On U.S.-Taliban talks, look at 2014 and work back

February 19, 2011

arghandab3According to Steve Coll in the New Yorker, the United States has begun its first direct talks with the Taliban to see whether it is possible to reach a political settlement to the Afghan war.  He writes that after the Sept. 11 2001 attacks on New York and Washington the United States rejected direct talks with Taliban leaders, on the grounds that they were as much to blame for terrorism as Al Qaeda. However, last year, he says, a small number of officials in the Obama administration—among them the late Richard Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan—argued that it was time to try talking to the Taliban again.

“Holbrooke’s final diplomatic achievement, it turns out, was to see this advice accepted. The Obama Administration has entered into direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban leaders, several people briefed about the talks told me last week. The discussions are continuing; they are of an exploratory nature and do not yet amount to a peace negotiation.”

I had heard the same thing some time ago — from an official source who follows Afghanistan closely – that the Americans and the Taliban were holding face-to-face talks for the first time.  He said the talks were not yet ”at a decision-making level” but involved Taliban representatives who would report back to the leadership.  There has been no official confirmation.

And given that the idea of holding talks with the Taliban has been on the diplomatic agenda for a year, you would probably expect to see the various parties involved in the conflict sounding each other out – though diplomats say that in the first half of last year it was hard to get negotiations moving without the direct involvement of the Americans.  By the second half of 2010 the Americans had given greater endorsement to talks, leading — according to the source I spoke to — to direct talks beginning towards the end of the year.  

In a speech to the Asia Society on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington was “launching a diplomatic surge to move this conflict toward a political outcome that shatters the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, ends the insurgency, and helps to produce not only a more stable Afghanistan but a more stable region.”

“As military pressure escalates, more insurgents may begin looking for alternatives to violence. And not just low-level fighters. Both we and the Afghans believe that the security and governance gains produced by the military and civilian surges have created an opportunity to get serious about a responsible reconciliation process, led by Afghans and supported by intense regional diplomacy and strong U.S.-backing.”

“Now, I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable. And diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace. President Reagan understood that when he sat down with the Soviets. And Richard Holbrooke made this his life’s work. He negotiated face-to-face with (former Serbian president) Milosevic and ended a war.”

Pakistan has been pushing hard for talks on a political settlement in Afghanistan which would force al Qaeda to leave the region. A senior Pakistani security  official said in December that Washington needed to identify “end conditions” in Afghanistan, rather than setting preconditions for talks that insurgents renounce al Qaeda, give up violence and respect the Afghan constitution. He suggested instead a process in which violence was brought down, insurgents renounced al Qaeda, and a consensus then negotiated on a future Afghan constitution.

Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani also gave a detailed letter to President Barack Obama late last year on how Pakistan viewed Afghanistan. According to one western official who had seen the letter,  the ideas put forward had not been rejected, but were being studied carefully.

So it’s interesting to see that both Britain and the United States are now talking about outcomes for talks with insurgents, rather than preconditions.

According to Clinton, ” Over the past two years, we have laid out our unambiguous red lines for reconciliation with the insurgents: They must renounce violence; they must abandon their alliance with al-Qaeda; and they must abide by the constitution of Afghanistan. Those are necessary outcomes of any negotiation.”

A senior British Foreign Office official, talking last month, made the same point. She said requirements the insurgents renounce al Qaeda, give up violence and respect the Afghan constitution applied to a settlement rather than to the opening of talks. “These are not preconditions for talks,” she said.

And many Afghan experts have long argued that the Taliban could be separated from al Qaeda through a political settlement — most recently in this report by Kandahar-based researchers Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn.

However, whatever happens with talks, this will be a very slow process with a great deal of room to go wrong. The Taliban itself has publicly rejected talks, and as van Linschoten and Kuehn noted in their report, the ramped-up U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan may be fragmenting the insurgency and creating a new generation of younger, more radicalised leaders less open to a peace deal

For now, both the United States and Britain argue that the military strategy is succeeding in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table — a calculation that, if wrong, could mean that by the time substantial negotiations get under way, the leadership no longer has the authority to deliver.

And as I noted here, the aim of the current “talks about talks” is not to strike a peace deal overnight, but rather to lay the groundwork so as to reach a final phase by 2014 when the United States and its allies say they will withdraw their troops.

The United States and the Taliban never understood each other when the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.  In his New Yorker article, Coll quotes a story about how Taliban leader Mullah Omar made a cold call to the State Department in 1998. “The United States had just lobbed cruise missiles at Al Qaeda camps in his nation. Omar got a mid-level diplomat on the line and spoke calmly. He suggested that Congress force President Bill Clinton to resign. He said that American military strikes ‘would be counter-productive’, and would ‘spark more, not less, terrorist attacks’, according to a declassified record of the call. ‘Omar emphasized that this was his best advice,’ the record adds.  That was the first and last time that Omar spoke to an American government official, as far as is known.”

The Taliban, by many accounts, vastly misjudged the likely U.S. reaction after the Sept. 11 attacks, when they refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for trial without clear evidence of his involvement.

So both sides need time just to learn how to talk to each other, not so much because of language differences, but because of cultural differences (though that process may have started in one of the many parallel tracks of Afghan diplomacy with former Taliban ambassador to Islamabad Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef visiting London this month.

And the substantial issues for talks lie ahead.

How will the Taliban be expected to break with al Qaeda? And where would al Qaeda remnants go once, or if, they are — to use Clinton’s words “on the run”?  With uprisings and protests across the Middle East and North Africa, few would want to introduce another element of instability right now if al Qaeda members filtered back into Egypt, where they have their ideological roots, Yemen, where it has a strong presence via Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), or North Africa, home to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

How far would former Taliban leaders be included in the political process in Afghanistan?  I hear mixed reports on what could be an acceptable compromise. One official said that the Taliban should not be compared to a national liberation movement – opinion polls, though unreliable in a war zone, tend to suggest they do not enjoy widespread support in Afghanistan.  So a power-sharing deal would offer them far greater legitimacy than they deserve — or so the argument goes. The  counter-argument, which I have heard from another offiicial, is that the Taliban do not believe that it is up to the Americans and their allies to dictate how Afghanistan should be run.

Then you have the issue of whether the Taliban would be expected to owe allegiance to the existing constitution — which few seem to like much, in part because it is so over-centralised, but are also unwilling to ditch without a better alternative.

A major cause of suspicion — not just in Afghanistan but among other regional players including Iran and Russia – is that the United States might seek permanent military bases in the country even after it pulls out most of its troops in 2014. Clinton, echoing comments made by Obama in 2009, said that, ” we do not seek any permanent American military bases in their country or a presence that would be a threat to any of Afghanistan’s neighbors.”  However,  the increasing size of American bases in Afghanistan give pause for thought.

We also do not know what would happen to the current government in the event of a political settlement – though it’s worth noting that President Hamid Karzai’s term ends in 2014. If you wanted a political settlement which allowed the former Taliban leadership into government in some form, that could be the time to do it – if, and that is a huge if, conditions are right at the time.

And we do not know how the Pashtun Taliban might be reconciled with the non-Pashtun members of the former Northern Alliance, which fought the Islamist movement when it was in power in Kabul.

So in the short-term don’t expect a breakthrough. Look for progress on smaller confidence-building issues – including the release of prisoners, and taking Taliban names off the UN blacklist - to see whether the talks about talks are making any progress.  And as is the case in any peace process worldwide, expect spoilers at every stage from anyone who might stand to gain more out of war than peace.


“Ghazi, Ghauri, Auragnzeb, Babur, Akbar, We will celebrate who we want, when we want, where we want, how we want irrespective of your ‘thoughtful’ concern.”

And you forgot Gaddaffi cricket stadium in Lahore! Wonder what you are going to call it, now that this name is not fashionable outside of Pakistan. May be you can change it to Ghazi Osama Bin Laden Stadium. Just a suggestion.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Gaddaffi: “Of all the bloggers KP despite his plagliat rhetoric, is the only one who is capable of telling us what the future holds for India?”

What is plagliat, may I know? You are coining new words in every posting of yours. Oxford dictionary cannot keep up.

As far the future of India – it looks very good. If the criminal neighborhood can be cleaned up soon, it will be even brighter.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Wonder when Mumtaz Qadri becomes the President of Pakistan.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

@”I CHALLENGE you to even THINK about doing something to us.”

If your chronological age is over 8 years, please accept my heartfelt sympathies. And now that you’ve thrown in your worthless 2 cents, you can go back to watching the cartoon network.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

In my obsevation your rhetoric is usually made up of PLAGIATS(mis-spel in my post), the nearest I found in Oxford and Webster is the word ‘PLAGIARISM’.
Besides if you do not understand a word or an idea then why do’nt you move on to what you do follow.

Besides if you want a stadium being given yor name, you only have to pay for the costs of the stadium. I am sure even Pakistan Govt. or even the canadian Govt would be ready to oblige if you come out with the moneten.

Of the moghul kings I remember Babur who said something along the line that enjoy your life since the world will not come again.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Since you are not coming out to tell us what the future India would like, then I can tellyou what you have seen in the future, less than one fourth of the current land and most of the population anhilated due to the nuclear conflict! Have a nice day and pray for peace. The prolonged stay of the yanks in the subcontinent is not going to avert the disaster.
Remember also that Libya was given the technology and the components to put together the Nuke Lollies. The underworld Mafia bosses convinced him that in the underworld there are other harmful weapons than the nukes. The European Union allocated him 500 million euros to train and equip his special forces, stregnthened his State security and installed a massive internet gadgets to block the internet for the citizens and to spy on individual citizens. It is this power which is still keepng Ghadaf entrenched in Tripoli!

Stay ahead of the events and not wait for NY Times, Washington Post and the wikileak? Your compatriot from NY is from the past and so are the lot of history you pour out on this blog. People undr thirty could not care less what the ancient bandits did or did not do. We are in 21st century and not responsible for the follies and the achievements of people who are no longer with us.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Besides you should be greatful to col. Ghaddafi, who gave employment tomany thousands of Indians(without any caste preference), over one and a half million Egyptans, thousands and thousands of Brits,Germans,Bengalis, tunisians and africans. I wish he had looked after the lbyan folk more and creted local industries to have employment for the youth.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Pakistan: “Besides if you want a stadium being given yor name, you only have to pay for the costs of the stadium. I am sure even Pakistan Govt. or even the canadian Govt would be ready to oblige if you come out with the moneten.”

So in Pakistan, they just name everything on someone who pays money. So Mahmud of Ghazni, Mahmud of Ghor etc paid money so that Pakistan can name all the North Korean made missiles after them. You have a very nice logic and reasoning that does not follow any logic or reasoning. Gaddaffi sponsored Pakistan’s illegal and clandestine nuclear bomb program. He did that in the hope that Pakistan would deliver the technology to Libya. Unfortunately for him, Pakistan could not do it successfully as the Americans and Europeans cornered Musharraf in New York with all the information. Musharraf had to act in a hurry to cover Pakistan’s tracks. So Lahore cricket stadium was named after Gadhaffi not because he paid money, but because he was looked at with awe once. Now that the tables are turning against him, Pakistanis are in a hurry to disown him. This is typical – jumping ship and switching sides based on which side the wind is blowing. That’s what I was pointing at. Unfortunately it did not penetrate the thick bone covering the head.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Pakistan: “Since you are not coming out to tell us what the future India would like, then I can tellyou what you have seen in the future, less than one fourth of the current land and most of the population anhilated due to the nuclear conflict! Have a nice day and pray for peace. The prolonged stay of the yanks in the subcontinent is not going to avert the disaster.”

This not a forecast. This is your wish. You are burning inside just like every other Pakistani to see India not falling apart and gaining strength. So dream on. I am sure there millions of Pakistanis like you, who wish for the same. Therefore we are justified for our wish and expectation that Pakistan self destructs soon and splinters up into chaotic war zone. This way you brothers can tangle each others’ beards and stay tangled. It will also help the world in coming in and cleaning up all the nukes from your dangerous hands. No country in this world with nuclear weapons have so brazenly declared decimating others. Not even North Korea. Your nukes will not be allowed to stay on your dangerous hands for too long. The world will trigger events inside Pakistan that will allow for it to implode. And the nukes will be removed. You people are too immature and emotional to hold on to such weapons. You have no sense of responsibility or value for the lives of others. Therefore it is only a matter of time before nukes are removed. Your chest thumping will not change the outcome.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Pakistan: “Stay ahead of the events and not wait for NY Times, Washington Post and the wikileak?”

They are far better than the spilling from your bowels.

“Your compatriot from NY is from the past and so are the lot of history you pour out on this blog. People undr thirty could not care less what the ancient bandits did or did not do.”

People under thirty are being manipulated and exploited by bandits of today. If they did not care for others, they will pay the price for it.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Pakistan: “Besides you should be greatful to col. Ghaddafi, who gave employment tomany thousands of Indians(without any caste preference),”

The issue is not with Gadhaffi giving jobs to others. He took everything for himself and left his countrymen poor. He sponsored terrorism and allowed his country to be used for terrorist training, much like your Pakistan. He worked on getting nukes from a rogue nation so that he could hurt humanity. He is a tyrant. Whether he was there or not, jobs would have been given to foreign nationals who have the necessary skills. And it has nothing to do with castes.

“over one and a half million Egyptans, thousands and thousands of Brits,Germans,Bengalis, tunisians and africans.”

See above. Are you sympathizing with him or against him?
May be you should go to Tripoli and fight for him. He has all the machine guns and ammunition waiting for you.

“I wish he had looked after the lbyan folk more and creted local industries to have employment for the youth.”

Tyrants never do such things. Have you seen a wolf sharing something with sheep? Wolves eat sheep.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

KP is again on the march with his rhetoic! Now reread what you have put out. Is there anything that you said whch has not been mentioned before? Perhaps one thing that you have go Pakistan mixed up in the saga? You are like a Ranjeet Singh who saw every thing with one eye! This gave him the stregnth not to get confused! Are you in the same analogue state?

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

My forecast is based upon the excerpts of your old post, perhaps you should reread what you poured out on this blog!

Have you forgotten your fears! Ask reuters blog to pull out your statements. Thy can even tell you what your password is in case you have forgotten it!

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Pakistan: “Have you forgotten your fears! Ask reuters blog to pull out your statements. Thy can even tell you what your password is in case you have forgotten it!”

With people like you in the neighborhood, headed by icons like Mumtaz Qadri, one can definitely expect someone to lose his mind and set off utter destruction. That does not mean it is destined to happen. Predicting future is very different from looking at the risks involved. Of course, for people with your primitive and militant mindset they are one and the same.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Let me give you a forecast:

Revolution for India – No such luck
Revolution requires a fearless set of people. You fear everything and make them gods. Swamis will rule you for ever while most of the people sink in swam of filth and poverty.
Mr. Singh take care of your people in Punjab. They are killing their baby girls (850 to 1000 Ratio. Men’s sperm count has dropped below impregnation level. Your people would rather have alcohol and drugs. They are out to kill themselves. Why?

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

How about Libya Stadium
or Hindu Kush till Indians become normal humans
or Lanka Stadium for their steadfast support of the game

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

OMG, I woke up the trolls!

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Troll # 1: “Revolution for India – No such luck
Revolution requires a fearless set of people.”

Revolutions happen when you spin your head fast. Your head is spinning. That’s all. Try stopping and see if the revolutions cease. Or you are too drunk to know if you have legs or you are floating.

I agree that your country has a lot of revolving heads who are blowing themselves up periodically. Looks like their voice is being heard.

There is no need to address the other trolls.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Matrixx said:

> How about Libya Stadium

Seriously great idea. How about “Azad Libya Stadium”? It will appear to show support for the Libyan people but Gaddafi will also be pleased because he understands “Azad Kashmir”.

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

Are you having trouble writing your 20000 ch daily quota. You better get going otherwise you won’t get your pay check.
Tell me more about your tribe in Punjab. Why do you fear touching that subject?

Now just redefining words won’t do. Conversations are about ideas which you don’t have any.

Time to go back to school.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

Lahore does not need your help in renaming a stadium but you could help KPSingh in his tight spot.

Prasad you seem like an intelligent person. Are you a Brahman?

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive


Do not respond. The trolls have started breaking wind.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Are you the gang leader. I thought so.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

The tragedy of pakistan will unravel slowly and painfully perhaps for decades with india bearing most of the cost of the implosion that takes place and there is no escaping from it.

Posted by sensiblepatriot

Why would India “bear the cost of the implosion”? I don’t get it.

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive

Hypothetical statement. In any case if that happens, by that time, India would be sinking filth and poverty and people would welcome any escape from their misery.

Even now one million people escape every year to other countries.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

Looks like some frustrated Pakistanis are feeling compelled to demonstrate as to why their country has become a failed state. There’s no need, the world already knows it to well!

Troll alert: The delusional retard suffering from a severe identity crisis & multiple personality syndrome, is back with a new name!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

“How are we trolls? We are Pakistanis,”

Ch.. Ch.. Do not insult yourselves. Go back into the crack.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

I have experience with Indian blogger, you may have the best logical argument, they still won’t buy it. There are a few things they won’t discuss Indian domestic behavior and issues. They won’t discuss any principles they follow and won’t hear anything against Brahmans.
On other blogs, they freely go for name calling.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

“Do it if you have moral strength and not run away like your buddies”

When feral pigs, grunt & snort in the filth of their sty, nobody pays any attention. You successfully made the transition from imbecile to pig, sometime ago & the other fellow has always been one.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Read my post to Shahid, exactly as predicted regarding name calling. I will not report this abusive post so that others can see it.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

> I have experience with Indian blogger

The thing is, you guys respond immediately and instinctively to insults, but never pause to consider that even when they’re abusing you, people are really trying to give you some sane advice. It betrays a street fighter mentality, definitely not intellectual.

And this is sad, because what is really being said is that if you stop looking for the bad in others and are willing to see others as another set of human beings like yourselves, you can stop the downward spiral and achieve prosperity for your country as well.

(Stop saying the ball is in India’s court. Pakistan is the country going downhill fast, so the ball is really in Pakistan’s court.)

Now petrol prices have gone up by 10%. Fuel is a multiplier in economic terms. Every other good needs to be transported, so an increase in fuel prices will raise the prices of all other goods in turn. Inflation has begun to bite, but who is going to be bitten the worst? Not the arrogant bloggers who studied in English and are experts in sarcasm but the poor and the uneducated. So you elites keep up the hatred and never seriously try to mend fences, and all the rest in your country suffer.

Maybe it’ll take a Middle East-style revolt by the poor and dispossessed to bring your out-of-touch elites to their senses.

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/ar ticle1498164.ece

Any society can progress only when revolts reject religion and violence. Unfortunately Pakistan does not have courage to reject any of these.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

Earlier I said that you seem like an intelligent guy. I take that back.
Have a good day.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

> when indians initiate unprovoked verbal attacks

You’ll find those were themselves retaliatory. “He started it” seems to be everyone’s refrain. Obviously you can’t see it that way. Try to rise above the fray and you will.

> Why not discuss the intolerance of Islam (a subject you brought up) but not juxtapose against mankind’s most vile system: that of Indian Casteism?

You’re obviously not great at comprehension even after reading so much. Nobody denies the evil of casteism. Indians talk about it all the time. It’s you guys who refuse to believe that caste relations are getting better, “lower caste” people in India are gradually getting a better deal and caste itself is slowly going away. In two generations, it may be gone, which is a big social advance for a country which has seen centuries, perhaps millennia, of the caste system. You seem unaware of these changes taking place, and worse, unwilling to consider that they are taking place. You remain fixated on “brahmans” even though brahmans have largely lost political power and have no affirmation action privileges. Your remarks betray a desire to see India as perpetually backward rather than a desire to understand the reality, which is an improving society.

> Your altruistic facade is just a cover for the real reason you are here; To celebrate every misfortune of every man, woman and child in Pakistan.

Nonsense! I hate to bring this up, but I donated (more than once) to Oxfam’s flood relief in Pakistan. I do not celebrate your misfortune! I know many Indians (including commenters here) did the same, so cut us some slack!

Why do we frequent this blog? Pakistan is an important country to us in two ways. The more acute way is exemplified by Mumbai 2008. We need to be acutely aware of your country and its activities because it impacts the survival of our loved ones. The less acute (but more important way in the long run) is that a strong and united South Asia is bigger than China and can be more prosperous than Europe or the US. 1.7 billion people live here, and we have not tapped the synergies of these economies working together. It’s not Indians but Pakistanis who are unwilling to buy into this ideal. It’s always about a list of demands of what India should do, when the obvious solution staring everyone in the face is to just accept the status quo and move on! The Kashmir border has not moved in 62 years and will not move. The weaker country has even less hope of changing it. Can you even accept that it will not change, and make the best of what you can, or will your ‘junoon’ be your undoing? Like the Soviet Union, Pakistan looks like it will bankrupt itself in an arms race with a bigger and faster growing economy. You guys show no awareness of this danger and your talk remains full of bravado and belligerence.

I make a distinction between the elites of Pakistan (who speak on talk shows and write blogs) who can afford to maintain an atmosphere of hatred and the common people who (like everyone else in the world) just want to live a decent life and are generous by nature. I know by reading about the experiences of Indians and Pakistanis who make the effort to travel to the other country that they receive lots of kindness and affection there. The common people are affected by the continuing hostility that only the elites have the luxury of indulging in. You guys can turn on generators during a power cut, and can afford the fuel needed by the generators. Remember that millions of people are paying for your elitist arrogance.

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive


Sorry I missed your posting amidst the noise that overwhelmed this forum. Let me respond to some of your points expressed here:

“the state of pakistan I believe will not go either way, Primarily because of the Nuclear arsenal that Pakistan possesses, no country will ever impose its will on pakistani state and even a superpower like US cannot do it”

I don’t think any one in their right mind will ever go in and try wresting the nukes from any nation that possesses them. It is not the question of whether Pakistan should have them or not. If they have made it to where they are by whatever means, it is all right to accept it and move on. The problem is the proximity of the nukes to the rising radicalism in that country. I was shocked to see the youtube videos eulogizing Mumtaz Qadri. Cyanide kept stored in a well secluded area will not do any harm. But cyanide kept close to a bursting river will have a very dangerous consequence. Pakistan is on the brink of instability, economic collapse, militancy and rising fundamentalism. All these are potential fuses that can trigger the danger of nukes going into the hands of the wrong people. In addition, Pakistan has been extremely irresponsible with the technology by selling it to rogue nations as a barter for missiles and money. There are different power centers within Pakistan with different agendas, ideologies and goals. No one knows which one of them is driving everything. At some point, all these power centers might face each other for dominance. And that can increase the risk factor even more. That is the main concern here. If you have explosives stored in a bunker and the building is burning, you will be concerned about the explosives. At some point, they will have to be taken out by all concerned neighbors before the fire gets to them. If we have to remove nukes from Pakistan, I’d vote for removing them from all countries. But Pakistan and North Korea have the highest risk factors today. There is no way anyone can go in and help improve Pakistan either. It has become a whirlpool. Anyone going in there is going to be dragged deep and drowned.

“In case of North Korea, the state completely controls all the levers of power unlike pakistan where no entity really controls the state of pakistan.”

That is a significant factor that intensifies the risk even more. The potential appears very high for fundamentalists to take over power and proliferate all across the system. And they do not care for others or value human lives. Imagine Mullah Omar and Bin Laden in charge of a system like that. They will hit everywhere. The world saw Hitler do the same and it took massive level of death and destruction to end his campaign. Today with nukes, the reach and danger are a million times more magnified.

“Military though is a dominant power and the major arbiter of the real power in pakistan,it is by no means the only entity of pakistani discourse.”

Military currently has all the resources, ammunition and power that other groups do not have. They have one thing or the other and not all. Despite all the economic hardship, Pak military is shielded from all travesty. Its reliance on terrorism to control regional geo-politics will erode its own foundation. Fundamentalism has been propped up by the military and nurtured over thirty years. At some point, the military itself will be consumed by it.

“Had the military been the only power, we would not have seen dictatorships thrown out realtively peacefully whether its Ayub,yahya or musharraf(with the exception of Zia-ul-Haq), the state of pakistan that finds itself in is even more problamatic.”

The military has given up absolute power only when foreign aid became a question. Then a democratic government was set up hurriedly to get the aid. It was never allowed to grow or flourish and all blame was thrown at it. Today, the military has figured out a way to run the country from behind the curtain. This way foreign aid keeps coming and the democratic dummies take all blames. The military bags everything.

“It is infact a chaotic state where no one has any real control to change things for good.”

Therein lies the danger. It is a sign of a nation on the brink. State institutions have no control or power.

“As we know that the british granted the state even without necessary democratic institutions have taken root in society, military being the major arbiter of power have controlled all aspects of pakistan.”

One cannot blame the British for not setting up democratic roots. The sub-continent did have a quasi democratic system in vogue before independence. State assemblies were electing leaders. Exposure was definitely there. India continued with that system and has made it stronger. Pakistan was driven by the rage to dominate the region and military gained from it. And Pakistan was created as a base to launch offensives against an expanding Russian empire. For that a strong military was needed. The world powers therefore made sure that democracy never took roots in Pakistan. It was simply a military garrison that did the proxy work for the world powers. So no nation could emerge over six decades.

“when popular revolutions took root in pakistan demanding for a change in the direction of the state of pakistan. The military passed on the power to democratic forces without giving much authority at the same time.”

That is because Musharraf would have been assassinated if he did not relent. He was having enemies within the military itself. They had enough of him. And military gave up its power hold because of American pressure and the need to put up a democratic facade to receive foreign aid.

“The military also nurtured,trained,assisted the militant culture powered by Extremist and theological Islam which was propogated on the basis of piety and delusions of grandeur which proposed ideal state of islam which are hostile of democracy and dissent against the political class.”

That is unfortunate.

“The kind of revolutions that we see in Egypt or elsewhere is not possible in pakistan as there are deep vested interests (even a section of middle class) that have profited by the state of pakistan.”

There is no single entity to throw out in Pakistan. Like you have said there are various power centers inside Pakistan. A revolution can go either way – beneficial or detrimental. If you look at Russia, the Bolshevik revolution led to Communist rule and misery for 70 years. If you look at China, Mao’s great march led to many decades of misery and poverty. North Korea is another example. Such detrimental revolutions happened when the economy was in shambles and common man had nothing to lose. And none of these countries had a religious fundamentalism to go with their revolutions. Religion is more dangerous than a nuclear weapon. It is difficult to say if Pakistan is going to have another revolution or a civil war. Look at Libya. Its revolution did not go the way of Egypt or Tunisia. It has turned into a civil war. Pakistan is more like Libya. And there is deep ethnic divide in Pakistan that the other countries do not have.

“Every revolution will have a huge presence of the middle class as they drive the dictators out owing to their misrule and unemployment. In pakistan, the military soldiers and their familites and their profiteers are the middle class,media which is controlled by military and the narrative of pakistan which is shown as -the pakistan which is winning against corrupt politicians and becoming true islamist society where no injustice exists or discrimination prevails.
The state of pakistan is going to wither away slowly for decades without failing completely but imposing huge costs on india. The tragedy of pakistan will unravel slowly and painfully perhaps for decades with india bearing most of the cost of the implosion that takes place and there is no escaping from it.”

Economy will trigger everything. Lack of law and order, tribal mentality, backwardness, gun culture, religious extremism etc will only expedite the chaos. Right now Pakistan is being held from the brink by American dollars. Americans are not doing it for Pakistanis. They do not want any collapse while their soldiers are busy in Afghanistan. So Pakistanis should pray that the Americans should stay longer. If they go, they will abandon the region and Pakistan will collapse immediately. American money will dry up. India needs to be watchful of course. Embers will fly out of Pakistan in all directions. But one cannot escape from getting scorched here and there.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Quoting KPSingh “And Pakistan was created as a base to launch offensives against an expanding Russian empire.”

May be. But Pakistanis have always been eager volunteers. The policy of volunteering to be a stooge, rental state of imperial powers was laid down by Jinnahbhai himself.


Margaret Bourke-White was a correspondent and photographer for LIFE magazine during the WW II years. In September 1947, White went to Pakistan. She met Jinnah and wrote about what she found and heard in her book Halfway to Freedom: A Report on the New India,Simon and Schuster, New York, 1949. The following are the excerpts:

QUOTE “What plans did he have for the industrial development of the country? Did he hope to enlist technical or financial assistance from America?

“America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America,” was Jinnah’s reply. “Pakistan is the pivot of the world, as we are placed” — he revolved his long forefinger in bony circles — “the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves.” He leaned toward me, dropping his voice to a confidential note. “Russia,” confided Mr. Jinnah, “is not so very far away.”…..

In the weeks to come I was to hear the Quaid-i-Azam’s thesis echoed by government officials throughout Pakistan. “Surely America will build up our army,” they would say to me. “Surely America will give us loans to keep Russia from walking in.” But when I asked whether there were any signs of Russian infiltration, they would reply almost sadly, as though sorry not to be able to make more of the argument. “No, Russia has shown no signs of being interested in Pakistan.””’

This hope of tapping the U. S. Treasury was voiced so persistently…..” END QUOTE

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive


There’s no point trying to reason with a frustrated hate-mongering bigot, who sees nothing but his own negative reflection in the people he hates. Even his half a dozen odd fake identities (usmaan[something] etc) can not conceal his distinctive hatred & ignorance. Wait for him to start copy-pasting nonsensical stuff.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Shahidkhan: “KP singh, why so much hatred against Pakistan, what about the embers in India?”

Everything said is not from a hatred standpoint. I am looking at the overall picture. Why would I hold special hatred towards Pakistan? It is just another neighboring country to us like Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma or Sri Lanka. I do not hate them. Likewise I do not hate Pakistanis. My words might sometimes be venomous, but they do not arise from any hatred. I have tried to educate myself on the today’s events based on past events. I see a direct correlation. Mind you, I come from a very small minority community that has faced persecution in the past as well in the recent past. Yet we are not jumping up and down about a Hindu dominated India decimating us and cleansing us out of existence. Your leaders did. The presence of a Muslim population in India that equals Pakistan negates the unnecessary phobia that was created by your past leaders and sustained to this day. To me it looks very deliberate an effort to keep the frail unity of your country alive. Without this Hindu-phobia running on all cylinders, your country will start collapsing from within. Your ethnic groups are war mongering in nature and do not see eye to eye. The number of gun holders as a percentage of population is very high in Pakistan than in India. Violence can arise very quickly there. People are not pacifist in nature. They are more emotional and reactive. It is very easy to manipulate such people and use their impulsive reaction to advantage by vested groups. Britain exploited this nature in the region that became Pakistan. Jinnah exploited the same to his advantage. Britain had its concerns and goals. Jinnah had his ambition and goals. The two tied in together. Britain propped up Jinnah to trigger violence and allowed that violence to spread. They hurried in to give independence because they knew Jinnah was dying. If independence was delayed by 5 years, Jinnah would have died and Pakistan would not have happened. India leaders wanted a slow transition of power from the British. You need to read a lot of history from independent sources to educate yourself. I have been doing that. So I know clearly what the root cause of today’s issues are and how the plans of past years will not work today. The goals have lost their purpose. Those set those goals are long gone. I am respectful towards those who reciprocate the courtesy. In summary, I have nothing against Pakistanis as people. It is a system that I am against because this system was created for the comfort of a few and it has taken millions of people as fodder to fulfill that goal. You people have been cheated and your emotions have been exploited. Your attention has been turned towards us unnecessarily while your efforts and spirits have been wasted away. Your military, based on my overall understanding, is a mercenary cartel that has catered to the interests of the world powers. And all that is left is your military. The rest of Pakistan is only a skin to cover itself in order to give it the needed legitimacy. That is why there is a famous saying – In Pakistan, the military has the country, whereas in other states, the country has a military.

Hope I have made myself clear.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

pakophile is better than pedophile, which I believe can be used to describe a 55 yr old man who married a 6 yr old girl & consumated the marriage when she was 9. Wonder what one would call the people who followed such a man!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

lemme know when you’re ready to call your prophet a pedophile & I’ll get a haircut!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

@”You may be broken but Pakistanis [......] will NEVER break”

LMAO! says the citizen of a country, which has been a slave nation since inception & currently lives off the crumbs thrown by others. A failed citizen of a failed state, indeed!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive


@If you Indians are moving away from the darkness of casteism than this goes AGAINST the tenents of your millenium old religious/cultural beliefs.”

***First off you complain about casteism and now you say by doing so is against the basic tenets.

From my little knowledge and many have written on this blog n# of times that religion has nothing to do with casteism. Onec can practice Hinduism without getting into casteism issue. It is no pre-requisite for practicing Hinduism. It is a social issue which needs to and is becoming irrelevant with time due to

There is nothing like the basic tenets here. universal human rights are common sense and in their light lot can be included or excluded/

It is in context of times that it is justified. Even today some would justify it, but they are losing voice as the benefits to lower casts by the constitution have given them real voice, not symbolic.

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

Shahidkhan: “It’s 1947. If Jinnah and Muslims had not agitated for a separate Pakistan, what would’ve happened in South Asia?”

A lot of good. Millions of Punjabi Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus would not have had to migrate from their ancestral homes. Millions would not have lost their lives, or orphaned or lost. Hatred and violence would not have happened. There would have been no manipulation by UK, US and other powers. A united India would have been a neutral country and Soviets and the Americans would have vied with each other to befriend us. A lot of talent could have emerged. Feudal landlords who have destroyed Pakistan would have been reduced. Prosperity would have prevailed. There would have been no Kashmir conflict, no division of people, no Mujahideen, no radicals, no Siachien conflict, no Mumbai attacks – think about that. India opted for a secular democratic structure and people who became citizens of Pakistan could have benefited from that. Muslim population could have become a huge vote block and no one would have messed with that. In our state of Uttar Pradesh, Muslims have a huge clout as a voting block. There would have been no Taliban or Al Qaeda. Art, music, literature and science would have flourished. Imagine getting fruits from Afghanistan selling in the Southern city of Madras! A lot of good would have happened compared to the lot of bad things that have emerged today.

“You are not jumping up and down about hindutva because your precious Indian union annihilated your will for self-determination by decimating your people in 1984 and desecrating your holy places in the most vile manner.”

We have the will power to survive and we do not want waste it on revenge. Our people dominate the Indian military. Our state is one of the most progressive states in the country. Look at the other half of the glass that is filled. Hindutva did not decimate the Sikhs by the way. Those who desecrated the temple were terrorists. It is unfortunate that the temple had to be destroyed in order to decimate them. Those who killed our community members were paid goons unleashed by the Congress party in power, which is an arch enemy of the Hindutva brigade. You need to know more details and facts to connect the dots. You are making wrong conclusions with limited information heard from the streets.

“You are broken, nationless people misdirecting your anger at people who welcome you with open hearts in our country for your pilgrimages.”

We are one of the most enterprising and adaptive people.
We know how to work hard and survive against the odds. If we were all one country, or even if we were friendly neighbors, if we never had to leave each others’ ancestral homes, we all could have visited wherever we want. Your leaders and your military have spoiled all that.

“You may be broken but Pakistanis and Kashmiris and bangladeshis will NEVER break.”

Pakistanis do not exist – there are Sindhis, Punjabis, Pathans and Balochis. That is the reality. Look at Karachi and see how these ethnic groups have turned that city like Beirut. Kashmiris have everything to lose by dividing on religion. They need to look at Pakistan and not get emotional. As far Bangladesh, they were born out of a Pakistan that was broken into two. No one is trying to break them by the way. They are happy and friendly with everyone, including your country.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Mortal1 said:

> Ganesh, there’s no point trying to reason with a frustrated hate-mongering bigot, who sees nothing but his own negative reflection in the people he hates.

Maybe not. But there are lots of more reasonable people silently reading this blog, so it’s important to address any points that are made.

Shahidkhan123 said:

>If you Indians are moving away from the darkness of casteism than this goes AGAINST the tenents of your millenium old religious/cultural beliefs.

You seem unhappy to see such progress. What is your point here? That Hinduism should not evolve? That such evolution makes Hinduism inferior?

>The point is simply this: Who are you to talk and pass judgement on our scriptures?

When your scriptures emphasise faith, charity, abstinence and cross-border brotherhood (albeit only among your faith), nobody has any problem with them. In fact, we would respect such values.

When your scriptures condemn idolatry and unbelief (what business is it of anyone else’s anyway?) or urge jihad against such unbelievers, then we DO care and will pass judgement on such scriptures. There are many who take these instructions literally, so it IS our problem.

If you show intolerance of other beliefs, be prepared to be called out on it. It’s a free world with freedom of expression.

> Only problem is Indians comments have NOTHING to do with security. How does this translate into what we name our buildings, our streets?

You need to chill. I had a laugh about the Gaddafi stadium, and you should too. Everything is not deadly serious.

> India is a threat to us as well. Your country has shown us nothing but belligerence since before our nation was born (i.e. Gurduspur, Ferozpur, Junagarh, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Bantva-Manavadar, Sir Creek, Siachen, Minicoy).

Trapped by history again, with no desire to understand both sides of these issues, and no desire to move on either.

> We think you are a serious threat and will do everyting to protect ourselves from further injustice

The best protection is friendship, but of course that is offensive to consider because India is such a terrible country that needs to right all its wrongs first before we will talk! A circular reasoning that gets us nowhere.

> YET we don’t care what you name your buildings! or price of petrol in India!

Again, chill. I point out the price of petrol in Pakistan as a way to get you to see the urgency of the situation.

>Spoken like a true regional hegemon. The status quo aka the Indian stance? You want us to ignore the holocaust in Kashmir and sell out?

Don’t exaggerate. There has been no “holocaust” in Kashmir. And what sell out? You were stopped from grabbing all of J&K in 1947 and had to be content with AJK and GB. Is it a sellout to be content with what you got by force?

> You want us to ignore the slum that has been created in Siachen?

Read the history. If India had delayed by 4 days, Siachen would have been your slum. Your guys went shopping for winter uniforms at the same time, and the Indians just moved faster.

> You want us to let you encroach on our territory as you see fit?

Proof, please. India did not seize Pakistani territory even in 1971. India did not cross the LoC even during the height of the Kargil war (that you guys launched). So when did India encroach on “your” territory again?

>Weaker people have defeated their bigger oppressors since the beginning of time. Bangladesh, Vietnam, Algeria, Afghanistan. The Kashmiris are no different and no less determined.

First of all, dude, these Kashmiris don’t seem to like you guys any more than they like us (“Azadi” doesn’t mean “we want to join Pakistan”). Perhaps they even like you *less*.


Re. the status quo, there’s an old joke that a psychotic thinks that 2 and 2 make 5. A neurotic knows that 2 and 2 make 4, but he hates it.

I can understand Pakistanis acting like the neurotic in the joke and hating the fact that nothing can change. What I don’t understand is the psychotic belief that something that hasn’t changed in 62 years can suddenly change, when the odds have in fact been moving against you.

1947-48: Grabbed some territory in Kashmir. That was the last gain made.
1965: Launched a war but gained nothing.
(1971 wasn’t about Kashmir)
Late 1980s and 1990s: Sponsored an insurgency but gained nothing.
1984: Tried to grab Siachen but got caught buying winter uniforms and beaten to the punch. Lost Siachen.
1999: Tried to infiltrate NLI soldiers in mufti into Kargil. Gained nothing but international diplomatic isolation.
2010: Paid stone-throwers Rs. 400 each to attack Indian army. Gained nothing.
2011: Youths dropped stones and lined up at Indian army recruitment camp.

No sir, you couldn’t move the border no matter what you tried. Or do you reckon it’s time to try those nuclear-tipped missiles?

>My personal belief is we should not spend any money on anything except increasing our inventory of intra-continental ballistic missles (nuclear tipped of course). The rest of the money should go toward education and infrastructure.

Why waste any money on education and infrastructure, assuming there’s something left? Nuclear tipped missiles are what you need!

(I wish I was a psychologist so I can understand the fascinating workings of your mind.)

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive


It is a social issue which needs to and is becoming irrelevant with time due to [universal human rights].

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive


That is not classy comment. i do not get expect this from you. hope you know what i mean

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive


That is not classy comment. i do not get expect this from you. hope you know what i mean

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

Shahidkhan123 said:

> You are not jumping up and down about hindutva because your precious Indian union annihilated your will for self-determination by decimating your people in 1984 and desecrating your holy places in the most vile manner.

For what it is worth, most Indians are shocked by and condemn the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 (and the Gujarat riots of 2002). These riots were not spontaneous but were carefully organised by politicians with the help of hired goons. We even know the names of the people who organised these riots. It is a continuing shame that no one has been brought to justice yet, but it will definitely happen one day. Nobody will forget these crimes, and justice will be done.

What should give the Sikh and Muslim victims some comfort is the outrage felt by the majority of people in India, regardless of their religious affiliation. Justice will be done one day.

Nice try, but Pakistani crocodile tears are recognised for what they are.

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

My pedophile comment is only meant for the schmuck, who seems to be under the impression that he can attack others’ religions without getting something back in return. My apoligies, if I offended Rehmat, Umair or any other good muslims!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

@Rehmat: I agree. Although provoked, I should have practised restraint & not stooped to his level. Again, my sincere apologies!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/