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. Continue reading “Jamsheed Marker 1922-2018: Pakistan’s Longest Serving Ambassador”
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
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. Continue reading “Pakistan: Pre-Election Turbulence”
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.
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.
February 20, 2018: 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 Continue reading “In Memoriam: Howard Schaffer: 1929-2017”