Author Archive

Pakistan elections: Imran Khan Rising?

From flickr.com/photos/mianshehbazsharif/36183733180/in/photolist

July 21, 2018: Since my last article on Pakistan, the election scene has shifted. At this point, it’s looking like an ugly election, and a decisive PML-N victory will be a surprise. The election is set for July 25.

Imran Khan from flickr.com/photos/8557366@N07/6588022249/in/photolist

The squeeze on former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party has tightened. Nawaz and his daughter Maryam were sentenced to ten years in prison by an administrative anti-corruption court for possession of property in Britain beyond their known sources of income. Both returned to Pakistan July 13 from London, where they were accompanying Nawaz’s seriously ill wife. On their return, both were immediately transported to prison.

 

There are numerous stories in the press about intimidation of newspapers and of candidates from the PML-N. Some include references to “people in uniform.”

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Jamsheed Marker 1922-2018: Pakistan’s Longest Serving Ambassador

From flickr.com/photos/menik/4521088374/

July 20, 2018: Jamsheed Marker was a diplomat’s diplomat. When he died in Karachi last month, he had been living quietly for two decades. But the outpouring of admiration on the world’s obituary pages painted the picture of a diplomat’s diplomat, who had left his mark on his country’s foreign policy and indeed on the world.

 

Marker was one of the “partition generation,” those who had come of age soon before India and Pakistan became independent. He had served as an officer in the Royal Navy during World War II, had worked in the family shipping business, and had achieved both renown and affection as a commentator on cricket, then as now a great passion in Pakistan. Read more

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Pakistan: Pre-Election Turbulence

Flickr, 8687430357_5beaaf91cd_z

May 7, 2018: For the second time in a row, Pakistan is nearing the end of the five-year term of an elected government. Parliamentary elections are due before the end of July. This year, pre-election excitement is amplified by a corruption scandal that removed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; a deterioration in Pakistan’s

Photo from Flickr 8687424545_842d9c9098_z

external economic accounts despite higher GDP growth; and a new low in U.S.-Pakistan relations. Many experienced observers believe that the odds favor a return to power of Sharif’s party – but the possibility of a surprise ending seems to be rising. What follows is a simplified guide to the main story lines that will unfold over the coming months.

 

Political fracturing: Following reports by a journalists’ group that Prime Minister Sharif’s family owned companies and properties apparently caught up in a money laundering scheme known as the Panama Papers, two political parties – most prominently Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – put the matter before the Pakistan Supreme Court. A long and convoluted judicial and investigative process followed, with officials from the major government investigative bodies participating. The result was a Supreme Court judgment on July 28, 2017, that Nawaz Sharif was ineligible to hold elected office on account of wealth beyond his known sources of income. Read more

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Bangladesh: Two Independence Movements

Sheikh Mujib and his daughter, Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh Independence War Archives, https://www.flickr.com/photos/liberationwarbangladesh/31326840020/in/photolist

 

March 12, 2018: This article, the last that Howard and Teresita Schaffer wrote together, is adapted from a study commissioned by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, D.C., to be published as part of a book called Independence Movements and their Aftermath: Self-Determination and the Struggle for Success. It is carried here by permission of CSIS. It summarizes Bangladesh’s two independence movements: the end of British rule in 1947, and liberation from Pakistan in 1971. It concludes that of the three biggest problems they confronted, Bangladesh’s early leaders succeeded beyond expectations in creating a unified and disciplined army and a dynamic economy, but the country is still struggling to craft a governing consensus.

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Book Reviews: India and Pakistan

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/acmpix/12414927173/in/photolist

February 26, 2018: This year’s crop includes three masterful books about India. Shivshankar Menon, known to many of our readers as one of the leading lights of Indian foreign policy, has written a slim volume, Choices, about key points where India was forced, however reluctantly, to choose between two incompatible policy paths. This is a problem it will confront more frequently as its power expands. Vinay Sitapati’s Half Lion sketches the life of Narasimha Rao, whom the author regards as one of the unsung heroes of recent Indian history. Milan Vaishnav has brought political science to life with When Crime Pays, about the relationship between money and muscle in Indian politics. On the Pakistan side, Owen Sirrs has tried to demystify the ISI – Inter Services Intelligence Directorate. And Daniel Haines’ Rivers Divided looks at the Indus Waters Treaty – the most durable accord between India and Pakistan – from the perspective of the negotiating constraints on both sides.

 

Read the whole review here.

 

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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In Memoriam: Howard Schaffer: 1929-2017

Photo by TCSchaffer

February 20, 2017: Howard and I started South Asia Hand together in late 2010. We had both retired from the Foreign Service, having spent much of our careers working in or on South Asia. He introduced me to the region. We took great joy in the friends and colleagues who hailed from the region or had joined us in making it a career focus. We hoped to convey to the next generation of South Asia hands our passion, as well as the remarkable change in the region’s ties with the United States since we first got involved.

 

By that time, Howard was 81, and had earned the title of “elder statesman.” He was the family historian, but above all, he was the master story-teller. He wrote about his legendary diplomatic colleagues, about how his own love of words played out in the subcontinent, about what had gone right and wrong in the tangled Read more

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The Importance of Being Ernest

From https://vernoncorea.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/vernon-coreas-brother-ernest-corea-played-a-key-role-in-the-commonwealth/

May 12, 2017:  We were saddened to learn of the death earlier this week of Ambassador Ernest Corea. A journalist turned diplomat, Ernest served with great skill in the 1980s as Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States. The feat of his we most remember among many is his adroit management of the state visit of Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene to this country in June 1984 during Ronald Reagan’s first term in the White House. Ernest was living in retirement with his wife Indra in suburban Virginia when he passed away in his mid-eighties.

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Pakistan and the U.S.: A More Turbulent Ride

https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelfoleyphotography/1926456687/in/photolist

The strategic drivers of U.S.-Pakistan relations with Donald Trump in the White House will be similar to those of the Bush and Obama years: Afghanistan, peace in the subcontinent, and terrorism. The style of the new administration is likely to make the policy process more volatile and aid more uncertain, and there will be less opportunity to develop economic relations as a buffer for turbulent political ties. The flag-waver in the picture expresses the hopeful side: his jacket says “Long Live Pakistan.”

See Teresita Schaffer’s article in Asia Policy, part of a Roundtable on U.S.-Asia Relations (Asia Policy, no. 23, January 2017; Pakistan essay starts on p. 49). Reprinted by permission of Asia Policy.

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India and the Trump Administration’s Agenda

From Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/glennharper/3827597220/sizes/m/in/photostream

February 7, 2017: Indians are optimistic about how their bilateral relationship with the United States will fare under the Trump administration. They expect important changes in the U.S. geopolitical outlook. The resulting disruption may bring dangers but also opportunities for India. In assessing its policies for a world of much greater uncertainty, the basic foreign policy goals we wrote about in India at the High Table will largely survive, though India, as we anticipated, may need to tweak how it thinks about strategic autonomy. Some aspects of the new administration’s approach to the U.S. domestic economy may wind up having an impact on international trade as well – and hence on India.

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Review of “India at the Global High Table”

Kishan Rana’s review of our India at the Global High Table appeared in the October 2016 issue9789350297858-1 of The Book Review, New Delhi. The book was published in India by HarperCollins in July 2016, and in Washington by Brookings Institution Press in April 2016. Read the review here. A short review from the September issue of Foreign Affairs appears here.

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