Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pakistanis See US as the Biggest Threat

As Mr. Obama met with his national security advisers for three hours to discuss Pakistan today, there was mounting opposition in Pakistan to the terms of the just approved Kerry-Lugar Bill offering $1.5 billion a year in US aid for the next five years. The US media reports suggest that the opposition is coming mainly from the powerful Pakistani military. However, it appears from a recent Gallup poll that there is growing distrust of the United States among ordinary Pakistanis as well. What seems to be adding fuel to the fire are the language and the conditions in the US aid bill that hold Pakistan implicitly responsible for all acts of terror in its neighborhood. Specifically, the bill, also known as the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, says as follows: "... ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against the United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, or against the territory or people of neighboring countries; (B) preventing al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, from operating in the territory of Pakistan, including carrying out cross-border attacks into neighbouring countries, closing terrorist camps in the Fata, dismantling terrorist bases of operations in other parts of the country, including Quetta and Muridke, and taking action when provided with intelligence about high-level terrorist targets."

It is widely believed that, by accepting this aid package, Pakistani government is endorsing the bill's offensive language and accepting the terrorism allegations and humiliating conditions, while paving the way for a much larger US footprint in Pakistan that will undermine its sovereignty.

The Gallup poll exclusively done for Aljazeera TV and released in August shows that 59% of Pakistanis believe that the US is the biggest threat to Pakistan, followed by India(18%) and Taliban (11%) as much lesser threats. Fully 67% of the people oppose the US drone attacks against Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan.

The fear of the growing US presence in the region does not mean that people support the Taliban, as 41% of them favor the Pakistani military operation against the Taliban while 24% oppose it. Support for the military against the Taliban is the strongest among Sindhis at 64%, followed by 50% among Urdu-speaking Mohajirs and 49% among Pushtoons. Only 28% of Punjabis support the military operation but a smaller 25% oppose it. The people of the most populous province of Punjab appear to be the most divided on this issue, which is also in line with only 31% support for military operation among those identifying with Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

In addition to the bad economy impacting many people, the fact that President Asif Ali Zardari is seen as caving in to the US demands is hurting his popularity. Only 11% approve of him while a whopping 42% think he is doing a bad job.

The Gallup results are also confirmed by a more recent IRI survey results in Pakistan. The survey released in early October by the International Republican Institute, a non-profit group promoting democracy whose board is headed by Senator John McCain, found that Pakistanis remained sharply critical of US military efforts.

Eighty percent of Pakistanis disagreed with cooperation with the United States on the "war on terror," a figure that shot up 19 points since March, the survey said.

At the same time, 86 percent agreed that Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants posed a problem for Pakistan and more than two-thirds supported a recent Pakistani army offensive on extremists.

In one of the sharpest swings, the polls showed that Pakistanis were growing increasingly pessimistic about their own economic futures. Some 58 percent of Pakistanis expected their economic situations to worsen in the coming year, up from 36 percent in March, it said.

It appears that the whole process by which the US aid package has been handled by the US and Pakistani governments is proving to be counterproductive, jeopardizing the chances of peace and stability in the region. Not only has it angered both the military and the public in Pakistan, it has the potential of seriously hurting political stability in Pakistan, further diminishing the chances of economic recovery in the near future, and it is reducing the probability of success against the perpetrators of terror. In sensitive relationships like the one between US and Pakistan, there should have been a lot more quite diplomacy and much less public display of the US pressure and growing presence in Pakistan.

Rather than further inflame the already explosive situation by unnecessary rhetoric, it is time for both governments to try and salvage the relationship, and their common fight against the terrorists, by engaging in serious damage control on both sides.

Related Links:

Kerry-Lugar Bill

Pakistani Foreign Minister Speaks to Council on Foreign Relations

IRI Poll

Gallup-Aljazeera Poll

US Aid to Pakistan

US Push to Expand in Pakistan Meets Resistance

Turning Pakistan into a Client State

Unraveling the Kerry-Lugar Controversy


Moin said...


Understandably the Pak Military is upset with the Obama Plan that is looking to cut down on the strong role the military plays in Pakistan Politics and affairs. In fact the Military is like a shadow government behind the real Government. Even though Obama Plan is right about curbing the role of the Military its motives and timing are misplaced. Given the condition Pakistan is in and the corruption of the Politicians that is so rampant without a strong Military Pakistan will not survive.

Riaz Haq said...


Zardari's singular focus on getting US aid regardless of conditions is backfiring. At the moment, the military is far more aligned with the public opinion, as expressed in two recent polls by Gallup and IRI.

Given the choice between trusting the military and trusting Zardari, I think most people choose to trust the military. Many Pakistanis genuinely fear that Zardari will not hesitate in selling out the nation for his own benefit.

Anonymous said...

as an indian my question is that why is Pakistan in such a deep financial mess that it has to depend on aid from US to save itself from bankruptcy. If no need of aid, no need to take dictations from USA.
Each and every aid from USA comes with strings attached.

Suhail said...


I think military would be first Pakistani institution to have read and discussed the K-L bill. None of the parliamentarians would have read and understood what is in there, least of all Yousuf Raza Gilani. The ones in the government would be supporting it because their leaders are doing so while the opposition ones ridiculing it because they want to damage the standing of the govt to gain cheap popularity. Another clear example of the hazards of our democratic dispensation to the country.

Shams said...


All emotions aside, the stated goals of the EPPA 962ES are pretty darn good (section 5). It is also a fact that in the past, Pakistani military officials, politicians and bureaucrats have all stolen aid funds, and a donor's oversight on allocations is called for. On that basis, I can support this act. Hopefully it will fix things for the long run as well.

As to your comments regarding accepting responsibilities, isn't it a fact that Mumbai attackers were all Pakistani punjabis? Or that ISI is fully supporting Jaish and Lashkar?

The issues that the army is up against is section 6 of the EP Act that gives Hillary an open hand into investigation of what Pakistani military is doing. But that is irrelevant to the aid under the EPPA because sec 6 does not affect the $1.5B available under it. Pakistan will not get the aid packages under acts listed therein regardless of whether Pakistan gets EPPA aid or not.

I personally know Haqqani (Pakistan's ambassador to the US, he was my brother's class fellow at National College in Karachi). Even if nobody else read the bill, he did, and he is supporting it.

I am sure Zardari is a very smart man. He probably suggested some of the terms of the EPPA. He can always take the first year's $1.5B and then hand Hillary his d---, thus dumping the next years' aid.

Anonymous said...

corrupt leaders like zardari are looking to hedge in case things go wrong and army needs to intervene by weakening army. it is really a treasonous behavior. I think he is trying his luck and getting bad advice from his cronies. With current patronage based political system and yes men cabinet, head of majority party is no different than a dictator.

Riaz Haq said...

Foreign aid is never offered as charity. There is always a quid pro quo. The Americans know it, as do Pakistanis.

The polls clearly show that most Pakistanis want the Pak military to fight the Taliban. This Kerry-Lugar bill language and rhetoric distracts from that focus on the war against the Talibs and brings the US in focus as hostile to Pakistan, as perceived by the people and military there.

But the way this aid package been handled is going to to get in the way of achieving major US and Pakistani objectives in the region....fighting the common enemy of both, the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Anonymous said...


Is it a problem of america or pakistan. America can clearly let go the taliban like how it swallowed their defect in vietnam when there is no choice

But can pakistan live wit the taliban ?

Anonymous said...

Fun is pakistan complains that india fiddles around its territory with fake taliaban attacks.

US conditions unsettle Pak

New Delhi: Even though the July 2008 blast on the Indian embassy in Kabul claimed five times the number of victims in the latest blast, no organisation had come out to take responsibility . The US and India had both unearthed enough evidence then to suggest the attack was carried out by the Jalaluddin Haqqani faction of Taliban at the behest of ISI. Haqqanis son Sirajuddin was accused of that attack.
According to strategic affairs analyst Brahma Chellaney , the attack was carried out by the same forces who executed last years blast and it seemed to be a manifestation of the disquiet in the Pakistani establishment over US President Barack Obamas latest thrust in the war on terror . It is quite deliberate the way they have claimed responsibility . The timing of the latest attack is very important and it suggests that this too has been executed by the perpetrators of last years attacks including the ISI. It comes at a time when President Obama has initiated his two-prong policy in the regionwar in Afghanistan and aid surge in Pakistan, said Chellaney.
The New York Times reported on Thursday about the restlessness in the Pakistan military establishment over the manner in which the recent American legislation on aid to Pakistan impinged on Pakistans sovereignty. This includes asking Pakistan to take action against terror groups.
It is well known that there is a debate on between members of the Senate and House in the US on the kind of conditions introduced in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill on aid to Pakistan. While some Senate members have argued that the conditions should not defeat the purpose of creating goodwill for the US in Pakistan , House members have maintained that such conditions would help further US counter-terror goals. According to experts, the latest blast could be an attempt to influence this debate. TNN

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting critique of Kerry-Lugar by Nasim Zehra published in the News today:

Jus days before the US President Barack Hussain Obama will be signing the Kerry-Lugar bill thus turning it into law, Pakistan's political parties have woken up to the problems that it may pose -- a late awakening to say the least. For the past one year, the controversial contents of the Kerry-Lugar bill have been widely known. Equally, in the recent months, it was clear that the House and Senate were not quite biting into Pakistani criticism of the bill. Throughout this period, the government seems to have made no transparent attempt to force a change in the text of the bill. The issues that the text of the bill raised and ones that were to negatively affect the Pakistan-US bilateral relationship were neither discussed in any cabinet meeting, defence committee of the cabinet nor in the parliament. Even the opposition, other than making rhetorical statements regarding the bill never brought up the issue properly.
Government attempts were made at an individual level � for example, Pakistan's Ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani -- to lobby for change in the bill. However, such attempts did not really help. The government argues that the removal of the words 'India' and 'A Q Khan', through Pakistan's lobbying, from the text must be appreciated. Other relative 'pluses' in the bill , government representatives argue, include the bringing down of the level of certification, on the conditionalities clause, from the president to secretary of state. From Pakistan's perspective, this is an inconsequential change as long as the certification clauses remain. Also we are told that the waiver clause means that the US President can waive conditions. Yes, but those conditions will be waived in US's national interest, and not when Pakistan needs it, as was done in the case of the Pressler Amendment.

On the removal of the demand that the US government has "direct access" to A Q Khan, the fact is that it has been replaced by a wider net of "direct access to Pakistani national associated with such networks." Significantly, the bill goes beyond supplier networks and factors in involved in "networks relating to acquisition of nuclear weapons related materials." This could include those working to acquire nuclear technology for Pakistan's own nuclear programme.

Similarly, the conditionality on combating terrorism goes into intrusive details of what Pakistan is required to do. Pakistan's battle against terrorism cannot be designed according to Washington, New Delhi and Kabul's threat perception. The bill essentially declares Pakistan the hub of terrorism that has hit the entire region and puts the onus of fighting terrorism on Pakistan.

The strategic plan mentioned in the bill highlights Pakistan as the hub of terrorism in the region by stating that US President Obama will, along with Delhi and Kabul, side with Islamabad on its counter-terrorism policy. Clearly instead of dealing with the problem and the causes simultaneously to make headway in regional cooperation and fighting terrorism, the bill essentially pampers the Indian position on terrorism. Such a bill encourages India to continue with its rejectionist approach to bilateral dialogue.

As for democracy, if the bill had stated aid cut-off in case of a coup, it would have been an acceptable clause but to assign to Washington the role of monitoring if the Pakistan army is interfering in the country's judicial and democratic process is unacceptable. The issue is genuine but the mandate illegitimate.

Riaz Haq said...

In an interview on NPR Radio's Talk of the Nation today, President Musharraf said he sides with the Pakistani military in its anger over the conditions that could be attached to a U.S. aid bill that would triple the amount of development funding to $1.5 billion a year.

Pakistani military officials have complained that the bill, co-authored by Sens. John Kerry and Richard Lugar, contains "humiliating" conditions. The bill stipulates, for instance, that the money could dry up if Pakistan fails to fight militants, including Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in the tribal regions along the Afghan border.

The measure would also require Pakistan to provide information about networks that have supplied nuclear technology to other nations. That is a reference to Pakistan's nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who was accused of selling his country's nuclear technology to countries such as Libya, Iran and North Korea.

Musharraf complained repeatedly that although Pakistan has been touted as America's most important ally in the fight against terrorist groups, "this most important ally is being treated with suspicion. We must be treated with trust and cooperation."

Anonymous said...

People are judged by the action and not by their intention.

Actions of pakistan might not be paltable for usa and israel who is concerned about the proliferation in middle east.

It is an open secret that isreal has enough influence over the usa administration.

Anonymous said...


I think if we are have accepted the democracy then I feel, army has no right in opposing this bill once it is accpeted by elected leaders .. This bill should be put in our parliament if all agrees, it should be accepted endorsing public opinion else reject it .. but we should not reject it based on Army's opinion .. Army even do not have right to give opinion on it .. Today's dawn editorial "Between the lines" is really good on this ..

Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis of this trend of pakistan seeing usa as a bigger threat than india.

anoop said...

It is a legislation passed by the US congress and it took one and half years or more. The text of the legislation was available online for more than a year and was revised continuously. Paksitan has 2 choices.
1) Accept it and confess to the whole world of Pakistan's mischief'.
2) Reject it and Push the economy into a financial dark hole.
Quite Simple actually.
Pakistan has in the past supplied nuke knowhow to other countries,supported terror against its neighbours,there is no civilian supremacy in Pakistan. All the bill does is point this out.
It asks Pakistanis to root out terror groups. Probably, the thorn in the flesh is the mention of Lashkar-i-Toiba. As we all know LeT is a ISI stooge. As a result the army is miffed at being asked to discontinue this unholy relationship.
Pakistan is not in any position to pick and choose. Pakistan considers Saudi Arabia and China to be friends but sadly these so-called friends are not as generous as the "evil" USA.
China has forex reserve of $2 Trillion. Cant it spare some change to its best friend??? Come ooon!

Look at India, even though we have a forex reserve only half as that of China, we have given Afghanistan,our friend, 1.5 Billion dollars. We have helped them build dams,roads,hospitals,schools,etc. We have even provided them with Buses to help with public transport in Afghanistan. Too bad Paksitan cannot tell which of its friends to trust and which not to.. I would advice the Pakistani govt to go and beg the Chinese and ask the "brotherly" Saudis to lend some money..
Look at Saudi Arabia to whom Pakistanis profess undying love and affection. It has given peanuts when it comes to aid. With such large oil reserves and forex reserves you expected a Muslims country to help out a fellow muslim country. But, the truth is there is no concept called the Muslim "ummah". Pakistan demonstrated this when it went on a rampage against Muslim Bangladeshis in 1970-71. Pak army looted,raped and murdered Bangladeshis who are Muslims. Saudis have just reinforced the fact that there is no such thing as the "ummah".

maaran said...

The biggest Threat to Pakistan is its Army. It acts like a state inside a state. If military has a role to play in policy making, peace and prosperity for civilians will never be its priority. To move towards long term peace and prosperity, Pakistanis need access to better education.

Riaz Haq said...

maaran: "The biggest Threat to Pakistan is its Army. It acts like a state inside a state. If military has a role to play in policy making, peace and prosperity for civilians will never be its priority."

I totally disagree. Pakistani military is much more representative of the people and much more rooted among the poor and the middle classes than the corrupt feudal politicians of Pakistan.

Pakistani Military runs schools, clinics and many industries which serve the people and give the military establishment a stake in the economic well-being of the people.

maran: "To move towards long term peace and prosperity, Pakistanis need access to better education."

I totally agree. And again, the military is more transparent and much less corrupt in building the educational infrastructure than the civilian politicians or the bureaucracy in Pakistan.

Anonymous said...


If you think that army is transparent why did mush walk away in favour of the so called democratic forces.

Why is kayani not overthrowing the democracy to form a dictator ship inspite of all irritation by zardari and his cronies.

My friend logistics are in the hands of USA and West. China is a unreliable friend for anybody. Military require the support of the western countries for maintainenace of all these gizmos.

Riaz Haq said...

The Times of India is reporting as follows:

The knives are out for Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi after it has emerged that his son was working in the office
of US senator John Kerry, co-author of the legislation which has caused immense heartburn in Pakistan because of its “insulting tone” and “humiliating language” while disbursing a $ 7.5 billion aid.

Zain H Qureshi served as an intern in Kerry’s Washington office during an unspecified period when the bill was being readied, according to reports that first surfaced online and was subsequently confirmed by the Senator’s aides.

It is not clear if Qureshi jr was in any way associated with the crafting of the bill, being a relatively junior aide, but the very fact that he worked in the office of the senator who produced such a controversial legislation, widely seen in Pakistan as undermining its military, has inflamed pro-military Pakistani circles.

Charges of treachery and subversion are flying around online where angry Pakistanis, passing around young Qureshi’s business card listing him as a “Legislative Fellow” in Kerry’s office, are saying the foreign minister’s position has become untenable. “Joe Biden’s son, Beau, recently spent a year in combat in Iraq. Why not send Zain Qureshi to Waziristan?” one cybernaut tweeted angrily.

Suhail said...

In the aftermath of the KL Bill, the striking fact emerging is that Army is a more popular entity in Pakistan than any political party. Since Army expressed reservations on the bill in the corps commanders conference, all political parties and media started hyping the same theme. However, since Army did not present a totally negative view but only gave some reservations while accepting the US aid medium as a positive one for Pakistan in principle, the criticism has remained very muted and by and large ineffective. The lesson to learn is that when Army is in power, they should not try to bring their rule into political framework or pretend to do so. They should clearly declare themselves as the ruling entity with the prime objectives as a) economic revamp/ uplift of the country to make it sustainable and b) securing the country within its present frontiers by acting against extremist and separatist elements. Rest of the affairs can be under a democratic dispensation thus enabling a practical system that can work unidirectionally in the forward direction. The two objectives are in fact very logical to adopt for the Army for its own selfish interest also, as economic uplift means more funds for its sustenance while continuation of the Pakistani entity assures a place for them in the country's political dispensation. I think Musharraf lost out for the same reason, else there was no serious public reaction against his government, like the PNA one against Bhutto.

Riaz Haq said...

Kamran Khan of the News sees Zardari's dwindling influence and rising power of PM Gilani:

President Zardari’s political problems are compounding rapidly as the key players, such as the Army, the judiciary and political allies who had facilitated Zardari’s ascent to the presidency despite PPP’s lack of majority in parliament last year are now having second thought that borders on repenting their earlier decision to let Zardari combine the powers of the supreme commander of the armed forces, the president and the PPP chief in one office.

Dwindling faith in President Zardari’s capacity to act as a neutral, corruption-free, nationally respected leader of Pakistan waned further early this month when the Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI), a pro-democracy group financed by the US government, reported in an in-depth survey that only about two in 10 Pakistanis carry any favourable opinion about President Zardari.

As opposed to President Zardari’s terrible approval rating, the same IRI survey revealed that a big majority of Pakistanis, close to nine out of 10, hold the institution of the Pakistan Army in the highest esteem followed by the judiciary that won the support of seven out of 10 Pakistanis.

Immediate concern facing President Zardari, knowledgeable officials and a personal aide said, is not his sinking public image but the growing unease in relations with an increasingly assertive Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Gilani now wants unhindered authority on matters of government that include foreign relations, meaning no role for president in the external and national security affairs of the state. The prime minister, enjoying full confidence of the military leadership and the cabinet, has set on an independent course, often confronting President Zardari’s closest allies like in November last year when he removed the president’s blue-eyed retired civil servant Salman Faruqi from the important post of deputy chairman Planning Commission.

He followed that by sacking Mahmood Ali Durrani, the president’s handpicked national security adviser in January this year, and reinforced his position by neglecting Zardari’s preference for Dr Shoaib Suddle, a professional police official as the head of Intelligence Bureau, who was replaced by Javed Noor, an equally honourable professional police officer in May this year.

Gilani went on to consolidate his image of an independent and assertive prime minister in August this year when he asked President Zardari’s closest friend and important associate Dr Asim Hussain to resign as the prime minister’s adviser on petroleum and natural resources. And early this month, he sacked Latif Khosa, President Zardari’s nominated attorney general of Pakistan, whose case of allegedly accepting Rs 3 million as bribe was referred to him by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

“The president fully understands that all critical actors of power play in Pakistan, along with almost full spectrum of political parties, are putting their act together to launch a final salvo against him soon,” conceded a personal friend and a close aide to President Zardari.

anoop said...

Regarding your zardari comment. Riaz, in Paksitan what ever may be the case nobody can yield more power than the army.. everybody knows that.. Zardari at one point of time will have to clip his own wings or the army will do it for him..

Riaz Haq said...

Speaking to Pakistani newspaper editors in Lahore on Thursday evening, she said she found it hard to believe that nobody in the Pakistani government knew where al-Qaeda was hiding in the country and "couldn't get them" if they wanted.

In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Clinton clarified her comments and the US view of the Pakistan government's commitment to combating militancy.

"Of course we are very encouraged to see what the government is doing. At the same time, it is just a fact that al-Qaeda had sought refuge in Pakistan after the US and our allies went after them because of the attack on 9/11," she said.

The fact is that ISI has caught many time more real al Qaeda terrorists and leaders, and more Pakistani soldiers and civilians have died in the real war on terror than soldiers and civilians from all of the other nations combined and Pakistan and Pakistanis have been the biggest victims of terror in this century.

Yet, it is surprising to hear Hilary Clinton complaining about Pakistan's role in hunting al Qaeda.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a BBC report providing a glimpse of India lobby's work in Washington:

The recent US foreign aid bill for Pakistan is a good example. Pro-India groups lobbied hard for all sorts of conditions to be inserted into the bill.

Sanjay Puri was part of this campaign. This was not about supporting India's interests, he insists, and neither was it motivated by hostility towards Pakistan.

"Our activities are not aimed against the people of Pakistan or against the State of Pakistan," he told me.

"It is about accountability and transparency. We are very active in making sure that when US taxpayers' money is being spent, especially in these difficult economic times, there has to be a level of transparency."

The Indian-American community, he told me, "is supportive of aid that relates to democracy in Pakistan, education, reforms progress on women's rights and so on".

"But if Pakistan says that it needs F16 jets to hunt down terrorists," he adds, "I don't think the average American is going to buy that."

For a referee in this struggle, I turned to Professor Walter Andersen, director of the South Asia programme at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

A former diplomat, he has watched the development of these US-based lobbying groups with great interest.

The galvanising event he told me, was the struggle over the US-India nuclear deal which came to a head in 2008.

The US wanted to help India with civil nuclear technology but was prevented from doing so by legislation banning the export of fuel or know-how to any country that had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. So the Bush administration sought to make an exception for India.

"The Bush team very smartly contacted the India lobby," Professor Andersen told me, "and worked very closely with it."

The US Chamber of Commerce and its India section also got involved because of the prospect of business.

"So you had American business interests, the administration and the Indian-American lobby all very actively pushing for this. There was a lot of opposition. In some ways it went down to the wire," he noted, "but their persistent effort paid off."

Riaz Haq said...

Hillary met a number of Pak journalists, including Najam Sethi who revealed what she said in the end:

"Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami asked her why there were so many conditions in Kerry-Lugar, but none in the aid to Israel?

Hilary said there were also many conditions on the Israel aid, but they don't meet many of those, but still the aid continues. Depends on circumstances prevailing at the time of certifications."

What she meant was that Pakistan should just take the money first, and worry about the conditions later. These don't count to anything and if Pakistan does not comply, it would already have received some tranches and the money may still keep flowing through Presidential waivers!

Riaz Haq said...

A Washington publication the Hill" has a report on Pak Ambassador Haqqani's "candid assessment" of US-Pak relations:

Husain Haqqani offered a candid assessment of where Pakistan stands at my IFE / INFO Global Connections Public Policy Roundtable last Friday. In addition to being Pakistan’s youngest ambassador to the U.S., Haqqani was a strong advocate of the late Benazir Bhutto, who stood as a symbol of democracy in a country where dictatorship has long prevailed. 

Pakistanis, Haqqani noted, believe that the U.S. has long used their country, not engaged it. Hillary Clinton’s trip there was significant to the extent that they saw a different side of our country. In attending town halls and visiting colleges and universities, she tried to demonstrate that the U.S. is genuinely concerned with Pakistan’s welfare. Polls showed that Pakistani approval ratings of the U.S. went up by 7 percent after her visit. Unfortunately, though, one high-profile visit is unlikely to do much, because many of the country’s woes are historically rooted. Pakistanis had no idea what suicide bombers were prior to 9/11. The U.S. supported radical Islamists in their fight against the Soviet Union, but it’s precisely those Islamists who are now waging jihad across the globe, including in Pakistan; many Pakistanis regard the Taliban as an existential threat to their country.

Although Pakistan’s economy is back on track (largely due to IMF lending), insecurity limits its ability to achieve sustained economic growth. It shares a border with a hostile neighbor (India), with a desperately poor country in which the Taliban is reasserting its influence (Afghanistan), and with a nation that’s in the midst of tremendous domestic upheaval (Iran). Being in a near-constant struggle against internal and external threats, real and imagined, has its consequences: Pakistan spends far more on defense than education, with the result that the country has only a 38 percent literacy rate. As both Ambassador Said Jawad of Afghanistan and Ambassador Husain Haqqani say, "We live in a dangerous neighborhood."

Haqqani noted that India is perhaps the biggest elephant in the room. Pakistan is wary of the Indo-U.S. relationship, which is robust and multifaceted. He mentioned that India is Boeing’s largest customer, and also that 26 members of the Obama administration are Indian-American; facts like these naturally make Pakistan nervous.

As much as it’s concerned with India, Pakistan is also anxious to see how its relationship with the U.S. evolves. Haqqani noted that Pakistanis want to receive credit for their counterterrorism efforts; Pakistan has killed or captured more al Qaeda leaders than has any other country. He concluded by saying that the U.S. won’t truly be able to win hearts and minds there until it adopts a more comprehensive engagement strategy — one that has a political element and a socioeconomic element. Haqqani encouraged American companies to invest in Pakistan, offering a Thomas Friedman-like thought that Pakistanis need to be making boxer shorts for Wal-Mart, not boxes of bombs.

Whether or not that hope is realized will depend a lot on how Pakistan’s military fares against the Taliban. Let’s hope that it succeeds.

Kathy Kemper is founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a nonprofit foundation that recognizes and promotes leadership and civility locally, nationally and in the world community.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story about Helen Thomas' persistence in seeking answers on the core question as to "why do they want to harm us?"

After Obama briefly addressed L'Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote "must do better" on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas to break through the vapid remarks about channeling "intelligence streams," fixing "no-fly" lists, deploying "behavior detection officers," and buying more body-imaging scanners.

Thomas recognized the John & Janet filibuster for what it was, as her catatonic press colleagues took their customary dictation and asked their predictable questions. Instead, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.

She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did.

Thomas: "Why do they want to do us harm? And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why."

Brennan: "Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents... They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he's (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death."

Thomas: "And you're saying it's because of religion?"

Brennan: "I'm saying it's because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way."

Thomas: "Why?"

Brennan: "I think this is a - long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland."

Thomas: "But you haven't explained why."

Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how evil al Qaeda continues to pervert a religion and entice and exploit impressionable young men.

There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is Tariq Ramadan writing about his travel ban and subsequent lifting of the ban by the US in Newsweek:

It was hardly a fight I had expected. Less than a year earlier, the State Department had invited me to speak in Washington, D.C., and introduced me as a "moderate" Muslim intellectual who denounced terrorism and attacks against civilians. Now it was banning me from U.S. soil under a provision of the Patriot Act that allows for "ideological exclusions." My offense, it seemed, had been to forcefully criticize America's support for Israel and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. accused me of endorsing terrorism through my words and funding it through donations to a Swiss charity with alleged ties to Gaza. Civil-liberties groups challenged my case in court for almost six years until, in late January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropped the allegations against me, effectively ending my ban.

In early April I will make my first public appearance in the U.S., at New York City's Cooper Union, participating in a panel discussion about Muslims. While it's a victory of sorts, the fight is not over. Numerous foreign scholars remain banned from U.S. soil. Until the section of the Patriot Act that kept me out of the country is lifted, more people will suffer the same fate. Although the exclusions are carried out in the name of security and stability, they actually threaten both by closing off the open, critical, and constructive dialogue that once defined this country.

In my case, criticizing America's Middle East policies cast doubt on my loyalty to Western values and cost me a job. But prejudice may ultimately cost the U.S. more. By creating divisions and disregarding its values, even in the name of security, America tells the world that it is frightened and unstable—above all, vulnerable. In the long term, it also reinforces the religious, cultural, and social isolation of minority groups, encouraging the very kind of disloyalty that these ideological exclusions are meant to prevent.

It's not the first time America has tried to shield itself from dissenting opinions. During the Cold War, dozens of overseas artists, activists, and intellectuals—including British novelist Doris Lessing, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez—were denied visas because of their left-leaning ideas. Today, though, the American concept of the "other" has taken on a relatively new and specific form: the Muslim. America must face the reality that, in the West, many adherents to Islam demonstrate loyalty to democratic values through criticism. While violence must always be condemned, such debate must be encouraged if those values are to last.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an interesting opinion by Jeffrey Sachs published in Christian Science Monitor:

Those who contend that foreign aid does not work - and cannot work - are mistaken. These skeptics make a career of promoting pessimism by pointing to the many undoubted failures of past aid efforts. But the fact remains that we can help ensure the successful economic development of the poorest countries. We can help them escape from poverty. It's in our national interest to do so.

The first step out of rural poverty almost always involves a boost in food production to end cycles of famine. Asia's ascent from poverty in the last 40 years began with a "green revolution." Food yields doubled or tripled. The Rockefeller Foundation helped with the development and propagation of high-yield seeds, and US aid enabled India and other countries to provide subsidized fertilizer and seeds to impoverished farmers. Once farmers could earn an income, they could move on to small-business development.

A second step out of poverty is an improvement in health conditions, led by improved nutrition, cleaner drinking water, and more basic health services. In the Asian success stories, child mortality dropped sharply, which, in turn, led to smaller families because poor parents gained confidence that their children would survive to adulthood.

The third step is the move from economic isolation to international trade. Chile, for instance, has become the chief source of off-season fruit in the US during the past 20 years by creating highly efficient supply chains. China and India have boomed as exporters of manufacturing goods and services, respectively. In all three, trade linkages were a matter of improved connectivity - roads, power, telecommunications, the Internet, and transport containerization.

Today, the skeptics like to claim that Africa is too far behind, too corrupt, to become a China or India. They are mistaken. An African green revolution, health revolution, and connectivity revolution are all within reach. Engineers and scientists have already developed the needed tools. The Millennium Villages project, which I and a group of colleagues developed, is now rapidly expanding in 10 countries in Africa and is showing that this triple transformation - in improved agriculture, health, and connectivity - is feasible.

Improved seed varieties, fertilizers, irrigation, and trucks have all helped convert famine into bumper crops in just one or two productive growing seasons.

Malaria is under control. Farmers have access to capital to make the change from subsistence to cash crops. Children are being treated for worms and receive a midday meal to help keep them healthy and in school.

Riaz Haq said...

The ISI is hated by Pakistan's enemies mainly because it is the best at what it does in terms of protecting Pakistan interests. Some in the CIA, RAW and Mossad show a natural professional jealousy and envy of the ISI....and they try and slander it as often as they can through their friendly media and its blind followers.

Here's a website "" that ranks as ISI #1 intelligence agency in the world...followed by MOSSAD, MI6, CIA, MSS, BND, FSB, DGSE, RAW and ASIS.

Here's what the website says about ISI:

Formed 1948
Jurisdiction Government of Pakistan
Headquarters Islamabad, Pakistan
Agency executive Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, PA Director General

With the lengthiest track record of success, the best know Intelligence so far on the scale of records is ISI. The Inter-Services Intelligence was created as an independent unit in 1948 in order to strengthen the performance of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Its success in achieving its goal without leading to a full scale invasion of Pakistan by the Soviets is a feat unmatched by any other through out the intelligence world. KGB, The best of its time, failed to counter ISI and protect Soviet interests in Central Asia. This GOLD MEDAL makes it rank higher than Mossad. It has had 0 double agents or Defectors through out its history, considering that in light of the whole war campaign it carried out from money earned by selling drugs bought from the very people it was bleeding, The Soviets. It has protected its Nuclear Weapons since formed and it has foiled Indian attempts to attain ultimate supremacy in the South-Asian theatres through internal destabilization of India. It is above All laws in its host country Pakistan ‘A State, with in a State’. Its policies are made ‘outside’ of all other institutions with the exception of The Army. Its personnel have never been caught on camera. Its is believed to have the highest number of agents worldwide, close to 10,000. The most striking thing is that its one of the least funded Intelligence agency out of the top 10 and still the strongest.

Riaz Haq said...

Taliban see a "windfall" from opposition to mosque near ground zero in NY, according to the following story in Newsweek:

Taliban officials know it’s sacrilegious to hope a mosque will not be built, but that’s exactly what they’re wishing for: the success of the fiery campaign to block the proposed Islamic cultural center and prayer room near the site of the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan. “By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor,” Taliban operative Zabihullah tells NEWSWEEK. (Like many Afghans, he uses a single name.) “It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.”

America’s enemies in Afghanistan are delighted by the vehement public opposition to the proposed “Ground Zero mosque.” The backlash against the project has drawn the heaviest e-mail response ever on jihadi Web sites, Zabihullah claims—far bigger even than France’s ban on burqas earlier this year. (That was big, he recalls: “We received many e-mails asking for advice on how Muslims should react to the hijab ban, and how they can punish France.”) This time the target is America itself. “We are getting even more messages of support and solidarity on the mosque issue and questions about how to fight back against this outrage.”

Zabihullah also claims that the issue is such a propaganda windfall—so tailor-made to show how “anti-Islamic” America is—that it now heads the list of talking points in Taliban meetings with fighters, villagers, and potential recruits. “We talk about how America tortures with waterboarding, about the cruel confinement of Muslims in wire cages in Guantánamo, about the killing of innocent women and children in air attacks—and now America gives us another gift with its street protests to prevent a mosque from being built in New York,” Zabihullah says. “Showing reality always makes the best propaganda.”.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a new poll published by on the unpopularity of US drone attacks in FATA:

LThe CIA can kill militants all day long. If the drone war in Pakistan drives the local people into al Qaeda’s arms, it’ll be failure. A new poll of the Pakistani tribal areas, released this morning, suggests that could easily wind up happening. Chalk one up for drone skeptics like counterinsurgent emeritus David Kilcullen and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden.

Only 16 percent of respondents to a new poll sponsored by the drone-watchers at the New America Foundation say that the drone strikes “accurately target militants.” Three times that number say they “largely kill civilians.”

CIA director Leon Panetta, by contrast, has staunchly defended the drone program as meticulously targeting terrorists. In a war that depends heavily on perceptions, it’s a big discrepancy.

There’s more bad news for Panetta and his boss in the White House. A plurality of respondents in the tribal areas say that the U.S. is primarily responsible for violence in the region. Nearly 90 percent want the U.S. to stop pursuing militants in their backyard and nearly 60 percent are fine with suicide bombings directed at the Americans. That comes as NATO accelerates incursions into Pakistan. Just this morning, it announced that a pursuit of insurgents in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province led to a U.S. helicopter shooting at the militants from Pakistani airspace. Enraged Pakistani officials responded by shutting down a critical NATO supply line into Afghanistan.

Whatever NATO says, very few in the tribal regions are inclined to believe the U.S. is in Afghanistan and occasionally in Pakistan to fight terrorism. They think the U.S. is waging “larger war on Islam or… an effort to secure oil and minerals in the region.”

On the brighter side, wide majorities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas disapprove of al Qaeda (over three-quarters), the Pakistani Taliban (over two-thirds) and the Afghan Taliban (60 percent). There’s also strong support for the Pakistani army: almost 70 percent want the army to directly confront al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region; 79 percent say they wouldn’t mind if the tribal area were run by the army.

Now for the qualifiers. Polling in the conflict-heavy tribal areas is a dicey proposition. A survey last year of the tribal areas published in the Daily Times found that almost two-thirds of respondents wanted the U.S. drone campaign to continue. So either support for the drones has bottomed out or there’s significant methodological discrepancies. The Pakistani firm that actually conducted the new poll of 1000 respondents across 120 FATA villages, the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, has polled the area for years.

Read More

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a recent piece in Newsweek explaining the critical importance of Pakistan for US Afghan campaign:

The events of the past week make clear why the United States has been so solicitous. After a U.S. helicopter attack across the border killed two Pakistani soldiers at a frontier outpost, Islamabad shut down one of the main crossings into Afghanistan in protest. Three quarters of nonlethal supplies intended for Coalition troops in Afghanistan travel through Pakistan. The crossing point quickly clogged with trucks that couldn’t pass, making them easy targets. Militants torched more than 100 fuel tankers as Pakistani authorities largely stood aside and watched.

Impeding supply routes is not the strongest leverage Pakistan can bring to bear. The high-tech drone war that has eviscerated Al Qaeda’s ranks—killing 17 commanders in the last nine months—is run out of Pakistan and is largely dependent on Pakistani intelligence for targeting. Islamabad publicly denies any role in the Predator strikes, and loudly protests the collateral damage when civilians are killed. But it hasn’t grounded the CIA’s drones—so far.

America’s forbearance, though, is waning. In a report sent to Congress on Oct. 4, the Obama administration admitted that “the Pakistan military [has] continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or Al Qaeda forces in North Waziristan.” There is a reason for this—a “political choice,” as the report says. The Pakistani military has long tolerated Afghan insurgents like the Haqqanis, who direct their attacks into Afghanistan only. Those groups—which include the Quetta Shura, led by the one-eyed Mullah Mohammed Omar—are Islamabad’s insurance policy, agents who are meant to look after Pakistani interests when the United States eventually withdraws the bulk of its forces from the region. (Pakistan vehemently denies supporting any militant groups.)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Dawn report on Pakistan's dissatisfaction with KLB follow-up:

ISLAMABAD: In the run-up to the third round of strategic dialogue, Pakistani authorities are getting irritated over the lack of US interest in resolving the country’s long-term regional issues and in providing economic support despite publicly declaring it a key ally in the war on terror and appreciating its sacrifices.

The authorities are also dissatisfied with the ‘triple accounting’ by the United States of its economic assistance to Pakistan, although the overall assistance remained less than $1.5 billion in a year. They also grumble that Pakistan has not been given market access for its products they believe it deserves in comparison to other countries.

“Since our engagement with US after 9/11 about more than nine years ago, the United States has made wide-ranging trading arrangements with Latin American countries, African nations and even some states in the Middle East but greater market access to Pakistan still remains far off,” said a government official.

Officials said that these were some of the issues Pakistani delegation led by Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani would raise again with the US authorities as part of the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue to be held in Washington next week.

“The US actions and assurances do not match when it comes to Pakistan’s role and returns it should get,” the official said.

In background discussions, the official said the US leadership never missed an opportunity to assure Islamabad how central they considered a stable Pakistan to achieve global and regional peace and yet they looked the other way when the government discussed US role in resolving a ‘proxy water war launched by India’ besides the longstanding Kashmir issue that was the key to regional stability.

They said India had launched a full-scale water aggression against Pakistan by initiating a number of controversial projects on rivers allocated to Pakistan under the 1960 waters treaty.

Pakistan wanted the US to play its role in addressing its concerns, they said.

They said these irritants had repeatedly been discussed with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s special envoy Richard Holbrooke but without any tangible progress beyond diplomatic pleasantries. They, however, agree that the US has moved in appreciating Pakistan’s concerns relating to the Afghan situation.

Sources said the United States had committed to provide $7.5 billion assistance in five years to Islamabad under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act at the rate of $1.5 billion in a year.

As part of Friends of Democratic Pakistan, the United States had assured last year to help Pakistan overcome its economic problems by offering more assistance but “when we got back to the US authorities for follow up, we realised that its pledges at FoDP were part of its earlier commitments made under the KLB Act”.

The flood-related US support, the sources said, also came under the KLB amount of $1.5 billion a year.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting discussion on channeling foreign aid through government vs non-government orgs in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD // Growing international aid flows into terrorism-torn Pakistan are vulnerable to widespread abuse because of endemic nepotism within the government and domestic non-government organisations, according to non-profit sector insiders. The threat is exacerbated by negligent management by international donors, whose ability to audit projects is limited both by security-related restrictions on the movement of personnel and their susceptibility to elitist social circles dominated by their clientele, NGO managers and consultants said in a series of interviews.

NGOs emerged as an alternative recipient of foreign aid to Pakistan in the late 1980s, following the withdrawal of Soviet occupation forces from neighbouring Afghanistan and decreasing US funds, and became the preferred recipients as relations between the government and its erstwhile allies deteriorated in the 1990s. The role of the NGOs increased as civil war flared in Afghanistan and more refugees poured into Pakistan. However, many NGOs were formed not by idealists, but "by well-educated people with social and political connections," said Arshed Bhatti, an Islamabad-based consultant to NGOs .

Often, they are relatives and cronies of military officers, politicians, civil servants and judges that "invest in 5-to-9pm socialising [with Pakistani and foreign officials], and execute the agreements the next 9am-to-5pm", he said. Subsequently, a large chunk of funding keeps going to the same people, who take two bites at foreign funding by forming their own NGOs and working as lobbyists for others, Mr Bhatti said.

Research by The National revealed numerous examples of human rights NGOs with trustees who are senior government functionaries, including serving federal and provincial ministers, all of whom are in a position to lobby for and secure funding from both international donors and the Pakistani government. Baber Javed, programme manager for the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy, which certifies corporate social responsibility initiatives for the government, said problems within the non-profit sector were largely attributable to the restrictive practices of major international NGOs, including the humanitarian arms of the United Nations.

He said those big players had each developed pools of four or five local NGOs, and worked exclusively with them, leading to an elite grouping of some 40 to 50 organisations. That compares to 95,000 total NGOs in Pakistan, of which 65,000 were officially registered, according to a 2001 study published by Johns Hopkins University. Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a Lahore-based NGO, said the Pakistani government's funding of NGOs was particularly questionable....

Riaz Haq said...

The $20m grant by USAID for Pakistani version of Sesame Street is part of $1.5 billion a year Kerry-Lugar Bill passed last year. Most of the $1.5 billion has not been disbursed, according to a piece in Foreign Policy Magazine:

U.S. economic aid to Pakistan, which totals over $1.5 billion per year, is a key part of the Obama administration's strategy to strengthen the U.S.-Pakistan strategic partnership. However, most of the aid that was allocated for last year is still in U.S. government coffers.

Only $179.5 million out of $1.51 billion in U.S. civilian aid to Pakistan was actually disbursed in fiscal 2010, the Government Accountability Office stated in a report released last week. Almost all of that money was distributed as part of the Kerry-Lugar aid package passed last year.

$75 million of those funds were transferred to bolster the Benazir Income Support Program, a social development program run by the Pakistani government. Another $45 million was given to the Higher Education Commission to support "centers of excellence" at Pakistani universities; $19.5 million went to support Pakistan's Fulbright Scholarship program; $23.3 million went to flood relief; $1.2 billion remains unspent.

None of the funds were spent to construct the kind of water, energy, and food infrastructure that former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) Richard Holbrooke advocated for diligently when he was the lead administration official in charge of managing the money. Moreover, according to the report, the Obama administration hasn't yet set up the mechanisms to make sure the money isn't misspent.
"While the facts of the GAO report are accurate, it doesn't reflect the big picture nor adequately represent what we've achieved with civilian assistance over the last year," said Jessica Simon, a spokesperson for the SRAP office. "As the FY 2010 funding was appropriated in April 2010, it is hardly surprising that only a portion of the funding was disbursed by the end of the year."

Simon said that in total, the U.S. government has disbursed $878 million of Pakistan-specific assistance since October 2009, which includes over $514 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the devastating July 2010 floods.

The floods also slowed the progress of the Kerry-Lugar program, Sen. John Kerry's spokesman Frederick Jones told The Cable.

"The floods last summer changed the Pakistani landscape, literally and figuratively, and required us to take a step back and reexamine all of our plans," Jones said. "Bureaucracies move slowly and redirecting aid at this level requires time and some patience. It is difficult to allocate billions of dollars in a responsible way without proper vetting, which takes time."

Experts note that the disparity between U.S. promises to Pakistan and funds delivered is a constant irritant in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

"There are always complaints and in terms of the delays there are pretty valid reasons on both sides," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. He said that Congress's requirement that the money be tracked and accounted for is a source of contention.

"For a long time the U.S. didn't ask any questions about the money. And so it became a bit of a shock," he said.

The GAO has long called for better oversight of the funds, especially in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This lack of accountability is what spurred Congress to mandate better oversight of the Kerry-Lugar money, including provisions that require reporting on the Pakistani military's level of assistance to the United States.


Riaz Haq said...

It's interesting to see a basic agreement between the poll results and an established US analyst George Friedman of Stratfor on US being

Here's what he says in his book "The Next 100 Years":

"Perhaps more than for any other country, the US grand strategy is about war, and the interaction between war and economic life. The United States is historically a warlike country. The nation has been directly or indirectly at war for most of of its existence...the war of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. And the US has been constantly at war in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of this century."

Then Friedman goes on to add:

"The United States has achieved its strategic objective of further dividing and destabilizing the Islamic world after 911. The US-induced chaos and deep divisions in the Islamic world are sufficient to fend off any challenges to the US power from any of the large Muslims nations of Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran or Egypt during this century. Even if America loses in Afghanistan, it has already scored a strategic win against the deeply divided Islamic world."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times analysis of the Obama speech on US troop reductions in Afghanistan:

... “What the Abbottabad raid demonstrated more vividly than ever is that we need a base to strike targets in Pakistan, and the geography is simple: You need to do that from Afghanistan,” said Bruce Reidel, a retired C.I.A. officer who conducted Mr. Obama’s first review of strategy in the region.
Their first is to assure that Afghanistan never again becomes a launching pad for attacks on the United States. But the more urgent reason is Pakistan. In his speech, Mr. Obama invited Pakistan to expand its peaceful cooperation in the region, but also noted that Pakistan must live up to its commitments and that “the U.S. will never tolerate a tolerate a safe haven for those who would destroy us.”

Pakistan has already made it clear, however, that it will never allow American forces to be based there. As relations have turned more hostile with the United States in recent months, it has refused to issue visas to large numbers of C.I.A. officers, and seems to be moving quickly to close the American drone base in Shamsi, Pakistan.

For their part, administration officials make it clearer than ever that they view Pakistan’s harboring of terrorist groups as the more urgent problem. “We don’t see a transnational threat coming out of Afghanistan,” a senior administration official briefing reporters before the president’s speech said Wednesday. Later he added, “The threat has come from Pakistan.”

Those realities have placed increasing pressure on Obama administration officials to secure some long-term success from the long war in Afghanistan. That is by no means guaranteed. As the bulk of international forces leave, the country may yet descend into civil war and chaos.

Indeed, several senior administration officials acknowledged in recent days that the announcement by Mr. Obama merely put the best face possible on three-year plan to retreat from what was once a expansive experiment in nation-building.

The key goal now will be a diminished one — a counterterrorism mission to finish off Al Qaeda — that is far closer to the mission that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and some political aides at the White House argued for 18 months ago. With Wednesday’s announcement, President Obama indicated that he has slowly inched toward that view as well.

“The hard part over the next few years will be proving to the Afghans that there is something in this for them,” Mr. Reidel said.

That is particularly difficult because what the Afghans may well draw from Mr. Obama’s prime-time speech is that the Americans are leaving again — just as they did after the Soviet Union gave up its war in 1989 — but this time more slowly.

Over the past decade, the Afghans heard many promises from Washington. Months after ordering the invasion that drove out the Taliban government, President George W. Bush declared that the United States would initiate a new Marshall Plan for Afghanistan; it never fully materialized.

In 2009 Mr. Obama spoke of a “civilian surge” of “agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers” who would train Afghans how to create a modern country. The results have been limited, and in Wednesday night’s speech, Mr. Obama never mentioned those goals.

Administration officials insist that those efforts will continue, despite the drawdown. Even after all the “surge” forces return home, there will still be 68,000 American troops on the ground next year — more than twice the number that were in Afghanistan the day Mr. Obama took office.

But over time, the counterterrorism mission will require fewer troops in the region, administration officials said.

Riaz Haq said...

Education, income, and favoring #Pakistan #Taliban? Better educated, higher income #Pakistanis favor #TTP much less.

Brookings Op Ed by Madiha Afzal:

My latest analysis with data from the March 2013 Pew Global Attitudes poll conducted in Pakistan sheds new light on the relationship between years of education and Pakistanis’ views of the Taliban, and lends supports to the conventional wisdom. The survey sampled 1,201 respondents throughout Pakistan, except the most insecure areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. This was a time of mounting terror attacks by the Pakistani Taliban (a few months after their attack on Malala), and came at the tail end of the Pakistan People's Party’s term in power, before the May 2013 general elections.

On attitudes toward the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), 3 percent of respondents to the Pew poll said they had a very favorable view, 13 percent reported somewhat favorable views, while nearly 17 percent and 39 percent answered that they had somewhat unfavorable and very unfavorable views, respectively. A large percentage of respondents (28 percent) chose not to answer the question or said they did not know their views. This is typical with a sensitive survey question such as this one, in a context as insecure as Pakistan.

So overall levels of support for the TTP are low, and the majority of respondents report having unfavorable views. The non-responses could reflect those who have unfavorable views but choose not to respond because of fear, or those who may simply not have an opinion on the Pakistani Taliban.

The first part of my analysis cross-tabulates attitudes toward the TTP with education and income respectively. I look at the distribution of attitudes for each education and income category (with very and somewhat favorable views lumped together as favorable; similarly for unfavorable attitudes).

Figure 1 shows that an increasing percentage of respondents report unfavorable views of the Taliban as education levels rise; and there is a decreasing percentage of non-responses at higher education levels (suggesting that more educated people have more confidence in their views, stronger views, or less fear). However, the percentage of respondents with favorable views of the Taliban, hovering between 10-20 percent, is not that different across education levels, and does not vary monotonically with education.

Figure 2 shows views on the Pakistani Taliban by income level. While the percentage of non-responses is highest for the lowest income category, the percentages responding favorably and unfavorably do not change monotonically with income. We see broadly similar distributions of attitudes across the four income levels.


My regressions also show that older people have more unfavorable opinions toward the Taliban, relative to younger people; this is concerning and is consistent with the trend toward rising extremist views in Pakistan’s younger population. The problems in Pakistan’s curriculum that began in the 1980s are likely to be at least partly responsible for this trend. Urban respondents seem to have more favorable opinions toward the Taliban than rural respondents; respondents from Punjab and Baluchistan have more favorable opinions toward the Taliban relative to those from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which as a province has had a closer and more direct experience with terror. The regression shows no relationship of income with attitudes, as was suggested by Figure 2.

Overall, the Pew 2013 data show evidence of a positive relationship between more education and lack of support for the Taliban, suggesting that the persisting but increasingly discredited conventional wisdom on these issues may hold some truth after all. These results should be complemented with additional years of data. That is what I will work on next.