A Formula to Fix America’s Pakistan Policy

Pakistan Soldiers Exercise

The Obama administration coined a new phrase upon taking office, "AfPak," to refer to the importance of tackling Afghanistan and Pakistan’s problems in a coherent way. With the firing of General Stanley McChrystal, it’s clear the White House is reformulating its policy toward the Karzai government in Kabul. But what has happened to Pakistan policy?

Washington and Islamabad appear to have different objectives while speaking about common goals: While both are fighting terrorism and militancy, the United States is looking for a safe military exit out of a stabilized Afghanistan while ensuring that al Qaeda does not re-emerge. Pakistan seeks to secure its own territory against an active homegrown insurgency, while keeping a wary eye on India to its east.

Last year, other observers and I raised an alarm about the urgent need to stabilize the Pakistan economy and better equip its military to withstand the rise of militancy and insurgency inside this key non-NATO ally. A nuclear-armed Pakistan, occupying a key strategic location near India, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan and Central Asia, risked being isolated and mired in economic difficulties—and unable to afford to mount the war on terror within its own borders.

The U.S. responded with some far reaching measures: a long-term aid package in the form of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill; the appointment of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the opening of a high-level dialogue with civil and military authorities in Pakistan. For its part, Pakistan’s fledgling democracy turned back some of the egregious constitutional restraints of the autocratic regime of President Pervez Musharraf; re-ordered the relations between the federal government and the provinces; and prepared to impose a nationwide value-added tax to buy itself some fiscal space.

But my latest analysis for the Atlantic Council, "Pakistan in the Danger Zone," notes that too much has been left undone and the speed of actions inside Pakistan and from abroad is too slow.

Start with aid. The 24-nation Friends of Democratic Pakistan promised $5.6 billion in April 2009 and has to date delivered just $725 million. The amount of U.S. aid has been woefully inadequate to the job at hand: no more than $2 billion a year compared with $30 billion spent in Afghanistan. Military equipment for the army to fight insurgents is still sparse and slow in coming. Pakistan needs helicopters, jamming devices, and engineering equipment to build roads and bridges in the borderlands, as well as better personal protection for its troops.

Then there’s trade. The U.S. market remains closed to Pakistan’s most globally competitive industry, textiles. A "trade not aid" model might win Pakistani hearts and minds, and cost the U.S. taxpayer less to boot. But the Obama administration has not shown any political will to extend the same kind of tariff cuts to Pakistan that it has extended to other trading partners.

At home in Pakistan, the government of Asif Ali Zardari has had its own problems consolidating its power and getting the economy back on track. The finance ministry has been a revolving door. Pakistan needs to grow at 7% to 8% to keep ahead of population growth, not its current target of 3%. Public spending has huge leakages and taxes are burdensome. But without aid to tide the government over and trade to jumpstart more sustainable growth, the country’s immediate economic prospects are dim.

Without a stronger economy, Pakistan will have a difficult, if not impossible time combating the insurgency within its own borders—an insurgency that threatens to spill over into Afghanistan.

The U.S. can help. First the Obama administration can follow through on its promises and rapidly deploy promised development and military aid. With Washington’s urging, other donors can be spurred into action, too. Second, the U.S. can lead an effort to free trade with Pakistan, especially in key sectors like textiles and apparel. Third, the U.S. could open a dialogue on a civil-nuclear deal as a symbol that it wants to bring Islamabad into the fold of responsible nations. Fourth, Washington can help launch infrastructure projects to knit the country together and provide much-needed jobs. Lastly, the two nations could establish education centers to upgrade human capital and strengthen civil society.

For its part, Pakistan must take ownership of the aid program by preparing sound project plans with performance indicators built into them. The government must rid itself of corruption and cronyism and establish institutions to better manage development and to build on recent reforms. And it could offer an olive branch to its neighbor, India, and offer to liberalize trade. The current bilateral trade of $2 billion between the neighbors could rise to more than $50 billion if the borders were opened and nontariff barriers removed. This would lift incomes on both sides of the border.

It’s not too late for the U.S. to retool its Pakistan strategy, but time is running out. The people of Pakistan need jobs just as much as they need security. Without economic prosperity, neither is possible. That’s a scary prospect for a country that’s a key ally in the war on terror—an ally that cannot, and should not, be ignored by the White House.

Shuja Nawaz is director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center in Washington and the author of "Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within" (Oxford 2008). This article is adopted from "Pakistan in the Danger Zone: the Tenuous U.S.-Pakistan Relationship" (Atlantic Council, 2010).

This artictle was originally posted on the Wall Street Journal web site.

Pakistan in the Danger Zone Report Launch

On Monday, June 28, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center hosted an event for the launch of our new report, "Pakistan in the Danger Zone: A Tenuous US – Pakistan Relationship." The event featured an introduction from Atlantic Council President and CEO, Frederick Kempe, and a panel discussion with South Asia Center Director Shuja Nawaz, Washington Post Foreign Correspondent Pamela Constable, and Former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Ambassdor Riaz Khan.

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Podcast (MP3):

No bilateral relationship in the world matches that of the US and Pakistan when it comes to its combustible combination of strategic importance and perilous instability. “If the US and Pakistan cannot work together then the war in Afghanistan may well be lost inside Pakistan.” This is the main message of the Atlantic Council’s new report, "Pakistan in the Danger Zone: A Tenuous US – Pakistan Relationship" by Shuja Nawaz, Director of the Council’s South Asia Center.

A year after the Atlantic Council raised a warning flag in the report, Needed: A Comprehensive US Policy Towards Pakistan, the situation in Pakistan remains on edge, with a fragile political system, weak economy, and growing distrust between the US and Pakistan governments. Pakistan in the Danger Zone warns policymakers that the US-Pakistan relationship may be heading into another serious downturn. The report highlights key recommendations for policymakers on how to achieve a sustainable and productive relationship between the two countries, and stability in the region.

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The publication of this report was sponsored by ML Resources LLC.

Pakistan in the Danger Zone Report Launch: 6/28/10 – Transcript

Click here to go back to the Pakistan in the Danger Zone Report Launch event page







MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2010

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

FREDERICK KEMPE:  Good afternoon and welcome to the Atlantic Council.  I’m Fred Kempe, the president and CEO.  A couple of years ago, the Atlantic Council began to focus, understandably, a great deal more on Afghanistan and Pakistan as an Atlantic issue with global consequences.  We did a report on Afghanistan that was co-chaired – one of the co-chairs was Gen. Jim Jones, now the national security advisor.  And at the time, Sen. John Kerry called it seminal. 

We followed that with a report on Pakistan, which also was broadly praised for saying things, uncomfortable things, that needed to be said.  We then, at the Atlantic Council, decided to turn an avocation into a center.  And I decided to take the most clever person I knew on any of these issues, Shuja Nawaz, and woo him to become director of that center. 

And I think he and his excellent team have quickly made it a central forum and point of contact for policymakers, for members of Congress, as well as European and regional leaders.  And you’ll see by today’s report and today’s panel, we haven’t done that by not taking on the tough issues and by mincing words about them. 

The center focuses, however, on something broader than just Af-Pak, or Pak-Af, depending on how you set your priorities.  It focuses on wider South Asia, which includes India, Pakistan, as well as the Gulf, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia.  It recognizes that the subcontinent is not isolated and very much linked with its surrounding region. 

Separately from the South Asia Center, we took a taskforce, last week, to Kazakhstan and to Kyrgyzstan, where we see very direct connections to Afghanistan.  And we believe very deeply, as does Shuja, as you’ll read in this report, that without a regional strategy there is no solution.  It continues to be – South Asia continues to be a place of extremes, contradictions, complexities and turmoil.  And achieving stability there will take many years, a lot of innovative thinking on the part not just of the U.S., but of its allies and national governments and regional partners. 

Afghanistan, and with it, Pakistan, remains in the headlines, as you well know – most recently in Rolling Stone, which I didn’t ever quite expect, but there you go.  Many commentators have said that the key to winning the way against insurgents and militants, however, lies not within Afghanistan, but in Pakistan.  We obviously believe it lies in both places.  However, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship remains a predictor of success and stability in the region, perhaps the most important predictor of success and stability in the region. 

I told you about the report that we issued last year, “Needed:  A Comprehensive U.S. Policy toward Pakistan,” and it outlined key policy objectives for the U.S. and Pakistani governments in building a productive and a sustainable relationship and achieving security in the region.  A lot has happened since the release of that report and so Shuja and his team believed it was time to revisit this issue. 

We’ve had a new U.S. president and administration since it was released, a new strategy toward the war in Afghanistan and increased tensions within the political system of Pakistan.  It continues to be a Petri dish, Pakistan does, for global terrorism.  Michael Hayden, when he was the head of the CIA, at the Atlantic Council said, on the record, that every major threat that they’d been tracing at that time had its origins in Pakistan.  It is the key to the region’s stability.  And we believe that the key to that, in turn, would be the Pakistan-U.S. relationship.

So to bring this issue to the forefront again, Atlantic Council South Asia Center announces the release of “Pakistan in the Danger Zone:  A Tenuous U.S.-Pakistan Relationship,” authored by Shuja.  This report reviews new developments in the U.S. and Pakistan and lays out a fresh set of action plans to save the relationship, including building upon the U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue held earlier this year and provision of U.S. support that truly builds – truly and long-term builds Pakistan’s ability to fight extremists on its borders and in its heartland. 

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s recent visit to Pakistan, focusing on key sectors of Pakistan’s economy and the U.S. commitment to facilitating trade by providing market access to Pakistan’s exports, demonstrates the type of U.S. assistance – albeit, I would argue, somewhat belated – but the type of U.S. assistance Shuja argues will be the key to Pakistan’s perseverance in the face of extremist threats and instability.  We hope policymakers here will read and take these recommendations seriously and act upon them without delay.  This isn’t something that can be postponed, procrastinated.

Before we begin today’s program, I want to take a moment to thank our board member, Muslim Lakhani, of ML Resources, LLC, for his generous support for the production of the report and today’s event.  Now, I’ll hand over for the rest of this time to Shuja, who will introduce his co-panelists and say a few words about the report.  Thanks very much.

SHUJA NAWAZ:  Thank you, Fred, and welcome, everyone.  I’m delighted to introduce, first of all, my two co-panelists.  In the middle is Pamela Constable, a well-known figure in Washington and, for those that follow the Washington Post, an expert on South Asia.  She has covered South Asia and Afghanistan in particular and even now is working on a fresh book on the region.  She has great journalistic credentials, having worked for a number of important newspapers before she joined the Post, including the Baltimore Sun and the Boston Globe. 

Next to her is Ambassador Riaz Mohammad Khan, whose last position in government in Pakistan was as foreign secretary and who has been Pakistan’s ambassador to Kazakhstan, and also accredited to Kyrgyzstan and to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union.  And of course, before becoming the foreign secretary, he was the ambassador to China. 

One of his greatest claims to fame, of course, is that both he and I went to the same college in Rawalpindi, a place called Gordon College, of which we are both very proud.  So I’m delighted that he has agreed to join us.  He has authored one book, which is already in print, called “Untying the Afghan Knot,” and another one, which is on its way to, hopefully, showing up in your favorite bookstore soon, which is also on the same region, but updating the work that he had done earlier on Afghanistan.  So here is somebody that really knows what he’s talking about. 

Let me just give you a little bit of background about today’s report.  As Fred said, last year – we launched a taskforce in 2008 and then, last year, in February, released a report that was co-sponsored by Senators Kerry and Hagel.  And one of the key points of that report was that Pakistan was increasingly becoming the center of gravity of the conflict in Afghanistan and in that region.  And in order to resolve any of the problems in the region, Pakistan had to be a key player.

Pakistan had a very strategic location and it had a very important relationship with Afghanistan and the United States.  Of course, the Soviet war, in which Pakistan and the United States took common cause, underlined that special relationship.  But the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has had its ups and downs. 

And this has been one of the banes of this relationship, in the sense that the history of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship can be described as a roller coaster.  And it intrudes and affects the Pakistani narrative of this relationship.  So we decided that it was time now to go back and revisit what we had said in the report last year, to take stock and then to look ahead and say what needed to be done.

Now, the past 18 months have been tumultuous, to say the least, for both the United States and Pakistan.  For the U.S., with a fresh administration, a new president, an attempt at trying to craft new policy – and, in fact, many new policies on the region and Afghanistan, if one may say so.  And a fair amount has been accomplished. 

Specifically, on the U.S. side, there has been an enormous recognition of the need to engage with Pakistan for the longer run.  But the United States also came under very severe economic and financial pressure at home and that has restrained its ability to do what needed to be done in the region, in our view. 

On the Pakistan side, we’ve had a very weak coalition, but at least a return to democratic government.  And the weak coalition really was responsible for extending the transition from autocratic role of President Musharraf to a genuinely democratic system inside Pakistan.  Much progress has been made, as I said, on both sides. 

On the U.S., the setting up of a special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan has helped focus attention on both the countries, but as we said, by restricting the mandate of the special representative, the United States missed that regional opportunity which we had suggested in our report last year.  So by excluding Iran, by excluding India, it really restricted the ability of the special representative to gain leverage and to be able to effect a regional solution.

The multilateral efforts have been few and far between.  The Friends of Democratic Pakistan, a group that was set up to assist Pakistan, made many promises.  Something like $5.6 billion was promised in Paris.  Only $750 million eventually was pledged and released and not all of that has actually hit the ground inside Pakistan. 

And there may have been good reasons for that and we outline some of these reasons.  A lot of them have to do with the inability of the donors to have confidence in the government of Pakistan and its ability to deliver.  The U.S.-Pakistan relationship also has been somewhat of a misalliance.  And we believe that there are certain assumptions that are made by both sides that affect this relationship and that, if they continue on the paths that the assumptions are taking them about each other, that this relationship may be heading for a very serious break.

The miscalculation on both sides comes from a number of reasons.  The United States, in my view, tends to overestimate the power of the purse and the pressure that it can bring to bear on Pakistan to bend it to its will, failing to see that it is not dealing with a single, central government, but a house divided because the polity inside Pakistan still has the civilian on the one side and the military on the other. 

And these two very powerful institutions, particularly the military, play a very key role in decision-making.  So the United States cannot simply deal with a single government.  It has to deal with both the military and with the civilians.  And unfortunately, as it starts making policy, it looks to the short term and makes the relationship much stronger on a military-to-military basis.  And so we end up repeating the mistakes of the past.

On the Pakistan side, we have a government and a coalition that has yet to define a vision for itself.  It’s a weak, very broad-based coalition, which has broad political support from many different parties.  The number of people with the rank of minister is well above 80, which is a good indicator of how government has been apportioned out to the members of the coalition. 

This is not an ideal recipe for strong governance.  And it has been relying extensively on tactical moves in order to survive and that’s really not a sound basis for good governance or to create a sound nexus between security and governance, without which you really cannot progress.  The distance of the civilian government from the military persists.  There’s often said to be a lack of confidence, on the part of the military, in the civilian regime.  And so you hear different voices and different background noises that tend to intrude on any dialogue with Pakistan. 

But it’s not all the civilian government’s fault either.  They inherited an extremely stunted civilian administration.  This was after years of very strong, centralized, autocratic rule, when Gen. Musharraf took unto himself many of the powers of the prime minister and the parliament.  And it’s only recently that some progress has been made by the civilian government to take those powers away and, by virtue of the 18th amendment, they’ve actually given the powers back to the prime minister and parliament.  That is a very good move.

There is other good news from Pakistan.  After 17 years of debate, they agreed on a national finance award, which really rearranges the relationship between the center and the provinces.  This is a very key part of bringing Pakistan’s polity back to a federation, which was the original intent of its constitution.  Instead of having a strong, centralized government, the power is now shifting to the provinces.  The key will be in the implementation of this decision.

Pakistan also lacks resources that are internally generated in order to run its government.  Its tax system is extremely poor.  The income tax system only has 2 million people out of a population of 180 on the income tax rolls.  So they have now agreed to impose a value-added tax, which is a very good idea, in order to gain for the state the resources which it can then apportion to the provinces and thereby meet the needs of the people.

Now, as I said, the miscalculation occurs on both sides, as far as the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is concerned.  On the Pakistani side, one must recognize that there is often a miscalculation of Pakistan’s leverage over the United States, particularly vis-à-vis Afghanistan.  This was the case in the anti-Soviet war and I think this remains the case even now because of the long lines of communication that the United States have, that go through Pakistan.  The Pakistanis tend to exaggerate their ability to affect this line of communication and thereby affect the decision of the United States vis-à-vis Pakistan.

But behind all of this, as I said, is the historical narrative.  And the United States still continues to see Pakistan as a duplicitous ally, whereas Pakistan sees the United States as an ally that fails to live up to its promises.  And so they point out the fact that, nine years after the war began in Afghanistan, Pakistan is still waiting to receive the quantum of assistance that would allow it to fight this war in support of the United States and the coalition.  It is still struggling to get the equipment:  helicopters, better night-vision devices, personal protective gear and jamming equipment.

On the U.S. side, they say Pakistan as being very ambivalent about the Afghan Taliban.  And even the reports over the weekend of the attempt by Pakistan – the reported attempt to influence reconciliation in Kabul, between the Afghan Taliban-associated group of Jalaluddin Haqqani and President Karzai, came to the fore and raised this issue again. 

There is genuine confusion, also, about the end state that the United States wants to achieve in Afghanistan.  And the betting is heavy on another precipitate U.S. withdrawal, particularly in Pakistan.  Meanwhile, we see that India and Pakistan have been unable to gear up their peace talks.  They are still meeting at the official level, but they seem to be more busy fighting the old battles than resolving the issues and moving on to solutions. 

And we believe, in our report, that the United States has a great opportunity, for the first time in history – because of the fact that it has a strategic partnership with both India and Pakistan – that it could bring these two sides together, behind the scenes because no overt participation on the part of the United States would go down very well, neither in India, nor in Pakistan.

On the economic front, the United States has made a medium-term commitment to Pakistan, which is a first, through the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, which was originally the Biden-Lugar bill, and which President Obama sometimes says should have been the Biden-Lugar-Obama bill because he was a co-sponsor.  There is an attempt to give aid to Pakistan for a much longer period to assure the U.S. is bona fide, to assure Pakistanis throughout the country and not just in the border region that the United States means well.  But the contents of the final bill, unfortunately, created a great deal of pushback within Pakistan.  So rather than gratitude, we saw internal fighting between the civil and the military power centers. 

And also, on the Pakistani side, the government failed to set up adequate projects and monitoring mechanisms that would allow the aid to be used effectively.  And so to this date, none of the aid money has actually hit the ground.  It’s not been released by the United States and the Pakistanis have not shown that they are ready to receive it once it is released.

So what’s possible?  We think that Pakistan can turn things around domestically if it’s given the resources and the trade opportunities.  It could work with Afghanistan to find ways of reconciling with the Taliban, maybe even resolving the Durand Line dispute over time and opening its borders to the east, as well as the west, so that both Afghanistan and Pakistan could profit from access to Central Asian energy and trade for all of South Asia.

We also note that the U.S. and Pakistan do agree on certain things:  for instance, on nonproliferation and control of nuclear assets.  We believe that they both do not want Pakistan to be associated any longer with proliferating activities.  We believe both agree on a strong and a stable economy for Pakistan, where the population has a median age of 18 and you need growth of 6-plus percent a year, annually, in order to stay ahead of the population curve. 

The growth rate, currently, is half that rate.  We believe that the U.S. and Pakistan both agree on the need for democracy and civil supremacy in Pakistan.  And we believe that both of them agree that a stable economic and political hub in Pakistan is good not just for the country, but for the region.

What the U.S. needs to do is to resist the impulse to fall back on supporting single individuals or institutions.  A military-to-military relationship that overshadows the civil authority can do more harm than good.  It needs to build a relationship with the people of Pakistan, as promised by President Obama in his December speech last year. 

The strategic dialogue, as Fred mentioned, is a very good beginning, but much more needs to be done to show a longer commitment to Pakistan and to the people of Pakistan.  So we have come up with some very specific suggestions.  First, there is a need to increase the quantum of military and economic aid, both for conventional military assistance and for support of counterinsurgency, to build on Pakistan’s fairly impressive counterinsurgency campaign over the last 12 months. 

And I think once you go and exceed Pakistani expectations, the United States will find that there is a change of mind on the part of the general public, as well as of the military.  We believe that trade is one of the best ways of giving Pakistan the resources it needs.  We believe that by lowering tariffs for Pakistani textile exports, the United States can also help the country move upstream to higher value-added items. 

The cost to the United States has been calculated as minimal and we quote some of the data behind this.  But there does seem to be this terrible bloc in the U.S. administration and in Congress because it may affect one state of the union and some workers in that state.  It’s a political decision that needs to be made.  We believe that by partnering with Pakistan in a civil nuclear energy development, Pakistan could be brought much more under the IAEA safeguard schemes.  And you could completely eliminate the chances of Pakistan going rogue, in terms of nuclear proliferation. 

We also believe that the best way of creating jobs immediately in Pakistan is through infrastructure projects.  And that has already been identified as one of the key sectors by the special representative’s office and they’re working on energy and infrastructure.  But we point very specifically to FATA as an area where 300,000 jobs could essentially mop up the entire youth bulge of the population inside that region, the male population that otherwise becomes a recruitment pool for the Taliban.

There’s a need to involve the locals and to learn from the experience of Afghanistan, where the National Solidarity Program creates programs based on what the locals want and not things that are thought of in Islamabad or in Washington.  We make a very specific suggestion to allow the people that are in FATA to register their trucks – and this is a very specific suggestion that costs nothing – to register their trucks so that they can operate in Pakistan proper. 

Many of these trucks are smuggled in from Afghanistan.  If you declare an amnesty, you give them a chance to earn a living, where they can ply goods from Karachi all the way to Torkham and Chaman.  And you create jobs for many of them.  Signature projects are very key.  There is nothing today in Pakistan that people can point to and say, the United States did this for us.  There are some very antiquated projects that go back to the ’50s and early ’60s, but nothing since. 

We believe that there are opportunities in one very key area – where there may be some competition from the Chinese, among others – is to link Gwadar, a port which is on the Arabian Sea, to Chaman and to Torkham with a multipurpose arrangement for pipelines, roads, et cetera.  That would employ the local Baloch – a very small population that needs to be employed, to win them over, give them ownership of their resources and give them a steady source of income and allow Pakistan to become a transit hub for Central Asia.

On education, there needs to be longer-term thought given to creating centers of excellence.  Some kind of twinning arrangement between U.S. and Pakistani institutions does not require a great deal of government investment, simply an arrangement between private sectors on both sides, but with some initial seed money and guidance from the government.  And this would also allow work at the provincial level, which is where the education sector resides, to concentrate on revamping the curricula, which are anachronistic and completely outmoded in Pakistan.

Finally, we believe that the United States can play a very critical role in reducing India-Pakistan hostility.  If that border between India and Pakistan is opened, you could increase trade from an annual, official level of 2 billion (dollars) a year to something like 50 billion, based on trade that existed at the time of partition between the two countries, or the areas that are on both sides of the border.  Fifty billion in trade between India and Pakistan would lift the incomes on both sides to such an extent that hostility would become an impossibility.

These are the recommendations we have made.  I’m sure there’s going to be debate and discussion about them, but we welcome that.  And I would now request Pam, if she could say a few words about the topic and the relationship.  And then, after her, Ambassador Riaz Mohammad Khan and then we will gladly take your questions.  Thank you.

PAMELA CONSTABLE:  Should I come over there?

MR. NAWAZ:  Whichever.

MS. CONSTABLE:  It’s probably easier.  I keep dropping this thing.  Can you all hear me, if not see me? I’m delighted to be here today.  I have a small caveat to share, which is that I got back from a trip to Connecticut this morning at five, so if I’m not as coherent as I might be, I apologize. 

My other caveat is that, you know, I am not an expert on U.S. policy or foreign policy.  I’m a journalist.  And so what I do is observe and so I speak to you today as an observer of Pakistan and of U.S.-Pakistan relations.  As Shuja said, I’ve spent a great deal of time in Afghanistan in the last number of years. 

But for the last 18 months I’ve been living in Pakistan and doing a lot of intensive research about the country and traveled as extensively as I could throughout the country.  So my remarks today really are based on my own observations and they’re not intended to be policy prescriptions.

I would like to focus on a single point that’s been made in the new Atlantic Council report and I’ll quote that point:  “The United States will achieve best results by helping Pakistan help itself to effectively undermine the militant, extremist influence activities in the country and in the region.”  (Inaudible, off mike.)  That’s better.  Please let me know if you can’t hear me because I am a bit hard to hear.

Pakistan today is being pulled in two directions:  toward the modern and toward the traditional, toward the religious and toward the nonreligious.  The path forward to Pakistan’s future is to find the middle ground, to find a compromise that will allow it to achieve global economic integration and to promote democratic values and institutions without weakening its cultural and religious believes and heritage.

The search for this balance is being undermined by an increasingly violent conflict between religious militants and the state, but also by the manipulation of religion by unscrupulous leaders with their own agenda.  It is also being undermined by members of a political and economic elite that are too often indifferent to the poor and resist allowing upward mobility, rather than seeking to invest in the country’s vast human capital. 

It is also being undermined by an inadequate education system that is too often in competition with thousands of religious seminaries, some of which preach moderate and peaceful versions of Islam, but others of which preach extreme and violent versions.  Many Pakistanis today, especially the young, feel alienated from the state.  Many believe they can never get a job without the right connections.  Many feel they cannot get justice from the civilian courts unless they have a powerful patron. 

People are suffering greatly from inflation, from power cuts that not only exacerbate the gulf between rich and poor, but increase public frustration at what they see as the lack of responsiveness by their elected government.  All of these problems make people more vulnerable to the appeal of religious extremism.  A recent report by the British Council on attitudes of youth in Pakistan reported that one-third of young people in Pakistan see democracy as the way forward, but another third see shariah law as the way forward.  When asked what are the causes of violence and terrorism, the top answer among this group was injustice.

It is important to remember that when the Taliban first came to Swat, they were highly persuasive in appealing to people’s frustrations with civilian courts and law enforcement.  Women donated their wedding jewelry to the Taliban cause.  It was not until their cruel methods became widely known that the public and official opinion about them changed.  Many Pakistanis today remain confused about the line between religious piety and religious extremism.  The growing proliferation of suicide bombings and attacks, especially evidence of Taliban atrocities in the tribal regions, has horrified the nation and has turned public opinion against the Taliban. 

And yet, the public and many leaders remain reluctant to criticize or condemn other extremist or jihadi groups, which are becoming increasingly active in Punjab and other parts of the country.  Despite the military’s victory in Swat, there has been an apparent lack of civilian follow-up in that area, which has led to the army remaining dominant and has led to more criticism of the civilian authorities. 

One reason for this reluctance to criticize and crack down on the jihadi groups is that, until not long ago, many of them were patronized by the state in foreign wars.  This has made it difficult for both the military and the public to turn decisively against them.  It has also led to ambivalent signals from the courts, prosecutors and political leaders about whether their activities are legal or illegal. 

Another reason is that many of these groups have thousands of followers and some of them command important political constituencies.  Their youth groups are active on college campuses and their leaders are taking on popular causes, such as the water crisis and India’s role in that.  And these leaders may be able to win considerable support in local, provincial and, in some cases, national elections.

Despite the growing threat from violent Islamic groups inside Pakistan, there is a widespread view that this problem can still be selectively contained and that a full-fledged frontal assault would be dangerous and counterproductive.  Many Pakistanis believe, for example, that the assault on the Red Mosque in the summer of 2007 was a mistake and should not be repeated. 

Although the military and intelligence agencies have been directly targeted by terrorist attacks, officials are still reluctant to take on those militant groups who do not openly oppose the state.  This is a major reason they have not yet launched an attack in North Waziristan.  There is still a lingering notion of good and bad Taliban, or at least, tolerable and intolerable militants.

People in Pakistan also receive mixed messages about who is orchestrating and carrying out these terror attacks.  Several major religious parties hold frequent rallies blaming the United States, India, Israel and other foreign powers as being the unseen hand behind such attacks.  And certain officials have also raised this possibility.  The theme of religious nationalism has a powerful effect on public opinion in Pakistan.

There is also a widespread state of denial about Pakistan’s internal problems and a tendency to blame outside conspiracies and anti-Muslim powers for attacks, both inside the country and abroad.  To this day, I hear Pakistanis, both educated and uneducated, assert strongly that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by American and other intelligence forces and that all Jews were allowed to leave the night before.

These ideas are also being spread by the newly powerful electronic media, which often features polemical shouting matches that pander to public prejudices and fears, even through they also play a far more positive role by exposing scandal and wrongdoing in high places that never would have been known about before.  Some media campaigns have been both cynical and dangerous, such as one last year in which they displayed photos and addresses of houses being rented by the U.S. embassy and asserted that they were spy locations.

Public resentment against the United States has also been exacerbated by reports of extra airport searches and visa restrictions for Pakistanis, many of whom have relatives in the United States.  Because of the high public sensitivity to both religious and sovereignty issues, it is extremely easy to arouse public anger and difficult to counter conspiracy theories with facts.  Polls have shown that, among the Pakistani public, the United States is seen not as an ally and a partner, but as an adversary and a threat.

American efforts to counter these misperceptions and to improve bilateral relations, while at the same time waging a war against terrorism in Afghanistan and the region, have repeatedly led to contradictions and tensions.  The United States has been a source of large amounts of economic and military aid, including the pending Kerry-Lugar package, and yet that legislation met with enormous military and public resentment in Pakistan, rather than winning public gratitude because of conditions that were put in place in order to reduce the misuse of funds.

Meanwhile, the strident opposition of Pakistan to the presence of foreign troops has led the United States to use unmanned drone attacks against al-Qaida and Taliban targets along the Afghan border.  This has also created enormous public opposition inside the country.  Just as with civilian bombings against Taliban targets – sorry, just as with coalition bombings against Taliban targets in Afghanistan that end up killing civilians in the process, the drone attacks seem to be tactically successful but strategically costly to the United States.

Although U.S. relations with the Pakistan military today are at a better level of cooperation and shared goals than they have been at any time since the 1980s and relations between Washington and the elected civilian government of President Zardari are formally close and cooperative, this very closeness has added to the unpopularity of Mr. Zardari, whose adversaries accuse him of being a U.S. puppet, much as they did with his military predecessor, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. 

President Zardari is viewed by many in Pakistan as a weak and disengaged leader who is surrounded by corrupt allies and aides.  By extension, his patrons in the West are viewed by many as contributing to a flawed and authoritarian form of civilian rule, rather than as attempting to strengthen Pakistan’s democratic institutions. 

The recent approval by parliament of the 18th amendment to the constitution was hailed, initially, as a major breakthrough for democracy, yet it has since been criticized for not going far enough and, in some cases, making things worse, such as in the changed nature of party elections and judicial appointments.  The amendment did reverse many of the dictatorial provisions added under President Musharraf in the past decade.  Symbolically, it also erased the name of a previous presidential dictator, Zia ul-Haq, from the constitution.

Today, Mr. Musharraf is widely viewed as politically finished in Pakistan.  Yet in both law and mindset, the legacy of President Zia’s rule in the 1980s, with its focus on strict religious rule, its suppression of women and minority rights, its obsession with the threat from Hindu-dominated India, is still very much alive in Pakistan. 

Looking at what the United States can do to improve its relations with Pakistan, the Atlantic Council report makes a number of suggestions.  For example, it suggests shifting the focus of U.S. aid from infrastructure to health and education.  These are both areas of great need, but from my own interviews and observations with Pakistanis across the country, it seems to me that what most Pakistanis yearn for more than anything else is justice, the rule of law and proof that their government is accessible to them.

They are also extremely sensitive to anything that appears to undermine or threaten their religion.  Yet the vast majority of Pakistanis express religious views that are moderate, not extreme, that are closer to the tolerant and inclusive Sufi traditions than to the rigid and exclusive Salafist or Wahhabi versions.  Any American effort to shore up both the rule of law and a more effective justice system, as well as institutions or groups that espouse the more moderate versions of Islam, I believe, would be well-received by the majority of Pakistanis, rather than seen as an insult or a threat.

The unprecedented civic movement that led to the restoration of Pakistan’s chief justice was hailed as a watershed.  And yet that movement has since petered out and become fragmented.  Any effort by the United States to help strengthen and revive this kind of civic movement towards arousing broader reforms and justice would also, presumably, be welcome as well.

In contrast, any Western policy or program that appears to challenge the religion and culture of Pakistan is likely to be counterproductive.  And actions that sacrifice Pakistani lives for the sake of what is widely seem as a foreign-driven antiterror campaign, even if this is necessary to combat terrorism, may continue to alienate the public and to be used by self-interested or cynical groups to exacerbate anti-American sentiments.  I’m going to stop there and I’d be happy to entertain your comments and questions later.  Thank you.

RIAZ MOHAMMAD KHAN:  Thank you, Shuja Nawaz, for introducing me and inviting me to make some comments on this report.  Let me say that I generally agree with the thrust of the analysis and most of the recommendations.  I’ll make only a few brief observations.

First, we are all very familiar with the episodic nature or character of Pakistan-U.S. relations.  Can you hear me?  Is it on right?  Yeah, so we are aware of the episodic nature of Pakistan-U.S. relations, ups and downs.  But I think there is reason now to expect that there will be a certain element of constancy in these relations. 

And it is because the United States is paying far greater attention to the region, the regions adjoining Pakistan.  This is because of 9/11, because of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan – which will persist for a considerably longer period even if there is a drawdown – the growth of relationships between U.S. and India, the U.S. preoccupation with Iran.  And United States certainly understands the importance of Pakistan in the regional context and the dynamics which revolve partly around Pakistan.

So this, in my view, is one important factor.  But even in the long term, if there is stabilization in the region, there’s peace – and this is in the vital interest of Pakistan, peace and restabilization – I would say that the Pakistan-U.S. relations, while they would have an importance on their own – Pakistanis will have to reconcile the fact that these relations will always take a second role to U.S. relations with India.

This is one factor which I think Pakistanis will have to adjust to.  And Pakistan will have to develop an orientation for its foreign policy which ought to be regional and economic, in the long term.  That is important.  The other point that I would like to make is that building the so-called broad-based relationship, which is the desire of both sides – and in almost every high-level meeting, this desire has been repeated.  It is also reflected in the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. 

But beyond the question of official-level interactions, high-level meetings, the convergence, or lack thereof, of security interests, broad-based relationship requires much more than that.  It requires people-to-people contacts.  It requires strong linkages between what I would say – informal institutions of democracy, like media, like think tanks, academic, et cetera.  It requires a strong trade relationship.  And that, to materialize, will take a very long time. 

So for the time being – at least foreseeable future, as I see it – these relationships would be somewhat narrowly based on security concerns and U.S. concern, particularly, over terrorism and extremism in that part of the world.  That will remain the focus and one of the Achilles heels of this relationship, Pakistan-U.S. relationship.

And a case in point is, for example, the Faisal Shahzad incident, which obliged the U.S. secretary of state to say that if there is a repetition of this kind of incident, then it would have serious consequences for U.S.-Pakistan relations.  Now, it is quite obvious that the limitation for Pakistan to be able to prevent these kinds of incidents is, more or less, the same as the limitation of United States to be able to detect and pre-empt such incidents.  But still, if such an incident were to occur – God forbid – then the U.S. reaction, I am afraid, will be driven by the public outrage, the media hype, rather than any cool assessment of the limitations of Pakistan.

Here I would say that one important constraint on bilateral relations is the negative public sentiment and misgivings which are partly, also, being sustained and reinforced by powerful media.  And this is true on both sides – in Pakistan, Pamela has already referred to that.  And also here, I see it in political commentaries.  Most of the time, Pakistan appears to be in a rather negative light.  A certain attenuation of this sentiment, in my view, is necessary for a healthy relationship between the two countries.

So far, I’ve just been making very brief observations because again, I think much will depend on the question-answer session.  I agree with most of the recommendations which have been made and the observations which have been made regarding the governments.  The only thing that I would say is that United States, in my view, can do very little in terms of improvement of governance in Pakistan.  It’s something which Pakistanis themselves will have to do. 

But there are other areas where U.S. can do a lot:  economy, trade, et cetera.  Those are things which have already been mentioned.  But the first point here that I would like to mention is that on this whole question of fighting extremist violence – military, terrorism, homegrown or otherwise – Pakistan alone will have to fight these tendencies, which have a long history.  They are intertwined with the social factors, economic factors, political factors. 

The most important factor in this fight – more important than any outside assistance, I would say – is what I would say the public support and clarity in public discourse inside Pakistan.  And so what is a case in point?  It was only when the public opinion changed that the government and the army were able to take firm action and the government did not have to explain why there were 2 million internally displaced persons.  The public understood that this was a necessary action. 

Therefore, I would say that it would be counterproductive if there is anything which is done, which distorts this public discourse in Pakistan on this particular issue.  And here, I would say that many times, these demands do more – basically, they play into the hands of those people who say Pakistan is fighting somebody else’s war. 

The Kerry-Lugar bill that was mentioned – again, the specificity of many of the conditions, which, in my view, are unnecessary, they were insensitive to this aspect of the challenge, which Pakistan faces.  Sensitivity to Pakistan public discourse, I would say, is very important.  In terms of the economic and military assistance, I’ll just make one point that one is the counterinsurgency-related assistance. 

Here, the timing of availability of funds, equipment, et cetera is extremely important.  All these things which Shuja Nawaz mentioned – the night goggles, the helicopters, the funds to FC – all that – these are all stories I have been hearing since 2004.  And sometimes – (inaudible). 

Anyway, the – (inaudible).  So this is – but in the present context, I would say, for example, the funds are really urgently needed for Swat, for South Waziristan, some of the other agencies.  I terms of the other assistance, there has been a case which has been made in the report very well that they have to be visible projects – projects which are meaningful, in terms of reviving the economy.

But here, I would say that, more than the donor country, it is the responsibility of the recipient country to be able to come up with projects which are meaningful.  I fully agree with the point that the United States can really help us, and EU can help us, with support in the IFIs, with market access, trade.  And here, I would make one point, that somehow, when it comes to security and trade, there is – the approach is compartmentalized. 

For example, I will give the example of EU.  Pakistan today, among the South Asian countries, the most disadvantaged country, in terms of market access.  Whereas everybody agrees that to fight terrorism, to fight extremist tendencies in Pakistan, economy is the key.  So this one area which needs to be looked into.  The other – and this would be last point that I would make – that with reference to Afghanistan, I think there is good coordination between the coalition and the Pakistani government and the military.  It has improved quite a bit in the last one year or so. 

But still, misgivings persist, and there are many factors that feed into distrust and suspicion between the two sides.  The answer lies in more intensive and candid interaction between the two sides – the Pakistan and Afghan side – especially now that this phase of drawdown is on the horizon.  So this kind of interaction, in my view, can perhaps narrow the possibility of misunderstandings, miscalculations, which Shuja Nawaz had mentioned, or erroneous judgments.

I may say that Pakistan has certain legitimate concerns with regard to what people perceive as its role.  And this is by virtue of the demographic history and geography of the area.  So it has to have a role.  Pakistan must play this role with circumspection, prudence.  It should not play games, because – and on the other side, this role must be appreciated and understood, because it is inescapable.  It is in-built into the situation which exists.  And that situation is so unique that I cannot find another parallel between any other two countries in the world.

So this – I think Pakistan also needs to understand, here, that any pursuit, on its part, of a role other than what is necessary by virtue of these factors that I have mentioned, would only spawn regional rivalries, even if the U.S. presence is not there.  And Pakistan has enough experience, now, that regional rivalries, which would perpetuate instability in the region – they hurt Pakistan more than any other regional country, for Afghanistan’s neighbor. 

And stabilization, of course, can open many new opportunities.  And here, Shuja Nawaz had mentioned about the railway line.  I think, rather than giving rise to any contradictions between the U.S. and China, there should be an opportunity for both to cooperate, because that would be a very important link from Afghanistan to the sea.  Well, again, I’ll depend on question-and-answer session for any other – (inaudible, off mike).  Thank you.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you very much, Riaz, and now it’s time for questions.  Could I request that you wait to be recognized, identify yourself, and if you could keep the questions short, we could get more of them in the time that we have at our disposal.  Microphone here, please.

Q:  Thank you very much.  I think these were three very good presentations and I agree – Wendy Chamberlain from the Middle East Institute.  I agree with so much of what is being said.  There is one point that I am very perplexed about and I think all three of you mentioned it, by I still don’t – it still hasn’t cleared by thinking at all yet. 

And that is public opinion in Pakistan.  Enormously important, but what creates public opinion?  I have read polls that say that 80 to 90 percent of public opinion comes from television and this makes sense in a society that has so much illiteracy.  But we’ve seen swings in public opinion, according to the polls. 

And at the time of the earthquake – say what you want to about President Musharraf, but when he stood up there and said – when an American Chinook was bringing humanitarian goods in and he said, here comes another angel of mercy, U.S. public opinion – approval in Pakistan for the United States spiked to 45 percent. 

And then when there was a drumbeat, largely from the military, saying that the drones were a violation of sovereignty – sovereignty, I mean, if you’re in the FATA, what does sovereignty mean?  Then the public opinion dropped throughout the country into the single digits.  And it’s only in the teens now and it’s pretty much stayed there.  But who is influencing what appears on television? 

Essentially, what I’m saying is, don’t leaders lead?  And are Pakistani leaders leading public opinion in a way that promotes a strong alliance with the United States, which is an alliance that, I think, all three of you said is very important for Pakistan in the future, as it is for us?

MR. NAWAZ:  Riaz, would you like to start first on this?

MR. KHAN:  I thought Pamela was in a better position to answer this question.  Anyway, who leads or who forms public opinion in Pakistan – I think it’s a very amorphous situation.  If you are talking about anti-Americanism, there are roots of this:  historical experiences, many other trends which basically have confluenced today. 

And even the American intervention in Afghanistan, which had, sort of, negative consequences – not just for Pakistan but particularly for an important ethnic group – that has contributed towards this.  The extremist creed, we all know, the jihadi ideologues, et cetera – they think that the United States and the West, they are the main obstacle in rise of Islamists in various countries, starting from Algerian experience, Hamas, et cetera.  All that. 

I don’t want to get into that, but I think you made a very important point in your question and that was that when the Chinooks came and they helped the earthquake relief effort, the public opinion had a very visible change.  So public opinion, that means, is not something which is rigid and is unchangeable.  It can change.  But then there will have to be, in terms of experience, more positive factors which would come into it. 

You have mentioned about FATA.  The experience has not been, in terms of cooperation, has not been very positive all the time.  I have mentioned what Pakistani expectations were and, on the other hand, what American expectations – both were not fulfilled.  There is one mention, over here, of a game-changer, as you have mentioned, about India and Pakistan having some kind of a deal, like the India-U.S. nuclear deal. 

Yes, that can be an important factor.  It can make a significance, but these kinds of symbolic gestures all – (inaudible).  These kinds of symbolic gestures – they would be important, but it will have to be a sustained effort in which the government will have to be an important player.  One can’t expect it from the media because the media is very independent.  Therefore, you cannot expect that media will restrain itself. 

And I’m talking about Pakistani media, these channels which are very responsible in their behavior at times.  But they also have become very confident because they think that they have brought about a change in Pakistan, a political change in Pakistan.  So that will take time.  But I think a sustained effort on the part of the government is required.

MR. NAWAZ:  Pam?

MS. CONSTABLE:  Yeah, Wendy, you said a very key phrase:  the question, do leaders lead?  You know, the question of who is creating public opinion – the answer is many voices, many sources, many power centers, many different political parties, religious groups, media leaders, a variety of sources. 

And then the question becomes, is there a counter-narrative?  Who is stepping up and saying, no?  Who is stepping up and saying, wait a minute?  I think there’s a general feeling that, as I said briefly in my remarks, people are very confused and they do get mixed messages. 

And people feel they’re not getting a strong enough message from the leadership saying, no, this is a war we have to fight.  It’s not someone else’s war.  This is the reason we are all – why our country is at stake here.  I mean, I think there hasn’t been a strong enough counter-narrative to this multiplicity of nay-saying, destructive, self-interested, cynical, conspiratorial voices that you hear every day on TV and elsewhere.

MR. NAWAZ:  I would just add that the civilian government in Pakistan added to this mistrust on the drone issue because they were aware, fully, that there was collaboration and cooperation with the United States on the drone attacks.  In fact, many of the drones at the early stages were taking off from Pakistani airfields, not just from Afghan airfields. 

But the government used to public come out and complain – and I’m sure you and your successors were called repeatedly and told, please stop doing this.  This is very bad.  So this inflamed public opinion.  They felt that their own government that had worked with the United States was being ignored.  And that created a very strong base of anti-American sentiment.  Another point worth making is that the exist views in Pakistan, which are negative about the United States, are mirrored in the United States. 

If you look at the Pew global survey of perceptions of individual countries around the world, the United States, almost 69 percent or 70 percent, if my figures are correct – if my memory is correct about the figures – of U.S. population believes that Pakistan is an enemy of the United States and not a friend of the United States.  So they’re also being affected, in the U.S., by what people in positions of authority say through the media and every time they make a speech.  So on both sides, much more needs to be done to change these perceptions.  And you will get spikes, but I think it takes time to change.

Q:  My name – (coughs) – excuse me, my name is Arnold Zeitlin and I’m a historical footnote because I was the first Associated Press bureau chief in Pakistan, 40 years ago.  You mention, Shuja, several times in the report, about the lack of equipment from the United States to assist Pakistani forces.  Riaz says he’s been hearing this since 2004.  I’ve been hearing it since Mr. Bhutto told me about it 38 years ago.  Why is this the case?  Are American authorities so dim as not to know the needs in Pakistan, or is Pakistan always asking for too much?

MR. NAWAZ:  I don’t think Pakistan is asking for too much, particularly in this case, where a very different kind of equipment is needed and where Pakistan was totally unprepared for counterinsurgency.  Where the Frontier Corps, which was the first line of defense, and the only troops in the area that knew the area and that could operate were without weapons, without personal protective gear.  They didn’t have jamming equipment.  They didn’t have communications gear.  They didn’t even have boots.  They were still wandering around in shalwars (sp), which they’ve been wearing traditionally for centuries. 

So it was very surprising that, knowing the terrain, and knowing that exactly the same terrain existed on the Afghan side of the border, when the U.S. first moved 17,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, 150 helicopters accompanied those 17,000 troops.  And what did Pakistan get for moving 150,000 troops?  They got just one squadron of helicopters.  So there was a complete imbalance in terms of the assistance.

Economically, too, the total assistance at the high point – if you add it all up – is, on average, about $2 billion a year to Pakistan.  When you compare with the assistance going to Afghanistan, which is fighting the same war – it’s the same war on both sides – 30 billion in Afghanistan, 2 billion for Pakistan.  So these are factors that affect public opinion also. 

They also affect opinion inside Pakistan.  To my mind, and I’ve repeated this often, the Coalition Support Fund and the mechanism that was set up for it was quite inappropriate because it created more unhappiness than it created a sense of confidence in the partnership.  The question of providing detailed description of all the expenses, and then those expenses being challenged – quite necessarily because Pakistan doesn’t have expenditure tracking systems – has created heartache on both sides and continues to bedevil this relationship.  So there are issues that could have been dealt with had this thing been thought through, had this CSF become part of aid rather than a reimbursement system.  That’s just one aspect of it.

Q:  But still, the question is why?

MR. KHAN:  Well, you have your own complicated procedures here:  legislative, bureaucratic, et cetera.  I’ll just give one example, FC.  We needed funds, requested in 2005.  And there were analyses, et cetera, and then, basically, we found there was reluctance because they through FC could not be relied.  This was one of the arguments. 

By 2008, we have not received any funds for the expansion of FC and whatever took place, we did.  And FC, in that area, is extremely important.  Even today, FC is doing an extremely important job in terms of stabilizing South Waziristan and also, it is deployed even in Swat area and Bajar.  So this was one. 

Or, say, ROZs, reconstruction opportunity zones.  We basically wanted that textiles should be part of this because textiles was one area in which Pakistan had experience and people, out of sheer interest – profit interest – they would be, from Karachi or Lahore, be able to put up some factories in Wana or Miram Shah, those areas.  But then there were all kinds of objections which came up, objections like that, basically, these entrepreneurs will bring labor from Punjab and Sindh to run these factories in Wana. 

And I used to say – many of us – that, look, if it is possible for these entrepreneurs to bring labor from Karachi and Lahore to work in Wana and Miram Shah, your problem is resolved because that means there would be no violence.  But you see, there are all kinds of things.  It never took off, although it was an extremely important initiative.  So I can give you so many examples, but there are these complications on our side, your side.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Riaz.  I have one question here and then we’ll move to the pack, I promise because I’ve seen a number of hands.  James?

Q:  Thank you.  James Joyner, Atlantic Council.  I’m curious about the – can you hear now – I’m curious about the commonality of the goals of the two governments.  I mean, it’s three issues, right?  I mean, one is the Taliban issue, or the multiple Talibans issue.  It seems to me that there’s diverging goals there, at least with respect to the Afghan Taliban. 

There’s al-Qaida and I’m not sure what the goal is.  The CIA director admitted yesterday that, in fact, al-Qaida is almost nonexistent in Afghanistan.  They’re in Pakistan, but we don’t seem to be doing much about it.  And then the longer-term relationship – I mean, once the U.S. does pull out of Afghanistan, what is the basis for the relationship at that point, for an ongoing relationship, for a host of issues that won’t go away once we do leave?

MR. NAWAZ:  Pam, do you want to answer?

MS. CONSTABLE:  Yeah.  I mean, I would say – let me take the last question first because it’s the easiest.  I think there are a long list of reasons why the relationship is extremely important and needs to remain so.  You know, I mean, this is a cliché, but this is a huge country that is nuclear-capable that shares a very long border with three very important countries. 

I think just the very fact of the continuing hostility and tension between India and Pakistan remains, at the very least, a key reason why there has to be international engagement there by the West and by any others who wish the region well.  China’s growing importance, Iran – I mean, you can’t – location is everything, as it is in real estate, so that’s number one. 

And then number two, again, size:  I mean, this is a vast country with enormous potential.  It’s not Somalia.  It’s not Liberia.  It’s not Afghanistan.  It is not a destroyed country.  It is simply a country that has not, for various reasons, been able to live up to its potential, economically and politically.  But the potential is there and it’s both positive and negative. 

One ignores Pakistan, I think, at one’s risk.  It’s not Afghanistan, where you’re fighting, you know, a war and where you’re dealing with extreme poverty.  It’s a country that is going to be, some day, on a par with any other developing country in the world.  And I think that’s why it’s so important.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Pam.  At the back, over there.

Q:  Thank you.  My name is – sorry, is that – my name is Max Kunkler (ph).  I’m with the Oxbridge Group.  And actually, Mr. Nawaz, I think you touched on this slightly in your first comments to the first question, so I hope I don’t ask you to repeat yourself.  But in both the report and in the presentations, it was noted that there’s a growing resentment against U.S. boots on the ground and the drone attacks. 

And I’m just wondering, in your view, what is the best way to start addressing this?  Is it to incentivize the Pakistani military to start going after these groups?  To encourage the Pakistani government to, perhaps, highlight the fact that these are being done in cooperation with the military?  I noted that in the report it was saying that because of the cooperation times being reduced from a number of hours to 45 minutes for identifying and attacking these targets.  And I was wondering what your view on that point would really be?

MR. NAWAZ:  I think on the drones, much more collaboration in targeting and the final decisions on targeting would be quite critical.  There’s already evidence that there is greater collaboration, which has resulted in reducing the number of civilian deaths associated with the drone attacks. 

But they’re not the solution.  The real solution is to change the underlying conditions inside FATA, which would prevent the elements that are either al-Qaida or Afghan Taliban elements from taking shelter in those areas.  In terms of the differentiation between the Afghan Taliban and the local Taliban, and as to whether Pakistan can move against the Afghan Taliban, there are a number of actors, and I think I touched upon some of them.  There’s a hedging factor. 

Once the United States announced that it was planning to begin its departure from the region, then the Afghan Taliban become a factor because they represent a certain element in Afghanistan’s polity.  And the fact that they have not taken up arms against Pakistan prevents Pakistan from launching its troops against them.  That said, all the evidence points to a big buildup in North Waziristan, which is the center of gravity of the Haqqani group.

In fact, today, something like 27,000 regular army and 10,000 Frontier Corps troops are in North Waziristan, which is much more than the number of forces in South Waziristan.  So they are in position, and should the need occur, or when they’re ready to, they may actually mount some kind of armed operation. 

It’s hard to predict what this will be because one doesn’t have access to the director general of military operations’ secret plans are army headquarters in Rawalpindi, but my guess would be that this is not going to be like Swat, or even like South Waziristan, where you empty out the place and then you sort of obliterate everything that stands in the way, because I think the army’s learned that, that also is fairly costly for its own image, as well as its ability to then rehabilitate the people. 

Because one thing they’ve learned is that the civilian side is incapable of taking over.  They still haven’t gotten their act together.  Till that happens, I don’t think they’ll follow that approach.  You’ll see much more of a very controlled cordon-and-search operation.  And it could be that, over time, the Afghan Taliban will be pushed across the border.  And depending on the situation inside Afghanistan, they will then either become part of the problem there or become part of the solution.  And then if you could, after that, pass it on to the gentleman in front of you, please.  Thank you.

Q:  Taha Gai (ph) with the Pakistani-American Leadership Center.  One of your recommendations was a signature project.  That’s also been one of our recommendations.  But when we raised that issue with USAID, one of the objections that they raise is that if there is some kind of signature project in Pakistan and it’s labeled, like, the “U.S.-Pakistan Friendship Highway to Gwadar,” it’s immediately going to become a target for Taliban and their affiliates.  So just, how would you answer that security concern? 

And then, just generally, I have a question about the delivery of U.S. assistance in Pakistan.  When it comes to giving money to the government, there’s issues of corruption and kind of, just general ineptitude.  When it comes to giving money to NGOs and the private sector, there’s questions of indigenous Pakistani capacity.  When it comes to giving money to U.S. or international NGOs, there’s questions of just massive overhead and lack of money actually reaching the ground. 

And then, just, my last question is, when it comes to a U.S.-Pakistan civilian nuclear deal, already you see, you know, China coming up with some sort of a China-Pakistan civilian nuclear deal, and that’s kind of being opposed by the U.S. and other members, possibly, of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.  So how realistic is that and is it likely to go forward or not? 

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Taha.  We’re going to charge you extra for those three questions.  (Laughter.)  Who’s going to protect these projects?  If you involve the people of the region and they are benefiting from it, you can bet on it that they would protect the projects.  This has happened in Afghanistan; it’s happened in FATA; and it will happen in Baluchistan, also.  If the locals are employed, they will need to ensure that the source of their income and employment is not destroyed.  So I think there will be ample protection there, apart from any formal protection that you arrange from the national police or military forces.

Talking about the delivery mechanism, we say, in the report, that Pakistan needs to get its act together in setting up a centralized mechanism for setting up performance indicators and processes to ensure that the money goes through, fully, to the places where it’s intended.  Because in Pakistan, most of the sectors that are common to economic development are in the purview of the provinces.  So it’s very critical that the provinces get their act together.  Till we do that, and whether it involves public-private partnerships or entirely public ventures, it’s going to be very difficult to convince donors to give money to Pakistan. 

On the China deal, I’ll be very brief.  I’m sure Riaz has some knowledge and views of that.  I think we’re going to have to wait and see how it plays out in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.  China has already released a statement, which is probably its, kind of, opening shot.  Some people that are cynical are thinking that, well, China is now playing on a global stage and this is simply its way of trying to show Pakistan that it will do its best, but if it is surrounded in the NSG, that it will then yield.  So we have to wait and see how that plays out.

The question is, why not, now that the NPT’s basis has been eradicated by the deal with India – why not bring Pakistan into a civil energy, nuclear energy regime, which would allow much more of its nuclear assets to come under safeguards, allow Pakistan to sign the additional protocol with the IAEA and make it more accountable?

MS. CONSTABLE:  I’d like to say something briefly about – before we go to China, which I am not at all an expert on – about aid.  You know, the three dilemmas for the three kinds of aid delivery.  This is absolutely not unique to Pakistan.  I’ve spent a great deal of time in Afghanistan, where it’s extremely difficult to find a way to deliver aid that’s not going to be siphoned off into the wrong pockets and be wasted, in many ways. 

But I think we have to remember that the purpose of aid is not just to build things.  The purpose of aid is, frankly, political.  The purpose of aid is to build relationships.  And so I think that no matter how it’s delivered, you have to expect a certain amount of losses, you have to expect a certain amount of corruption.  It goes with the territory.  But one hopes that one is also building something in the process.  And I tend to disagree with the signature project approach for the simple reason that I’ve seen many signature projects fail – for example, look at the Kabul to Kandahar road. 

Now, again, Afghanistan is not necessarily a good comparison.  But the things that tend to work better, in my own experience, are projects that are extremely low-to-the-ground, very cost effective, but that affect large numbers of people, like irrigation wells, for example.  Not very sexy.  No, you know, big photos; no big budget; no big ribbon-cuttings.  But vast numbers of people individually helped, in my experience, goes a lot further to identifying the donor as a good guy than some big damn that gets blown up, for example.  So I’ve leave it at that.

MR. KHAN:  Well, on the question of projects, I would say that projects which are NGO-driven sometimes do not really make an impact.  I agree with Pamela that projects should be such that they should make an impact.  They should help the economy.  And here, I can give one example, that under the so-called strategic dialogue, there are five areas which were identified.  And a number of projects were also identified by both sides.  But they could not be implemented because of lack of funds.

I believe that part of this U.S. assistance should be diverted for implementation of those projects, which have already been identified by both sides.  And they will make an impact.  Apart from that, there are areas, like energy – there can be good input from United States for developing renewable sources of energy – solar energy, those kinds of things. 

Coming to this nuclear, China has made a statement that’s a correct statement.  But I would say one thing:  That insofar as Pakistan is concerned, Pakistan’s commitment to nuclear nonproliferation is unilateral.  But there is one argument which, also, Pakistan makes.  And that is, when it comes to the cooperation on nonproliferation regimes within the international context, like FMCT, then Pakistan has the argument that we cannot be treated as a partner and as a target at the same time. 

Now, this kind of discrimination, if it is eliminated by offering Pakistan a deal – because Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state – then there would be a benefit, which will flow from it, in terms of Pakistan’s cooperation and strengthening these international nonproliferation regimes.  But again, I’ll repeat that Pakistan’s commitment to nonproliferation is unilateral.

Q:  My name is Naeem ul-Haq (sp).  I’m a TV talk show host in Karachi, Pakistan.  I’m visiting here at the moment.  My question is to all the panelists.  Would you agree that in order for Pakistan to achieve any economic growth or prosperity, and for the region, it is essential that peace be established, and in order for that peace to be established, it is essential that American and NATO forces leave Afghanistan, without which, truly, peace will not be restored to the region and the resultant or expectant economic prosperity or growth, which you have talked about, will be meaningless?

MS. CONSTABLE:  It’s a million-dollar question, but it’s also a chicken-and-egg question.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – about what would happen if the international forces were to withdraw from Afghanistan.  I’m not sure what would happen, but I have some idea of what would happen.  But the question of peace – international forces are only one player, there.  It’s not – although some people see it as – an occupying army.  It is, in fact, an invited force that is there to support the elected government. 

This is still a fact even though there have been many setbacks, problems with civilian casualties.  The original impetus, the original setup, is still there.  What there needs to be for peace has to involve the Taliban, has to involve the government of Afghanistan, may need to involve the government of Pakistan or other regional forces, must involve the international community members who support peace in the region. 

I don’t think you can say, either way, that if the coalition forces did X or Y, if they stayed, if they left, if they drew down, if they changed their policy, that in itself would not bring peace.  Without some sort of an agreement that involves the regional actors and the domestic actors, you won’t get peace.  Now, Karzai has his own plan for this.  Maybe he’s on the right track.  Maybe this is what’s going to work.  We don’t know.  But you cannot simply take the actions of one piece – P-I-E-C-E- of the puzzle and say that this may or may not bring peace.

MR. KHAN:  Well, realistically speaking, we do not anticipate the exit of international coalition forces in the manner that the Soviet forces had withdrawn – under a certain agreement, on a day, X, all of them left Afghanistan.  That will not be the scenario which will be worked out.  But I’m one of those people who feel that this drawdown, and giving a specific date, which has been very controversial, has been a good idea, because it will allow the situation to readjust itself and move towards some kind of – at least, give a new scenario for moving towards a certain stabilization. 

And I think some of the moves which are taking place – and we anticipated they would be taking place, in terms of reconciliation, et cetera, they are partly because there is an anticipation that there will be a change, there will be a drawdown.  And there is a date for it.  So here, Pakistan can play a positive role.  And here, I would say that when it comes to the Afghan Taliban, Afghan Taliban have been part of the Afghan political landscape.  Nobody can deny that. 

And for example, if we were to hound them, if we were to go after them, how would our policy look at this time, when everybody is talking about conciliation – reconciliation with whom?  It has to be primarily reconciliation involving elements of the Taliban.  Therefore, apart from any other factors of ethnicity, et cetera, that this Pakistani position needs to be appreciated and understood, Pakistan has a certain role because of these various factors. 

But Pakistan should play it in response to what the Kabul government asks us to do, not.  Not – (inaudible) – and not taking initiatives, but play a helpful, circumspective, prudent role.  So in that context, I think these developments – drawdown, et cetera – they are positive.

MR. NAWAZ:  I’ll just add that I think the precipitate withdrawal, like the one the Soviets did, is not in the cards and it really won’t help.  But this is involving multiple variables and you have to take all of those into account.  It’s not a linear relationship that if you take the forces away, everything will be fine.  It never was and never will be.  There will be a fair amount of to-ing and fro-ing and maybe even some infighting within Afghanistan, and we should be prepared for that.  But there will probably be a need for some presence, whether it’s advisory, whether it’s economic, political, whatever, so that Afghanistan is not left again in the manner in which it was.

Q:  Very briefly, is it important to distinguish the Pakistani Taliban from the Afghan Taliban?

MR. NAWAZ:  It is for Pakistan’s sake, because the Pakistani Taliban used the attack on Afghanistan as a reason for attacking the state of Pakistan.  They’re the ones that are attacking the army and the population inside Pakistan.  They are the enemies of the state, and they need to be dealt with in the manner any enemy of the state should be dealt with. 

I think there is complete clarity.  And this is the big difference – that you have public support for actions against the Pakistani Taliban and their allies in Swat and elsewhere, without which, the army would not have succeeded.  I think we have run out of time, but there’s one question here in the front, and then maybe we can wrap it up.  Thank you for being patient.  This gentleman.

Q:  Thank you very much.  Everybody can hear me? 

MR. NAWAZ:  Yes.

Q:  All right.  My name is Ayou (ph).  I am from Afghanistan.  I am a Webster (ph) student.  I was lucky to be in one of the talks that you had, Pamela, at Stanford University in October 2006.  And the talk was basically the Afghan success story failed.  So you were just –

MS. CONSTABLE:  I’m sorry, what?

Q:  The Afghan success story failed.  Sorry, I apologize for my accent.  And this is not my first language.  So I really liked your talk because you were talking about, basically, tribalism in Afghanistan.  So my question would be, do you think the problem – the region – you know, the border between – say, Waziristan, between and Afghanistan and Pakistan – the problem is Islamic fundamentalism or ethno-nationalism?  So that would be my question for Pamela.

And another question that I have for Director Shuja, I would just – I mean, my question is basically – I mean, I am a student.  I am really interested to learn.  Maybe my opinions or what I – I mean, I hope it’s going to be appropriate.  So I think – I mean, since I am from Afghanistan, I have been there – in fact, I have been involved in the war.  I am from the North of Afghanistan, from Panshir Valley. 

So I mean, there is a sense of – I mean, from my opinion, if you look at Afghanistan, I mean, some of the – there are a lot of accounts scholars wrote – some of Afghanistan’s scholars.  Some of them, let’s say, you know, former Afghan interior minister, Jalali, he just wrote a very good account that was basically saying, from the great game to the lesser game.  He was just describing Afghanistan from the great game to the lesser game. 

He believed that, you know, during the Cold War, there was a great game.  Or before the Cold War, there was a great game, and after the Cold War, when the Soviets left and the Americans withdraw, I mean, just the attention.  So there was a lesser game, which means there were a lot of regional players, such as Pakistan, India, or let’s say Iran or whoever.  So I mean, of course, they were involved in proxy wars. 

And of course, the proxy of Pakistan is Pashtuns, as you mention in your – I just read your executive summary in the report.  I really liked it.  That was good.  And I think since Pashtuns are the proxies for – let’s say, the proxy forces for Pakistan, of course, Pakistan can control – I mean, if they are the proxy.  Because they are right next to Pakistan.  They don’t have any way to any other country to receive support, or whatever.  It’s only Pakistan. 

And the Taliban’s story.  I mean, it’s just – I mean, you can see Pakistan has a lot of opportunity to bring a lot of change in Afghanistan.  And so, I mean, this was an information; I will go back to my question.  What I’m going to ask is, I mean, your recommendations you were just recommending – you’re focusing on focusing aid.  So let’s say you were encouraging the United States to provide more foreign aids for Pakistan. 

I mean, from my perspective, which I don’t know, I respect your knowledge and I really respect that, but from my perspective, it’s going to be good for short term, but I mean, for the long run, in a way Pakistan has been using Afghanistan or Pashtun as a bargaining power with the United States or whoever. 

Since, you know, there has been war in Afghanistan, Pakistan gained a lot.  I mean, but anyways, so okay, the question is, do you think that United States foreign aid is a good strategy for Pakistan, or Pakistan should go ahead with the process that Pakistan basically – Pakistan is a strong player in the region that can bring peace in the region, and then they can, as ambassador said, they can go with regional cooperations. 

They can go with railways or other projects that they can basically create a regional cooperation organization within the region that say, if there’s peace, there are a lot of opportunities.  They can go with trade.  They can integrate their economies.  And basically, Pakistan has very strategic location since it has access to the sea and it can play a lot of roles in terms of – that’s my question.  What do you think – let’s say, would it be better if Pakistan shifts its focus from, let’s say, finding ways to pursue the United States to provide them foreign aids, or they should go ahead with a policy that they can just encourage peace in the region?

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.

Q:  I’m sorry for the long –

MS. CONSTABLE:  I didn’t entirely understand the question you directed at me.  Was it about tribalism, or was it about something else?

Q:  Ethno-nationalism.

MS. CONSTABLE:  Nationalism.

Q:  Based on ethnicity.


Q:  I mean, I remember – I hope I wasn’t wrong.  You just mentioned about Karzai.  I mean, in a way, they say he’s not Afghanistan’s president, he’s – (inaudible) – tribal leaders. 

MS. CONSTABLE:  So just quickly repeat the actual question?

Q:  Yeah, my question was, do you think the problem in Afghanistan, or let’s say, in Waziristan, is Islamic fundamentalism or is ethno-nationalism?

MS. CONSTABLE:  I see, okay.  I hate to say it, but I think they’re both issues.  I think that ethno-nationalism, as you put it, and I think that tribalism in general, are both issues that are very old, but that continue to create difficulties, and which Islamic fundamentalist leaders or extremist leaders have taken advantage of.  The grievances that people have for various reasons – whether they’re tribal, whether they’re ethnic, whether they’re linguistic, whatever they are – get taken advantage of by those who have an extremist religious agenda. 

So that’s the simple answer, I think, to your question, is that they become intertwined and very difficult to separate.  I mean, look at the Sunni-Shia problem up in the Northwest.  I mean, where did that come from?  These are issues that one would think could be separated and should be separated, and yet, they all get mushed together in the public mind and it’s very difficult to separate them.  And plus, they have different solutions. 

So the solution to containing or responding to religious fundamentalism is one; the solution to modernizing the tribal system, for example, and to addressing the grievances of ethnic groups is another.  But because we’re in a conflict situation and because we’re in a situation where extreme religious movements have become involved and violence has become involved, it becomes much trickier to address and to define, all of which means is that I don’t have a simple answer to your question.  I’m sorry.  (Chuckles.)

MR. KHAN:  Well, I’ll just give one example how these things are mixed – the fundamentalism and the – before 1992, whenever we would ask these parties – the – (in foreign language) – the mujahideen parties that talked to Najibullah – the Kabul government – they would say how we have done jihad, we have fought for Islam.  How can we talk to the communists?  The day he left and Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, he came out, the same fundamentalist parties, some of them, they started saying, how can Tajiks rule Afghanistan?  So you see how these things get mixed up.  (Chuckles.) 

But for Pakistan, I would say, we have also made many mistake in the past, but I would say that Pakistan’s policy must not fall in this divide which exists, and that must be addressed by the Afghans themselves.  Now, there are problems, because you see, you are talking about Pashtuns being used as proxy by Pakistan.  Pakistan has literally about 36 to 40 million Pashtun population.  You don’t use that kind of population as a proxy.  And they have – there is this overlapping demography, which is very peculiar. 

But nonetheless, Pakistan should be very careful.  It should not fall – and it’s not just Pakistan that should not fall in this ethnic divide – but the others – United States – it should not allow its policy to fall in between this divide.  What Pakistan should also be very careful is that it should not somehow fuel regional rivalries, which you also mentioned.  That is very important.  Stabilization and peace.  I think we have enough experience now, in that region of 30 years of war, that is what is in the interest of everyone.

MR. NAWAZ:  I agree.  I think Afghanistan has traditionally relied on a – (in foreign language) – a national compact.  And that’s what we need to encourage.  And I entirely agree with Riaz’s point, that Pakistan cannot avoid the fact that the border regions have Pashtun population on both sides.  But I would argue against the view that Pakistan can actually control the Pashtun.  Nobody can control the Pashtun.  I think it’s been proven over time. 

Even when Pakistan helped the previous Taliban regime a great deal in establishing control over Kabul, talk to any of the Pakistani ambassadors that served with Mullah Omar and they will tell you that they were batting zero against him every time they went to talk to him.  He never agreed to anything.  So Afghans make up their own minds, and I think that’s what one should encourage. 

But the idea that somehow, the ISI or the military or the political agent or the political government in Islamabad will have a handle on Haqqani or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or the Quetta Shura, so-called, I think this is wishful thinking.  You know, you have a relationship.  You may be able to make suggestions.  You may be able to cajole a little bit here and there, but there’s a marginal influence. 

You don’t have the kind of control, which doesn’t exist – the kind of colonial mentality which the British had.  And I think it’s not possible in today’s world.  So the solution, in the end, is for the Afghans to agree on their own internal solutions and for countries like India and Pakistan and Iran to help that process, rather than make it a kind of a cockpit for their own political ambitions.

You’ve all been extremely patient, but I would like you to join me in thanking my co-panelists, Riaz Khan and Pamela Constable.  (Applause.)  And I also want to thank my colleagues, Shikha Bhatnagar and Ainab Rahman and Alex Bellay , who’ve made all this possible, and Jason, who’s got his back towards us, but without whom, we wouldn’t hear anything that was said.  And I hope that we will be able to get a transcript of this out on our website soon so if you didn’t hear everything that was said, at least you’ll be able to read it.  Thank you all very much.  (Applause.)

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Pakistan in the Danger Zone

Pakistan man + flag

The Atlantic Council presents the executive summary from its new report, Pakistan in the Danger Zone: a Tenuous U.S.-Pakistan Relationship by Shuja Nawaz, Director of the Council’s South Asia Center.
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The Afghanistan war may be lost on the battlefields of Pakistan, where a vicious conflict is now being fought by Pakistan against a homegrown insurgency spawned by the war across its Western frontier. A year after we at the Atlantic Council raised a warning flag about the effects of failure in Afghanistan and the need to meet Pakistan’s urgent needs in its existential war against militancy and terrorism, the situation in Pakistan remains on edge. Domestic politics remain in a constant state of flux, with some progress toward a democratic polity overshadowed by periodic upheavals and conflicts between the ruling coalition and the emerging judiciary. The military’s actions against the Taliban insurgency appear to have succeeded in dislocating the homegrown terrorists but the necessary civilian effort to complement military action is still not evident.  The government does not appear to have the will or the ability to muster support for longer-term reform or sustainable policies. The economy appears to have stabilized somewhat; but security, governance, and energy shortages are major challenges that require strong, consistent, incorruptible leadership rather than political brinkmanship, cronyism, and corruption that remains endemic nationwide. Recent constitutional developments offer a glimmer of hope that may allow the civilian government to restore confidence in its ability to deliver both on the domestic and external front. But the government needs to stop relying on external actors to bail it out and take matters into its own hands.

Unless some game-changing steps are taken by both sides, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship may also be heading into another serious downturn, marked by continuing mistrust and a disconnect between the public posturing and private dialogues. The United States and Pakistan appear to have different objectives while speaking about common goals: while both are fighting terrorism and militancy, the U.S. is looking for a safe military exit out of a stabilized Afghanistan while ensuring that Al Qaeda does not re-emerge. Pakistan seeks to secure its own territory against an active homegrown insurgency, while keeping a wary eye on India to its east.   Increasingly, domestic political imperatives seem to be coloring the rhetoric and pushing policy between these two allies. The 2010 mid-term elections and a sputtering economy at home feed the U.S. desire to end the Afghan war. An unfinished transition from autocratic presidential rule to a parliamentary system in Pakistan that pitted the civilian president against the military and other political parties in Pakistan has hamstrung Pakistani politics.  The European allies in Afghanistan have been missing in action in Pakistan. They have not been able to establish their own relationship with Pakistan in a manner that would engender mutual trust and confidence. They have a minimal presence on the economic development scene in this key country bordering Afghanistan.

Pakistan can begin to turn things around if given the resources and the support it needs from the United States, the international financial institutions, and other friends. But it will also have to take on some major tasks itself, to reorder the political system, rearrange its economic priorities, and truly return power to the people and their representatives. But without tackling these daunting tasks, Pakistan risks political and economic slide. The nexus between security and governance remains critical. Pakistan’s civilian government must begin to govern and to prosecute the war against militancy on a war footing, not as a part-time activity or a purely military venture outsourced to its army. It must take control of strategy and work with the military to prepare to take over territory that the military wrests back from the insurgency. Now that it has removed some of the constitutional vestiges of the regime of President General Pervez Musharraf, it must also complete the transition from the presidential to a parliamentary system and build on the recently concluded concord between the provinces and between the center and the provinces, under the aegis of the National Finance Commission Award. It must re-order its priorities to revive domestic investment and attract foreign investment. And it must be prepared to plan for effective use of foreign aid. President Asif Ali Zardari has an opportunity to show statesmanship as the constitutional head of state but without the extraordinary powers that he inherited from his military predecessor. In order to do this he will need to build viable longer-term coalitions and change the negative perceptions about himself among the general population.

The United States needs to take some immediate actions to open up its markets to more Pakistani exports by reducing tariffs on Pakistan’s exports, as it has done for dozens of other countries across the globe. It must truly roll back the stringent visa restrictions and undue checking of travelers from Pakistan, a move that has further enraged public opinion, especially among the middle class. In other words, the United States must begin to treat Pakistan as an ally so Pakistan can return the favor. For the longer run, it needs to shift to visible and effective heavy infrastructure development and energy investments, and begin investing in the signature projects in the education and health sectors that will not only have longer term impact but also be visible to the general public as a result of U.S. assistance. On the military front, the U.S. needs to provide Pakistan the tools it needs to fight the war against militancy: more helicopters, more protection for its forces; better police and Frontier Corps training, and greater interaction with middle and lower ranking officers, through exchange programs, for example and not just short courses and visits. The flow of military hardware has been spotty at best and certainly not in the volume that would meet or exceed Pakistani expectations. The biggest game changer in terms of public perception will be discussion of an energy-oriented civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan that will treat it on par with neighbor India, but at the same time begin to draw it into the safeguards network of the International Atomic Energy Agency and thereby dissuade it from any recidivist tendencies toward proliferation. At the same time, removal of U.S. pressure against an Iran-Pakistan oil pipeline that could be extended to India would be seen as a positive step toward helping the US’ friends in South Asia.

The United States should also use its new status as a strategic partner of both India and Pakistan to bring the two neighbors together to pick up on the resolution of solvable disputes while reducing tensions on issues that may require more time to mature. Providing help in making their common counter terrorism approaches more effective may be one way to build mutual confidence between these two key neighbors. Finally, the United States and its allies can help India and Pakistan see the importance and great economic value of open borders, transit trade, and economic ties between South Asia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Governments in the subcontinent need to catch up with their public opinion that favors peace over confrontation in the subcontinent.

2009 was marked by missed opportunities in both Pakistan and the United States: many good intentions were undermined by subsequent actions. A generous, long-term aid bill (Kerry-Lugar) was saddled with “principles” that were read in Pakistan as conditions while the requirement of “waivers” were interpreted as threats similar to past U.S. sanctions. Delays in processing Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements continued to be the source of unhappiness on both sides. The CSF approach remains flawed and creates a serious impediment in building up a relationship between the two “allies”. Suspicions about U.S. boots on the ground in Pakistan and subsequent delays in visas for aid-related personnel add to the discomfort. Chances of serious miscalculations are still strong. But all is not lost, if leaders in both the United States and Pakistan, and civil society in both countries better understand each other’s concerns and intentions, and work together honestly and openly to resolve difficulties. If they do not, the loss of Afghanistan may be overshadowed by a Western break-up with Pakistan and that may well portend a collapse of the fledgling political system inside Pakistan.

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Menon, Raja: 6/25/2010 – Transcript

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FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2010

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

SHUJA NAWAZ:  For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Shuja Nawaz.  I’m the director of the South Asia Center.  And I’m extremely delighted today to welcome Adm. Raja Menon, who is going to be speaking on “The Indian Ocean 2020:  The Indian View.”

And I should clarify that the topic should not mislead you into thinking that this is only going to be about the navy, although if he were to speak only about naval strategy, that would keep us enthralled.  But by the Indian Ocean, we really are looking at the littoral states, which has been an interest of India in the 20th century and now in the 21st century because of its rising economic and political power, as well as a need to protect its trade routes.

When I first heard from Raja about this topic, I was reminded of something that was attributed to Haider Ali, the ruler of Mysore.  Haider and his son Tipu were constantly trying to reach the coast, because they discovered that the British had a navy and they could move around at will.  And I actually have a quote from Haider which I used in my book in which he said, “I can defeat them,” meaning the British, “on land, but I cannot swallow the sea.”  So the sea obviously plays an important role in strategy in our part of the world.

And so we’re looking forward to hearing from Adm. Menon on how India views its responsibilities and its role in the Indian Ocean and vis-à-vis the littoral states.  And I assume that means everything from the Malacca Straits to the Cape of Good Hope.  Of course, India is already participating in anti-pirate operations, and the chances of militant and terrorist attacks coming from the sea have now become a reality after Mumbai.  So there are lots of issues that we look forward to.

    A little bit of background on Adm. Menon.  He is obviously a naval officer, retired in 1994.  He is a pioneer of the Indian submarine service, and, in fact, since his retirement, has been very active on the Track II business.  He was in the first delegation that went to Pakistan on confidence-building measures.  He, after retirement, has been prolific as an author.  He authored “Maritime Strategy in Continental Wars,” which is apparently now a standard text in the Indian navy, and “A Nuclear Strategy for India,” which led to his conducting the first nuclear management course for the Indian armed forces officers.  And then he was in the group advising the Arun Singh Committee on Higher Defense Management in the National Defense University committee.  And he led the group that recently wrote the Indian navy’s maritime strategy and maritime doctrine.  Until recently he was the chairman of the Task Force on Net Assessment and Simulation in the National Security Council.

And interestingly, he chose to break away from the constraints of officialdom and has authored a magnificent book called “The Long View from Delhi” to define the Indian grand strategy for foreign policy, which has just been issued in India, and it’s also available through Amazon and other sources in the United States.  In this he used the net-assessment approach to basically outline all kinds of scenarios, which I guess the Baboos (sp) were not willing to accept.  And so he decided to do it on his own.  And I assure you that when you see that book, you will be amazed at the breadth and the depth of his knowledge.

    So with that, I’m going to hand over to Adm. Menon.  You’ll speak for about 20, 25 minutes, and then we’ll take questions.

    ADM. MENON:  Thank you, Shuja.  Thank you, Admiral.

    The reputation of your institution precedes you.  I’ve known many people who’ve come here before.  It is a great pleasure for me to be given a few minutes to speak at this institution, apart from which I admire Shuja’s book and the many conversations we’ve had on the intricacies of how South Asia is run, or sometimes not run.

    At the start of my subject, there are many studies which say that India was always a maritime power, which is strictly not true.  That’s more patriotism than logic.  We were a maritime power a thousand years ago.  And there was an original Indian Ocean trading pattern which can never be restored anymore.  That’s because the prime trading partner of every Indian Ocean littoral country is somebody outside the Indian Ocean.  So there’s no point in trying to recreate what the Indian Ocean was.

    But in the old days, what India was foremost in was the (builders’ ?) counting system, which was the original traditional method of the equivalent of letters of credit.  If a cargo of ivory was taken from Tanzania to Saudi Arabia, the risk for that cargo was paid by Indian merchants.  And there were these huge trading communities, the Kachis (ph) in the west and the Chettiars in the east, who took the financial risk, which was later on taken over by the Baghdadi Jews.  So that’s an old tradition.  And no one’s thinking that we can go back to it.

    So its maritime heritage really ends when the Europeans came in.  Since independence, we’ve had to reinvestigate what the actual facts were about India’s maritime power.  And the facts that emerged is something which is not yet in the published domain, which is that the British were seriously concerned with the fact that (peak ?) ships last 150 years, whereas – (inaudible) – ships last only about 40 years.  And there was a move, therefore, to kill Indian shipbuilding in the 19th century, so, as a result of which, a law was passed in 1868 which forbade India to have a navy.  And the maritime defense of India passed to the commander in chief, Far East Fleet in Singapore.

    India would then pay a certain amount of money for the maritime defense, and that money was actually paid by the Indian exchequer to the British exchequer until 1939, when the Second World War broke out.  Now, the result of this is that you see the great movements of the British empire, like the establishment of Iraq – such a classic case – Iraq was established by the Indian army in conjunction with the British fleet from Singapore.  So the command of the forces that set up the state of Iraq, 1922 – 1918 to 1928 – you find that the military commander was from the Indian army.  The political adviser came from Whitehall.  And that’s how the British operated.

    So whereas India did have an army before 1947, it never had a navy.  It was the Royal Indian Marine, whose responsibility now is virtually equal to that of the Coast Guard.  So we really had to start from scratch in 1947.  Now, the issue is that until 1991, the Indian navy was seriously underfunded, getting something like 12 percent of the defense budget.  And during times of crisis, it sometimes fell to 3 or 4 percent of the defense budget.

    But since ’91, the Navy’s share of the defense budget has constantly grown at an average of about half a percent a year.  So it stands at just short of 18 percent.  And this is before the public political acknowledgement that India needs to spend more money on its maritime defense.  So I’m making a projection that this 18 percent of what the budget reallocation is now will probably continue to go up to about 21 or 22.

    And because of that, there is a feeling that when we look at the budgets of all the other countries, there is an acknowledgement that there are only two navies which are substantially growing in the world today.  One is the Indian navy and the other is the Chinese navy.  So this leads most people who are involved in maritime thinking to say that we need a vision.  We need a vision of what the maritime situation will be.  And navies, as you know, take 30 years to build.  And we need this vision well in advance if we want to know where we are going, which is the reason why I’ve given the subject, which is the vision of the Indian Ocean, the view from Delhi, 2020.

    At the same time, we are more than aware that the supreme maritime power in the Indian Ocean is the United States Navy.  That’s why it’s a world power.  And you’re a world power because, in any part of the world, you’re the supreme power.  Now, this was an area of contention.  This was a subject of contention during the Cold War.  But with the end of the Cold War, that’s disappeared.

    The substance of this contention used to take the form of what I might call shadow boxing, shadow boxing over Diego Garcia.  “Why are the Americans in Diego Garcia?” to which the western alliance would say, “Well, what are the Russians doing around in Socotra?”

So there was this continuous shadow boxing and the presence of how many ships from each alliance is in the Indian Ocean.  India is at peace with Diego Garcia now.  That is, it doesn’t figure in any discussion.  But what is more is that we had a visit from CENTCOM about five years, seven years ago, and he put the objectives of the CENTCOM on the slide.  And if you took off the heading, it looked virtually like the maritime interests of India.  So there is an automatic identity of objectives and views.

Now, you might think this a bit funny, because India is actually in the area of responsibility of PACOM.  Now, this has again been the subject of much discussion with the Americans as to the fact that it is CNC Pacific who is charged to look at our area, but our interests seem to coincide with those of CENTCOM.  The Americans clearly are not going to change their area of responsibilities of the world to suit our convenience, but this is an outstanding issue as far as we are concerned.

I have to make some assumptions.  One, of course, is that, you know, navies are hugely expensive.  For instance, the Indian army is 22 times our size, but the amount of money that the Indian army gets for its new equipment is exactly the same as ours, which means to say that armies are much cheaper than navies.  But how much cheaper?  There is the 70-30, which is that the army spends 30 percent of its budget on equipment and 70 percent on running itself. In the navy, it’s the other way around.

So the reason why I mention this is because, at the political level, the politicians are aware that this service, you know, which leaves its port and then disappears, is performing a duty which they can’t see.  And they want to know, what is the return that a navy gives?  And it’s very difficult to educate politicians about the intricacies of maritime strategy and positional warfare and issues like that.

So we have to get at what bothers a politician, which is geopolitics.  And there is a dysfunction here in the sense that there are a huge number of navies in the Indian Ocean who have no geopolitical problems, (particularly ?) the Europeans.  And for them, the primary mission is catching pirates and humanitarian.

Now, this is not an area we can enter into and satisfy the politicians that the money they were allocated, this huge money, is actually being wisely spent.  So in our area, in our era of development, we still have to convince the politicians that the problems that we address are primarily geopolitical problems and not those of humanitarianism or catching – law and order, constabulatory, or catching pirates.  So this is something that’s got to be understood.  So when navies come to the Indian Ocean and say, you know, “Let’s cooperate on catching pirates,” this is good, okay.  But we can’t spend too much time on this.  Otherwise they’ll send us back to 12 percent.

The other, of course, is I’m mentioning what the facts are for any navy.  It’s not anything particular to the Indian navy.  The other, of course, is (slot ?) interdiction.  Now, this is something which needs to – it’s a complex issue.  We need to look at this a bit carefully.  When you say interdict it means, you know, you can virtually stop that line of communication.  That is hugely expensive, for two reasons. 

One is that the naval platforms that interdict could either be operating in an area of their own superiority or in an area of somebody else’s superiority.  If you’re operating in an area of somebody else’s superiority, the only platforms that can do this are submarines.

Now, submarines today for most countries mean diesel submarines.  If you’re talking about diesel submarines beyond 1,500 miles from your home base, you need three submarines to maintain one on patrol.  Most navies have only six submarines.

So, when you talk about the interdiction capability of navies, it’s fairly small.  I mean, navies that can actually interdict sea lines of communication are probably U.S. Navy or Australian navy or the Indian navy.  That’s it.

If you intend to interdict sea lines of communication in an area of your own superiority, then you have the capability to selectively interdict, and that is absolutely vital because no country carries all its cargo in its own ships, so when you stop a ship at sea, you don’t know whose ship it is.

Let me give you some figures.  Let’s take China, for instance.  Chinese oil is carried in something like 54 percent in ships which are registered in flags of convenience like Panama, Liberia, places like that.  It’s only 46 percent that carry their own.  So if you see a Chinese flag, you’ll only see one in two ships.  The rest will be in some other. 

This may not be the same true for gas carriers, but what we call the problem of flagging means that interdiction requires a huge amount of selectivity.  Now, sometimes navies try to get over this by – you know, like channels for immigration. 

So, you know, you channel ships through a lane.  Now, if you want to do that, you need the backing of, who is a big guy around that place?  So, this is an international problem in which the laws are pretty vague but invariably what happens in the end is that might is taken to be right. 

Back to geopolitics.  There is sometimes a view that conflict can occur at sea.  Now, this is a bit far-fetched.  My own view is that conflict at sea is invariably a spillover of conflict on land, and there are any number of cases where conflicts can occur on land from which the spillover will come over to the sea, and there are some markers for the possibilities of conflict which we need to look at.

The primary one is demographics.  Demographics, they say, is destiny.  I mean, this is the one projection from which you cannot escape.  People are going to roughly number what the projections say.  And if you look at the projections you’ll immediately see what areas of the Indian Ocean cannot escape turbulence and loss of governance.

The primary area – let me put it this way:  Demographic turbulence can lead to two outcomes.  One of them is that the status becomes ungovernable and therefore spirals out of control.  The other is that the state merely declines but is still governed to a certain extent.  And these two divisions – there is a division here and some states will fall into one and some states will fall into the other.

The area that is of greatest concern which we need to accept as an international problem is the Horn of Africa.  Now, there is no point really in saying that it’s Somalia or it’s Eritrea or it’s Ethiopia or it’s Yemen.  The entire Horn is going to spiral out of control.  And the reason for this largely demographic – the Horn of Africa and Yemen, by 2050, is going to have the same number of people as the United States.  That’s 350 million.

Now, there is already no governance in that area.  Somalia is already ungovernable.  So, a number of problems flow from that, to say that, you know, we think the problem in Somalia is that it may become a caliphate.  Now, you’re merely saying that, you know, this patient has temperature.  What you’re not saying is that this patient is ill.  So you’re really looking at the symptoms.

Yemen, in our opinion, is going to become ungovernable in another 10 or 15 years.  The fertility rate there is five.  The government barely functions.  It has got no oil.  And it’s going to spiral out of control.  I mean, you already had one outstanding product – Osama bin Laden.

So, the Horn of Africa is critical as far as geopolitical instability is concerned and maritime effects are concerned because of the waterway in between, which is – (inaudible).  So, if you look along the other coast – so what’s going to happen here is that there’s going to be huge migration and it’s going to spin off poverty-stricken people to all parts of the globe, and among them will come mixed fundamentalists, radicalists and so on and so forth.

The problem in Somalia is, again, very strange in the sense that it is ungovernable.  It’s got – actually it’s only got about 9 or 11 million people, but, again, they have a fertility rate of five and they’re going to stabilize at, you know, 34 (million) or 45 million in Somalia.

But a lot of social scientists keep pointing out the fact that, you know, Somalis are poor fellows.  You know, they don’t catch any fish, and therefore that explains piracy.  I find this a bit bizarre.  You know, I come from a coastal state myself – you know, Kerala – and all the fishermen go out in the morning and they come back with very few fish, but it doesn’t mean you go out and catch some ships. 

So, the fact is that the Somalis have a long tradition of piracy.  That Island of Suqutra that lies in the mouth of the Bab el Mendeb has been known for piracy since 1200, since the time of Al-Beruni and even Battuta.  So there is a traditional problem there.

As far as unstable regimes are concerned whose unraveling could affect, I think the number-one candidate is those generals in Myanmar.  This is something on which we’ve had many discussions with the Americans.  That military regime has a limited life. 

I mean, you can take a call maybe five years, maybe 10 years, but when the military junta collapses in Myanmar, it’s going to – the minorities are going to spring apart because the agreement between the minorities – the agreement is between the minorities and the Burman army.

So it would be nice to have democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi back as the elected leader, but without the Burman army, the minorities are not going to agree to stay in Myanmar.  And the problem is that the minorities next to Thailand, for instance, would much rather be in Thailand.

The minorities in the north, the Shans, have already intermarried with the Chinese, with the Shans in Yunnan.  In fact, the Chinese have virtually married their way south as far as Mandalay where you see signs in Mandarin.  And all the road signs in Mandalay and shop signs are in Mandarin today. And the idea that the Shans would stay pacified within a democratic Burma is a bit difficult to believe. 

So there are issues in the sense that China has, as one of the papers reported, they put lots of money into countries which are described as virtual train wrecks.  So they’ve got these five pipelines which go from Sui and they supply the gas in Yunnan.  So, what’s the Chinese going to do if the pipeline – which the pipeline will defiantly be affected.  So there are those kinds of issues.

In the other area where the maritime spillover of that is concerned is that most of the gas of Myanmar are in the offshore fields.  I mean, we were offered gas in the Sui fields and port, but we simply don’t have the money to compete with the Chinese.  It would have been a good idea to go and build a port exactly on the other side of the headland where the Chinese are.  It’s a very seductive idea.  We don’t have the money. 

Similarly, we have been offered rights to build access up the Caledon River, up to the northeast of India near Manipur.  Again, we don’t have the money.  And that was an idea which was floated by us because the Bangladeshis were not being kind to the idea of transit through Bangladesh to the northeast of India, but now the Bangladeshis have come around and have said, you can have access to Chittagong. 

So, these developments have got to be watched, and I think these are the maritime outcomes of geopolitical problems.  The Afghan war – I mean, there is so much literature about this that I really don’t want to go into this. 

The issue is – the war in Afghanistan requires a strong U.S. maritime presence in the north Arabian Sea, you know, partly because it provides the military air cover and partly because almost 80 percent of the heavy stuff still comes in by sea, goes up by convoy from Karachi.  So, how long is this going to continue is an issue that needs to be looked at. 

I’m told by varying sources that, what’s going to happen to the 1 trillion (dollars) worth of lithium that’s been found?  Now, it clearly can’t be left there.  Somebody is going to want it.  Now, who is that somebody?  There are varying views. 

I mean, some of my U.S. friends say, yeah, we would like to have some of that because that’s really going to change the future of alternative energy because there’s no energy sink that doesn’t require lithium.  If the U.S. doesn’t want it, maybe the Chinese will, or maybe the Indians will compete.  Now, Afghanistan is in many ways better approached from the sea, from Iran, Chabahar Port and up the Indian road. 

There is the issue of Iran and nuclear – I mean, a lot of people think that the problem of Iran is nuclear proliferation.  In a way, yes, but that’s again saying that, you know, this guy’s got fever, not saying why he’s got fever.  If Iran proliferates in any way, there is no doubt in our minds – I assume there is no doubt in your minds – that it’s going to have a cascading effect.  There will be demands, as there already area, for a Sunni bomb. 

And there are people already fishing in troubled waters with Chinese export of ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia.  There are already 14 applications for reactors from the sheikdoms – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – for nuclear reactors to the IAEA.  It’s legitimate – Article IV of the NPT – but everyone knows what’s the subtext as to why these nuclear reactors are being asked for. 

So, the cascading effect requires that the stabilization of the Middle East, which has traditionally been a maritime issue – you know, people have said that the reason why all these powers are there in the Middle East is because it’s an iron ring around the area of oil, and if the Middle East grew – as a British economist said, if it grew carrots instead of oil, nobody would be interested in the Middle East.

So, the stabilization of the Middle East, the stabilization of the price of oil, oil not running out of control, is going to be largely affected by diplomacy backed by force, and that force will come from the sea.

The last issue of course is that just because a large country is not in the Indian Ocean, it doesn’t mean it’s not actually there.  I talk of what is euphemistically called extra-territorial presence, and that’s mainly now.  It used to be the United States and Russia; now it’s the United States and possibly China.

Now, we all agree that the greatest political event of the last hundred years is the rise of China, not whether it’s going to rise – it’s already risen, but it’s risen in a way in which other countries have not risen.  The pattern that it has chosen to rise in is different from the way other countries have risen in the past.

One of them is that there seems to be, among the geopolitical track in Beijing and the geoeconomic track, at the moment definitely the geoeconomic track is stronger and more powerful because they have to clock 9 percent, as we do.  And the strategy they have chosen, and the way we see it, is that they are going to export their way to prosperity, riding on the back of a undervalued yuan. 

Now, this has its cascading effect in society on trade and in the world in general.  This requires that these export figures need to – the only word I can describe for it, it needs to hurtle along.  But what’s happened so far is the attempt to make the Chinese exports hurtle along is that they have created a huge amount of surplus money, which they have found convenient to deposit only in U.S. Treasury bonds. 

The sum has now become so big that it is virtually untouchable without destabilizing the international financial system.  So there are many economists who put it very boldly and say, the Chinese can virtually kiss their money goodbye, the money that’s in the United States.  Any attempt to take away large quantities of it is going to seriously destabilize both the dollar and the yuan and the international system.

But it appears that the Chinese have taken a decision that if you’ve got this problem, you don’t want to make it any worse, so we might not be able to touch our money in Washington but we’re not going to put anymore there, which seems to be the reason why we find, in the last five to 10 years, an incredible amount of Chinese money going into buying assets abroad. 

We’ve done calculations and found that the Chinese are in every single littoral state of Africa, from Egypt all the way down, except for four states in the West African – (inaudible).  They are all over Africa.  And if that’s not enough, now they have started putting money into South America.

Now, this has a number of implications.  One is that countries that need resources don’t necessarily have to buy lithium mines.  I mean, if you want oil, you go and buy oil.  You don’t necessarily have to go and buy it in an oil field.  But the Chinese have chosen – they have deliberately made a choice that they are in a financially strong position and therefore they need to buy – they will buy oilfields rather than oil, or lithium mines rather than lithium.

The result of this is that they are going back to a 19th century mercantilist Malthusian geoeconomic strategy when in fact the world is trying to move on with Bretton Woods, that the international system – the international marketing system – you rely on supply and demand.

So, what they are in fact doing but not saying is that they’re going to buy assets and take it out of the market.  But do they have any choice?  I’m not saying this is good or bad, this is evil or – but this is a strategy they have chosen and this seems to – they feel that this is their best strategy, that if they put money into Angola, they will also build Angola’s infrastructure as payment for the oil rights, but the infrastructure will be built by Chinese labor using Chinese capital equipment, which then increases Chinese exports.

So, it all fits in with this whole pattern, but is this pattern sustainable?  There are serious questions – which, as Shuja says, in the book I had an economist holding my hand to answer the difficult ones.  If China is to really raise its per capita income from $4,000 or $5,000, where it is today, to 20,000 (dollars), it will have to export nine times the amount what it does.  Can the world absorb that much without a lot of countries going bankrupt and not being able to export anything else? 

The other issue is that if the Chinese are going to deposit their money, people and capital equipment all over the world, the other departments of the Chinese government are going to move to fulfill their duties, which is the PLA navy and the PLA air force and the PLA foreign service. 

And in that movement away from China to South America – and we have seen in the last week they have deposited 20 million (dollars) to build a port in Piraeus, in Greece, which they have been given the rights for for 20 years. 

They need to run past us.  They need to run past us.  And in running past us, if they were to turn around and say, you know, do you mind; excuse me, we have to go – that’s not the attitude they take.  The attitude they take is that, you know, lump it or leave it.  So, this is going to result in a geopolitical confrontation which is initiated by them, the consequences of which I’m not sure they themselves see the full consequences of it. 

So, what’s going to happen is that a number of countries in which a huge amount of Chinese money is invested are going to start – as I said, are going to start bending to the Chinese wind, which means that they will start voting Chinese in the U.N.  They will start voting Chinese for the NPT or in the Committee on Disarmament or in Geneva or in human rights.  And this is going to inevitably result in a clash with the United States.  It’s not our fight, okay, but it will still result in a fight with the United States, which thinks its democracy is worth fighting for. 

So, we see that these are issues on which we cannot remain neutral, uncommitted, and we have to take a stand because we are fairly convinced that if we lose our existing superiority in the Indian Ocean, we have nothing left to bargain with.  In the last two years we have seen that the Chinese have escalated continuously on our Indo-Tibetan border for no apparent reason, and this seems to be part of the plan to run past us. 

So, I think I’ve said enough.  I’m sure there are a huge number of issues which I have not covered, but are probably left better for questions.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Raja.  I’m sure everyone will agree that my introduction was not exaggerated.  There is a naval officer, a military man, who has been thinking strategy and grand strategy for quite a while.  And, clearly, the span of this morning’s discussion and talk by him indicates that he doesn’t – he’s not constrained by geography, intellectual or otherwise.

Let me see if I can take you back to a couple of things that you said – one, that the possibility of naval conflict would only arise if there was a land conflict, and yet, near the end of your talk, you were talking about the Chinese shipping lanes or ability to go past India to sources of resources, to natural resources in South America and in Africa – would have to go through India or through India’s ocean, as it were, and that might create a conflict.

So, is there a contradiction here?  I mean, are we seeing a naval conflict actually provoking a land conflict?

ADM. MENON:  This is a very astute question.  What the Chinese are doing is expanding hugely their sea lines of communication through the Indian Ocean, which is a legitimate activity.  But at the same time, they are taking measures which – unilaterally taking measures to defend those lines of communication when there is actually no geopolitical threat to those lines of communication. 

They are paranoid about the Straits of Malacca.  They say it’s a very narrow strait, but so what?  Ships pass through narrow straits all the time.  But they say, you might block us.  But why would someone block you unless you’ve got some nasty thoughts in your mind which you intend to execute some other places, in which case somebody might decide to get tough with you in the Straits of Malacca? 

But otherwise, do you accept the international system, which is that, you know, your ships have got to pass through the Panama Canal, they have to pass through the English Channel, they have to pass through the Straits of Malacca?  These are inherently difficult rules.

So, just because they’re difficult rules, if you start avoiding them for the sake of geopolitical conflict, the outlines of which no one is clear about – like, for instance they say they want to build a canal through the Kra Isthmus.  They want to build a pipeline from Gwadar to take all the oil to Xinjiang.  It’s a monumental project and it’s going to cost a huge amount of money.  Why do you want to do that?  Because I don’t want to go through the Straits of Malacca.  So they seem to be jumping the gun. 

Now, when you see a movement like that where they’re intending to jump the gun, along with, say, an escalation in the Taiwan Straits or an escalation on the Tibetan border, then you have to conclude that these are all interlinked, but the issue is, who is going to trigger it off? 

The only person it would seem who is going to trigger it off is that country which is not accepting the Bretton Woods international flow of marketing system and would therefore go mercantilist and therefore is thinking one step ahead to start defending itself.

So, the issue is that nobody is going to attack China at sea on a clear day out of the blue, but both China and other countries are aware that should something else occur somewhere else, then there is a possibility that the extended lines of communication of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean could come under threat.

It would be a good idea for people to sit across the table and say, let’s decide what’s the first step and what’s the second step.  Well, that hasn’t occurred so far.  The Chinese don’t talk to us on this issue. 

MR. NAWAZ:  We have a question from Harlan.  Can you use that microphone so we can get the questions also?  And if you don’t mind introducing yourselves so we can get it on the transcript. 

Q:  Admiral, thank you for a – (inaudible, off mike).  An observation and a question.  I have always been amused that Pakistan’s paranoid insecurity vis-à-vis India is matched by India’s paranoia and insecurity vis-à-vis China.  And I would only suggest that in your economic analysis, if you go back and take a look at the four principles that dominate the party’s role of China and indeed the PLA, number one is maintaining stability. 

And that defines very, very simply avoiding, over the millennia, peasant rebellion, as the Taiping Rebellion in the 1860s threatened to overthrow that dynasty.  And I think today one of the big problems that the Chinese have is that it’s not so much the peasant farmer rebellion but it’s that of the workers.

And, as you know, there are 300 million underclass Chinese, more or less, living under the standard – under the poverty line.  And so, I think a lot of things are motivated – and we often underestimate the power of maintaining domestic stability in dealing with this, and China is a great restraint.  That’s my observation.

My question really is, given all these things – and I agree with your geostrategic and geoeconomic analysis, the pressure of demographics, radicalism – what concrete suggestions do you have that would engage India possibly more with NATO, the West, regional solutions in Afghanistan? 

The U.S. Navy, a number of years ago, proposed the so-called “thousand-ship navy,” which was going to be a voluntary mixture of commercial as well as naval ships exchanging information and so forth.  Could you share with us some of your suggestions and recommendations as how countries like – great countries like India might be able to put in place new systems, new institutions, new means for dealing with this instability, which is going to increase?

ADM. MENON:  Thank you on your outstanding contributions.

The communist army is traditionally political tools within a country.  I totally agree with that.  Mao said, “Power grows from the barrel of a gun.”  And this is the reason why communist armed forces look like communist armed forces. 

I mean, whether you take the East German navy or the Romanian navy or the old North Vietnamese army, they all look alike.  It looks like a communist navy, because for the communist countries, navies are a seaward extension of armies, which is the reason why the PLAN is called PLAN.  It’s the PLA navy. 

And since I spent so many years in Russia, the generic word for the armed forces is armiya.  And the glavstav (ph), which is the main staff in Moscow, is heavily army dominated because, as you quite rightly say, it’s the army that will keep the people in check.  Navies can’t keep people in check.

And even a man like Adm. Gorshkov – you know, we watched this quite a few years – we watched his humble body language when in the presence of Marshal Grechko.  Marshal Grechko was a very powerful man, and in my opinion he was thick as two planks, but Gorshkov had to show humility to him.  And today who remembers Grechko?  Gorshkov was the father of the navy.

So, that’s the situation in communist countries.  So the fact that the armies are meant for suppressing the people, I mean, that’s accepted.  But there is a huge transformation of the PLA that’s going on, and the PLA is beginning to look exactly like the United States army.  It’s beginning to look exactly like a shock and awe army.  In fact, its composition is beginning to look like the U.S. army – heavy tanks, air cavalry, air mobile, heliborne, airborne combined with heliborne operations.

Now, this is not a people-suppressing army, for which I think they might probably begin to use the people’s militia, which is a paramilitary force, of which they have 3 million.  This PLA modernization plan, when it is executed, will bring the PLA down to virtually the same size as our army, 1 million.  It’s something like 3 million downsizing past 2 million at the moment.  It’s going to, I think, come down to 1 million, but it’s going to be a heavy armored, air mobile, air cavalry mobile force. 

In a state-to-state conflict, it’s a frightening army.  In a civil disturbance, it’s not.  It’s really not structured.  Probably the people’s militia is probably better structured today.  I mean, if you see the use of the people’s militia to maintain law and order during the Olympics, that’s the way to go.  I mean, they are being increasingly drilled to army standards and, you know, you can see how they’re being transformed.

The other one is that – I mean, what can we do?  I think the first thing we really need to do is compare assessments.  I mean, I would like to put my book, “The Long View from Delhi,” on one side and ask, say, NATO or the United States, now put your book on this table.  Let’s first agree on what the world is going to look like.

Now, I am saying that the Horn is going to spiral out of control but I might be talking in the wilderness.  Does the United States think so and does the United States think that this is an issue on which there is something worth doing?  Do the Europeans think so? 

The Europeans, we are very confused with them.  We are much clearer as to what the French think, but when you compare what the French think with what the EU thinks with what the NATO thinks, we have no idea where we stand.

So, we need to first agree on what the problem is.  Do we agree that demographics is the problem in the Horn of Africa?  I think we need to get to first base.  And once we agree with that, then we can start saying – and a lot of people are now saying, as far as Somalia is concerned, we must attack the problem from the land. 

But what does that mean?  Does it mean better policing?  How do you address the problem?  Do you convince the women not to have so many children?  What is it that we intend to do?  We need to get to the bottom of this, and certainly as far as Yemen.

At the moment, I think there is no strategic consensus on what the problems of the Indian Ocean are.  That’s why this book is the view from Delhi.  This is also the view from Delhi.  I would really be interested to know whether this can be matched with the view from Brussels or the view from Washington.  And I think after that, cobbling together a strategy is quite possible. 

Q:  Can I follow up on that, Shuja?

I should say that your views on shock and awe – (inaudible, off mike) – but let me just say that, unfortunately, even though that Don Rumsfeld was part of our group, I don’t think Don fully understood what we meant. 

ADM. MENON:  I know.

Q:  At least that wasn’t what happened in Iraqi Freedom.

ADM. MENON:  I agree. 

Q:  That was not shock and awe.  That was Desert Storm on steroids.

ADM. MENON:  Yeah.

Q:  What’s interesting is that the view from Europe on defense is very, very similar.  If you take a look at the British, the German and the French white papers last year, they all have the same conclusion:  Defense is no longer about defense of the realm; it’s the defense of the individual.

ADM. MENON:  Right.

Q:  And so your argument, in essence, only gets to their argument because of what the reverberations will be. 

I don’t know if you’ve seen the – what the ACT product, the joint future environment?  Allied Command Transformation in Europe – Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk did a study last year for NATO on what the future environment was going to look like.  It was a fairly superficial study because NATO wasn’t that interested –

ADM. MENON:  Right.

Q:  – but you may want to take a look at that.

ADM. MENON:  Right.

Q:  Because I think that your idea is really important, and what one could say is there needs to be the security equivalent of Davos. 

ADM. MENON:  Right.

Q:  And maybe you could start arguing for that – Delhi, NATO, the major powers – to put together a forum whereby people look at what the potential dangers, threats, uncertainties are, develop some kind of baseline, and then from there you could work on the particular strategies and institutions.  That’s lacking.

And so, I could not agree more with your approach.  The question is you need to find out a way to put that into operation and make it work.

ADM. MENON:  Yeah.

Q:  Thank you very much, Admiral.  My name is Damien Tomkins.  I’m from the East-West Center.  One quick observation, I think.  I think I’m correct when I say that European militaries are reducing – European countries are reducing their defense spending, whereas in Asia, defense spending is on the increase.  I kind of have two questions.  One is relating to U.S.-India relations and the other one is pertaining to India-China relations. 

I don’t know if you have any comments on the recent strategic dialog, anything that came out of that between the United States and India.  I was interested – I think Secretary Clinton said at the beginning that the United States carries out more military exercises with India than any other country.  I think that that was one of her comments.  I don’t know if you could expand on that slightly.  And of course, you know, India – we’ve heard of the humanitarian assistance after the tsunami in conjunction with Australia and Japan, the Indian navy, the American Navy working there.

And the other one is a little bit towards China-India relations.  Obviously there’s the “string of pearls.”  There’s the ports I understand that China is building in Sri Lanka.  Of course Qatar – and an airfield possibly in Qatar and Pakistan and Burma.  Any thoughts on the “string of pearls”?

And then a little bit different but the India-China border dispute, where is that going?  My understanding is that that dispute will not be resolved until the issue of Tibet is resolved, and in China’s – what China wants and also leading into some of the succession regarding the Dalai Lama, and that’s also feeding into that.  So, I would be interested in your thoughts.  Thanks very much. 

ADM. MENON:  These strategic talks with the U.S., the – New Delhi is dominated by the economists, and quite rightly.  There is no question that the whole country is behind a unified view that what India needs, to the exclusion of practically everything else, is to clock 9 percent for 15 years.  And is there a factor that can actually make it clock 9 percent?  And is there a factor that can definitely prevent it from clocking 9 percent?

It so happens that that factor is the same thing, which is the youth bulge.  We’re going to have 12 million people coming into the workforce between now and 2025.  That is the youth dividend.  If those 12 million people –

Q:  (Inaudible, off mike) – every year?

ADM. MENON:  Every year.  There’s going to end up something like 300 million.  If those 12 million are even just employed, they will generate, on their own, about 2 percent of the GDP – 2 or 3 percent of the GDP.  So, it is not a problem clocking 9 percent.  If they are unemployed, they are going to detract 2 percent from the GDP, so then it becomes a youth bulge and not a youth dividend.

So, the problem is that the Indian educational institutions today, the infrastructure is not capable of creating skills for 12 million a year.  And, quite rightly, the ministers that came here for the strategic talks have focused on this one issue.  I have no quarrel with that.

I still doubt the capability of the ministers who came here to actually do something about this because the minister who came here is the minister for education, for the central government, where education is state subject. 

And in your case, education is mostly a county subject, so I haven’t understood what these guys came here and talked about.  There are counties in the U.S. where the schools are the best in the country, and there are some counties where the schools are the worst.  It’s a varying standard.  It’s a county decision.

So, in creating skills – let me give you some figures.  Imphorsis (ph) and three or four companies have produced five times the number of equivalent engineering graduates as has the education system of the country.

So what’s really happening in India and to the private sector is taking a bunch of unskilled guys and training them to do jobs for them which they would normally acquire – hire graduates for.  So they are the equivalent.  After 10 years it wouldn’t make a difference if they don’t have a degree but they would have a – (inaudible).

So, the minister coming here creates apprehensions in my mind in the sense that, you know, it would have made much more sense if he had brought Imphorsis’s chairman here or Azim Premji here because these are the guys who are going to turn out more graduates than the minister of education.  So I’m a little apprehensive about that but they are looking at the right problem.

But still, the fact that you’re trying to solve the main issue for India doesn’t mean that the country needs to punch below its weight in everything else because it’s got a huge bureaucracy.  So the education bureaucracy is getting more on education.  It doesn’t mean that the other bureaucracies, you know, are just sitting around.

So, there is no reason why the U.S.-India strategic relationship, the real strategic relationship can’t also be activated.  And one of the issues here is the CENTCOM/PACOM business.  You know, we don’t know who we should be talking to.  PACOM, in my opinion, is transfixed over the Taiwan Strait crisis, and like the Chinese, who are panicking about the Malacca Straits, I frankly don’t think PACOM’s interest goes much beyond the Malacca Straits, and CENTCOM is not entitled to think about it.

So, I mean, we keep feeling that – is there a view in the United States that actually they’re powerful enough to go it alone?  We have that suspicion because – they certainly can’t go it along on land but warfare at sea is something else, and it is possible for the United States to go it alone until it gets to problems where, you know, there is a long deployment of ships or anti-piracy where you just need so many ships just hanging around or so many years and then the United States would like to have the assistance of somebody else.  But, I mean, they’re not only interested in low-end jobs, you know?

So, this is something that has got to be sorted out at the strategic level, and that has not yet been sorted out.  It’s true that we have the largest number of exercises, but this leads to a joint operations capability to do something.  What is that something?  This is what we keep asking the United States about.

As far as the Sino-Indian thing is concerned, there is nothing that they have done so far that really threatens our security, but they are on the way and we see that we’re leading to results which are not nice.

The Sri Lankans will never allow the Chinese into Hambantota.  We are certain about that.  And we feel that even the Pakistanis will think twice before they allowed the Chinese Navy into Gwadar for longer than one visit or two visits.  But if they intend to maintain a sensible presence, it’s going to require something more than building a harbor in the Indian Ocean. 

Now, everyone knows what that is but the Chinese haven’t moved towards that yet.  But the fact that they might be able to convert that huge economic presence all over the coast of Africa and other places into something more dual use is – we think it’s a matter of time, and so do the Americans.  So, we are watching it.  And, as I said, you are right that – you’re also right that there is no need to panic about the Chinese today; it’s tomorrow that we’re worrying about, 2020. 

Q:  What about the border dispute?

ADM. MENON:  Oh, yeah, border dispute.  The border dispute is – you know, the thing that really worries us is, to put in a nutshell, the Dalai Lama is almost 80 years old.  Now, he’s not going to last forever. 

And we get the feeling that they are certainly jerking us around on the border.  They are intruding into areas which are ours, leaving telltale signs that they’ve been there and then withdrawing.  They are threatening the locals about building roads, saying, you know, you must ask the permission of the Chinese.  That’s why our patrols are not there. 

So, you know, they are doing all this kind of thing but the issue is this:  You know, these incidents are being done by officers of the rank of, say, a captain or a lieutenant.  Now, there is no way that an officer of that rank can think up a sophisticated scheme to create an incident unless he has been directly controlled from Beijing because there is no way that a local commander will be told, okay, go and create incidents with the Indians, because nobody in Beijing knows whether that fellow might push things out of control, which is the last thing Beijing wants, but yet they’re creating incidents.

So, in the military we are familiar with this situation where you are actually creating very small incidents but it’s at a geopolitical level because when that captain comes across with 20 men, across the border, it’s a geopolitical incident, and he’s being very tightly controlled.  You know it.  So it’s the intention behind all of this. 

There is also the whole issue of the religiosity.  If the Dalai Lama dies, which he will at some time, what’s going to happen next?  And whatever the Chinese say – you know, they’ll put up a Dalai Lama and the Tibetans will say, get lost.  I mean, this is not the Dalai Lama.  So then what are the Chinese going to say?  The Tibetans will say – and the Tibetans are all in India and we’re not going to kick them out.  That’s what the Chinese want.  They want us to hand over these Tibetans back to China, which we won’t. 

So, these Tibetans who are in India, who are now a prosperous, thriving community, are going to come up with who they think is their Dalai Lama, and he will be in India.  And the Chinese will say, you’re, you know, creating a new Dalai Lama and a problem for us.  So we realize all this, but –

Q:  So do the Chinese.

ADM. MENON:  Yeah, so do the Chinese but, I mean, we’re not going to move from this.  I mean, the Tibetans are virtually Indian citizens.  They’ve been here for 35 years and a few of them are getting aggressive, no question.  But we really restrict – and I feel ashamed – we really restrict the Dalai Lama’s movements to please the Chinese.  And I think that’s about as far as we are prepared to go. 

MR. NAWAZ:  Holly (ph)?

Q:  Yes, I have wanted to first make a comment and then raise a question.  The comment relates directly to the scenario that you’ve drawn where Chinese capabilities and the increasing ubiquity of Chinese military assets, alongside the mercantilist expansion of Chinese economic interests, leads to a more aggressive Chinese presence globally.

And the comment is, from my discussions over a number of years with Chinese government and non-government scholars, it seems to me that if they were sitting here, somebody would put up a finger and say, well, wouldn’t that lead to Paul Kennedy-esque overextension of the sort that we’ve been laughing at your for?

So I have to raise this question because of course in private discussions these folks say, well, it’s nice of you to secure Afghanistan for us so we could mine minerals, and it does seem to me that they would risk perhaps the same outcome and there might be at least some cautionary lessons to be drawn from our path and our current trajectory.

What I really wanted to ask you about, though, is to think about an end state for arrangements concerning the Indian Ocean that would be satisfying and reassuring to India as we think out 10 or 15 years, and particularly end states that would include some sort of disincentives for China to behave in ways unacceptable to India in the littoral states but even more on the waters that would not disquiet – that would reassure and disquiet the Chinese, not in fact cause them to react neuralgically (ph) but that might neutralize or at least discourage some of the behaviors that you have raised.

So if you think about end states, what would that look like?  What are some options for end states that would be reassuring to India without causing new problems?  And what are some of the paths for getting to that – you know, multilateral paths, the India-U.S. possibility you have implicitly raised. 

And I haven’t had a chance yet because I haven’t gotten my copy, to read your scenarios-based futures book, “The Long View” book.  India, U.S, Australia, Japan – what sorts of arrangements, either flexible or more permanent, what sorts of treaties, what kinds of rules of the road might help prevent the outcome that you’re concerned about?

ADM. MENON:  Yeah, those are great questions.  I agree that the Chinese are very aware of the blunders created by Cecil Rhodes and the colonialist paths taken by Britain and the Western paths.  And there are public statements to indicate that they don’t want to go down the same road.  But I am less than convinced that they have the intellectual depth to actually create an alternative route.  Wanting a route different from colonialism and neocolonialism is one thing, but coming up with an alternative is something quite different.

Now, the route that the Chinese are taking is this:  They’re going to the – let’s take Congo.  They’re going to the Republic of Congo and they sign a deal with huge corruption with the heads of state.  And it is impossible to believe that that huge amount of money that they’ve paid in corruption has not led them to get an agreement which is disadvantageous to the people of the Congo.  It’s impossible to believe that. 

The structure of the agreement is this:  that they will build infrastructure – they’re going to build, I think, two airports, a port, 420 kilometers of highways in return for total mining rights of, I don’t know, 10 years, 15 years for cobalt, lithium, manganese and nickel, things like that.

Now, everyone is very aware that there is no expertise in the Republic of Congo to be able to sign a good agreement.  I mean, this is the kind of agreement that if you match the building of infrastructure costing so much, so much, so much, which actually will be built by Chinese labor using Chinese equipment using Chinese money, how do you balance that with 15 years mining rights when in fact you don’t know how much minerals actually are in the ground?

You might end up at a loss.  You might end up completely ripping off the Republic of Congo.  Everyone knows this.  Now, the point is that the Chinese say, well, if you think that we are going to rip off the Republic of Congo, well, why didn’t somebody else come in and make this deal?

The fact is that those who – the other countries will say, okay, we’ll depend upon what the market gives.  If the price of lithium goes up and chrome goes up, the people who are involved in that will go and establish new mines. 

So, the Chinese – you’re right, you know, they shouldn’t be doing this because they’ll get overextended because once they go there – and all these institutions are being pushed by the Chinese development – Chinese Overseas Bank.  It’s a bank that’s doing it, apparently; that’s what the Chinese say, but we don’t know what the connection is between the bank and the state.

And once the bank has done this – like, for instance, let’s say they went into Algeria to take oil and gas, and that’s an area where the kind of incident will occur which we feel will occur because the Chinese go there; they don’t eat anything other than Chinese food.  They live in a ghetto.  They don’t mix with the local people.  They don’t hire local accommodation.  And they live in a different way; they live in a more prosperous way than the local, and there have already been riots and Chinese people have been killed, as a result of which I’m sure the Chinese ambassador in Algeria has had to intervene and report back to Beijing.

Now, that will certainly set off, say, the PLA to say, now, what are we doing?  These poor Chinese people are going across and creating assets and taking things and they’re bringing it back there, and they’re vulnerable and we need to protect them – normal state activity.  So, eventually you will end up in a spiral set of circumstances which will take you down the same road as Cecil Rhodes, as the old colonialism.  How will it be any different? 

So, if the Chinese think that they are going to create a different route, I would like to hear what this route is.  The very basis of the agreements that the Chinese are signing with these African nations is deeply suspect.  In fact, Transparency International has volunteered to go and relook at all these agreements to take the agreements on behalf of the African governments to see whether they’ve been given a good deal by the Chinese.

But the guy who signed it for the African government, he’s on the take, so he’s not going to allow that agreement to be re-looked at.  And it seems not very far different from the way, you know, the diamond mines were taken over in Botswana in 1818, 1819.  So that’s one.

The other is what is the end state in the Indian Ocean and how can we discourage Chinese behavior?  My personal view is that the Chinese respect force.  They deeply respect force and they don’t – when they are confronted with force, they don’t look at whether the use of that force is meritorious – whether it’s good or whether it’s evil.  They are very pragmatic to say, there is force; we have to live with this force.

And let’s take, say, nuclear weapons.  I mean, for years we asked the Chinese, let’s talk about nuclear weapons, and they said, you’re a non-nuclear power; there’s nothing to talk.  Sign the NPT, give up nuclear weapons and we’ll talk.  Eventually, when we went overtly nuclear, they said, okay, let’s talk.

So they’re very pragmatic about it.  They say, you know, India has become a nuclear weapon power.  There’s no point in pretending they’re not a nuclear weapons power, so in which case let’s talk.  But then initially the talks would be very superfluous.  They’ll still say, you know, but why don’t you think about going back and not making nuclear weapons?  But the talk occurs.

I mean, I was stunned about the report that the Israelis were given a very detailed hearing by the Chinese on what they will do to take apart Iran’s nuclear weapons, and the reason why apparently the Chinese gave them a very good hearing is not because they thought that the Israelis might succeed in taking out their nuclear weapons, but the Israelis told them, we just want you to think what the price of oil will be after our attack.  It will be not less than $150.  That got the Chinese’s attention.

So, in principle, I think to keep the Chinese toeing the line, a strong force, Indian navy, in the Indian Ocean is a primary requisite – is a primary requisite.  And this is taking off from the question asked earlier.  And this is an issue on which we have spoken to the Americans and we’ve said, listen, exercising with us is one thing but, I mean, let’s look at our force structure.  Everything is Russian.  If we have a great strategical relationship with you, why is it that the only ship that we’ve bought from you is 45 years old, the Trenton?

And why is it that, you know, the FMS lists that we get have only got 45-year-old ships when the FMS lists that you show, say, Taiwan – we can understand, okay, Taiwan needs better stuff, the U.K. needs better stuff; they are closer allies, but surely you can do better than this. 

So this is an issue on which we need to talk.  I mean, a lot of the Americans say, yeah, yeah, we would like to see more of your inventory include American stuff rather than Russian stuff.  We don’t mind.  That’s something we really need to look at.  And, in fact, a lot of ideas have been put into the Pentagon and the State Department.  Let’s see where it goes.

The U.S., Japan, Australia, this is classic geopolitics; I agree.  I mean, if the two great democracies of Asia, Japan and India – I mean, look where they are.  They are 4,000 miles apart.  What do they intend doing?  I mean, we’ve raised this question with the Japanese and the Japanese get very excited, but I think they are completely suppressed by their civilian bureaucracy.

Even the president of their national defense university is a civil servant.  You know, I can’t respect a military like that.  I mean, how can you respect a military where the joint services college is headed by a bureaucrat who has never known anything about defense?

So, there is a problem in discussing things with the Japanese.  The Australians were fairly gung ho, actually, until about three or four years ago when they signed these huge coal and iron ore deals.  And to some extent they give the impression of having rolled over it.  They’ve already made statements that the Chinese interest in Taiwan is not in Australia’s interest to contest, or something like that – words to that effect.

Maybe the change in the Australian government will change their stand but this classic geopolitics of linking up the sea space between India and Japan, as you quite rightly say, with using other powers like Singapore and Australia, this is classic geopolitics but so far things – I understand one thing, which is that people might look at the Indian navy and say, now, why do we want to tie up with these guys?  They haven’t got enough force.  And if we need someone to hold our hand, let’s chose someone who really carries a big stick.

And the Indian sticks aren’t big enough.  I understand that.  That’s what the Southeast Asians say.  They are frightened of China but we don’t give them enough comfort.  We need to be more powerful to give the Southeast Asians more comfort.  So that’s where it stands then.

MR. NAWAZ:  The last question from – (inaudible, off mike).

Q:  Stanley Kober with the Cato Institute.  You did touch on Afghanistan so I will pursue that.

A lot of news from Afghanistan this week but one story I think has been somewhat obscured.  The Polish government has said it wants out, okay?  The Dutch, the Canadians have already said they want their troops out.  Now Poland says it wants to raise NATO, and even if NATO does not agree, it will pull its troops out, so you can see the mission unraveling.

Just before the McChrystal story broke, there was a front-page story in The Washington Times that I found extraordinary about war weariness in the United States, and Dan (ph) had mentioned in terms of Europe, but also where will the resources come from?  This problem is on your doorstep, so if we can’t rely on NATO, what can you do, you know, and what are you looking for in the event down the road in terms of Afghanistan? 

MR.    :  Without making the situation worse.

ADM. MENON:  Worse.

Q:  Worse, yeah.

ADM. MENON:  Quite right.  Absolutely right.  You know, this is a very contentious issue, and when things get really contentious, the best thing is to game it.  We’ve already gamed it and the solution came out, in my opinion, very stark and clear. 

As Harlan says, whatever we do mustn’t make it worse, and making it worse means offending Pakistan.  Pakistan’s problem is that – I think the best thinkers in Pakistan have already conceded that Afghanistan is not required for strategic depth, that nuclear weapons are their strategic depth.  That’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard coming from Pakistan and that makes complete sense.  And the idea that people in Islamabad will retreat into Kabul is a daft idea in my opinion in the first place.

But what they don’t want is they don’t want the Indians in Afghanistan in a big way.  That is what would worsen the situation.  The solution that was suggested was that we should move 30,000 Afghans to India every six months, train them, get senior NCOs back from Afghanistan, their officers, form them into cohesive fighting units – cohesive fighting units, not just turn out a thousand guys in uniform who can fire a gun.  That never made any sense to me in the beginning itself.

We have to turn them into a unit that stands, fights and dies together.  Somebody’s got to do this, and that’s the best thing that the Indians can do.  That shouldn’t worry the Pakistanis because they’re not in Afghanistan.  The issue is that – you know, it’s like a game of whispers.  When an idea like this is put into the government, it goes from whisper to whisper to whisper, and eventually what comes out is complete nonsense. 

So, what’s come out is that the Indians who trained the Afghan army, that wasn’t what we said at all.  We said we should train 30,000 every six months, although you can’t affect a central gravity.  And so what’s happening is that we are running NCOs’ courses, we are running paratroopers’ courses, we are running junior leaders’ courses, EME courses and engineers’ courses.

And you can maintain an army with this kind of training but you can’t create an army with this kind of training.  The inputs have got to be much larger.  And I’m not very clear where the dumbness is coming from – from our side or your side.  Is it because the Americans are saying, this is not a workable idea?  Or is it the Americans have asked this and we have said that this is not a workable idea?  I’m not clear, but this very thing was mentioned in the last few days and I said, you know, the only man who can swing something like this is Gen. Petraeus himself, possibly. 

From our side, I accept that our army headquarters has stopped thinking geopolitically for some time because it’s been so caught up in counterinsurgency and its hubris in having managed really difficult counterinsurgency problems that is has probably not given enough time to looking at, say, the geopolitical problem in Afghanistan.  As you quite rightly say, it’s something that brings the problem to our doorstep.

So, suggestions are there, good suggestions are there, and have probably built this road from Chabahar to Afghanistan.  We can lift 30,000 guys every six months, no problem.  There are 18 regimental centers and the Indian regimental centers are hundreds and hundreds of acres.  This is the army that expanded to 3 million in the Second World War.  The same regimental centers are still there, as Pakistan has.  They can take on 30,000 without even sneezing.  But somebody must make it move, so that’s the issue.

MR. NAWAZ:  We have reached 11:30 and that’s the promised hour.  I think you’ll all agree with me that Adm. Menon has given us a very rich diet of ideas, and I’m sure that those of you that are interested in following up on that will be immediately be rushing to your computers and ordering the book because even when he is talking about the book and the scenarios, he doesn’t really give away all the information.  He wants us to – (laughter) – make sure that we actually read the details.  Otherwise it will be the game of whispers again and we may end up completely misconstruing what he was saying. 

But I want to thank Adm. Menon on behalf of my colleagues at the Atlantic Council, and also want to thank Alex (sp) and Anna (sp) for having set everything up, and Shikha for having chased him down even when he and I were trying to resolve nuclear issues in Copenhagen between India and Pakistan last weekend, which was an extremely productive meeting, and at some point I think we will be going public with some of our documents. 

So, maybe we will entice him to come back and help explain all of that.  If not, then have Peter Jones from the University of Ottawa come and join us, which we’ve offered to do at the South Asia Center.

So, with that, I really would like to thank Raja for this talk, and thank all of you for coming and participating in this.

MR. NAWAZ:  Here, here.

ADM. MENON:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

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Petraeus’ Afghanistan Reality

Petraeus Afghanistan

President Obama’s decision to replace General Stanley McChrystal with Centcom commander General David Petraeus has unleashed a tidal wave of commentary, with expectations that the second coming of Petraeus will yield results in Afghanistan that perhaps were unattainable before.

Nothing could be further from reality.

Indeed, the underlying situation in Afghanistan and — don’t forget — Pakistan remains fraught. And the new commander in Afghanistan faces the same uphill task, unless he can change the basic parameters of U.S. plans for the region and the cross-border battle scenario.

If Petraeus can persuade the president to delay or even eliminate the July 2011 deadline for the beginning of withdrawal, build a military-civilian partnership in Kabul that replicates his relationship with Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Baghdad, and cajole his Pakistani partners into denying the Taliban the freedom of movement they now possess in Baluchistan and parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Petraeus may be able to effect an eventual U.S. withdrawal from fighting in Afghanistan.

McChrystal had begun building a relationship of trust with Pakistan’s Army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani. Petraeus already has a relationship there. Moreover, Petraeus had started studying the border region even before he took over Centcom, asking Arnaud de Borchgrave at CSIS to help him understand the FATA, an area that he considered the most important for his new command. As principal author of that study in 2008, I recall his rapt attention when I briefed him on FATA and Pakistan. Petraeus reads. More important, he understands. This will stand him in good stead as he takes on his new assignment.

Afghanistan is not Iraq. That was Petraeus’ mantra when he took over Centcom. He has had time to study the Afghan war from his vantage points in Tampa and Doha and from frequent visits to the region. So he will hit the ground running.

At Centcom he continued to delve deep into the issues facing Afghanistan and Pakistan. If he can now separate the reality from the views of the hit-and-run experts that flood the airwaves and the blogosphere, he will be able to bring some order and cohesion to U.S. thinking and coalition actions in the region.

Afghanistan’s leadership needs U.S. support to own the war effort and to lead the charge on bringing Pashtun insurgents back into the fold. Ambassadors Karl Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke can help by bringing the Afghan and Pakistani governments on board and working together. U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative Staffan de Mistura’s role will be critical in bringing the international community on board, including Europe, India, Iran, and other regional players. Petraeus could help expand de Mistura’s mandate in that regard to fill the gap that was left by restricting Holbrooke’s regional brief to Afghanistan and Pakistan alone.

In the end, as the good general knows all too well, the military can only deliver so much. The war must be won by civilians and off the battlefield. Victory this time may well be an orderly disengagement for the United States and the prevention of the "descent into chaos" in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Shuja Nawaz is director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. This piece was first published at Foriegn Policy’s AfPak Channel.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater: Militant Islam, Security & Stability

Pakistan Soldiers Exercise

What is the optimal strategy for the United States and its allies to pursue in Afghanistan? Observers across the political spectrum agree that military operations alone are not enough to secure Afghanistan against a powerful insurgency linked to global jihadism. There is increasing consensus as well that Pakistan – a refuge for important al-Qaeda figures, and also under attack by insurgents who identify themselves as Taliban – is deeply involved in this conflict.
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The Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater: Militant Islam, Security and Stability, published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explores vital aspects of the situation the U.S. confronts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This collection represents a diversity of political perspectives and policy prescriptions. While nobody believes that the way forward will be easy, there is a pressing need for clear thinking and informed decisions. Contributors include Hassan Abbas, C. Christine Fair, Vanda Felbab-Brown, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Vanessa Gezari, Sebastian Gorka, Shuja Nawaz, and Joshua T. White. 

The chapter penned by Shuja Nawaz, Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, is entitled “Pakistan’s Security and the Civil-Military Nexus.” While Pakistan deals with security threats emanating from neighboring Afghanistan and India, in his chapter Nawaz writes about the dangerous conflict Pakistan faces from within: an internal war against radical Islamists.



Shuja Nawaz on Pakistan’s Security and the Civil-Military Nexus

Highlight - Nawaz

Shuja Nawaz, Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, penned a chapter on Pakistan in the new book The Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater: Militant Islam, Security & Stability, published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

While Pakistan deals with security threats emanating from neighboring Afghanistan and India, in his chapter entitled “Pakistan’s Security and the Civil-Military Nexus,” Nawaz writes about the dangerous conflict Pakistan faces from within: an internal war against radical Islamists.

The book also features a chapter by Atlantic Council Strategic Advisors Group member Sebastian Gorka titled “The Enemy: Understanding and Defeating Jihadist Ideology.”

Please click here to purchase the boo that includes Nawaz’s chapter.