U.S. policies have weakened Pakistani civilian rule, Sanjeev Bery and Manan Ahmed, Special to the Mercury News:
From power blackouts to loss of control in the Swat Valley, average Pakistanis are paying a heavy price for decades of on-and-off U.S.-backed military dictatorship. And the U.S. policy of drone missile attacks will not provide answers. Instead, we should help Pakistanis strengthen their civilian institutions, address the humanitarian crisis in Swat and cease our military-first approach.
Insightful ,succinctly, therefore effectively put. I recently completed my thesis specifically critiquing a history of overly security dominated U.S. foreign policy to Pakistan and the dire implications it has seen since partition, so the piece resonated quite particularly with me.
As the saying goes "It takes two to tango". The U.S is not solely responsible for the current straits that Pakistan finds itself in. The primary responsibility lies within Pakistan-its ruling and intellectual classes and to a goodly extent, its people. Pakistan desired American support, and actively sought it out. I find arguments that blame the U.S for such problems often too facile, because they presume a lack of agency in the other party to such transactions (which frankly is highly insulting to the other party).
While I don't much care for the tone of this piece, a relatively optimistic look at the situation in the Swat valley. It takes quite a leap to see in that situation the seeds of a potential transcendence of colonial cartography, but here it is: http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20090219&fname=puri&sid=1
Krishna, I agree that placing the blame solely on the US' shoulders lets Pakistani politicians off the hook, and nor does it give an accurate picture of what has gone on. However, I also think that there is no denying how much of an impact American military support can have and does have. The US has given over $10 BILLION in military aid since 9/11, much of it unaccountable (which is why people have dubbed this aid as a "blank check"), while short shrifting aid for civilian needs [looking at these numbers and the allocation of aid in Pakistan deserves its own post]. That kind of money is mindboggling for poorer countries like Pakistan, and without support from a superpower, it would be quite difficult to come up with that kind of money. I think us American citizens also have to own up to the fact that we DO immensely help institutions (in this case, the Pakistani military) and officials that are often detrimental to the interests of denizens.