Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

Pakistan Election Primer

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April 24, 2013: Pakistanis are scheduled to go to the polls on May 11 to choose members of the country’s National Assembly and its four provincial Legislative Assemblies. We offer a handy primer on the election – and why and how it matters. The bottom line: despite pre-election violence from Islamic extremists, chances are this election will eventually produce a viable government. If mass public protests occur after the election, that would be the clearest indication of a more troublesome prognosis.

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India and Pakistan: Low Expectations

Ajmer Shrine, photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajmer/4478622642/sizes/m/in/photostream/

March 11, 2013: Pakistan lame-duck Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s brief private visit to India March 9 accomplished nothing of substance, but it put an unintended spotlight on the troubled state into which India-Pakistan relations have fallen in the past few months. The causes of the downturn are many and varied – trouble in Kashmir and along the Line of Control, concerns about post-2014 Afghanistan, a stalling of their encouraging trade opening, and perhaps most importantly impending elections in both countries. A State Department spokeswoman welcomed Ashraf’s visit and confirmed Washington’s interest in the two nations talking to one another. But such long-standing U.S. cheerleading from the sidelines is unlikely to have any meaningful impact. Significant progress seems unlikely until parliamentary elections are held in both countries, Pakistan’s this May, India’s probably in early 2014. Read more

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U.S.-Pakistan: Breaking Up?

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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?

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American China Hand in World War II India

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John Paton Davies’s China Hand: An Autobiography, the posthumously-published 2012 winner of the American Academy of Diplomacy’s annual Douglas Dillon Award for distinguished writing on the conduct of U.S. diplomacy, is one of the best diplomatic memoirs we’ve read in years.

Davies, who died in 1999 at the age of ninety-one, is best known as one of the most prominent of the State Department China-specialists who were hounded out of the Foreign Service during the McCarthy era because of their alleged sympathy for the Communists in the Chinese civil war. But his memoir includes more than recollections of his experiences in China.  A fascinating surprise, for readers interested in South Asia, lay in its accounts of his meetings in India in 1942-43 with top leaders of the independence movement at a crucial period in their struggle against the British Raj. His spirited, well-written reports of his talks with these prominent figures, his incisive observations of their personalities, and his analyses of other salient features of the contemporary Indian political scene add an important dimension to his book. They provide fresh insights into the way Indian leaders viewed their struggle as well as their – and Davies’s –  assessments  of  what the United States was doing and should do in the Indian subcontinent in those years. Read more

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Pakistan: Escaping a Failing Orbit

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In Why Nations Fail (New York: Crown Business, 2012), Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that sustained growth depends primarily on “inclusive institutions” that bring pluralism into government. It is these political and economic structures, more than resource endowments, knowledge, financing, foreign aid, or a variety of other factors, that the authors believe account for a country’s prosperity or poverty. This paper looks at Pakistan through their lens. There is good evidence that Pakistan lacks the kind of institutions the authors associate with lasting prosperity. However, Pakistan’s troubles are compounded by some factors that the authors do not take into account, such as stubborn insecurity and ethnic fragmentation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and expanding the middle class may be the most effective long term remedy.

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Book Reviews: Lashkar-e-Taiba; Indian Military History

Photo by Todd Huffman, http://www.flickr.com/photos/oddwick/3449534019/sizes/m/in/photostream/.

Two very different, but quite compelling, books on the military problems of the region: Stephen Tankel’s Storming the World Stage traces the history of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its complex relationship with the Pakistan army, concluding that this is unlikely to change; and Srinath Raghavan’s War and Peace in Modern India recounts in elegant detail the diplomatic and military history of the conflicts that peppered the first fifteen years of India’s independence.

Read both – but to get more of the flavor of them, read the review by Teresita Schaffer.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©. The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/ .

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Book reviews: Boo, Inskeep and Berenschot on South Asian Cities

Mumbai, from Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/cactusbones/4392053621/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an unforgettable walk through the Annawadi neighborhood, next to Mumbai’s airport. Ward Berenschot’s Riot Politics links the ever-present search for patronage in India’s cities to the grisly communal violence that breaks out there from time to time . Steve Inskeep’s Instant City weaves together the ethnic stew, political infighting and scarcity that make up Karachi.

To whet your appetite for all three, see Teresita Schaffer’s review. This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©. The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/ .

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The U.S. and Pakistan: “Divorce”?

From Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogpong/7536096438/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Pakistan’s colorful former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, created a flutter of excitement in a recent presentation by calling for a “divorce” between the two countries – and urging them to find “friendship outside the marital bond.” His analysis of this dysfunctional relationship tracks well with our book, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster. Our preferred solution would be different, however: we focus more on the content of the new friendship. As a new U.S. ambassador prepares to arrive in Islamabad, the United States needs to build up aspects of its relationship that do not revolve around Afghanistan, while developing an Afghanistan strategy that is realistic about Islamabad’s goals. These differ sharply from Washington’s.

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Pakistan’s New Player

President Obama and PM Gilani, http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhonorablegerman/7028232641/

The Pakistan parliament has now completed its action on a resolution defining the terms of reference for future Pakistan-U.S. relations, adopting it without formal dissent. Action now passes to the Pakistani cabinet, which must formally initiate discussions with the United States. All eyes will be on how the U.S. and Pakistani governments negotiate the actual working of this troubled relationship. The parliament’s central role in this process also tells us about some things that have changed – and some that have not – in the way Pakistan’s government institutions work, both internally and with the United States. Both countries should take this opportunity to revise their well-practiced negotiating tactics, which have become a recipe for failure.

Read our article, published on foreignpolicy.com April 23, 2012.

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Manmohan Singh and Asif Zardari: A Hopeful Encounter

Photo by radicaleye, http://www.flickr.com/photos/moviemaverick/88581751/sizes/m/in/photostream/

April 10, 2012: Four months ago, Pakistani president Asif Zardari’s trip to Dubai for medical treatment sparked intense rumors of a military coup. Last weekend, Zardari lunched in Delhi with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and was photographed wearing a flamboyant turban at a renowned Sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan. What happened and what does it mean?

No one, least of all two longtime observers of the South Asia scene like us, expected to see India-Pakistan relations transformed by this Easter Sunday luncheon in New Delhi, the first meeting in a bilateral setting between the top leaders of India and Pakistan in seven years. But the brief summit session usefully highlighted the accelerating strengthening of ties over the past year or so. It also raised hopes that further progress can be achieved if the two sides persist in the sensible, unspectacular approach they have recently followed. Read more

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