Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
from India Insight:
When the prime ministers of India and Pakistan held talks on April 29 and signalled an unexpected thaw in their frigid relations, troops in Indian Kashmir reportedly lured three civilians to work as porters.
The next day, security forces allegedly gunned down three on the Line of Control (LoC) and passed them off as infiltrating militants from the Pakistan side.
Last week, police exhumed the bodies after three families in north Kashmir's Baramulla area said the slain men were innocent relatives who had gone missing days before the "border clash".
After identification the three bodies were found to be those of the missing men, triggering massive anti-India demonstrations across the Valley.
In a country which has suffered many bombings, the killing of more than 80 people in two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore last week has unleashed a particularly anguished bout of soul-searching in Pakistan, going right to the heart of its identity as an Islamic nation.
When he heard the news, wrote Kamran Shafi in Dawn, “I ran home and put on the TV and burst into tears, first of rage and a seething anger; and then of complete and utter helplessness and sadness. Shame on us.”
from India Insight:
Nearly half of the people living in the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir want their disputed and divided state to become an independent country, according to a poll published by think tank Chatham House.
London-based Chatham House says the poll is the first to be conducted on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), a military control line that has separated Indian and Pakistani controlled Kashmir since the U.N.-brokered ceasefire between two rivals in 1949.
The Pakistan Army prides itself on being an institution which rises above politics and personal ambition, committed to defend the interests of the nation. That this has not always been the case is demonstrated by its history of military coups, and a tendency of past military rulers, from General Zia ul-Haq to former president Pervez Musharraf, to impose a very personal brand of leadership. Where Zia pushed Pakistan towards hardline Islam, Musharraf aimed at “enlightened moderation” in a country he wanted modelled more on Turkey than on Saudi Arabia.
While no one expects the military to launch another coup, some of that historical memory is feeding into increasingly intense speculation about the future of Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is due to retire in November.
White House National Security Adviser Jim Jones and CIA director Leon Panetta are visiting Pakistan to step up pressure on militant groups following this month’s failed car-bombing in New York’s Times Square. But what specifically do they want from Pakistan in what has now become a familiar “do more” mantra from the U.S. administration? That, as yet, is not entirely clear.
The Washington Post and the New York Times quoted unnamed administration officials as saying Jones and Panetta would press Pakistan to step up its military action against Pakistani and Afghan Taliban militants based in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Indian writer A.G. Noorani has just become the latest to weigh in on the parameters of a possible peace deal in Kashmir. Writing in Dawn newspaper, he argues that no solution will work unless it is supported by a domestic consensus within each of the three parties involved – India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
“First, no Indian government can accept de-accession of Kashmir and survive even for an hour. Secondly, no government in Pakistan can accept the Line of Control as an international boundary and survive, either. Thirdly, nor will the Kashmiris submit to the partition; and lastly they insist on self-rule,” he writes.
Given the amount of negative news about Pakistan in the last few weeks, it is good to see a report about something going reasonably well, with this article by the blog Changing up Pakistan on the country’s first microfinance institution.
Modelled on the Grameen Bank set up in Bangladesh by Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohmmad Yunus, the Kashf Foundation provides loans to Pakistani women to set up small projects which both bring them an income and enhance their status.
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is a defence expert and author of two books on the Pakistan Army.
By Brian Cloughley
On 11 May several Frontier Corps soldiers were killed by insurgents in Pakistan’s Orakzai Tribal Agency. Concurrently there was a report that US Secretary of State Clinton had once again been indignantly critical of Pakistan’s supposed lack of effort to rid itself of murderous fanatics seeking to destroy Pakistan and create a so-called ‘Islamic caliphate’ in the region.
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is the High Commissioner of Pakistan to Britain.
By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
It is, no doubt, a tribute to British democracy that all sections of its society are represented in parliament. For us it is also heartening to note that out of nine Muslim members elected in the May 6 election, seven are of Pakistani origin (five belonging to Labour and two from the Conservatives). For the first time in British history two women of Pakistani origin have made it to parliament. Compared to previous elections, this time three more Pakistani MPs will be sitting in the House of Commons.
from Afghan Journal:
(C. Uday Bhaskar is a New Delhi-based strategic analyst. The views expressed in the column are his own).
By C. Uday Bhaskar
The May 12 summit meeting in the White House between visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his host, U.S. President Barack Obama comes against the backdrop of the mercifully aborted May 1 terrorist bombing incident in New York's Times Square.