U.S. Think Tanks Play With Fire
The problem with U.S think tanks and policy makers is that they have no connection with the common people of the country whose destiny they are trying to change. U.S is used to dealing with one dictator after another. First it was Pervaiz Musharraf, a military dictator who was in power obliging to U.S demands, now its Zardari, a civilian dictator who is trying his best to out flank Musharraf in serving U.S interest.
Destabilizing Pakistan is playing with fire. There is no guarantee that the Pakistani army will go all the way and give concessions to U.S and NATO while compromising Pakistan’s national interest. What happens if the U.S is successful in persuading Pakistani government to disband the ISI and cut down Pakistan army into half? We can recall what happened in Iraq after U.S disbanded the Iraqi army and Baath party infrastructure. Suddenly 300,000 men who were part of an army became mercenaries for hire. If Pakistan army is cut down into half and the ISI is disbanded then there will be no control over almost 400,000 men and they will readily work towards creating more trouble for U.S and NATO troops inside Afghanistan.
The dark possibility of a civil war inside Pakistan will remain if Pakistan is destabilized. Then there is the question of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons? Who will be able to guarantee their safety if Pakistan is destabilized further? As long as the Pakistan army is fully intact it will work with the U.S and NATO to safeguard U.S and Pakistan’s interests. Unfortunately U.S is pressuring Pakistan Army and ISI too much for their liking. At the moment it is not clear what the stance of the Pakistan Army will be in days to come. The army is also part of the nation, and their mood will be reflective of the mood of the nation. Already, the army has declined to accept pressure from the government of Pakistan on matters of National Security.
Pakistan and India
After the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, tensions between India and Pakistan have increased tremendously. The Pakistan government is once again succumbing to Indian pressure and its response is seen by the Pakistani people as a weak response. Serious doubts are being raised by public about government’s ability to give a proper response to India. Every Pakistani citizen knows that India is their arch enemy. This opinion of India in the Pakistani mind cannot be changed by the sugar coated rhetoric of President Zardari or U.S Secretary of State.
The problem with Western experts on South Asia is that they don’t understand the dynamics of Pakistan-India conflict. The root cause of conflict between Pakistan and India is Kashmir. Without the resolution of this conflict permanent peace between India and Pakistan cannot be achieved. There is peace in Europe today because they have resolved their problems and disputes and their countries treat each other with equal respect. We should not to forget that two brutal world wars were fought in Europe that completely devastated Europe. After such devastation Europe got together and realized that mutual peace is must for coexistence. Peace between two countries can only be on equal terms. The U.S and Soviet Union were able to co-exist because both had nuclear weapons. If Pakistan is destabilized then it’s not possible that India will remain intact and enjoy exponential economic growth rates.
At the moment the biggest issue is tension between India and Pakistan. India is hoping that U.S will be able to pressurize the Pakistani government into allowing India to carry out “surgical strikes” inside Pakistan, just like the U.S drone attacks of this year. India wants to make sure that Pakistan will not respond to these strikes. This is definitely not acceptable to Pakistani army and the public. It might even be asking too much from already weak Zardari government. Already there is a rumor circulating in Islamabad that Prime Minister Yousuf Gillani will be replaced. Nawaz Sharif, two time former prime minister and leader of the opposition, is gearing up for an offensive against the government’s ongoing domestic and international policies.
If the Pakistan army has decided to respond to Indian surgical strikes and India has planned to carries out such strikes, then tensions between India and Pakistan can turn into a short term high intensity conflict or war. This will be a disaster for this region, U.S interest in this region, Middle East and the U.S economy. Bangalore, and Hyderabad, are silicon cities of India and top IT capitals of the world. India’s IT exports amount to more than $40 billion dollars, with U.S taking a market share of 60%. U.S will certainly not want a war between India and Pakistan that will jeopardize business between India and U.S. Lastly any full scale conflict between India and Pakistan will threaten this region with the potential use of nuclear weapons.
In the long run, U.S plans to disband ISI, cut down Pakistan army, and break Pakistan into smaller parts will only lead to more chaos in this region. Pakistan will become center of a brutal civil war. This will give considerable strength to Islamic militants who will have a free hand to fight openly against U.S/NATO forces and their pro-U.S Pakistani elements. For eight years the world has witnessed the dire consequences of the wrong policies of Neo-Cons. It is high time that new U.S administration changes track and returns to dialogue and peace process in the entire Middle East. Unless this happens, we are in for at least four more destructive years in Middle East and the populations of the U.S and Europe will pay dearly, at the very least in the economic costs of this destruction.
Also See Talha Mujaddidi's October 7, 2008 essay on Axis of Logic:
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Talha Mujaddidi is a writer/analyst and Axis of Logic correspondent, living in Pakistan. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org