Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

U.S., Pakistan Need to Reboot Relationship

Karachi Street, photo by Hassan,

The recent announcement that the United States is suspending about one-third of its military assistance is understandable at one level — but both the United States and Pakistan still need each other, and this is not the way to avoid a breakup. Instead, they need to rebuild the relationship around a civilian core, recognizing the strategic importance of Pakistan’s economy, and to focus on a more modest and concrete set of shared objectives on the security side.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s op-ed on CNN.Com, posted July 14, 2011.

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Afghanistan and Pakistan: Perspectives from Russia

ISAF photo, courtesy Flickr

Russia’s concerns about Afghanistan stem mainly from its impact on their neighborhood through narcotics trafficking and the export of Islamic radicalism. China’s growing economic footprint is also a worry. There seems little Russian interest in a major policy role .
Read our article, published in The Hindu, July 8, 2011.
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Riding the Roller Coaster: Excerpt – Dealing with India in the US-Pakistan Relationship

In its dealings with the United States, Pakistan starts from the threat it perceives from India and emphasises India’s shortcomings. It will continue to use the United States as a balancer, barring a major improvement in India-Pakistan relations.

This excerpt from our book describes on the basis of our experience and extensive interviews how we believe Pakistan looks on India and on U.S.-India relations, and how Pakistan expresses these views in its dealings with the United States. It’s a perspective many will not agree with or welcome, but it affects how Pakistan deals with both India and the United States.

Read an excerpt from our book, as first published in The Hindu on June 13, 2011.

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The U.S. and Pakistan: The Third Divorce?

Turnover of last US Mash in Pakistan. From

May 17, 2011: Two weeks after the “Abbottabad incident,” as the raid that killed Osama bin Laden is being called in Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan increasingly look as if they are moving toward a break. Neither seems prepared to agree to the other side’s public demands. Such a “third divorce” between Washington and Islamabad is not yet inevitable. Rather than trying to put back together an open-ended relationship that is undermined by the strategic gap between the two partners, we believe they should focus on concrete goals and specific operating guidelines that both can honor.

In the wake of Abbottabad, both sides are angry. In the United States, the focus is on bin Laden. NSC Adviser Thomas Donilon said that he had seen “no evidence” that senior Pakistani leaders knowingly sheltered bin Laden, but that leaves unstated the agonizing question – who did know, and what unwritten guidance did they have? On the Pakistani side, Prime Minister Gilani on May 3 referred to the death of bin Laden as a “great victory.” By the next day, the Foreign Ministry was expressing “deep concern.” Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif excoriated the violation of sovereignty involved in the raid. In the media, the stress, increasingly, is on how Pakistan is suffering from “America’s war.”

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Abbottabad Investigation: Don’t Hold your Breath


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 more

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After Bin Laden: Recalibrating U.S.-Pakistan Relations

Mockup of Bin Laden Compound, from TalkRadioNews (Flickr)

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.

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Book Launch: How Pakistan Negotiates with the U.S.

Tezi and I, then a married couple of three years standing, first came to Pakistan on diplomatic assignment 37 years ago. Our second son was born at our house in Islamabad. We’ve been following developments in the country with great interest, often mingled with anxiety, ever since….  What we’ve tried to do is to analyze the themes, techniques, and styles that have characterized Pakistani negotiations with American civil and military officials in recent years and to reach some conclusions about how these are likely to shape up in the future.

Our book, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster, was launched at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington on April 12. We were joined by Stephen Cohen, Brookings Institution, and by Akbar S. Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University.

Read what we had to say. Or, watch the video of the book launch.

Read Michael O’Hanlon’s review, published in; read review in Foreign Affairs.

Read review by former Pakistan ambassador to the United States Tariq Fatemi, in the Express Tribune (Islamabad), August 24, 2011.

See a short video of our comments on How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster.

Read short description of the book

Order the book

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India-Pakistan: Is there Life After Cricket?

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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

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After Davis: US-Pakistan crisis eases, long term tensions remain

March 18, 2011: Our last blog certainly got the timing wrong: on March 16, Ray Davis was suddenly released from a Pakistani jail and immediately flown out of Pakistan. As we wipe the egg off our faces, however, we note that the package deal leading to his release was based primarily on the ingredients we and others had expected: a substantial compensation payment to the families of the two men he killed, and a new understanding between CIA and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). The first made the release legally feasible; the second made it acceptable to ISI; and the Pakistan government and army together are managing the popular fallout. So far, the public protests have been widespread but not massive.

What comes next? We will learn more in the coming months, but here are some preliminary thoughts.

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Pakistan’s Broken Economy

Teresita Schaffer comments on the impact of Pakistan’s economic troubles on the country’s urban population.

Pakistan-watchers tend to focus on political and security issues. But they need to start thinking as well about the economy, the outlook for  which is grim over the next several years. Some of Pakistan’s problems were spawned by the epic floods of the summer of 2010, but most have resulted from the long-standing failure of the Pakistani government to invest in its people, or from more mundane mismanagement of vital sectors, such as energy. Pakistan’s economic problems will weigh especially on the urban population, adding to the country’s political woes. It is the impact on the towns and cities – 36 percent of Pakistan’s people, but growing at 3.5 percent a year, three times the rate of the rural areas – that presents the most acute political danger.

This article was published in the The AfPak Channel on March 15, 2011. Click to read full text.

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