Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

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

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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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U.S. Sale of F-16 Jets to Pakistan Riles India

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February 20, 2016:  U.S. provision of sophisticated Lockheed-Martin F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistan Air Force has been a particular sore point for the Indian government for decades, since the Reagan administration made them available to Islamabad following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Indians have always contended that whatever the Pakistanis may offer as their rationale for acquiring the planes — whether it is to ward off a possible Soviet attack, their claim in the 1980s, or to use as precision firing platforms to combat terrorists, their present argument – Islamabad’s real purpose is to bolster its air power in a potential confrontation with India.  For their part, the Pakistanis have long viewed the F-16 as a potent symbol of where they stand with the United States. Like the Indians, they afford it an outsized military and political significance. Read more

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Siachen Back in the News – but Don’t Look for Peace Yet

From Kashmir Study Group, via Wikimedia Commons

February 17, 2016: A deadly avalanche that killed ten Indian soldiers earlier this month on the disputed 20,000 foot high Siachen glacier in Kashmir received extensive coverage in the Indian and Pakistani media. The avalanche prompted some commentators in both countries to call for an early settlement of what seemed to them and to many others (including ourselves) a senseless dispute.

Their voices were largely drowned out in India by an outpouring of patriotic fervor that cast the dead soldiers as “Bravehearts” who had died for their country. The Indian Defense Minister publicly dismissed pleas that both sides pull back from the 47-mile long glacier where they have confronted one another since 1984. Possibilities for a settlement seem remote.

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Sahibzada Yaqub Khan 1920-2016: End of an Era

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January 27, 2016: For diplomatic old-timers like us, Sahibzada Yaqub Khan was both a legend and a central part of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship we both worked on for years. His death at 95 leaves the world a poorer and less colorful place. We will let others write about his storied career – scion of the princely house of Rampur in central India, Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army, ambassador to the United States, the Soviet Union, and France, and several times foreign minister of Pakistan. What we would like to share are some stories that illustrate the talents and high professional standing of the unique gentleman we knew.

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South Asia in the U.S. Presidential Primary Season

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January 21, 2016: Voluminous reporting filed by political correspondents in key battlefield states suggests that South Asia has not figured in any meaningful way in this year’s contests for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has not offered to build a beautiful wall along the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani forces in Kashmir. Nor has his closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz, called for the carpet-bombing of the Pakistan Taliban, let alone of the Maoist Naxalite guerrillas in eastern India. Neither Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton nor her Republican opponent Carly Fiorino has claimed that in seeking to become the first U.S. woman to preside over the White House she is following in the Read more

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Book Reviews – India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka

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This year’s publications include five noteworthy books on South Asia. Sanjaya Baru’s  The Accidental Prime Minister paints a close-up portrait of Manmohan Singh and Diego Maiorano’s Autumn of the Matriarch dissects the decline of Nehru’s congress and the rise of a more de-institutionalized party in the last years of Indira Gandhi – interesting contrasts to today’s Modi government. Bidisha Biswas takes a close look at how India has tackled internal conflicts in Managing Conflicts in India. Andrew Small’s The China-Pakistan Axis is the first serious study of this fascinating relationship. And Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island is an intimate look at Sri Lanka’s war and its aftermath, told in unforgettable vignettes.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s reviews 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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Pakistan: Nawaz Sharif in Washington

White House official photo by Pete Souza

October 26, 2013: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to Washington on October 20-23 determined to create a new beginning, personally and politically, with the U.S. leadership. The U.S. government wanted to bring Pakistan into closer alignment with U.S. goals and strategies as the time for U.S. combat troops to leave Afghanistan approached. The two sides left some important matters unresolved or papered over, most significantly differences over future U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani territory. But they did develop a personal and political framework which may help them make further progress while managing remaining differences more effectively. It would be an exaggeration to claim that the summit solved the serious problems in U.S. – Pakistan relations, but its strong focus on the economic relationship did start to place attention on some aspects of the relationship where Pakistan is not treated simply as an extension of the Afghan problem.

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Manhattan Breakfast: Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif Meet

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October 2, 2013: Few were surprised when Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif made little headway in reversing the recent deterioration of India-Pakistan relations when they met in New York on September 29.  Nawaz’s election in May on a platform that included improving ties with India, especially in the economic sphere, generated rosy hopes. These were dimmed by an outbreak of serious violence in Kashmir and by the preoccupation of both governments with other pressing problems.  The weakening of Manmohan Singh’s Congress government by an economic slump and a series of high-level political scandals has also taken its toll.

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Nawaz Sharif’s New Government: Beyond Pakistan

On the economy, as we have seen, Nawaz Sharif is a man in a hurry. The 15-day deadline he gave his cabinet colleagues to develop action plans for their ministries underscores the priority he places on early, visible improvement in Pakistan’s economy and administration – and on creating a contrast with Asif Zardari’s record. In foreign affairs, he will seek to maintain Pakistan’s position in Afghanistan, manage and if possible repair ties with Washington, and contribute to his economic goals, including if possible moving forward with trade opening with India. The accent will be on continuity, albeit with a more strident tone in his objection to U.S. drone attacks, and on avoiding confrontation with the Pakistan army. For the United States, the challenge will be not to treat Pakistan as an extension of its Afghan problem.

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Nawaz Sharif’s New Government: First, Focus on Pakistan

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Nawaz Sharif’s swearing-in as prime minister on June 5 represents yet another “second chance” both for Pakistan and for him. Unlike many of the analyses coming from the world outside Pakistan, we believe that the most important question is how he follows through on the promises of prosperity and governance that he made in his first speech to parliament. Accordingly, we will examine his domestic prospects here. His domestic track record will affect his freedom of action on foreign policy; we will explore this in a second essay. One theme that runs through both is that the United States needs to focus more of its attention on Pakistan as Pakistan, rather than viewing the country as a sideshow of the Afghan drama.

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