Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan US relations’


Would Imran Khan call Ron Paul to Bat?

January 9, 2012
American Congressman Ron Paul

Ron Paul speaks during the Republican Leadership Conference: 2011

Is it just me, or are seemingly incessant GOP debates the past few months allowing President Obama’s lack of public exposure to seem more and more like solid leadership? The Republican lineups simplistic, square and reactionary focus on “Anti-Obama” rhetoric especially on foreign policy has highlighted a resoundingly hawkish stance on Iran with little attention to our current engagements in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And while it may be expedient amongst a certain political base to try and one-up each other in aggressive foreign policy talk, only Ron Paul challenges the party line on Americas role in the world.

When it comes to Pakistan, compared to Democrats Republicans have a consistent history of preferring to work closely with the military establishment in Islamabad. While there is a level of bipartisanship post 9/11, (case in point is Obama’s continuation of Bush era drone use with little debate), Republicans have through the Cold War and beyond preferred dealing with the military establishment rather than focusing on democratic, or liberal institution building. Which is not necessarily an entirely erroneous  policy; part of the rationale is that state building is expensive in blood, toil, time and treasure and rarely feasible. Further, there are an endless number of constraints and uncertainties that profoundly hinder institution, or democratic state building in a place like Pakistan, rendering Republican policies simply pragmatic.

Which brings us to current policy: the bipartisan endorsed “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act” (S. 1707)  enacted in 2009 has yet to bear tangible fruit. Granted the aforementioned that institution building is time exhaustive, the fact remains that Pakistan has deteriorated politically, in the realm of security and economically. And having watched everyone from Gov. Romney, Sen. Santorun, Gov. Perry, Rep. Bachmann and yes even the soft spoken Gov. Huntsman, reiterates hawkish foreign policy while refusing to acknowledge a need for meaningful improvement. In the Republican camp only Rep. Ron Paul’s extreme calls for an isolationist posture offer some semblance of change. And because his prescriptions have yet to be tried, the utility of his ideas have yet to be tested. And now may be a time to consider his stance since they call for exactly what the Pakistani public wants right now.

Referring to our policies to Pakistan as nothing short of “Bombs for Bribes” Ron Paul acknowledges the nobility, yet inherent futility in calling for democratic institutions in places of strategic engagement. He understands that we are already engaged in “130 countries” with “700 bases around the world” and in this speech against the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, he bluntly explains:

the way we treat our fellow countries around the world is we tell them what to do and if they do it, we give them money. If they don’t we bomb them. Under this condition we are doing both. We are currently dropping bombs in Pakistan and innocent people get killed. If you want to promote our good values and democratic processes, you can’t antagonize the people”

He goes on to suggest dialogue and trade as alternatives to current policy. And although his statement is simplistic and was made in 2009, it highlights Ron Paul’s isolationist, more economically focused prescriptions on foreign policy that seek to reduce our military footprint abroad based on pragmatic constraints, like military and fiscal overstretch. And these calls seem more reasonable than before, especially when it comes to Pakistan and the fact that our aid has yet to yield satisfactory results. So while the Obama administration continues engagement and GOP candidates refuse to acknowledge much concern over current policy to Pakistan, can Ron Paul really be the only alternative available?

Someone once considered completely out of left, excuse me, right field, could be the reminder we need to moderate our engagement with countries of interest. Because what is interesting is that current rhetoric in Pakistan is very much in line with Ron Paul’s ideas. Ron Paul isn’t touting conspiracy theories, nor does he echo far left foreign policy thinkers like Noam Chomsky. Rather, his past statements on our engagement in Pakistan as “inadvertently causing chaos” and “violating security and sovereignty” are exactly what the average Pakistani seems to feel and hears about in their mainstream TV, and print media. Takeaway for us means, it’s a perception the is realistic; perhaps more so than current policy reflects.

In fact, legendary cricket star turned politician Imran Khan’s recent surge in popularity is in large part due to his highly critical foreign policy rhetoric that vociferously calls for D.C. to adopt a more isolationist stance so Pakistan might reclaim lost autonomy. Imran Khan steadily built support for his party on the continued observation that America’s “War on Terror” has intensified insecurity and his subsequent promises to curtail American involvement is a first step in alleviating Pakistan’s problems.

He underscores Ron Paul’s sentiment that perceptions urgently matter in a climate where American intervention is increasingly received hostilely.  Both politicians insistence on winnings hearts and minds renders Ron Paul’s foreign policy prescriptions worthy of consideration. Imran Khan’s recent ascendency and Governor Paul’s gradually increasing support marks a convergence in shifting to a direction of a less militarized approach to Pakistan. Two men once considered out of the realm of politician viability now increasingly resonate in their respective publics; policymakers ought to take note.




The Hawk Some Didn’t See Coming : Obama’s Pakistan Policy

January 26, 2010

Bush & Obama : Identical Policies to Pakistan?

Bush & Obama : Identical Policies to Pakistan?

Similar to his ratings drop at home, abroad President Obama is being accused of not living up to expectations. In DAWN news this week there’s an article entitled: “Obama’s Changing Tone” suggesting our President is reverting to foreign policy reminiscent of the Bush administration on Pakistan, and to an extent, the greater Muslim World. The idea is that Obama’s planned troop surge in tandem with ever toughening rhetoric post the Fort Hood Massacre and the Christmas Bomber, reflects leadership that’s not much different than former President Bush’s.

But on the contrary, our escalating presence in Pakistan is exactly what Obama promised. During the campaign trail, he made clear that his main focus was Al Qaeda and  destroying terrorists in Pakistan (militants having spilled over from Afghanistan into Pakistan). The rhetoric was so hawkish, it actually became a sticking point before the primaries that Republicans and Democrats like Hillary criticized. Also, the media publicized his staunch rhetoric at length, so

Obama really has not changed tone on Pakistan: an intensified war matches his rhetoric from the start.

Plus is it fair to expect something radically different than the previous administration in the first place? Let’s not forget that it is often the political system and circumstances that drive leadership, and not vice versa. The fact is, America was already deeply engaged in two very problematic wars at the inception of Obama’s Presidency. He inherited an intensely worsening situation in Afghanistan that rapidly spilled across the border into Pakistan. President Obama anticipated this and is thus living up to campaign promises: a more hawkish foreign policy to Pakistan.

Which of course then raises the question: is hawkishness the right approach to Pakistan at this time? Pakistani’s certainly don’t think so.  CIA drones have the entire country in an uproar, while Islamabad isn’t taking well to DC’s tacit encouragement of rapidly increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan, and even billions in aid from America is frowned upon with unprecedented magnitude. And it’s not that the Obama administration isn’t aware of skepticism. Rather, toughening policies are a matter of practicality.

My guess is that the President is thinking: we’re already in Afghanistan, the war is deteriorating into Pakistan, what’s the best way to mitigate the situation, secure the region just enough to exit in the next couple years while leaving behind more cooperative players in the region so as to ensure our energy and geopolitical interests in South/Central Asia.

Phew. Now there’s a dilemma. And when looked at from his possible perspective, the Pakistan quagmire is revealed as tremendously complex. It’s such a multifaceted, sweeping, consequential and changing situation that involves so many players who work within the confines of political systems that only history should be the best judge of whether Obama’s stance on Pakistan is constructive or progressive. And that itself is relative. So let’s not be surprised at his hawkishness. It was naive of anyone to expect otherwise in the case of Pakistan.



“Friends Not Masters” : Hillary Clinton in Pakistan

November 7, 2009

Amidst drastic worsening of  the Af-Pak situation with US forces suffering our deadliest months and Pakistani civilians and military bearing the brunt of terrorist assaults,  Secretary Clinton arrived in full diplomatic force last week. She made media rounds sitting down for Q&A sessions with everyone from major news outlets to universities. But even the Clinton charm and expertise was met with vociferous skepticism. Before concerns on the Kerry Lugar bill could be adequately addressed, Clinton’s statements seem to have only riled increased trepidation in Pakistan:

Hamid Mir of GEO News peppered her with questions regarding illegally armed US diplomats roaming the streets of the capital and continued drone attacks. His questions reflect macro concerns that sovereignty is inherently undermined in cooperating with the United States. And at the Government college in Lahore, Secretary Clinton faced what I thought were even tougher questions:

Students identified a worsening War on Terror is akin to the Vietnam quagmire and suggested it’s time we focused on winning hearts and minds.

Another student echoed widespread skepticism of US/Pakistan cooperation citing failures of previous engagement during the Soviet Afghan War and how again “forcing Pakistan to take action that we might not want to take”  is a legitimate concern among masses. Another said bilateral relations are marred by a subsequent “trust deficit” with Secretary Clinton responding that American’s have a similar lacking faith in Pakistan.

That mutual distrust, as disappointing as it is on all ends, is tame compared to what Clinton expressed to Newspapers in Lahore:

“Al Qaeda has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002….I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to”

And that was just on security. On society and development she criticized  “At the risk of sounding undiplomatic, Pakistan has to have internal investment in your public services and your business opportunities”

Ouch, thinks Pakistan. If Hillary’s mission was to rally support of cooperation with the United States amidst rapidly increasing skepticism of D.C.’s policies, the rhetoric has fallen short. In fact both Pakistani and American media are growing weary of the alliance:

Chris Matthews, in trademark rambunctiousness goes to town on Pakistan’s efforts in the War on Terror. But simplistic, irrelevant comments from his guests subtract from any substantive debate on the issue.

No offense Mr. Matthews, but just a brief look at a history book, closer reading of ground realities, or even quoting Hillary in context of the entire situation would have made for a more substantial segment. The panelists actually likened U.S engagement of  Pakistan to a Sigfreid and Roy Act. It’s laughable and renders the aforementioned student questions more articulate and informative than this discussion.

Nonetheless, it seems former Pakistani President Ayub Khan’s book suggesting cooperation based on the idea of each being “Friends not Masters” is now a shared sentiment in this alliance . So the dilemma remains: increasing skepticism polarizes Islamabad and D.C. I just hope it will spur realization that winning hearts and minds on both ends is imperative.



Enhanced Cooperation Meets Enhanced Concern

October 12, 2009

At the heels of Pakistan’s offensive against militants in South Waziristan, terrorists brazenly staged an attack on military headquarters this weekend. Commandos responded swiftly, taking out 9 of the militants, capturing their ring leader and freeing 39 hostages. Despite success in ending the siege, the incident demonstrates a worsening Af-Pak situation and beseeches a new strategy.

Our administrations new strategy is defined by an increase in troops to Afghanistan, focusing military efforts squarely on Al Qaeda (less focus on Taliban) and expanded funding to Pakistan by way of the Kerry Lugar bill. And while the troop surge and emphasis on Al Qaeda are debated at length in D.C., the Pakistani media is abuzz on the Kerry Lugar bill. There are calls by The Awami League Party (representing the NWFP regions & a predominantly Pashtun population) that the bill allow for an “uninterrupted flow of non military assistance” while other politicians vouch against the legislation altogether. Tehrik-e-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan  said the bill “enslaves” Pakistan and can only benefit the top echelons of government referring to past corruption allegations on senior government officials. Similarly, pundits were all over Pakistani television in the past week, echoing concerns about corruption, lack of support to the military, too many strings attached to funding, and how the bill threatens sovereignty. This morning Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi flew to D.C. to discuss theseconcerns just as rumours that Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States is losing his post becayse of not entirely positive comments regarding the Kerry-Lugar legislation. Suffice to say, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Actmeant to  extend a new strategic hand of cooperation to Islamabad is not off to the positive start intend

In fact, Senator Kerry’s office directly responded to popular skepticism in a recent report.

  • Addressing concerns that the bill would invade state soveriegnty: Senator Kerry explains the bill funds “schools, roads, energy infrastructure and medical clinics” and that “those seeking to undermine” a US/Pakistan in that endeavor are doing so to “advance narrow partisan or institutional agendas“.
  • Regarding the idea that the legislation comes with too many strings attached, Kerry emphasizes that the $7.5 billion annual pledge is for “unconditioned non military aid” and comes with “strict measures of financial accountability” referring specifically to Executive Branch oversight on the use of these funds.

This is contentious to Pakistan because it’s maybe the first time external oversight is imposed on assistance from the United States. And while the bill does a great job of outlining funds for social infrastructure intended to find it’s way to everyday citizens, on the issue of sovereigty, the real sticking point is regarding a potential subversion of the Pakistani military. Senator Kerry insists that the bill’s:

  • focus is on nonmilitary assistance to the people of Pakistan” and military aid is contingent to “cooperation on nonproliferation“. However, the bills funding is rooted in “significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups” and the “Pakistani military not subverting the political or judicial process” to ensure “common goals” of “security and democracy“.

This irks Pakistani’s for a number of reasons. Firstly, there’s ambiguous wording. “Cooperation on nonproliferation” is vague enough to translate as potentially linking funds to Pakistan giving up their right to maintain armaments comparable to neighboring India. Similarly, “significant efforts toward combating terrorism” gives no reference for how this will be measured.

On the Pakistan side, the worry is that  “significant efforts”, according to their definition might not match a U.S. definition of success. Plus there might continue to be a disagreement on the idea of “combating terrorism”. It’s a contention we’ve seen play out as D.C. repeatedly called for heightened efforts on combating the Taliban, quitely but surely opposing Pakistan’s attempts at negotiating with those groups rather than employing just a military offensive, (a policy we’re now reverting).

Also, delinking assistance from the military is unprecedented and freightening to some because while it is necessary to develop schools, and social, democratic infrastructure for long term development, in the immediate term there are widespread security breaches with weekly suicide attacks, an ever growing incursion from Afghan militants on the northern border and drone attacks that result in collateral damage.

So Pakistans concerns echo a need for both immediate security and long term development, but not at the expense of one another.

Keep in mind, the widely held, and all but true notion that Pakistan is perhaps the only place where the military controls a country, and not vice versa. That idea is rooted in that their military is historically the strongest, most stable and legitimately accepted institution. Let me emphasize that last part: it’s historically the most legitimately accepted institution in Pakistan in an absence of stable democratic institutions never having developed. Meaning, in times of economic, social and political uncertainty, the military has historically responded most efficiently in alleviating situations since 1947. Whether one accepts the idea that the military creates a perpetual cycle of uncertainty within which to assume power periodically, or the military responds to the shortcomings of civilian governments in the absence of democratic instiuttions (chicken & egg argument), either way, the military’s been relatively effective in handling crises in Pakistan in comparison to civlian regimes. So given the current enviornment of insecurity, people are weary of a hopeful promise for “long term” moves toward “democracy” that might comes at the expense of insufficient assistance to their military who has a capacity to alleviate immediate security concerns.

I think democracy is the ultimate route to security for Pakistan, but despite Executive branch oversight and our “long term” commitment defined by only 5 years of funding, Pakistan’s concerns are understandable. Given a long history of cooperation, Pakistan is more used to US assistance through bilateral relations with a Republican government in DC (think General Zia/Raegan, General Musharraf/Bush, Ayub Khan/Eisenhower, Yahya/Nixon) and the Kerry Lugar bill is a staunch reverasal of our foreign policy with Islamabad. Perhaps finding value in previously crafted policies to Pakistan in combination with our current legislative proposals is an optimal solution to quelling the enahanced concern of our enhanced cooperation.


Defeating Terrorism with Development

September 25, 2009

kerry lugar

Senate unanimously passed a bill authorizingappropriations to promote an enhanced strategic partnership with Pakistan”. The legislation is likely to receive similar support in the House later this week before being sent to President Obama for final approval. Initial versions of legislation were presented as the Biden-Lugar bill last year led by democrats Joe Biden and Senator Kerry, and supported by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Currently, the bill is coauthored by Republican Senator Dick Lugar making it widely bipartisan which reflects our growing desire to engage Pakistan ensuring stability and ultimately our interests in the region.

The Legislation triples foreign aid to our major non NATO ally” allowing up to $1,500,000,000 for their cooperation in “counterterrorism/counterinsurgency describing Pakistan’s ongoing struggles and successes against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It cites assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the Islamabad and Mumbai hotel attacks last fall among other suicide bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan, some of which involved deaths of US citizens to underscore an immediate need to assist Pakistan at this critical time. As we face mounting deaths in the War on Terror, send additional troops to Afghanistan and President Obama works closely with generals to revamp our strategy there, the bill is meant to forge a new relationship with Pakistan.

It extends diplomatic rhetoric directly to the people of Pakistan by describing the daily plight of citizens who are “especially hard hit by rising food and commodity prices and severe energy shortages” with 2/3rds of the population living on less than 2.25 and 1/5 of the population living below the poverty line”.  It further mentions “Compatible goals of combating terrorism, radicalism and promoting economic development through building of infrastructure and promoting social and material well being for Pakistani citizens through development of public services”. And most interestingly, the bill cites Pew opinion polls finding:

Pakistan has historically viewed the relationship between the United States and Pakistan as a transactional one characterized by a heavy emphasis on security issues with little attention to other matters of great interest to citizens of Pakistan”.

Then referring to the current civilian government as an “opportunity to place relations on a new and more stable foundation”. The bill’s ‘statement of policy‘  identifies the following objectives:

  1. Support the consolidation of democracy, good governance & rule of law in Pakistan
  2. Support economic growth & development to promote stability/security
  3. To build a sustained, long term, multifaceted relationship with Pakistan
  4. Expanding bilateral engagement with Pakistan
  5. To work with Pakistan and bordering countries to facilitate peace (a possible reference to mediating the Kashmir issue. President Obama mentioned doing so during his campaign run for President)
  6. Expand people to people engagement between US and Pakistan through increased educational, technical and cultural exchanges (possibly in the form of more student/professional visas. Envoy Holbrooke mentioned this in visits to Karachi in July)
  7. Work with government of Pakistan to:
    • prevent Pakistani territory from being used as a base/conduit for terrorism in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India or elsewhere
    • Coordinate military, paramilitary & police action against terrorist terrorism
    • Help bring peace, stability and development
      • (this might entail counterinsurgency/counterterrorism assistance and cooperation through intelligence sharing, arms development/trade and training of Pakistani forces)

Pakistan is aptly described as a major non-NATO, long-standing ally. But cooperation has been dominated by security issues generally in the form of military dictators supported by the States in exchange for Pakistan’s military assistance throughout the Cold War and current War on Terror resulting in the Pakistani mindset of solely “transactional” relations. This bill is a fair attempt to shift that context to a more positive tone with the aforementioned objectives and diplomatic rhetoric.

However, certain specificities such as timetables and solid oversight must be transparently accessible to the Pakistani and American public to ensure more positive relations are achieved. Already experts are weighing in with concerns. Despite the commitment to development in addressing the plight of daily Pakistani’s, Foreign Policy Magazine mentions that the bill doesn’t say exactly how much of these funds are to be allocated toward military assistances. And although senator Kerry insists “Clear, tough minded accountability standards and metrics” are contained in the bill, Dawn News cites Rand Corporation expert Dr. Christine Fair raising the issue of “greater transparency” and wanting to ensure international accounting standards are applied in allocating these funds. Such concerns are equally felt in Pakistan, where past commitments of economic development have not always found their way to alleviating the plight of daily citizens for whom funding is supposedly intended.

For this reason a concerted conviction to improving the daily lives of Pakistani’s is required by Pakistani politicians who have ultimate control over how these funds are applied. I hope that President Asif Zardari along with Parliament works closely to ensure monies are responsibly allocated to a “sustainable” development the bill calls for.



Balancing News on Pakistan

September 16, 2009

CNN refreshingly shifts the context of current discourse on Pakistan by reporting on female recruitment to the Pakistani Air Force. A story published this week highlights Ms. Ambreen Gul’s experience with the Pakistani air force as “one of seven women trained to fly Pakistan’s F-7 supersonic fighter jets”. Gul describes her experience as both positive and productive. Air Force cadet Ms. Sharista Beg also explains:

“To tell you the truth I’ve been given equal opportunity or I suppose more than men have been given,”

I refer to the story as refreshing because given that news is largely focused on macro level, security issues dealing with the war in Afghanistan and how it relates and spills over into Pakistan, the image we have of Pakistan is imprecisely bleak.

Of course macro level security issues in which our troops are directly engaged rightfully take priority over other news stories on Pakistan, but the unintended consequences of viewing this country as such and simply in terms of the “War on Terror”, “Taliban”, “fundamentalism” or “militancy” is a reduced understanding of what we are dealing with in our engagement there.

So I applaud CNN for balancing information with their story on Fighter Pilot Gul. Hopefully news outlets will continue to publish reports that allow a more accurate picture of what is a largely moderate Pakistan. Because a more accurate picture can only help us understand our situation there. In fact, the article concludes well, citing specifics of how the Pakistani air force works in line with our objectives:

“They’re training in counterinsurgency, collecting aerial intelligence and targeting militant strongholds in the treacherous mountains of Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border”

The nebulous Afghan-Pakistan border has become the front lines in our War on Terror making it easy to forget that Pakistan, just like us fights diligently against fundamentalism and militancy with their resources, troops and morale. We want to uproot terror to bring our troops home and secure interests in the long run, likewise Pakistan shares this long term goal and in addition, has an immediate interest in obliterating militancy for actual day-to-day security. The CNN article does a fine job of reporting in this instance and prompts us to realize that cooperation is key.


How to Humble an Empire

September 1, 2009

“I hope we (Americans) learn to be more humble, to listen more. Because what we are in the end, or should be, are actions that speak for themselves, that speak for us”,

Says Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking officer in the US Armed forces. The statement comes as the United States faces possibly its deadliest few months for the War on Terror in a deteriorating Afghan-Pakistan situation. President Obama says this war is one of “necessity” and searches for ways to amplify US efforts with Admiral Mullen and special envoy Richard Holbrooke weighing in on how best to secure this region.

Holbrooke, the seasoned diplomat and Mullen the military expert agree that more needs to be done to engage the Muslim world but differ significantly on how. At the onset of the War on Terror, Holbrooke advocated the United States enhance communication by

“convincing Muslims that this is not a war against Islam, but a war on terror.

Holbrooke says this is acheivable through a sustained public discussion with key Muslim Intellectuals and must be taken up by the White House because it alone has a capacity to direct activities of State, Defense, Justice, CIA, AID and others toward the Muslim world and can also allocate required resources. President Obama’s troop surge in Operation Enduring Freedom, and Holbrooke’s appointment as special envoy marks a shift to more “strategic communications” as advocated by Holbrooke in Afghanistan and Pakistan and focuses on three goals:

“Redefining our message; connecting to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan on the ground in new ways through cell phones, radio, and other means; and identifying and supporting key communicators who are able, through local narratives, to counter extremists’ propaganda and present a positive alternative. Additional personnel and structures in the Afghan provinces and in Islamabad/Peshawar will be necessary”

However, despite Holbrooke’s diplomatic prescriptions, the situation in Afghanistan/Pakistan is deteriorating and Admiral Mullen last week shifted significantly with the concept of relying on “strategic communications”. Instead, he suggests the problem is not one of communication, rather:

“Our messages lack credibility because we haven’t invested enough in building trust and relationships and we haven’t always delivered on promises. Each time we fail to live up to our values or don’t follow up on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant American’s the enemy claims we are”

Admiral Mullen stresses credibility by leading through example and suggests a tangiblity to our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan are imperative as opposed to just communications. When Holbrooke visitsed Karachi last week and talked about a “major turn with our relationship with Pakistan” and discussed  granting more visas for Pakistani’s, textile trade and preferential access to US markets, he visited underprivilaged schools and met with opposition leaders to give an overall message that “drone attacks and the hunt of Al Qaeda are not he only American foreign policy activities in the country”. But Admiral Mullen might counter that these communicative efforts do little to establish meaningful change in the hearts and minds of Muslims. Because these efforts have in the past remained just that, efforts. Rarely are these discussions translated to tangible results for everyday citizens. Each time a special envoy or diplomat thus engages in progressive talks that do not turn out in actuality, US credibility falters.
But Pakistan and the United States have a long, deep history of cooperation. Much of that cooperation has been macro, diplomatic, and military to military cooperation from as far back as defense agreements like SEATO/CENTCOM or until present day collaboration in the War on Terror. Despite the history though, Pakistani masses have seen their country remain economically underdeveloped and their social and political situation has perpetually deteriorated. That is not to imply Pakistan is reliant on a coperation with the US or any alliance/assistance for that matter, but years of allying at the forefront of the Cold War during the US sponsored Soviet Afghan War and now Operation Enduring Freedom, Pakistani’s do not see or feel any positive results and therefore have an interest in cooperation with us.

Admiral Mullen then is correct: US crediblity must be rooted in leading through examples that enhance US credibility which in turn, wins over hearts and minds. He further suggests that when the US does not deliver tanigble benefits in exchange for cooperation and as promised, militant/extremist groups fill those gaps:

“They deliver. Want to know what happens if somebody violates their view of Sharia law? You don’t have to look very far or very long. Each beheading, each bombing, and each beating sends a powerful message or, rather, is a powerful message”

Mullen explained that this reliance on intimidation works to win hearts and minds and allows such misrepresentations of Islam to be tolerated. So he prescribes a solution oriented approach and suggests drawing from historical American successes. For example, our rebuilding Europe after World War II and increased relieif assistance in response to natural disasters as an effective means to establishing credibility in the Muslim world.

Leaving Pakistan and Afghanistan to recuperate and redevelop without adequate assistance after deeply cooperating in the Soviet Afghan war are exactly the kinds of mistakes that profoundly thwart our interests in winning over civilian hearts and minds

The Soviet Afghan War, and current War on Terror has left Pakistan with an immense refugee problem which created vast security, social and political problems.I think applying Admiral Mullen’s perscriptions to this issue would be a great place to start in winning over Pakistani hearts and minds. Important to note is that Pakistan is currently home to a the second largest Muslim population in the world and continues to grow rapidly. And a deteriorating situation in neighboring Afghanistan we’ve seen has a dangerous spillover effect into Pakistan. Thus, winning hearts and minds in this heavily Muslim populated regoin is certainly in our interest. Pakistani troops and civlians bear immediate, tangible costs in fighting against terrorism in and around their border in our War on Terror. This shared motive, and 60+ year alliance should prompt Washington should focus on establishing viable policies that in serving civlians who truly pay to secure our interests, also establishes credibility in the Muslim world. I think Admiral Mullen describes this hurdle in our dealings in the Muslim world best:

“it’s a subtle world we don’t fully — and don’t always attempt to — understand. Only through a shared appreciation of the people’s culture, needs and hopes for the future can we hope ourselves to supplant the extremist narrative.”


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