Showing posts with label pakistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pakistan. Show all posts

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Conspiracy Theories Permeate Pakistani Society

Pakistan Taliban Lambastes Schoolgirl for U.N. Speech. By Saeed Shah
Anti-Western View Shown in Verbal Attack Permeates Pakistani Society
The Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2013, on page A7
For full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323309404578612173917367976.html

ISLAMABAD—Malala Yousafzai, a teenage campaigner for girls' education who was nearly killed by Pakistani militants, was feted at the United Nations last week. Here at home, however, she has been widely portrayed as part of a Western conspiracy against Islam and the developing world.

A 1,800-word open letter in imperfect English by Adnan Rasheed, one of the most feared Taliban leaders in Pakistan, outlined these conspiracy theories Wednesday, describing the type of secular education that Ms. Yousafzai championed as "satanic" and arguing that the U.N. wanted to "enslave the world."

Even as the 16-year-old girl is celebrated abroad as a hero, such radical views are becoming mainstream in Pakistani society, where even commentators hostile to the Taliban widely portray Ms. Yousafzai as a pawn of the West or even a CIA agent.

While Pakistanis usually condemn the violence of the Taliban, the paranoid worldview of the group has soaked deep into society, making the fight against extremism much more difficult. Many in the country, for example, still refuse to believe that Osama bin Laden was found living here in 2011.

"Public opinion is confused about the Malala issue. Many people hate Malala," said Zubair Torwali, a newspaper columnist from her home valley of Swat. "Anything here in Pakistan related to the West or America becomes a thing of conspiracy. The Taliban's ideology is flourishing in Pakistan. It is victorious."

Pakistani society is also influenced by the support that the military has long given to jihadist groups. More recently, the backlash over nearly a decade of U.S. drone strikes, and over the unilateral American raid to kill bin Laden deep inside Pakistan, has created a virulently anti-Western culture that sees spies everywhere.

Ms. Yousafzai narrowly survived an assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban in October last year, when she was shot in the head from point-blank range.

When aged just 11, Ms. Yousafzai became a powerful voice against the Taliban through a diary she kept of the extremists' takeover of Swat Valley, in northwest Pakistan. The diary was broadcast by BBC radio in 2009. Following the shooting in Swat, she was airlifted for treatment in England, where she now lives with her family.

Ms. Yousafzai, brought to the U.N. headquarters in New York to mark her 16th birthday, said in a speech Friday that "extremists are afraid of books and pens."

Mr. Rasheed's open letter to Ms. Yousafzai was the first reaction to these remarks by the Taliban leadership.

Mr. Rasheed began the letter by saying that he wishes that the attack on her had "never happened." Then, however, he went on to justify it with detailed arguments, showing, if there were any doubt, the dangers that Ms. Yousafzai would face if she returned home.

"Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in Swat and your writings were provocative," he wrote.

Mr. Rasheed denied that the Taliban were against education—though he went on to spell out the movement's opposition to the "satanic or secular curriculum," which is a "conspiracy of tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of new world order."

He advised Ms. Yousafzai to return to Pakistan and enroll in a madrassah, or Islamic seminary.

"Your propaganda was the issue and what you are doing now, you are using your tongue on the behest of the others and you must know that if the pen is mightier than the sword then tongue is sharper…In the wars tongue is more destructive than any weapon," the letter said.

When the shooting happened, there was an unprecedented outpouring of public sympathy for Ms. Yousafzai, and anger against the Taliban, inside Pakistan.

However, since then, opinion has hardened against the girl. Last week, on the local Pakistani language versions of the BBC website, in the national language Urdu and the Pashto spoken in her native Swat, the majority of comments were venomously against the schoolgirl. Some even described her as a "prostitute."

Detractors seized on the assistance and attention Ms. Yousafzai received from Western governments and media after the attack. Her appearance at the United Nations seemed to confirm the view that she was somehow working on a Western agenda.

Even Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of the largest Punjab province and brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, issued an oblique criticism of Ms. Yousafzai's speech, posting on his Twitter account that it "seemed to be written for global consumption."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

U.S. Credibility and Pakistan - What Islamabad thinks of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

U.S. Credibility and Pakistan. WSJ Editorial
What Islamabad thinks of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal, page A22, Oct 01, 2009

Critics of the war in Afghanistan—inside and out of the Obama Administration—argue that we would be better off ensuring that nuclear-armed Pakistan will help us fight al Qaeda. As President Obama rethinks his Afghan strategy with his advisers in the coming days, he ought to listen to what the Pakistanis themselves think about that argument.

In an interview at the Journal's offices this week in New York, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi minced no words about the impact of a U.S. withdrawal before the Taliban is defeated. "This will be disastrous," he said. "You will lose credibility. . . . Who is going to trust you again?" As for Washington's latest public bout of ambivalence about the war, he added that "the fact that this is being debated—whether to stay or not stay—what sort of signal is that sending?"

Mr. Qureshi also sounded incredulous that the U.S. might walk away from a struggle in which it has already invested so much: "If you go in, why are you going out without getting the job done? Why did you send so many billion of dollars and lose so many lives? And why did we ally with you?" All fair questions, and all so far unanswered by the Obama Administration.

As for the consequences to Pakistan of an American withdrawal, the foreign minister noted that "we will be the immediate effectees of your policy." Among the effects he predicts are "more misery," "more suicide bombings," and a dramatic loss of confidence in the economy, presumably as investors fear that an emboldened Taliban, no longer pressed by coalition forces in Afghanistan, would soon turn its sights again on Islamabad.

Mr. Qureshi's arguments carry all the more weight now that Pakistan's army is waging an often bloody struggle to clear areas previously held by the Taliban and their allies. Pakistan has also furnished much of the crucial intelligence needed to kill top Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in U.S. drone strikes. But that kind of cooperation will be harder to come by if the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan and Islamabad feels obliged to protect itself in the near term by striking deals with various jihadist groups, as it has in the past.

Pakistanis have long viewed the U.S. through the lens of a relationship that has oscillated between periods of close cooperation—as during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s—and periods of tension and even sanctions—as after Pakistan's test of a nuclear device in 1998. Pakistan's democratic government has taken major risks to increase its assistance to the U.S. against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Mr. Qureshi is warning, in so many words, that a U.S. retreat from Afghanistan would make it far more difficult for Pakistan to help against al Qaeda.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Delivery of US Assistance to Aid Pakistan's Crisis Response

Delivery of U.S. Assistance to Aid Pakistan's Crisis Response
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman, Washington, DC, July 22, 2009

Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard C. Holbrooke announced today that $165 million in U.S. funds are being committed to programs for humanitarian relief, early recovery, and long-term reconstruction efforts to support the internally displaced in Pakistan. The distribution of these previously pledged funds will boost the capacity of critical programs to meet the changing needs of displaced families in Pakistan.

The $165 million will be channeled both to meet the ongoing needs of displaced persons, located in camps and in host communities, and also to address the needs of families as they return to rebuild their homes and communities in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.

Specifically:

· $45 million will be provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support locally driven rehabilitation of basic infrastructure, including: water systems; health facilities; schools; roads; and bridges – maximizing the use of local labor and resources.

· $30 million will be contributed by USAID for small-scale infrastructure and community development grants for displaced families in NWFP.

· $25 million will be provided by USAID to give families resources needed to rebuild their homes and livelihood. This will be facilitated through community-driven, quick-impact cash-for-work programs in areas of reconstruction and return. This could include removal of rubble and rehabilitation of irrigation systems in conflict-affected areas. As part of this assistance, USAID will support Pakistani government efforts to rebuild public buildings and facilitate the return of civil servants.

· $23 million will be contributed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from the State Department’s Bureau for Refugees, Population and Migration (PRM) for humanitarian relief and managing the voluntary return of displaced families to their homes. This includes providing emergency shelter and non-food items to camps managed by UNHCR, as well as to displaced families in host communities. It also includes protecting children from violence and reuniting unaccompanied children with their parents, and funding facilitated transportation to assist the Pakistani authorities to support the return of displaced people to their homes.

· $20 million will be provided by USAID to rebuild education infrastructure across Dir, Swat, and Buner. More than 315 schools in NWFP have been damaged or destroyed due to the Taliban insurgency, and nearly 4,000 more are serving as informal camps for approximately 200,000 internally displaced persons.

· $12 million will be contributed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), from the State Department’s bureau for refugees, to be used for humanitarian operations and assistance for returning families as they rebuild their lives. This includes support for operations that assist displaced families in host communities and in camps run by the Pakistan Red Crescent Society/ICRC, help for those who need to trace their family members, and provision of aid to people living in conflict-affected areas.

· $10 million will be provided by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for immediate livelihood and agriculture programs, mobile health clinics in Buner and Swat, and cash-for-work activities. As part of this assistance, OFDA will provide tool kits valued at approximately $2 million, which will be distributed through the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and will include supplies such as shovels, pickaxes, and hammers.

Much of this money was included in the Obama Administration’s supplemental appropriation for Pakistan last month, and the new disbursements will enable UNHCR, ICRC, IOM and other courageous relief organizations to more effectively and expeditiously serve the Pakistani people.

In addition to new programs from existing financial commitments, the State Department will provide a new grant of nearly $1 million that will allow the Pakistani government to work with U.S. and Pakistani telecom companies to deploy an SMS-text messaging system designed to help displaced families obtain critical information from the government, international relief agencies, and local community members.

Today’s announcement is a further indication of the American people’s commitment to support the Pakistani people in their time of need. Since May 2009, the Obama Administration has committed more than $320 million to the Pakistani people to help them respond to this crisis. In addition to its own contributions, the U.S. Government has also actively encouraged financial contributions from other countries.

PRN: 2009/764

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The U.S. has been bringing soldiers home as soon as they get any experience

General McChrystal's New Way of War. By Max Boot
The U.S. has been bringing soldiers home as soon as they get any experience.
The Wall Street Journal, Jun 17, 2009, page A13

Gen. Stanley McChrystal was appointed commander in Afghanistan to shake up a troubled war effort. But one of his first initiatives could wind up changing how the entire military does business.

Gen. McChrystal's decision to set up a Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell means creating a corps of roughly 400 officers who will spend years focused on Afghanistan, shuttling in and out of the country and working on those issues even while they are stateside.

Today, units typically spend six to 12 months in a war zone, and officers typically spend only a couple years in command before getting a new assignment. This undermines the continuity needed to prevail in complex environments like Afghanistan or Iraq. Too often, just when soldiers figure out what's going on they are shipped back home and neophytes arrive to take their place. Units suffer a disproportionate share of casualties when they first arrive because they don't have a grip on local conditions.

There was a saying that we didn't fight in Vietnam for 10 years; we fought there for one year, 10 times. The North Vietnamese, on the other hand, continued fighting until they were killed or immobilized. That gave their forces a huge advantage.

In Vietnam, units already in the field would get individual replacements from home, thus making it hard to maintain unit cohesion. Sometimes new soldiers were killed before anyone even knew their names.

The policy now is unit rotation -- an entire battalion or brigade (or a higher-level staff) trains together, deploys together, and leaves together. That makes for better cohesion, but makes it even harder to maintain continuity because there is little overlap between units.

In a tribal society like Afghanistan's, the key to effectiveness is having personal relationships with tribal elders, which argues for keeping troops in place much longer than currently is the case. But there are limits to the stress that soldiers can endure -- effectiveness degrades severely for anyone who spends too long in combat. And in an all-volunteer military, there is always the danger that if troops are forced to be away from their families too long they might not sign up for another hitch.

The U.S. Special Operations Command (the military command for all special operations units) has responded by creating a deployment cycle whereby units spend roughly six months deployed in a war zone and six months at home, keeping tabs on their area of operations while they're away and returning to the same area time after time. This arrangement, which has been in use for several years, allows personal relationships to be cultivated and continued while still giving troops some downtime.

It's an intriguing approach, and one that Gen. McChrystal, a veteran of special operations, is now migrating to the conventional military world. The new Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell is an attempt to strike a balance between personnel needs and war-fighting needs, and it is a move in the right direction.

I would argue for going even further by extending staff deployments (which aren't as stressful as combat jobs). Volunteers should be allowed to spend years at a time in places like Afghanistan -- not only soldiers but also diplomats and intelligence officers.

Who would volunteer to live in such an inhospitable environment? Well Sarah Chayes, a former NPR reporter, has been living and working in Kandahar since 2001. While in Afghanistan recently, I also met a former Special Forces soldier, now working as a State Department counter-narcotics contractor, who said he has been in Afghanistan for four years. Such people are invaluable for their knowledge of the local landscape.

The British, from whose glory days we can still learn many lessons, recognized this. Gertrude Bell, Richard Francis Burton, T.E. Lawrence and numerous others made an outsize contribution to their empire by "going native." They may have been sneered at by typical army officers, who were primarily interested in polo, whist and gin, but the knowledge they acquired proved invaluable.

Consider the case of Col. Sir Robert Warburton, a 19th century artillery officer who was the offspring of a marriage between a British officer and an Afghan princess. He spent nearly 30 years on the Northwest Frontier of India working as a political officer, negotiating with tribesmen who were (and are) suspicious of all outsiders.

"It took me years to get through this thick crust of mistrust, but what was the after-result?" he wrote in his memoirs. "For upwards of fifteen years I went unarmed amongst these people. My camp, wherever it happened to be pitched, was always guarded and protected by them. The deadliest enemies of the Khyber Range, with a long record of blood-feuds, dropped those feuds for the time being when in my camp."

Warburton retired in May 1897. Within months the frontier was aflame with a great uprising that took tens of thousands of troops to suppress. (You can read all about it in Winston Churchill's first book, "The Story of the Malakand Field Force," which contains eerie echoes of current fighting on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.) Warburton, who had been known as the "King of the Khyber," was convinced that if he were still on the job, the contacts he had cultivated would have allowed him to prevent the uprising. He may well have been right.

What Gen. McChrystal realizes, in effect, is that we need to create our own Robert Warburtons. If his experiment succeeds, future commanders can build on the precedent to provide the kind of cultural and linguistic skills that we will need to win the long war against Islamic extremists.

Mr. Boot is a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is currently writing a history of guerrilla warfare.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Victory in Pakistan

A Victory in Pakistan - WSJ.com
The army retakes Swat from the Taliban, but don't stop there.
WSJ, Jun 02, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Libertarian on nuclear disarmament

Proliferated Nonsense, by Ted Galen Carpenter
The National Interest (Online), May 20, 2009

It's been a really bad springtime for arms-control activists who want to see a nuclear-free world. First, when the UN Security Council criticized North Korea's test of a long-range ballistic missile in early April, Pyongyang used that response—toothless though it was—as a pretext to withdraw from the six-party talks on its nuclear program. Later that month, Iran announced a breakthrough in its uranium-enrichment efforts, boasting that it was now running seven thousand centrifuges. And just this week, credible media reports indicate that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal.

Yet while the trend is unmistakably in the direction of more, not fewer, nuclear powers, the arms-control community is devoting ever more time and resources to the goal of "global zero"—the abolition of nuclear weapons. That obsession is a fascinating and maddening detachment from reality.

It is not even clear that abolishing nuclear weapons would produce an unambiguously beneficial result. Perhaps it is only a coincidence, but the six and a half decades since the dawn of the atomic age constitute the first extended period since the emergence of the modern state system in the seventeenth century that no major wars have occurred between great powers. Many historians conclude that the principal reason the cold war did not turn hot was because both Moscow and Washington feared that a conventional conflict could easily spiral out of control into a nuclear conflagration. It is at least a worrisome possibility that the elimination of nuclear weapons could inadvertently make the world safe for new great-power wars. And given the destructive capacity of twenty-first-century conventional weapons, such wars would be even more horrific than the two bloodbaths in the twentieth.

But even if global zero did not produce such a perverse outcome, the goal is simply unattainable. It is improbable enough that the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China would be willing to relinquish their arsenals. It is a much bigger stretch to believe that such countries as Israel, India and Pakistan would do so. And it is bordering on fantasy to expect such wannabe nuclear powers as North Korea and Iran to abandon their aspirations.

All of those countries embarked on nuclear programs because of acute regional and extra-regional security concerns. Israel worries about the huge demographic edge enjoyed by its Islamic neighbors, and the prospect that the Jewish state's edge in conventional military capabilities will gradually erode. Pakistan worries about the growing economic and military power of its larger neighbor, India. New Delhi, for its part, not only distrusts Pakistan, but frets about China's geostrategic ambitions. All of those countries regard their nuclear arsenals as their ace in the hole, guaranteeing not only their regional status, but in some cases their very existence. They are highly unlikely to relinquish such a tangible insurance policy in exchange for paper security promises from the United Nations or any other source.

The incentives are at least as strong for Iran and North Korea to join the ranks of nuclear-weapons powers. As a Shiite country, Iran is surrounded by hostile Sunni neighbors—as well as its arch-nemesis, Israel. Tehran also has reason to fear the United States. Iranian leaders see how Washington has treated nonnuclear adversaries since the end of the cold war. If the U.S. mugging of Serbia didn't convey the message sufficiently, Iran had a ringside seat to the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime. It was not a manifestation of paranoia for the Iranian leadership to conclude that the only way to prevent Iran becoming the next item on Washington's regime-change agenda was to develop a nuclear deterrent. North Korea appears to have reached a similar conclusion.

Of course, other factors—including national pride and prestige—have played relevant roles in the decision of various countries to become, or seek to become, nuclear powers. But the security concerns appeared to be paramount.

Unfortunately, the emergence of even one nuclear-weapons state in a region creates a greater likelihood that others will follow suit. India's nuclear program made it inevitable that Pakistan would go down the same path. Israel's arsenal likely figured in Tehran's calculations. If Iran continues its nuclear ambitions, it is highly probable that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries in that region will decide on a similar course. North Korea's de facto nuclear status creates pressures on Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to abandon their own commitment to remain nonnuclear. The promise of the U.S. nuclear shield may restrain those ambitions for a time, but it requires considerable optimism to believe that it will do so over the long term.
Instead of pursuing the chimera of global zero, the arms control community needs to focus on attainable goals in a world in which proliferation is becoming an unpleasant reality. Getting the United States and Russia to drastically cut their bloated nuclear arsenals is one such goal. So, too, is an effort to induce India and Pakistan to adopt more explicitly defensive nuclear doctrines, and in the case of Pakistan, to improve the security of its arsenal. It may be possible—although it is more of a long shot—to persuade Iran to refrain from weaponizing its nuclear program, thereby reducing the incentive of its worried neighbors to build their own deterrents. An effort to reduce Pyongyang's temptation to become the global supermarket for the sale of nuclear technology has at least some prospect of success.

Even those more limited and practical goals will require patient, creative diplomacy by the United States and other countries. We are entering a more dangerous era, and there is no policy panacea.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

WaPo: Mr. Obama's War? No, it's America's war

Mr. Obama's War? WaPo Editorial
No. Like it or not, it's America's war.
Sunday, May 17, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S clashes with the liberal base of his party are the kind of sporting event that Washington loves. But what Mr. Obama is confronting is less his party and more a stubborn reality that many in his party are unwilling to accept: There are forces in the world that continue to wage war against the United States and its allies, whether or not the United States wants to acknowledge that war.

Mr. Obama's recent decisions on paying for Afghanistan, reviving military tribunals and withholding photos of detainee abuse, among others, all reflect this reality. Although we disagreed with his conclusion on the photos, we sympathize with his concern that it might harm Americans fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. His announcement Friday that he had reversed his opposition to trying some enemy detainees in military commissions reflects, again, the fact of a nation at war; the federal courts will not be the proper venue for every al-Qaeda member captured by U.S. forces. (In a separate editorial we offer some views on how to improve the commissions further.) His commitment to fighting al-Qaeda and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan recognizes that pretending a threat does not exist will only increase the danger to America.

That's what is worrying about the modest but gathering opposition to Mr. Obama's policies within his party. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.), who represents parts of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, was one of 51 Democrats to vote against funding for the Afghan war on Thursday. In a statement, Ms. Edwards hailed "the passion and commitment of our servicemen and women" that she witnessed on a recent trip to the embattled nation as well as "the commitment and courage of Afghan women to build a future for their country." But Ms. Edwards said that she could not support funding, because Mr. Obama lacks "a strategy for leaving Afghanistan." In a similar vein, Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, told the New York Times that he would give Mr. Obama's strategy one year to work before moving into opposition.

Mr. Obama understands that the only safe strategy for leaving Afghanistan is to beat back radical Islamist forces and build Afghan capacity to continue that fight. It's an effort that will require soldiers and civilians, military battles and economic development. Of course it will take more than a year; Gen. David H. Petraeus, who oversees the military effort, has been entirely candid about that.

What's discouraging is how quickly many Americans seem to forget the peril of half-finishing wars. Once before this country abandoned the battlefield in central Asia; Osama bin Laden moved into the vacuum. Today, he and like-minded terrorists continue to conspire in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere. Confronted by this unpleasant truth and the difficult challenge it poses, too many politicians lapse into the wishful-thinking school of making policy. We worry that there remains a touch of that in Mr. Obama's Iraq timetables and lean defense budget. But for the most part, having accepted the responsibility of keeping America safe, he has recognized that America can't always choose its enemies or its battlefields. His realism deserves support.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pak's Ambassador: The pacification model that worked in Iraq can work in the Swat Valley

How Pakistan Is Countering the Taliban. By HUSAIN HAQQANI
The pacification model that worked in Iraq can work in the Swat Valley.
WSJ, Apr 29, 2009

The specter of extremist Taliban taking over a nuclear-armed Pakistan is not only a gross exaggeration, it could also lead to misguided policy prescriptions from Pakistan's allies, including our friends in Washington.

Pakistan and the international community do face serious challenges in confronting terrorists and the ideologies that sustain them. But panicked reactions of the type witnessed in the U.S. media over the last few weeks -- after the Taliban drove into Buner, a town 60 miles north of the capital Islamabad -- are not conducive to strengthening Pakistani democracy or to developing an effective counterterrorism policy for Pakistan.

Now that the Taliban have been driven out of Buner, and Pakistani forces have militarily engaged them just outside their Swat Valley stronghold, it should be clear to all that Pakistan can and will defeat the Taliban.

In the free elections that returned Pakistan to democracy in February 2008, Pakistanis overwhelmingly rejected Taliban sympathizers and advocates of extremist Islamist ideologies. But the legacy of dictatorship, including a tolerance for some militant groups, has proven tough to erase. Anti-American rhetoric and Pakistan's traditional security concerns about its neighbors have also dampened popular enthusiasm for strong military action against violent extremists, even though President Asif Zardari has repeatedly declared the war against them a war for Pakistan's soul.

Meanwhile, the change of administration in the U.S. has slowed the flow of assistance to Pakistan. Unfortunately, ordinary Pakistanis have begun to wonder if our alliance with the West is bringing any benefits at all.

Under the Musharraf dictatorship, Pakistan probably was not as quick as it needed to be to comprehend the enormity of the Taliban threat. And after last year's election of democratic leaders, our new government had an array of domestic issues to address. Mobilizing all elements of national power, particularly public opinion, against the Taliban threat took time because many Pakistanis thought the Taliban were amenable to negotiations and would keep their word.
Recent developments offer us an opportunity amid crisis. More Pakistanis are now convinced of the need to confront the extremists.

The recent spike of international concern about the threat in Pakistan seems to stem from the recent dialogue between the government of the Pashtunkhwa Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan and a local movement that supported Islamic law but did not join the Taliban's violent campaign. The goal for this dialogue was twofold -- first, to restore order and stability to the Swat Valley; and second, to wedge rational elements of the religiously conservative population away from terrorists and fanatics.

The model here was the successful pacification of Fallujah in Iraq, where agreements with more moderate elements broke them away from al Qaeda nihilists. The model worked so well in Fallujah that it is now being resurrected by the American and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The goal in Pakistan's Swat Valley was the same.

The dialogue in Swat resulted in an agreement that would allow for elements of Shariah to be applied to the judicial system of the Valley, as it has at other times in our nation's history. This agreement demanded that the native Taliban put down their weapons, pledge nonviolence, and accept the writ of the state. It was a local solution for what some in Pakistan viewed as a local problem.

Let me be perfectly clear here: Pakistan's civil and military leadership understands that al Qaeda and its allies are not potential negotiating partners. But, as the U.S. did in Iraq, Pakistan sought to distinguish between reconcilable and irreconcilable elements within an expanding insurgency.

The premise of the dialogue was peace. Without peace there is no agreement, and without an agreement the Pakistani government will use all power at its disposal to restore order in the Valley. We'd rather negotiate than fight. But if we have to fight we will -- and we will fight to win.
What does Pakistan need to contain this threat? In the short term we need the U.S. to share modern technology in antiterrorist engagement. Pakistan needs night-vision equipment, jammers that can knock out FM radio transmissions by the terrorists, and a larger, modernized fleet of helicopter gunships for ground support in the massive sweeps that are necessary to contain, repel and destroy the enemy.

Yet Washington has been reluctant to share this modern equipment, and to train our military in antiterrorism techniques, because of concerns that these systems could be used against India. Such concerns are misplaced. Pakistanis understand that the primary threat to our homeland today is not from our neighbor to the east but from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on our border with Afghanistan. To meet this threat, we must be provided the means to fight the terrorists while we work on resuming our composite dialogue with India.

In the long term, Pakistan's security will be predicated on Pakistan's economic viability. That is the central thrust of the Kerry-Lugar legislation currently before Congress, which would establish a 10-year, multibillion dollar commitment to Pakistan's economic and social system. It is also manifest in the Regional Opportunity Zone legislation currently before Congress that would open U.S. markets to products manufactured in Afghanistan and Pakistan's FATA region. An economically prosperous Pakistan will be less susceptible to the ideology of international terrorism -- and it will become a model to a billion Muslims across the world that Islam and modernity under democracy are not only compatible, but can thrive together.

Mr. Haqqani is Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reviewing India’s Nuclear Doctrine

Reviewing India’s Nuclear Doctrine, by Ali Ahmed
IDSA, April 24, 2009

A long standing observation on India’s strategic culture is that national strategy remains unarticulated. A significant departure from this characteristic was made by India following a review of the nuclear doctrine in Jan 2003. It is now more than six years since the event. There is a need to review doctrine periodically in any case. In this specific case the need is more acute given changes in strategic circumstances. The present juncture is an apposite one in that a new government would be coming into power soon. Therefore initiating a case for a review of India’s nuclear doctrine is in order. This policy brief proposes a direction of review by interrogating a principal pillar of the doctrine – that of ‘massive punitive retaliation’.

There are other contending directions of review. These include whether India should continue to include ‘minimal’ in its formulation ‘credible minimum deterrent’ in light of ‘minimum’ seemingly contradicting the important dimension of the two i.e., ‘credible’. There has even been a recommendation by a departing National Security Advisory Board on jettisoning ‘No First Use’ – perhaps the most salient pillar of the doctrine. The votaries of the Triad would prefer a mention of a Triad based second strike capability in the doctrine. These possible directions indicate that there is a need for review. It is another matter that in doing so, some of the proposals would be accommodated and some disregarded.

In this regard, the proposal requires a shift away from ‘massive punitive retaliation’ in favour of ‘flexible punitive retaliation’. The policy brief first establishes the need to do so by discussing three conflict scenarios highlighting the dangers of the formulation and the advantages from the proposed shift. It concludes that a strategic dialogue with both China and Pakistan is necessary for clarity in communication. This would enhance deterrence and dispel possible misperceptions and apprehensions. This is particularly necessary with respect to Pakistan, given that the state is perpetually poised on ‘failed state’ status with implications for India.

The current doctrinal precept

The sub-paragraph of interest of the press release subsequent to the Cabinet Committee on Security endorsing the nuclear doctrine of 04 Jan 03 reads: “(ii) A posture of “No First Use”: Nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere; (iii) Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.”

The inclusion of the term ‘massive’ was a discernible change from the earlier formulation of the Draft Nuclear Doctrine in which the term had not found mention. Instead the Draft had used the term ‘sufficient’ implying a degree of choice on the nature of the response being available to the political decision maker. The specific sentence in the sub-paragraph on Credibility in the Draft reads: ‘Any adversary must know that India can and will retaliate with sufficient nuclear weapons to inflict destruction and punishment that the aggressor will find unacceptable if nuclear weapons are used against India and its forces.’ Though the Draft was just that - a ‘draft’ to compel the government’s attention, the critique stands. The principal problem with the change is that it restricts the choice of the decision maker by excluding the set of less expansive responses.

‘Massive’, not defined explicitly, can be taken as a product of throw weight and target set that produces the promised ‘unacceptable damage’. There are three implications: one is in terms of ‘pain’ implying counter value targeting; second, is reducing the ability of the enemy to mount a counterstrike, which would be counter force; and third is a mix of both. Since in all three options ‘unacceptable damage’ is inflicted, it is worth questioning whether only ‘massive’ nuclear counter strike would cause ‘unacceptable damage’. It is well understood that even a single warhead through a counter value strike can be ‘catastrophic’. Therefore, the term ‘massive’, in its emphasis on throw weight or numbers, is superfluous. It has even been averred that the inclusion of ‘massive’ was likely an ‘unconsidered formulation’. On this count there is a need for review.

Massive nuclear retaliation is definitely a possibility and would be credible in case the enemy’s nuclear first use is in an expansive (‘massive’) form such as resort to first strike, decapitating strike or counter value targeting. However, should ‘first use’ be of a restricted nature such as at the tactical level, for India to up the ante by going ‘massive’ to counter it would be irrational. This was an observation true in the Cold War era as pointed out by Thomas Schelling in his landmark, The Strategy of Conflict: ‘The threat of massive retaliation, if ‘massive’ is interpreted to mean unlimited retaliation, does indeed lose credibility with the loss of our hope that a skillfully conducted all out strike might succeed in precluding counter retaliation.’ Since precluding counter retaliation is not possible in India’s case with respect to Pakistan, leave aside China, it would be prudent for India to go down a route traversed by the US during the McNamara years. The logic that persuaded McNamara in his own words was:

‘One cannot fashion a credible deterrent out of an incredible action…What we are proposing is a capability to strike back after absorbing a first blow. This means we have to build and maintain a second strike force. Such a force should have sufficient flexibility to permit a choice of strategies… Such a prospect would give the Soviets no incentive to withhold attack against our cities in a first strike. We want to give them a better alternative…the strongest possible incentive to refrain from attacking our cities.’

India’s promise of massive counter strikes to first use against its territory or its forces is wanting in credibility, particularly if the strike were of a tactical nature but with a strategic purpose of nuclear signaling for war termination. This is particularly important since both the likely adversaries are unlikely to resort to nuclear weapons in a massive mode in the first salvo.

Consider the case of China. Though bound by an NFU, it is reportedly a qualified NFU in not being applicable to territory it claims. In a border conflict with India it could resort to nuclear first use on its claimed territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Such use would likely involve the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Since India’s is an Assured Retaliation doctrine, India would only be complicating the aftermath of the nuclear exchange for itself should its counter strike be ‘massive’.

The same is the case with Pakistan. Pakistan, emulating NATO in the Cold War era does not profess NFU. In case it were to resort to nuclear first use, it is quite apparent that this would not be of an order of a debilitating ‘first strike’ given the imbalance in numbers and the security of information surrounding locations of Indian nuclear assets. Even if it were to attempt to do so, it could not preclude assured Indian counter value retaliation. Having fired off a major proportion of its arsenal in attempting a first strike, it would not have the numbers to mount a counter strike. In effect, it would ab initio be deterred from attempting a first strike. Therefore Islamabad’s most likely first use is a tactical strike with a strategic purpose of forestalling Indian conventional military advances or to bring about conflict termination by focusing the efforts of the international community. Counter retaliation in a ‘massive’ mode to such a symbolic strike would be to India’s disadvantage since there is no guarantee that some Pakistani weapons would not survive. These would inevitably be directed at counter value targets to maximize vengeance. To open itself to such a threat would be irrational.

The problem has been pointed out earlier following the release of the Draft nuclear doctrine in the following manner:

‘….Our intent of causing ‘unacceptable damage’ is credible only in case our population centers and nuclear-industrial concentrations are hit, inclusion of military forces as targets that will invite such a response makes it less credible…the point is having caused ‘unacceptable damage’ is no consolation for ending up a recipient of it…Thus there is a need to move beyond the avatar of ‘massive retaliation’…in favour of ‘flexible response’…’ (Ali Ahmed, ‘Doctrinal Challenge’, USI Journal, Jan 2000)

It is seen that the term ‘massive’ is not only tying down India’s options but dangerously so. This is elaborated through scenarios in the next section with respect to Pakistan as the nuclear adversary. In the case of China as an adversary in similar scenarios, there is no way India could survive the eventual nuclear exchange.

[Full brief at the link above.]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

WaPo: What does the Obama administration hope to accomplish by publicly warning of a Pakistani collapse?

Sound the Alarm. WaPo Editorial
What does the Obama administration hope to accomplish by publicly warning of a Pakistani collapse?
WaPo: Sunday, April 26, 2009

THE TALIBAN raised fears in Pakistan last week by briefly seizing new territories near the capital, Islamabad. But in its own way, the Obama administration offered as much reason for panic about the deteriorating situation in that nuclear-armed Muslim country. In the course of just three days, the U.S. secretaries of State and Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the commanding general of American forces in the Middle East all publicly warned, in blunt and dire language, that Pakistan was facing an existential threat -- and that its government and Army were not facing it. "I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

That they felt compelled to openly air such conclusions about a nominally close U.S. ally -- for which the administration is proposing billions in new aid dollars -- was a measure of the desperation that seems to have infected the Obama administration's dealings with Pakistan's weak civilian government and obtuse military leadership. In the months since the administration took office, as in the last months of the Bush administration, private cajoling of President Asif Ali Zardari and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani to fight the Taliban has done little good. It's not yet clear whether the public campaign will have more effect -- but it is sure to get many in Washington stirred about what Ms. Clinton described as the "mortal threat" a Taliban regime armed with nuclear weapons could pose to the United States.

That threat is certainly real. The government's decision to tolerate what amounts to Taliban control of the Swat Valley northwest of Islamabad has emboldened the extremists, who now are seeking to infiltrate neighboring districts even closer to the capital. The Pakistani army, untrained in counterinsurgency and rigidly focused on India, is reluctant to take on the militants; when it has tried to fight them in areas near the Afghan border, it has been mostly ineffective. Though the vast majority of Pakistanis oppose the Taliban's fundamentalism, most also dislike Mr. Zardari's government and suspect that operations against the insurgents serve U.S. interests more Pakistan's.

The loud U.S. warnings did provoke the Zardari government and Gen. Kiyani to say that they would fight the Taliban if it continued to advance; the black-turbaned fighters subsequently withdrew from one district on Friday. Pakistani officials say that the public support needed for the military offensive Washington wants won't be forthcoming unless Pakistanis believe that their government has tried all peaceful options. It is certainly the case that Pakistanis as well as their government must embrace the fight against the Taliban as their own, and not as a proxy war for the United States. It is also true that, apart from mounting missile strikes by remote-controlled aircraft, there is little the United States can do directly to defeat the Pakistani Taliban; the administration must try to work through the government and army.

But the United States has leverage: Without the billons flowing into Pakistan in direct U.S. aid as well as from other donors marshaled by Washington, Pakistan's economy would collapse. Perhaps the dire U.S. warnings will galvanize the country's political class into demanding action from the army and government -- or replacing the latter. But shouts of '"fire" have risks: They can also cause panic, or go unheeded.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

American Interests in Pakistan

American Interests in Pakistan. By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
The Weekly Standard, Apr 13, 2009, Volume 014, Issue 29

Excerpts:

Sharif is aided in his rise by a sympathetic media, who ignore his shortcomings and help him "cultivate the image of a strong man who does not budge from his stance," in the words of commentator Yahya Hussaini. Officials in Zardari's government raised this concern with me. One complained that several recent pro-Sharif rallies were shown repeatedly on television before they had attracted many participants, and that the saturation coverage helped to increase their size.

The strong anti-American strand in Pakistan's media, moreover, indirectly aids Sharif. Thus, the message behind one music video that played frequently on Pakistani television during the recent crisis was that Pakistan's problems are caused by the American war in Afghanistan, not by jihadism. The video portrays a sinister-looking CIA agent and a cigar-smoking President Zardari cackling as a Predator strike kills an unjustly imprisoned Pakistani man who escapes from prison determined to "change the system of the country." Elsewhere in Pakistan's media, conspiracy-minded figures like commentator Ahmed Quraishi, who sees the hidden hand of the United States and India behind virtually all of Pakistan's ills, are reaching new prominence.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Real Afghan Issue Is Pakistan

The Real Afghan Issue Is Pakistan. By Graham Allison and John Deutch
WSJ, Mar 30, 2009

In announcing his new Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, President Barack Obama articulated "a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future."

This is a sound conception of both the threat and U.S. interests in the region. Mr. Obama took a giant step beyond the Bush administration's "Afghanistan policy" when he named the issue "AfPak" -- Afghanistan, Pakistan and their shared, Pashtun-populated border. But this is inverted. We suggest renaming the policy "PakAf," to emphasize that, from the perspective of U.S. interests and regional stability, the heart of the problem lies in Pakistan.

The fundamental question about Afghanistan is this: What vital national interest does the U.S. have there? President George W. Bush offered an ever-expanding answer to this question. As he once put it, America's goal is "a free and peaceful Afghanistan," where "reform and democracy" would serve as "the alternatives to fanaticism, resentment and terror."

In sharp contrast, during the presidential campaign Mr. Obama declared that America has one and only one vital national interest in Afghanistan: to ensure that it "cannot be used as a base to launch attacks against the United States." To which we would add the corollary: that developments in Afghanistan not undermine Pakistan's stability and assistance in eliminating al Qaeda.

Consider a hypothetical. Had the terrorist attacks of 9/11 been planned by al Qaeda from its current headquarters in ungoverned areas of Pakistan, is it conceivable that today the U.S. would find itself with 54,000 troops and $180 billion committed to transforming medieval Afghanistan into a stable, modern nation?

For Afghanistan to become a unitary state ruled from Kabul, and to develop into a modern, prosperous, poppy-free and democratic country would be a worthy and desirable outcome. But it is not vital for American interests.

After the U.S. and NATO exit Afghanistan and reduce their presence and financial assistance to levels comparable to current efforts in the Sudan, Somalia or Bangladesh, one should expect Afghanistan to return to conditions similar to those regions. Such conditions are miserable. They are deserving of American and international development and security assistance. But, as in those countries, it is unrealistic to expect anything more than a slow, difficult evolution towards modernity.

The problem in Pakistan is more pressing and direct. There, the U.S. does have larger vital national interests. Top among these is preventing Pakistan's arsenal of nuclear weapons and materials from falling into the hands of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. This danger is not hypothetical -- the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, A.Q. Khan, is now known to have been the world's first nuclear black marketer, providing nuclear weapons technology and materials to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

Protecting Pakistan's nuclear arsenal requires preventing radical Islamic extremists from taking control of the country.

Furthermore, the U.S. rightly remains committed to preventing the next 9/11 attack by eliminating global terrorist threats such as al Qaeda. This means destroying their operating headquarters and training camps, from which they can plan more deadly 9/11s.

The counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan that has emerged since last summer offers our best hope for regional stability and success in dealing a decisive blow against al Qaeda and what Vice President Joe Biden calls "incorrigible" Taliban adherents. But implementing these operations requires light U.S. footprints backed by drones and other technology that allows missile attacks on identified targets. The problem is that the U.S. government no longer seems to be capable of conducting covert operations without having them reported in the press.

This will only turn Pakistani public opinion against the U.S. Many Pakistanis see covert actions carried out inside their country as America "invading an ally." This makes it difficult for Pakistani officials to support U.S. operations while sustaining widespread popular support.

As Mr. Biden has warned: "It is hard to imagine a greater nightmare for America than the world's second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalists' hands, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a population larger than Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea combined."

Avoiding this nightmare will require concentration on the essence of the challenge: Pakistan. On the peripheries, specifically Afghanistan, Mr. Obama should borrow a line from Andrew Jackson from the battle of New Orleans and order his administration to "elevate them guns a little lower."

Mr. Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and author of "Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe" (Holt Paperbacks, 2005). Mr. Deutch is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Bill Clinton.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Iran Has Started an Arms Race in the Mideast and Beyond

Iran Has Started a Mideast Arms Race. By Amir Taheri
States throughout the region are looking to establish nuclear programs.
WSJ, Mar 23, 2009

In the capitals of Western nations, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man regarded as the father of the Pakistani atom bomb, is regarded as a maverick with a criminal past. In addition to his well-documented role in developing a nuclear device for Pakistan, he helped Iran and North Korea with their nuclear programs.

But since his release from house arrest a month ago, Mr. Khan has entertained a string of official visitors from across the Middle East. All come with messages of sympathy; and some governments in that region are looking to him for the knowledge and advice they need to fast track their own illicit nuclear projects.

Make no mistake: The Middle East may be on the verge of a nuclear arms race triggered by the inability of the West to stop Iran's quest for a bomb. Since Tehran's nuclear ambitions hit the headlines five years ago, 25 countries -- 10 of them in the greater Middle East -- have announced plans to build nuclear power plants for the first time.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and Oman) set up a nuclear exploratory commission in 2007 to prepare a "strategic report" for submission to the alliance's summit later this year. But Saudi Arabia is not waiting for the report. It opened negotiations with the U.S. in 2008 to obtain "a nuclear capacity," ostensibly for "peaceful purposes."

Egypt also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement, with France, last year. Egyptian leaders make no secret of the fact that the decision to invest in a costly nuclear industry was prompted by fears of Iran. "A nuclear armed Iran with hegemonic ambitions is the greatest threat to Arab nations today," President Hosni Mubarak told the Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.

Last November, France concluded a similar nuclear cooperation accord with the UAE, promising to offer these oil-rich lands "a complete nuclear industry." According to the foreign ministry in Paris, the French are building a military base close to Abu Dhabi ostensibly to protect the nuclear installations against "hostile action," including the possibility of "sensitive material" being stolen by terrorist groups or smuggled to Iran.

The UAE, to be sure, has signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. forswearing the right to enrich uranium or produce plutonium in exchange for American nuclear technology and fuel. The problem is that the UAE's commercial hub, the sheikhdom of Dubai, has been the nerve center of illicit trade with Iran for decades, according to Western and Arab intelligence. Through Dubai, stolen U.S. technology and spent fuel needed for producing raw material for nuclear weapons could be smuggled to Iran.

Qatar, the smallest GCC member by population, is also toying with the idea of creating a nuclear capability. According to the Qatari media, it is shopping around in the U.S., France, Germany and China.

Newly liberated Iraq has not been spared by the new nuclear fever. Recall the history. With help from France, Iraq developed a nuclear capacity in the late 1970s to counterbalance its demographic inferiority vis-à-vis Iran. In 1980, Israel destroyed Osirak, the French-built nuclear center close to Baghdad, but Saddam Hussein restored part of that capacity between 1988 and 1991. What he rebuilt was dismantled by the United Nations' inspectors between 1992 and 2003. But with Saddam dead and buried, some Iraqis are calling for a revival of the nation's nuclear program as a means of deterring "bullying and blackmail from the mullahs in Tehran," as parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq has put it.

"A single tactical nuclear attack on Basra and Baghdad could wipe out a third of our population," a senior Iraqi official told me, on condition of anonymity. Since almost 90% of Iraqis live within 90 miles of the Iranian border, the "fear is felt in every town and village," he says.

Tehran, meanwhile, is playing an active part in proliferation. So far, Syria and Sudan have shown interest in its nuclear technology, setting up joint scientific committees with Iran, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Iranian media reports say Tehran is also setting up joint programs with a number of anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America, notably Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, bringing proliferation to America's backyard.

According to official reports in Tehran, in 2006 and 2007 the Islamic Republic also initialed agreements with China to build 20 nuclear-power stations in Iran. The first of these stations is already under construction at Dar-Khuwayn, in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan close to the Iraqi border.

There is no doubt that the current nuclear race in the Middle East is largely prompted by the fear of a revolutionary Iran using an arsenal as a means of establishing hegemony in the region. Iran's rivals for regional leadership, especially Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are aware of the propaganda appeal of the Islamic Republic's claim of being " the first Muslim superpower" capable of defying the West and rivaling it in scientific and technological fields. In that context, Tehran's development of long-range missiles and the Muslim world's first space satellite are considered political coups.

Mohamed al Quwaihis, a member of Saudi Arabia's appointed parliament, the Shura Council, warns of Iran's growing influence. Addressing the Shura Council earlier this month, he described Iranian interferences in Arab affairs as "overt," and claimed that Iran is "endeavoring to seduce the Gulf States, and recruit some of the citizens of these countries to work for its interests."

The Shura devoted a recent session to "the Iranian threat," insisting that unless Tehran abandoned its nuclear program, Saudi Arabia should lead the Arabs in developing their own "nuclear response." The debate came just days after the foreign ministry in Riyadh issued a report identifying the Islamic Republic's nuclear program as the "principal security threat to Arab nations."

A four-nation Arab summit held in the Saudi capital on March 11 endorsed that analysis, giving the green light for a pan-Arab quest for "a complete nuclear industry." Such a project would draw support from Pakistan, whose nuclear industry was built with Arab money. Mr. Khan and his colleagues have an opportunity to repay that debt by helping Arabs step on a ladder that could lead them to the coveted "threshold" to becoming nuclear powers in a few years' time.

Earlier this month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the retiring head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has become a blunt instrument in preventing a nuclear arms race. Meanwhile, the U.S., France, Russia and China are competing for nuclear contracts without developing safeguards to ensure that projects which start as peaceful undertakings are not used as cover for clandestine military activities.

The Obama administration should take the growing threat of nuclear proliferation seriously. It should try to provide leadership in forging a united response by the major powers to what could become the world's No. 1 security concern within the next few years.

Mr. Taheri's new book, "The Persian Night: Iran Under The Khomeinist Revolution," is published by Encounter Books.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How the U.S. can help revitalize economies in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Plowshares for Peace. WaPo Editorial
How the U.S. can help revitalize economies in Pakistan and Afghanistan
WaPo, Sunday, March 22, 2009; page A18

AS THE Obama administration formulates its strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, pretty much everyone agrees that spurring the economy in both countries -- creating jobs -- is key to defusing militancy. The usual prescription is more foreign aid, which is sure to figure in any new plan. But what doesn't always get acknowledged in these discussions is that such aid often doesn't do much good. The United States wasted billions of dollars in Iraqi reconstruction aid, and given the dangerous environment -- which discourages inspection and monitoring -- you can expect a rerun in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A more effective way to boost both economies would be to allow them to export their products tariff-free into the United States. But that idea arouses the enmity of U.S. labor unions, which means that it's not going to get far in a Democratic Congress.

Enter Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Montgomery County Democrat and member of the House leadership, with a practical alternative. Mr. Van Hollen, with co-sponsors, has introduced legislation to create "reconstruction opportunity zones" within both countries. Certain products, including some (not all) textiles, produced within the zones would enjoy duty-free access to the U.S. market for 15 years. This would encourage investment by local businessmen, who best know the terrain, and create jobs. There's no better formula for discouraging Taliban recruitment.

It's not a magic formula, of course. The investment areas have to be drawn widely enough to make the prospect of investment realistic; if you limit them to the most intense battle zones, you're not going to see many jobs created. The bigger they are, though, the likelier the bill will arouse union opposition, so the politics are tricky. Mr. Van Hollen and his co-sponsors -- including Reps. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich), Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) -- have tried to find the sweet spot, and their bill also insists that any factories in the zones meet core international standards in their treatment of workers.

Maybe the strongest argument for the opportunity zones is that there is no down side; the worst that could possibly happen is they don't trigger much investment. But they would immediately provide a signal of U.S. commitment -- the governments of both countries strongly support the idea -- and they could have a substantial positive effect reasonably quickly, at almost no cost to the U.S. Treasury. Congress and the administration should get behind this idea.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Saving Pakistan: The U.S. will need to foster political stability if it wants success against al-Qaeda and the Taliban

Saving Pakistan. WaPo Editorial
The U.S. will need to foster political stability if it wants success against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
WaPo, Thursday, March 19, 2009; A14

PAKISTAN'S LATEST crisis has eased, after President Asif Ali Zardari capitulated to protesters who threatened to march on the capital, Islamabad. But for the Obama administration, the challenge of political dysfunction in this nuclear-armed state has hardly diminished. As they showed during the past week, Pakistan's civilian and secular political leaders are more concerned with destroying each other than with fighting the Islamic extremists who are rapidly gaining strength in the country. The Pakistani army, for its part, remains more focused on the perceived threat from India than on the Taliban and al-Qaeda. These problems are deeply rooted -- but the new U.S. administration will have to take them on if it is to successfully combat the terrorist threat to the United States.

Pakistan's return to democratic government a year ago ended an increasingly authoritarian regime that lacked both the will and the political authority to take on the Taliban. But the transition also reopened the feuding between civilian political parties that dominated national politics in the 1990s. While saying they recognize the jihadist threat, Mr. Zardari -- the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto -- and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif have resumed their ruthless competition. Both have employed undemocratic tactics: Mr. Sharif has chosen to fight the government mostly in the streets rather than in Parliament, while Mr. Zardari tried to block last weekend's protests with mass arrests and media censorship.

A third secular force, a movement of judges and lawyers that rallied behind former Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, is seen by many middle-class Pakistanis as representing the rule of law. Mr. Zardari's agreement to restore Mr. Chaudhry to the court Monday ended the protest march and was celebrated as a victory for democracy. But Mr. Chaudhry, who takes pride in his maverick decisions, could easily destroy the fragile system if he chooses to reopen old cases involving Mr. Zardari, Mr. Sharif or former president Pervez Musharraf. He could set an example for the political leaders by embracing restraint and compromise -- qualities sorely missing from Pakistani politics.

In the past, Pakistan's political feuding has inexorably led to military coups, which have been tolerated if not welcomed by the United States. But in the era of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which grow stronger with each new crisis in Islamabad, that pattern must be broken. Pakistan's military leadership and the Obama administration need to play a stabilizing role for the civilian leaders by arbitrating and limiting their conflicts. They should insist on faithfulness to the rule of law and to the democratic process, rather than picking a winner -- in the case of the United States -- or directly intervening, in the case of the military. And they should press for agreement on the country's main enemy -- jihadism -- and a comprehensive strategy for confronting it.

As it formulates its broader strategy for the region, the Obama administration should recognize that it cannot combat the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan and western Pakistan without tackling the larger issues of governance in both countries. The events of the past week showed that the United States must help to foster a stable and representative government in Islamabad. The same principle applies in Kabul.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A.Q. Khan’s Acquittal

A.Q. Khan’s Acquittal. By A. Vinod Kumar
IDSA, February 20, 2009

Though anticipated, the timing of the Islamabad High Court’s verdict to release disgraced nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan from house arrest has surprised many, since it came days before the first ever visit by Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Zardari government has tried to play safe by citing this as a decision taken by an ‘independent’ judiciary. Such arguments are, however, unlikely to find many takers. To mollify international opinion, which surprisingly has not been as forceful as expected, Islamabad has indicated the option of appealing against the verdict. However, a government which has dilly-dallied on fixing responsibility over the Mumbai attack despite evidence of involvement of Pakistan-based groups, is unlikely to seriously attempt to block Khan's release.

However, Khan’s release itself could have been masterminded by the Zardari government. There are many reasons to support this postulation. First, it could be a direct message to Holbrooke, and to Obama, that Pakistan would be assertive in its policies despite US pressure. Besides sustaining the defiance by General Musharraf on Washington’s demand to hand over Khan for interrogation, President Zardari could have wanted to project his authority and political independence through Khan’s release.

The presumptive spin-offs are many. It could be a message to the Pakistan Army on the gradual assertion of civilian (read PPP) power. Khan, a revered man in Pakistan, had been critical of General Musharraf and the Army for incarcerating him after a forced confession. Though Musharraf had pardoned Khan for his deeds, the disgraced scientist had responded to the court verdict by saying that “god had already punished Musharraf as he can’t now freely come out”. By blaming Musharraf and the Army authorities for his forced confession, Khan had struck a chord with major political parties, which had demanded his release in the run up to the general elections. The day might not be far when Khan makes a foray into politics, aspiring to assume a political or constitutional position. As for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government, Khan’s acquittal meant correcting a wrong done by Musharraf, and thus implicitly the Army. Once US pressure eases, the PPP could try to gain political mileage for ‘freeing’ Khan from prolonged incarceration. It would also be an opportunity for the Party to remove the slur of September 2007, when the late Benazir Bhutto declared in Washington that she would hand over Khan to the IAEA if returned to power.

Such domestic dimensions notwithstanding, the actual motive behind Khan’s acquittal could be political posturing towards Washington. Islamabad has consistently invoked red herrings when pressure is mounted by the US on taking action against extremist elements within Pakistan. As a special envoy on Pakistan-Afghanistan, Holbrooke had the specific task of extracting Pakistan’s commitment in dealing with the Taliban both inside Afghanistan as well as against those groups that are controlling major parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Regions (FATA).

Far from supporting US operations in the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands, Islamabad has resisted efforts by American forces to launch frontal attacks against militant groups in FATA, which has become a launch pad for the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan. With Obama’s assertion that Pakistan has to be accountable for its actions against such groups, Holbrooke had the clear task of pushing Islamabad to the wall. By releasing Khan a few days before his visit with little heed for international retribution, Islamabad has signalled to Washington its determination to take decisions according to its choice. Islamabad might have felt that such assertiveness could impart it with greater leverage during negotiations with the special envoy. That Washington was floored by the Khan coup was manifested in the anti-climactic conclusion to the much-hyped first visit by Holbrooke. But for a visit to the tribal areas and reported assurances by the Pakistan government on monitoring Khan’s movements, there was little that Holbrooke could achieve in his first outing. Rather, within hours of his return to Washington, Islamabad had agreed on a truce with pro-Taliban elements in the Swat Valley. This is not just a setback to the Obama administration, but actually an affront to Holbrooke.

Earlier, on the sidelines of the Munich Conference, US Deputy Secretary James Steinberg was given a verbal assurance by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that Khan’s release would not pose a proliferation risk. Incidentally, President Obama has also maintained a discreet silence while allowing his junior officials to communicate with Pakistan on the implications of Khan’s release. Even in his phone conversation with President Zardari on February 12, Obama was not reported to have referred to Khan’s acquittal. While not wanting to let the Khan episode dilute the pressure on Pakistan’s commitment to the war on terror and anti-Taliban campaigns, an obvious reason for de-emphasising Khan’s release would be the strongly held belief that Khan no longer has the wherewithal to run a proliferation network. Further, heightened monitoring of his activities after his release could restrict him from reviving his old proliferation links.

However, not many are ready to buy such assurances as it is felt in some quarters that Khan’s network functioned with the full backing of the Pakistan Army, which can continue to use Khan through other avenues. Also, the fact that Khan’s accomplices had earlier established contact with al Qaeda is a cause for worry. Further, Khan’s potential metamorphosis into a political leader would have ominous consequences, especially if he favours an extreme right orientation. Another puzzling factor to be discerned is whether the Army had any role at all in Khan’s acquittal, despite his pronouncements against the Army.

Nevertheless, Khan’s release could come with high costs. With the infamy of being a dangerous state which hosts both terror groups as well as nuclear proliferators, Pakistan could come under immense international pressure and monitoring as more countries begin to express apprehensions on Khan’s release. Obama could be forced by the powerful US non-proliferation lobby to tighten the tab on Pakistan’s nuclear assets. For that matter, concerns over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets have dominated the non-proliferation discourse in the US, especially in the Congress, where it is strongly felt that the Zardari government is a lame duck when it comes to handling nuclear weapons. Consequently, Khan in a political garb would be a bigger nightmare for Western capitals than his modest life as an extraordinary ex-scientist in pursuit of ‘altruist’ evangelism.

A Vinod Kumar is Associate Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.

Monday, February 16, 2009

CIA Helped India, Pakistan Share Secrets in Probe of Mumbai Siege

CIA Helped India, Pakistan Share Secrets in Probe of Mumbai Siege. By Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post, Monday, February 16, 2009; Page A01

In the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the CIA orchestrated back-channel intelligence exchanges between India and Pakistan, allowing the two former enemies to quietly share highly sensitive evidence while the Americans served as neutral arbiters, according to U.S. and foreign government sources familiar with the arrangement.

The exchanges, which began days after the deadly assault in late November, gradually helped the two sides overcome mutual suspicions and paved the way for Islamabad's announcement last week acknowledging that some of the planning for the attack had occurred on Pakistani soil, the sources said.

The intelligence went well beyond the public revelations about the 10 Mumbai terrorists, and included sophisticated communications intercepts and an array of physical evidence detailing how the gunmen and their supporters planned and executed their three-day killing spree in the Indian port city. Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies separately shared their findings with the CIA, which relayed the details while also vetting the intelligence and filling in blanks with gleanings from its networks, the sources said. The U.S. role was described in interviews with Pakistani officials and confirmed by U.S. sources with detailed knowledge of the arrangement. The arrangement is ongoing, and it is unknown whether it will continue after the Mumbai case is settled.

Officials from both countries said the unparalleled cooperation was a factor in Pakistan's decision to bring criminal charges against nine Pakistanis accused of involvement in the attack, a move that appeared to signal a thawing of tensions on the Indian subcontinent after weeks of rhetorical warfare.

"India shared evidence bilaterally, but that's not what cinched it," said a senior Pakistani official familiar with the exchanges. "It was the details, shared between intelligence agencies, with the CIA serving mainly as a bridge." The FBI also participated in the vetting process, he said.

A U.S. government official with detailed knowledge of the sharing arrangement said the effort ultimately enabled the Pakistani side to "deal as forthrightly as possible with the fallout from Mumbai," he said. U.S. and Pakistani officials who described the arrangement agreed to do so on the condition of anonymity, citing diplomatic and legal sensitivities. Indian officials declined to comment for this story.

"Intelligence has been a good bridge," the U.S. official said. "Everyone on the American side went into this with their eyes open, aware of the history, the complexities, the tensions. But at least the two countries are talking, not shooting."

The U.S. effort to foster cooperation was begun under the Bush administration and given new emphasis by an Obama White House that fears that a renewed India-Pakistan conflict could undermine progress in Afghanistan -- and possibly lead to nuclear war. The new administration sees Pakistan as central to its evolving Afghan war strategy, and also recognizes that it cannot "do Pakistan without doing India," as Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put it in a recent interview.

"In an ideal world, the challenge associated with Mumbai -- handled well, led well -- would lead to the two working together," he said.

There is little public support for rapprochement, and domestic politics in both countries often dictate hostility rather than cooperation.

Mullen said he hoped the countries could restore some of the goodwill lost in the Mumbai case.
Despite public and political criticism, the two governments had taken "significant steps" in the months preceding Mumbai to diminish the tensions between them over the long-standing Kashmir territorial dispute. But after Nov. 26, "a lot was put aside [and] suspended."

The Mumbai attack was staged by 10 heavily armed terrorists who rampaged through the city for three days, killing more than 170 people and wounding more than 300. Nine of the terrorists were killed, but the lone survivor confessed that the assault had been planned in Pakistan by Lashkar-i-Taiba, a group that seeks independence for Indian-controlled Kashmir. India has asserted that elements of Pakistan's government or intelligence services provided logistical support for the attack, an accusation that Islamabad flatly denies.

In recent days, Pakistan has moved aggressively against Lashkar-i-Taiba and allied groups, and has signaled its intention to work more closely with India. A Pakistani government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, insisted that Islamabad's commitment was genuine.

"Any Pakistanis who are shown to have been involved will be treated as the criminals they are," he said. He predicted that the two governments would cooperate to an unprecedented degree in upcoming prosecutions and trials, which he said will occur separately in the two countries with participation from both sides. He described Pakistan's response as decisive and "proof that we will not tolerate" groups that support terrorism.

Such policies pose clear risks for the embattled government of President Asif Ali Zardari, who faces a domestic backlash for cracking down on groups that Pakistan helped establish years ago as part of its anti-India strategy. Zardari also has come under fire for tolerating occasional U.S. missile strikes against suspected terrorists inside Pakistan's autonomous tribal region near the Afghan border. A strike Saturday reportedly killed 27, most of them foreign fighters.
"This is a dangerous path for him," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council of the United States. A sustained clampdown would require a sustained commitment by the civilian government and the army, and far more arrests than the 124 already announced, Nawaz said.

India, meanwhile, has been eager for the United States to pressure Pakistan on terrorism in general and Mumbai in particular. But it has long rejected any attempt to interfere in Kashmir.
Early this month, a senior Indian official recalled that Barack Obama had suggested a linkage during the presidential campaign, saying in a foreign policy essay that he would "encourage dialogue" on Kashmir so that Pakistan could pay more attention to terrorists on its border with Afghanistan.

If Obama "does have any such views," Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan told Indian television, "then he is barking up the wrong tree." Narayanan said India had made clear to Washington when Richard C. Holbrooke was appointed the administration's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan that India-Pakistan relations should not be part of his portfolio.

Holbrooke, who plans a stop in New Delhi at the end of his tour of the region, appeared to agree in a report last month by the New York-based Asia Society, where he was chairman before his appointment. The report called for Obama to continue the "de-hyphenation" of U.S. foreign policy toward India and Pakistan practiced by the Bush administration.

Concerned about China and searching for a positive new foreign policy headline at a low point in the Iraq war, Bush policymakers tried to elevate India to the status of major U.S. partner. The centerpiece of the policy was a bilateral civil nuclear agreement signed by Bush last year but still awaiting final action by Obama.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, asked last week about the agreement, responded vaguely that "I don't have the specifics of where we are on this particular day with regard to implementation, but it is certainly something that we want to see happen, and nothing more beyond that."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Violence in Pakistan: Trend Analysis December 2008

Violence in Pakistan: Trend Analysis December 2008. By Alok Bansal and T. Khurshchev IDSA, January 31, 2009

Excerpts:

Amidst apprehensions of a conflict between India and Pakistan after attacks on Mumbai on 26 November, as Pakistani security forces ostensibly diverted their attention from the Western to the Eastern borders, terror related violence showed an increase from 372 in November to 388 in December. Although there was no movement of troops from the Western borders to the East, Pakistani security forces allowed vast tracts of land in FATA and Swat Valley go under the control of Taliban. This was probably an attempt to put pressure on the West in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks, but only helped the militants to consolidate their position. As a result besides South and North Waziristan Agencies, the Taliban has established its writ in Orakzai Agency and Swat Valley. As the security forces toned down their operations against the militants, the causality figure of militants reduced significantly from 462 in November to 216 in December. Absence of any major military operations also ensured that the casualties of the security forces also reduced considerably form 56 in November to 23 in December. However, the casualties of civilians rose from 286 in November to 340 in December, as the militants utilized this breather to settle scores with pro-government tribal leaders and secular political activists. Nevertheless, the total number of deaths from violence reduced form 804 in November to 579 in December, but it would be wrong to discern a durable trend from it as the reduced casualties were mainly because of the throwing in of towel by the security forces. In keeping with the militants’ policy of sorting out allies of the government as well as those who dared to oppose their dictats, the kidnapping figure has risen sharply form 65 in November to 271 in December.

NWFP
Continuing the trend of last three months, NWFP continued to witness the most number of violent attacks in Pakistan. The number of violent incidents decreased from 184 in November to 178 in December, averaging almost six a day. During the month 307 people were killed and 209 injured as against 342 killed and 308 injured in the previous month. However, the number of injured are likely to be much more as the exact number of injured were often not reported in the media.

100 alleged militants were killed during the month as against 190 killed and 123 injured in November. The security forces arrested 248 alleged militants including 109 persons from Hangu on December 30, for their alleged involvement in sectarian violence during Muharram. On the other hand 191 civilians were killed and 172 received injuries in December, as against 111 killed and 157 injured in November. Similarly, number of people kidnapped by the militants has also increased to 70 in December from 32 the previous month and the figures include seven security personnel kidnapped in December and three in November. During the month 16 security personnel were killed and 36 injured as against 41 killed and 28 injured the previous month, thereby clearly indicating a marked lull in the security forces’ operations against the militants.

Like in the past, the main targets of the militants remained security posts, police stations, schools and shops selling CDs, wine and cosmetics. However, during the month, the supply convoys to NATO troops in Afghanistan were added to this list. In the biggest assault ever on this vital military supply line, over 300 vehicles and containers vehicles that carry goods from Pakistan for NATO troops in Afghanistan were destroyed. On 7 December, the Taliban torched more than 160 vehicles carrying NATO in Peshawar and the very next day, they again torched in Peshawar 53 vehicles destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan. The impunity, with which the attackers could target these high value targets in the heart of Peshawar city is indicative of state complicity. It appears that the security establishment in Pakistan wanted to use these attacks to ease the US pressure being put on Pakistan to act against the perpetrators of Mumbai attack. The strife between Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other tribal groups remained unabated and its cadres beheaded two followers of rival cleric Pir Samiullah in Gwalerai area of Matta tehsil. Militants operating in the restive Swat valley announced unilateral ceasefire during Eidul Azha. On 26 December, Taliban in Swat district imposed a blanket ban on female education and warned the teachers of ‘severe consequences’. The militants also shot and injured a Chinese engineer and his security guard in Dargai on 24 December.

As against six suicide bombing in November, there were only three such attacks in December in NWFP, but they resulted in greater casualties. As against 28 people killed and 53 wounded in November in NWFP, 56 persons were killed and 71 injured in suicide attacks in December. Two of the three attacks were directed against the security forces and the third attack was at a polling station set up for a by-election in Bunir district.


FATA
Unlike the other parts of Pakistan, there was an increase in the incidents of violence in FATA, which increased from 108 in November to 122 in December. However the casualty rates dropped significantly and as against 337 killed and 109 injured in November, 201 persons were killed and 125 injured in December. 100 militants were killed and 63 injured in December as against 254 killed and 68 injured in the previous month. The security forces also arrested 31 alleged militants including Al Qaeda members as compared to 88 in November. Similarly, 87 civilian were killed and 31 injured as against 111 killed and 57 injured in the previous month. Besides, 185 (including 160 persons who were taken hostage by rival tribes in Kurram Agency on 16 December) civilians were kidnapped by the gunmen as against 23 in November. In the absence of any major operation by the security forces, only four security personnel lost their lives in the region as against eight in November. Besides, 15 security personals were injured and one was kidnapped.

During the month as the security forces halted their operations against the militants, the interregnum was utilized by the militants to exterminate a number of alleged US spies. At least nine such ‘spies’ were killed in five different incidents in North and South Waziristan itself. Each dead body carried a note accusing them of spying for the US. Around four hundred alleged Taliban surrendered to the authorities during the month mainly in Mohmand agency. In accordance with the trend observed in NWFP, lorries and tankers carrying supplies for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan were attacked while passing through the Khyber Pass and TTP claimed responsibility for these attacks.

The region also witnessed one suicide attack in December as against two such incidents in November. On December 5, seven tribesmen were killed and eight others injured when a suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near a jirga between Baramadkhel and Utmankhel tribes in Kalaya, the headquarters of Orakzai Agency. The tribes had actively participated in anti-Taliban tribal militias set up by the security forces.

Balochistan
The number of incidents in Balochistan remained constant at 30, but the casualties dropped significantly. Barring isolated incidents, the ceasefire announced by the three Baloch nationalist outfits in September was being adhered to. During the month, 11 persons were killed and 17 wounded in violent incidents as against 40 killed and 27 injured in November. Only two militants were killed in December as against 12 killed and 15 injured the previous month. However, the security arrested 40 alleged militants as against 17 in November. Eight civilians were killed and 17 injured as against 23 killed and 11 injured in November. Besides, 14 persons were kidnapped as against two in November. Similarly, only one security personnel was killed during the month as against five killed and one injured in November. Most of the attacks during the month were on pipelines and railway lines, besides a few attacks on security posts.

Other AreasTerror activities in other parts of the Pakistan remained at more or less the same level as in November. There were 58 incidents of violence in December as compared to 60 in November. 60 people lost their lives and 22 were injured in December as against 49 killed and 176 wounded in November. In December, 14 armed miscreants were killed and 96 arrested as against six killed and 37 arrested in November. Similarly, 44 civilians were killed and 20 injured in December as against 41 killed and 175 wounded in November. Two security personnel were also killed and two injured in December as against two killed and one injured in the previous month.

A number of political activists of PPP and MQM were killed in a number of incidents between 16 to 19 December in Karachi. In the recent past, criminal activities and violence in Karachi have shot up. In response a joint team of Sindh Police and Pakistan Rangers arrested more than 60 suspects, including Afghan nationals on 2 December and recovered huge quantity of arms, ammunition. Besides Karachi, in a major crack down, Islamabad police foiled terrorist attacks planned during Christmas, Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary and the New Year’s Eve by seizing 650 kilograms of explosives and 520 detonators on December 26. Similarly, on December 30, Police in Lahore recovered a gas cylinder packed with 10-kilogram of improvised explosive device (IED) connected to a cell phone and a detonator from bushes.

ConclusionThere has been a significant decrease in violence in Pakistan that can be attributed to the reduced activities by the security forces and a carte blanche given to the militants after the attacks on Mumbai. TTP volunteered to fight against India along side Pakistani army and Baitullah Mehsud declared on December 24, “Despite our differences with the government, the protection of Pakistan and its people is as much our duty as it is of the armed forces” and claimed that ‘hundreds of thousands of suicide bombers’ were ready to defend Pakistan in case of war with India. He further added, “The armed forces and the nation do not need to worry about the western borders in case of an Indian attack”. The statements were meant to win the support of Pakistani public and prove his patriotic credentials and succeeded in its aims to a large extent.

Alok Bansal is Research Fellow and T. Khurshchev is Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi

Full article, with graphs and table, here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How to Export an Awakening: Afghanistan, viewed from Iraq

How to Export an Awakening, by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Joshua D. Goodman
Afghanistan, viewed from Iraq.
The Weekly Standard, Feb 09, 2009, Volume 014, Issue 19

The United States needs a new military strategy in Afghanistan. In 2008, NATO casualties rose to an all-time annual high of 294, 155 of them U.S. soldiers. Roadside bombs and kidnappings doubled last year. Underscoring the gravity of the situation, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, warned the House Armed Services Committee in September, "I'm not convinced we're winning in Afghanistan."

In October, General David Petraeus--best known for revamping American strategy in Iraq--inherited responsibility for Afghanistan when he assumed command of CENTCOM (whose purview stretches from Egypt and the Horn of Africa all the way through Central Asia). None knows better than he that U.S. progress in Iraq over the past two years owes much to the rise of the "Awakening" movement, an alliance of Sunni tribesmen, Iraqi nationalists, ex-Baathists, and others united by the goal of driving al Qaeda from their country. Petraeus oversaw U.S. forces' work in partnering with, protecting, and spreading the Iraqi Awakening. Now he has presented a plan to U.S. allies to spur a similar movement among Afghans.

Despite some objections (notably from Canadian defense minister Peter MacKay), the United States will almost certainly try to replicate the Iraqi Awakening's achievements in Afghanistan in the coming year. How? In considering this question, there is no better place to start than a 47-page memorandum written by Sheikh Ahmad Abu Risha, the leader of Iraq's Awakening movement, and submitted to the American embassy in Kabul last spring.

Abu Risha prepared his memo at the request of Christopher Dell, the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Afghanistan. Though it is not publicly available (we obtained a copy from U.S. military sources) and has received little media attention beyond an account by Eli Lake in the now-defunct New York Sun, the plan it outlines is likely to take on greater importance over the coming year. The memo provides a cogent analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, as well as pertinent suggestions for replicating the Awakening's success there.

Abu Risha reviews several challenges in Afghanistan. The country is beset by warlords and their followers, who "are accustomed to living freely without the rule of law." There is great distrust of Hamid Karzai's government, which some Afghans believe is conspiring with the United States in "Americanizing and changing the identity of the Afghan people." This distrust is magnified by the country's living conditions: The economy is poor, with wages low and unemployment high. Despite improvements, the government has been unable to provide adequate education and health care.

These internal factors are compounded, in Abu Risha's view, by a military picture unfavorable to the United States. He argues that "military attacks by air against Taliban locations will cause the loss of many civilian lives," and so are likely to generate hostility to U.S. and NATO forces.

Abu Risha argues, nevertheless, that there are parallels between Afghanistan today and Iraq's Anbar Province in 2006 and 2007. Most important, al Qaeda and affiliated groups in Afghanistan have created a "climate of terror" similar to what they created in Anbar, where "they murdered anyone who opposed or criticized their actions and behavior." As in Anbar, he believes, an Awakening could help Afghanistan reverse its present deadly course.

Abu Risha outlines some preconditions for success. First and foremost is the need for a strong leader. In Anbar, this was the late Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, Abu Risha's brother, assassinated in late 2007. Such a figure must have "charisma, outstanding leadership elements and courage," he should be "a man of honor, tolerant and persistent," and he should be "a center of trust" with "a political family background." Abu Risha emphasizes, however, that NATO should not try to establish new leadership in Afghanistan, but should work within the tribes' existing hierarchies. "This is a nation," he writes, "that does not accept changes or give up control easily without a fight."

Sterling Jensen, who participated as an Army contract linguist in the U.S. government's engagement with the Iraqi tribes as the Anbar Awakening was taking shape in the fall of 2006, agrees that Abdul Sattar's leadership was critical. "The Americans didn't make the Awakening," Jensen says. "They didn't make Sheikh Ahmed or Sheikh Abdul Sattar. You can influence some [local leaders'] thinking, but it's going to be the Americans recognizing these kinds of leaders, and supporting them."

Militarily, Abu Risha recommends giving Afghan leaders "the flexibility to develop and build military forces" similar to the Awakening and Sons of Iraq militias in Iraq. (The Sons of Iraq program, initiated and paid for by the U.S. military, consisted of the formation of paramilitary organizations in an effort to spread the Awakening beyond Anbar.) In his view, this can help Afghan fighters take the lead against religious militants, while NATO forces scale back their own activities. "Keep U.S. forces' and NATO forces' movement in Afghan cities limited," Abu Risha writes, "to only fight when needed, and control the Taliban insurgency and their expanded activities." He suggests that scaling back U.S. and NATO activity will diminish public hostility to their mission.

Abu Risha sees Pakistan as a second front as long as al Qaeda's senior leadership is ensconced in Pakistan's tribal areas. Islamic militants now routinely launch their attacks on Afghanistan from these tribal areas. Abu Risha encourages the United States to "help and support Pakistan in the fight against terrorism," and argues that an Afghan Awakening will depend in part on "strong and influential figures in Pakistan."

There are not only military but also political dimensions to Abu Risha's strategy. He recognizes Afghanistan's predominantly conservative religious practice and argues that "it is important not to infuriate influential public leaders, particularly the community religious leaders, mosques' preachers, mosques' imams, . . . and Islamic leaders in the tribal areas." Abu Risha favors active dialogue with religious leadership and institutions. He believes the influence religious figures and institutions have on Afghan tribal leaders warrants engagement with them.

Indeed, Abu Risha believes that an Afghan Awakening should be as politically inclusive as possible. He argues that, as a general rule, to do battle against Afghan parties "will cost the military more money than to include these political parties in the process." He recognizes, however, that there are limits to inclusion and writes that NATO forces should combat parties that "fight the American project."

To facilitate an Afghan Awakening, Abu Risha makes a concrete offer to U.S. and NATO forces. In his memorandum, he proposes sending a delegation of three to five Iraqi Awakening leaders to Afghanistan "to explain and clarify the essential requirements to implement and succeed in the experiment." He suggests having these Iraqis "participate in organizing different conferences in Afghanistan to share the ideology and the success" of Iraq's Awakening.

It will be interesting to see which of these ideas the United States pursues. While there are no guarantees that an Awakening strategy will work in Afghanistan, there are precious few alternatives.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is director, and Joshua D. Goodman is deputy director, of the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.