Thursday, July 28, 2011

India is the revesionist power

By Ejaz Haider

The writer was a Ford Scholar at the Programme in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security at UIUC (1997) and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy Studies Programme.

In his famous essay, What is a Nation, the French philosopher, Ernest Renan, argued that selective amnesia — “forgetting”, as he puts it — is an important part of modern nation-building. This is achieved in many ways, but most importantly by controlling the narrative. The narrative determines the core aspects of the identity of a state. It is successful when that identity is internalized by the peoples to a point where those core aspects are not disputed, and where any external challenges to them are simply not entertained.

Using this central benchmark — I make no attempt here to problematise this process — we have to concede that Pakistan lags far behind India in defining the core aspects of its nationhood. Not because India is not internally troubled, which it is, but because India has developed a center that holds it together. The center drives India and perpetuates the narrative, deflecting the world’s attention away from India’s musty underbelly: Abject poverty, very high levels of corruption, the near-absence of the state’s writ in the Red Corridor, terrible human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir, crimes against women and, yes, Taliban-style panchayats.

And while the media highlights internal troubles, it is largely pliant to the state when it comes to presenting the state to the outside world and is the most effective vehicle for the state narrative.

It is a common practice for states to sell the narrative internally. But it is a greater exercise in soft compellence to sell it to other collections also. An even greater success would be to make one’s narrative acceptable to sections of another collection with whom one is locked in conflict.

India has done this with Pakistan and, as a realist, I salute them for this success. Of course, India’s success in this regard is directly proportional to Pakistan’s failure to sell itself to its people. This, as I have noted on a number of occasions, is the biggest threat to Pakistan.

One consequence of this is a large number of us swallowing, hook, line and sinker, India’s narrative on its conflict with Pakistan. Here are some examples:

India is a status quo power while Pakistan is a revisionist state; India just wants to live in peace; there’s nothing about Pakistan that interests India; India, the Little Red Riding Hood, has to keep the world’s fourth largest military because Pakistan attacked it four times — ’47, ’65, ’71 and ’99. Let’s just take these up.

(NB: It’s quite another fact that every time Pakistan has tried to engage India on force rationalization — nuclear and conventional — including as part of the 2004 dialogue framework, India shifts the goalpost by referring to China).

The term ‘status quo power’ is used cleverly in modern interstate relations. It ignores the direct and indirect influence — soft and hard power, and diplomacy — exerted by stronger states on the weaker ones in the former’s areas of concern by focusing instead on whether a state wants to capture another’s territory. Let there be no doubt, however, that rising powers are always revisionist states. They challenge an existing power configuration by spreading their influence and power. China is one; India is lagging far, far behind but following the same paradigm.

Pakistan is accused of being a revisionist state, primarily vis-a-vis Occupied Kashmir. And a part of our self-loathing intelligentsia has accepted this bunkum. Pakistan has no designs on India but Kashmir is not a part of India. It is a disputed area and that fact is also accepted by India. Because this will be deliberately twisted by the ‘what-abouters’, let me clarify that I am not advocating a war with India, merely stating a fact.

As for revisionism, Pakistan, within the region, is a status quo power because it checks India’s desire to project power in South, the West, and southern Asia. A neoliberal paradigm is possible if India is prepared to address the issue of Kashmir meaningfully. The last three years have clearly shown that the problem lies inside Occupied Kashmir. They have also shown that India remains singularly and callously unconcerned about the Kashmiris.

And what about the wars Pakistan is supposed to have thrust on India?

The 1947 war began as an indigenous uprising in different parts of the then State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). It is a matter of historical record that Pakistan had no clear state policy on how to use force against India’s illegal invasion of J&K. The ragtag Poonchis and other Kashmiri groups, with help from tribesmen and some elements of the Pakistani military, managed to capture the territory which now forms Azad Kashmir. If they hadn’t, Pakistan would have today needed just the present size of its army to defend the northern salient.

The 1965 war was a mistake. Much has been written about it inside Pakistan. But there is absolutely no reason to be apologetic about making an armed attempt to get back territory in occupation of an adversary. Pakistan never violated the Indian territory: It crossed what was then the CFL (ceasefire line). The fact is that it was India that aggressed against Pakistan directly when it attacked across, and violated, the international border.

As for India’s generosity, as mentioned by many Indian analysts, in returning to Pakistan the Haji Pir Pass, I have to give them full marks for dissembling! The Tashkent Agreement required the two sides to go back to status quo ante. India decided to keep Kargil because that secured its road to Leh, and return Haji Pir Pass to get back Chhamb and Jorrian because in that area we were dangerously close to the chicken neck. You cut off the chicken neck and you cut off India from Occupied Kashmir. But the problem is not Indian dissembling; it is our acceptance of this deceptive narrative.

And Pakistan attacked India in 1971!? This actually takes the cake. Ignore India’s full-fledged assault on then East Pakistan and trot out Pakistan’s attack in the west, an attack that came too late. That episode also opens the chapter in this region of covert war. Yes, it was introduced by India when it trained the Mukti Bahini; India repeated this exercise with Sri Lanka when it trained the LTTE. I don’t grudge India any of its actions. States do these things in their interests, perceived or real. But to present India as the babe in the wood? Nah; not happening.

Of course there is Kargil in 1999. More of us have blasted Kargil here, including this writer, than perhaps writers in India. It was a terrible operation at all levels. Worse, it came at a time when Pakistan and India were moving towards normalization. That process should have been allowed to move forward and bear fruit. But let us not forget India’s occupation of the Saltoro Range, its violation of Pakistani posts along the LoC. In a conflictual model these things happen. Yet I will be the first to deduct marks from the Pakistani military on the Kargil operation. Still, the man who did it also became India’s best partner in peace.

Finally, implying that India can’t have peace until Pakistan accepts India’s diagnosis will not beget India a viable policy. Pakistan wants peace. But it doesn’t want to become a west Bangladesh, to use Stephen Cohen’s phrase. So, let’s get rid of the I-am-the-good-guy-here baloney and level with each other.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

AQ Khan: CIA Feeds On Pakistani Mishandling And Appeasement

By Ahmed Qureshi

Infighting, like the one between Dr. Khan and the government, opens doors to foreign meddling. It is time to end Dr. Khan’s sense of betrayal.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The CIA has been playing Pakistan like a football since 2004. It has turned Pakistan’s nuclear program into a Mexican soap, planting stories in episodes meant to embarrass Pakistan and undermine its global nuclear standing.

While covert CIA operators allowed into the country by Zardari government take positions in houses around the residence of Dr. Khan, American journalists in the Pakistani capital have clear orders to keep an eye on the Pakistani scientist. The latest example of this is the New York Times story of July 7 on a North Korean document allegedly procured from Dr. Khan. [See our analysis on this document].



Whatever the CIA and its mainly American media conduits frequently circulate about Pakistan’s nuclear program and Dr. Khan, the mess is a direct result of Pakistani mishandling of the matter.

Despite having built world-class military and nuclear establishments, our infighting and internal squabbles provide foreigners openings for meddling and blackmail.

In 2004, the CIA laid its hand on some information about limited Pakistani cooperation with North Korea, thanks in part to information shared by the Libyans and Iranians.

Armed with this, CIA tried to blackmail Pakistan and demand access to Dr. Khan. As a result, then political government and military both acted apologetically, accepting CIA charges at face value and asking Dr. Khan to take the blame for cooperation with North Korea.

Dr. Khan apparently agreed, but he says subsequent mistreatment at the hands of the government and character-assassination in the media poisoned his own mind and made him vengeful.

He was pushed so much against the wall that, at some point, he apparently shared documents containing sensitive national security secrets with his daughter. He did this because he suspected he would be eliminated or more likely as an act of vengeance against a government and military that has abandoned him.

To be fair to Dr. Khan, he continues to be a staunch defender of Pakistan’s status as a nuclear-armed nation. As recently as June 28, 2011, he defended Pakistan’s right to nuclear technology and weapons better than our government. In an email interviewwith the German Der Spiegel magazine, he rebuked American reports questioning Pakistani nuclear security by saying, “There never was, there is not and there never will be any threat to our nuclear assets.”

He also offered excellent information on international players involved in nuclear proliferation and how there is no such thing as ‘Khan Network’ or a Pakistani proliferation ring as alleged by US government and CIA:

“International suppliers were willing to sell to anyone able to pay and they didn’t need me for that. The suppliers to Libya and Iran were the same as the ones Khan Research Laboratories used. We had a contract with North Korea for the production of missiles. They already had their own plutonium production program and they used plutonium in their test procedures.”


The cardinal mistake of Pakistan’s decision makers is unnecessary weakness and appeasement.

Pakistan entered into very limited cooperation with North Korea sometime in the 1990s. It exchanged limited nuclear knowhow for North Korean missile technology. The cooperation did not violate any international agreements. Pakistan is not a signatory to NPT. Also, Pakistan was the target of unfair American practices aimed at obstructing Pakistan’s legitimate nuclear energy and weaponization programs and had to scour the international market for options like everyone else.

Contacts with North Korea violated no international law. They upset the United States though, but Pakistan’s bilateral relationships are not any third country’s business.

More importantly, there was nothing to be apologetic about maintaining limited contacts with North Koreans. China is a responsible international player and often mediates between North Korea and the United States.

Leadership weakness and US aid are the only possible reasons why Pakistan’s political, military and nuclear establishments were overly upset after CIA accusations in 2004.

Instead of forcing Dr. Khan to become a victim, Islamabad could have asked the United States to back off and stop blackmailing Pakistan over limited ties that occurred in the 1990s and were largely necessitated by hostile American energy and nuclear policies.

The act of scapegoating Dr. Khan was mean to say the least when he has been a target of American and British demonization for decades. Even the hint of a link between this Am-Brit hot pursuit and Dr. Khan’s humiliation is unacceptable. The fact that we helped his detractors partially get at him is something that does not sit well with most Pakistanis, who not only continue to see Dr. Khan as a hero but his statements on the security of Pakistani nuclear weapons carry more weight in public eyes than official statements.


Government protection measures on Dr. Khan’s movements are inevitable. But the country’s nuclear and military establishments should and must move forward in a tangible way to remove Dr. Khan’s personal feelings of betrayal and abandonment. No one who has so loyally served Pakistan should be abandoned like this. Unfortunately, our civilian and military bureaucracies are bad in the art of retaining our best and brightest in the best of times. There are no programs to instill and maintain a sense of connection and pride in retired government officials to prevent them from switching loyalties for money or other reasons. And then there is the official Pakistani crass way of treating our own people to please foreigners.

Despite any personal failings, Dr. Khan is a proud Pakistani who would never abandon his nation. His personal grievances need to be removed to stop an old, angry, and a very knowledgeable man from becoming a plaything for our enemies.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beyond Kashmir is valley of peace

By Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat

Pakistan-India relations have been held hostage by the Kashmir issue since independence. Three wars have been fought over it. Now the nuclear umbrella hangs over the dispute, which refuses to die away on account of Indian stubbornness. Why should the dispute be there in the 21st century when most countries seek to resolve bilateral disputes on the table and not on the battlefield? How many pretexts would India give to avoid constructive talks with Pakistan to mend the festering wound?

Five aspects of the dispute make it imperative for India to resolve the issue quickly and on a just basis.

First, India’s dream to become a regional power faces a strong obstacle i.e. the Kashmir problem. The world wonders how New Delhi can dream of becoming a regional power, what to speak of a so-called superpower, when it cannot sit and resolve bilateral issues with its neighbors. It seems the country is held hostage by a lack of strategy, foresightedness and a will to move ahead.

Second, New Delhi will be known by its relations with Pakistan and not China as long as the Kashmir dispute is there. India, with its grand ambitions, has always thought of her as a rival to China. However, the world compares it to Pakistan because of the above-mentioned dispute. Of course, most of the Indian armed forces are deployed against Pakistan and not China.

Third, the mantra of Mumbai attacks has lost steam. Tahawwur Rana has been absolved of terrorism charges by a US court, shattering Indian dreams to implicate the ISI into the terrorist attacks. So it is not feasible for India to continue harping the terrorism theme and hide behind the 26/11 incident with regard to whole gamut of relations with Pakistan, especially the Kashmir issue. Also, Indian officials’ claims of LeT’s involvement in each and every incident of terrorism in India has lost steam and become rather counter-productive. More and more people now realise this, especially in the wake of disclosures made by Swami Aseemanand, of Hindu activists’ involvement in a string of terrorist incidents in India, including the Samjhauta Express fire in which over 40 Pakistanis were burnt alive.

Fourth, India is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-religious country. Like Pakistan, it also faces the al-Qaeda threat besides hordes of other threats, including the Hindu saffron terror. As pointed out by US experts, one way to reduce the al-Qaeda threat is to come to table and find a just solution to the Kashmir issue so that Muslim extremists stop considering Kashmir one of their holy causes and attack India for suppressing the Kashmiri Muslims. The treatment with the Kashmiris in particular and Indian Muslims in general is also creating home-grown terrorism. SIMI is one example.

Fifth, the Indian dream to become a trade superpower lies in a shambles because of the dispute. Pakistan will not exploit the Bangalore silicon valley option or grant the Most Favoured Nation Status to India as long as the Kashmir issue is not resolved. Similarly, there is no chance that Pakistan will open its trade corridors to India for the Central Asian countries.

The Indians should remember that besides the Pakistanis, the world has not forgotten the Kashmir issue. This year, British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that Britain was responsible for many historic conflicts in the world, including that of Kashmir. He stated this during a visit to Islamabad. The fact remains the valley of peace in South Asia will only be reached once the Kashmir issue is not on the table anymore. For this, India will have to sit with Pakistan and find a righteous solution of the dispute, also acceptable to the Kashmiris.