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Pakistan: The Mirage of Democracy

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By K.N. Pandita

Exporting democracy to the Asian countries was a much-hyped mantra of Bush administration. Iraq was destroyed to bring her the gift of “western type democracy”. Now Afghanistan and more lately the tribal areas of Pakistan are going to be painted democratic by combined US-Pakistan army operations. This is democracy through the barrel of the gun.

Americans make loud noise about democracy in Pakistan. Under this rubric, Washington egged on Musharraf to quit.  Their sponsored process for democratic Pakistan began with a warning shot, namely the assassination of one who was deemed to symbolise democracy in that country. Benazir’s assassins signalled they would implement sharia rule and not Westminster-type democracy. Continue Reading…

Strategy options for the US in NWFP

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By K.N. Pandita

In recent weeks alarm about fast deteriorating economic situation in Pakistan has received sudden hype in the US and western media. Political punditry in the US made wild predictions of a catastrophe looking straight into that country’s eye. It talks of things like the state having reached the brink of economic collapse, state on the verge of balkanization along ethnic lines, failure of law and order and imminent take over by the radicals etc.

A gloomy picture like this is painted to create impression in world community, but more particularly in the west, that in the event of imminent implosion, the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine would take control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and with that, the threat of a holocaust would loom large over the fate of entire humanity.

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Respecting the verdict and its lesson

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By K.N. Pandita

Recent Lok Sabha elections have sprung a surprise to observers who did not expect a landslide victory for the Congress party. The bitter experience of past two parliamentary elections had made people pessimistic about single majority party government in the country in years to come. Somehow we were getting reconciled to coalition governments as a long staying phenomenon not only at the centre but also in the states in assembly elections.

In the history of our parliamentary democracy, past two or more decades was a period of experiments in running the state through coalition governments. It was argued that coalitions were necessitated by the rising aspirations of hitherto underprivileged sections of society. Indian constitution has been alive to this harsh reality and incumbent governments of whatever ideology they might be could not turn a blind eye to this pressing social requirement. The rise of BSP in Uttar Pradesh was a phenomenon that indicated smooth transfer of authority to the deprived classes. Resilience of Indian Constitution provided space and attributes to this socio-political transformation without prejudice.   Continue Reading…

Making the strategic Khyber Pass irrelevant

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By K.N. Pandit

With the onset of new millennium, South Asia was sucked into the vortex of multiple regional and global strategies. While taking on the prime culprit of 9/11, namely Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the US got entangled in yet another war theatre in which Taliban duo are the prime actors. A monstrous creation of two major intelligence agencies acting in tandem in the region since Zia ul Huq era now looks at both of them with eyeball to eyeball stance. The irony is that currently their focus is on Taliban rather than on Al-Qaeda, the ideological powerhouse of armed Islamic militias.

Faced with Taliban attacks on crucial military supply convoys along the strategic transport line linking Peshawar with Jalalabad, American strategists are looking for an alternate route that would render traditional passage through NWFP and Khyber Pass irrelevant. American Gene rals have already conducted feasibility survey and submitted positive reports of an alternate route.   Continue Reading…

Why raise alarm about Pakistan?

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By K.N. Pandita,

Ever since Taliban bounced back in Afghanistan in US’ war on terror, and the Pakistani Taliban aligned with their cross-border fraternity in the NWFP, Indian press hyped presumptuous stories of impending implosion of Pakistani state. All sorts of wild surmises are made to tell the unsuspecting audience that dismemberment of the failed state of Pakistan is round the corner. So-called Pak observers join their voices and leave the listeners in pandemonium expecting bizarre news from across the border at any odd time.

Nothing can be more comic and ludicrous than to make such wild surmises. A mature civil society understands that states do not fall that easy. The example of Soviet Union is something different. Pakistan is not a conglomerate of trans-ethnic nationalities as the erstwhile Soviet Union was. The rules of the weaknesses of a trans-ethnic society and its infirmities cannot be applied to a more or less homogenous state like Pakistan where religion and life style are powerful binding elements.  Continue Reading…

Michael Krepon’s “Pakistan Future and U.S. Assistance”: A Rejoinder

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By Maharaj K. Kaul,

Michael Krepon’s recent analysis “Pakistan’s Future and U.S. Assistance” [1], appears more to be an apology for the failing state of Pakistan rather than a dispassionate analysis that would produce solutions to halt and reverse the rapidly deteriorating state of affairs in that country. The progressive Talibanisation of Pakistan poses a serious threat not only to Pakistan but to all the countries in its neighbourhood. Yet, instead of identifying the evil forces in Pakistan and then prescribing a bitter pill for its recovery, Krepon continues to show more sensitivity towards those very power wielders of Pakistan who have wrecked that country.  One does not have to be a South Asian expert to analyze what ails Pakistan. But what some so-called experts do is to simply obfuscate the issues.  Continue Reading…

Pakistan’s Future and U.S. Assistance

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(Had been published first on STIMSON South Asia)

By Michael Krepon,

News reports of the Taliban’s mostly uncontested advances in Pakistan ’s North-West Frontier Province have prompted panicky assessments and remedies.  The situation in Pakistan clearly calls for heightened concern, but panic is usually not the handmaiden of sound policy decisions.

Several conclusions should now be inescapable, but still remain difficult for many Pakistanis to accept.  It is now abundantly clear that the problem of Talibanization is beyond the blocking capacity of constabulary forces.  Taliban irregulars will continue to intimidate and strangle settled areas within Pakistan unless their advance is contested by elements of the Pakistan Army.  The Army, which has been trained and equipped to fight Hindus and not fellow Muslims, is understandably reluctant to engage in this contest unless and until it has the backing of Pakistan ’s major political parties.  This, in turn, requires a much more widespread public recognition of the existential threat posed to Pakistan by obscurantists carrying Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers.   Continue Reading…