To understand why Pakistanis expressed a preference for Romney over President Barrack Obama, let us review some of the ostensible reasons for it:
1. Most Pakistanis hoped that Romney would stop CIA-operated drone attacks in FATA. The facts is that Romney, in response to a question during the presidential debate on foreign policy, said as follows: “I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely.”
2. There is a common perception among Pakistanis that Republicans in the White House are better for them. This perception is based on cold-war era policies that brought significant US aid to Pakistan during early 1960s under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and 1980s under President Ronald Reagan and 2000s under President George W. Bush.
This perception is not valid now because President Obama, a Democrat, has tripled US aid to Pakistan from $738 million in 2008 to $2.108 billion in 2012.
US Troops Withdrawal:
Now that President Obama has been re-elected, it is almost certain that US will withdraw most of its troops by 2014 as planned.
Beyond 2014, all the signs indicate that the US will continue to be engaged militarily, economically and diplomatically in the region. Part of the motivation will be to try and deal with potential threats to the American homeland from possible resurgence of Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the other part is the more ambitious effort to maintain US economic and diplomatic power and influence in Asia.
The US military involvement will be mostly in the form of drones and special operations. It is quite possible that the Americans may increase the frequency and intensity of CIA-operated drone attacks and joint special operations (JSOC).
|President Kennedy Receiving President Ayub at Andrews AFB |
New Great Game:
On the diplomatic front, the US will maintain close ties with Pakistan's political, military and intelligence establishment regardless of who holds power after the upcoming elections in 2013. Rhetoric on either side may change from time to time but the US aid flow and Pakistani cooperation will not. As Romney said and Obama seemed to agree during the foreign policy debate that “it’s not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point."
In addition to the continuing US pressure to act in FATA, Pakistan is also being pressed by its other friend China to crack down on the Taliban because the Chinese also feel threatened by the Pakistan-based Taliban militants for their alleged support and sheltering of Chinese Uighur Muslim militants who are waging war against the Chinese government in Xinjiang province.
On the economic front, both China and the United States have significant long-term interests in Pakistan, as does Russia, because of its strategic location as a transit country. Some see the growing US-China competition in Central Asia as the start of a New Great Game for power and influence in the Asian continent. This Game will present Pakistan with its greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity in the 21st century.
The Chinese see the value of access to the Arabian sea as the shortest route for trade in and out of Western China to develop and stabilize its restive Xinijiang province. A number of Chinese companies are working on building roads such as the Karakoram Highway and other infrastructure for this purpose.
Re-elected President Obama is making his first major foreign trip to ASEAN summit in Cambodia. As part of President Obama's "pivot to Asia" to check China's rise, the Americans have a strong competing interest in creating a new silk route in Asia that bypasses China. Americans envision such land route extending from resource rich Stans in Central Asia to resource hungry South Asia and Southeast Asia region via Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The expected energy flow for energy-hungry Pakistan and the potential annual transit fees worth billions of dollars from this trade route are part of the US sponsored incentives for Pakistan to help stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. The first example of this effort is the American push for TAPI--Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
There are two important messages for Islamabad coming from Washington and Beijing: 1) Both US and China have a common interest in defeating the militants operating from Pakistan's FATA region even as the two great powers compete in a high-stakes game to dominate Asia. 2) Obama will follow through on his plans to withdraw ground troops from Afghanistan by 2014 but still continue to be engaged there for a variety of short-term and long-term goals in Central and South Asia and the larger Asian continent.
Here's a recent video discussion on the subject in which I participated:
Malala Moment: Pakistan's Cowardly Politicians
Pakistan 2013 Election Predictions
Can Pakistan Say No to US Aid?
Obama's Pakistan Connections
Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective
Imran Khan in Silicon Valley
Appeasement in Swat
ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?
Daily Carnage in Pakistan
India's Guantanamos abd Abu Ghraibs
Obama McCain Debate on Pakistan Policy
That is a myth. The length of a trade route is not as important as logistics. Having a 16,000 foot pass that is closed for several months in a year across an active earthquake prone mountain range followed by a several hundred mile trek through unstable territory is not exactly conducive to good trade.
VC: "That is a myth. The length of a trade route is not as important as logistics. Having a 16,000 foot pass that is closed for several months in a year across an active earthquake prone mountain range followed by a several hundred mile trek through unstable territory is not exactly conducive to good trade."
It's the kind of "myth" that the Chinese are betting on with massive investments.
Here's a excerpt of a Der Spiegel piece on it:
The road roller struggles up the mountain, tar steaming in the heat. Several Chinese and Pakistani workers stand there, leaning on their shovels and observing how their boss, Mr. Li, operates the yellow machine. A few meters on, he stops and jumps out on the unpaved side of the road, directly before a chasm about 1,000-meters (3,300-feet) deep. Seemingly unfazed by the elevation, he nods to his workers and calls out: "That's how it's done. Any questions?"
Whether its high-rises, ports or streets, China is building -- worldwide and on a grand scale. The expansion of the famed Karakoram Highway from China to Pakistan, a part of the Silk Road trade routes, is just one of China's massive construction projects and an example of Beijing's strategy for the future -- investing a lot and giving generously in exchange for long-term benefits.
The almost 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) long path, which runs from Kashgar in western China's Uighur Autonomous Region almost to the Pakistani capital Islamabad, is set to be transformed from a dusty, bumpy road into a modern mountain highway. The section on the Chinese side is already finished. "For Beijing, it's about being able to export more goods to Pakistan, through the ports of Karachi and around the world," says China expert Fazal ur-Rehman of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Plans also include a future pipeline that runs along the Karakoram Highway, allowing China to bring in Iranian gas.
I just returned from Pakistan.
I disagree with your statement that most Pakistanis preferred Romney.
Except for military guys, I heard over whelming support for Obama.
Even surveys in the Newspapers indicated preference for Obama despite a strong dislike for him.
Oostur: "I just returned from Pakistan.
I disagree with your statement that most Pakistanis preferred Romney.
Except for military guys, I heard over whelming support for Obama.
Even surveys in the Newspapers indicated preference for Obama despite a strong dislike for him."
In a BBC poll, only 11% in Pakistan favored Obama.
There was also a Haaretz piece on this. Here's an excerpt:
U.S. President Barack Obama seems to have just squeezed ahead of Mitt Romney in the popular vote in Tuesday's presidential elections, probably by less than two percent, but had he competed in a much wider constituency than the American electorate, he would have won handily. A BBC World Service opinion poll conducted last month in twenty-one nations containing a large majority of the world's population, had Obama triumphing by a global landslide. If the poll carried out by GlobeScan/PIPA is to be relied upon, 50 percent of citizens in the countries surveyed would have voted for the incumbent while only nine percent said they preferred the Republican candidate. Out of the 21, the only country where more voters would have gone for Romney was Pakistan.
Israel, with its much smaller population, was not included in the BBC survey but we have other polls indicating how Zion would have voted were it a state of the Union, and all of them would have the GOP candidate winning hands-down. One such poll had 57 percent of Israeli voters going for Romney while only 22 preferred Obama. Jerusalem and Islamabad never seemed so close.
This is a good article. Well done.
I would like to begin this discussions with 2 points:
1)"It’s not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point"
Is this not an incentive for all poor, unstable countries to acquire nuclear weapons? They could also then use these weapons to blackmail the West into giving them more and more aid to keep their corrupt-systems afloat. They would say exactly what we are saying today, "if you don't give us lots of money, we will collapse, and all these nuclear weapons will fall into the wrong hands." Isn't this what Rich Clarke meant when he said "Pakistan negotiates with a gun to its own head"?
Do you think this is a wise, responsible and sustainable approach to dealing with the West? Do you think they will keep giving us more and more free money because they are afraid of our "or else" strategy? Are we nothing more than a nation of shady blackmailers who will go to anything lengths for a few pieces of silver?
What are your views?
2) With respect to your older article on major aid beneficiaries:
Can you show us where India is on the chart you have just published in this article:
Obama or Romney, it really doesn't impact an ordinary Pakistani. US aid is not flowing into Pakistan to accelerate education reforms or making a dent in health care services. Opinion polls have no value in a master slave relationship, neither party cares on who thinks what….
Imran: "Obama or Romney, it really doesn't impact an ordinary Pakistani. US aid is not flowing into Pakistan to accelerate education reforms or making a dent in health care services. Opinion polls have no value in a master slave relationship, neither party cares on who thinks what…."
Significant portions of US aid and British aid are flowing into health care and education sectors. A large number of schools, colleges, universities and hospitals are benefiting from it. These sectors would starve if left to Govt of Pakistan.
Probably you are correct but is there any data you can share with regards to the aid distribution among various sectors….
Imran: "Probably you are correct but is there any data you can share with regards to the aid distribution among various sectors…. "
There's no comprehensive list but let me give you some recent examples:
1. All of the money for PPP's latest Waseela Taleem program to enroll 3 million out-of-school children is coming from foreign aid:
Except from Business Recorder:
The President (Zardari) appreciated the support of international development partners including DFID, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, USAID and the governments of United Kingdom, China and Turkey for their assistance. "Their support has helped BISP to become a great success story."
2. US Aid for Kashmir victims.
Except from Express Tribune:
The agency has completed a total of 36 school buildings and 15 hospital buildings so far in Bagh and Mansehra. In addition to that 20 school buildings and one health facility is under construction and five education projects have yet to be started under the USAID programme. In Bagh, USAID is dealing with 43 development projects where 30 such buildings including 15 schools and 15 hospitals have been completed and handed over to AJK government. The agency is still reconstructing 13 buildings, 12 schools and one tehsil headquarter (THQ) hospital there.
3. German aid for vocational training in solar:
Excerpt from Business Recorder:
Technology Upgradation and Skill Development Company (TUSDEC) has joined hands with GIZ, Pakistan to foster the renewable energy sector in the country by developing skilled force in various disciplines of solar technologies. The programme is being implemented under the implications of FIT (Funds for Innovative Training), Green Skills initiative.
A company spokesman said on Wednesday that TUSDEC will enroll 125 candidates in 5 batches to be trained in various areas of Photovoltaic and Solar Water Heating Systems. The overall programme duration is stretched over one year where each course will be for a span of three months.
4. USAID for 3 centers of advanced studies:
Excerpt from GeoTV:
With US support, these centers will promote the development of Pakistan's water, energy, and agriculture sectors through applied research, training for specialists, university linkages, and the contributions towards policy formulation, said in a press statement issued by US Embassy here on Friday.
"US-Pakistan cooperation in higher education spans more than six decades. This new program presents a new milestone in our joint efforts to strengthen Pakistan's university system to support the growth of the country's economy," said Dr. Rajiv Shah at the signing ceremony.
The Centers for Advanced Studies is a five-year $127 million program sponsored by USAID. The Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security will be established with US support at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Punjab.
5. British aid to set up schools and train teachers:
A new British aid package for Pakistan, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in Islamabad, is worth $1,055 million over four years. The money will fund education for up to 4 million students, train 9,000 teachers, purchase 6 million new text books and build 8,000 schools by 2015, according to various media reports.
The map you have shown in NOT accurate.
The off-shore South-Pars gas field is shared between Iran and Qatar (maritime treaty). It lies between the Qatar peninsula and Assaluyeh.
Your map incorrectly shows it as lying much further west than it actually does.
Please make the correction.
Here's an excerpt of a Wall Street Journal review of "The Second Nuclear Age" by Paul Bracken:
His analysis of the role of nuclear weapons in the India-Pakistan rivalry is disturbing and illuminating. The two sides haven't used their weapons, but their arsenals have changed their military and political strategies in ways that make the region more explosive and crisis prone. Pakistan, unable to compete in conventional weapons with its larger and wealthier neighbor, is expanding the quantity, upgrading the quality and diversifying the designs of its arsenal. India, meanwhile, is investing heavily in capabilities that would allow it to spot Pakistani preparations for a nuclear strike, possibly to pre-empt with force.
Mr. Bracken says that nuclear and conventional strategy are closely tied for both countries. India is organizing its nonnuclear forces in ways intended to anticipate and offset Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. It is also investing in detection and surveillance technologies aimed at both monitoring the state of Islamabad's nuclear preparedness and revealing its conventional vulnerabilities. These Indian capabilities have in turn changed Pakistan's nuclear and conventional plans. Both sides thus derive important advantages from their nuclear arsenals. (For India, these advantages are supra-regional, as New Delhi looks nervously to a rising Beijing next-door.) Neither will ever give up nukes.
The author's own sense of the dynamics of a multipolar nuclear world is sometimes less than complete. He tries, for example, to analyze the impact of a nuclear Iran on the Middle East by confining his analysis to Israel, the United States and Iran. Missing are the inevitable and serious effects as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and other regional powers respond to the new situation.
Even so, Mr. Bracken's view is a powerful one. It holds little comfort for theorists of international relations, whatever their orientation. Liberals will be appalled by his picture of a future in which widespread nuclear weapons impede the growth of the law-based order they seek. Nuclear weapons embody traditional ideas of state sovereignty; a world in which they drive strategic decisions and political arrangements is one that won't be guided by international law and organized by liberal institutions. If you have a nuclear weapon, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court can't make you do anything you really don't want to do.
Since you have now ploughed into the world of Geopolitical stratagems, here are a few things to consider:
A) You are correct that the US views Pakistan as a strategic connecting hub to the resources of Central Asia. You are also correct that China views Pakistan as a strategic connection to the Arabian Sea for its remote western regions.
Partners in this View: Pakistan, US, China
B) However, there is another contender. Iran wants to convert itself into an indispensible hub by becoming the key connection point to land-locked Central Asia. Iran has roped in India, Russia and the CIS central-Asian countries to develop this plan.
Partners in this View: Iran, India, Russia/CIS
Here are the details:
1) TAPI & IPI will be bypassed-
2) Khyber Pass (Peshawar-Kabul) & Bolan Pass (Quetta-Kandahar) routes to central Asia will be bypassed--
What are your view on this alternate plan to bypass Pakistan altogether?
Do you think it will never materialize? Do you think the US will torpedo it because of its hostility toward Iran and its mistrust of Putin's Russia? Do you think it will not prove economically viable? Do you think it will fail even if it is completed?
Or do you think it has the potential to strip our country of all key "strategic location" advantage?
What are your considered strategic thoughts on this parallel geopolitical development?
HWJ: "What are your view on this alternate plan to bypass Pakistan altogether?"
Iran has to first come out of the economic isolation imposed by the West and it could take a while.
And Pakistan is still and will remain the best and most efficient transit route for land trade between Central and South and Southeast Asia.
Longer term, anything is possible but Pakistan is not just a transit country. It's also a big and growing consumer of natural resources as obvious from Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and power transmission line.
The real route to cenral asia is the linking of the caspian to the black sea via the Eurasian canal.
None of these routes through the wild country of Afghanistan make any sense!
Anon: "The real route to cenral asia is the linking of the caspian to the black sea via the Eurasian canal."
It's from CARS to the Mediterranean. Doesn't serve South Asia and Southeast Asia well.
Here's an excerpt of USAID Pakistan director Jock Conly's interview published in PakObserver:
Q: How much amount is being spent in a year on the USAID projects in Pakistan?
A: We are seeing an increase in the amount of expenditure on the USAID projects as several projects are at an advanced stage of completion that require more expenditures. In Financial Year 2013, a huge amount of $800 million would be utilized for the development of the USAID projects in Pakistan. Earlier, the annual quantum of expenditures on the USAID project was less than this amount.
Q: Any new sectors/areas being included in the upcoming projects?
A: We have short-listed five key sectors in the USAID programme that I have mentioned earlier. We select a new project from within these five areas after consulting the stakeholders. Once the new project gets all the mandatory approvals, we start work on it immediately.
For example, the USAID has supported the government to generate 400 MWs of electricity per day that was sufficient for the consumption of 6 million people. We are working on more projects to support the government to generate more electricity.
Energy: Fatal Incidents at the Hyderabad Power Distribution Company Declined by 80% and Non-Fatal remained zero since January 2012 and this surprising but much-needed change is a direct result from the linemen training organized by the USAID Power Distribution Project. The project plans to train a total of 9,000 linemen from all public power distribution companies in such key skills as first aid, pole-top rescue, and modern grounding. In addition to preserving human lives and health, this effort will improve maintenance of the transmission lines. This in turn will reduce power distribution losses that are estimated at 10 percent of all electricity produced.
On October 3, U.S. Consul General Michael Dodman and Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ibad launched cooperation between the USAID Power Distribution Programme and the Karachi Water and Sewage Board. Under this $900,000 initiative, USAID will upgrade 75 old water pump sets to improve Karachi’s water supply and reduce power consumption by up to 1.73 megawatts.
Economic Growth: During the month of October, the Entrepreneurs Project helped 450 women medicinal and aromatic plant collectors in Swat Valley sell more than 12,000 kilograms of medicinal and aromatic Iants. On average, each woman earned $270. Earlier, the project also trained these women to identify and collect plants without damaging their growth.
For the fourth year in a row, the USAID and FAO Balochistan Agriculture Project organized livestock markets in Killa Saifullah, Mastung, Loralai, and Zhob in connection with Eid-ul-Azha. By bringing markets closer to producers, the project reduces the cost to the farmers, increases their bargaining power, and improves their revenues. This year, more than 3,000 farmers participated in the markets from October 9-15.
Recently, USAID-supported Malakand farmers sold 100 tons of approved chip stock potato to the PepsiCo plant in Sundar Industrial Estate, Lahore. The USAID Project is linking small-scale potato producers in Malakand to large-scale buyers, helping them access greater economic rewards.
Your buddy and guest-columnist on your blog, Ackar Patelle, is really going all out.
After his series of articles on Kashmir earlier this year, and one on the incompetence of RAW in the summer, he has a new article out (today) in which he says he is actually going to Kashmir on a fact-finding mission.
What do you think of this Patelle fellow? Why do you allow him to publish on your blog? Do you agree with his views on Kashmir? Where do you stand on all this?
^^^HWJ Said: "...what we are saying today, "if you don't give us lots of money, we will collapse, and all these nuclear weapons will fall into the wrong hands." Isn't this what Rich Clarke meant when he said "Pakistan negotiates with a gun to its own head"?"
Here is a PERVEZ HOODBHAI quote from a good CSM article on our growing nuclear weapons program--
"The bomb lends the Pakistanis a certain diplomatic insouciance. Nukes, after all, are a valuable political tool, ensuring continued economic aid from the United States and Europe. “Pakistan knows it can outstare” the West, says Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy. “It’s confident the West knows that Pakistan’s collapse is too big a price to pay, so the bailout is there in perpetuity. It’s the one thing we’ve been successful at.”
Here is the whole article--
Could you comment on the following:
Do you think this is a wise, responsible and sustainable approach to dealing with the West? Do you think they will keep giving us more and more free money because they are afraid of our "or else" strategy? Are we nothing more than a nation of shady blackmailers who will go to any length just for a few pieces of silver?
What are your views on this?
HWJ: "Do you think this is a wise, responsible and sustainable approach to dealing with the West?"
The West has a tendency to dominate every developing nation regardless. Those who have no nukes are subject to much harsher treatment, including heavy bombing, outright ground invasions and military occupations as in the case Serbia, Iraq and Palestine.
The most recent example is Libya's Gaddafi who gave up his nukes and ended up dead in the desert.
And a Pakistan without nukes can expect to be treated by India as Israel treats Lebanese and Gazans.
^^^Riaz Haq Said: "The West has a tendency to dominate every developing nation regardless. Those who have no nukes are subject to much harsher treatment, including heavy bombing, outright ground invasions and military occupations...
...And a Pakistan without nukes can expect to be treated by India as Israel treats Lebanese and Gazans."
I agree 100% with what you have said.
(1) The West does bully poorer countries and possession of nuclear weapons can prevent such bullying.
(2) Our nuclear weapons have prevented India from conducting reckless cross-border attacks on LeT/JeM camps.
But that was not my question.
I was NOT asking whether our nuclear weapons strengthen our sovereignity. Of course they do, as they would for any country that possesses them.
Rather, I was specifically asking whether you thought that our strategy of saying "GIVE US MONEY OR ELSE the nukes will fall into the wrong hands" was a good one?
After all, China (1964) and India (1971) already had nuclear weapons when they were practically starving nations. They do not seem to have used this strategy against the West. So why do we try to extract money using this "or else we may collapse" threat? Are we nothing more than a nation of shady blackmailers who will go to any length just for a few pieces of silver?
Do you think this is a wise, responsible and sustainable approach to dealing with the West? Do you think they will just keep giving us more and more free money indefinitely because they are afraid of this "or else" strategy of ours?
Please elaborate on your view on this specific issue.
HWJ: "Rather, I was specifically asking whether you thought that our strategy of saying "GIVE US MONEY OR ELSE the nukes will fall into the wrong hands" was a good one?"
I have NEVER heard any Pakistani say to any one: "GIVE US MONEY OR ELSE the nukes will fall into the wrong hands".
It's only some western leaders and analysts (and Hoodbhoy) who perceive it to be the case.
Here's a UPI report on TAPI:
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Moving ahead with pipeline developments in Turkmenistan would provide long-term energy security for downstream consumers, the president said.
Turkmen officials in May agreed to sell natural gas to Asian customers through the 1,050-mile Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline. TAPI could deliver more than 1 trillion cubic feet of Turkmen natural gas per year.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov told an oil and gas conference in Ashgabat that the pipeline would mean more gas from his country.
"The realization of the TAPI pipeline project will allow an increase in exports of Turkmen gas," he was quoted by Pakistani newspaper The News International as saying.
Turkmenistan has some of the richest deposits of natural gas in the world. U.S. officials have expressed their support for the project, seen as a rival to similar plans for a natural gas pipeline backed by the Iranian government.
TAPI has financial backing from the Asian Development Bank.
Here's a Globe and Mail story on support for drone attacks in Pakistan:
..do they make Pakistan safer?
The markets of Lahore were thronged with people in the days before Eid al-Adha last month, with families buying clothes for the children and knickknacks for their homes. In Islamabad, there are new cafés and boutiques in every neighbourhood; red-velvet cupcakes are trendy.
Two years ago, when the Taliban were sending suicide bombers into crowded public places in these cities every week or two, the markets and the coffee shops were deserted and people were afraid even to go to mosques.
That terror campaign has been checked – either because the Taliban have changed tactics or, as many analysts here suggest, because the intensified drone campaign has weakened them.
Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, who is retired from a top position in the army, has a kinder interpretation. In an interview in his cozy Islamabad living room, he says it is simply unrealistic to think that the Pakistani military, equipped as it is, can fight a fleet-footed insurgency in some of the world’s harshest terrain.
Given that, the drones do not look so bad: That is the politically incorrect sentiment one hears in private conversations across the political and socio-economic spectrum, in marked contrast to the anti-drone arguments that fill the editorial pages.
Drones are also, some argue, preferable to having the United States deploy soldiers in Pakistan – which the U.S. government would be unlikely to do in any case.
Drones are also better than risking the lives of even more Pakistani soldiers to the near-constant Taliban attacks in the tribal areas, this argument runs.
“A lot of high-profile targets are eliminated, and who would do this job if Americans boots are not on the ground and the Pakistan army won’t?” says Arif Nizami, editor-in-chief of the daily Pakistan Today.
“Drones are a very hard choice for a pacifist to make,” says Pervez Hoodbhoy, a nuclear scientist turned peace activist who is the best-known advocate for non-violence in Pakistan.
Is it better to kill Islamists than to have them killing people? That’s the debate, he says, burying his face in his hands at the thought of the moral quandary his country faces.
Many Pakistanis believe the military actively feeds the drone program intelligence about insurgent activity even today, because it, too, perceives the campaign as more effective than other options, Mr. Nizami says.
The army spokesman’s office declined repeated requests for an interview.
The last person who would ever give up the fight against drones is an erudite lawyer named Shahzad Akbar, who runs an organization called the Foundation for Fundamental Rights in a leafy neighbourhood in the capital, where he works to make heard the voices of victims from the tribal areas.
While he understands that the killings may make someone sitting in Islamabad feel safer, he says, he finds it ethically abhorrent to conclude that drones are a boon to the country.
“The whole burden of proof has been reversed by the U.S. in the public narrative: You are killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, so you are a militant until you come out of your coffin and say otherwise,” Mr. Akbar says. “We have to have rule of law to have a civilized society. We have to agree that illegal killing is illegal killing – whether the Taliban or the Pakistan army or the U.S. army is doing it.”
He also noted that the drone campaign has been under way since 2004, with no overall decline in attacks.
Yet Mr. Nizami says he believes that there is considerable support for the drones in many parts of the Taliban-plagued northern region of Khyber Pakthunkwha.
Here's an excerpt from a Daily Beast piece on former US Ambassador Munter:
....What Munter did want, however, was a more selective use of drones, coupled with more outreach to the Pakistani government—in short, a bigger emphasis on diplomacy and less reliance on force. “What they’re trying to portray is I’m shocked and horrified, and that’s not my perspective,” he said, referring to The New York Times article. “The use of drones is a good way to fight the war. But you’re going to kill drones if you’re not using them judiciously.” Munter thought the strikes should be carried out in a measured way. “The problem is the political fallout,” he says. “Do you want to win a few battles and lose the war?”
“What is the definition of someone who can be targeted?” I asked. “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40,” Munter replied. “My feeling is one man’s combatant is another man’s—well, a chump who went to a meeting.”
Munter wanted the ability to sign off on drone strikes—and, when necessary, block them. Then-CIA director Leon Panetta saw things differently. Munter remembers one particular meeting where they clashed. “He said, ‘I don’t work for you,’ and I said, ‘I don’t work for you,’” the former ambassador recalls. (George Little, a former CIA spokesman who is now at the Pentagon—where Panetta is currently serving as Defense secretary—disputed this account. “I’ve heard these rumors before,” he said. “That’s exactly what this is: rumor. [Panetta] has had productive relationships with Ambassador Munter and other ambassadors with whom he has worked.”)
That made what happened in March 2011 all the more extraordinary. That month, the CIA ordered a drone strike against militants in North Waziristan. Munter tried to stop the strike before it happened, but, according to the Associated Press, Panetta “dismissed” Munter’s request.
The timing of the strike was noteworthy: it was the day after CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who had shot two Pakistani men, was released from a Lahore jail. The fact that Davis had been detained for weeks reportedly angered the CIA. “It was in retaliation for Davis,” a former aide to Munter told the Associated Press, referring to the strike. (The CIA did not respond to my request for comment.) In the end, the strike killed at least 10 militants, and reportedly 19 or more civilians. And Munter wasn’t the only one who was upset. So were the Pakistanis: Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Army chief, said the men had been “callously targeted.” Rumors circulated that some of them were spies for the military, risking their lives to help fight the Taliban.
Following the strike, President Obama set up a more formal process by which diplomats could have input into these strikes. “I have a yellow card,” Munter recalled, describing the new policy. “I can say ‘no.’ That ‘no’ goes back to the CIA director. Then he has to go to Hillary. If Hillary says ‘no,’ he can still do it, but he has to explain the next day in writing why.”
...Vali Nasr, who served as a senior adviser to Holbrooke and is now at Johns Hopkins University. “The real issue was that he was not on the same page as Washington.”
During our interview, Munter criticized the way White House officials approached Pakistan. “They say, ‘Why don’t we kick their ass?’ Do we want to get mad at them? Take their car keys away? Or look at the larger picture?” He leaned back in his chair and recalled his last National Security Council meeting: “The president says, ‘It’s an hour meeting, and we’re going to talk about Afghanistan for 30 minutes and then Pakistan for 30 minutes.’ Seventy-five minutes later, we still haven’t talked about Pakistan. Why? Because Pakistan is too fucking hard.”
In a recent piece tiled "Pakistan Staring into the Abyss", Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi captures the highly pessimistic mood of the press coverage and books about Pakistan.
Historically, purveyors of books and magazines predicting doom and gloom have mostly been wrong but sold lots of copies.
Matt Ridley, the author of "The Rational Optimist", says that the prophets of doom and gloom from Robert Malthus to Paul Ehrlich(both predicted catastrophe of mass starvation) have always found great acceptance as "sages" in their time but proved to be completely wrong because they discount human resilience and ingenuity.
The reasons for wide acceptance of pessimists have to do with how the human brain has evolved through the millennia.
It's been established that once the amygdala starts hunting for bad news, it'll mostly find bad news.
Peter Diamandis explains this phenomenon well in his book "Abundance-Why Future is Better Than You Think".
Here's a excerpt from Diamandis's book:
"These are turbulent times. A quick glance at the headlines is enough to set anybody on edge-with endless media stream that has lately become our lives-it's hard to get away from those headlines. Worse, evolution shaped human brain to be acutely aware of all potential dangers...this dire combination has a profound impact on human perception: It literally shuts off our ability to take in good news."
In Pakistan's case, the good news continues to be the emergence of a large and growing middle class population and a vibrant mass media and civil society which underpin the country's extraordinary resilience.
Pakistan needs such resilience to complete its difficult ongoing transition to democracy which, the history tells us, has never been easy for any nation.
I believe Pakistan is making good progress toward becoming a prosperous urban middle class democracy.
A very insightful article. I will be using it as an analytical source for my post.
By the way, I also hoped and preferred Romney over Obama.
Here's a News report on US aid disbursement to non-government entities in Pakistan under Kerry-Lugar Bill:
ISLAMABAD: Around 71 percent of the total amount worth $3.172 billion disbursed by the United States under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman (KLB) Act was off-budget assistance for Pakistan in the last three years, official sources in the Finance Division confirmed to The News. Both Pakistan and the US confirmed that a major chunk of money continued to pour outside the government of Pakistan’s channel.
“The total amount disbursed to Pakistan from October 2009 to September 30, 2012, since the adoption of the KLB legislation, is around $3.2 billion. If you’d like the exact figure, it’s $3.172 billion,” said spokesperson of the US Embassy in an email message.
When contacted, Federal Secretary Economic Affairs Division Javed Iqbal confirmed that so far the United States has disbursed $3.197 billion for development in the last three years. “There are ongoing projects with an estimated cost of $754 million at the moment,” he added. Official data suggests that the on-budget assistance from the US stood around $350 to $375 million per annum – almost the same pattern followed by Washington in the aftermath of 9/11 when Pakistan decided to side by the country in the war against terrorism.
..renowned economist Dr Ashfaque H Khan said that Pakistan received $14.950 billion from US since 2001 till August 1, 2012, of which $9.8 billion was received as Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and the remaining $4.8 billion for economic assistance. On average, cash inflows stood at $437 million per annum in the last 12 years. Against the total losses of $68 billion incurred by Pakistan’s economy, the United States reimbursed just 14 percent or $9.8 billion. However, US spokesperson stated that US assistance to Pakistan has delivered real results for various sectors of the economy.
“US has added over 400 megawatts to the power grid – enough to supply electricity to nearly 900,000 households, or roughly six million people,” she said. In view of the energy sector, key projects funded by the US include power plant renovation at Tarbela dam, modernising generators at Mangla dam, upgrading Guddu, Jamshoro and Muzaffargarh power plants, and building Satpara and Gomal Zam dams.
US funds certain projects that will provide electricity to an estimated two million households in 2013. For the education sector, she added, they were building and renovating 800 schools and providing scholarships to 12,000 students to attend universities in Pakistan. Washington is also helping Pakistan in creating jobs and increasing incomes with programmes that boost agricultural output, build roads, and help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Furthermore, US has funded the construction and rebuilding of over 650 km of roads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while the Peshawar Torkham highway’s reconstruction is underway.
In a statement, US Ambassador Richard Olson said that he was struck by the economic potential Pakistan possessed and the industriousness and vitality of its people. “Washington helped train 14,000 Pakistani farmers to better protect their livestock from diseases,” he said.
“It is also helping Pakistan in building new irrigation canals that will expand the arable land by more than 200,000 acres.”
He further added that US will build more than 1,000 km roads in FATA, KP and Balochistan. “We are also assisting Pakistan in business entrepreneurship,” he maintained. “To promote trade and investment, US is Pakistan’s largest export market. Two way trade between both the countries stood at $6 billion in 2011.”
In an Express Tribune article titled "Pakistan's tarred reputation", Pak economist Javed Burki paints a grim picture of Pakistani economy and references media stories of violence published in The Economist and The New York Times as a deterrent to foreign investors, governments and IFIs like IMF and World Bank.
What Brurki doesn't say (or maybe he doesn't understand?) is that governments, investors and corporations who do their own research know that Pakistan is too big and important a country which they can not afford to ignore for long.
Pakistan has a large and growing consumer base as well as a growing stockpile of sophisticated nuclear weapons. It can be highly profitable or highly dangerous depending how the world chooses to deal with it.
That's why the total foreign currency inflows into Pakistan have continued to grow for over a decade. Decline in FDI has been more than made up by growing remittances, grants and loans as well as significant increase in exports.
Here's a Daily Times story on US support commitment to Pakistan:
US assures Pak of early release of $600 million CSF arrears
* US officials call on Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh * Reaffirm US commitment for provision of $200 million for Diamer-Basha Dam
ISLAMABAD: The United States on Thursday assured Pakistan of an early release of $600 million Coalition Support Fund (CSF) arrears, increasing OPIC support for projects in Pakistan from $100 million to $1 billion, launch $80 million Pakistan Investment Fund for SMEs in January 2013 and also reaffirmed US commitment for provision of $ 200 million for Diamer-Basha dam.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G Olson and Robin Raphel, senior adviser to special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called on Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh in his office. Issues of mutual interest, particularly economic ties between the two countries, were discussed in the meeting. Both the sides expressed their satisfaction over the pace of development in Pak-US economic ties.
Olson and Raphel congratulated the finance minister over his recent successful visit to United States of America and declared that the visit would prove a milestone in strengthening economic bonds between the two countries.
Shaikh informed the US delegation that the overall economic conditions in the country are moving in the right direction. The visiting delegation was informed by the finance minister that despite energy scarcity and security situation, Pakistan’s economy has started showing positive trends. The minister informed the US side that due to the policies of the government, Pakistan is witnessing lowest inflation rate in the region and trade balance deficit is on declining trend. The US delegation was informed that Karachi Stock Exchange is the best performing stock exchange in the world during the last one year.
The US officials assured the finance minister that the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) amounting to $600 million would be released without any delay. The visiting delegation also informed the Finance Minister that the United States is going to launch 80 million dollar Pakistan Investment Fund for SMEs in January 2013.
During the meeting the US delegation informed the Finance Minister that active participation of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in development of Pakistan would be ensured. The active participation of OPIC will increase the support for projects in Pakistan from $ 100 million to $1 billion.
The visiting US delegation also reaffirmed US commitment for provision of $200 million for Diamer-Basha Dam.
Both the sides discussed Pak-US bilateral trade also. The US delegation said that USA is trying to facilitate Pakistan’s exports to the United States to a maximum degree. It was further informed by the visiting delegation that US investment in Pakistan is witnessing ever increasing trend.
Olson and Raphel committed that the US would extend its cooperation to optimum level for timely completion of development projects in Pakistan.
The visiting delegation informed that the US would assist Pakistan in every possible way to overcome energy crisis. The delegation further told that assistance to Pakistan for development of social sector and infrastructure will also be accelerated.
Here's CNN GPS blog post by Michael Kugelman on Pakistan in 2013:
...Many Pakistanis hope national elections, scheduled for next spring, will reverse this gloomy state of affairs. One candidate for prime minister, legendary cricketer Imran Khan, is tapping into the country’s malaise and promising a “tsunami” of change. His athletic feats, incorruptible nature, non-dynastic background, and philanthropic efforts (all rarities for Pakistani politicians) have endeared him to millions – particularly young, urban-based Pakistanis.
More from GPS: Pakistan on cusp of change?
While Khan inspires hope in Pakistan, he triggers anxiety in Washington. Khan’s campaign platform is stridently anti-American, and his views on militancy are troubling (he has favored negotiations with the uncompromisingly brutal TTP). If his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party wins a majority of seats and he becomes premier, U.S. efforts to improve cooperation with Islamabad will grow far more challenging.
Then again, Khan is no shoo-in. Thanks to the patronage-fueled rural power centers of Pakistan’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and top opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), it’s likely that one of these parties will form the next government. The PPP has declared that 24-year-old Bilawal Bhutto – son of the assassinated Benazir Bhutto and current president Asif Ali Zardari – will formally enter politics next year. This will energize the party’s base, and enhance its electoral prospects.
Washington would prefer the relatively pro-U.S. PPP (or the more conservative PML) over Khan’s PTI. Regardless of the election outcome, however, the United States should lower its expectations for ties with Islamabad come 2013. Don’t be fooled by the flurry of high-level meetings rounding out 2012, and by official statements proclaiming relations back on track after months of tensions. Mistrust will remain deep, interests will still diverge, and, because neither side exerts much leverage over the other, favors will continue to be difficult to extract.
This isn’t to say the United States should divorce Pakistan, which contains one of the world’s largest and youngest populations; boasts its seventh-largest army; will soon be the fifth-largest nuclear power; and counts critical players China and Saudi Arabia as its closest allies.
Instead, the new Obama administration should enter 2013 with a retooled relationship in mind – one that is both scaled-back and long-term.
In practice, this means seizing the few available opportunities for cooperation on official levels. These include countering improvised explosives devices (which are manufactured in Pakistan, but kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan) and targeting the TTP (which attacks both the Pakistani state and Americans in Afghanistan).
Washington should also engage unofficial Pakistan – particularly the young, urbanizing middle class that, demographically speaking, will soon dominate the country. Already, this group makes major contributions to Pakistan’s underrated higher education system, including the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (a professor there has been recognized as one of the world’s top 35 innovators). And it supplies brainpower for a hidden jewel – Pakistan’s burgeoning IT sector. Many people know the name Malala Yousafzai – the 15-year-old girl’s education advocate shot by the Taliban. Yet few outside Pakistan know that of Arfa Karim – a 16-year-old computer genius (and the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional) who died this year after an epileptic seizure.
Pakistan is in for a rough 2013. Yet so long as its brave and resilient society continues to produce the likes of Malala and Arfa, there will be some reason for hope.
Here's NY Times on $688 million in US reimbursements to Pakistan:
The Pentagon quietly notified Congress this month that it would reimburse Pakistan nearly $700 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan, an effort to normalize support for the Pakistani military after nearly two years of crises and mutual retaliation.
The biggest proponent of putting foreign aid and military reimbursements to Pakistan on a steady footing is the man President Barack Obama is leaning toward naming as secretary of state: Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts. Mr. Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has frequently served as an envoy to Pakistan, including after the killing of Osama bin Laden, and was a co-author of a law that authorized five years and about $7.5 billion of nonmilitary assistance to Pakistan.
The United States also provides about $2 billion in annual security assistance, roughly half of which goes to reimburse Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism.
Until now, many of these reimbursements, called coalition support funds, have been held up, in part because of disputes with Pakistan over the Bin Laden raid, the operations of the C.I.A., and its decision to block supply lines into Afghanistan last year.
The $688 million payment — the first since this summer, covering food, ammunition and other expenses from June through November 2011 — has caused barely a ripple of protest since it was sent to Capitol Hill on Dec. 7.
The absence of a reaction, American and Pakistani officials say, underscores how relations between the two countries have been gradually thawing since Pakistan reopened the NATO supply routes in July after an apology from the Obama administration for an errant American airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.
Despite the easing of tensions in recent months, there are still plenty of sore spots in the relationship.
Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, who heads the Pentagon agency responsible for combating roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, told a Senate hearing last week that Pakistan’s efforts to stem the flow of a common agricultural fertilizer, calcium ammonium nitrate, that Taliban insurgents use to make roadside bombs had fallen woefully short.
“Our Pakistani partners can and must do more,” General Barbero told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing.
American officials have also all but given up on Pakistan’s carrying out a clearing operation in North Waziristan, a major militant safe haven.
“Pakistan’s continued acceptance of sanctuaries for Afghan-focused insurgents and failure to interdict I.E.D. materials and components continue to undermine the security of Afghanistan and pose an enduring threat to U.S., coalition and Afghan forces,” a Pentagon report, mandated by Congress, concluded last week.
Here's a News report on Pak-China ties:
Pakistan is China’s Number 1 ally and the most special country for China.
These were the words of Prof Feng Zhongping, President, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), as he addressed members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) at the institute Tuesday morning.
The occasion was the visit by a five-member delegation of the CICIR who had an interactive discussion with a compact group of PIIA members and journalists. Chairperson of the institute, Dr Masooma Hassan, presided over the proceedings.
“Our ties with Pakistan”, Zhongping said, “are historic and as such we treat Pakistan as a very special country”. Pakistan, he said, had a geo-strategic location which was of pivotal importance to China. He said that Pakistan was an old friend of China and added that China had a history of never letting her friends down. Pakistan’s population of 180 million was of great consequence to China, he said.
Another member of the delegation, citing the importance of Pak-China ties, pointed out that it was Pakistan that helped open up China to the world by starting off an air service between the two countries and cited Pakistan’s efforts in bringing the US and China closer.
Pakistan’s location, Zhongping said, was very important as access to the Indian Ocean would make China a two-ocean power, with the Indian Ocean to one side and the Pacific to the other which would benefit the country greatly in light of her rapidly expanding trade with the world.
Asked by a questioner about the validity of the current perception that the US was grooming India to take on China militarily and was building India as a sequel to China, he said that it was premature to make a prognosis there and lots would depend on the Indian stance towards the issue of which there were no indications as yet. He said that all chances were that India would not be sucked into the US strategic plans of the US in the area as that could affect her rapid economic advances and undo the fruits of her development effort....
Here are a few excerpts of an MIT doctoral thesis by Christopher Clary on future India-Pakistan conflict:
Conventional wisdom suggests that India has gained sufficient conventional superiority to fight and win a limited war, but the reality is that India is unlikely to be able to both achieve its political aims and prevent dangerous escalation.
While India is developing limited options, my analysis suggests India's military advantage over Pakistan is much less substantial than is commonly believed.
Most analyses do not account adequately for how difficult it would be for the navy to have a substantial impact in a short period of time. Establishing even a partial blockade takes time, and it takes even more time for that blockade to cause shortages on land that are noticeable. As the British strategist Julian Corbett noted in 1911, "it is almost impossible that a war can be decided by naval action alone. Unaided, naval pressure can only work by a process of exhaustion. Its effects must always be slow…."7 Meanwhile, over the last decade, Pakistan has increased its ability to resist a blockade. In addition to the main commercial port of Karachi, Pakistan has opened up new ports further west in Ormara and Gwadar and built road infrastructure to distribute goods from those ports to Pakistan's heartland. To close off these ports to neutral shipping could prove particularly difficult since Gwadar and the edge of Pakistani waters are very close to the Gulf of Oman, host to the international shipping lanes for vessels exiting the Persian Gulf. A loose blockade far from shore would minimize risks from Pakistan's land-based countermeasures but also increase risks of creating a political incident with neutral vessels.
The air balance between India and Pakistan is also thought to heavily favor the larger and more technologically sophisticated Indian Air Force. While India has a qualitative and quantitative advantage, the air capabilities gap narrowed rather than widened in the last decade. The Pakistan Air Force has undergone substantial modernization since 2001, when Pakistan exited from a decade of US-imposed sanctions. With purchases from US, European, and Chinese vendors, Pakistan has both dramatically increased the number of modern fighter aircraft with beyond-visual-range capability as well as new airborne early warning and control aircraft. Meanwhile, India's fighter modernization effort has been languid over the last decade. India's largest fighter procurement effort—the purchase of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft—began in 2001 and has been slowed considerably by cumbersome defense procurement rules designed to avoid the appearance of corruption.
The ground forces balance has received the most attention from outside observers, in large part because the Indian Army has publicized its efforts at doctrinal innovation, most often referred to under the "Cold Start" moniker. However, India's ground superiority is unlikely to be sufficient to achieve a quick victory.
The net result of this analysis is to conclude that India's limited military options against Pakistan are risky and uncertain. Pakistan has options to respond to limited Indian moves, making counter-escalation likely. At least in the near-term, Pakistan appears to have configured its forces in such a way as to deny India "victory on the cheap." Therefore, India might well have to fight a full-scale war that could destroy large segments of Pakistan's army to achieve its political aims, which would approach Pakistan's stated nuclear redlines. Such a conclusion should induce caution among Indian political elites who are considering military options to punish or coerce Pakistan in a future crisis. ...
Here's an ET Op Ed by Yousuf Nazar on Pak foreign policy imperatives:
Now, as the US prepares to unwind its costly misadventure in Afghanistan, which failed to defeat the Talibans, Pakistan must seize the initiative to help shape the events to the maximum possible extent it can. The immediate near-term goal has to be the attainment of peace and stability in Afghanistan which faces an uncertain future and possibly civil war. This cannot be achieved by working with the US alone. Regional powers particularly China, Russia, India, and Iran have a natural stake in a peaceful Afghanistan. None of them has ever been comfortable with Pakistan’s close relationship with the Talibans. While China and Russia have been basically happy to let the US fight the Talibans, India and Iran have provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Afghanistan since 2002. Although it may be a bitter pill to swallow, peace is not possible without the Talibans. But it is also inconceivable without the participation of the non-Taliban groups and support of the regional powers. Pakistan may have the greatest leverage with the Talibans but that is not enough to secure peace. Actually, the war has hurt Pakistan so much, it would be wise to engage even India in a multilateral peace effort. Pakistan’s establishment should treat it as a lesser evil compared to the confused policies and hostile attitude of the US military establishment. Ultimately, durable peace in the region would rest more on Indo-Pak relations than the so-called AfPak or US with its diminishing influence, although it would remain the biggest military power for decades. But for now, it is on the retreat.
More importantly, at a broader and strategic level, Pakistan must redefine security to include energy, water, and economic security. Pakistan has pushed itself into a corner where the West considers it relevant mainly because it is a politically unstable nuclear power in a troubled region. It does not figure much in the US Middle East policy, which is focused on nuclear non-proliferation, energy security, Israel, and preventing Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Pakistan needs to have friendly ties with Iran which is not only an important neighbor but a potential source of energy having one of the five largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world. Although the proposed Pak-Iran gas pipeline has been a sore point in Pak-US relations, Pakistan’s Middle East policy should focus on its energy needs with strictly a neutral stance vis-à-vis the dangerous and destabilising regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Pakistan cannot afford to be a battle ground of proxy conflicts and must do all it can to prevent that.
South Asia is one of the least developed regions in the world and conflicts have held it back from realising its full potential. Pakistan needs friendly relations with India to access a big market but also to find a peaceful solution for its water needs because armed conflict is just not an option. Paradoxically, it is not the alliance with the US but the recent estrangement (perhaps a blessing in disguise) that has led the military establishment to support normalisation process with India.
Here's a NY Times report on China's planned railroad network in Southeast Asia:
... The Chinese-financed railway is to snake its way through dozens of tunnels and bridges, eventually linking southern China to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, and then on to the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar, significantly expanding China’s already enormous trade with Southeast Asia.
The crucial connection would run through Oudom Xai between Kunming, the capital of China’s southern province of Yunnan, and the Laotian capital, Vientiane.
“China wants a fast-speed rail — Kunming to Vientiane,” George Yeo, a former foreign minister of Singapore, said in a recent speech to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business Club in Bangkok.
Mr. Yeo, chairman of Kerry Logistics Network, a major Asian freight and distribution company, is considered one of the best-informed experts on the expansion of new Asia trading routes. “The big objective is Bangkok,” he said. “It’s a huge market, lots of opportunities. From there, Bangkok to Dawei in Myanmar — that will enable China to bypass the Malacca Straits,” a potential choke point between the Indian Ocean and China’s east coast.
In mid-November, when Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China visited Vientiane for a summit meeting of European and Asian leaders, he was expected to attend a groundbreaking for the railroad. The ceremony did not take place.
An assessment of the rail project by a consultant for the United Nations Development Program said the terms of the financing offered by China’s Export-Import Bank were so onerous they put Laos’s “macroeconomic stability in danger.” At the same time, construction through northern Laos would turn the countryside into “a waste dump,” the consultant’s report said. “An expensive mistake” if signed under the terms offered, the report concluded. As collateral for the loan, Laos was bound to provide China with minerals, including potash and copper.
Other international donors echoed the findings. “Partners, including the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, expressed concern, and the International Monetary Fund was here and said, ‘You have to be very careful,’ ” said an Asian diplomat briefed on the reservations expressed to the Laotian government.
Nonetheless, the National Assembly has approved the project as part of a much broader trans-Asian rail agreement signed by nearly 20 Asian countries in 2006. While the workings of the Communist Party that runs Laos are extremely opaque, diplomats here said, the project is most strongly backed by the pro-China deputy prime minister, Somsavat Lengsavad. Efforts to interview Mr. Somsavat were unsuccessful.
China’s exploding trade with Southeast Asia reached nearly $370 billion in 2011, double that of the United States in the same year. By 2015, when the Southeast Asian countries aim to have completed an economic community, China projects that its trade with the region will equal about $500 billion.
The European Community, the United States and Japan are still China’s largest trading partners, she said, but “Southeast Asia is geostrategically and economically important to China, an increasingly important partner from both the trade and investment perspectives.”
Laos offers a perfect launching pad for China’s stepped-up regional ambitions. China has poured new investments into the capital, including in dozens of luxurious villas built on the banks of the Mekong River to house the European and Asian leaders who attended the November summit meeting. ...
Here's Washington Post on Obama admin playbook on drone strikes:
The adoption of a formal guide to targeted killing marks a significant — and to some uncomfortable — milestone: the institutionalization of a practice that would have seemed anathema to many before the Sept. 11 , 2001, terrorist attacks.
Among the subjects covered in the playbook are the process for adding names to kill lists, the legal principles that govern when U.S. citizens can be targeted overseas and the sequence of approvals required when the CIA or U.S. military conducts drone strikes outside war zones.
U.S. officials said the effort to draft the playbook was nearly derailed late last year by disagreements among the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon on the criteria for lethal strikes and other issues. Granting the CIA a temporary exemption for its Pakistan operations was described as a compromise that allowed officials to move forward with other parts of the playbook.
The decision to allow the CIA strikes to continue was driven in part by concern that the window for weakening al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan is beginning to close, with plans to pull most U.S. troops out of neighboring Afghanistan over the next two years. CIA drones are flown out of bases in Afghanistan.
“There’s a sense that you put the pedal to the metal now, especially given the impending” withdrawal, said a former U.S. official involved in discussions of the playbook. The CIA exception is expected to be in effect for “less than two years but more than one,” the former official said, although he noted that any decision to close the carve-out “will undoubtedly be predicated on facts on the ground.”
The former official and other current and former officials interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were talking about ongoing sensitive matters.
Obama’s national security team agreed to the CIA compromise late last month during a meeting of the “principals committee,” comprising top national security officials, that was led by White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan, who has since been nominated to serve as CIA director.
Imposing the playbook standards on the CIA campaign in Pakistan would probably lead to a sharp reduction in the number of strikes at a time when Obama is preparing to announce a drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan that could leave as few as 2,500 troops in place after 2014.
Officials said concerns about the CIA exemption were allayed to some extent by Obama’s decision to nominate Brennan, the principal author of the playbook, to run the CIA.
Brennan spent 25 years at the agency before serving as chief counterterrorism adviser to Obama for the past four years. During his White House tenure, he led efforts to impose a more rigorous review of targeted killing operations. But he also presided over a major expansion in the number of strikes.
CIA officials are likely to be “quite willing, quite eager to embrace” the playbook developed by their presumed future director, the former administration official said. “It’s his handiwork.”
Brennan’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled for Feb. 7.
Here are a few excerpts from various articles about Obama re-election campaign's chief scientist Rayid Ghani:
A political novice, Ghani came to the campaign from Chicago-based R&D firm Accenture Technology Labs, where he specialized in building algorithms from various data sets—like consumer shopping habits—to help businesses improve their bottom lines. In one of his more recent projects, Ghani developed a model to estimate, with 96 percent accuracy, the end price of an eBay auction—information that could then be used to sell price insurance to queasy users worried about coming up short. At OFA, his skills have been put to use on Project Dreamcatcher, which uses text analytics to gauge voter sentiment.
“What I really did there was explore and figure out what I wanted to do, which ended up being a research career in some form of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Ghani said. “I was motivated by two goals: One was to study and understand how we (humans) learn and two: I wanted to solve large practical problems by making computers smarter though the use of data.”
That eventually led him to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for graduate school where he studied Machine Learning and Data Mining.
It was during this period that he started working at Accenture Technology labs as chief scientist, before joining Obama For America.
At Accenture, Ghani mined mountains of private data of given corporations to find statistical patterns that could forecast consumer behavior.
“We were a small group of people who were kind of looking at the next generation of tools that would be beneficial for businesses,” he said. “We were trying to find new approaches to analysing data and see how we could apply it to businesses.”
In today’s data-centric world, the one-size-fits-all model is no longer an efficient use of a company’s resources. More and more, corporations are looking for increasingly targeted approaches to attract consumers.
During a recent interview, Obama for America Chief Scientist Rayid Ghani compared his team’s social media approach in 2012 to the shift in web content from reposted print material to material designed for the web. For many organizations, he said, the prevailing strategy is “‘I used to use email, and now I’m just going to put the same information on a Facebook page.’” However, the president’s campaign used an abundance of online and offline data in order to hyper-personalize messages and get the most bang for its buck in terms of outreach.
Essentially, Ghani explained, the campaign was able to match up supporters’ friends against voting lists and determine how it should approach supporters to reach their friends. If someone was going to spread a message to 20 people, the campaign wanted to ensure they reached 20 people most likely to take action in some way. Because Ghani’s team had done so much work integrating its myriad data sets into a single view, it was better able to decide who could be most easily persuaded to vote for the first time, to donate money, to get active knocking on doors or perhaps even to switch sides.
That it was coming from friends rather than the campaign was critical to the strategy’s success, too. “The more local the contact is,” Ghani said, “the more likely [people] are to take action.”
Here's a report on John Kerry's response to demand for cutting aid to Pakistan during his Senate confirmation hearing:
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., opposed cutting foreign aid to Pakistan by arguing, among other things, that the Pakistanis haven’t gotten enough credit for their assistance in the operations that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Kerry was responding to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who suggested that the United States demand that Pakistan release Dr. Shakeel Afridi, whom they arrested after he helped the United States find bin Laden. Kerry noted the logistical support Pakistan provides to the Aghanistan war before suggesting that Pakistan helped American forces get bin Laden.
“Our folks were able to cooperate on the ground in Pakistan,” Kerry said during his first hearing about his nomination to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. “That’s one of the ways we were able to get Osama bin Laden. I don’t think the Pakistanis have frankly gotten credit, sufficiently, for the fact that they were helpful. It was their permissiveness in allowing our people to be there that helped us to be able to tie the knots that focused on that. To some degree — not exclusively, obviously, but to some degree.”
Kerry also pointed out that the Pakistanis “have lost some 6000 people just in the last year in their efforts to go after terrorists.”
Afridi was arrested after working as a CIA informant to help find bin Laden, who was living in a compound in Abbottobad, Pakistan, before Navy Seals killed him. He told Fox News that he has been tortured for helping with the operation.
“I tried to argue that America was Pakistan’s biggest supporter – billions and billions of dollars in aid, social and military assistance — but all they said was, ‘These are our worst enemies. You helped our enemies,’” Afridi said, describing the response he got from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
The State Department has called for his release. “We believe that the prosecution and conviction of Dr. Afridi sends the wrong message about the importance of our shared interest in taking down one of the world’s most notorious terrorists,” a spokesperson told Fox.
The U.S. military didn’t tell Pakistan that the raid would take place due to fears that they would warn bin Laden. “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission,” then-CIA director Leon Panetta said in May 2011. “They might alert the targets.”
Pakistan reportedly granted China access to the stealth helicopter that crashed during the bin Laden raid.
Here's a NY Times Op Ed by Joseph Nye on US "containment" of China:
CITING an escalating dispute over islands in the East China Sea, The Economist warned last week that “China and Japan are sliding toward war.” That assessment may be too alarmist, but the tensions have bolstered the efforts of some American analysts who have urged a policy to “contain” China.
During a recent visit to China, I was struck by how many Chinese officials believe such a policy is already in place and is the central purpose of President Obama’s “pivot” toward Asia. “The pivot is a very stupid choice,” Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations, declared publicly. “The United States has achieved nothing and only annoyed China. China can’t be contained,” he added.
Containment was designed for a different era, and it is not what the United States is, or should be, attempting now. At the start of the cold war, containment meant economic isolation of the Soviets and regional alliances like NATO to deter Moscow’s military expansion. Later, to the chagrin of George F. Kennan, the father of containment, the doctrine led to the “domino effect” theory behind the escalation of the Vietnam War.
Cold war containment involved virtually no trade and little social contact. But China now is not what the Soviet Union was then. It is not seeking global hegemony, and the United States not only has an immense trade with China but also huge exchanges of students and tourists.
Mr. Obama’s “rebalancing” toward Asia involves moving naval resources to the Pacific, but also trade, human rights and diplomatic initiatives. As his national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, said in November, the American-Chinese relationship “has elements of both cooperation and competition.”
Asia is not a monolith, and its internal balance of power should be the key to our strategy. Japan, India, Vietnam and other countries do not want to be dominated by China, and thus welcome an American presence in the region. Unless China is able to attract allies by successfully developing its “soft power,” the rise in its “hard” military and economic power is likely to frighten its neighbors, who will coalesce to balance its power.
A significant American military and economic presence helps to maintain the Asian balance of power and shape an environment that provides incentives for China to cooperate. After the 2008-9 financial crisis, some Chinese mistakenly believed that America was in permanent decline and that this presented new opportunities. A result was that China worsened its relations with Japan, India, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines — a misstep that confirmed that “only China can contain China.”
But America’s rebalancing toward Asia should not be aggressive. We should heed Mr. Kennan’s warning against overmilitarization and ensure that China doesn’t feel encircled or endangered. The world’s two largest economies have much to gain from cooperation on fighting climate change, pandemics, cyberterrorism and nuclear proliferation.
With China becoming more dependent on Middle Eastern energy, we should discuss maritime regulations to ensure free passage of ships and include China in Pacific naval exercises. We should help China develop domestic energy resources like shale gas and encourage China and Japan to revive their 2008 plan for joint undersea gas exploitation. And we should make clear that if China meets certain standards, it can join the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free-trade agreement around the Pacific Rim.
Containment is simply not a relevant policy tool for dealing with a rising China. Power is the ability to obtain the outcomes one wants, and sometimes America’s power is greater when we act with others rather than merely over others.
Here's an excerpt of Joseph Nye interview on NPR re US China policy:
NYE: Well, there is a tendency of the Chinese to see American policy as containment, but the - but President Obama has said that his pivot or rebalancing toward Asia is not containment, that what he is trying to do is not just look at this in military terms but also in trade terms and cooperation in other areas like energy and environment. And what's more, if you look at containment back in the old Cold War days, when we were - had a policy of containment towards the Soviet Union, there were no Soviet students to speak of in the United States.
There are 150,000 Chinese students in the United States today. We had virtually no trade with the Soviet Union. And today we have not only massive trade, but a trade deficit with China. So this is not your grandfather's containment.
CONAN: Yet if you were a Chinese admiral sitting there on the coast and looking out to sea and trying to figure out how to get your navy into the Pacific, all you could see was a series of islands from Japan in the north, all the way down to Australia, all United States allies, all controlling chokepoints that would prevent you from sending those vessels to sea.
NYE: Well, if you're talking about a war, that's problem. But let's hope we're not going to get into a war-like situation. One of the things I recommended in that New York Times op-ed was that we should start talking to the Chinese about their global role, including the role of their navy in protecting sea lines for the oil that they're going to import increasingly from the Middle East, whereas our imports of oil from Middle East are probably going to decline in the next decade.
After all, right now, we and the Chinese and other nations cooperate off the coast of Somalia in combating piracy. And in the last year the incidents of piracy have gone down.
CONAN: We're talking with Joseph Nye about an article that he wrote recently for The New York Times. You can find a link to that at our website. Go to npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION. And this is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
And you were, again, talking about the situation with China. But as they look at those oil lines, those lines of supply from the Middle East, they run through the South China Sea. And again, it is China that's - well, from the point of view of its neighbors - bullying them and trying to claim total sovereignty over an enormous stretch of water, which may have enormous deposits of oil and gas underneath it.
NYE: Well, the Chinese have inherited - the Chinese communist government has inherited from the previous nationalist government, a map which has nine dashes; it's called the nine dash line, which looks like there's a deep pocket that encompasses the whole South China Sea. Now, the Philippines and Vietnam and Malaysia and others don't agree with that.
What China has in this - and a little bit ambiguous as to whether they're claiming the sea or just some of the islands in the sea - the problem is along with the islands go the underwater resources. So China has not been totally clear about this, but it does have this large claim. And one of the problems for China is that it's worsened its relations with its neighbors by doing this. So China's going to have to come up with a clearer strategy on its own part if it's going to be able to deal with these issues with its neighbors.
Here's NY Times on Chinese taking control of Gwadar Port operations:
...The fate of Gwadar, once billed as Pakistan’s answer to the bustling port city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has been a focus of speculation about China’s military and economic ambitions in South Asia for the past decade. Some American strategists have described it as the westernmost link in the “string of pearls,” a line of China-friendly ports stretching from mainland China to the Persian Gulf, that could ultimately ease expansion by the Chinese Navy in the region. Gwadar is close to the Strait of Hormuz, an important oil-shipping lane.
But other analysts note that Gwadar is many years from reaching its potential, and they suggest that fears of creeping Chinese influence might be overblown. “There may be a strategic dimension to this, where the Chinese want to mark their presence in an important part of the world,” said Hasan Karrar, an assistant professor of Asian history at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, referring to the management transfer at Gwadar. “But I wouldn’t go so far as saying this implies a military projection in the region.”
The supply lines for the American-led coalition forces in Afghanistan mainly pass through ports farther east in Pakistan and do not involve Gwadar.
Of greater likely concern to Washington was another announcement Pakistan made on Wednesday, saying that it was pressing ahead with a joint energy project with Iran that the United States strongly opposes.
Mr. Kaira said the cabinet had approved an Iranian offer to partly finance the 490-mile-long Pakistan segment of a planned gas pipeline between the two countries. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that the project could lead to possible sanctions against Pakistan.
But political analysts in Pakistan saw the announcement as part of Pakistani election politics, and there is wider skepticism that Pakistan can bring the $1.6 billion project to completion. At present Pakistan is suffering from a major energy crisis, including a severe gas shortage that has caused lengthy lines outside fuel stations.
The gas pipeline, which enjoys broad public support, represents positive news for the government of President Asif Ali Zardari before it dissolves in preparation for elections that are expected to take place in May. And although Iran has offered a $500 million finance deal to help Pakistan build its part of the pipeline, Western officials say the Zardari government will still struggle to meet its part of the deal.
Both the Gwadar port and the pipeline to Iran offer the potential of reducing Pakistan’s strategic dependence on the United States, but as yet have failed to deliver.
Here's a Dawn report on Munter talking about US-Pak ties:
WASHINGTON: Former US ambassador to Islamabad Cameron Munter on Wednesday criticised Washington’s “callousness” over the killing of Pakistani troops as he called for both nations to rethink how they see each other.
Munter served as ambassador during some of the most difficult times of the turbulent US-Pakistan relationship including the slaying of Osama bin Laden and a US border raid that killed 24 Pakistani troops in November 2011.
Cameron Munter, who resigned last year, said that the United States had shown a lack of generosity over the deaths of the 24 troops. Pakistan shut down Nato supply routes into Afghanistan until the United States apologized seven months later.
“The fact that we were unable to say that we were sorry until July cost our country literally billions of dollars,” Munter said, pointing to the costly shift to sending supplies for the Afghan war via Central Asia.
“But worse than that, it showed a kind of callousness that makes it so difficult simply to begin to talk about those things, that I’ve always tried to stress, that we have in common,” he said at the Atlantic Council, a think tank.
Munter steadfastly denied conspiracy theories and said the deaths near the Afghan border were a case of mistaken identity. Munter said that US-led forces “obliterated” the soldiers by firing from an AC-130, a powerful gunship.
“If you don’t have that in common — that you’re sorry when there is nothing left of the bodies of 24 of your boys — then it’s very hard for many people, especially those who want a relationship with us… to defend us to their peers,” Munter said.
The border attack took place as Mitt Romney and other Republicans seeking the White House were attacking President Barack Obama for allegedly being too apologetic about the United States.
Munter pointed to comments by then candidate Newt Gingrich. In 2011, the former House speaker berated Pakistan over the presence of bin Laden despite the billions of dollars in US aid to Islamabad, saying: “How stupid do you think we are?”
“If we have that kind of dismissive attitude — that we can give people money and they’re going to love us… and somehow that means they’re going to think the way we think — that’s equally stupid,” Munter said.
He called for the United States to change its way of thinking but was also critical of Pakistan.
Munter said that Pakistanis, who in opinion polls voice widespread dislike for the United States, were wrong to take for granted that Washington simply wanted to use the country for its own interests and then discard it.
“It’s a bigotry, it’s a lazy way of thinking, and as long as Pakistanis do it, they’re going to cripple the relationship,” he said.
Munter also called for a reconsideration of “very ambitious” US aid projects, saying that such largesse was ineffective and may even be counterproductive unless Pakistan reforms its feudal-based economy.
The nation’s elites “need to stop blaming America for its perceived failure to fix Pakistan,” he said.
In a 2009 law spearheaded by now Secretary of State John Kerry, Congress authorized $7.5 billion over five years in aid to Pakistan for education, infrastructure and other projects in hopes of boosting civilian rule.
Here's a news item published in The Hindu about a Chinese Think Tank report on Sino-Pak ties:
A new report by an official Chinese think-tank has hailed the relations with Pakistan as a “model of state-to-state relations” and strongly rejected suggestions that the ‘all-weather’ relationship was growing cold amid concerns about terrorism and a lack of aid.
The report, titled ‘A Model of State-to-State Relations’, was authored by Du Youkang, head of the Centre for Pakistan Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University and a scholar who advises the government on its Pakistan policy.
Published last month, the report highlights new factors — from China’s growing ties with India to Pakistan’s economic and security troubles — as increasingly shaping the relationship, but comes to the conclusion that the “China-Pakistan relationship will remain a model for countries with different social systems to communicate and interact with each other in the future”, according to a summary published by the Communist Party-run The Global Times.
The newspaper said the publication looked to address the “increasing doubts” about the traditionally close relationship. As an example, the relatively small amounts of aid to Pakistan — dwarfed by aid from Washington — has been cited as contradicting the rhetoric about ‘all-weather’ ties. .
Terrorism in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, with Chinese officials blaming Pakistan-based groups, has also been seen by some analysts as an irritant.
However, describing Pakistan as “China’s closest friend in South Asia”, the report said bilateral ties were “established on the foundation of deep-rooted public opinion” and would not be significantly altered.
“Although there are some factors that may influence bilateral relations, for instance, the development of political relations lagging behind economic exchanges and Indian factors, there are no major differences or irreconcilable conflicts between the two,” it concludes.
Here's a Eurasia Op Ed by Musbashir Akram on multiple dimensions of US-Pak ties:
Nations maintain multiple levels of engagement. And political, defence, regional and strategic engagements are not the only ones that we should be looking at. It is in the interest of better understanding that areas where cooperation is smooth and provide clear benefits should also be given “equal treatment” in the popular media. This is needed so that media audiences can broaden their horizons.
Many Pakistani and American critics conveniently ignore the fact that both countries have a long history of mutual cooperation, such as training teachers during the USAID Teacher Education Project, building the Satpara Dam in Gilgit-Baltistan and providing essential support to each other’s political and regional goals, such as ensuring security, stability and peace in Afghanistan, particularly after the scheduled withdrawal of US and Allied Forces in 2014.
It appears that both countries, the United States and Pakistan, share more things in common than differences. The United States is currently assisting Pakistan in many social and institutional development initiatives from supporting legislative programs to education sector reforms.
The relatively new but welcome commitment of the United States to Pakistan’s democracy, in part through the USAID Pakistan Legislative Strengthening Project, is extremely encouraging. It’s worth noting that, though Pakistan’s democracy is not new, it’s the first time in the country’s history that a democratic government is completing its term instead of a military regime.
At present, Pakistan is the largest recipient of the US Educational Foundation’s Fulbright Program in the world. There are 569 Pakistani students studying in the United States at American universities of their choice. In addition, America recently contributed to upgrading the education system in Pakistan. Eight leading American universities have partnered with their Pakistani counterparts to form distance-learning programs using the internet.
For example, on 3 February 2013, San Jose State University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Allama Iqbal Open University to improve the educational methodologies for their respective students via a distance learning program. Conducting joint research, updating curricula and faculty exchange programs are just a few aspects of the program. Seven other universities have also benefited from the program.
Earlier, Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, National University of Modern Languages, Quaid-e-Azam University, Shaheed Benazir Women’s University entered into joint partnership with the University of Texas, the University of North Texas, Ball State University, and Southern Methodist University respectively. These MOUs are expected to inject nearly $9 million into Pakistani universities that are now linked with their American counterparts. This exchange will also enable Americans to learn about a country that usually gets negative press, and its people.
At another level, the United States is providing financial assistance to various provincial government programs that educate nearly 3.2 million children in Pakistan. America has helped 16 public universities in Pakistan to build teacher training facilities. Moreover, other educational programs provide higher education scholarships to nearly 12,000 Pakistani students. As Pakistan struggles to improve standards and quality of education, such activities improve the situation of thousands of Pakistani students.
It is extremely heartening that the United States and Pakistan have chosen educational cooperation, among other types, as a key instrument of engagement with each other. This should be institutionalised over the long term as this not only strengthens Pakistan, but also connects Pakistani youth with their American counterparts....
Here's a Hindustan Times report on failure of US-India strategic alignment:
A lack of strategic vision in the military alignment between India and the US is likely to ensure that New Delhi fails to emerge as Washington's key security ally in the Indo-Pacific region, a former Chinese diplomat to India has said.
Mao Siwei, who served as the Consul General
of China in Kolkata in the late 2000s, quoting a report indicated that strategic military ties between the US and India failed to evolve as expected after they signed the civil nuclear deal.
According to a "report of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, US-India Military Engagement, authored by an insider at the US Department of Defence, the current situation of the US-India military relations is far from what the US side expects. The report said the US and India lacked a clearly defined strategic vision to focus their military engagement," Mao said at a recent conference.
The report said the US and India lacked a "clearly defined strategic vision to focus their military engagement."
"The concerns of the Indian side about jeopardising strategic autonomy, along with personnel and budgetary limitations, have led to a further stymieing of deeper military contact," Mao said.
As a result, he said India was not likely to emerge as a key provider of security within the Indo-Pacific region any time in the near to midterm future.
Here's an Al-Arabia Op Ed by Mansoor Jaafar on Pakistan transferring control of Gwadar port to China:
At last, Pakistan finally took the gutsy decision of handing over the strategically vital Gwadar port to China, ignoring the raised eyebrows from the U.S., India, several western and Gulf countries including Iran.
Located at the top of Arabian sea and mouth of Gulf near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Gwadar port is at the apex of busy trading and oil shipping route and surrounded by a region that houses around two-thirds of the world's oil reserves. Besides Pakistan and China, its natural beneficiaries will be the landlocked, but energy-rich, Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan, for whom it is the nearest warm-water sea port.
The project of world-class sea port that could monitor and share bulk of world’s oil trade has always been a temptation for entire world; like the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which has enabled its controller Iran to see eyeball to eyeball with the mighty super power, the U.S. So, Gwadar always remained a prized object inviting all the mighty countries of the world to win it.
Before creation of Pakistan, Gwadar was gifted to Sultanate of Oman by its controller, Khan of Kalat (present day district in resources rich Baluchistan province), as part of dowry to his daughter when she married prince of Muscat. Due to its strategic importance, India made several attempts to purchase it, all of which were foiled by Pakistan, and finally purchased it back from Oman in 1958.
Tagged with all those multi-billion dollar profit options, Gwadar port will now being operated by China, against a vehement resistance by the U.S. Obviously, controlling the huge unfathomable resources of central Asia is perhaps one of the major objectives of the long and the costliest ever military campaign in Afghanistan. Despite all the lip service, none of the western countries has ever been willing to give any substantial help to Pakistan which could enable this nuclear power grow into a strong economic regional power.
China’s 60 percent oil comes from Gulf by ships traveling over 16,000 kilometers in two to three months, confronting pirates, bad weather, political rivals and other risks up to its only commercial port, Shanghai. Gwadar will reduce the distance to mere 2500 kilometers and also serve round the year.
Besides China, Gwadar will be a much cheaper alternative to the traders of Europe, Japan, the Far East, and Central Asia, who could use the under-construction airport to air-lift their good from here, saving over half of the costs and time.
But from the phase of construction to operating, China has given up two subsidiary projects which were part of original Gwadar port. Beijing refused to build the oil refinery at Gwadar, and to review the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline through its economic experts. Nevertheless, Pakistan made “significant progress” this year in shape of commissioning IP gas pipeline and Gwadar port projects despite world's sanctions on Iran.
How will the U.S. respond? It is the key question on which the regional politics in near future will rest. Both these decisions are being termed as historic and a feather in the cap of otherwise the ever-notorious president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari who is also practically controlling the affairs of the ruling PPP. He made those toughest decisions at the tail-end of his party’s five-year rule, leaving the consequences to be faced by the next government.
Here's a Forbes piece by Stephen Harner on US-Japan vs China on disputed islands:
Former students of Asian politics and international relations of a certain age (my age, or a bit older), would in college or graduate school have heard of, if not carefully read, China Crosses the Yalu: The Decision to Enter the Korean War, by Allen S. Whiting (1960). This was a seminal study of formal or–mainly–informal signals sent by China in 1950 warning with increasing clarity and vehemence the officially U.N. (but overwhelmingly U.S.) forces under command of Douglas MacArthur, then beating back North Korea invaders and advancing up the Korea peninsula, that China was prepared to and would intervene on behalf of North Korea if its territory or vital interests were threatened.
In the event, on October 25,1950, 25 days after U.N. forces had crossed the 38th parallel, 200,000 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (redesignated by Mao Zedong the People’s Volunteer Army) soldiers, having secretly crossed the Yalu River on October 19, attacked U.N. forces, beginning an engagement that would vastly increase casualties on both sides, but especially for the PLA. Whiting’s book sought to discern at what point China’s in many cases subtle and indirect warnings might have been heeded or responded so that intervention might have been avoided.
I have been reminded of China Crosses the Yalu as I have worked through the new book on the Senkaku/Diaoyu island crisis by Yabuki Susumu (矢吹晋), professor emeritus of Yokohama City University, one of Japan’s most eminent China scholars. The book (written in Japanese) is entitled:「尖閣問題の核心 」(The Core of the Senkaku Issue), and bears a subtitle:「日中関係はどうなる」 (What is to Become of Japan-China Relations). I believe that the book is the fairest and most objective, as well as the most thorough, exposition of the positions of both Japan and China, and–critically–the U.S., on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute.
At the risk of oversimplifying, I think I can summarize Professor Yabuki’s analysis and conclusions as follows:
1. The Japanese position on the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue is indefensible on several counts, including most fundamentally Japan’s unconditional acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (which required the return of all territories “stolen” from China).
2. The Meiji government’s annexation of the Ryuku Islands (theretofore an autonomous kingdom) in January 1885, within which the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands were identified, followed three months later by the Qing Dynasty’s surrender of Taiwan and the Pescadores to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki (ending the Sino-Japanese War) are both mooted by the terms of Potsdam. The islands were and are clearly part of Taiwan, which in addition has the most legitimate claim to continuous use/occupation.
3. The Japanese position that Senkaku/Diaoyu is part of Japanese territory because it was awarded to Japan by the U.S. in the Okinawa Reversion agreement of 1971 is similarly contrary to fact. The U.S. awarded to Japan only administrative authority over the islands, not sovereignty. Sovereignty was specifically not transferred. The U.S. continued to maintain was undetermined between the three claimants and would only be determined through discussion and agreement. (As I noted in the last post, the Obama administration–in a monumental blunder–effectively changed this policy by failing to object to and stop Japanese “nationalization.”)....
Here's a ET piece on Pak-China rail link:
The railway project will connect Pakistan with Xinjiang region in China and enhance the capacity of transportation between the two countries, said Sichuan University Chengdu China Pakistan Study Centre Director Dr Chen Jidong, while speaking as a key note speaker at a one-day seminar on prospects of Pak-China Relations at the University of Peshawar on Friday.
The seminar was arranged by the Department of International Relations (IR), University of Peshawar, in collaboration with Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad.
Jidong claimed the project is in the greatest advantage of Pakistan, and will build trade and transport corridors by connecting South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and Western China.
According to a report published in The Hindu on September 1, 2012, a portion of the railway track from Kashgar to Hotan in southern Xinjiang began in June last year, whereas work has not yet started beyond that.
The line is planned to run from Kashgar, the Old Silk Road town, to Xinjiang region, the report said.
Chinese strategic analyst Professor Zhon Rong said the taking over of Gwadar port by a Chinese company along with this new project can transform Pakistan into an economic giant of the 21st century.
“Let me tell Pakistani people that Gwadar Port is first for the development of Pakistan and then for any other country. The US withdrawal by end of 2014 (from Afghanistan) would start the beginning of a golden period for Balochistan,” he said.
“Gwadar port will always belong to Pakistan. The Pakistani government has handed it over to a Chinese company because the Singaporean Company who was in charge of port operations in 2007 could not deliver the desired results,” added Rong.
When a student inquired about the role of China post-2014, Jidong said China prefers participation of the Afghan people in the peace process.
“We have no favours or opinion to offer on talks of the Afghan government with the Afghan Taliban, but China does want to play a moderate and neutral role in Afghanistan,” he said.
Department of International Relations Chairman Professor Dr Adnan Sarwar Khan said the old slogan ‘deeper than the sea and higher than the sky’ for Pak-China relations must be transformed into something tangible by boosting economic ties.
“If other regional countries can have alliances and organisations like Nato, why can’t we have IPC (India Pakistan China) or APC (Afghanistan Pakistan China) cooperation to boost regional peace and economy,” he said.
Institute of Policy Studies Director General Khalid Rehman, Pak China Friendship Secretary General Syed Ali Nawaz Gillani and a large number of students attended the seminar.
Here's an FP Mag Op Ed on Pakistan serving as a bridge for US-China ties after military withdrawal from Afghanistan:
---Sino-Pakistan relations have consisted of four phases. After diplomatic ties were established in 1951, relations cooled as Pakistan sided with the United States against seating China in the United Nations. The 1962 Sino-Indian war and 1963 Sino-Pak boundary agreement cemented ties against a common adversary; China became and remains a vital source of military and nuclear technology for Pakistan. In the late eighties, a thaw in Sino-Indian ties - trade between the two rising economic giants is now six times that between China and Pakistan - and the spread of militancy into China's restive Xinjiang region from Pakistan diluted the relationship. Since 9/11, Chinese concerns about Pakistan's stability have only deepened with attacks on some of the 13,000 Chinese workers living in Pakistan.
Three lessons for the United States emerge from this narrative.
First, while China remains committed to Pakistan, especially to balance India, its position on Indo-Pak relations has shifted. From threatening intervention in the 1965 Indo-Pak war to former President Jiang Zemin urging the Pakistani Parliament to put Kashmir on the back burner and focus on development in the nineties, to the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister engaging in unprecedented shuttle diplomacy following the 2008 Mumbai attacks that nearly brought both sides to war, China is emerging as a key crisis-manager in South Asia - in large part to maintain regional stability for its own economic growth.
Second, despite these shifts, China retains a high favorability rating in Pakistan at 90%. Underpinning this credibility is China's perceived unstinting support vis a vis India and economic assistance, generally in the form of soft loans with no grating conditionalities, that have resulted in a range of prominent infrastructure and defense-related projects in Pakistan.
Third, China is increasingly focused westward. Since 2000, China's "Go West" policy has sought to tackle underdevelopment in its vast western regions, including Xinjiang. Pakistan can potentially provide an outbound route for goods from Xinjiang and an inbound maritime route through its struggling Gwadar port for an increasingly Persian Gulf-oil dependent China. Similarly, an influential essay titled "Marching West" making the rounds in China's policy circles argues for expanding ties with China's western neighbors. In contrast to a tense Pacific, China's west, the essay contends, is also fertile ground for Sino-U.S. cooperation, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A final lesson from history: citing Pakistan's pivotal backchannel role in the normalization of Sino-US relations, Premier Zhou En Lai subsequently remarked to Henry Kissinger that "the bridge that helped them cross (the divide)" must not be forgotten. As the Obama administration scales back in South Asia and rebalances to the Asia-Pacific, navigating new chasms with a rising China, Pakistan might yet again serve as a bridge.
Here's some wishful thinking by a former commander of Indian Navy as reported IDRW.org:
Quite clearly, in terms of land power, the Chinese are ahead of us not just in numbers, but in their ability to move forces quickly and in the required numbers, both force multipliers. That said, this does not immediately make our cause a lost one. We are not about to see a war being fought a la World War II in which the fight will go on until one side is, ultimately, forced to surrender. What is more germane is whether, in a limited conflict, like the one in Kargil, we have the capability to inflict a degree of punishment that the adversary might not find acceptable – militarily and politically. In 1978, Vietnam achieved this objective against the invading Chinese army easily, despite being seriously outnumbered and outgunned. The moot question, therefore, is whether we are equipped and able to do something similar or not. Frankly, not even the most cynical among our military will doubt the Indian Army’s ability to do much more to the adversary than what Vietnam could do more than three decades ago. Our capabilities may not deter in the absolute sense, but are sufficient to dissuade the Chinese.
In the air, the situation is different. The Chinese have many more aircraft, but a good number are relatively old and unsuited to today’s war fighting. Even though they have lengthened and strengthened airfields in the Tibetan plateau, Chinese aircraft are more constrained in their operating parameters, such as endurance and weapon loads, compared to ours operating from airfields located at sea level. So, if it comes to a fight in the air, do not expect the Chinese air force to have a free ride. On the contrary, India has enough in its inventory to give the Chinese a run for their money, and more. Despite delays in inducting more fighter aircraft, the Indian Air Force, in its Sukhois, MIG-29s and Mirages has a quite potent punch. In short, in air power, the equation is pretty even.
At sea, the equation is decidedly tilted towards us. In the Indian Ocean region, India has advantages that the Chinese will be hard put to match. Availability of organic air power through dozens of airfields strung across the Indian coast and island territories enable not just credible operating capability across the large water space, but also surveillance over critical energy and shipping routes. Not only do the Chinese have limited resources to facilitate credible operations, their access to the Indian Ocean is constrained by the narrow channels of the South East Asian archipelago. These potential vulnerabilities in this maritime theatre must weigh heavily in Beijing.
This brings us to the nature of a possible military conflict. A skirmish at a couple of places on the land border cannot be ruled out and will soon be controlled, but anything more substantive will almost certainly bring air and sea power into play. China has an exposed energy lifeline across the Indian Ocean that it will find difficult to safeguard in the face of opposition. This serious vulnerability at sea cannot be kept out of the calculations that it will, inevitably, have to make, should it decide to take the military option.
In short, there is power asymmetry on land to our disadvantage, reasonable equality in the air and credible advantages in our favour at sea. It is this totality of the military interface that any adversary has to consider. The balance is not as lopsided as many of our people would have us believe, but it could become that if we are not careful. We must look at the military equations in their totality – and not just those limited to the land border – and develop our capabilities accordingly. Military planners are not concerned with what potential adversaries may or may not do; their task only is to ensure that the equation is not allowed to alter to our disadvantage. This calls for calm and continuing analysis – not alarm.
Here's a PakObserver report on Chinese investment in Pakistan:
Friday, March 29, 2013 - Islamabad—China is committed to invest heavily in Pakistan’s energy and other sectors to improve lives of people, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy Yao Wen said Thursday.
Speaking at a function at a local school here, Yao Wen said Chinese are already working on 120 projects in Pakistan with around a quarter related to energy.
In addition, during the last five years volume of bilateral trade has grown by 70 per cent to over $ 12 billion with Pakistani exports increased two-fold from $1 billion to $2.2 billion, he informed.
Yao Wen stressed the need for enhancing collaboration between educational institutions and exchanges of students and researchers to promote intellectual cooperation.
Lauding the role of Pakistan in regional and global peace, stability and development, he said that Pakistan has offered great sacrifices to ensure peace.
Speaking on the occasion, President Ex-Chinese Association Raza Khan lauded the Chinese assistance and cooperation in various fields, terming it a great service to people of Pakistan.
He lauded the active involvement of Chinese Ambassador Liu Jian in capacity building of students and said that supporting needy students was a great service for social development. Raza Khan stressed the need for increasing people-to-people exchanges to promote understanding and carry forward cause of Pak-China friendship.
Terming China a sincere friend, Joint Secretary Ministry of Education Prof. Muhammad Rafiq Tahir said that two countries should fully unleash their potential of cooperation to benefit masses.
Here's ET piece on energy-hungry South Asia looking to energy-rich Central Asia:
.Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are all rich in oil and gas. According to available data, they have a combined 8.2 billion tons of proven oil reserves and 8.4 trillion cubic metres of natural gas reserves.
On the other side, South Asia faces a deficit in energy, rapidly picking up on economic growth. Connecting South Asian energy consumption centres to energy-rich Central Asian states is a win-win solution. It can bring economic growth to Central Asia through oil and gas revenues, and it can help South Asia continue on the path of stable economic growth and prepare the subcontinent as a future consumption market, which can support trade needed to sustain G-8 countries at the present level.---------
At the moment, three principal gas pipelines can bring gas to the subcontinent. These are the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline (TAPI), the Qatar-Pakistan-India (QPI) submarine gas pipeline, and the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline. The QPI, for a considerable portion, has to be laid down in the seabed of the Arabian Sea. The option, at present, is too expensive to be adopted. Even after completion, its estimated annual maintenance cost is a considerable portion of the profit margin, and the host consortium may not find it feasible to run.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on March 15, 1995, between Turkmenistan and Pakistan to build a gas pipeline from the Daulatabad gas field in Turkmenistan to Multan in southern Punjab. US company Unocal, in consort with Saudi oil company Delta, prepared to start work on the project. The two companies later joined the CentGas consortium in which several international petroleum companies joined in, including Russian petroleum giant Gazprom.
Later on, in June 1998, Gazprom relinquished its share in the project, while Unocal withdrew in August 1998 after attacks on American Embassies in Nairobi and Darussalam. The project was then put on the backburner.
The $7.6 billion pipeline, with initial capacity of 27 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, will deliver 2 billion cubic metres of gas to Afghanistan and 12.5 billion cubic metres each to Pakistan and India.
The proposed pipeline was designed to bring gas to Pakistan and India. The pipeline can initially supply 22 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, which was expected to be raised later to 55 billion cubic metres per year. The project was supposed to be commissioned by 2013 (this year) at a cost of $7.5 billion. After reaching Multan, a spur line had been proposed, which would deliver gas to India. Under the gas purchase agreement, Pakistan was supposed to get gas at a price of $11 per million British thermal units (MMBTU). The price is $2 per MMBTU cheaper than the TAPI pipeline gas, which costs $13 per MMBTU. The Iranian gas is also $7 per MMBTU cheaper than imported LNG.
In 2008, after signing a civilian nuclear deal with the US, India withdrew from the project.
Pakistan’s federal government in January this year has approved a $1.5 billion government-to-government deal with Iran for laying the 785-kilometre segment of the pipeline in Pakistan. The federal cabinet has finally approved the project, and a special committee has been formed to expedite it. The US has been quick to register its concerns over the deal.
South Asian consumption
In Pakistan per capita natural gas consumption in 2010 was 229 cubic metres, whereas in India this is as low as 55 cubic metres..
Here's a Nation story on US Amb Olson's visit to Sialkot:
Ambassador Olson toured the Sialkot International Airport, the Silver Star Group, and KM Ashraf Industries.
He also met with the executive board of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In Lahore, Ambassador Olson congratulated U.S. companies for their work in Pakistan, including corporate social responsibility programs, at the annual dinner of the American Business Forum.
“The United States stands with many entrepreneurs here in Sialkot and across Pakistan as you develop your businesses,” said Ambassador Olson during his visit to Silver Star in Sialkot. Silver Star produces nearly 70% of the hand-stitched footballs sold by the U.S. firm Nike.
“The United States is among the largest investors in Pakistan, and Pakistan exports more products to the United States than to any other country in the world,” he added. Ambassador Olson underscored this point during a visit to KM Ashraf Industries, which exports more than $20 million worth of sports uniforms to the United States each year.
At the Sialkot International Airport (SIAL), Pakistan’s first privately-funded international airport, Ambassador Olson congratulated the management team for recent upgrades that allow the airport to carry the load of 10 jumbo planes, benefiting hundreds of businesses and more than a million travelers each year. “This is a clear example of how private-sector funding can be used to meet the needs of the business community. SIAL is a model for other cities in South Asia,” said the Ambassador.
At a lunch meeting with the executive board of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ambassador Olson discussed opportunities to further strengthen ties between U.S. and Pakistani businesses. He also reminded Chamber members that businesses can take advantage of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which allows more than 3,500 Pakistani goods to enter the United States duty free.
Ambassador Olson will cap off his private-sector meetings in Punjab by recognizing the corporate social responsibility efforts and strong business ethics of U.S. companies working in Pakistan at the American Business Forum annual dinner in Lahore.
Throughout his visit, Ambassador Olson highlighted several examples of Pakistani entrepreneurs who have benefited from U.S. economic assistance. U.S. economic assistance helps businesses create jobs and boost incomes with projects that expand Pakistan’s agricultural output. U.S. assistance is building roads to facilitate trade and will offer a private equity fund to help small and medium-size businesses expand.
US issues arms sales waivers for Pakistan, reports PTI:
In an indication of the “positive trajectory” of the bilateral ties, the U.S. has issued a waiver, second in six months, for sale of major defence equipment to Pakistan citing national security interest.
The waiver issued quietly by the then Deputy Secretary of States Thomas Nides on February 15, and posted on the State Department website a week later on February 22, would pave the way for some major defence equipment sales to Pakistan.
“The Department issued the waiver because we have determined that security assistance is important to the national security interests of the United States and is a critical component of U.S. efforts to continue to build a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan grounded in concrete action on areas of shared interest,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI.
The waiver, issued within a fortnight of Secretary of State John Kerry taking the reins U.S. diplomacy on February 1, allows for the execution of America’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme, and for the sale or export of certain Major Defence Equipment (MDE).
“Major Defence Equipment,” means any U.S. manufactured defence article whose export is controlled by U.S. Munitions List which has a nonrecurring research and development cost of more than $50,000,000 or a total production cost of more than $200,000,000. These items require Congressional notification, the spokesman said.
“As a matter of policy we do not discuss proposed defence sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress,” he said, refraining to give any figure to the expected sale of major defence items to Pakistan after this waiver.
According to a known South Asia expert, the two waivers issued by the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September were sweeping and so allowed the release of all forms of assistance for the fiscal 2012 including non-military.
It seems the main purpose of the February 15 waiver was to create a positive atmosphere for meetings in Washington DC with visiting senior military officials from Pakistan.
“These waivers don’t represent an improvement in U.S.-Pakistan relations so much as they represent attempts to improve such relations,” an expert explained said adding that from the U.S. perspective, some level of working relations with Pakistan is necessary for the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan to go smoothly.
Observing that security assistance builds Pakistan’s capabilities in countering terrorism, the State Department official said that such assistance will continue to be implemented consistent with its policy goals of supporting Pakistan’s shared interest in regional stability and countering terrorism.
“Despite the past challenges in our bilateral relationship with Pakistan, we are encouraged by recent engagements which indicate the positive trajectory of the relationship, including productive working group meetings addressing the full range of the relationship and Pakistan’s participation in Core Group meetings with Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said.
“As we have said, our number one shared priority remains pursuing our counterterrorism objectives to secure the safety of American and Pakistani citizens. We face a common threat from a common enemy, and we must confront terrorism and extremism together,” the official asserted.....
Here's a report on China supplying 1000 MW Chashma 3 nuclear power plant:
China confirmed this week it will sell a new 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor to Pakistan that the United States says would violate Beijing’s obligations under a nuclear supplier control group.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked Monday about a report in the Free Beacon March 22 that first disclosed the secret agreement for the reactor reached last month in Beijing between the China National Nuclear Corp. and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
“China has noted the relevant report,” Hong told reporters in Beijing.
Normally, Chinese government spokesmen deny such reports and label them “groundless” as a way to avoid comment. The spokesman’s use of the phrase “noted the relevant report” is unusual and a tacit admission the report is accurate.
U.S. intelligence and diplomatic officials privately said the agreement was reached in Beijing during a visit by a high-level Pakistani delegation of nuclear industry officials from Feb. 15 to 18.
The Chinese at the meeting urged Pakistan to keep the deal secret to avoid expected international opposition by states that say the sale violates China’s commitment to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 46-member association aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
China agreed in 2004 not to sell additional reactors to Pakistan’s Chashma nuclear facility beyond the two reactors that began operating in 2000 and 2011.
However, Hong denied the sale violates the voluntary NSG guidelines.
“The cooperation between China and Pakistan does not violate relevant principles of the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he said. “In recent years, China and Pakistan do indeed carry out some joint projects related to civilian use of nuclear energy. These projects are for peaceful purpose only, in compliance with the international obligations shared by both countries, and they are subject to guarantee and monitor by international atomic energy organization.”
However, U.S. intelligence officials said the China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) is Beijing’s main nuclear weapons producer and is working to modernize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in addition to the civilian reactor construction at Chashma.
China also is working to develop Pakistan’s nuclear fuel reprocessing capabilities, the officials said....
Here are excerpts of NY Times summary of “The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth” by Mark Mazzetti:
More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.
Back in Washington, Ambassador Haqqani was summoned to C.I.A. headquarters on Feb. 21 and taken into Panetta’s spacious office overlooking the agency’s campus in Langley, Va. Sitting around a large conference table, Panetta asked Haqqani for his help securing Davis’s release. “If you’re going to send a Jason Bourne character to Pakistan, he should have the skills of a Jason Bourne to get away,” Haqqani shot back, according to one person who attended the meeting.
Munter said he believed that the C.I.A. was being reckless and that his position as ambassador was becoming untenable. His relationship with the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, already strained because of their disagreements over the handling of the Davis case, deteriorated even further when Munter demanded that the C.I.A. give him the chance to call off specific missile strikes. During one screaming match between the two men, Munter tried to make sure the station chief knew who was in charge, only to be reminded of who really held the power in Pakistan.
On the streets and in the markets of Pakistan, Raymond Davis remains the boogeyman, an American killer lurking in the subconscious of a deeply insecure nation. On a steamy summer night last summer, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed — the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the reason Davis and his team were sent to Lahore in the first place — stood on the back of a flatbed truck and spoke to thousands of cheering supporters less than a mile from Pakistan’s Parliament building in Islamabad. A $10 million American bounty still hung over Saeed’s head, part of a broader squeeze on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s finances. But there he was, out in the open and whipping the crowd into a fury with a pledge to “rid Pakistan of American slavery.” The rally was the culmination of a march from Lahore to Islamabad that Saeed ordered to protest American involvement in the country. The night before the march reached the capital, six Pakistani troops were killed by gunmen riding motorcycles not far from where the marchers were spending the night, leading to speculation that Saeed had ordered the attack.
But Saeed insisted that night that he was not to blame for the deaths. The killers were foreigners, he told the crowd, a group of assassins with a secret agenda to destabilize Pakistan and steal its nuclear arsenal. With a dramatic flourish, he said he knew exactly who had killed the men.
“It was the Americans!” he shouted to loud approvals. “It was Blackwater!” The cheers grew even louder. He saved the biggest applause line ...
Here's an excerpt of a Time story about Holbrook's deputy Vali Nasr's latest book on US-Pak ties:
...Sitting with Holbrooke was Vali Nasr, then his senior adviser. Nasr recalls the episode in his new book, The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat, a searing critique of how the Obama Administration has been too timid to transform American foreign policy. Holbrooke, writes Nasr, was troubled by Zardari’s display of dependence on the U.S. and the sense of entitlement that went with it. “Holbrooke didn’t like the image of Pakistan holding a gun to its own head as it shook down America for aid,” writes Nasr, now dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Holbrooke did agree, however, with Zardari that Pakistan was important and the U.S. had a long-term interest in its stability. For the next year and a half, Holbrooke and his team pursued a policy of diplomatic engagement with Pakistan. It went beyond the traditional approach narrowly based on security concerns. The idea was to try and address Pakistan’s strategic calculus — an ambitious target that may have underestimated how far Pakistan was willing to go without changing its ways. “What Holbrooke wanted,” Nasr tells TIME in an interview, “was to engage big and try and change the course of this country and its relationship with Washington once and for all.”
But from the very start, President Barack Obama and the White House never really bought into the idea. “The White House tolerated Holbrooke’s approach for a while,” Nasr writes in the book, “but in the end decided that a policy of coercion and confrontation would better achieve our goals in Pakistan.” Washington was less interested in working with Pakistan, Nasr says, than pressuring it into compliance. That strategy, he says, has failed. And now, he warns, the U.S. risks pivoting away from the region at the cost of abandoning vital interests that remain there.
“When you look at Pakistan today,” says Nasr, “it is nuclear-armed, in near conflict with India, has a dangerous civil war with its own extremists, is now subject to one of the most brutal terrorism campaigns against its population, that is now coming apart along sectarian lines.” If the U.S. does not maintain influence in Pakistan, he says, it won’t be able to have a positive impact on the direction of the country. “Looking at it from an American perspective,” Nasr says, “we’re just going to be basically saying, ‘We’re going to sit on the sideline and look at this roller coaster go off this rail.’”
But the Obama Administration didn’t have the patience to stick with it. As Nasr acknowledges, there was a rival school of thought that said, “It was too difficult, too time-consuming and wouldn’t work anyway.” When Holbrooke died, their view won out. Nasr resigned from the State Department soon after. In 2011, three major incidents brought the relationship crashing to its lowest-point ever: a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, allegedly killed two people in Lahore; U.S. Navy Seals carried out a raid to get Osama bin Laden without informing the Pakistanis; and toward the end of the year, 26 Pakistani troops were killed in a cross-border incident.
The CIA and the Pentagon saw the benefits of the cooperation, Nasr notes in his book. But at the same time, he writes, they applied constant pressure that “threatened to break up the relationship.” At one point, Holbrooke turned to him, shaking his head, and said: “Watch them [the CIA] ruin this relationship. And when it is ruined, they are going to say, ‘We told you, You can’t work with Pakistan!’ We never learn.”
Here's a Nation newspaper report on normalization of US-Pak ties:
WASHINGTON - America's troubled ties with Pakistan are back on track, a senior Obama Administration official has said, while cautioning that the Pakistanis can be expected "to act when it is in their interest".
"We are now on a track where the communication has started to occur again and we're making progress. But we have to be realistic in our assumptions and expectations,” he said.
"We can expect the Pakistanis to act when it is in their interest," Assistant Secretary of State Andrew J Shapiro said, without elaborating further.
Responding to questions from audience at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank based here, Shapiro admitted that the relationship with Pakistan went through some challenges over the last couple of years.
"We had the Osama bin Laden raid. We had the border incident where Pakistani soldiers were killed. And so we went through a period, a difficult period, where there was not a lot of assistance flowing and our communication was not great," he said, adding, that the relationship now appears to be back on track.
Shapiro said there were a number of incidents and attacks by extremists in Pakistan recently that directly impact the interests of both the countries.
"So it makes sense for us to work with them, where we have these mutual interests, to provide them with assistance that will go after the bad guys. So we will continue to have these conversations with them about the best way to use this assistance," he said.
Referring to the improvement in US-Pak ties and the American interest in the region, Shapiro strongly advocated in favour of continuation of military assistance to Islamabad.
"We have seen some really promising signs in our dialogue with Pakistan that we think make it worthwhile to continue our security assistance to Pakistan," the State Department official said.....
Here's an excerpt of Christine Fair's Op Ed in Time Magazine:
...This author opposed the 2005 U.S.-India nuclear deal for several reasons.
First, I thought it hurt the goal of nuclear nonproliferation to let India into the nuclear club while elsewhere trying to tighten the noose to keep Iran out.
Second, while I support strong U.S.-India ties, I was not persuaded that the deal would open the door to deeper U.S. and Indian strategic cooperation and American weapons sales to India as promised.
Third, I was annoyed at the misrepresentations made by its proponents during numerous congressional hearings on the subject.
Fourth, I understood that it would give Pakistan wiggle room regarding its nuclear aspirations.
Finally, I anticipated that should Pakistan fail to secure such a deal, it would likely work to sabotage everything the United States was trying to do in Afghanistan. After all, Pakistan sees itself as paying a heavy price for supporting the U.S., while India reaps rewards without such cost.
If the United States wants one last chance of salvaging a relationship with Pakistan, it should put on the table a conditions-based, civilian-nuclear deal. Whereas the deal with India was motivated by a desire to work with India, in the region and beyond, to manage China’s rise, this deal with Pakistan would be aimed to slowly wean it from its jihad addiction and work with Pakistan to secure the command and control and ultimate safety of its expanding nuclear weapons. It should be recalled that the India-U.S. nuclear deal remains a work in progress, even though the deal was announced in 2005—some eight years ago.
Pakistan’s leaders note, in private, that they really do not need the United States because they have China. That claim is hollow. China only provides loans and engages Pakistan on extractive terms to service its own goals. Its weapons systems are of uneven quality and generally are no match for American systems. Worse yet, China cannot confer legitimacy to Pakistan’s nuclear program, as the United States can as it did for India.
Putting this on the negotiating table with Pakistan should have a clarifying effect. If Pakistan is unwilling to give up its jihadi assets for this enormous offer, the United States will understand that there is literally nothing in its tool box that can help coax Pakistan off the trajectory of a rogue state that terrorizes its citizens at home and others abroad.
To increase the likelihood that Pakistan would take such a deal, Pakistan should also be made to understand that while the United States is willing to reward Pakistan, it is also prepared to come down upon Pakistan with the full intent of containing the threats it poses. This list of negative inducements should be specific and targeted. There is little doubt that policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch alike will have to garner the requisite scrotal fortitude to make good on these threats. Alas, the U.S. track record on this front is abysmal....
Inside Pakistan, such a profound policy shift will require its strategic elites to imagine a different future for their nation. Pakistanis are wary and distrustful of the Americans. Giving up nuclear-backed jihadi assets is a big “ask.” Consensus to do so may be slow in the coming, and may never come at all.
But Americans should not presume that all Pakistanis want this dystopic future. Washington should find and reach out to those Pakistanis who understand the growing cost of past and current policies. Those folks, alas, are Pakistan’s lone hope and prospects for change.
Mary Kay Magistad of NPR's The World reported that China has reacted strongly to the Pentagon report on China's military growth and modernization with its first aircraft carrier, several nuclear submarines and stealth aircraft.
Magistead reported that Xinhua has for the first time talked about China as a global economic power with global interests and it needs a blue water navy to protect a tremendous number of sea-lanes.
Here's a Xinhua report on Chinese Prime Minister Li's visit to Pakistan:
In order to deepen the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership, Li proposed, the two neighbors should firstly strengthen strategic communication and coordination, maintain high-level contact, and thus steer the bilateral relationship forward.
Secondly, the two countries should reinforce strategic and long-term planning, and open up new cooperation areas such as connectivity and maritime sectors, the Chinese premier said.
They should start formulating a long-term plan for the China-Pakistan economic corridor project and gradually push forward its construction, added the premier.
Thirdly, Li suggested, China and Pakistan further raise the level of bilateral trade and realize a dynamic balance while expanding the scale of two-way trade.
China, he said, encourages Chinese enterprises to participate in Pakistan's infrastructure construction.
Fourthly, the two sides should boost people-to-people and cultural exchanges and media cooperation, said the Chinese premier, adding that they also need to expand exchanges between their young generations so as to carry forward their traditional friendship.
Fifthly, he urged the two countries to promote cooperation in regional and global affairs and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.
China respects the development path Pakistan has chosen based on its own realities, and will continue to support Pakistan in defending its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, Li said.
China, he added, is willing to provide unconditional help within its capacity for Pakistan's economic development and seek common advancement in state governance through exchanges and mutual learning.
It was Kissinger who said "Nations Don't Have Friends, They Have Interests".
Both US and China have interests in South and West Asia.
China wants to build a Pak-China economic corridor through Pakistan from Gwadar to Xinjiang to assure its energy supplies in the events of hostilities with the US and resulting naval blockade in South China Sea.
As part of President Obama's "pivot to Asia" to check China's rise, the Americans have a strong competing interest in creating a new silk route in Asia that bypasses China. Americans envision such land route extending from resource rich Stans in Central Asia to resource hungry South Asia and Southeast Asia region via Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The expected energy flow for energy-hungry Pakistan and the potential annual transit fees worth billions of dollars from this trade route are part of the US sponsored incentives for Pakistan to help stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. The first example of this effort is the American push for TAPI--Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.
Alliances are based on interests and change with changing interests.
With the changing geo-politics, it seems to me that China's interests are likely to be more aligned with Pakistan's than the US interests.
Pakistanis need to be prepared to respond to the unfolding dynamics of geopolitics in the region and do what best serves their national interest.
Here's a VOA report on China's growing footprint in Pakistan:
China is one of Pakistan’s largest business partners, and more than 120 Chinese companies are doing business in Pakistan. This is despite the serious security risks Chinese nationals face in Pakistan.
During Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit last month to China, the two countries signed several economic agreements that give Pakistan much-needed foreign investment. China will also benefit, says Derek Scissors of the Heritage Foundation.
"China gains two things. Employment for its workers for a while on these projects and revenue from the projects for the companies. That’s the commercial side. On the political side, Pakistan does need power. It does need a more consistent power supply that will help Pakistan’s economy and social stability," said Scissors.
China is also seeking Pakistan’s cooperation in curbing the militants that China says use Pakistani territory to launch attacks in its restive Xinjiang, or East Turkestan, region.
Aqab Malik is with Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
"I think one of the foremost elements of this agreement is the understanding that Pakistan must combat, as far as China is concerned, the threat that is imposed from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement," said Malik.
Malik also says, in order to sustain long term economic growth, Pakistan must crack down on radicalism and extremism.
"Now [that] it has made economic agreements with China, there has to be some progress towards real counter-radicalization, counter-extremism programs, and there must be an off-the-fence, direct, stated goal that they are going to confront it. but actually implement it also," he said.
Anti-U.S. sentiments are high in Pakistan, and many see China as a counterweight to the United States as a trading partner. But relying too heavily on any one country may not be a good option for Pakistan. Derek Scissors:
"Diversification is good. It applies to the United States for Pakistan and it also applies to China. Being too heavily dependent on China would be a mistake," he said.
China-Pakistan bilateral trade was over $12 billion last year, and the leaders of the two countries have promised to increase it in years to come.
Ex #US Amb to UN John Bolton on $1.67B aid to #Pakistan: ‘Grit your teeth’ and pay - Washington Times:
“You also have to weigh … [that] if we didn’t support this government, the government could fall to Pakistani radicals,” he said.
The larger issue, Mr. Bolton said, is preventing terrorists from wresting control of the country’s 60 to 100 nuclear weapons that could deploy to the U.S. Turning the admittedly chaotic Pakistan-U.S. relations into something colder could prove a sizable security issue, he said.
http://wtim.es/1bdtxK9 via @washtimes
Here's an excerpt of a review of Daniel Markey's "No Exit from Pakistan" by Shamila Chaudhry:
..Markey also rightly focuses on new political trends and ideas in Pakistani popular culture that have been largely ignored in other accounts of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as well as in the course of much of the policymaking in both countries. For example, when discussing Pakistani notions of abandonment and national honor, Markey highlights the nationalist anti-American sentiment that grew from nuclear sanctions both among the government and the Pakistani public. As a sign of progress, he notes the success of Pakistani pop band Beygairat Brigade, who released a video on YouTube in 2011 "with thinly veiled references to a wide cast of Pakistani xenophobes, religious extremists, and conspiracy theorists" with lyrics that "lampoon many of the notions associated with defending Pakistan's national pride."
Herein lies the strength of Markey's analysis - his acknowledgment of the grassroots efforts currently afoot that are trying to transform Pakistani politics. He identifies four complex and often contradictory identities of Pakistan: "the elite-dominated basket case," the "garrison state," a "terrorist incubator," and a "youthful idealist, teeming with energy and reform-minded ambition." Without this information, the casual observer of Pakistani politics can easily conclude that the government and its people are merely confused, duplicitous, careless - or all three.
It is hard to argue with the claim that knowing Pakistan is critical to understanding the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. But what of the Pakistanis - do they not need to understand why the United States behaves the way it does? Markey's approach puts the entire onus on the Americans to understand how complex Pakistan can be.
While he does outline a comprehensive set of options for managing the U.S.-Pakistan relationship - ranging from looking beyond Afghanistan, waiting until after 2014, "defensive isolation" which involves ending formal cooperation, to comprehensive cooperation - he fails to suggest which specific path the countries should take, or even how the United States and Pakistan might prioritize the management or mitigation of threats over time. Markey simply recommends that the solution for this troubled relationship is nothing other than "patient, sustained effort, not by way of quick fixes or neglect" and that "managing or mitigating threats over time is a more realistic expectation." But is he speaking for the United States, Pakistan, or both? It is not clear.
Wherever I turn, there is something of which to be ashamed. But shame is like everything else; live with it for long enough and it becomes part of the furniture...you can find shame in every house, burning in an ashtray, hanging framed upon a wall, covering a bed. But nobody notices it any more. And everyone is civilized.
Rushdie's final reminder is simply: "Shame, dear reader, is not the exclusive property of the East."
While the anguish of Sartre's No Exit resonates strongly with the current psychology of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, Rushdie's commentary on shame is a much stronger parallel. It too recognizes that both countries pursue their own interests even as they inflict harm upon themselves and each other. But it focuses on a much more embarrassing aspect of the mutual vulnerability: the fact that the harm, which has become so prevalent, is unacknowledged. Yet both move forward together because, as Markey says, "this is not a friendly game, but out of it both sides can still benefit," even though there is much to be ashamed about.
Here's an FT report on how Pakistan's top central banker used Chinese line of credit to stabilize economy:
In May, with Pakistan’s rupee looking particularly weak, its balance of payments parlous and election jitters increasing, Yaseen Anwar, the head of State Bank of Pakistan, quietly took advantage of a little-known clause in the bank’s central currency swap agreement with the People’s Bank of China and borrowed almost $600m. By drawing down on part of a $1.5bn line of credit, the government was able to report that far from showing a big deficit, Pakistan’s balance of payments were positive at the end of the month.
By the end of June the rupee was under less pressure and by early September the new government of Nawaz Sharif had signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that further stabilised the ailing currency.
“China helped us weather the storm,” Mr Anwar says.
Drawing down the Chinese line of credit, of course, was cosmetic: it did not change the underlying economic and financial realities. But since most market participants, including virtually every foreign banker in Karachi, had no idea that the improvement was essentially technical, it contributed to more positive sentiment.
China is quietly but steadily increasing its footprint both in Asia and in emerging markets across the globe. It is especially effective in places such as Pakistan, which are desperately short of capital and in dire need of foreign assistance to tackle the shortcomings of their infrastructure, from telecoms equipment to turbines. The line of credit from the PBoC is largely symbolic, a small part of the billions of dollars from banks such as China Development Bank and China Export Import Bank. China’s vendor financing model has become a principal engine for the development of Pakistan at a time when few foreigners will even get on a flight to visit it.
For example, one of the biggest obstacles to growth in this country of almost 200m people – soon to be the world’s fourth most populous nation – is energy. Pakistan has recently decided to develop its vast reserves of low- quality coal in the Thar desert of Sindh province to fuel its power plants. That is not exactly the fashionable choice in many parts of the world, but Pakistani executives say they rely on coal for less than 1 per cent of their power today, in contrast to say India or China, where the figure is more like 80 per cent.
China is promising to develop some of the Thar tracts and provide financing and equipment to help private Pakistani companies such as Engro develop other tracts.
The Chinese are also taking over management of Pakistan’s newest port, Gwadar, in the west, and will help construct a road that leads from to its border and then on to the oil-rich “stans” of central Asia. That will give China access to yet another warm-water port in Asia and cut by half the time taken by Chinese exports to reach many parts of the world from its western regions. Like so much of what China does, that combines the strategic interests of Beijing with the ability to help its best geopolitical friends develop.
For the Pakistanis, isolated from the west, that sort of self-interest is not a problem: it means that they have leverage with Beijing. Today less than 10 per cent of Pakistani exports go to China and virtually all are priced in dollars. But its biggest lender, Habib Bank, has a China desk in its Islamabad branch and a rep office in Beijing. When executives went to China for a symposium, they were courted by senior banking officials. For Pakistanis who feel that many parts of the world have turned their backs on their country, such courtship is almost painfully welcome.
Here's an AFP story on Chinese financing big-money projects in Pakistan:
Pakistan's recent launch of work on its largest nuclear power plant is the latest example of big-money Chinese infrastructure projects in the troubled nation.
Pakistan, plagued by a homegrown Taliban insurgency, is battling to get its economy back on track and solve a chronic energy crisis that cripples industry.
Politicians in Beijing and Islamabad are fond of extolling the profundity of their friendship in flowery rhetoric and on the ground this has translated into around 10,000 Chinese engineers and workers flocking to Pakistan.
Chinese companies are working on more than 100 major projects in energy, roads and technology, according to Pakistani officials, with an estimated US$18 billion expected to be invested in the coming years.
"Some projects are being done by the government, then most of the projects are being done by the Chinese companies, by the provinces and also with the state enterprises and authorities," said Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan's federal minister for planning and development. "In the energy sector, Chinese engineers are building up to 15 power projects that include hydel [hydroelectric], thermal and nuclear plants."
Pakistan faces an electricity shortfall of around 4,000 megawatts in the sweltering summer, leading to lengthy blackouts that make ordinary people's lives a misery and have strangled economic growth.
To combat the crisis, Pakistan has sought Chinese help in building power-generation projects across the country, including nuclear. Aside from the 2,200MW project near Karachi recently launched by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chinese companies built two of Pakistan's three operational reactors. Chinese engineers are also busy in the construction of a 969MW hydropower project in Kashmir. They have also committed to generate 6,000MW of electricity from coal and wind in southern Sindh province.
But co-operation goes beyond energy. Visiting in May during his first overseas trip after taking office, Premier Li Keqiang linked growth in his country's restive west with that in Pakistan, saying the two sides wanted to create an "economic corridor" to boost development.
The concept involves improving road and rail networks to link China through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea and Iqbal said its benefits would extend to other neighbouring countries.
"The biggest flagship project is going to be the economic corridor," he said. "I hope with its completion, we will be able to create opportunities not just for China and Pakistan but for the entire region."
Following is the text of 2014 US-Pak Strategic Dialogue Ministerial Joint Statement:
Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistan Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, accompanied by a high-level delegation, met in Washington on January 27, 2014, for the ministerial meeting of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.
Reaffirming the strong relationship and enduring partnership between the two countries, the Strategic Dialogue Ministerial marked the commitment of both countries to strengthen the bilateral relationship and advance their shared interests in a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan and region. Both sides expressed their conviction that an enduring US-Pakistan partnership is vital to regional and international security. They recognised their shared interest in Pakistan’s economic growth, increased trade, regional stability, and mutually determined measures to counter extremism and terrorism.
Kerry and Aziz reaffirmed the importance of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue and reviewed the progress of the Dialogue’s five working groups: 1) Energy; 2) Security, Strategic Stability, and Nonproliferation; 3) the Defence Consultative Group; 4) Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism; and 5) Economics and Finance. Meetings of the first three working groups convened in late 2013.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION FOR
INCLUSIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH
Kerry and Aziz reaffirmed their commitment to expanding bilateral trade and business links and welcomed the upcoming US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting in March 2014 in Washington. The Secretary underscored the US commitment to supporting private sector-led growth in Pakistan and welcomed the proposal by Advisor Aziz to regularly convene a Joint Business and Investment Forum, involving the private sector. Both sides also look forward to convening a follow-on conference to the successful US-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conferences held in Dubai in June 2013, and to a US-convened conference in April 2014 in Islamabad that will link Pakistani and Central Asian businesses to encourage increased regional trade. They also look forward to the forthcoming announcement of a third fund of the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative (PPII) to leverage private equity for small and medium enterprises. Additionally, they reaffirmed the agenda for the upcoming Economics and Finance Working Group, to be held in April 2014 in Washington, where the United States and Pakistan will discuss trade and investment promotion, economic assistance, and regional economic integration. They further proposed that the working groups continue to refine the benchmarks used to realise these goals.
Strategic Dialogue participants, including Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Asif, reviewed concrete next steps from the Energy Working Group, which was held in Washington in November 2013, as well as a subsequent trade delegation to Houston, Texas. The two sides expressed satisfaction with discussions held in November 2013 on a range of options to enable Pakistan to overcome its energy deficiencies. The two sides noted progress in developing a US technical assistance programme to support the development of Pakistan’s domestic natural gas reserves. Secretary Kerry highlighted that US assistance in the energy sector has added over 1,000 megawatts of power to Pakistan’s national grid, helping provide power to over 16 million Pakistanis. In addition, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the development finance institution of the US government, is currently working on financing up to 300 MW of wind power generation projects that will deploy US-based investment in Pakistan.
The United States and Pakistan also underscored the importance of intensifying efforts to facilitate regional energy connectivity and continuing to upgrade Pakistan’s transmission infrastructure....
Brookings on economic and industrial corridors:
The two leaders (LeKiang and Sharif) agreed on the areas of cooperation in the near future under the framework of the Long-Term Plan for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor such as: start the China-Pakistan Cross-border Fiber Optic Cable project at an appropriate time, upgrade and realign the Karakoram Highway on a fast-track basis, explore cooperation on solar energy and biomass energy, explore construction of industrial parks along the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, launch at an early date inter-governmental consultations to implement the Digital Television Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcasting (DTMB) in Pakistan, coordinate the commercial operation of TD-LTE in Pakistan, and enhance cooperation in the wireless broadband area. (APP 2013)
Economic corridors are meant to attract investment and generate economic activities within a contiguous region, on the foundation of an efficient transportation system. They are meant to provide two important inputs for competitiveness: lower distribution costs and high-quality real estate. The corridor approach for industrial development primarily takes advantage of the existence of proven, inherent and underutilized economic development potential within the region.
Apart from the development of infrastructure, long-term advantages to business and industry along the corridor include benefits arising from smooth access to the industrial production units, decreased transportation and communications costs, improved delivery time and reduction in inventory cost. The strategy of an industrial corridor is thus intended to develop a sound industrial base, served by competitive infrastructure as a prerequisite for attracting investments into export oriented industries and manufacturing. Table 1 provides a categorization of corridors in terms of their scope and economic impact. The most comprehensive form, the economic corridor integrates infrastructure development with the trade, investment, and other economic potentials of a set of specific geographical areas, while at the same time undertaking efforts to address social, environmental, and other potentially adverse impacts of increased connectivity.
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has signed a massive annual defence policy bill which grants $1 billion to Pakistan for the expenses made by its army in support of the US military operations in war-torn Afghanistan.
The National Defence Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2015, signed by Obama yesterday, sets overall defence spending at USD 578 billion which has provision for release of Coalition Support Fund amounting to USD 1 billion to Pakistan.
CSF is not a military ..
Read more at:
Yet misgivings also abound, as Andrew Small, an Asia expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, points out in an impressive account of a little-understood friendship. China is growing increasingly squeamish about the dangers of having Islamist extremists just across the border. Chinese engineers working on aid projects in Pakistan have been killed by Pakistani extremists. In 2007 Chinese massage-parlour employees were held hostage by militants in Islamabad. The authorities in the capital do not do enough, the Chinese complain, to destroy Pakistani havens of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Muslim separatist group drawn from the Uighur ethnic minority who live in China’s western Xinjiang region.
“China has a good understanding of almost everything in Pakistan, political, security or economic, that might affect the bilateral relationship, but there is one piece they just don’t get: Islam,” Mr Small quotes a Pakistani China specialist as saying. It was especially embarrassing to Pakistan that on the day the retiring head of the army, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, paid his last visit to China in October 2013 a car with three Uighurs and packed with explosives burst into flames in Tiananmen Square. “The most damning narrative would be hard to shake off—that a Pakistan-based Uighur separatist group masterminded a successful suicide attack in the most visible location in China during the valedictory visit of Pakistan’s army chief,” Mr Small writes.
Still, if there were recriminations they were not made public. Indeed, as Mr Small argues, China’s ties with Pakistan, which were established during Mao’s rule and are based on shared hostility towards India, thrive on many common interests. A long history of secret deals between their two armies—overrides the problems with Islamic extremism.
Six years of research have enabled Mr Small to produce a detailed account of decades of close dealings between the two countries. In that time he won the confidence of many sources in the Chinese army, military intelligence and the security services. Their officials are as tight-lipped as the Pakistanis are garrulous. Yet he managed to loosen them up, at least enough.
Mr Small describes a friendship that is more enduring and has far better prospects than Pakistan’s up-and-down connection with America. The high points of that relationship—as when Pakistan facilitated the groundbreaking visit of Henry Kissinger to China in 1971 which led in turn to Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing and later during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—have long since passed.
China helped Pakistan acquire the nuclear bomb, and is Pakistan’s biggest supplier of military equipment. Now it is building two sizeable civilian nuclear reactors that should help ease the country’s chronic energy shortfall. As China expands its reach throughout Asia, Pakistan has become central to its plans for a network of ports, pipelines, roads and railways that will bring oil and gas from the Middle East. The Chinese government is offering tens of billions of dollars for Pakistani projects, Mr Small says. As America’s influence recedes, China is stepping in, though officials will doubtless keep a wary eye on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Part of China’s justification for spending so much is to bring stability to Pakistan, an argument that the Obama administration has also used, though with little success. Mr Small seems to think the Chinese will have better luck. He may be too optimistic about their ability to achieve much, but given the feckless Pakistani governance that he so ably describes, he has every right at least to hope the Chinese will help restore some order to the chaos.
To finance infrastructure projects connecting South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Europe along an integrated land corridor
China has taken a firm step to implement its vision of the Silk Road Economic Belt — an initiative to integrate the economies of Asia and Europe along the Eurasian corridor — by putting into operation its $40 billion infrastructure fund for this purpose.
The fund, flagged in November last by Chinese President Xi Jinping, has started functioning on the lines of Private Equity (PE) venture. With China as the fulcrum, it is meant to finance development of roads, rail tracks, fibre optic highways, and much more, that would connect South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Europe along an integrated land corridor.
Funds can also be allocated for the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), which envisions development of ports and facilities, mainly in the Indian Ocean. These ports will be connected to the hinterland by a string of land arteries, which will eventually hook up with the main Silk Road Economic Belt at specific junctions.
Xinhua quoted President Xi as saying during the November meeting with officials from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Tajikistan that the purpose of the fund is to “break the connectivity bottleneck” in Asia.
The Chinese President had offered investors from Asia and beyond to join the Silk Road fund for the development of specific projects.
The $40 billion fund was in addition to the decision to establish a $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is also meant to help finance construction in the region.
On Monday, the semi-official China Business News quoted Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), as saying the $40 billion fund “has already started operations, with registration on December 29 and the first board meeting on January 6”.
China has poured part of its foreign exchange reserves in the fund, which include investors such as the China Investment Corp, the country's sovereign fund, and China Exim-Bank.
Analysts point out that as its economy slows down from its earlier blistering pace, China has developed large overcapacity in construction material, including cement and steel. China’s “One Road, One Belt” strategy, aimed at establishing new “growth engines” along the Eurasian corridor, could well absorb some of this surplus.
In an editorial in China Daily, Justin Yifu Lin, former chief economist of the World Bank, wrote: “The strategy is good for the stabilisation and development of the world economy and China, as it has a large overcapacity in construction materials.”
Post a Comment