Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
from Afghan Journal:
At about the time WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables, including one related to a secret attempt to remove enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor, a top Pakistani military official held a briefing for journalists that focused on U.S.-Pakistan ties.
Dawn's Cyril Almeida has written a piece based on the officer's comments made on the condition of anonymity, and they offer the closest glimpse you can possibly get of the troubled ties between the allies.
First off, as the officer says, Pakistan has gone from being the "most sanctioned ally" to the "most bullied ally" of the United States. Presumably the sanctions that the officer is referring to relate to those imposed on Pakistan following its nuclear tests in 1998. And as for the most bullied ally the other comments offer a clue:
These include and I quote from Almeida's piece:
"The U.S. still has a transactional relationship with Pakistan; the U.S. is interested in perpetuating a state of controlled chaos; and perhaps most explosively given the WikiLeaks revelations, the "real aim of U.S. strategy is to de-nuclearise Pakistan."
In the State Department cables released by Wikileaks and so far reported, the most eye-catching as far as Pakistan is concerned is a row with Washington over nuclear fuel.
According to the New York Times, the cables show:
“A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
A single paragraph in General Stanley McChrystal’s leaked assessment of the war in Afghanistan has generated much interest, particularly in Pakistan.
“Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment,” it says. “In addition the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani counter-measures in Afghanistan or India.”
Iran looks like it will come out swinging at a global conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opening in New York on Monday, and in the process take a swipe at Israel as well as India.
And that is a bit of a shift, for India and Iran have ties going back into history, but which have in recent years come under pressure and play in the tangled relationship between India and Pakistan.
In the space of a decade, the United States and India have travelled far in a relationship clouded by the Cold War when they were on opposite sides.
From U.S sanctions on India for its nuclear tests in 1998 to a civilian nuclear energy deal that opens access to international nuclear technology and finance, while allowing New Delhi to retain its nuclear weapons programme is a stunning reversal of policy and one that decisively transforms ties.
Pakistan and its nuclear weapons are back in the centre of the U.S. foreign policy frame as a steady stream of reports from think tanks and newspapers build the case for President-elect Barack Obama to recognise and act urgently with regard to the potential threat from the troubled state.
The New York Times Magazine in an extensive article headlined Obama’s Worst Pakistan Nighmare says the biggest fear is not Islamist militants taking control of the border regions. It’s what happens if the country’s nuclear arsenal falls into the wrong hands. And it then takes a trip to the Chaklala garrison where the headquarters of Strategic Plans Division, the branch of the Pakistani government charged with protecting its growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, are located and led by Khalid Kidwai, a former army general.
Do read this piece by Gurmeet Kanwal, the head of the Indian Army’s Centre for Land Warfare Studies, about how India should respond to the Mumbai attacks with covert operations against Pakistan.
He says that ”hard military options will have only a transitory impact unless sustained over a long period. These will also cause inevitable collateral damage, run the risk of escalating into a larger war with attendant nuclear dangers and have adverse international ramifications. To achieve a lasting impact and ensure that the actual perpetrators of terrorism are targeted, it is necessary to employ covert capabilities to neutralise the leadership of terrorist organisations.”
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari says he would be ready to commit to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, in what would be a dramatic overturning of Pakistan’s nuclear policy. Pakistan has traditionally seen its nuclear weapons as neutralising Indian superiority in conventional warfare, and refused to follow India’s example of declaring a no first use policy after both countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
Zardari was speaking via satellite from Islamabad to a conference organised by the Hindustan Times when he was asked whether he was willing to make an assurance that Pakistan would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.
When the British left India in 1947, they bequeathed what was arguably a European notion of the nation state on a region for which the very concept was alien. I say ”arguably” because anything one writes about Partition or the nation state is open to dispute. And until the financial crisis, I relegated this argument to the realm of historians – a subject that interested me personally, but did not seem relevant today.
That was until I noticed a new debate bubbling up on the internet about the future of the nation state. Will it become more powerful as countries scramble to protect themselves from the financial crisis as George Friedman at Stratfor argues in this article? Or does the need for global solutions to the crisis sound a death knell for the nation state, as John Robb suggests here?