February 18, 2014. The brickbats cast at the Obama administration for appointing unqualified candidates to important ambassadorial jobs notably did not include any directed at envoys to the South Asian countries. Unlike the representatives Obama has nominated this year to the fleshpots of Western Europe and other comfortable parts of the world, all six American ambassadors assigned to South Asia are career Foreign Service officers, five with previous experience in their host countries or elsewhere in the region. Campaign bundlers and other would-be politically-appointed ambassadors haven’t been breaking down the doors to reach this challenging and often dangerous part of the world. With some noteworthy exceptions, mostly but not exclusively in India, those among them who have been chosen have not brought assets to their embassies that Foreign Service officers could not have provided. The South Asia experience makes a good case for the assignment of FSOs as ambassadors. Read moreLeave a reply
Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
March 8, 2013: Breaking up may not be “hard to do,” as Husain Haqqani has written in the March-April 2013 issue of Foreign Affairs – but his article doesn’t answer the key question about U.S.-Pakistan relations: what will the two countries expect of each other if they step back from their hopes for a close alliance?Leave a reply
August 17, 2011: In South Asia, as in many other parts of the world, national independence days are a time for editors and other commentators to reflect on their country’s state of affairs, spell out what’s going well and what’s going badly, and offer some — hopefully original –ideas about what can be done to set things right. We’ve made it a practice to check out these commentaries. We’ve found that they can often help us and other outsiders get a better idea of the national mood in these countries, or at least of their elites. With this goal in mind we went through the editorials and other commentaries in Pakistan’s English-language press that “celebrated” the 64th anniversary of the country’s independence on August 14.Leave a reply
July 20, 2011: Veteran Kashmir-watchers like ourselves were amazed to find that today’s New York Times and Washington Post gave front-page coverage to the arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, the longtime director of the Washington-based Kashmir American Council. Fai and another Pakistani-American were charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign principal – the Pakistan government – without registering with the attorney general. They were also charged with concealing the fact that Pakistan was funding and directing the KAC’s lobbying and public relations campaigns in the United States. The funding allegedly included campaign contributions to members of Congress known for their pro-Pakistan positions on the long-standing Kashmir dispute.Leave a reply
June 21, 2011: Peter Burleigh is just arriving in Delhi for his second stint in less than three years as the U.S. chargé d’affaires during what is expected to be a long interregnum between ambassadors. This is a useful time to reflect on how ambassadors figure in the shaping of U.S.-India ties, and how well both countries are tending the diplomatic side of their emerging relationship.Leave a reply
June 8, 2011: Lawrence Eagleburger’s death on June 4 took away one of the giants of American diplomacy, as well as one of the great characters of the U.S. Foreign Service. Generations of U.S. diplomats were professionally reared on Eagleburger stories. He inspired terror, admiration and pride in more or less equal parts. His concern for South Asia was ordinarily limited, but he left his imprint – and some great stories – nonetheless.Leave a reply
May 15, 2011: Pakistan-watchers like ourselves were hardly surprised last week when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told the Pakistan parliament that the government’s investigation of the May 1 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad would be conducted by a military commission headed by a three-star army general, not, as some had hoped, by a more broadly based body that would include civilians. The Pakistan military has always been zealous in securing its own professional interests. It does not countenance interference by civilian officials in a matter of such importance Read moreLeave a reply
May 3, 2011: In our recent study, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster, we described U.S.-Pakistan relations over the years as “three marriages and two divorces.” The raid that killed Osama bin Laden has intensified decade-long Pakistani fears that the United States would lose interest once the Al Qaeda leader was gone, just as it had lost interest in Pakistan at other crucial turning points. In the United States, it has heightened skepticism about Pakistan’s role in combatting terrorism. The much-discussed “trust-deficit” is probably at an all-time high. But both countries need to work together to head off the prospect of a “third divorce.” They should view the bin Laden raid as an opportunity to recalibrate their relationship to make it more straightforward and effective. It is not at all clear, however, whether their ideas of how to do this are compatible.
India: Killing the Messenger, Ignoring the Message
April 9, 2011: Three recent episodes, seemingly unrelated:
November 29, 2009: Reuters reported that Indian officials were investigating the leak of a radioactive substance into drinking water from an atomic power plant in Kaira, south of Bangalore.
April 10, 2010: the Times of India reported that exposure to radioactive Cobalt-60 in scrap at a disposal site outside of Delhi had left four workers fighting for their lives. The scrap had not originated in a nuclear facility but from industrial waste. Over the next month, government statements reiterated that those who handled potentially toxic waste were supposed to follow “stringent procedures.
August 13, 2010: NDTV (New Delhi Television) reported that British researchers had found a super-antibiotic-resistant bacterium in India. The scientific community, which often follows the practice of naming bacteria after the place where they are first isolated and identified, has given this one the name New Delhi Metallo-1. On April 7, 2011, BBC reported that a group of scientists in Cardiff had found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Delhi drinking water. It is not clear whether these were the same type of bacteria. In both cases, the Indian health authorities immediately dismissed the studies involved.Leave a reply
IS THERE LIFE AFTER CRICKET?
April 1, 2011: “Cricket Diplomacy” was the buzzword of the week in India and Pakistan as the national teams of the two countries squared off in the World Cup semifinals at Mohali, a town in the Indian Punjab conveniently close to the Pakistani border. The Indian and Pakistani media have been crammed with commentary debating how this shared sporting enthusiasm they inherited from the British Raj could forward their recently revived bilateral dialogue. Much was made of the fact that Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had accepted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation to be his guest at the event.
Americans, most of whom find cricket as unfathomable as it is tedious, are likely to wonder what all the fuss was about. Even those of us who have spent long innings in cricket-addicted South Asian countries Read more