The “sound and fury” of U.S.-Pakistan ties

March 17, 2011

rayjmonddavisphotoWith the release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis, the United States and Pakistan have put behind them one of the more public rows of their up-and-down relationship.  It was probably not the worst row — remember the furore over a raid by U.S. ground troops in Angor Adda in Waziristan in 2008, itself preceded  by a deluge of leaks to the U.S. media about the alleged duplicity of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency in its dealings on Afghanistan.

But it was certainly one which by its very nature was guaranteed to get the most attention – an American who shot dead two Pakistanis in what he said was an act of self-defence, denied diplomatic immunity and ultimately released only after the payment of blood money. Adding to the drama were two intelligence agencies battling behind the scenes.

It was also the first serious row since the Obama administration began to build what it promised would be a new strategic relationship with Pakistan.

As I wrote earlier this month, overall relations between the United States and Pakistan were rather better than they looked (or at least than they appeared at the height of the Davis row).  Compared to two years ago, Pakistan is more likely to talk now about the need for stability in Afghanistan than strategic depth (the extent of this shift is open to debate). The United States has also moved closer towards meeting Pakistan’s calls for a political settlement in Afghanistan by holding direct talks with representatives of the Taliban, according to several official sources with knowledge of those contacts.

On the subject of Taliban talks, the New York Times noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a speech to the Asia Society last month, “appeared to recast longstanding preconditions for talks: that the insurgents lay down their arms, accept the Afghan Constitution and separate from Al Qaeda. Instead, she described them as ‘necessary outcomes’. ”

According to the NYT, “officially, the State Department played down the change in language, but a senior Western diplomat in Washington, who was familiar with the strategy behind Mrs. Clinton’s speech, said: ‘It was not intentional to explicitly make preconditions into outcomes. But the text now leaves room for interpretation, which opens doors.’”

The other half of that story is to look at who first suggested that the United States focus on outcomes rather than preconditions for talks  – Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, who wrote a detailed letter to President Barack Obama last year outlining how he saw the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That kind of concordance is hardly the stuff of a relationship on the rocks, notwithstanding the known irritants between the two countries, and the very specific peculiarities of the shooting which led to Davis’s arrest (the full details of which we may never know).

That said, the row has highlighted the volatility of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan and the very different ways in which they negotiate.  (Before the next row flares up, a  new book on “How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States” by Teresita and Howard Schaffer looks like it ought to be compulsory reading.)

The brisk diplomacy of the Americans is ill-matched with the prickliness of Pakistanis who fret that their relationship with the United States is more transactional than strategic.  A country that has been demanding to be treated with respect and its own interests be fully taken into account, as Pakistan has, is unlikely to be railroaded into agreeing a solution in space of a few meetings – even though the possibility of resolving the Davis row through payment of compensation to the relatives had reportedly been on the table for weeks.

And the sheer volume of noise which tends to accompany every row in Pakistan — which in the Davis case included street protests, angry clerics and right-wing media commentators demanding that he be hanged — would have been very bewildering to many westerners.  I was somewhat bemused at the extent to which that volume of noise seemed to feed into perceptions of the Davis row, since at least in the 10 years I’ve followed South Asia, it has always been like that, and it has never in the past stopped solutions from being reached underneath the radar.

The risk, however, is that the very public airing of dirty linen severely damages perceptions in the United States, with legislators and the general public wondering why American taxpayers should be giving money to a country whose people appear to dislike them so much.   The consequence could be that even if top officials the two countries manage to narrow their differences - as appears to have happened over Taliban talks – the political space in the United States for supporting a strategic relationship with  Pakistan narrows considerably.

Comments

Mullahs are organizing a nationwide protest soon for letting the American go. This is not a breathe easy moment.

Kayani has openly condemned the killing of people in North Waziristan by US drones.

With the world attention on Japan, Middle East unrest etc, Pakistan is low down in priority right now.

If a Pakistani gets caught in the act in US, Pakistan will expect the courtesy returned and the US will not budge. That is when the real test will come.

What is preventing Pakistan to stop all its co-operation with the US right now? The US has no resources to attack Pakistan anymore. If no trucks are allowed across the Khyber pass, US efforts are screwed. They can make a deal that no more drones can be allowed if the US wants another favor and put an end to drone attacks. That might help calm the public sentiment. Or are they really afraid of the Americans?

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

“What is preventing Pakistan to stop all its co-operation with the US right now?” Posted by KPSingh01

With Pakistan’s economy being where it is, the only reason that country has not completely collapsed, is because of financial resources from the US & it’s allies. And I’m not just talking about the $2.4 bn aid provided by the US, there are many other economic considerations. It’s no secret that since the last few years, Pakistan has been kept alive by IMF loans. The US & allies have a lot of say in who the IMF lends money to, since they are the largest donors. Also, app. 70% of Pakistan’s exports are to the US & allies and with Pakistan’s current sticky siuation, that’s precious foreign reserves, which it can not afford to lose. So, despite all the hollow bravado, Pakistani leaders are cognizant of the fact that if they tick off the US, their economic failure will be imminent.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

With the Raymond Davis episode in the rear view mirror now, I expect the drone strike campaign in North Waziristan to intensify dramatically.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

http://www.ispr.gov.pk/front/main.asp?o= t-press_release&id=1692#pr_link1692

Gen. Kayani openly condemns drone attack in North Waziristan, Pakistan Army ground troops to assist bereaved civilian families. Will the US push Pakistan over the edge? Will the NATO containers start burning again? Will the logistic supply line to US/NATO/ISAF forces to Afghanistan cut off? Will the Pakistan Air Force be ordered to shoot down any intruding drones? Are the CIA and ISI on better terms again? On surface it looks an orderly deal to free the accused after payment of blood money. Behind the scenes a very complex game is being played out which requires nerves of steel on both sides. A situation in Pakistan could arise where anti-American public sentiment gets stronger, resulting in Iran like 1979 situation. For now though, Pakistani government and military will calm things down and manage the fallout. But US-Pakistan relations are not out of the woods yet. Raymond Davis release was worked out by Army chief of staff Gen. Kayani and DG Military Ops Maj. Gen Javed Iqbal with US military high command in a meeting in Oman. However, with a reckless drone strike killing many civilians puts Gen. Kayani in an awkward position, he may not be willing to bail out the US every time. The Pakistan Army has to remain cohesive, united and professional, the civilian government has to put its act together if Pakistan is to deal with such challenges. The Army may risk US fury but cannot stand together if the people of Pakistan stop supporting the Army. That is where it really gets serious. Though for now Islamabad and other major cities remain on high alert, and would manage the fall out or any protests, the TTP(Pak Taliban) could be a wild card if they unleash another wave of deadly attacks in the cities agains the Army, people and government. Pakistan appears to continue to be locked in a constant struggle against all these problems. To balance a strategic relationship with US which is ever more complicated, to live with an under developed economy, widespread corruption at national level, extremism and militancy and lack of education and health for the masses. At the core the problems are of basic level. Only with the ability and full potential of its people can Pakistan overcome all these challenges.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

US is wasting a big bundle in Afghanistan compared to what it is providing to Pakistan in return for the logistical support and donot forget the burden of more than 3 million Afgan Refugess still in Pakistan since 1980s. I personally think that it about time that we should push them across the border to stablize our Balochistan province. US Govt give more consideration to thinktanks in Washington than the ground realities and to keep the grants most of them draw the picture in tune with requirements. We know US changes policy in matter of days. We have seen stoppage of supplies in wars in 1965 and 1971 and sanctions and amendments to stop the assistance programs. It has been shown that 70% of aid goes back to US in shape of consultants appointments and associated support. Even now there are US consultants making millions preparing un-implentable reports. Let me be clear that in past 15 years or so US aid or support benefits never reached general public, except in 1970′s when big dams and projects were built and industrial plants were provided and some of them are still useful to our industrial economy and providing Jobs. There is bill in the US congress to leave Afghanistan with in 31st Dec.2011 and as soon US withdraw from Afghanistan, they will forget about this region as they did in the past. We will not blame them after all they have already build fortress like embassies in Kabul and Islamabad from where CIA contractors with Diplomatic immunities will protect homeland. US changes its policy from “longhaul” to “excursion” in matters of days and I bet this is comming sooner than you think. However I think they will be back within 10 years as soon they need LNG from gas fields in CIS.

Posted by Facetruth | Report as abusive
 

KPSingh01
No hurry and don’t worry, we have gone through this row many a times. Americans are more impatient these days, see too many problems at home, too big defecit, but they will come to normal soon with request to please provide logistics.

Posted by Facetruth | Report as abusive
 

The deaths of 40 cilvilians (including 13 children) in the recent drone srike in Pakistan, is very sad & unfortunate. May those who perished, rest in peace.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Umair,

I just have a couple of questions. Though Mortal has already answered it, I’d like to hear it from your view point.

With people’s power sweeping over the Middle East, Pakistani people’s sentiment has gained more weight. As I see it from outside, it is weighted against the US. With the recent drone attack that has killed 40 civilians and the American spy walking free, this sentiment will get expressed in many ways soon. Whether it is good or bad is a subjective matter.

My question is this – Does Pakistan really need the US today? It is very clear that the US needs Pakistan more than the other way around. Pakistan needs funding to sustain the weak economy. But is there a fear that the US will not only cut off all its funds and prevent others from helping Pakistan if an honest decision is made to stop participating in the US war on terror? What about friends like China and Saudi Arabia? Can they be relied upon for help if the US decides to cut off everything with Pakistan?

If public sentiment really matters, it is very clear it is not in favor of the US. Most Pakistanis do not want the US in the region. Since Pakistan is the logistical base being used by the US, the leverage is with Pakistan. American presence seems to have increased the degree of violence inside Pakistan. Why is your military allowing the drones to be launched from its air bases? Why cannot they say that after a certain date, there will be no more help for the US? What prevents Pakistan from making the bold statement?

If this does not happen soon, I will not be surprised to see Kayani evicted violently for putting up with the Americans. I am sure he is facing a lot of heat from the ranks below for wrist slapping the Americans.

Eager to see your view on this.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

Pakistan is no Iran. The primary goal of PA is to maintain as much anti-India hostile posture as possible. This requires not antagonizing USA. Being a toady of China still by itself does not mean, completely being able to become an adversary of the USA.

However, if Pakistan chooses this route it will become a Mega North Korea. Size of population, diversity of huge problems are of much grander scale than N Korea.

It is not true US needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needing US. Other than (potential) plans to sell nuclear material in the illegal market, PA has NO national economic plan. Economic situation is beyond grim.

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive
 

KP Singh said:

> It is very clear that the US needs Pakistan more than the other way around.

Is this really true? The US needs Pakistan in the short term since their troops are in the region, but this could change once they re-orient their goals. If they capture/kill bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri (or merely announce that they succeeded in this), they can declare victory and go home. They can then claim to be moving to a containment strategy to save funds, which will also be popular at home since the troops can come home. The impact on Pakistan will be a drying up of aid. Not only that, the US can start to put the squeeze on Pakistan by throttling the flow of IMF funds, which it controls. It can also remove the favourable trade terms that it currently offers to Pakistani exports. In short, Pakistan depends a lot more on the US for the survival of its economy.

Pakistani brinkmanship towards India does not carry major consequences. But similar brinkmanship towards the US could be suicidal, and these recent developments are therefore puzzling. I don’t think the Chinese would be able to wade in and replace the US as the Pakistanis seem to think.

Very interesting times, as Matrixx says.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

On the other hand, Pakistan has done more to damage the superpower image of the US than any other country. US helplessness has been repeatedly underlined in every Af-Pak related crisis. I must say the spectacle of a global bully being jerked around at the end of a rope is delicious to see. And I’m sure Indians are doubly happy that it’s Pakistan doing the dirty work. We get to see the US being humiliated and we don’t risk any backlash ;-).

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

There is nothing puzzling about Pakistan if one realizes “Pakistan” remains only a militaristic, warrior ideology. It may have trappings of a nation state, but it remains merely an ideology. This is said not to show disrespect to those who DO want a real nation state.

A viable nation state is possible only if

(1) The nation state’s primary goal is economic, and human welfare of people living within it’s CURRENT borders and if

(2) Security and military policies are pursued so as not to undermine or hamper goal #1

In the case of Pakistan neither of the above rules apply. That’s why outsiders get puzzled why they always seem to do suicidal things. This comes from an entitlement mindset.

This is the grim reality. Neither carrots nor sticks have worked. The carrots demanded by them are unacceptable to other parties involved. In this stalemate they always had the choic

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive
 

Post got truncated.

Also meant to say entitlement midst of pakistanis.

In the stalemate they had the choice of working on goal # 1. they never did. The feudal elite, military all swindled and pumped in more and more Islam. Objectives resolution resting sovereignty with Allah was passed soon after independence. Anti-ablative riots happened in1950s. It is wrong to say Islamization started with Zia.

This is not to say the story of India is one beautiful and saintly version. But the fact reamins, despite corruption and riots, India has been trying to do goals 1 and 2 above. Considering the size, enormous diversity India’s job was much harder to start with. In theory W Pakistan should have raced ahead like S Korea.

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive
 

Correction- anti ahmadiiya riots

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh: “The US needs Pakistan in the short term since their troops are in the region, but this could change once they re-orient their goals.”

The US is on the brink of losing its grip in the Middle East. The revolutions in the Arab world where people have risen against dictators supported by the US have come as a rude shock to them. Libya is the only place where the dictator was anti-American and they can get some foot hold there. Iraq has been messed up completely. Now they are at the verge of losing their foot hold in Pakistan. So they are not going anywhere in a hurry. If they get out at this juncture, their entire effort over the past 11 years will be laid to waste. They will leave the region with more enemies than they started with. And at the individual level, it will trigger many Shahzads. They have an eye on the Pak nukes. I think Raymond was involved in some scouting mission along that goal. They know they are losing Pakistan. So now the nukes will look even more dangerous to them than before when Pakistan was their ally.

“If they capture/kill bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri (or merely announce that they succeeded in this), they can declare victory and go home. They can then claim to be moving to a containment strategy to save funds, which will also be popular at home since the troops can come home. The impact on Pakistan will be a drying up of aid.”

Highly unlikely. They have not captured these guys over a decade. Most probably these guys will die a natural death before anyone even gets to know their whereabouts. The reason why they are turning up the heat on the ISI is because they know that ISI is guarding these assets.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

KP Singh:
“Does Pakistan really need the US today? It is very clear that the US needs Pakistan more than the other way around. Pakistan needs funding to sustain the weak economy. But is there a fear that the US will not only cut off all its funds and prevent others from helping Pakistan if an honest decision is made to stop participating in the US war on terror? What about friends like China and Saudi Arabia? Can they be relied upon for help if the US decides to cut off everything with Pakistan?”

-Yes, Pakistan and US are locked in a deadly embrace, primarily Pakistan needs the US diplomatic support + F-16s etc against its conflict with India. Pakistan (unfortunately) sees India as a bigger country and major threat and looks to the US to balance it and confront India. I agree with you that US needs Pakistan even more, with US goal to dismantle Al-Qaeda, with Pakistan being a huge muslim nation with nuclear weapons and professional Army, all these factors links Pakistan and US security. Time and again, US has feared another major attack there can emenate from Pak-Afghan border region. And Pakistan and US conduct joint counter-terror ops, Pakistan guarantees safeguards of its nukes. On the contrary, if the US would withdraw all aid and financial support, that will leave Pakistan squeezed. But with reforms, the economy might take decades, but surely will start to recover. As for Saudi Arabia and China, even in this Raymond Davis crisis, reports say blood money was paid by Saudi Arabia. The row between Pakistan and US was serious and before things reached the breaking point, Saudi Arabia stepped in to difuse the tensions. As for China, it sees Pakistan as a lynchpin in its strategy of ‘strings of pearl’ (creation of naval bases from South China sea all the way to Indian ocean). China and Pakistan have stood together for more than half a century.

“Why is your military allowing the drones to be launched from its air bases? Why cannot they say that after a certain date, there will be no more help for the US? What prevents Pakistan from making the bold statement?”

-The Chief of Air staff has stated repeatedly, shooting the drones out of sky is a matter of minutes. However the decision has to come from the political leadership. Pakistan does not want to start a shooting war. Counter-terror cooperation with US means Pakistan and US conduct ops. PAF shot down an Israeli made Indian UAV which was on recconnaisance during night time during 2001-02 border standoff. Such an operation against a US drone would mean different, since as long as US has designated Pakistan as a major NON NATO ally (MNNA) Pakistan tries to work out alternatives instead of direct action. THe overall question of drone attacks is much complicated and beyond the scope of this discussion, more later.

“If this does not happen soon, I will not be surprised to see Kayani evicted violently for putting up with the Americans. I am sure he is facing a lot of heat from the ranks below for wrist slapping the Americans.”

-Pakistan Army is a professional military, with complete unity of command, with regular formation and corps commanders conferences, Gen. Kayani takes into confidence his entire commanders, from there to unit levels, officers and men, policies are clear. This is different than the Pakistan cricket team :)There can be difference of opinion among senior military officers, ultimately the COAS takes an informed decision taking into confidence his juniors, after having their input.

“The reason why they are turning up the heat on the ISI is because they know that ISI is guarding these assets.”

-Last I checked, this time around it was rather the ISI that turned the heat on the CIA. With Senator John Kerry pleading, President Obama requesting, and Secretary Clinton asking to release Raymond Davis, ISI in turn was asking CIA to provide a list of more such contractors so they can be arrested and further to stop doing things in Pakistan at their backs. Rather many such contracts fled Pakistan winding up their ‘counter terror’ assignments. I am sure many case officers might have left Pakistan.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh

You really need to take it easy, Pakistan is not going anywhere. Nowhere near collapse as it may seem to you. Also, the only reason why Pakistan may seem to challenge US at times, is probably due to a solid partnership with China. Pakistan has some sort of warranty coverage in case we loose US as an ally.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

Umair,

Thanks for your response. Regarding your comment about unity amongst the Pakistani military:

“Pakistan Army is a professional military, with complete unity of command, with regular formation and corps commanders conferences, Gen. Kayani takes into confidence his entire commanders, from there to unit levels, officers and men, policies are clear. This is different than the Pakistan cricket team There can be difference of opinion among senior military officers, ultimately the COAS takes an informed decision taking into confidence his juniors, after having their input.”

While reading Ahmed Rashid’s book, “Descent into chaos,” I have come across the assassination plot against Musharraf when he was the commander in chief. Typically Presidential routes are changed every time and no one knows which route the convoy would take. This is standard for all VVIPs. Sometimes dummy convoys go in one direction and the real one goes somewhere else. Musharraf was in a car that was coming behind the real Presidential limo. Bombs went off as the limo crossed a bridge. Musharraf survived because he was coming in a different car. No one knows the convoy schedule and route other than a few critical members of the defense staff. But on two occasions he was targeted and managed to survive. If the military has such a unity, there would have been no informants colluding with the radical groups trying to assassinate the President. Therefore I find it hard to believe that your military is incorruptible from within.

I am sure there are power crazy generals inside your system, much like such people in every system. If the wind is shifting towards radical side, such a shift will be capitalized to capture power. If Kayani had not condemned the drone attack, he would have come under the radar of the radicals. It looked like a political statement from him, especially when the Americans got away with Raymond Davis’ release.

Anyway, it is your military. I have nothing more to say. Thanks for responding to my questions. In a way I am glad to see the Americans getting their rear ends kicked by Pakistan, while they are unable to do anything about it. It is time they learned their lesson too.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

KPSingh

The route where Musharraf was targetted is not far away from my house, today also that route is a main link between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Anyone who has to move from Army headquarters towards Directorate Strategic Plans Div (holding nukes) , HQ 10th Corps Rawalpindi or Islamabad International Airport has to take the same road. It is manned by snipers on rooftops, intense security protocol. Sure indeed some few individuals in the military were arrested after the attempt on Musharraf. After that you can only imagine how the fool proof security measures for VIP movement were reinforced. Similar psychological profiling and security clearences required for personnel working in nuclear program. Your concern regarding rogue elements answered. and how many US president’s got assassinated? still Mushy’s limo had radar jamming devices, enough power to escape the blasts and sped away to the Army house despite burst tyres. And let me tell you, the bombs were planted underneath the bridge before Ammar square, beside two gas stations, designed to detonate when the president’s convoy would cross. Instead the jamming devices delayed the blast thereby saving many lives. After that a very thorough investigation took place in which Gen. Kayani at that time was ISI chief and that is where he played a leading role to punish the culprits. Last time the saboteurs suceeded in blowing up Gen. Zia’s C-130, this time they failed to assassinate Musharraf. Luckily, and boldly for Mushy, (as fortune befriends the brave) this time there was minimal loss.

And this is why Gen. Kayani condemned US drone attack now

North Waziristan tribes declare war against US
http://tribune.com.pk/story/134864/north -waziristan-tribes-declare-war-against-u s/

Just imagine if tribesmen of North Waziristan declare war on US, which side Gen. Kayani will take? In his staement he has clearly sided with the people of North Waziristan, but he will not wage war with US either. He has a balancing act to do, calm down the situation and take charge, do what excellent military leaders have to do. I suggest you do not make assumptions on your own. Ahmed Rashid is a critic, he will tell you too many negative stories to sell his book and earn revenue. Just don’t buy into everything what he says, atleast I can better analyze a situation from my vantage point.

In principle we have no enmity with US, only divergent interests. Also, with India, I wish peace as majority of Pakistanis do. It is unfortunate that this troubled Indo-Pak relationship results in so much mess.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

lol @ Ahmed Rashid, he is such a coconut liberal. While I respect the guy, if it was upto him, by now Pakistan nukes would have reached terrorists, Al Qaeda would have bombed europe, and Pakistan military become entirely rogue. He feed on these fantasies, writes his books, sell them and make a living.

Thanks, in reality things are different, those who are at the helm are much more professional and capable.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

A few days back, I mentioned that geo-political map is changing. Japan is out of the game for next 10 years and American plans for east Asia are in shambles. So it gives a degree of advantage to China.
The turmoil in Arab world would lead to Saudis putting some distance to America. I see a civil war developing in north Africa.
America is frustrated and bluffing. This is very dangerous thing for sole super power to do. Any number of countries could call American bluff and Pakistan could be one of them.
Stay tuned.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive
 

By the way, only immature players break relations and throw tantrums. Good players work on improving their position without obviously hurting anybody. Use of force should absolutely the last and rare move.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive
 
 

Umair,

I agree that you have a better view on the ground than anyone else here. I’ll give credit to your words. Hopefully things will work out.

Congratulations to your team for beating the Aussies in the World cup! No team has beaten them since 1999. You joked about Pak cricket team. Now they lead the group. I think they can beat South Africa too. Whatever might be the world impression about Pakistan and its issues, we all respect your sportsmen. They keep bringing out one of the best in the world! It is the secret you can be proud of. Sorry for digressing.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

Matrixx: “Japan is out of the game for next 10 years and American plans for east Asia are in shambles. So it gives a degree of advantage to China.”

Tilting towards China is a dangerous thing. It turns countries into North Korea and Burma. China has not shown any leadership initiatives. They have kept silent on Libyan crisis. It was the Western powers that took the necessary steps to contain Gaddafi. China probably has a sense of guilt. It is holding its own people the way Gaddafi has been. They realized they have no moral right to tell Gaddafi to respect people’s will. Becoming a power due to the absence or demise of others does not make them a great nation. Your admiration for a country should not come due to the anger or frustration with another. Letting China gain an upper hand is a very dangerous thing for the world. They only take and never give. If they give, they take more than they give. Be careful with them. Any way, that is a different topic altogether.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

KPS
I’m not a partisan but call it as an independent observer. What happened to Japan is a calamity and I’m really sad about it. I just can’t shut my eyes to 2nd degree effects.

I simply dislike Quadafi but I don’t know the other side at all. Why should anybody support unknowns and in fact they may turn out to be as bad as Quadafi? No real revolution requires outside support. Tell me if you know more about these people. What is India’s position on Libyan intervention? By the way she voted with China.

Remember Darfur, any update on that.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive
 

Matrixx: “I simply dislike Quadafi but I don’t know the other side at all. Why should anybody support unknowns and in fact they may turn out to be as bad as Quadafi?”

Why do you dislike Gaddafi? There have been many dictators like him – Saddam Hussein, King of Jordan, Tunisian President, Hosni Mubarak, Robert Mugabe, Ayub Khan, Zia Ul Haq, Zia Ur Rehman, Ershad, Pinochet, Saudi Royal family and so on. Why special dislike for Gaddafi and not for others? China is a dictatorship system too – it is an autarchy where a group controls everything. Burma is in the same boat.

The world has to advance. People should not be trapped by self serving dictatorships. The reason why such dictatorships survived because of two things- geo-politics and access to natural resources and sometimes both. Global powers encouraged these dictatorships to get at other powers and needed the resources at the same time. Dictators sitting on top of resources helped provide a stability that they desired for their own needs.

“No real revolution requires outside support.”

Not necessarily. Revolution is not simply protesting on the streets asking for change. Revolution is something that radically changes things and sweeps across cultures. The Hippie phenomenon that swept across the world is a revolution, for example – people fashioned themselves like the people who stared it – bell bottoms, long hairs, high heels and disco music filled with pot, hashish, free fall and so on. Then that died out. Industrial revolution is called as such for the same reason. It changed things forever. The internet revolution is a recent phenomenon as well. Twitter and Google have been the underlying forces that have helped the youth in the Middle East to run the protests without any centralized leadership. This has never happened before. Dictators are clueless as to how to control this new phenomenon. China is looking very worried now.

What we see in the Arab world is not strictly a revolution in the real sense. To wriggle out of dictatorships by protests have happened many times in history. Sometimes such protests have had the need for outside help.

BTW, you are negating the logic used by Pakistan if outside help is not needed for a revolution. Isn’t Kashmir in a situation where you Pakistanis have been compelled to get involved and interfere? Without Pakistan’s help, do you think Kashmir unrest would have come this far? If interfering in Libya is wrong, why is interfering in Kashmir right? I need an honest reason.

“Tell me if you know more about these people.”

Libya was not a single entity before. It had several sections stitched from the Italian and French colonial segments. It is made up of more than 40 tribes. These tribes go by loyalty and balancing each other out. The colonial powers managed to control the region by exploiting the tribal conflicts and rivalry. Gadaffi belongs to a tribe that took dominance. He wanted to curtail the dominance of the tribes on the Eastern part of Libya. He structured his military by filling in his tribesmen in key positions. The region around Tripoli is dominated by his tribesmen. He wanted to break down the tribal system so that he could live with absolute power. His military does have tribal proportions mixed in. Protests came in more from tribal roots rather than any democratic urge. The tribes around the East part of Libya have been dominant before Gadaffi came to power. So they have simply wriggled out of his control. Those who defected from the military also belong to those tribes that hate Gadaffi’s tribe. Now they are almost independent of Tripoli’s control.
Libya’s case is vastly different from that of Tunisia or Egypt even though they all seem to appear similar. It is just that the events in Tunisia and Egypt ended up giving some hope to the tribes that were wanting to escape from Gadaffi’s control. So the events there will take a very different shape compared to the other Arab countries.

“What is India’s position on Libyan intervention? By the way she voted with China.”

India has not been a supporter of Gadaffi all along. His support for terrorism and efforts to build nukes with Pakistan’s help have not been forgotten. So if he is at the receiving end, India has to do nothing. There are thousands of Indians working in Libay’s oil refineries. India decided to stay out of security council voting because it has no say in this matter whatsoever. What mattered was the veto power of Russia and China.

Remember Darfur, any update on that.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

“Also, the only reason why Pakistan may seem to challenge US at times, is probably due to a solid partnership with China. Pakistan has some sort of warranty coverage in case we loose US as an ally.” Posted by Umairpk

It would be a big mistake to expect China to step in for the US, in case US turns hostile towards Pakistan. Historically, China has propped up economically weak authoritative & military regimes like North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Sudan etc., so that it can exploit them & sell them it’s obsolete weaponry & that’s probably the way it views Pakistan as well. So, while the US & allies can easily revive pakistan’s economy by investing in many of your industries & opening up their markets for pakistani products, China won’t do any such thing since it is interested in selling to Pakistan & not buying from it (case in point, being Pakistan’s $10 bn trade deficit with China & $14 bn surplus with US & allies). Also, China’s strategic partnership with Pakistan, is primarily based on the principle of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. As trade between China & India grows (expected to touch $100 bn within 2 years) & relations between the two get better, the strategic relationship between China & Pakistan will become increasingly irrelevant & burdensome for China.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Pakistan can refuse to take US aid any time. Why is she not doing it? Despite her courting of China, her living expenses are being paid by the USA. Not by China.

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive
 

Matrixx said:

> What is India’s position on Libyan intervention? By the way she voted with China.

For what it’s worth, I’m ashamed of India’s cop-out at the UN. I hope India will gain the confidence to vote on principle as the country gets stronger. For that to happen, the middle class should become more influential and ensure that the values of decency and fair play are expressed vocally enough to influence public policy.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

From the perspective of the US and other Western countries, there seem to be “good revolutions” and “bad revolutions” in the Middle East.

Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were “good” by definition because they’ve now succeeded and the people have won. No point debating a fait accompli – might as well side with the victors (“We were with you all along”), never mind the noises the US made in favour of “stability” before Mubarak fell.

Revolution in Libya is “good” because Gaddafi was never a Western puppet.

But revolutions in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman are “bad” because they threaten “stability” (in other words, “Don’t let your revolution get in the way of our oil”). Hence the crushing of the Bahraini protests by Saudi tanks (with US blessing). All these countries are US allies, and the ruling autocracies cannot be touched, the people’s rights be damned.

And I take back what I said about Al Jazeera being a highly professional journalistic outfit. Their very different coverage of Libya and Bahrain betrays their bias. I guess when the Qatari ruling family is threatened, any news agency based out of Qatar has to toe the line.

Paradoxically, these events make Pakistan look more and more like a shining democracy. I’ve already expressed my admiration for the professionalism and balance of Dawn. I have seen numerous news sites criticise even the army and the ISI, which means that there are lots of courageous people out there. I guess if they can drop their fascination for conspiracy theories, the Pakistani media can be an example to the so-called “free world”.

All in all, the events of the last few months have not exactly seen Western news agencies cover themselves in glory. The “third world” media now have a chance to step up and show them what journalistic standards are all about.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh: “All in all, the events of the last few months have not exactly seen Western news agencies cover themselves in glory. The “third world” media now have a chance to step up and show them what journalistic standards are all about.”

Media in general is biased. What one reads is someone’s personal perspective of an event. Competition drives the media companies in sensationalizing the news to pander to the likes and dislikes of the majority readers. If Hindu or Dawn wrote an honest article about their respective nation’s problem on a consistent basis (in order to appear neutral), they would stand to lose reader loyalty. Readers and views want to see what they like to see – their perspectives. Therefore every media company invariably becomes biased. As an Indian, I like Nadeem Paracha’s articles while I dislike Javed Naqvi’s due to my own inherent bias. I am sure a Pakistani might dislike Pervez Hoodbhoy while appreciating Arundhati Roy due to his perspectives. Commercial system relies on market forces which need to play according to popular sentiments. American news media plays to its audience. So does Al Jazeera. During the cold war era, articles and news about India in the Western media was mostly negative, while Pakistan and China were propped up. Now the whole thing is reversed. There is no effort in providing public with the truth and allowing them to make the judgement. So readers have to sift through news from different newspapers and TV channels to make their own conclusions. It is the reality.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh Prasad “For what it’s worth, I’m ashamed of India’s cop-out at the UN. I hope India will gain the confidence to vote on principle as the country gets stronger.”

Though I am not greatly enamoured of India’s ‘brilliance’ in foreign policy, I think abstaining was the right thing at the UN vote. None of the others who voted or abstained did so on any great principle but simply in their own national interests. The hypocrisy of the West that opted for use of force is, as you have explained. already exposed. Why do they support public dissent in Libya but oppose it, albeit surreptitiously, in Bahrain? I think I would have respected these countries if they had been consistent. Thereore, I wonder why you consider it a cop-out?

India, which has no love for Gaddafi, has at least maintained a consistent stand – that the wishes of the people are pre-eminent whether it is Egypt, Bahrain or Libya. To me that is a more mature attitude than once again going into another country uninvited and uncalled, all guns blazing and then leaving enough mess around for the rest to clear. Some people never learn. One reason, as per me, that there was relatively less blood shed in Egypt was because outside players did the right thing. Exerted moral and diplomatic pressure but did not provide military force or support to either side.

Unfortunately, the UN is nothing but clay in the hands of the veto bearing countries. Why India wishes to join that club is something I find hard to understand.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

Let us imagine fo a minute that India had supported the anglo french and coptic resolution calling for military action against a North African county, what would have been the consequences for the Indian citizens in the middle east? India has demonstrated maturity and a good judgement to vote with China, Russia, Brazil and Germany to abstain. For the first time I salute the Indian Govt. headed by Dr Manmohan Singh.He has placed his cuntry in a different class now and managed to avoid the Napolien advance(called by the semi official German media) in a country which is notorious for terrorists attack in Europe. Gadafi had no friends left after the anglo saxons and the American actors got him to give up nuclear weapons program, which was rendered to him against a heavy payment by the Pakistan Bhutto Govt. Gen Kyani should take note, Sauds have woken up as well!!

It is a game of pokerwhich is always won by the westerns. The arabian diplomacy is unworkable in this game. Chna received its first lesson in diplomacy:

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive
 

We should not take Western Buzzwords like “democracy”, ”freedom”, ”liberty”, etc too seriously :-)

These are just Buzzwords to push their agenda.

If this weren’t the case the USA would not be subsidizing and propping up the Rogue Terrorist Entity in the neighbhourhood of the largest democracy in the world. For its first 50 years, USA did (just about) every thing to undermine India. Once India started standing up we became “natural allies”.

UN actions are never or very rarely based on principles. Mostly if a dictator has the balls to stand up to the West he is doomed. Dictators that are in the pocket books of the West are protected. Also if you isolate yourself completely, you lose the protection of Russian and Chinese veto power also.

India abstained from the vote, which is the right thing to do. India should not have any grandiose delusions; we are in no position to do international grand standing. Unfortunately the world is not an ideal utopia.

Taking care of security, ensuring economic progress and striking alliances, and trying to work with every one should be India’s practical goals.

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive
 

I guess you’re right. When other countries are hypocritical in adopting UN resolutions selectively, I guess abstaining was the right thing for India to do.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

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