Guest contribution-Unifying Pakistan

November 3, 2010

sindh floodsThe following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is a defence expert and author of two books on the Pakistan Army.

By Brian Cloughley

Many of Pakistan’s problems are of its own making, courtesy of uniformed dictators or ineffective politicians or weird alliances of both. When military rulers took over the country in their bloodless coups they were welcomed by the majority of citizens, which was understandable given that the governments they replaced were feudally authoritarian and grossly incompetent.

The problem was that the generals stayed too long in power. If they had wanted to further democracy they would have encouraged the country to move towards socially aware and proficient civilian governance. But they didn’t; and there’s no point in crying over spilt opportunities. What matters now is unifying the country to meet its many challenges. Unfortunately, about the only bonding factor evident is extensive distrust and hatred of America.

Pakistan has immense internal problems. For example, the education and health systems are a disgrace, mainly because the rich and powerful and the politicians – who are often the same people – don’t have to use them. It is shameful that Pakistan has to endure what is called ‘load-shedding’ – electricity power cuts – for so many hours each day and that prices of basic foodstuffs are so high. The economic effects of power cuts on industry are becoming critically serious. The great flood has made the situation worse, but even before that disaster there were many millions who could not operate a tiny fan to ease the crippling heat of summer, or a one-bar radiator to counter the killing cold of winter. There has been scandalous and even criminal mismanagement of flood relief measures. Corruption is rife and living standards are appallingly low for the majority of the population.

Yet there is massive wealth in Pakistan, albeit concentrated in very few hands. It was recently revealed that “The average worth of assets held by Members of the National Assembly [MNA] increased three-fold” since 2003, and “the current average value of assets held by an MNA stands at Rs80.89 million”, which is about a million US dollars – a staggering amount of money in such an impoverished country.

It doesn’t stop there. As Pakistan’s ‘News’ newspaper reported on 27 September, “Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his 25 ministers, in sworn affidavits submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan at the time of their elections, have admitted that they don’t pay income taxes”, which is, to put it mildly, peculiar. Hillary Clinton twisted the knife next day by declaring that “Pakistan cannot have a tax rate of 9 percent of GDP when land owners and all of the other elites do not pay anything or pay so little it’s laughable.” On 26 October Transparency International (TI) released a report including the observation that there is a global “tide of corruption”, and indicating the sad fact that Pakistan is one of the most horribly corrupt countries in the world.

Alas, there is nothing terribly new in this, except that Pakistan’s position in the league has worsened a bit in the past year or so, but then the Sindh Assembly passed a unanimous resolution condemning Transparency International, and the Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, declared that the findings were “a disgraceful stunt to malign the government.”

Equally off the planet were many other politicians who, instead of pledging to help ordinary people and bring to justice at least some of the legions of corrupt officials who rip them off, joined in the assault on TI. This is a dangerous, head-in-sand reaction, because it smacks of supporting or at least tolerating what the vast majority of people consider to be a major social problem.

Given unchecked social injustice, Pakistan might seem ripe for revolution – and the violence of Muslim extremists in Pakistan is classically revolutionary in character. Their attacks are the ultimate (and sometimes physically final) protest against what they perceive as a grossly unfair society, although their solutions are medieval and rejected by most Pakistanis. Their hatred of America, however, strikes a populist nerve, and the US has exacerbated its unpopularity by conducting cross-border strikes from Afghanistan and drawing closer to India, to the extent that a 2010 Pew Research Centre poll found that 59 per cent of Pakistanis view the US as an enemy. President Obama’s November visit to India is regarded widely as being deliberately anti-Pakistan. But it’s the domestic problems that are most sensitive.

There is dangerous disgruntlement in Pakistan. It isn’t surprising that once again there is talk of a military takeover, although the Chief of Army Staff, General Kayani, wants to keep the army in barracks. But, as with all Pakistani public figures who care about their nation (as distinct from those who prioritize personal wealth), he must be worried about the country’s lack of direction.

There are some decent and honourable people in Pakistan’s politics, and they may yet come to the fore. What matters urgently is establishment of a sense of national unity and purpose. Unfortunately the President, Asif Zardari, is not the person to generate this, because he is despised and detested by most citizens and even by many supporters of his own political party.

Mr Zardari would do his country a vital and historic service were he to stand down to allow election of a figure who can inspire and bond the people of Pakistan. The Constitution, quite rightly, now limits presidential powers – but it doesn’t alter the president’s responsibilities to the nation. The politicians will have to play their part by ensuring appointment of an uncorrupt and principled president who can unify the country and guide social reform. It is only when the people come to trust their national leadership that there can begin to be effective action to deal with Pakistan’s manifold problems. General Kayani doesn’t want to take over – but if Zardari doesn’t go, there might be no alternative, if Pakistan is to survive as a nation.

(Reuters photo: A boy plays with a tyre in a flood-hit area in Sindh/Akhtar Soomro)


thanks for your post few days ago.

“I wonder sometime what has happened to the legacy of Ganndhi? He was the bravest of all, to be a non violent against violence is not very easy. I would have hell of a time controlling my reflexes. Have you not recognised the light in the words of GW?”
***you should know better how all this works. Gandhi’s pupil bravest of Pushtoons Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan was as peaceful as Gandhi and advocated and showed way to fight without arms. What has happened to his legacy that you are supporting Taliban, your blue eyed boys who we all know how peaceful they are. You do not practice what you preach, do you?

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

The congress party was a political resistance against the colonial rule. Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan was a great Pakhtoon leader. His Congress party also had the majority in the Pakhtoon province and had formed a civilian Govt. headed by his brother. And then came a muslim league leader from India called Mr Jinnah who had propsed a separate autonomous region for muslims in the muslim majority areas of India.

This was the beginning and later messed about by the congress party leaders, and the central self Govt. communication minister who far unknow reason introduced the broadcast of News in hindi language, not Urdu or Pashto! Was this the reason or some other events which gave rise to muslim league majority in the Pashtoon province, I am not sure. Nevertheless, the majority later later voted for Pakistan in the referandum.

mr Nehru and other congress leaders were of the opinion that the Pashtoon province would vote against the separation and hence a full stop for mr Jinnah’s project. Well, the events on ground had their own dynamics and the refrendum went in favour of muslim league party. My research tells me that the Congress party was more or less responsible for the creation of Pakistan, and all other events in the region ever since the partition. All other actors in the show have been and are still nothing more than fellow travellers who are being manupalated by the congress party.

Today we know that we are more educated than the previous generations, the european model is with us, no more boundries, autonomous provinces, regions or countries but all belonging to a european family. the project has so far been successful.

The Indian Prime Minister can straighten the equation in his region by taking the next flight to Pakistan and agree with Kashmiri leaders and the Pakistan Govt. to let the kashmiris have independence, if this is what they want and normalise the relations in the entire region. I do not have to repeat GW’s vision. The vision is a very sound one, no other Indian or Pakistani leader has ever mentioned it. The people would live a new dawn, the foreign military people leave the battle grounds for the commerce and peasants to start working for livelihood and not offer services to soldiers of the West. The Indian and Pakistan militaries would be compelled to reset and identify a different enemy in their military training.

Now to your personal question. I admire the Afghan/Pakhtoon Nation from Karzai to the wazeeris on both sides of the border, who are resisting against the alien invasion, and have time and again performed this ritual. This is the legacy of the Khan brothers somewhat different from that of Mahatma Ghandi non-violence philosaphy all the way. Non violence among brothers and fellow natives and countrymen, yes, but not against foreigners, colonialists and aliens. I always support the victims of aggressors not the aggressor. By the way the Pashtoons or talibans as they are labelled do have blue eyes. I would never bet on loosers, On one side you have the Americans who have never won a war on their own, and on the other side you have Pashtoons who have never lost a war in their history. Who would you place your bet on?
I do neither preach nor practice anything I do not believe in. I am what I am. It is upto others to be what they want to be.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Pakistan: “What is Jar Jar Binks?”

Haven’t they shown Star wars yet in your Madrasas? Even Darth Vader comes in a burqa in it. It must be all right to see it as there is no obscenity involved. Only the droids go naked. The Sith Lords resemble Taliban.

“You write in Nov 6 post that you come from the community of brave people, I would suggest that you join the highly paid french Legion force, mostly built on brave people from foreign countries! It is just a suggestion, with good intention, which would allow you to live with the best of the world. Thzey might even consider you to join their contingent in Afghanistan.”

You need to quit thinking of everything in terms of wars. The French are broke and are raising retirement age. I am happy where I am.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

“For peace, trade and good relations you need two parties but for war the decision is in the hands of one country.”

On one hand you say two parties are needed for peace, and on other hand when Indian MEA says India will replicate if Pakistan pulls back from Kashmir then you call it larifari. And then at the end of it all everyone other than you is confused…right? How are you so sure of Pakistan replication if India initiates the pull back? It is only your lack of knowledge of history of region that makes you say this. Every single head of PoK (or so called Azaad Kashmir if you like) is made to owe allegiance to Pakistan…WHY?? BTW would you care telling that how come 4 month of trouble in Kashmir has undone 10 years of good work and peace (which you never praised) in valley?(please investigate first and not make stupid assumptions)

***Splintering of India and Pakistan
Again you know nothing and speak too much. The separatist ULFA movement in Assam state of India has run out of steam because they could not get new recruits. Why not one may ask? Because youth was busy with their jobs and work brought to them through sustained development efforts of central and state governments. Latest cabinet proposal to make the land owner a stake holder in industrial projects will take a dig maoist movement now. Just wait and watch. Would you care to show some similar efforts on Pakistan side?

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

@777, KPSingh
Your assumptions have always been faulty, therefore you come out with a different result and decisions. This is not unusual, most people in the world have different views because their assumptions vary. The assumptions vary because of different cultural background, different education system and different philosaphies.

I have said my piece on this blog and now I leave it people like GW to carry on. My time is up and perhaps I shall return with my comments after 2012. You guys can sort it out with star wars and Harry Potter guidence.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

“Your assumptions have always been faulty”
Ohhhh and yours are always perfect? Super genius Rex.

“This is not unusual, most people in the world have different views because their assumptions vary. The assumptions vary because of different cultural background, different education system and different philosaphies”
So how does it make the assumptions faulty ‘always’?

You just keep on making me laugh more and more. As soon as I think Rex is becoming boring you soon come up with something very stupid and ridiculous.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

As soon as you are shown the truth you run away by putting the ultimate defence in saying (blaming others) that people have bad english, bad understanding, bad head, bad heart, wrong assumptions and what not. But I am sure there is nothing personal in it…right??

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

Just in, Barack Obama addresses Indian parliament and advocates India getting a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, Pakistan reacts negatively: -on-unsc-seat-will-complicate-matters-pa ml

–>It appears that Pakistan has a moral issue with India gaining international respect. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, the detractors from Pakistan obviously have no moral conscience with respect to:

1) Aiding and abetting enemies of their allies (ie afghan taliban)
2) Keeping non-sunni citizens as “non muslims” ahmadiyas and other
3) Fomenting and stoking militantism in kashmir, and using Kashmiri youth as forward fodder against Indian Army
4) Subjugation of Balochi self-determination
5) Unequal representation of minorities
6) Hijacking and Destruction of the democratic process

7) Unwillingness and hesitation on N. Waziristan offensive, thus enabling TeT to kill Pakistani’s, Haqqani’s, Hekmatyar, Quetta Shura and Al-Qaeda to attack and kill ally soldiers in Afghanistan, leading to undermining of the Afghan mission.

As Richard Holbrooke, US/NATO special envoy said yesterday on CNN’s GPS, “Pakistan understands our stand on the issue and how we feel about it, but I am neither here to praise or attack Pakistan, but they our position”…

In light of the recent Democratic loss in the U.S., Obama has the added pressure to succeed in Af-Pak. It remains to be seen, whether Pakistan will enable that success or destroy any chance of it.

I think the Pakistani’s are destroying their people’s future by not putting both feet forward and destroying the Frankenstein created by them for good. With India, poised to get a permanent seat at the UNSC, this is a hallmark time for Pakistan to engage the peace process multilaterally with the U.S. and India and seek a unified response to destroy all Militant groups in Pakistan tribal areas and embrace communion, brotherhood and prosperity for all in S. Asia. Pakistan stands to gain much, both economically and politically, if help NATO and US bring the militant nurseries to a conclusive end, in ALL of Pakistan, for good. It is not too late for Pakitan to shift direction and build goodwill.

If Pakistan seeks to build goodwill, I believe India should reciprocate manifold and when relations have solidified, both countries have created uncharted territory in peace, stability and security, the Kashmiri issue needs to be resolved, resulting in a secular, democratic and plural Kashmir, with Pakistan to follow the same model as India and Kashmir. The potential for peace and prosperity for all is immense as new incentives arise for all peoples in S. Asia.

Militantism will not have one inch to grow on, where people are educated, working, safe and secure, free from religious venom, destroying the minds of the youth. Extreme right wing movements will wither on both sides fo the border, as people will collectively turn their heads towards the future.

The actual state of peace and security for the entire region, rests, at the end of the day, on the heads of the Emperors of Pakistan, that being the Pakistani Army. They can choose to drag the entire region into hell, or lift all peoples of S. Asia to a different level, never to look back. The past will be healed. Pakistani’s and Indians will be brothers and allies and the Deobandi’s and Salafis, can gracefully disappear into the history books, never again to culturally kill S. Asia into war and separation.

On that thought, it is time that Richard Holbrooke and the Obama administration start cornering these people and telling them that they will be called out and singled out, as time progresses, if they choose to go against the river current of regional peace.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive


We need to destroy the current gridlock and embrace S.Asia peace. We sufficient pressure, politically there will be success. This vision, must be paramount in every discussion we have, enmity will enable the status quo and no success will result. We need to discuss the incentives of peace.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Typo, “we sufficient pressure should read as “With sufficient pressure”

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Let there be absolutely no doubt that Pakistan has worked for decades to acquire a credible nuclear deterrence. Any attempt to split Pakistan will result in an assured retaliatory nuclear strike, unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, Pakistan has much more firepower to ensure its territorial integrity remains intact under all circumstances.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

We need to destroy the current gridlock and embrace S.Asia peace. We sufficient pressure, politically there will be success. This vision, must be paramount in every discussion we have, enmity will enable the status quo and no success will result. We need to discuss the incentives of peace.”

I have not come across many in my generation who do not want peace in the region. India has made several initiatives of peace with Pakistan and Kashmir but has Pakistan replicated? Both of us know the answer then do you think your lecture to Indians is justified. I respect your vision for peace but tell me how come just 4 month of trouble has undone 10 years of peace in valley? Is enmity from India’s side? On one hand you put ball in Pakistan’s court and then you lecture Indians (as if Indians are stopping the peace)…don’t you think you are spreading confusion?

As for Kashmir independence. Look at European model. First you create small countries and then indirectly IMPOSE a common currency by falsely glorifying it. And that results in killing all kind of price competition. To have price competition in such a scenario one needs to lower one’s living conditions. What good is such pseudo independence when bread and butter of people is still controlled by others? When Germany breaks 3% deficit no austerity for it but when Greece breaks 3% deficit then all austerity hell is let loose on it. Why?? Do you want Kashmiris to live at the pity of India, Pakistan and China? Think in terms of economics and not emotions. Greatest freedom is when one is free to earn one’s bread & butter the way one wants to as long as it does not harm others. And that is possible only in a union and not in division. This may be surprising to a lot but is true. And how come you being an Indian miss the point that for past 10 years all was normal in valley and trouble erupted in past 4 months only. Does 4 months bad is enough to write away 10 years of good?

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

KPSingh:”Instead of uniting Pakistan, why can’t they be helped to divide into smaller nations?”

-Well, KPSingh problem with this idea is that Pakistan has moved on since 1971 and today possesses one of the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal and world 7th largest Army. Given these facts I do not think Pakistan can be divided any further, any such attempt will lead to a nuclear confrontation on a scale and magnitude no one would like to contemplate. So you need to get out of this mentality, niether Pakistan is sinking ship nor is it going to give up and get further divided. A nation which has a history of facing challenges will certainly come out of it. And the basic idea of this article is the same as well, Pakistan has wonderful and hardworking people but they lack the leadership. And provided the right leadership and reform certainly things can be turned around.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive


I think India, needs to use its current position and let Pakistani’s know the incentives of peace, with the understanding that the two countries need to make peace first, and then resolve kashmir.


Your point of view, using nxkes, aggression and blackmail to maintain territorial integrity, will wither and become a tool of the past. You need to embrace Indo Pak peace first, then advocate resolution on a democratic, plural and secular Kashmir.

Indians are frustrated with overtures of peace, restraint and goodwill, as it has landed on the deaf ears of Islamabad and Rawalpind. Trust me, Umair, Indians DO NOT want to dismember, nor do we have interest in hurting your country. Indians, like any other human beings will say things out of frustration, because they are upset that your leaders have not mustered the moral will and courage to destroy militantism and seek true peace with India.

Indians want real peace with Pakistan, not a fragmented Pakistan, but a cohesive, progressive, modern and friendly Pakistan, but you have to unclench your nxklear fist first, take your hands off the button and take a paradigm shift to aggressively and actively seeking peace with India. This will ensure complete azadi for kashmir and you never have to threaten nxklear annihilation on the Indians ever again, because the naysayers and detractors of peace, both in India and Pakistan, will disappear and be made irrelevant.

So, I tell you again, do you have the courage to advocate for peace, I do not mean where you impose unreasonable conditions, that you know that Indian voters, cannot stomach, but a sincere peace where you destroy your militants, stop Kashmir violence and seek a peace agreement with India. If this means that India and Pakistan never have war ever again and that your people prosper and Kashmiri’s get azadi, is that not something to be talking about now, rather than your outdated rants of nxklear threats.

Show some moral courage Umair, it is time to change your point of view and be a strong, god loving Muslim and submit to peace, even if it means submitting to peace with non-muslims, it is not defeat, but a higher fulfillment of all muslims in S. Asia. Think about it.

It is time to unclench your fist and be a good muslim and submit to the will of peace.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive


You are perpetuating a false myth that national sovereignty is an abstract concept. Given that most of S.Asia is poor, any, I mean an economic production on a collaberative scale will benefit the status quo and lift the people.

I know that India has the money and there has to be a new vision where people see the benefit of building and investing in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other underdeveloped countries. In this respect, S. Asian corporations can create new markets in neighbouring countries, there will be competition, with cheap labour, there can be manufacturing for the U.S. middle class, which will continue to need cheap goods and services for almost forever. You see, you cannot compare Pakistan and other less fortunate countries to the lazy Italians, Greeks or French. These are emerging economies, people will work for less and don’t need two hour lunches and coffee breaks, they will be happy to have any work, better than none.

With respect to currencies, this will be a first step to stregthening currencies of neighbouring nations and in the long run, will facilitate regional trade on a larger scale and trade will foster better political relations.

It is time to put aside that the myths that we have embraced for the last few decades.

In particular, Islamabad, must stop making more nukes, it is going in the wrong direction and killing the potential of peace and killing of the potential of Pakistani’s.

More weapons will not bring prosperity, peace, or security. They will bring certain death and destruction.

Thick skulled Pakistani’s can’t embrace novel concepts like this, but instead choose the path of enmity and hatred. Time to stop this and think outside the box.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive


BTW…if Pakistan disintegrates on its own volition, that should not preclude a nxclear strike on anybody.

Secondly, you need to quit this victim seige mentality that everyone is out to disintegrate Pakistan.

Nobody is out disintegrate anything, but Pakistan is almost on a daily basis disintegrating itself, by carrying on with the status quo, with almost too many things to list here.

I am telling you to discuss what I have put forward, with your friends, collegues and relatives and spread the word of peace. Just put aside your damaged ego for a few moments and try to be different and original.

I said that pindiboys can keep their power, they just need to redirect it into peaceful endeavors, all can profit from peace, but only a few profit from building more nukes with IMF and US monitary aid and many Pakistani’s continue to suffer.

You need to understand that building more nxkes equates to prolonging Pakistani suffering and destroying Pakistani potential and potential for any peace.

You need to step outside of the false myth of India being the enemy, that pindi boyz have perpetuated to keep their power by keeping Pakistani’s mentally subverted and uneducated.

Don’t you think it is time unshackle Pakistani’s from the chains of ignorance and hatred? They are hungrey for peace and prosperity, like all Indians, in that respect, we are the same and not different.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

@Brian Coughley,

Thank you for a well written essay. The best thing to unify Pakistan, would be prosperity for its citizens and peace within and peace with India. Many think that Pakistan has hit rock bottom and while some there think that Pakistan has not much to lose, those nay sayers must also realize that there is much to gain.

The Pakistani Army must choose to be a tool for peace, rather than disunity.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

@your post
Nov 3, 2010
9:49 pm EDT

***Sorry, I did not have enough time earlier. It is fair that I respond to your detailed post.

Clearly, the discussion at broader level is that post-partition the region has not settled down. Both India and Pakistan have taken over areas with (Kashmir) or without document (Balochistan) and some regions wanted to be with undivided India not with Pakistan. Gaffar Khan knew what Pushtoons are going to get in Pakistan and he asked for not dividing India. He was right. Eventually partition happened and the guy was left in a place under Pakistan). Add to the list North East in India, part of that places china in direction equation (Arunachal Pradesh) which is troubled since ever.

Partition of the region has been blamed on some grand strategy of Brits but that hardly matters 63yrs down the line. Durand line led to division of Afghans, also divided were Punjab and Bengal. Speculation by Western strategists at the time of independence was that Indian would soon balkanize which at that time seemed more probable. If one thinks about the period of Mughal empire and British Raj, neither of them could control totally all the ‘present day India”. So the chances of India holding to one land of diverse people were remote. Those strategists were willing to put more money on Pakistan’s cohesion. Instead, Pakistan got split into 2 pieces and arguments of division of Pakistan have always been floating ever since Pakistan was born, catalyzed by 1971 Bangladesh and further during US-USSR cold war when Pushtoons spilled into Pakistan and were refugees. Their ill treatment did not do much to the cohesion. I am sure there are generous Pakistanis but good things are not remembered.

If E and W Pakistan were a contiguous territory, it was possible that Bangladesh would not have happened. Pakistanis should thank the fate since Pakistan would have been worse off by keeping Benglis under control with force. Similarly, India would have faced a Bangladesh with Kashmir or North East or perhaps Punjab also, if these regions were separated by Pakistan or China. Punjab in India has genuinely moved on after going through 15-20yrs of bloodshed (Pakistanis live in 80s who do not trust it and Rex Minor would not take a note in any case). Bangladesh got what it wanted, but the remaining areas need solution. The control with force is not a normal thing to have for a normal country since it becomes a drags a growing country, especially the one like India with huge populations and lots of internal problems on list. These troubles have sucked up lots of resources and seen a lot of bloodshed and disturbed the region. This needs permanent solution—sooner rather than later. But these are big decisions and come from within, not forced. The USA or anyone else doing it with XYZ method is the worst thing to do.
Ever since nukes got into the equation, no one is going to attack any other country which also has nukes. Even a superpower cannot do this. These recent wars have shown that nukes are great deterrent. There have been disadvantages of this deterrent since it provides a safety umbrella to run covert operations. What will be the solution to Pakistan’s internal matters—division of areas? Only they would decide that and can do it much better. This is not a switch on/off button for solution as you know it very well. If it took so long to come to this, it would not take any less to make it work. US withdrawal will make the situation clearer.
Let us forget that Pakistan will any day divide further willingly. In any case, Pushtoonistan as a country will resemble Afghanistan and if both merge, it will be a bigger Afghanistan. Balochistan will not be given for its strategic location and rich in natural resources and Chinese have a veto in that matter. What Pakistan needs is reforms—have a political system for the country taking into view what each area wants. For Pakistan, a democracy with autonomy to 5-6 areas will help them a lot.

While NE India and Balochistan & other Pakistan’s regions are internal to India or Pakistan, Kashmir is not. NEeast situation is complicated and fluid. The problems In NE India are multilayered—local and anti-Central govt for linguistic or political reasons/reservations/autonomy/sovereignt y. GOI has tried to control with methods which tend to be short-term in nature. Perhaps 1971 Bangladesh refugee situation/Pakistan factor also is playing a big role there. I think autonomy to these regions will not be a bad idea. When people have some job and no time for extracurricular activities, the solution is easier. Sikh problem would have been tougher to solve had the Sikhs not been prosperous.

From India and Pakistan standpoint, they need to have a reason to see each other peaceful—increased trade/business ventures between 2 countries would make them shed their reflex of getting into wars. Kashmir in India needs both a common sense from GOI and India/Pak good relations, latter is not a possibility in the near future for the reason that we as people hold grudges and have prejudices. These are salient features of the people of this region. India is short of ideas. Pakistan still thinks India, which is progressive, will see Kashmir as a dragging force and will “kneel down” to Pakistan’s ways. By now they should know nothing of the sort will happen. Kashmir itself does not have a brilliant leader to talk about other than some motivating teenagers and lately women to throw stones.
India should be proactive and have solution for Kashmir before it is forced to or has to decide from position of weakness. Kashmir is not like Arunachal Pradesh where it can linger on forever. First off both India and Pakistan should develop some good reasons not to hurt each other. That would be a start towards talks.

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

Umair’s and Pakistani’s take note today, in India history is being made:

“In the years ahead,” the US president said in Parliament, “I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.” India is now the only country to have the endorsement of four of the five existing permanent seat holders. ”

–>This is exactly what Pakistani’s must understand. The United States is chosing a friendly partnership with India, not because of need, but of choice. There is no reason why Pakistan cannot be an equal partner with India, if it choses to sever itself from China and Militantism and let Kashmir be free.

Pakistan can only be unified if Pakistani’s realize that they have bright future ahead, if they chose an economic union with India and seek a peace agreement, which will precipitate and remove the largest impedents to most regional issues between the two.

Yielding friendship and enmity with India has taken Pakistan backwards for the last 63 years. Pakistan has much to gain, if it severs itself from the Chinese and seeks reconciliation with India.

In time, India will surpass the chinese due to:

4)Free flow of ideas contributed by an entrepreneurial spirit
5) Freedom of Speech…allows good ideas to travel fast and be adopted quickly

It seems on a daily basis, India is blowing past Pakistan at light speed, in almost every respect.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive


No one is going to or will be allowed go into Pakistan and splinter it up into small nations, whether Pakistan has the nukes or not. Everyone recognizes its sovereignty as a nation. But if Pakistan does not help resolve the Afghanistan problem soon, conditions will turn against its own very existence. You have mentioned about it yourself earlier. And implosion can happen without anyone really doing anything from outside. At that time, having the nukes can be more dangerous to Pakistanis more than anyone else. All this talk of Pak nukes being in safe hands are political in nature. Those who say that in public also have expressed concerns about dirty nukes being used in New York Times Square or London. They talk both things depending on who they are talking to. A lot depends upon how your military will handle the near future – will it try to keep its “assets” or give up on terror-sponsorship entirely to save the nation. All bombs going off inside Pakistan today were meant to go off in Indian cities. If war on terror had not happened, that would have become a reality. Obama will not be in India now if that was the case. Unfortunately those bombs are going off inside Pakistan now. The same can be extended to the nukes, which are meant for India specifically. If the situation inside Pakistan gets out of control, I won’t be surprised if some elements get together and launch a nuclear offensive on fellow citizens. Anything is possible in Pakistan today. No one is there to be trusted. All this talk of vibrant society is only talk. Reality is very different.

If Pakistan falls apart and splinters up, it will be entirely due to internal reasons and hopefully your country will come off from this edge. All we have discussed is about that potential to fall which is becoming real by the day. One more attack on US soil or Europe that originates from Pakistan will meet with dire consequences. That is what your Jihadists are trying to do – bring the war close to home. They are thinking that it is easier to fight it by bringing the enemy closer. They have Afghanistan to prove that point. You do not want the world fighting the elements inside your country. If they get pushed beyond a point, they will.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

G-W said:

> There is no reason why Pakistan cannot be an equal partner with India

Actually, this is the crux of the problem. Pakistan is *not* India’s equal. The sooner they accept this and adjust their expectations of the relationship, the better for them. Ultimately, it’s not India’s hostility that bothers them, it’s the fact that India is in a higher league altogether which is difficult for them to swallow.

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

“I think India, needs to use its current position and let Pakistani’s know the incentives of peace, with the understanding that the two countries need to make peace first, and then resolve kashmir”
And HOW do you propose India should do this (if not already doing it for past decade or so)?

“Given that most of S.Asia is poor, any, I mean an economic production on a collaberative scale will benefit the status quo and lift the people”
I think you did not get my point. I was saying political independence (for Kashmir) does not mean anything if one does not have financial independence and that financial independence can be achieved ONLY in political union and not division. Which effectively means the same as you outlined. So for economics of the region we are on same page and I also firmly believe that Sindhis in Pakistan can give Indian businessmen a run for their money. If there can be a Karachi in such a chaotic Pakistan then imagine what Karachi can become in a peaceful Pakistan. Hope I am clear.

So you are again going through those emotional fits. First come out of it then we will talk.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive


It is no secret that politically speaking, discussion of peace with India in Pakistan is tantamount to political suicide or mass protests and fatwas against anyone who seriously contemplates such a heretical act such as peace with India.

It is therefore required and necessary, that India use its current ability, that being money, to incentivize the peace process with Pakistan, with actions. I mean tangible acts of goodwill directly to the Pakistani people themselves, like transfer of Medical Technology, Building of Schools and Hospitals and assistance with building and upgrading of civilian infrastructure with Pakistan.

If India can assemble a delegation to pro-actively impose peace on Pakistan with Tangible things that Pakistani’s can appreciate, it will go a long way to thaw relations. Current distant discussions have yielded no results. If India can do this and muster the political will, in the international forum, India will significantly boost its international image and potentially thaw the political gridlock with Pakistani’s, who then, with time, start moving away from an anti-India stance.

Pakistani’s are a very stubborn and proud people, they will be defiant and tight fisted, until their last bit of life in them. As INdians, we are a sophisticated, ancient culture, we have the energy, imagination, inertia and resources to figure out a peaceful way to reach them. The best way to do that for India to create goodwill with Pakistani people directly and entirely circumvent the Emperors of Pakistan.

At least, if the Army or any political factions force Pakistani’s to refuse gifts or assistance, it will be there for the record, that India reach out a loving hand, reach out with flowers and got thorns in return.

Perhaps it will be what is required to make Pakistani’s look at themselves and how they want the world to view them. Defiancey, pride, hatred and many other emotions must be melted within Pakistani’s with the offer of goodwill from Indians.

India had a good chance during the flood to deliver and politically tilt things in their favour, but squandered the opportunity due to political shortsightedness.

You can’t look for impediments to peace, but look for opportunities, 777, that is the whole point. We have rise above all of the BS and keep it simple and deal directly with Pakistani’s and nurture their needs first.

As I said, let the history books show that India reached out for peace to an ailing Pakistan, if it takes the help and it makes peace, so be it, if Pakistani’s refuse the help and want to politicize that, then let history show that they chose to keep the path of hatred with Indians in their hour of need, while they were drowning in their own pain. As Indians, we have to let Pakistani’s choose at the end of the day, if they want peace.

With India’s huge progress and prestige now, we still the continual duty to reach out to Pakistani’s and try to lift them, it is upto them to accept it, or refuse it and prolong their own suffering at their own devices, as they choose. But make no mistake about it, it will echo around the world, hundreds of times, if India makes these heartfelt peace overtures, it will be considered a sign of immense strength, no weakness.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Interesting to read a relatively neutral and balanced piece on Pakistan by Brian Cloughley. Unlike genuinely (I think) neutral analysts like Christine Fair, Cloughley is usually an apologist for the Pakistani military. Looking at the accelerating downward trend in that country though, I think he may be unemployed within 5 years. That may explain the shift in his position. What next, his CV turning up in New Delhi? There’s definitely more money there now…

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive


“Pakistani’s are a very stubborn and proud people, they will be defiant and tight fisted, until their last bit of life in them. As INdians, we are a sophisticated, ancient culture, we have the energy, imagination, inertia and resources to figure out a peaceful way to reach them. The best way to do that for India to create goodwill with Pakistani people directly and entirely circumvent the Emperors of Pakistan.”

***There is a trouble with this approach. Unwittingly, you are depicting India (Hinduism I guess) as ancient and sophisticated not Pakistanis. We seriously do not have figured the peaceful ways if you see lack of common sense of Indian Army (I would not blame them, it is the govt). Assuming our leaders are the best, they have not shown a common sense much less any peaceful way.

I have a serious problem with owning the history before 1947. That was different time. After 1947, India has not been this peaceful or imaginative or what not, as claimed –people behaved like mobs as well as the state violated all laws. India is not a land of honey and milk. It is a matter of degree. Pakistan has more blood at hand than Indians, but that does not allow us to generalize 1.2billion Indians and 170million Pakistanis. I am sure like me you would have come across peaceful Pakistanis including Punjabis from either side of the border.

It is the politics/policies/choices we made. People are fine are victims of the situation. Let this not be used as an excuse however to behave in certain way.

Calling Pakistanis unpeaceful/arrogant and Indians as peaceful and all good things, and then suggest India be a big brother and help them to fix, does not sound good. This does not work even at people to people level. we got to own our mistakes as people and suggest fixes via people-people level. If I were a Pakistani I would not like this appriach. We need to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. There is no denying the fact that SOME Pakistanis would throng the streets at the call of Jihad. But this crowd forms the monority just like in India or anyhere else during riots. The decison makers at the top or in streets are few, rest all of us make a mob. Few Pakistani or Indian commenters at Reuters do not represent the majority. If you look at a larger sample size on a bigger blog, you would see lot of peace in Pakistan hearts as well. I have seen that. I hate to admit it but we all are victims of the situations. GW in Pakistan would have behaved the way any other Pakistani does. Genes do not play big role, environment does in this context. Same way a Pakistani in a different situation would respond diffently. I hope you get my point.

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

“I mean tangible acts of goodwill directly to the Pakistani people themselves”

When Pakistanis did not accept aid from India even at times of flood then how do you expect Indian organisations being allowed to work inside Pakistan? Don’t be childish. Do you think any foreign delegation can work in a country without government support. I think not.

But yes I get your point. And let me tell you it is not Pakistanis who do not want peace it is the politicians who do not want peace. Because once Pakistan has peace politicians will have no political fodder and will have to work towards development which is a dammn tough task. So its not common Pakistanis who are at fault it is actually their top that is corrupt.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive


Very good points. Thank you.

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

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