Pakistan – Evolution or Revolution?
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Pakistan – Evolution or Revolution?

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Events have been moving fast in Pakistan in the last few months. Yet while the country’s longest lasting democratic government has been widely reported as being on the brink of a coup, rumors of its death have been premature.  Indeed, the classic standoff between civilian government, the military and the justice system seems to have been tempered by another element – the free media and its counterpart, informed public opinion.  The likely scenario if all factions hold to the status quo will be an early election following the March vote for the Senate. 

This will be an opportunity for emerging leader Imran Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf,or the Movement for Justice Party, to step into the political space being created, and to prove that Pakistan’s fragile democracy really has taken root. In a CNN interview on  January 22 with Fareed Zakaria, Khan stated his ambition is to end “the war with no objectives,” as well as to put an end to corruption, the deepening sense of gloom, the unprecedented inflation and the sense that “Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world.”

Khan’s call for peace is also a powerful protest against the United States and its policies in this turbulent area of the world. Anti-U.S. feeling is strong in Pakistan ever since the killing of Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan refuge, something that caused major embarrassment to the military establishment and its intelligence service, the ISI. Relations with the U.S. became even frostier in November, when 24 Pakistani troops were killed in a NATO aerial attack on two border outposts. Pakistan still doesn’t accept the U.S. account that puts partial blame on Pakistani forces.

Then there’s the recall of Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, also in November, which has broken the communication established between the two countries.  Haqqani, a key ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, was well regarded by the Obama administration.  He’s now said to be under virtual house arrest in a presidential guest suite in Islamabad because of his implied role in asking for U.S. help should there be a coup in Pakistan. He denies that he wrote the memo or that he asked an American businessman of Pakistani origin, Mansoor Ijaz, to deliver it to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.  

Ijaz was scheduled to arrive in Pakistan before January 24 to give evidence before the judicial panel investigating the allegations, but he is reportedly refusing to enter the country because of fears over his safety.  In the meantime, the government announced on January 19 a “parliamentary review of bilateral relations,” saying this was the reason a visit by U.S. Special Envoy Marc Grossman was rebuffed.  Grossman is currently touring the region for consultations over the peace process with the Afghan Taliban.  Pakistan is said to be annoyed about not being informed about such talks and the opening of the office in Qatar. Pakistan had recently also asked Washington to reschedule a visit of the Central Command head Gen. James Mattis to the country, saying that “Pakistani leaders were busy with an internal political dispute.”

Another point of tension is the closing of NATO supply routes by Pakistan as retaliation for the fatal airstrikes in November. Pakistan plans to reopen these routes, but will impose tariffs on supplies, both to express their anger and to raise funds for the government. At present, the United States is paying six times as much to send war supplies to troops in Afghanistan through alternate routes, and hundreds of vehicles stacked with goods and fuel are still being held at the border.

Comments
9
James
February 1, 2012 at 06:53

If it is that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is the single biggest destabilizing influence in the entire region then this point of view carries two questionable implications. First, to say that this presence is destabilizing implies that there was once a stable Afghanistan. “Stable Afghanistan” would have to be 1996-10 September, 2001. Look what the everyone got with that. Is this an “ideal” scenario for Afghanistan? Is this the ideal model of “Stability” for Afghanistan? Two, if the presence of “Outsiders” in Afghanistan is a problem then is it not a problem when a foreigners (aka Pakistan) is involved in Afghan affairs? Is only certain “Outsiders” amenable while others are not? If we are to look at the countries as separate entities then Pakistan’s role is a very destabilizing presence and one that only offers a crude sphere of influence vis-a-vis Islamabad. . .

The best place for both countries to go is zero. At least this way you are on an honourable and honest level of understanding. After this then you can see what is there to salvage. For all involved the best thing that could happen is a suspension of relations between the two countries on all levels. Including the exchange of Pakistani Students here in The United States. After all if Pakistani’s hate us then the best thing we can do is see to it that they do not have to suffer the misfortune of having to deal with any American, anywhere, and possibly ever again. . .

Matt
February 1, 2012 at 05:04

So what? The US was allies with Stalin against Hitler…didn’t prevent the Cold War. For Pakistan to be allies with the Taliban and Al Qaeda NOW is for them to put their lives and their country in jeopardy as they have declared war on the United States.

Asad
January 31, 2012 at 20:56

well those americans who are blindly saying talibans are creation of Pakistan they must not forget that america and pakistan both formed taliban against russia if you speak the truth speak it fully not half truth

James
January 31, 2012 at 04:54

I think at this point it is not without reason to speculate on what Islamabad knew of 11 September on 10 September, 2001. The Taliban are a client of ISI and it was Islamabad’s support from 1996 onwards that made their presence a sustainable entity. It was Pakistan who was the last to cut off relations with Taliban Afghanistan. It was Pakistan who is killing soldiers in Afghanistan (not just Americans) to put back in power a ‘friendly’ Afghanistan. Many forget that the Hekmaktyar’s and Haqqani’s were fighting side-by-side against Ahmed Shah Massoud (Rest in Peace) and with Regular Taliban and The Ansar Brigades of Al Qaeda for the final offensives of 1998 onwards. They all wre arrayed and fought against the non-Pashtun elements of Afghanistan (Northern Alliance). . .

With so many people getting prominent hiding places (bin laden), or practically every high-level al qaeda operative being caught there (cities range from Peshawar, Karachi, Abbottabad, Faisalbad, & Rawalpindi) it is getting hard to believe that somebody in Pakistan on 10 September did not know what their clients were up to. And finally. One of Southeast Asia’s most wanted turned up in Abbottabad a few weeks before the May raid? What were the world’s most wanted man and Indonesia’s most wanted doing in the SAME garrison town? Complete accident? Security failure?

Who knows what the future holds. Economic Security is National Security and the two cannot be separated. The finances of The United States are completely insane at the moment. Barring a complete financial collapse, it seems that many people in Pakistan seem to forget that unless the world stops, there will be life after 2014. A good place to start would be the suspension of all Pakistani students currently in The United States on Student Visas. After all if we’re that hated then there is no point in having any exchanges at all. If the people feel that way they should refrain from being around such a hostile and ruthless entity as The United States. If the future is to be dominated by China and we will all be just spectators then there is no point of any student, cultural, or diplomatic exchanges. . .

Matt
January 31, 2012 at 01:41

What about the elephant in the room? Usama was protected by the ISI and this is why the civilian govt. in Pakistan was ready to get rid of the military govt. which was and IS still supporting them.

Usama was found in Islamabad NOT Kabul! Gee…I wonder where Al Zawahiri is???

Pakistan will remain a threat to world peace as long as they remain on the side of terrorists and engaged in their Jihad. Hopefully some day they will acknowledge their dumb strategy has failed. The US will never leave Afghanistan totally…Pakistan will be forced to deal with the US for decades to come…it will be interesting and dangerous as hell for them.

ariel
January 30, 2012 at 16:44

Foreign troops in Afghanistan came to be stationed post-9/11. Pakistan has always engaged in sponsoring terror groups against India pre-9/11. Taliban which came into power in Afghanistan was Pak’s creation. Pak Army and the ISI have used terror elements against both India and Afghanistan, particularly, when the government in Kabul was India-friendly or neutral. They have openly said that groups like LeT and Haqqani network were Pakistan’s strategic assets. So Pak cannot now turn around and say that foreign troops in Afghanistan are a destabilizing factor.

No government or single leader in Pakistan can deliver the country from evil influence of Islamist terror. Jihadism was injected by an evil President called Zia-ul-Haq in the late seventies. Pak polity needs to recognise this fact, instead of denying it and then must take harsh steps including reforming education imparted in madrassas to stamp out the evil influence of religious fanaticism. Today, these steps do not appear anywhere in the horizon.

Yura
January 29, 2012 at 15:11

Leonard R. wrote: “Who will the Taliban turn their guns on after the US leaves?
Will they lay them down and return to herding goats and growing opium? Personally, I think they’ll start fighting the government of Pakistan.”
_________________________________________________________________________________
Yura’s reply: That is very much likely and can’t be ruled out, but the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is the single biggest destabilizing influence on the entire region and that is what gives the (Pakistani) Taliban their breathing and operating space. The terrorists attacking Pakistan all do so from their bases and safe havens on the Afghan side of the border where they operate freely without pressure from NATO/ISAF troops. In the event of 1) the complete withdrawal of all US forces (including JSOC and private contractors) and 2) a reasonable, negotiated region-wide settlement of the Afghan conflict, the scope and capability of the anti-Pakistan Taliban’s operations will be reduced drastically. Pakistan has already been quite successful at reining them in through a combination of military operations, economic development and political settlements with local tribes. What’s missing is tough action on the Afghan side of the border.

Re: Afghan Taliban, Pakistan is no longer interested in seeing them take full control of Afghanistan like they did pre-9/11. A more balanced political order in that country, with representation of all local and regional players, is the only feasible way to keep a check on the Taliban as well as their rival factions, while the new future Afghan leadership can also rein in Pakistani intervention by addressing Islamabad’s security concerns vis a vis Kabul.

Yura
January 28, 2012 at 16:21

The article says: “Anti-U.S. feeling is strong in Pakistan ever since the killing of Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan refuge, something that caused major embarrassment to the military establishment and its intelligence service, the ISI.”
_________________________________________________________________________________

Yura’s reply: Not true. Anti-US feelings have been strong in Pakistan since 3 months earlier when CIA contractor Raymond Davis murdered 2 Pakistanis in their own country and his partners killed a third one (an innocent bystander) before Davis was arrested by the country’s police and his cellphone was found to contain photos of sensitive Pakistani installations on the Indian border as well as record of contact with Islamist terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Then the US threw its entire national pride and force behind this man, going so far as to claim diplomatic immunity for him – Obama himself called him “our diplomat in Pakistan” – until he turned out to be, well, most certainly NOT a diplomat. Then just a day after his release a US drone deliberately zapped 40 people in the tribal areas that were known to be civilians, and the entire fiasco led to the ISI starting to purge Pakistan of the US’ spy network within the country.

On the whole, Pakistan’s current government is already completely reviewing its relations with the US, and reportedly the new relationship will be entirely transactional, with reduced scope for US operations inside the country; NATO supply routes will be re-opened but tariffs will be imposed for their use. Re: corruption, Imran Khan is definitely promising more than he can deliver, it is so deeply entrenched in the entire nation it can only be removed over a long time with much agony. I don’t think he has diagnosed the country’s problems correctly and so far we have yet to see what real strategies and plans he has for solving them.

Leonard R.
January 28, 2012 at 11:17

Who will the Taliban turn their guns on after the US leaves?
Will they lay them down and return to herding goats and growing opium?

Personally, I think they’ll start fighting the government of Pakistan.

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