Taking on Pakistan’s “military-jihadi” nexus

January 13, 2010
The fenced border between India and Pakistan

The fenced border between India and Pakistan

It’s the start of a year and there is some path-breaking thinking going on in Pakistan as it seeks to get back on track. This article takes on the so-called “military-jihadi nexus” that some blame for pushing a modern nation of 170 million people with a strong middle class to the edge.  Dr Manzur Ejaz writing in the Daily Times says this may be the year the military takes on the demons within and goes after each and every militant group including those closely nurtured by it. Not because it has had a change of heart, but because circumstances will force it .

The chief is that the state of Pakistan – where the military enjoys immense privileges – is itself under threat.  And it was to safeguard the state, that the military moved against the Taliban and other militant organisations in 2009, not just under U.S. pressure, he argues.

“The military may have realised that if it goes on the same old path, the state may be faced with bigger disasters. Lawlessness and a collapsing economy may affect the military’s viability and its own privileges,” he says, adding that the military has concluded that a democratic discourse and rehabilitation of the state’s basic institutions may be the only way to save the country.

And above all, looming large is the rise of India as an economic power which some in Delhi see as a game-changer in the region  just as China’s rise is shaking up the world. Not even India’s incompetent politicians and deathly bureaucracy can stop it growing at 8-9 percent for the next few years,  a government official told me, only half-in-jest. It may not be enough to pull up all of India’s poor, but the sheer rise of a nation of a billion people will be enough to set off waves in its immediate neighbourhood.

“The (Pakistan)  military knows fully well that if India continues its stunning growth and Pakistan keeps on sinking, it will not remain competitive. Pakistan will thus be conceived as a basket case in the neighbourhood of a giant, India. Therefore, to compete with India, economic growth is absolutely necessary, which in turn depends upon strengthening of state institutions and elimination of lawlessness at all levels of society,” writes Ejaz.

Indeed the rise of China and India as world powers is so dramatic that recognising the reality of this tectonic shift  should be at the center of any current strategies for both Pakistan and Afghanistan, says Masood Aziz, a former Afghan diplomat in Washington D.C.  in an essay in the New Atlanticist.  “In fact, this geographic area is now at the very center of global economic forces that may alter the political and economic landscape of the entire region.”


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Pakistan has very talented people. One can see them excel in many fields ranging from sports, music, poetry etc. They got messed up by their military rulers and Mullahs. They are at the very edge of falling into a chaos. If they can manage to turn around and build themselves back, Pakistan can be one of the most progressive nations in the sub-continent. Hope Pakistan will come out of the brink as quickly as it can. It will work out good for everyone in the region.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

What Mansur Ejaz has written is sensible. It seems circumstances have forced and will continue to force Pakistan’s military to reevaluate their strategies vis-a-vis the insurgency in Afghanistan, and their support of islamist politics in Pakistan. But if the Military do make a serious effort to remedy the problems of Pakistan they will only do so on their own terms. This means making sure they don’t lose their position of power within the country. So although the military may finally take on the militants properly and allow state institutions to grow, they will not give up the disproportionate role they play in the country’s economy and politics. They will still be allowed to determine their own budget, remain Pakistan’s largest landowner, continue to influence political parties and government decisions, and they will still answer only to themselves, not the elected government.
I’m also sceptical that they are going to stop funding and training militants to ply jihad against India. They can’t compete militarily so using militants against India is a good investment.

Posted by Mekeritrig | Report as abusive

at some point, the indian and pakistan government and military are going to have to stop lookin at each other with animosity and hostility and work together. In general pakistanis still have some fondness for india. we are from the same blood. it was the british who mainly caused our conflicts. if anything pakistanis look at india and say “why not us”. if pakistan falls into the militants hands, it is bound to have an impact in india.pakistan needs to let go of the hands of saudia arabia,egypt, and the arabs and join hands with india, afghanistan and iran and help get rid of the militancy once and for all.

Posted by sidrock23 | Report as abusive