Just a Thought IV

Posted by sepoy on March 25, 2009 · 1 min read

"Now, as the Obama administration completes its review of strategy toward the region this week, his sudden ascent has raised an urgent question: Can Mr. Sharif, 59, a populist politician close to Islamic parties, be a reliable partner?"
- Jane Perlez, "U.S. Weighs Sharif as Partner in Pakistan" , New York Times, March 24, 2009.

Here is an idea, Obama administration (and NYT), why don't we just declare Pakistan a proper client-state and just send them a governor-general. Kinda like we had it going with Puerto Rico. We already done invaded it. No?


Another Damned Medievalist | March 25, 2009

But that would be imperialist, and that would be Wrong. It might be nice if people realised that South Asia in the 21st C is not Latin America is the 70s, and never was. For that matter, Latin America is no longer Latin America in the 70s.

Zak | March 25, 2009

Yeah, the framing of this NYT article, though reasonably well-researched and -written, was all kinds of disturbing. This is the teaser: "The Obama administration must decide whether Nawaz Sharif is likely to be a reliable ally or an obstructionist force." What is the force of that "must decide"? What is the implied action embodied in that decision?

omar ali | March 25, 2009

It would be a million times better if the US embassy's only help was to keep the army from intervening on the side of Zardari (in some kind of half-assed scheme to keep the civilians divided and powerless) and to let MQM know that reasonable coexistence within Pakistani law is in their interest. That is one favor the US embassy does owe the people of Pakistan, given their role in making these powers grow out of control. If they can do that and keep as far away from Nawaz Sharif and other politicians (at least in public) as possible, they will help themselves and (more important) will help the people of pakistan. Their micromanagement has brought the country to the edge of total ruin already and any more inspired creative thinking from Anne Patterson sahiba will be the end of us....

omar ali | March 25, 2009

I also think a violent endgame is approaching for this jihadi operation. I say this because of these inter-related thoughts: 1. The Pak army's hardcore jihadi wing used to be the only people in the army with a clear vision of what they want. The other officers (who were probably always in the "silent" majority) were kept in line with talk of Islam and India and a few elementary conspiracy theories (no one ever lost mony betting against the IQ of the army high command, so this was never a difficult operation), and of course, the "commercial plots" and other goodies that were always available (and under Musharraf, the literally uncounted dollars that flowed in). But you cant fool all the people all the time. Even the American embassy (whose intelligence gathering seems to have been at the mess gossip level for most of our history) finally got a clue. Now the double game has become practically impossible. A choice has to be made and some officers (maybe including the current chief?) seem to have made the "unislamic" choice and are working against the jihadi network. They will even abandon the "kashmir jihad", which used to be the way people like Musharraf were convinced to keep the jihadi ball rolling for so many years. 2. More and more civilians within Pakistan (especially in Punjab and Sindh) are beginning to see that the jihadi operation and their own lifestyle are not compatible and one or the other will have to go. And it wont be about cosmetic stuff like putting burqas on your wives. Its about who has the power to get things done and who gives orders and who has to obey (notice who just grabbed the emerald mines in Swat). There is still a market for confusing conspiracy theories but the tide is clearly turning. It is easy to see that MQM has no interest in a jihadi victory, but I think even PMLN is crystal clear about what will happen to them after the holy ones are in charge. These civilian forces have no direct control over the jihadis in the "intelligence" agencies, but they change public opinion and the army rank and file is not immune to public opinion. 3. The drone war is going to heat up and senior jihadis will need shelter deeper within Pakistan. Even if the Americans are looking for an exit, they will still press for action in Pakistan and with more civilian support and increasing support from the non-jihadi sections of the army, they will find some of these jihadis. The jihadis will have to fight against the mainstream army and the civilian security agencies. Even with continued support and management from the jihadi section of the intelligence agencies, this conflict cannot be kept in safe bounds. The clash will become more violent and less controlled. Both sides will have to go for broke. What do you think?

Jonathan Dresner | March 25, 2009

But that would be imperialist, and that would be Wrong. I'm reminded of Tom Lehrer's immortal "Send the Marines": They've got to be protected, all their rights respected, 'til somebody we like can be elected.

Akbar | March 25, 2009

While NYT gushes for Nawaz Sharif Pak media is not as charitable http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/img/2009/03/26/20090326_ed07.jpg

omar ali | March 26, 2009

Do keep in mind that the Daily Times is owned by Salman Taseer, who just had his butt kicked by the sharif brothers. I am not arguing FOR the Sharif brothers, just pointing out that the Daily Times is hardly a neutral newspaper... and of course, the same kind of cartoon could be made about Zulfi Bhutto and Ayub Khan. Iss hamaam mein sab nangey hain.

Neena | March 26, 2009

and of course, the same kind of cartoon could be made about Zulfi Bhutto and Ayub Khan. Iss hamaam mein sab nangey hain. You are comparing Apples and Oranges. Zulfi Bhutto is very critical of Gen Ayub but Nawaz Sharif celebrated Gen Zia death anniversary with lot of pride, stark difference. Why people become senseless in criticizing PPP hope it's not because the most PPP voters are from lower to lower middle class (read illiterate) and hence not many supporters in media? Daily Times is owned by Salman Taseer Still that cartoon counts and I actually support competition among different political view like this as it is quite healthy just like US. Of course without going over board. Any idea who owns Geo TV because clowns like this are giving Pakistan bad name. I don't like it when people say Geo is owned by Punjabi conservatives.

Neena | March 26, 2009

Here is an idea, Obama administration (and NYT), why don't we just declare Pakistan a proper client-state and just send them a governor-general. Kinda like we had it going with Puerto Rico. We already done invaded it. No? I can understand your displeasure but what can you expect when in our beloved country there is no economic development and educational effort due to numerous reasons. The only time Pakistan really stray away from US was during Zulfi Bhutto rule but again then he should have hanged few Army officials for the crimes they did in other half of the country. Our Army and Civil servants are too corrupt, politicians are just same as every where.

Sanjeev Bery | March 28, 2009

On the intersection of U.S. policy and Pakistani politics, I was particularly surprised to read this link off a Pakistani news twitter feed: ----- Obama calls Zardari, discusses mutual cooperation Pakistan News.Net / Friday 27th March, 2009 (ANI) http://www.pakistannews.net/story/482750 Islamabad, Mar. 27 : US President Barack Obama telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday to discuss mutual cooperation and the situation in the South Asian region. Obama and Zardari spoke about the "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" forum initiative, aimed at promoting and strengthening democracy in Pakistan, The Nation reports... ...Zardari, who launched the initiative of 'Friends of Democratic Pakistan' (FODP) in New York in September 2008, will chair the Friends' Ministerial meeting being held in Tokyo on April 17. The forum consists of 25 countries and multilateral institutions including US, UK, China, EU, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Republic of Korea, Spain, the Netherlands, Nordic countries, UN, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank. ----- What is the "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" forum, and why is Zardari chairing it? Given that Zardari was opposed to an independent judiciary, and given that Zardari had to step back from a repressive attempt to shut down the recent Long March, I'm surprised to read that U.S. President Obama was actually chatting with him about this forum. On the one hand, I can understand that if one is to channel development aid into Pakistan (which the U.S. apparently is going to start emphasizing), one needs to do that through that nation's head of state. And Zardari is still the president. But on the other hand, given his obvious anti-democratic actions, it is disappointing that the Obama Administration appears to be lending its implicit support to him by talking to him in the context of his "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" forum. This appears to be related to the "concerns" from Washington about Nawaz Sharif as an effective "partner" for dealing with the Taliban. My fear is that the U.S. may be indirectly attempting to boost the legitimacy of Zardari, despite his authoritarian leanings. This approach might help the U.S. get a more pliant "partner" for dealing with the Taliban in the short term, but it isn't helpful to Pakistan's democracy in the long run.

Spencer L. | April 01, 2009

Most certainly, Pakistan in the 21st C is not Latin America is the 70s. Latin America in the 1970s had a real organized left prepared to resist the reactionary forces backed by the United States. Pakistan today has no such thing and that's where the problem begins, not to mention that the United States today is - however tepidly, inadequately, and temporarily - militarily opposed to the most reactionary political forces in South and Central Asia.

Dear Spencer | May 24, 2009

[...] have so many interlocuters here, here, here and here that to respond to your answer to my earlier comment, I am afraid that I have [...]