the quality of it’s democracy as well, although it still has a long long way to go.@In the case of India, the people chose one family to rule them for more than 75% of their “democratic” history”The operative word here is ‘chose’. It’s the free will of the people to choose whoever they wish as their representatives & leaders and the last time I checked, that’s the very definition of democracy. If the people put faith in one particular set of people repeatedly, so be it. But Indian democracy is maturing & people have started to choose, based on the performance of the administrations. The last couple of elections are a testament to it; the BJB didn’t deliver & the people didn’t bring them back to power in 2004 but the Congress did deliver & so the people brought them back to power, earlier this year. Also, it’s wrong to say that democracy doesn’t fit with Islamic societies/nations. Progressive Muslim nations with rising literacy levels can have a proper functional democracy & countries like Turkey & Indonesia prove this.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

1) Is this India’s intention in Afghanistan or their primary policy driver? Are they there solely to counter/encircle Pakistan or is that a secondary driver/benefit?2) If 1 is true, then should NATO stay in Afghanistan? What’s the point of having young lads from Alberta and Saskatchewan baby-sitting a great game between India and Pakistan? Keep in mind this is not just about the US. Canada has taken the highest per capita casualties of any NATO partner in Afghanistan (twice that of the US and UK in Iraq).Nobody has yet answered the two questions together.- Posted by Keith==Keith, trying to make a distinction between primary or secondary goal for India is like splitting hair. We cannot alter geography, and we got a country with militarism, war mongering and terrorism as primary national activities. Our engagment in Afghnaistan is to alleviate this threat.You have a very valid argument about the need for India to co-operate, be flexible since your soldiers are dying.MR.ANJUM:You are clueless about local Indian politics. There are some states that are truly bad and there are prosperous states where competence matters where smart politicians compete with each other focussing on the economic development.You are basing your opinions on sensationalistic bad news items. Election commision is a fiercely independent organization in India and all politcal parties including the ruling parties abide it.Because of democracy at the local level only people in such diverse country feel empowered and have a sense of ownership. Kashmiris have been misguided and are turning around.

Correction:There’s a direct relation between literacy and quality of democracy, not inverse.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Anjum:”It is only a Utopian idea in this part of the world.” and all your related ideas ….1 — very glib anjum, your ideas are like pseudo-science :) Sounds and looks grand but without substance – for the history of democracy in the Indian sub-continent (and indeed Asia) I refer you to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s “Argumentative Indian”. Please educate yourself on how democracy has been native to India since time of Ashoka!2 — pakistan’s political system is comparable to african nations and not a mature democracy such as India. In India, the prime minister can sack heads of armed forces (Admiral Bhagwat) but in pakistan’s nawaz sharif sacks Musharraf – he ends up in jail. I do admire the unique pakistani army 111 brigade based in Rawalpindi who are specialist in coups – participated in 4 coups till date! :)3 — India has non-gandhi PMs for 20 years not 75% – get some maths class4 — Indian politics also has people like mayawati, narasimha rao, vajpayee who start at the lowest rung of society to head the country. Pakistan has only seen feudal lords as PM – be it bhutto or gilaniYou can keep dreaming about comparing yourself with India – but as the US ambassador to pakistan said in an interview last month – there is a wide gap between pak and India and it is rapidly increasing.

Posted by amused | Report as abusive

Till the truth about Afghanistan’s war is revealed by the American Government, it is not advisable for a country like India to participate in the Afghanistan war. I don’t mean the OBL capture thingy, I am referring to the real thing, which many people know but do not want to refer to.India should play it’s cards right and only be involved in the re-building of Afghanistan from a humanitarian or alternatively a business-minded perspective. Running headlong and taking the yoke from the Americans will only result in Obama removing away all the troops and the onus will then be on India to maintain peace, so that America’s pipeline dreams are consummated.The Mumbai attacks probably have something more sinister to them than just a terror attack. It is surprising how vociferous the US has become about India joining it’s cause in Afghanistan and being concerned for it’s security after the attacks. While the US might be concerned about India’s security, it is high time we Indians learn to take care of ourselves and hold our own in the global arena, rather than looking westwards every time someone sneezes.

Posted by Prashanth | Report as abusive

Keith,You asked, ‘Is this India’s intention in Afghanistan or their primary policy driver? Are they there solely to counter/encircle Pakistan or is that a secondary driver/benefit?’- Access to energy is the primary benefit for India to have its influence in Afghanistan and beyond. A relatively stable Afghanistan unlocks many opportunities for trade and commerce between India and Central Asia. Energy and economy will continue to be the policy drivers in India’s foreign policy for years or decades to come.The secondary benefit for India is the security of its interests. India always enjoyed excellent relations with Afghanistan with the exception of the Taliban regime. If the Taliban are back, with or without the support of Pakistan, India will be hit harder than the countries in the West.I’m attaching a link to an article in WSJ regarding India’s role in different regions of Afghanistan. India has done remarkably well in executing development projects while keeping a relative low key presence in Afghanistan.http://online.wsj.com/articl e/SB125061548456340511.htmlTo summarize, the goals of the NATO and India in Afghanistan are similar – stability, end to terrorism and development. India sincerely hopes that Afghanistan, a member of the SAARC, evolves in to a relatively stable, multi-ethnic democracy.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

–NO, practically speaking Christians only.In India, religion is not bar, if you know India so well.- Posted by rajeevNote this does not apply to all Western democracies.We’ve had an Indian-born Sikh premier for our third largest province in Canada:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ujja l_DosanjhSo please try not to group all of the West in the same club. At times, we take offence to it, just like how Indians don’t like to be clubbed in with Pakistanis when it comes to discussions about democracy and such.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

M. Anjum,Dynastic politics are by no means an indicator that democracy is flawed. Every country has its dynasties (the Kennedy’s and Bush’s in the US for example). And younger democracies tend to rely on the founding dynasty for some years when they start out. Had Jinnah survived for a few more years, I am willing to bet that Pakistan would have had it’s own version of Gandhi dynastic politics.Countries also tend to have what we call natural governing parties, or parties that voters tend to default to when nothing out of the ordinary is going on. However, a sign of maturity is when voters decide to punish the natural governing party for a poor performance. And Indians have shown a readiness to do this.Your measure is extremely pessimistic. If you consider India a flawed democracy for its run with the Gandhis, I wonder what you would say about Japan and the LDP!When it comes to Afghanistan, I can agree that perhaps western parliamentary democracy may have limited success. But that does not mean other forms of democracy (the jirga can be one for example) would not be successful. The key is to help the Afghans find something that works for them.Finally, I would hope that Pakistanis aspire to more than military rule. Why can’t they hold Turkey as an example? That country has not lost its Islamic identity at all. Heck, the Turks show the world that Islam can be ‘cool’ and compatible with modernity. Yet it’s staunchly secular, has a vibrant democracy (the Army only having stepped in to keep the authoritarian parties who’d threaten said democracy out…and they hand back power right after) and a well developed economy. What keeps them strong at their core though is their democracy which forever fosters debate between the right mix of secularism and Islamism. That back and forth helps them define a middle ground that keeps the country moving forward without giving up its traditions. And although sacrilegious for Muslims to hear this, Israel is another excellent example of a democracy that mixes secular and faith based traditions in a vibrant democracy. Is all this too much for Pakistanis? Do you have such little faith in your people?

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Keith, Myra,You have begun to ask if it would be prudent for India to engage its troops in Afghanistan. This question is late by eight years. When 9/11 happened, there was an expectation in India that the US would turn to India for help in cornering all parties responsible for global Islamic terror. Had the US done the right thing at that time, India might have co-operated by allowing for bases and supplies as starters. Troops might have been engaged as well. From Indian perspective, global Islamic terror originates from Pakistan and India has been a victim of it for a long time. Had the US launched a two-pronged attack – one directly targeting Afghanistan and another from the South knocking out Pakistan’s terror infrastructure, by now all elements could have been driven to the center and dismantled. For India, Pakistan would have been cut to size and its fangs removed. So India would have co-operated, considering its own gains. Attacks like Mumbai would never have happened.At this time, it is prudent for India to engage in civilian activities in Afghanistan. A golden opportunity to set things right has been missed. It is too late to think along those lines now. It is better to go forward with the current plans of increasing the military strength in Afghanistan, force Pakistan to dismantle its terror networks, and launch an all out offensive against the Taliban and Al Qaeda until they surrender. This objective is very much achievable. Already an experiment using locals to arm themselves in defending against the Taliban insurgency has been gaining ground in Afghanistan. It is good to engage the local people and thwart any future attempts by these barbarians to regain their power.India has always invested in constructive activities abroad, while it has many needs at home. One needs to do both. It is not a small country and is highly respected and looked up for its stand on many issues by countries in the third world. It cannot confine all constructive activities within its borders.

Keith:@So please try not to group all of the West in the same club. At times, we take offence to it, just like how Indians don’t like to be clubbed in with Pakistanis when it comes to discussions about democracy and such.- Posted by KeithKeith: Please scroll down and read my post again before you type. My comment was in response to Anjum’s commnent on America (US based upon your earlier Reagan comment).He said “American system is set up such that anyone can be a head of state”-AnjumI said “NO, practically speaking Christians only.”Do you disagree?I am aware of Canada’s politics and Indian sikhs in BC like Dosanjh going up the political ladder (i give that as an example to admire the syetem). I know the difference between US and Canada. Not every Indian-sounding poster thinks the way you assume. So pause.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

The best arguement against democracy is what Churchill said ” you just need to speak to a average voter for 5 minutes”.The point still is democracy works compared to any other form of government.A country like USA with unlimited resources,talent & energy has not been able to fix Afghan, so it is foolish to think Indian army could have done any miracles there.I think it is now important for India to look at its own backyard where someone needs to study 1951 demographics to 2001 & understand how everything has been changing dramatically.When you fast forward to 2035 Islamic caliphate looks a very real possibility.For first time history of the world will have a emperor earth.After looking at referendum vote in switzerland i am just reminded of need hiearchy theory of Maslow, whether we have orbited beyond necessity,physical or safety needs in enlightened or poorer society. Or is it possible that these needs have to be legislated for each country going forward.For the moment Keith is right he takes umbrage to head of state position, but i am sure a michael can’t rule Saudi Arabia as much as Hussain ruling canada or Ahmad as Indian Primeminister this is unwritten fact.All these political niceties will be up for real test in next few years.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

Gordon Brown questions Pakistan’s record on fighting terrorismPM asks why no one knows whereabouts of al-Qaida leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahirihttp://www.guardian.co.uk/wor ld/2009/nov/29/gordon-brown-pakistan-ter rorismAt the end of the day, all said and done, every one agrees pakistan’s main industry is sponsoring terrorism.[:D]

Keith,I really don’t know where to start from here after a two day gap. But let me dwell on an older exchange with you on Indian involvement.Firstly I found your opening statement about a sensible post from an Indian very strange, to put it mildly. On reflection I presume it was also due in part to the flak you had been receiving and that the pressure relief valve operated eventually! The fact is I think many Indians are quite disappointed at the progress, if any, that is made on any subject. We seem to be stagnating and goping over the same ground on the same issues.For example, I don’t know how often this question of pressure on Pakistan with the talk of forces on its eastern border. I don’t know how many Indians have repeated the same answer, that it is a matter of India’s security concern that is India’s priority. The US or Pakistan or any other country is equally right in reflecting on its own interests. Yet the same question gets repeated by quoting yet another foreign ‘expert’ or analyst or diplomat etc. But the Indian answer just seems to be overlooked. So how often do we have to say, “Hey we try to learn lessons from history, got our own priorities, we got a war on terror on our hands too, if you can’t help, that’s ok but please don’t hinder.” I do not recall Indian concerns, being discussed at all.Similarly, take this business of Indian consulates. I and a host of others have asked all those who keep talking about the threat of these consulates to at least enumerate the numbers and where they are located and since when. Have you read that question being addressed anywhere? Yet I can lay a bet, wait another a few days, this will come up again.Not being familiar with how things are conducted, I asked as to how your recommendation that India should channel aid through the Afghan Govt. and as to how it is being done at present. Perhaps its a matter of syntax or our own individual ways of expressing ourselves, but my doubts and query still persist.This is not to get personal or rant, but I hope I have been able to convey, at least vaguely, why there is a certain amount of frustration creeping in when people answer the same question without their previous opinions or views even being acknowledged.Anyhow, feel free to chalk this one up as another rant from an Indian, no offense will be taken. :)

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Vijay,Allow me to go a step further. Looking at how we are managing certain aspects of it in this part of the world, I don’t think democracy is such a hot idea. Unfortunately it is what we have accepted and we need to work within itslimitations. Sometimes I despair at seeing to what levels our public discourse has reached.I also agree that we should not try to influence outcomes for others. In fact I wish India got off its high chair and stopped talking about Security Council seats etc. we have a long way to go and need to concentrate on ourselves for the next many years first. However, though we shouldn’t try to influence outcomes elsewhere, we need to maintain co-operation internationally, specially in our neighbourhood and increase commerce and co-operation. That is essential for progress to be maintained. It has to be mutually beneficial and a win win situation for all concerned, only then will it succeed. Again I’m being idealistic, but really there is no short cut.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

@Prashanth wrote….I don’t know why we do not have more smart people like you in INdia. You are 100% correct. There is something cooking in the south asia policy of west. Out of the blue moon USA is acting good buddy buddy with us. No one asks why? And when SOmeone asks we have no truthful answer. We should be truthful with our future generation. Where was USA before? Why did it not think of us before? We should be careful of what USA wants from us. As you know you do not get something for nothing. I think they want to make INdia the cannon fodder in war with CHina. We were better when we were a mamber of NAM. We should not take sides. That is the best policy to get benefits from both sides. NOw I know there is only one side that is USA but CHina is becoming bigger and powerful.THey have invited our PM to white house and they can not even make his security tight and this SLahdin or something couple went to dinner in white house without security clearance or invitation. If they can not provide security to our PM in white house how can they provide security to our country in front of CHina?USA became Pakistan’s friend some time back. Look where pakis are now?

Posted by Sanjay | Report as abusive

Keith,It is not that I am against democracy. In order for democracy to work effectively, a nation has to reach a certain level of development and maturity. In that regard I’d say the Chinese are ready for democracy. But if they find it comfortable to leave the power at the hands of autocrats and continue with their lives so long as the economy is doing good, then it is their inclination. For Pakistan, I’d say we are not ready for it. That is why corrupt leaders take over as soon as any democratic circus is staged. Just like you mentioned about people preferring a default party when things do not go well, we put our faith in the military. They may not be publicly elected, but we need to get a level of development before we can say we are ready for a democratic exercise. Our fedual system has to be eradicated first. And our country has been busy with conflicts in the region way more than others. So that has to settle down first.My only point was to the Indians about feeling superior with a democracy. As I see it, it is more like a circus than a real democratic process. But that is their choice. In places like Kashmir, and their North Eastern states, military has unlimited powers and has no accountability for its actions. In a true democracy states will not be managed under the gun for so long. The North Eastern states have been kept forcibly under gun point. If these people are true democracy lovers as they project themselves to be, let them hold public referendums in those states and see what their people really choose. I am sure it will not be favorable to them.At least Pakistan is being straight forward. We are not pretending to be something we are not. We have to rely on an institution like the military until we get to that stage of development when we can choose which path we should take. Right now, considering the situation in our country, democracy is not the priority in our minds. We have to let the dust settle down. We want corrupt people like Zardari brought to justice.

On this subject, draw your attention to today’s comment by Gordon Brown on Afghanistan:”And I can also say that over time our objective is to work for and to encourage a new set of relationships between Afghanistan and its neighbours, based on their guarantee of non-interference in Afghanistan’s affairs and on a commitment to fostering not only its long term economic and cultural links with other powers in the region but immediate confidence-building security measures from which all can benefit.”The implication is that involvement in Afghanistan by its neighbours does not have to be zero sum game. In theory it would leave room both for CBMs and for economic benefits for every country in the region.As Nikhil wrote:”Access to energy is the primary benefit for India to have its influence in Afghanistan and beyond. A relatively stable Afghanistan unlocks many opportunities for trade and commerce between India and Central Asia. Energy and economy will continue to be the policy drivers in India’s foreign policy for years or decades to come.”Anyone care to take this forward?

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

Keith,I have been telling you this. We need to confront Pakistan with the truth and NOT acquiesce to Pakistan’s demands or desires. Obmama is putting all means on table to deal with Pakistan (we all know what that means). Even Brown is tightening the screws on Pakistan.=====Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in Washington for the first official visit of the Obama presidency, signed a joint statement pledging to “enhance” cooperation to root out extremists in Afghanistan.Obama and Singh in their statement voiced “their shared interest in the stability, development and independence of Afghanistan and in the defeat of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”"They’re probably frustrated with the Pakistani complaints as there’s very little to substantiate any of their claims about a nefarious Indian role in Afghanistan,” said Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.”Clearly, as the joint statement showed, the US and India share the same goals,” she said.Ashley J. Tellis, a South Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said India’s reconstruction efforts fit in neatly with the Obama drive to ensure Afghanistan will no longer be a haven for extremists.”India has a comparative advantage in this area and it provokes the least Pakistani anxiety,” Tellis said.Owing to India’s cheaper labor and proximity to Afghanistan, Tellis estimated that Indian-led reconstruction projects cost up to 10 times less than a Western-driven efforts.But India feels a major stake in the outcome as many of the Islamic extremists who found haven in Afghanistan also virulently oppose the secular but Hindu-majority regional power.Lashkar-e-Taiba, the extremist group India believes carried out the grisly assault a year ago on its commercial hub Mumbai, was created in Afghanistan.”India’s core interest is for the Taliban not to return to power. They fear Afghanistan would then once again provide a haven to anti-Indian groups who before long would find sustenance in Pakistan,” Tellis said.On Afghanistan, Obama finds friend in Indiahttp://www.google.com/hostednews/af p/article/ALeqM5jx1aG0Wp6jpFDmdxWkvhi6ge HhAw

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

Anyone care to take this forward?- Posted by Myra MacDonaldSome benefits of Af-Pak-India working together and developing the region.But before that can happen, terrorists camps and talibans must go away! Trade, Talk and Terrorists don’t go together!”A route for South Asian peace via Afghanistan”http://www.atimes.com/atimes  /South_Asia/KK25Df01.html

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

Mr. Keith,Let me elaborate on one more point that you have raised and then quit from this topic. I know we are drifting off from the main topic. My apologies to Myra again.You mention about the benefits of dynastic rule as follows:”Dynastic politics are by no means an indicator that democracy is flawed. Every country has its dynasties (the Kennedy’s and Bush’s in the US for example). And younger democracies tend to rely on the founding dynasty for some years when they start out. Had Jinnah survived for a few more years, I am willing to bet that Pakistan would have had it’s own version of Gandhi dynastic politics. “Dynasties like the Kennedy family are very different from those one comes across in third world countries. Typically in a third world country like India, North Korea or Cuba, they will start with a charismatic leader. These leaders will wipe out all opposition as the first task. Any serious contender will be relegated to oblivion. Corruption charges will be brought against such people. Typically in these countries, there will be only one radio channel or TV channel in which people will get to see only the face of these leaders day in and day out. Young children in schools will be brainwashed with the images of these leaders, their sacrifices, their triumphs and so on. Text books will be distorted to highlight the achievements of these leaders. Imagine a country that is mostly illiterate, poor and backward. An image really helps control these people. As the “leader” ages, his or her replacement begins to surface. Until then this “prince” is studying abroad, partying and having fun. One starts seeing the image of this “prince” along with the “father or mother” of the nation. Opposition is reduced to naught and in every election, the “national leader” has a big swing in votes. Election rules are twisted in order to favor the leader. This kind of system breeds sycophants and corrupt people who take over the system and proliferate all over. Corruption becomes the way of life. People become dejected and accept their fate. Some of these leaders will launch their countries into wars with others whenever their ratings go low.In the case of India for example, socialism was touted as the medicine for national welfare and growth. Nehru ruled for 17 years until his death. And people looked at his daughter immediately. All others who filled in the slot were mostly looked at as gap fillers. And Indira Gandhi came to power. I remember reading the slogan “Indira is India and India is Indira.” She plainly declared that corruption is part of life. When she found that she was losing ground, she declared the emergency and put everyone behind the bars. I do not have to elaborate on it further. Indians have mentioned on these blogs that she burnt the country from within. I can quote contributors like Mauryan who have been caustic about her. Her son was no less a tyrant. Both his mother and he engaged in the civil strife in Sri Lanka.In 1991, all these people were dead, falling prey to assassins. That left a power vacuum in the country. If you look at the states, again you will see the same thing at the microcosmic level.India has progressed because of economic reforms and doing away with socialism that was the policy of the Nehru dynasty. Their democracy has not changed much and its loopholes are hidden below this economic progress. Now the new prince and princess are being groomed for continuing the leadership of the nation. This is 60 years after the country was born. When Indira Gandhi was killed, they simply voted her son to power. And he was just an aircraft pilot. After he was killed, his Italian wife who knew no politics got the power baton passed to her. She controls the nation from behind until her children come off age to rule.This is nothing but monarchy in the disguise of democracy. It is the same leaders with an exercise every five years.In the US, the Kennedy’s do not control the national psyche this much. In Cuba you have the Castros.I do not know how Pakistan would have emerged, had Jinnah lived a little longer.India’s monarchy is flourishing. It is really not a democracy in the real sense. They have no term limits for their politicians and some of them have grown filthy rich at the expense of others.Just wanted to clarify. That’s all. I leave the stage for others.

Dara,I am pretty genuine when i do say this,My heart really reaches out when i see the Kids in Afghanistan.It is the most frustrating thing to know when a country has been cursed so badly & every political power through fair or unfair means have exploited for strategic reasons.But at same time we need to realize India complicates Afghanistan than it soothes people up there.Our backyard itself is flush with innumerable headaches,you can’t go & do anything.Long term energy security of India cannot be a reason to be there,since only through Innovation & focussed substitution efforts in energy guzzling industry is way out.This is where you make efforts to invest in right initiative & galvanize public opinion.Now to second point on a form of governance surely something like caliphate sounds absurd to me,this is because you may have one benign emperor who will be good & another who can be a drunkard,so perpetuating a race where one man’s family enjoys the benefits through lineage is not at all good.Secondly a military form which people say can bring discipline,from what i understand it again spells nepotism which will go completely unchecked,they may do public looting,appoint their own henchmen.In democracy the lease of life of a legislator is fixed & when a Multiparty sytem is fixed moods of the public has to be obeyed you may swindle still but the courts or newspapers can expose you,in a military such a thing will invite death sentence or punishment of varied type.Democracy by itself can’t be successful till the institution around it are not strong Police,Judiciary,press or bureacrcy.The gang up of all these institution with Politics is what has made accountability weaker.The longer independant institution,public debates are held in right way the mix & match ultimately will give the right balance.For india this is right thing to do. As to views whether seperating from indian federation can improve a state’s prospect i am pretty doubtful,You need funds to progress which can only come through economic means.Establishing your own setups,foreign missions,cost of governance makes it impossible for smaller states.The romance of new ideas is like the first few days of marriage where excitement wanes down when reality sets in.At the moment personally i think every educated man should promote democracy irrespective of whichever nation he may belong.The thing which is really disappointing & frustrating me is extremism,religious fanatism which is causing unwanted stress.There is a systamatic build up of fear,hatred,supramist tendency which is simply going unchecked.Even if all of humanity follows one particular religion you still can’t overcome prejudice or hatred.A handsome man will not marry someone ugly or vice versa,the difference of language,ancient lineage everything will come into play.It is a ficle minded arguement by every bigot that scriptures came to them by God & forcing it to be followed even unwillingly.This poison spread by every zealots of every religious denomination can only cause harm & no good.The external manifestation of god’s revealation is not looking pretty.The twisted arguement that God saved one person in a group of 100 for a tsunami accident without blaming him for other 99 makes the case for fighting religious tendency idiotic.Once the political aspects of religion is removed then solutions would be feasible for peace,since the excuse for war in every country becomes untenable.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

Dara,No offence taken. I think its important to have frank discussions. I did it when I worked as an analyst and I do it on here.I also think its important to remember that friends can disagree. And it is this point that I think Indian diplomacy still has to grasp.What’s frustrating for Westerners is the fact that while Indians complain about not getting enough recognition from the West or claim that the West betrayed them in the past (ironically Pakistanis make the same claim too), there is very little recognition of the efforts made by the West to engage India in the post-Cold War era. Yet, despite all the strides made, Indians expect the West to completely absorb the Indian viewpoint, and to make it their own overnight. Anything less is viewed as a lack of progress. For example, if our threat perception of Pakistan or China, is anything less than 100% in line with the Indian mindset, then the West is betraying India.There is little room for give and take here. Look at the lambasting I got over the suggestion that India’s acquisition of nuclear capability had shades of an AQ Khan like action. All of a sudden, India is an exception to the rule and the West should just accept it. Never mind that the single action by India shattered nuclear and foreign policy in Canada, for example, led to the formation of the NSG, and lead to a severe global clampdown on nuclear technological development. Yet, somehow in the same breath the claim is made that what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. So Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons in light of the perception of the Indian threat is not acceptable (talking getting the bomb here, I recognize the difference of proliferation records).It is these kinds of ‘with us or against us’ mentality and double standards that makes the relationship troublesome.Yes, we recognize that mistakes have been made in the past. But somehow Indians seem to think that Westerners are superhuman and are not allowed to make foreign policy mistakes, and if they do its probably not a mistake but was intentional (a conspiracy theory mindset at times). Case in point, Pakistan. Increasingly, you are seeing a shift in the mindset about Pakistan over here. There is a growing realization that Pakistan has been less than ideally co-operative post 9/11. We realize now that we were a little naive post 9/11 in expecting full Pakistani cooperation. However, action has been hampered by the lack of leverage.This is something Indians can’t seem to understand. The US President is not superhuman and Pakistan is not a US colony he can fix. The yanks cajole the Paks, offer them carrots to try and get them to progress. But at the end of the day there’s only so much they can do. Consider for example, the CIA checking on LeT camps. The argument was made that the CIA’s actions show they don’t care about India because they were only checking for foreigners. Now consider what leverage the Americans have. They can’t order the Paks to close the camps because the Paks would simply ignore the order, hide the camps or threaten non-cooperation with US/NATO forces in Afghanistan. So the best that the CIA can do is get a shot at inspecting the camps and hopefully share that information (which is why developing intelligence sharing mechanisms is vitally important to Indian security). The Paks, of course, will assume the information has been shared, hide the camps, till the CIA finds them and the whole cycle recommences. But again, what leverage do the Yanks have in this case? The best they can do is try and maintain the peace by offering incentives to the Pakistanis, while sharing vital information with India.Some have argued that the US should completely re-align its policy to the Indian viewpoint. One suggestion, few comments back suggested that the US should have used Indian bases to bomb India’s nuclear armed neighbour. Aside from the fact that such a suggestion would probably do more damage to India than anybody else, I fail to see how a re-alignment would necessarily ensure US or Indian interests for that matter. Any full re-alignment would ensure Pakistani non-cooperation, thereby also ending Western access to useful intelligence that India can use. In such a scenario, Pakistan would have also resorted to openly causing havoc in Afghanistan and would have unleashed hell across the LOC. It was for these reasons that it was judged better for both parties to keep their efforts separate. A healthy tension between Western and Indian interests, engenders more Pakistani cooperation than a relationship where the US is seen as an Indian stooge in Pakistan.Anyway to cut my rant short, both sides need to understand where the other is coming from. From our side there are significant efforts being made. Can anybody imagine India being admitted to the NSG with a unanimous vote by every Western nation (including the ones it swiped technology from) just a few years ago? Clearly, we recognize that times have changed, we have changed and so has India. All we ask is for some similar flexibility from India.Tying it to this post, I have suggested that India should make a more concrete effort to annunciate its Afghan policy, avoid attracting too much attention in Afghanistan, and consider growing its relationship there. And though they might sound contradictory, they can be implemented in a synergistic fashion. On a broader note, I’ve suggested that India needs to consider NATO’s interests in Afghanistan as well, since we’re doing the bulk of the fighting and dying over there. From this perspective I’ve suggested that India could help by lowering its visibility (not its efforts or presence). I don’t think any of that is tough or extremely controversial to implement. Nor should any of these suggestions be taken as an affront to Indian dignity.If we’re all on the same team in Afghanistan, then surely we can work together and make accommodations where required. Consider that if the US had wished they could have pressured Afghanistan into minimizing India’s involvement there. However, the West has long recognized that India has interests in Afghanistan and a lot to offer to the stabilization effort. There now needs to be dialogue (although years late) on what that role is and how India is going about fulfilling its role.ps. on a side note, read the recent rumblings on the new US Pakistan policy which includes specific language requiring action on the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and LeT. Clearly, the Americans are coming around to the Indian viewpoint slowly but surely.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

… he was just an aircraft pilot. After he was killed, his Italian wife who knew no politics got the power baton passed to her. She controls the nation from behind until her children come off age to rule.This is nothing but monarchy in the disguise of democracy. It is the same leaders with an exercise every five years.In the US, the Kennedy’s do not control the national psyche this much. In Cuba you have the Castros.I do not know how Pakistan would have emerged, had Jinnah lived a little longer.India’s monarchy is flourishing. It is really not a democracy in the real sense. They have no term limits for their politicians and some of them have grown filthy rich at the expense of others.Just wanted to clarify. That’s all. I leave the stage for others.- Posted by Mohammed AnjumSetting aside the rest of your points which I am sure the Indians on here will respond to, I find this one curious. You’ve made the assertion before that voting for actors or cricketers is indication of an immature democracy.So what’s the qualification to run for the Presidency or Premiership in your view? What should we make of Obama who was a Senator for a mere two years before running for President and was a community activist before that. Should we have a class of people that are groomed to rule? I fail to see how that would be any different than a monarchy.You’ve also made the point repeatedly that Pakistanis prefer military rule. Why then, the agitation during the lawyer’s movement? Were those not Pakistanis on the street?I have heard this view expressed from Pakistani military officers too who routinely say Pakistanis can’t handle democracy. The way I see it, the PA does everything possible to prevent democracy from maturing. Democracies only mature when voters pay for the mistakes of those they elect, learn from them and learn to adjust their choices. The American public got this lesson in spades during the recent Bush presidency. Why won’t the PA allow Pakistanis the same freedom to screw up? What was the need for example for Zia to overthrow Bhutto (given that the East Pakistan was already over at that point)? What was the need for Musharraf to overthrow Sharif? Does the Army really not trust the public to make those decisions? Did the PA really think the public would not have voted out ZA Bhutto at the first chance they got?Yet the Army jumps in before the public ever gets to make the decision, rules through the upswing and then just before everything goes to pot, they hand over a government in impending disaster to a civilian administration. Don’t you find it curious at all that Musharraf gave up so easily right before an impending financial disaster in Pakistan?

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Similarly, take this business of Indian consulates. I and a host of others have asked all those who keep talking about the threat of these consulates to at least enumerate the numbers and where they are located and since when. Have you read that question being addressed anywhere? Yet I can lay a bet, wait another a few days, this will come up again.- Posted by DaraOn this point, note that I question any Pakistani who brings this up, including in official circles. Just because Pakistanis don’t answer the question on here, I don’t see how this should be an indictment of a lack of western concern for India and its interests. What are we to do if Pakistanis aren’t up to answering the question? It’s not as though we believe them or take their assertions at face value.This is what I mean, when I say it can be frustrating to deal with India. This dialogue here is a microcosm of the thousands of interactions that happen between our diplomats, intelligence professionals, analysts, military personnel, etc. everyday.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Hello Keith,I know I’d be one of those million Indians who believe there’s a lot we need to do for our country and our top priority is to get our democracy to truly work in all aspects first within our country. Eradicating poverty, educating our citizens, strengthening our democratic institutions are some of the many things that we need to work on.However regarding this topic I for one have never understood why off late, there has been several reports in certain media of the need for India to scale down the visibility of some of the development work its doing in Afghanistan.I feel that is precisely playing into the hands of what the Taliban would want, If anything we need to unite to strengthen the Afghan government, its democratic institutions and help train the Afghan police to eventually be capable of fighting the Taliban.Isn’t it India’s priority to ensure that it has a safe neighborhood in India’s own security interests?Doesn’t a country as vulnerable as Afghanistan need support in strengthening its institutions to fight extremism,especially considering the threat of extremism spreading from its border.I think it’d be more productive for all of us US,India,EU interested in seeing how we can ensure a more secure Afghanistan.I think most of us in India are supportive of US/NATO’s role in Afghanistan.My heart goes out to the many brave soldiers who continue to fight for a better world.Without the allied forces in the region it would only become a place for harboring terrorists.The presence of the allied forces is surely one of the reasons why India is even able to carry some of the development work there. I would go a step ahead to say that our combined goal is to improve development and create a vision for many of the young Afghans for a better tomorrow.It surely will gain more goodwill even with the people of Afghanistan and help them understand why we are there in the first place.As much as I would want India to join these forces militarily in solving the problem I feel such measures will only be counter productive considering the strain in INDO-PAK relations.I believe it can escalate tensions to extreme levels between India and Pakistan if India were to deploy troops in Afghanistan.They are already paranoid about our 5 consulates there, I can only imagine the fear deploying troops can cause.I should again agree that its the trust deficit between the two countries that is a barrier between the people of both India & Pakistan.I hope we can eventually see how education,human rights,eradicating poverty,strengthening democracy, experiencing true potential should be what every individual in these countries should be striving for.I hope voices of RSS and extremist BJP in India can be marginalized similarly I am extremely concerned about the growth of madrassas and religious fundamentalism in Pakistan which many of us view as a grave threat to world peace.Let us not get swayed by voices which have a hidden agenda. Let us unite for a cause that needs all of us to stand together which is a need for a secure future and a slightly better world.Enough is Enough with terrorism anywhere in the world. We all deserve a right to live and not succumb to fear.

Posted by Bijoy Jose | Report as abusive

Keith,Since you came up with more questions, let me try to answer them from my perspective.I never said democracy is bad. It is a good institution. But states have to become ready for democracy to flourish. This means leaders should be held accountable and bad leaders should be rejected repeatedly and good alternatives must come forward to take over and lead. In third world countries like ours, this cycle is not efficient. We get mostly bad leaders who are in general either rich people to start with, or became famous by some means (acting in movies, sportsman etc). These are the people with easy tickets to power. In India you have the ex-kings who still have large following in the regions where their ancestors ruled. And these people keep getting elected no matter what they do. If you throw out a bad one, the replacement is as bad or even worse. Very few are honest and sincere people. Most get filthy rich and start treating their states and constituencies like many African despots do. I read about one low caste leader in the Northern Indian state getting filthy rich and she has used state’s money to build statues for her everywhere.Though you say that these kind of circus acts are part and parcel of a growing democracy, I’d prefer the society to mature to a higher level by education, economy etc and then move into a democractic system. That is what I prefer for Pakistan. I prefer the Chinese model of getting to a better stage and then contemplate on what is good for us. Do not assume that dictatorships will always lead to nepotism and corruption. Nepotism and favoitism can be rampant in democracies too. Look at India as an example.We have had elections in the past and we got no politician who was devoted for nation building. They swindled the coffers right away and built mansions for themselves in UK and elsewhere. We had no other alternatives. And I am not alone in my expectations. Most Pakistanis want to be led by those who are passionately patriotic and will give up their lives for the nation. Who else can do it for us? Every soldier in the military will.Our military personnel also have high expectations of any leader who comes forward to lead the nation. After all they are protecting the country with their lives and it is not worth that life if some politician sits in comfort and swindles the country. That is the perspective of our citizens and our military.We have not had the luck of such a leader emerging yet. But in the meantime, we want to progress economically and expand our national infrastructure towards growth in all aspects. Once we get there, I am sure there will be enough wisdom to choose what suits us.Musharraf was coerced out by the US. The elections held to bring Mr. 10% to power was an eye wash staged by the US. We don’t know what the US was trying to accomplish by it. Musharraf did everything in Pakistan’s interest. He was a complete soldier. With war on terrorism at our door step, things cannot be expected to go better, even under military rule. Look at what the democratic government has achieved. Pakistan has become worse within the last one year ever since Mr. Zaradi and Gilani took over. Only when these American puppets are replaced by worthy leaders can we even consider democracy for us.I have no regrets about military rule in our country. It happened because our nation was pushed to the brink every time and we had to save our nation first. Our military did everything in our interest. I can bet that without our military, Pakistan would have been destroyed long ago by the wolves in the sheep skin that are surrounding us. For now, we need a focused effort to get to a level of stability and prosperity. We do not see any other form of government that will get us to the next level. Hence my faith in our military.

Keith,Pakistan could have evolved into a decent democracy. Because of its geo-political position, it was manipulated by the cold-war equations. I have read somewhere that the CIA staged a coup that brought Ayub Khan to power in 1958. I do not have the reference here with me. Pakistan has never been the same again. Once military is given too much power and pampered with money, weapons etc., they are going to find an enemy and start fighting them. Pakistan has intelligent people. They are no different from the people in India culturally and otherwise. The mindset, outlook etc are very similar. It is unfortunate that their proximity to the cold war battle field never allowed them to experiment with democracy. India was lucky in the sense it had Nehru who stayed in power for a long time and helped set up the infrastructure for democrcy, nation building etc. Pakistan did not have such a leader. Even Jinnah would not have gone along that path. It was easy to stage protests and riots. Administration and governance need true leaders. We saw how Bush ran the American Presidency. All it takes is one bad leader to mess everything up. Pakistan has been unfortunate in this regard. They got too busy with external goals and did not prioritize internal development. Now they seem to have no alternative but their military. If the military is weakened, it will lead to its eventual collapse. The military is the one that is holding the country together currently. It is unfortunate.I’d suggest going easy on Pakistanis right now. They are under tremendous emotional stress and they may not express themselves calmly at this time.

“India’s monarchy is flourishing. It is really not a democracy in the real sense. They have no term limits for their politicians and some of them have grown filthy rich at the expense of others”- Posted by Mohammed AnjumI didn’t know that people get to choose their leaders in a monarchy. It seems, you need a crash course on democracy. India follows the parliamentary democratic system, which is followed by most democracies, including UK & Australia. Under that system, there’s no term limit for Prime Ministers or MP’s. This system is different from the Presidential form of democracy followed by the US, which has a 2 term Presidential limit but no term limits for senators, House Reps, governors or mayors. Pakistan is the only country in the world which seems to be following a bizarre fusion of both Presidential & Parliamentary democracies. No offense, but I think you should stick your expertise on Pakistani democracy instead of enlightening us about Indian democracy & Politics.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Keith/Mohammed Anjum,Democracies are works in progress and Indian democracy is no exception. India, unlike Pakistan, knew well what it stood for from the beginning. Many here perhaps may not know that Maulana Azad, the Indian Congress President, in April 1946 gave an interview to Lahore based Urdu magazine named ‘Chattan’ – now defunct publisher – and had predicted the possible outcomes of the new state of Pakistan and its impacts on South Asia. Looking back, it is almost freaky to know how accurate his list of predictions related to Pakistan were; such as the loss of East Pakistan, military rule, ethnic conflicts, foreign interventions and tense relations with its neighbors, particularly India.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

Nikhil,Slightly off topic, but since you mention it, that Maulana Azad interview has been challenged over at Pak Tea House:http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2 009/12/01/the-man-who-forged-an-intervie w-shorish-kashmiris-maulana-azad-hoax/

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

Myra,Sorry, the interview has been published in well known magazines. I’d rather take that as a word than opinions published on blogs such as Pakteahouse.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

Mohammad Anjum said:> In India you have the ex-kings who still have large following in the regions where their ancestors ruled. And these people keep getting elected no matter what they do. [...] I read about one low caste leader in the Northern Indian state getting filthy rich and she has used state’s money to build statues for her everywhere.There’s a contradiction right there. On the one hand, you say India’s democracy is a sham because the privileged continue to rule unchallenged. Then in almost the same breath, you turn around and point to the example of a lower caste leader who has come to power. Doesn’t this example contradict your own thesis?I liked your previous post where you diagnosed the reason why Pakistan’s democracy has not evolved – feudalism. I also agree with you that the prolonged use of the army by India in its troubled areas is not healthy. But your statement that India pretends to be something it is not, while Pakistan is more honest, is making a virtue of necessity. It’s quite possible that India is not yet a mature democracy, but it must be acknowledged that India is much further ahead than Pakistan. The strength, resilience and responsiveness of Indian democracy have only improved over the years.I also don’t agree with your earlier statement that democracy does not suit South Asia. I think only Pakistan and Nepal have done badly here. India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have not done as badly. Indeed, no other system of government would work for our countries.I am pretty confident that Pakistan will one day become a mature democracy. There’s no reason for sour grapes just because it is taking time to mature.Regards,Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

ISI, the democracy killer in Pakistan!”Pakistani Journalist Critical of the Military Is Threatened by ISI”http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/wo rld/asia/01pstan.html

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

Is there a Democracy in Pakistan ???Look how many years have been ruled by authoritarian Military Dictators here. What a shame!!! Its virtually on the verge of total colapse now.

Posted by Pratt | Report as abusive

M. Anjum,So do you think the Quaid-e-Azam was wrong for setting Pakistan up on the path of democracy?

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Mr. Ganesh you write: “There’s a contradiction right there. On the one hand, you say India’s democracy is a sham because the privileged continue to rule unchallenged. Then in almost the same breath, you turn around and point to the example of a lower caste leader who has come to power. Doesn’t this example contradict your own thesis?”I am not contradicting anything here. On one side are the rich class who wield political power because of their money and clout. On the other side are union leaders, communists and caste politicians who act like war lords literally. The politician I mentioned about belongs to the latter category. The bottom line is that neither group really cares for anyone other than themselves and their aggrandizement. In a healthy democracy, accountability is a necessity. I read that many members of Parliament or state legislative assemblies are criminals or have criminal records or criminal cases in process. I wonder how different these people are from Afghanistan’s war lords. These people can take to the guns and militia if they could. I am just making a point. I will not say that your democracy is inferior to our system. Ours is a sham too. I’d say it is much worse.The discussion was about what people from different regions will choose to better their lives. In the case of Pakistan, the military has helped the nation survive. In the case of India, dynastic politics which resembles a monarchy has helped India survive. Bangladesh was under military rule for a long time after Mujib’s assassination. If the economy goes down, none of the systems will work. Sri Lanka was almost on the brink.Our feudal lords and your politicians can sell their mothers if it suits them. In Pakistan, our military has been an honorable institution. We have nothing else to rely on at this time. So we will support our military and its benevolence.

Who cares what system is good so long as economy is good? Look at China. They do not have democracy, but are doing better than Americans now. That is all matters for this land.- Posted by Mohammed AnjumSo why don’t you guys merge with China?That will save us a whole lotta migraine and you guys can save a lotta jet fuel!!!

Posted by Ramin | Report as abusive

Keith:@What’s frustrating for Westerners is the fact that while Indians complain about not getting enough recognition from the West or claim that the West betrayed them in the past (ironically Pakistanis make the same claim too), there is very little recognition of the efforts made by the West to engage India in the post-Cold War era.-KeithKeith: perhaps you have not seen the surveys and have not sensed how much support US enjoys in Indian public.Have a look:http://pewglobal.org/reports/displa y.php?PageID=800There is more anti-Americanism in Europe than in India (though this survey is at Bush’s time). This is due to growing India-US relationship in several sectors. Currently, US perhpas will be #1 on Indians like any country. This is not a small thing and is happening despite any Indian complaint of US–like on terrorism as an example. Indian public and govt go together in this relationship. Look at US-China andUS-Pak relationships—people in both China and Pak do not like US. Indians, however, do not like to agree to each US policy since that is the practical need of India considering several geo-political factors.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Keith:Corection to my eralier post:”Currently, US perhaps will be #1 in the countries that India likes.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

M Anjum,I think we are losing sight on what our primary focus here is. Yes, India’s democracy is yet to mature and we as citizens need to go a long way before we can call it a mature democracy, but isn’t it always a continuing process? However I find it hard to understand why any country would want its military to have the final say,I think fear has gripped Pakistan to such an extent that people have lost faith in their democratic institutions.I hope Democracy will flourish in Pakistan primarily because the voices of people in Pakistan will have greater say in which direction their country should head in the 21st century.I understand you are cynical about the same, but democracy needs time and effort by all its citizens for a better nation.One more hope is that the people in Pakistan can stand up against those who always look outside to cover up their shortcomings.Let us also strive at getting our houses in order in the first place. A short cut will not work, it is a gradual process of maturing which starts with a vision, a vision which truly has to be the aspirations of the people of Pakistan for a better country. I think both India and Pakistan have a million reasons to unite in their goals of eradicating poverty, educating its citizens, ensuring human values are held high and also to fight extremism.I believe India actually woke up after 26/11 in many ways. Similarly Pakistan has a need to stand up against extremism. The moderate voices should have a greater say in both our countries.Being fixated on Kashmir does no good either for Pakistan or India. Lets first fight terrorism in every way and also see the million reasons why we should channel our energy for common goals of development.

Posted by Bijoy Jose | Report as abusive

The question is who represents the Military.Is it a fair representation through every province or it will be advantageous for one specific group of people who speaks a specific language.Only those who speak a specific language get the creamy posts since the working relationship is excellent,a perceived notion is there that he will work for a common cause.There will then be disenchantment with others or one can feed their frustration.One can’t say when you live in a multicultural society with different language that head of state should be only from this province.WHat happens when one states sends military personnel another state sends revenues another natural resources who should have a better say.Is there not bound to be exploitation which explains why India before the british was having 100s of kingdoms, You had nizams,mughal,shahi kingdoms or among hindus rajput,maratha,vijaynagar,travencore etc, the dearth for zealots that he is superior to the other has no ending.When brothers from same business family can’t get along despite being so rich i am not very sure whether governance from a particular province will stand durable test of time.A representative government is inclusive across language & socio cultural representation.All infatuations to government besides democracy makes it slightly troublesome since progressive development even if it moves at a slower clip is unsustainable longer term in other forms of government.I would think 20% of elected representatives who are MPs may be corrupt,when you go to state it increases 40%+,when you move to muncipality you have to search who is good since they have just started their career.IT, technology,RTI can curb this gradually.The most important measure i do is asking students in schools how many cheat in their exams,inadverently most do & boast about it.That is where reforms need to start about.Cheating & Illiteracy among parents is directly linked in a major way,Where their parents come from a middle class background the ignominy is very palpable when kids find it disgusting about their parents or vice versa.Kalam pushed that thought in interactions with students.The power of reforming schools & colleges through NGOs should be a good start where deeper values of hardwork,honesty has to be imbibed.If one plots out statistically you will see incidence of corruption is more from people who come out from poorer school system than from middle class kind of backgrounds.Most leaders representing our society are basically school or college drop outs, when there is pilferages in mid day school meal the hope of a finer society is least expectable.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive

Vijay,I have absolutely no doubts over your sincerity in what you say and that it is genuinely meant. Unfortunately I see Indian presence in Afghanistan differently. The issue for me is simple, Afghanistan is a country that direly needs all the help it can get, if we can provide some it is worth going there. India and Afghanistan, pre-Taliban regime, had excellent relations and many ties, mainly economic which benefited both. I also don’t think our presense there has anything much to do with our energy security. But I genuinely feel India is doing more good than harm there and helping to improve quality of life there. The work it is involved in is humanitarian not military related in any form.The present hue and cry being made is what I am against, because to my mind it is totally instigated by those who see India as a threat or a permanent rival, no matter what it does, whether in Afghanistan or Timbuktu.As to your views on democracy – Indian style – I am generally of the same opinion as you. We have messed it up. And I really mean ‘we’. Agreed there is an unholy nexus between politicos-babus-criminals etc etc. but how did they get to be so strong? WE let them do this to us, over many years, by simply ignoring things and letting government get away with doing nothing or whatever it wanted. A long time ago, Khushwant Singh, when he was editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, wrote that the wrong kind of people win elections because the right ones don’t vote. Have things changed even now? Look at Mumbai – a perfect example of just talking and yelling. We have been so laid back that the role of the average Indian or aam aadmi if you will, has been reduced to voting, perhaps, and then the politician or the rest of the democratic machinery has no more use for us. We are slowly realising this and now seem to want everything to get back on the rails yesterday! Its not going to happen, not for many years to come and then too only if all of us get seriously involved.In a way the same applies to the way religion now dominates everything. Arun Shourie wrote something that has stuck in my mind for years. He mentioned that in the 50s people dealt with others as human beings frist and listened to what they had to say and held discussions depending on what that person said. To-day, somehow the people first want to know is your religion or caste or whatever, subsequent responses depend entirely on that. I think it is a very pertinent observation. Again, I think we let ourselves be manipulated to get where we are. Unfortunately, we slept for five decades and now probably have to work for 10 more to get things back on the rails.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Ganesh, Musaafir, Keith,I find your discussions here on democracy and its functioning very infortmative. I would like to join it but for now am simply rushed for time. So please spare me some space in to-morrow’s edition.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Keith,Thanks for your comprehensive reply. I need to keep it short here – I agree that the shadows of the cold war did play a part in shaping attitudes. In one word it was – caution. However, we have all moved. I think most in India, who keep abreast of events in Afghanistan are aware of the problems and the difficult balance that the US and NATO have to maintain while dealing with the two sub-contental neighbours. While one understands them one also sees a tilt at times.For example, you mention here that India and the West agree they are on the same side. Well from my personal view point I have this to say. You may recollect, and this is on Congressional records too in the US – India was amongst the first to offer support to the US within hours of the attack on the twin towers. Who was the amongst the last? Pakistan, as Musharraf admitted on American TV, had to be threatened of being bombed back to the stone age, before it agreed to offer support. Even so, and it is only now becoming apparent to the West, that support was a cat and mouse game. I am not going to elaborate on that aspect except to say that it was an explicit condition that India be kept out.The arm twisting worked because strategically Pakistan was better placed to facilitate US aims in Afghanistan than India – I can see the logic there. However, just because Pakistan feels threatened by Indian presence, even if it involves mere humanitarian work,to hear suggestions of India becoming less visible is a bit difficult to digest. If you attribute troop casualties there to Indian presence in Afghanistan, I don’t follow the reasoning other than the implication that if the Indians weren’t there, the Pakistanis would co-operate and not resort to shadow boxing in Afghanistan.Keith, to my knowledge there are more than 40 countries operating in Afghanistan. To single out only India and question its presence or visibility or interests there as being detrimental to the Western cause, I’m sorry to say somehow just doesn’t wash with me. It is plain and simple playing to the Pakistani gallery. The West has compulsions, India may empathise there but is surely not going to let it be a determining factor of its foreign policy. No country would.Well like I said at the outset, I need to keep it short!

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

The Night Of Pakistan’s Generalshttp://www.strategypage.com/qnd/ india/articles/20091201.aspx

Posted by Somers | Report as abusive

The Scary Unraveling of Pakistan by Ahmed Rashid”There has been an unrelenting campaign by the military and political parties who are allied to the army to weaken Zardari so irreversibily that he is forced down from office and a new, more pliant president could be appointed who would do the army’s bidding”http://www.thedailybeast.com/blo gs-and-stories/2009-11-30/gunning-for-za rdari/full/

Posted by SOmers | Report as abusive

Mr. Ramin, you write: “So why don’t you guys merge with China?That will save us a whole lotta migraine and you guys can save a lotta jet fuel!!!”This is a useless statement to prolong the argument. In that case may be India should merge with UK. After all both have Parliamentary system and India was a British colony. Just because I am a Pakistani, it does not mean everything I say has to be idiotic. This is the point I am making to the Indian contributors here. Just because you are an Indian and we are Pakistanis, it does not give you a higher pedestal on every view. You can be wrong too.Mr. Keith, you write: “So do you think the Quaid-e-Azam was wrong for setting Pakistan up on the path of democracy?”We do not know what Jinnah would have done. He died within a year of our independence. There was a power vacuum right away. The creation of Pakistan happened too fast and the demands made by Jinnah were not met when partition was made. So he got a moth eaten Pakistan and the first priority was to accept this strange geography. Then was the problem of money and infrastructure. Depending upon the size of a country, different approaches have to be made. Pakistan is a relatively smaller country compared to India. We just did not have our Lee Kuan Yew. Once again, let me state that I am not against democracy. I just do not want it to be a sham. I want our country to get up to a certain level of development before taking up democracy. Otherwise it is like letting children in charge of an abandoned household. They will need to grow while managing the household. Things can go wrong in that condition. New countries need patrons and guides to take them to the level where their people can decide for themselves wisely. And they will feel empowered as a result. That is why my view is that Pakistan is not ready for the democratic experiment yet. The past 60 years have been wasted due to geo-political turmoil in the region. Hopefully, once this war on terrorism is done, we will look at how our future should be. I hope we will get a devoted leader under whom we all can rally and work towards taking the country to a higher stage. I do not see any such leader at present. That is why I am looking up to the next best option. It is not because I believe only in the military. We have no other leadership that we need right now.Mr. Pratt, you write: “Is there a Democracy in Pakistan ??? Look how many years have been ruled by authoritarian Military Dictators here. What a shame!!! Its virtually on the verge of total colapse now.”Small countries have that vulnerability of getting crushed. Our growth got offset by various factors – Our national leader died right after our independence. Our country was lying on the battle trenches of cold war. We were sucked into it. Now we are fighting terrorism. One after another, we have been in a crisis. So our military has been the choice for us to get us out of these difficult situations. There is nothing shameful about being ruled by an elected leader or a dictator so long as there is progress. If you look at countries like India, Singapore etc, though they have a democracy, the countries have been ruled mostly in the form of a quasi-dictatorship. Developing countries do not have the privilege of experimenting. Their growth takes precedence over everything else. Growth brings prosperity and then everyone can choose what they want. Until that happens, it is good to be under the wings of some kind of leadership that is steady and unchanging. In India, Nehru dynasty provided that steadiness. Though elections came and went, this family mostly held on to the power and their personal outlooks shaped the nation’s path. India is doing well not entirely because of these politicians. They opened up their economy and have benefitted from it for the past 20 years. Prior to that, their democracy was still there and never got this much of publicity they are getting now. Everyone loves to be associated with those who make money. So in the case of Pakistan, we need to settle things and start making money. And then no one will complain about what kind of a system we have. At that time we can decide what we want.

Willie Brigitte was trained by Pakistan military”There is an Interpol warrant for his arrest as well as a number of Pakistan military and intelligence officers identified as terrorists”http://www.dailytelegraph.com .au/news/willie-brigitte-was-trained-by- pakistan-military/story-e6freuy9-1225805 920213

Posted by Suma | Report as abusive

The Indian Muslim leader (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) who foresaw the unraveling of of Pakistan, even before partition in 1946!http://twocircles.net/2009dec01/apr il_1946_interview_maulana_abul_kalam_aza d_man_who_knew_future.html“I feel that right from its inception, Pakistan will face some very serious problems:1. The incompetent political leadership will pave the way for military dictatorship as it has happened in many Muslim countries.2. The heavy burden of foreign debt.3. Absence of friendly relationship with neighbours and the possibility of armed conflict.4. Internal unrest and regional conflicts.5. The loot of national wealth by the neo-rich and industrialists of Pakistan.6. The apprehension of class war as a result of exploitation by the neo-rich.7. The dissatisfaction and alienation of the youth from religion and the collapse of the theory of Pakistan.8. The conspiracies of the international powers to control Pakistan.In this situation, the stability of Pakistan will be under strain and the Muslim countries will be in no position to provide any worthwhile help. The assistance from other sources will not come without strings and it will force both ideological and territorial compromises.”

Posted by Ramin | Report as abusive

Our country was lying on the battle trenches of cold war. We were sucked into it.. If you look at countries like India, Singapore etc, though they have a democracy, the countries have been ruled mostly in the form of a quasi-dictatorship.- Posted by Mohammed Anjum====Mr.Anjum:Your postings are hilarious and have very good entertainment value. Very nice depiction of victimhood. The only problem is you are rather loose on facts. Starting with Jinnah you have always been desperate to be the ally of US/West.To be precise- you have been beseeching and pleading with them to be their allies in hopes of war mongering, militarism against India.The article here nicely summarizes the US role in S.Asia:http://www.chowk.com/articles/913 2Where did you learn India has been quasi dictatorship? Jinnah was an undemocratic, authoritarian man. Once he dismissed a minister without talking to the prime minister. His early death has nothing to do with absence of democracy in India.The only person you could accuse of semi-dictatorship in India was Indira Gandhi. Nehru was a true democrat and sought the counsel of his colleagues always. We have several prime ministers since then including Dr.Singh who are truly democratic leaders. Stop spinning yarns of lies and tales here.

Meant to say”His early death has nothing to do with absence of democracy in pakistan”.

Help India? America has already sent every IT job in America to India. There are hundreds of thousands of IT engineers out of work in the states and you say Help India. Not a dime of my taxpayer money, (while I still have a job and pay taxes).

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@Just because I am a Pakistani, it does not mean everything I say has to be idiotic. This is the point I am making to the Indian contributors here. Just because you are an Indian and we are Pakistanis, it does not give you a higher pedestal on every view. You can be wrong too.”–AnjumAnjum: I totally agree with you. Am I the only one who feels that you are talking with cool head now and are able to have some meaningful conversation? Take it as a complement but do not take that I agree with you on your idea of democracy.@I just do not want it to be a sham. I want our country to get up to a certain level of development before taking up democracy.-Anjum–You mentioned it earlier also giving China’s example that they have achieved certain level of development and are candidate for democracy. I totally DISagree. China’s main aim is development by communist party (only by communist party) and democracy means are least 2 parties and China takes special precaution in uprooting any mass movement that remotely resembles a political movement. Chinese history is replete with such examples and I see some Chinese organizations banned with a fear that they have the potential to have political aspirations.Also, democracy will help development while ensuring individual rights and expression.If military rule carries Pakistan on path of development, what is your motivation for adopting democracy? Thus far development and military rule have not gone hand-in-hand in Pakistan. If Pakistan had democracy and military did not interfere, Pakistan would have remained one; division was due to military intervention. Pakistan would not initiate wars if military rule was absent and democracy was in place. The chances of peace will be higher.Lastly, in India it is the democratic system that works not the individual contributions of the leaders. As you noted there are criminal leaders and corrupt leaders in India. But there are lots of positives of the system that introduces checks and balances that puts the country on cruise. Indian leaders have made mistakes but India can bear the consequences of those than living under a military rule. It just does not suit Indian psyche. It is 62 yrs since 1947, Pakistanis and Indians are very different in their expectation of political system.If you ever think of democracy in Pakistan, do not wait for development to happen. Give your leaders 10 election cycles with non-interference of military and you will be see faster development. if Pakistan adopts civilian govt with PA/ISI under its control, Pakistan’s case will be like certain medical treatments that worsen the symptoms of the disease before curing it. But then if you can live with disease why not live with discomfort of the treatment.

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M. Anjum,I find your arguments against democracy to be spurious. You seem to suggest that there should be no democracy unless its perfect or there should be military rule. But is military rule perfect? I am a serving military officer, and I would never think that I could do the job of a civil bureaucrat/technocrat. And while the politicians may be corrupt in Pakistan, your civil service has a reputation for being cleaner (albeit not perfect), and infinitely more competent.Yet, every time the Army comes in, it fires the people who know what they are doing and puts in military officers to do those jobs. How does that help the country?If I want to develop the economy, I want economists. I don’t want artillery officers developing complex strategic economic plans.So if you think politicians are flawed and military government is better, than what’s with this situation? If the military takes over, why does it need to also ingrain itself into the civil service?You still have not answered my assertion. Democracy is a process that is perfected through time and practice. Our Western democracies are still not perfect. We make mistakes (many of which you’d happily point out). However, each mistake we make, our voters learn from and adjust. For every Bush the Americans elect, there’s an Obama. So why should Pakistanis be denied this learning curve and the opportunity to continuously improve their democracy? Why does democracy have to be 100%, 100% of the time for it to take root in Pakistan? Why such a high bar for democracy, yet not much expectations for military rule?What’s interesting to me too, is that I only seem to hear middle class Pakistanis (the kind who speak english and have visas to the UK, Europe or the US), say that Pakistan is not ready for democracy. Somehow, I doubt the poor downtrodden Pakistani on the street would make that same argument.

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Dara,I guess we’ll have to disagree on the specific issue of India’s visibility in Afghanistan. Please note, though, that in general, I think India is doing lots of good work there and they should keep it up.On some what of a tangent, I have always found it unfortunate that India and West never became close earlier. You have to agree that Nehru’s anti-colonial leftist mindset had at least something to do with this. History would have turned out a lot differently if Nehru had preferred the West over the sham of the non-aligned movement (which proved to be utterly useless). I really do think that India and the West (not just the US) could be natural allies. I realize this sounds to Indians like they should be an American stooge. But that’s not true. Canada is a good example of a country that has maintained its independence on important foreign policy issues (Iraq and Vietnam for example) while acting with its allies where common interests are concerned (Europe, Afghanistan). I could see India operating in a similar framework as an ally someday.

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To-day, somehow the people first want to know is your religion or caste or whatever, subsequent responses depend entirely on that.-Posted by DaraThis is why I get defensive when posters come here and they first question they ask when responding to someone is “where are you from?” “what race are you?” “what religion are you?” etc.From my perspective, the only reason to ask these questions is if you are going to judge the response that person makes on what the answers to those questions are.One individual a few weeks back had the gall to suggest that he wanted to know this information because he “wanted to know where people come from”. Right.

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Keith said:> On some what of a tangent, I have always found it unfortunate that India and West never became close earlier.The feeling is entirely mutual, I’m sure. However…> You have to agree that Nehru’s anti-colonial leftist mindset had at least something to do with this.I don’t know. Nehru and Kennedy had a very good relationship, I believe. I’m not sure what caused the US and India to drift apart.> History would have turned out a lot differently if Nehru had preferred the West over the sham of the non-aligned movement (which proved to be utterly useless).Many Indians may disagree, as do many historians. Gerald W Johnson (An American and the author of “Communism: A Study of Revolution”) was actually sympathetic to India’s non-aligned policy. He said history was on the side of smaller, weaker countries that chose to remain neutral between big powers because their independence was at stake otherwise.The US hasn’t been an angel, as you well know. They haven’t been a supporter of democracy, only of their own interests (read: the interests of American corporations). Allende of Chile and Mossadegh of Iran, both democratically elected leaders, paid the price because they threatened the interests of Pepsico and the oil companies, respectively. India, understandably, had no desire to be Coca-colonialised. An arms-length relationship with the US, with the Soviet Union as a counterweight, was probably most healthy for India.> I really do think that India and the West (not just the US) could be natural allies. I realize this sounds to Indians like they should be an American stooge.Yes, it does. Alliances can only be between strong nations. If one of the partners is much weaker than the other, it will be used (and abused) by the other.> I could see India operating in a similar framework as an ally someday.It can happen now that India is stronger and the limits of American power have been amply demonstrated in recent times. The US is likely to behave more respectfully with its allies in this new world.Regards,Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

Keith said:> From my perspective, the only reason to ask these questions is if you are going to judge the response that person makes on what the answers to those questions are.> One individual a few weeks back had the gall to suggest that he wanted to know this information because he “wanted to know where people come from”. Right.Now it’s my turn to tell you not to be too cynical ;-). I like to understand a bit about the background of the people I discuss with, because it really does help to understand where they’re coming from. I agree it can cut both ways. People can dismiss your statements with a “Oh, you’re just saying this because you’re a (insert name of group here)”. But if a person is genuinely capable of empathy, such information provides more context. Without it, it’s like speaking to someone without being able to see them, their facial expressions, gestures, etc.Who *are* you, anyway?Ganesh

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> Who *are* you anyway?I entered a (grin) surrounded by angled brackets, but the blog software discarded it, making it come out like a serious question.Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

America has already sent every IT job in America to IndiaSorry but you are a moron.When people in India get up in the morning it is Kellogs cereals,before that they brush colgate tooth brush,the shampoo is made of P&G, the soap again from them, when you drive in office you go in one of your cars which is GM or chevorlet,in the office you have a windows system running on oracle platform, when you come back home you entertain yourself in Mac fast food or watching MTV or star news. All our hardwork is represented in the stock market where 49% is held by foreign investors and you made close to $200BN for doing nothing. Now you are planning to get nuclear contracts & selling war planes worth a few billions & you construct our houses with caterpillar cranes.So when do you plan to end this colonization across the world ?

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Mr. Keith you write:”I find your arguments against democracy to be spurious. You seem to suggest that there should be no democracy unless its perfect or there should be military rule. But is military rule perfect?”I am not prescribing this for everyone. In Pakistan, my personal view is that we need a reliable institution to take us to the next level. Only after that can we think of democracy etc. Right now we have a vacuum for leadership. Military is the only institution that has been ethical, moral and honest as far as Pakistan’s interests are concerned. Military rule is not perfect. But so is any other form of government. A democracy like Zimbabwe or Egypt is not worth it.”I am a serving military officer, and I would never think that I could do the job of a civil bureaucrat/technocrat. And while the politicians may be corrupt in Pakistan, your civil service has a reputation for being cleaner (albeit not perfect), and infinitely more competent.”New and poor countries need leaders with vision. Well settled countries can accommodate dummies who can sit on the ceremonial post while the civil institutions do the job for them. You cannot compare the two. If a military general can be bad, then so is a democratically elected actor or script writer or the wife of a dynastic ruler.Imagine them deciding on defense matters. The civil servants are mostly corrupt and will takes these namesake ministers for a ride. And these ministers are in there for making a fortune. National interests will take a back seat while Swiss bank accounts will swell with their money. So I do not see any advantages of a namesake dummy being elected by illiterate and poor people so that he sits and makes a mess of everything. India is doing well not because of their politicians. They had been a barrier to the economic growth until 1991 by controlling the license regime. In 1991 there was no other choice left. Given a chance, these democratically elected politicians can lead a country to its brink as well. This region is not ready to go the next level yet. Economic progress, infrastructure development in health, education, industry etc have to grow to a certain level before people can become mature enough to question their leaders.”Yet, every time the Army comes in, it fires the people who know what they are doing and puts in military officers to do those jobs. How does that help the country?”The same happens in democratic regimes as well. At least in third world countries, when a government changes, a lot of projects started by the previous regime get derailed, enquiry commissions are set up, previous government leaders are hounded out, and a lot of things get derailed. In this part of the world it is a reality. One government will bring in an industry to a state and the next government will throw them out.”If I want to develop the economy, I want economists. I don’t want artillery officers developing complex strategic economic plans.”You also do not want movie script writers, retired actors, sons of rich landlords deciding on the economic policy or any other policy either. Where is their experience? Just because they get elected, it does not make them experts in their fields. Some of them are really idiotic.”So if you think politicians are flawed and military government is better, than what’s with this situation? If the military takes over, why does it need to also ingrain itself into the civil service? “All I am saying is that for Pakistan, we need leaders with vision and sincerity to guide us to the next level. We do not have any. We only have the military to fill up that leadership gap until reforms are carried out, feudalism is removed, fundamentalism is eradicated and infrastructure is built. If there was any other system available, we are all for it. I want all the current politicians disqualified and start from a clean slate. That is a pipe dream.”You still have not answered my assertion. Democracy is a process that is perfected through time and practice. Our Western democracies are still not perfect. We make mistakes (many of which you’d happily point out). However, each mistake we make, our voters learn from and adjust. For every Bush the Americans elect, there’s an Obama. So why should Pakistanis be denied this learning curve and the opportunity to continuously improve their democracy? Why does democracy have to be 100%, 100% of the time for it to take root in Pakistan? Why such a high bar for democracy, yet not much expectations for military rule?”It does not have to be 100% perfect. I just want the society to change where hero worship, war lordism are absent. Our military has more than met our expectations. No Pakistani will complain about our military for what it has stood for. It is the only honorable institution in the country.

@Anjum,You need to live in a democracy to understand it. It is by far the best system with inherent checks and balances on all levels of power. Democracy with Capitalism yields the most productive, happy, compassionate and creative individuals. I can tell you it is a good feeling to toss our leaders out of office, after 4 years, if we voters don’t like them. Unfortunately, you can’t quite do that, the Punjabi Mafia owns Pakistan and does not want democracy there. They continue to undermine the judicial, democratic process to keep their iron fist on power in Pakistan.

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Keith,Though democracy is the way to go, it can also turn the wrong way if the system allows for it. Hitler came to power through democratic elections in a highly developed and industrial society. He was no different than Stalin. Saddam Hussein too came to power through elections at the beginning. Hitler had to be removed by means of a terrible war. Stalin died a peaceful death. A lot depends upon the society for democracy to grow in a healthy way. Whenever emotions are present, idealogues can hijack those emotions and sway the public their way and win elections. Then they work hard in keeping those emotions alive. I guess Pak military has done the same thing by keeping anti India sentiments alive. If you look at these leaders, you will always see a history of engagement in wars with others to hide their weaknesses. In India, the local states have tyrants who win elections and control a majority population to stay in power. In my home state of Tamil Nadu, the Dravidian politics is used to hold on to power. They use caste discrimination as an issue, eventhough they are the ones in power. In the state of Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena uses Nazi like ideology to stay in power. They also use violence copiously to drive off civilian people who are progressive and educated. In states like Bengal, Communists and Maoists use that ideology. In the state of Gujerat, Narendra Modi swept to power after orchestrating the massacre of innocent Muslims. Democracy is a great experiment. But I do side with Mr. Anjum to some extent. Societies have to mature and be in a conducive environment with focus on economic growth and public welfare. Then the politicians will change their colors to match those goals. India has gained momentum in that regard since 1991. But it is still on the edge. I pray that the Nehru dynasty does not derail the country from its path. We are not out of the woods yet. In the case of Pakistan, they missed a Nehru. That is all. Mr. Anjum is right in the sense, poor, third world nations, just starting out, need a benevolent dictator for sometime. Nehru did the right things for India fortunately. His daughter tried to burn the country out. We lucked out. And we are not looking back.

Military is the only institution that has been ethical, moral and honest as far as Pakistan’s interests are concerned.-Posted by MR.ANJUM===Only desperate ordinary civilian politicians have to indulge in corruption in an underhanded way to earn money.When you have a monopoly on power as the Pakistan army does in Pakistan, P.A doesn’t need to indulge in “corruption” in the traditional sense.When P.A generals and officers can openly monopolize and exploit, loot the country openly obviously there is no need for “corruption”. From cereals, cement to road construction Pakistan army has numerous opportunities to loot Pakistan LEGALLY.http://www.faujicereals.com.pk/h ome.htmlhttp://www.fccl.com.pk/main/inde x.htmlhttp://www.faujipower.com/http://w ww.askaribank.com.pk/This book shines light on Pakistan military’s ‘£10bn empire’http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2 007/may/31/books.pakistan

Shastri,While India has a long way to go, could you imagine the country remaining cohesive without democracy? As bad as the extremists are, democracy has worked to keep them in check and generally drown out their voice in the sea of a billion people. By contrast, we could have had an India of dozens of States with Shiv Sena have an Indian reich fiefdom centred around Bombay.Where I take issue with Anjum’s assertion is that from what I’ve seen in my time studying Pakistan is that the military is only marginally cleaner than the civil service. The military officers are getting rich too. They are just better at hiding it. It is quite ingenious that the Army portrays the civil service as corrupt by associating them with politicians, but military officers in those jobs routinely take bribes too.But in taking out the politicians, the military also goes after the civil service routinely. They repeatedly decimate the only nation building capacity the state has. This is why Pakistan is not advancing.Perhaps the politicians are very corrupt. But I don’t buy that the civil servants are all that bad. And they are most certainly not drastically more corrupt than the Pak Army.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

A comment by Yauseen RomanA powerful wing of ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) in Pakistan is in charge of maneuvering Islamist fundamentalists, numbering up to 50,000 strong armed militias and enrolled in ISI’s payroll, from the line of control in Kashmir to Wana in South Waziristan.Last summer, seventy kilometer from Islamabad, ISI Islamist Militias invaded Swat Valley in North West of Islamabad the capital of Pakistan. The western countries and the United States concerned about fall down of, Pakistan, their allay in South Asia, special concern about Pakistan Nuclear weapons and the possible use of them on western targets or spreading them in the hand of terrorists around the world. The world medias showed the brutality of the ISI militias, code name the Pakistani Taliban, who were lashing a teenage girl, accused of having affair with a boy, who were carrying out on her the Islamic Sharia (law); on the other hand, the diplomatic wing of ISI sent a team of its diplomats to Washington with briefcases full of documents that Pakistan faces severe food shortage, and social and economic crises that force the people of Pakistan to embrace Islamic fundamentalism. These psycho political actors convinced Washington and the White House that Pakistan is indeed in the verge of collapsing and must be stabilized before Taliban reache in the Capital Islamabad. At the same time, president Zardari sent signal to India that he would cooperate with India to bring the corroborators of Mumbai attack to justice and demanded that Pakistan and India should solve its bitter stand via communication and peace talks. The first curtain of this drama fell down and the diplomats returned with a two billion dollar check to Islamabad. General Kaiani, Pakistan Chief of Staff, ordered Pakistan’s armed forces to assault the Swat Valley, no journalist allowed to enter the conflict zone, and forced the inhabitants of Swat to refugee camps in suburb of Islamabad, destroyed people houses and claimed victory over Taliban within a month, and sent back the two million Pushtun refugees to their ruined houses and farms.From the mid September of this year, the Pakistani government was maneuvered on the border of South Waziristan to root out the Taliban from that region; they pull up the second curtain. Again, the ISI pulled back its militias (Pakistani Taliban) from Swat and Bjawar in north-west and stationed them in the suburb of South Waziristan. The diplomat arrived again in Washington to collect the cash from the US government and the package they brought was Pakistan cooperation with the United States to crush the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Queda. Congress approved the 7.5 billion dollars for Pakistan over five years. Again the army entered South Waziristan on October 17, of this year and captured the head quarter of the Pakistani Taliban, no journalists no media, and the drama still has not ended. The Taliban has been relocated by ISI to North Waxirestan and Kurum Agency. To the world, specially, the United States Congress and the White house, these last six months were Pakistan’s determination to squeeze the knurls of Taliban and Al-Queda, but to ISI inner-circle the scenario is far from ending.In ISI set of beliefs, between Indians and Afghans there are historical bind of hate and love, and the Punjab mobs of power and politics in Pakistan are between the two nationalistic nations, a factual future victim. Punjab mobs dynasty understand that enfolding the pushtun nationalism on both side of the Durand line is more dodgy than the line of control in Kashmir; furthermore, on the other side in order to black mail the United States from eastern border, ISI has the Lasher-e-Taiba (the group who bombed Mumbai,) Tahrik-e-Nefaz-Islam, and Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Indian setting.Politicians in the United States want to see a strong Pakistan with prosperous future, but when the Pakistan government maneuvers to crush its own people, pushtun in the west of the country in Afghanistan and kshmiri in the east, the theatre of Pakistan is the bloodiest theatres of history ever human has seen it.

GW you write: “You need to live in a democracy to understand it. It is by far the best system with inherent checks and balances on all levels of power. Democracy with Capitalism yields the most productive, happy, compassionate and creative individuals. I can tell you it is a good feeling to toss our leaders out of office, after 4 years, if we voters don’t like them. Unfortunately, you can’t quite do that, the Punjabi Mafia owns Pakistan and does not want democracy there. They continue to undermine the judicial, democratic process to keep their iron fist on power in Pakistan.”We have had democracy in Pakistan. And we lost our faith in it after watching those idiotic politicians swindle the country. They did nothing for the progress of the nation. Even now we have namesake democratically elected leaders. ZA Bhutto did not allow Mujib to assume power. Both were democratically elected politicians. Bhutto convinced Yahya Khan to punish the Bengalis.Mr. Zardari’s days in power are numbered. No one knows what is going to happen after that. Nawaz Sharif and his brother swindled the country’s coffers. We have no good alternatives. I have no faith in waiting for leaders to emerge by sifting through the system for another 60 years while being poor and backward. I’d like to go for the next option – focus on growth and infrastructure, lay strong foundations and then open the system for a suitable type of government. If a charismatic and visionary leader is available now, I am all for supporting him or her. We have none.Everything depends upon a combination of various things working right. Like Mr. Shastri says, Hitler was a product of the democratic system too. Bush was an elected leader. Things can go wrong in any system. All that matters is a good leader. It does not matter what system a country follows. If the leader is good, then a democratic system can keep electing him until he accomplishes his tasks. I do not agree with this checks and balance argument. It might work in a country like the USA. In third world countries, cheques and balances are maintained in Swiss banks.A lot of scams happen and the leaders seldom get punished. By the time a slow and bureaucratic inquiry commission finishes a report on a scam, decades would have passed. By then some of the politicians are dead and gone.One reason why the Taliban initially appealed to the Afghans was their quick justice and clear cut methods. They brought peace forcibly. And the Afghans went with it initially. But they had their conservative methods that became intolerable. This is the same reason why Pakistanis like their military. Its generals can lead. They are leaders for crisis situations. They can make decisions fast and be clear about their goals. If we have civilian leaders of that kind, I have no problems with a democratic system. The system and the people have to match.What I’d recommend is to develop MBA like programs for political process and governance. People deciding to make politics as their career should be able to qualify themselves through this diploma which would give exposure to leadership skills, decision making, understanding basic needs in economy, commerce, diplomacy etc. Leaders have to be trained. Otherwise we have to wait for talent to emerge on its own. And many try to leapfrog to the high level by other means – by being sons of big politicians, or landlords or actors having mass appeal. One still cannot guarantee a corruption free leadership. But an MBA will help people prepare themselves better on how to lead a society. If corporations need trained people for leadership, shouldn’t developing nations need trained leaders? Would the Western powers help set up leadership training for our civilians? That is where I think the effort must be. We have no leaders. And many countries are in a similar boat. There are many worthy people who can lead. But they lack the training. And such training needs to include an understanding of the culture. It is not worth setting up a democracy without proper training of the leaders. This is like setting a lot of musical instruments with no trained musicians. Only cacophony will result. And I see that in many third world countries. The guy with the loudest voice sitting next to the drums gets to lead the cacophony.

Keith: “While India has a long way to go, could you imagine the country remaining cohesive without democracy?”India’s case is extremely unique. At the time of independence, there were more factors that favored the disintegration of the union. I’d list some factors that kept the country cohesive.1. An overall pacifist culture. The majority are Hindus and they had lived under subjugation for more than a millenium. In general people are docile. This is a very significant factor. If any other country had seen a Mumbai style attack, their response would have been very different.2. Nehru. India was extremely fortunate to have Nehru at the top as soon as independence was obtained. He was an extremely honest, ethical politician who genuinely wanted India to progress. He was highly Westernized in his outlook and he also knew the Indian culture. He built the infrastructure necessary for a nation to grow. People curse him for his adamant nature, but he had values that most politicians today lack in India. His presence for 17 years really placed India on the right path.3. Pakistan – You might be surprised to see this from me. The presence of an external adversary really unites people and they rally behind their belief systems. Indians must thank Pakistan for helping build the Indianness. There have been four wars and many other proxy attempts that have really united many Indians.4. Partition – This gave a chance to many Indians to realize how the nation would be if it divided further. The partition of subcontinent into just two nations has brought the region to the brink of a nuclear confrontation. Imagine 26 countries doing the same. There are lot of issues between states which could erupt into wars if they were separate countries.5. Dynastic leadership – I do like Mr. Anjum’s point here. We needed, as a developing country, to have a system in place where we could rely on some kind of a national leader at all times. The Nehru dynasty filled that gap. Yugoslavia did well under Tito. If he had worthy leaders succeeding him or had a dynasty following him, the union might have survived. The Nehru family is very unique. They are only leaders with a national appeal. Nehru or Indira Gandhi or her sons could stand for elections in any corner of the country and win. No other leader has that capability. And their leadership did provide the cohesiveness for the nation that was navigating throw the waters of cold war and backwardness.6. British civil administrative system – a number of things just went directly from the British to the Indians. We just took them and amended some of them. That has provided a continuity.7. Elimination of feudal lords – Indian leaders systematically got rid off the feudal system. This was a big change.8. Free press – India has enjoyed free press from day number one, excepting for a few years under the infamous Emergency.9. Emergency in 1975 – This made the faith in democracy even stronger. In 1977 Indira Gandhi thought she had fooled the people. And they threw her out of power for the first time. After that people began to exercise their power more frequently.10. Sustenance of democratic process – Elections have been held without fail. And people have gained experience as a result.11. Coalition system – Slowly over the years regional parties have gained more power and they are beginning to exercise their power through sharing the central government. This has led to a balance and no party is able to sway the country in the wrong direction. The BJP had many things on their agenda. But they could not come to power without coalition partners who saw to that the BJP continued further on economic liberalization started by the previous Congress regime.12. Military non-intervention. No one knows why in India the military never attempted its hands on power. This is a blessing. Indira Gandhi did bring the country to the brink on many occasions and yet the military stayed confined to the barracks.13. Economic liberalization in 1991 – this led to the media being freed for private broadcasting. Cable TV reached every nook and corner of India and politicians could not fool people anymore like before.14. Thaw in the relation with countries like the US. This is a big factor. Recognition of Indian achievements got a boost after the cold war ended and accomplishments are a very important factor in helping the national psyche. People should not feel dejected. Slowly there is a belief that we can do good and be appreciated is emerging.In all, India’s democracy has grown mature. There sure are a lot of pitfalls. Mr. Anjum’s words are coming out of frustration. Until the 1990s, Pakistan’s economy was better than India’s. They could have gone on the right path at that time and they ignored that opportunity. India has managed to build its strength internally. American support and understanding after the cold war is another big factor that has helped India.

Myra,The topic of discussions in your blog is about India’s interest in Afghanistan , especially in view of the fact that we are already suffering from our own home grown terrorists .Indian economy is unprecedentedly growing at 7.9% per annum ,which is one of the highest in the world in the aftermath the global melt down. India does not have enough energy resources to meet its ambitious growth targets. Like other countries in the region, Indian also needs natural resources of Central Asia surrounding Afghanistan. Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India  , gas line is one of the proposal being debated in India for along time, but due to insurgency problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is no progress on this issue . Similarly, Indian companies are also eying huge mineral resources of Afghanistan , recently Afghanistan Mining Ministry floated global tender for Expression of Interest for development Hajigak iron ore and coal blocks , 5 Indian companies have been shortlisted.

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

While corrupt politicians can be thrown out, pakistan army as an instituition is so corrupt; due to lack democracy can not be challenged. Any pakistani who challenges them are oppressed, encounter a vicious campaign that they are traitors or worse “Indians”.This pakistani calls the pakistan army invaders of their own country and summarizes how P.A.has undermined its people since 1947.http://www.fascistarmy.org/Ironical ly the punjabis who were late comers to the “pakistan movement” have hijacked the whole power structure into their hands, and in the absence of democracy other ethnic groups are fed up and want out.===Nice & accurate summary by Yauseen Roman. The lack of democracy, and sense of disempowerment at the hands of punjabis is leading to unfolding of pashtun nationalism.UNDER THE AFPAK VOLCANO, Part 1Welcome to PashtunistanBy Pepe Escobarhttp://www.atimes.com/atimes/Sout h_Asia/KK06Df01.html

Manish,If resources are India’s primary concern, then surely it’s more important to engage Pakistan than Afghanistan. After all, the IPI and the TAPI both require Pakistani co-operation.I don’t think India’s interests in Afghanistan are solely limited to accessing Central Asian energy stocks.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Mohammed Anjum,Much as I would like to argue with you in favour of democracy, I must admit you have some strong points. The more I consider the situation, the more I realise that India was probably just plain lucky it did not degenerate into some dictatorial shambles like so many other newly liberated colonies. Shastri has pointed out some plausible reasons for this. Of course, Indian democracy is far from perfect (and Indians will be the first to admit that), but there is a sense that things have been getting better and will continue to do so.Your suggestion that Pakistan should concentrate on economic development first (under military rule) and then think about returning to civilian democracy has some merit, although not many would like to admit it. Given that there is no civilian leader who currently has the stature or integrity to provide the kind of leadership the country needs, perhaps this is the best option. Of course, remember that if there is a military coup, US aid will be automatically cut off, resulting in even more hardship for the people. Perhaps there needs to be a democratic facade without total power in the hands of corrupt politicians? Is that what we’re in fact seeing today?For all his faults, Musharraf was reportedly on the verge of signing an accord with India that would have reduced tension significantly and let the two countries concentrate on economic development, but then the lawyers’ brouhaha happened leading to his exit. It may still be possible to pursue such a deal. Fortunately or unfortunately, only the Pakistani military has the credibility today to sign such a deal with India and have it accepted by the average Pakistani citizen. Civilian leaders who do that will be seen as selling out the national interest.I believe there should be a moratorium on Kashmir. Put the Kashmir issue on the back-burner for 5 or 10 years and develop the economy and trade relations first. Kashmir may become much easier to solve after 10 years of peace and strong trade relations. That’s my prescription for Kashmir similar to your prescription for Pakistan itself – economic development before democracy.The ball is in Pakistan’s court, though, not India’s. I certainly hope some strong and wise leadership emerges there. The US presence in the region will not solve problems but result in greater confusion and turmoil. Pakistan’s leaders should seize the opportunity to break this cycle and initiate better relations with India. The entire region can then prosper. If they let things drift the way they are, there will be years of misery ahead for everyone in the subcontinent, although India may suffer less than either Afghanistan or Pakistan.Regards,Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

Keith,Fair enough, we disagree on the Afghan stuff…As regards India’s ties with the West there is a bit of history to it. It needs to be acknowledged at the outset that one country that strongly supported independence for India was the USA. AS far as my knowledge goes things started off on the right foot. Nehru in fact was a great favourite, India was in fact even offered a place on the Security Council at the time, which Nehru refused in favour of China.The first sour note was the Korean war. John Foster Dulles spent a lot of energy building an alliance, initially known as the Baghdad Pact and later became SEATO. ‘You are either with us or against us’ is attributed to Dulles at that time. India did not agree to formally be part of any alliance,the ‘against us’ clause came into play. That was the first step towards a breach but it was primarily a disappointment more for the US and no one else. Then came the co-ordinated Suez attack by Britain, France and Israelat tjhe same time as the Hungarian crisis featuring the Soviets steam rolling dissidence there. While Nehru was vociferous in attacking the West over Suez he said not a word about Hungary. Even when specifically pushed to come out and decry the ruthlessness of Soviet use of power on unarmed civilians, he claimed that he had no specific information and came out with a watered down statement. I think this was the turning point for a steep decline. Not only did he collect a lot of stringent criticism within India itself for his silence he earned the wrath of the West. His silence undid it all. The greater breach was with Canada, with whom India had a special sort of relationship. They were totally disillusioned with him too. If you are interested, there is a book written by the then Canadian envoy, I forget his name, but its title is Envoy to Nehru. I think it sums up this aspect very nicely.As to being natural allies, I would tend to agree. The time for it is ripe at this stage. India is ready to shed past baggage in a changed world and things do seem to be making headway.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Mr Anjum,Agreed that democracy is not perfect at times it borders on the farcical, I think it is still the best thing that is available. I somehow don’t agree with your opinion that some countries are not ready to accept democracy because of culture or whatever. I think it depends on what democracy means to people. I fail to understand why people would not like to be involved in and have a say about things that affects them and how their lives.As to your description of the Pak Army as being patriotic, honest and having the good of the country foremost, I have no doubt of that. However, this probably sums up almost any army in the world. Most people in any country think similarly about their own forces. That, however, does not make a case for Martial Law to me. Armies the world over have a clearly defined role to play, by taking on unrelated responsibilities, they end up diluting their professionalism in the long run.A word about dynastic rule. I doubt there is much in common with monarchy. You perhaps refer to the Gandhi or Bhutto families. The fact is these families run their own parties the way they want to. However, when it comes to forming a government, they are chosen and often thrown out of power by the electorate, unlike a monarchy. So what happens, according to me, is that though a party may be run autocratically, the government is formed democratically. In India for example, there has been a long gap since Rajiv Gandhi was PM, even though the Congress ran three governments after him. Sonia Gandhi stepped down and though all said Rahul was being groomed, it didn’t happen this time either.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Myra , Keith,I am sorry but you westerners will never understand the politics of sub-continent, the basic dispute between India and Pakistan has nothing to do with Kashmir or any other territorial dispute.The problem lies with present Pakistani rulers, army men or ISI , who have been in an atmosphere where they have been taught right form the nursery level that the whole mass of land comprising India, Bangladesh and Pakistan has been ruled by their fore fathers, some hindus infidels collaborated with British to throw the muslim rulers . Such is their hatred against hindu infidels . Kashmir is a minor element of dispute. By raising the Kashmir dispute, Pakistanis designs are to divide Indian society on religion lines, fortunately muslims in India have seen the Pakistani conspiracy , and have not taken the bait . Their lies the whole problem .Secondly , as far as engaging Pakistan is concerned, why should we negotiate with Pakistan? Is it because, Pakistan has the capacity to sponsor terrorists against India ? Which in other word means Indian govt should talk to extortionists or terrorists ? Is Indian govt so weak ? The most important question here is whom should we talk ? Who is the ruler of Pakistan? Whether it is civilian administration or army or ISI ?Our only condition for talks with Pakistan is that they should hand over the perpetrators of Mumbai massacre and dismantling of all the terror infrastructure in Pakistan?Pakistan has failed to act , is it not enough proof of the failure of this administration? In this case, we will talk who can deliver .

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

Mr. Dara, you write: “Agreed that democracy is not perfect at times it borders on the farcical, I think it is still the best thing that is available. I somehow don’t agree with your opinion that some countries are not ready to accept democracy because of culture or whatever. I think it depends on what democracy means to people. I fail to understand why people would not like to be involved in and have a say about things that affects them and how their lives.”I am not in disagreement with you. Democracy is a great institution if applied to the right kind of people. It is like a delicate plant. It grows where conditions are suitable for its survival. When it is young, it can get stamped out very easily. It has to grow to a certain size before it can withstand the harsh surroundings. It has to be proected against sickness and disease. At least that is the case with third world countries stepping into democracy. In our country, that tree got disease way to early. And it has been sick ever since. The environment is much harsher than that in India. Now it is even harsher in Pakistan, considering the turmoil our country is in. In India democracy took root in a really backward environment and has managed to grow despite the illnesses it suffered. The economic reforms in 1991, end of cold war, shift in global political alliances etc definitely became the new fertilizer that helped the democratic tree survive in India.Imagine for a second that if the wrong decision was made by Indian politicians in 1991 despite the World Bank demands and India went more socialistic instead of pursuing liberalization, the sheer weight of economic burden would have cause cracks on many sides of the country. Remember that until 1991, India was mostly run by the Congress party and its economic progress was extremely poor. In almost two decades after 1991, India has achieved many times more than what it achieved in the first 45 odd years of its existence. So the democracy in India got a boost from its economic surge. When money starts flowing in, everyone wants to join the party. That can explain why most states are vying to be a part of the union. If on the other hand misery had amplified by poor policies and decision making, by now there would be many local leaders asking for self determination. It is not that they would do anything better. They would get to rule their own nations.I wish we have a Kemal Ataturk in out midst now. We definitely would be marching towards progress and will be able to demand individual rights to vote and elect our leaders and have a healthy democracy. I do not want people voting because they get money or TV sets that do not work. Democracy is a strange thing in many Middle Eastern and African nations. It is not because the people are barbarians. Their societies have not matured to handle it.Pakistan was created as a nation for Muslims. Though Jinnah wanted us to be secular, the natural tendency of the country was to move in the direction of having Islam in all walks of life. Many of us look at the Koran as a constitution. Not everything in it might be applicable to today’s standards, but without the Koran in the constitution, our democracy is meaningless. We are not a secular nation. We are an Islamic nation. Therefore we will need to come up with a democracy that is Islamic in color and appearance. And time has not come for it yet.

Manish,You misunderstood my comments. I was referring to your point that India’s interests in Afghanistan mainly concern energy resources. The thread after all is about India’s role in Afghanistan. I wasn’t referring to the Kashmir dispute or the Indo-Pak conflict.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

M Anjum,

I agree with all you say about an ideal democracy and its flaws in underdeveloped or developing countries. A change in Indian policy was forced upon it by economic conditions. Congress policies caused a decline, but remember it was also the Congress which took the crucial step of changing track and freeing the economy from its socialist shackles. Some say that if India has become relatively stable now it is not because of the government but in spite of it. The entrepreneurs and private enterprise moved and moved well. However, it would not have been possible but for a change in policy.

The reason that happened though was because the political class was allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, fortunately they did. We may not be an economic powerhouse and have a long way to go in all respects, but we have started moving along the right road.

I could be wrong, but I feel that the politicians in Pakistan were not given this benefit of time, to learn from their mistakes. This could be the reason that democracy hasn’t taken roots there. 60 years in the life of a nation is minuscule and for any system to take root and flourish it needs, as you yourself say, to be nurtured and helped to grow. So does the political class.

As for your contention that an Islamic democracy should emerge, that is an experiment worth trying. Look at Iran, they are an Islamic Republic. Their constitution reflects Islamic ideals, their governments are elected and the system is progressing. I am sure there are those who will point fingers at it, because of equations with that country, but the fact remains there is a democratic process in play in Iran, so why not in Pakistan?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

M Anjum,

I agree with all you say about an ideal democracy and its flaws in underdeveloped or developing countries. A change in Indian policy was forced upon it by economic conditions. Congress policies caused a decline, but remember it was also the Congress which took the crucial step of changing track and freeing the economy from its socialist shackles. Some say that if India has become relatively stable now it is not because of the government but in spite of it. The entrepreneurs and private enterprise moved and moved well. However, it would not have been possible but for a change in policy.

The reason that happened though was because the political class was allowed to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them, fortunately they did. We may not be an economic powerhouse and have a long way to go in all respects, but we have started moving along the right road.

I could be wrong, but I feel that the politicians in Pakistan were not given this benefit of time, to learn from their mistakes which is the prime reason that democracy hasn’t taken roots there. 60 years in the life of a nation is minuscule and for any system to take root and flourish it needs, as you yourself say, to be nurtured and helped to grow. So does the political class.

As for your contention that an Islamic democracy should emerge, that is an experiment worth trying. Look at Iran, they are an Islamic Republic. Their constitution reflects Islamic ideals, their governments are elected and the system is progressing. I am sure there are those who will point fingers at it, because of equations with that country, but the fact remains there is a democratic process in play in Iran, so why not in Pakistan?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Myra,

Another piece in the missing jigsaw puzzle is the haphazard borderlines drawn by Sir Durand, where he dismembered the Pashtun Nation and where the British also dismembered India in a haphazard way.

To deal with all this terrorism, a new UN resolution should be tabled, with he Pashtun provinces in Pakistan being re-unified with Afghanistan and the Pakistan Kashmir being re-united with India. This way, India can police its side better and the U.S. and NATO allies can hunt AQ and Taliban MIlitants without the red-tape.

It appears Pakistan is incapable of dealing with militants. Although it may ruffle Pak sensibilities, this maybe one way to stabilize Pakistan in the long run, by rectifying Pakistan’s borders. I think many will agree that these two areas are a huge financial drain and have caused much hardship on Pakistan. Still this requires serious deliberation.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

@Anjum,

Pakistan needs a peaceful, articulate, educated Gandhian like Islamic leader who can wield power peacefully, while still embracing the best of Islam and embracing the best of secular, plural and democratic values. Unfortunately Pakistan has not produced such an individual and if an when it does, there cannot be any tolerance for those that embrace backwardness like, lashing women, banning music and forcing people to wear a beard, burqua and salwar kameez. For such a Gandhian leader to rise and wield influence, first the people of Pakistan need to stand against the retrograde madrasa culture, double dealing Pak Army and embrace open mindedness. In short, the people of Pakistan need a civil rights movement, within the context of modernizing the psyche and national philosophy of Pakistan. These basic things are needed so that potential great leaders will not have shackles, but some level of courate that will help them to become a lighting rod of awakened resistance against all of Pakistan’s ills. Secondly, perhaps it is time for the British to return and help better administer and manage Pakistan from within, to strengthen its democratic institutions, almost like a mentorship in democracy.

I cannot see the Pak Army being an impediment to true progress towards democracy, if the international community tables a motion, the Pak Army will have to be partners in success of democracy. Militantism cannot have home in Pakistan, but does so, because of rogue/non-rogue Army support in one manner or another.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

To me it appears that India is being unjust to keep the
predominetly muslim state of Kashmir under her control
through sheer force . There are more Indian soldiers in
Kashmir than its population. On the other hand India is
not giving fair share of its economic gains to its largest minority i,e muslims . All the aces are in India’s hand.All it needs is to be large hearted and
treat muslims fairly. I am sure in case of referandum Kashmiris will vote for India , if they are treated humanely and equal oppertunitis are given to them. Congress did not grasp the oppertunity of giving some concessions to muslims to remove their fears and preferred to create Pakistan. There is no cause of any
dispute between India and Pakistan which would not be
sorted out amicably but it needs give and take. I vividly
recall Madam Indra Gandhi and Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
( both late ) successfully settled very sensitive issue of return of Pakistani POWS back in 1972 . I foresee a federation of India and Pakistan if both countries have a will to forge genuine friendly and neighborly relations.

goodmansenior

a

Posted by goodmansenior | Report as abusive

Goodman,

Of course you can think what you like. But, could you please tell us why you think India is being unjust about Kashmir? I also think that your facts come very close to being fantasy:
1. “There are more Indian soldiers in
Kashmir than its population.”
You are wrong by many millions. Where did you get this ‘fact’ from. The population is around 8 million. The total size of the Indian Army, including those deployed along its entire borders and in cantonments is about 1.4 million. With statements such as this it is difficult to take anything you say seriously.

2.”On the other hand India is
not giving fair share of its economic gains to its largest minority i,e muslims .”
Could you please elaborate. Does it allocate resources based on religion? If so what is the allocation?

3. “All the aces are in India’s hand.”
In whose hands are all the terorists and would you consider them, the 2 of clubs?

4. “Congress did not grasp the oppertunity of giving some concessions to muslims to remove their fears and preferred to create Pakistan.”

After reading this I realised just how wrong your information and perception of the whole problem really is. I don’t think one needs to continue.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

@Pakistan needs a peaceful, articulate, educated Gandhian like Islamic leader who can wield power peacefully, while still embracing the best of Islam and embracing the best of secular, plural and democratic values. Unfortunately Pakistan has not produced such an individual and if an when it does, there cannot be any tolerance for those that embrace backwardness like, lashing women, banning music and forcing people to wear a beard, burqua and salwar kameez. For such a Gandhian leader to rise and wield influence, first the people of Pakistan need to stand against the retrograde madrasa culture, double dealing Pak Army and embrace open mindedness.”
-posted by G-W

G-W: There has at least been one example of a Gandhian Leader in Pakistan. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, also known as Frontier Gandhi, who used non-violence as weapon to fight for Pakthunistan. You know that he was imprisoned for 15yrs (not not under luxury of house arrest that the terrorists are given) IN Khan’s own words, he was treated worse than what the Bristish treated him during Indian freedom struggle. This man did exactly the opposite of what Taliban are doing now in the same region. That guy was Pakistan’s enemy and Taliban is Pakistan’s friends. One can argue that Khan fought against Pakistan, not for, but one can also argue that as ruling power feel its throne shaken, it will eliminate any opposition and it is easier to eliminate a non-violent one if people are not in picture. The mix of terrorists with ruling power is a poison that has become important factor now, not during Khan’s days.

That place is barren for a non-violent individual to emerge. I will count more on mass movement.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Mr. Anjum,

Democracy can happen in Pakistan, but peoples hearts and core values need to find room for it. In a stroke of the brush, most Pakistani’s seem to casually dismiss democracy as a western affliction of some sort, that is completely the opposite of Islam.

In many ways, disagree if you will, the political steadfastness of Islam in Pakistan as a tool of national unity is actually destroying it like a cancer and will disintegrate Pakistan. Can you imagine that? That which was a tool for the formation of Pakistani formation and unity is the same undertow force that is tearing it apart and when you break things down to the most fundamental level, you cannot deny what I am saying. Most people do not want to live in a mental drone like fashion, blindly praying and accepting all that is fed to them, but some religious leaders, or army types. This doctrine is failing.

There fore, a non-religious awakening must happen in Pakistan to save it. I am not saying that Pakistani’s abandon their love of their faith, I am just saying that what worked at one point in time is not going to work today. It is most Pakistani’s love of Islam, which is justified, but it is also enabling love of fellow muslims to cloud objective judgement and not do anything about the Taliban, speak against them or challenge them or other firebrand clerics, or simply not seeing these type of backwards people as a threat to a true functioning civilized society, where people can become critical thinkers, embrace Islam and still embrace modern thinking to support a democratic governance.

Pakistani’s need a non-religious construct, something outside of religion, an identity of their own, outside of the context of India and this has to make them feel impassioned about their country to the point that they will challenge head-on, those who impose tyranny, propaganda and militantism. My point basically is, is that Islamic identity alone is not enough as a national tool for unity, there must be something else to make Pakistani’s want to think for themselves and use their own faculties to make decisions, rather than embrace a horde mentality, without questioning anybody.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Two comments here… First of all Jinnah was only as authoritarian or undemocratic as Nehru. The accusation against Jinnah is that he advised the governor to dissolve the Khan ministry…. but Nehru retained section 93 which allowed for the dissolution of the entire state assembly- a power Nehru used on atleast two if not more occasions. Nehru’s contribution to democracy in India was vital… and it was primarily because he ruled like an autocrat. Jinnah- himself a benign dictator- was vital to democracy in that sense … but we lost him. There is absolutely no question that Pakistan would have emerged as a working democracy had Jinnah lived.

Secondly I’ll request people like GW to stop insulting Pakistanis by telling us that need a Gandhi… we don’t … nor was Gandhi exactly the pious saint teresa he is made out in that horribly inaccurate piece of fiction “Gandhi the Movie” … I for one want a secular democratic and tolerant Pakistan…

I don’t understand why Gandhi is always hoisted on everything. I mean you like the guy … fine… make statues… but why always continue to hoist him on us. As for Ghaffar Khan… his historical role in aid of faqir of Ipi who revolted in the name of Islam against Pakistan should be an eye-opener.

Posted by YLH | Report as abusive