Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dear China : Help Us Fix Pakistan

The war of words is officially on. The killing of Osama bin Laden has shone a harsh light on the fraught U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
In Washington, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are angrily questioning how it’s possible that Pakistan didn’t know about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden as he hid for years under their noses in Abbottabad, a military garrison town.
In Islamabad, Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani lashed out at the United States, calling it “disingenuous” to believe that Pakistan could have been “in cahoots” with al Qaeda. Whatever the case, the U.S. strategic calculus in South Asia is now in flux. What is Washington’s best opportunity to use this watershed moment to restore stability to Pakistan? Partner with China.
Unfortunately, the debate on Capitol Hill has quickly fallen into two polarized and short-sighted camps. In the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings last week, both Democrats and Republicans used bin Laden’s death to justify an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking member on the committee, argued, “It’s exceedingly difficult to conclude that our vast expenditures in Afghanistan represent a rational (strategy).”
Other lawmakers have called for renewed pressure on Islamabad to take direct action against anti-U.S. militant bases in Pakistan, such as the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network.
Neither path is likely to work. Abandoning Afghanistan for a third time since 1989 is not going to set us there — indeed, each time the United States neglects the country, it gets worse. And strong-arm tactics won’t work either:
A gambit to withhold military or civilian assistance is also not going to force Islamabad to change its strategic calculus, which is rooted in decades of deep mistrust of the United States.
Furthermore, because of continued U.S. dependence on Pakistani supply routes into Afghanistan and Pakistani intelligence services’ ability to unleash terrorist devastation such as the 2008 Mumbai attacks, calling Pakistan’s bluff could be disastrous.
It’s time to return to the fundamentals when it comes to U.S. interests in Pakistan. Ultimately, Washington desires a prosperous, sustainable, and secure South Asian region that does not remain a base for al Qaeda and its affiliates, or a likely flashpoint for a nuclear exchange.
Understood this way, U.S. interests are broadly shared by China, Pakistan’s primary ally and a major investor in the country’s economic success. That’s a point President Barack Obama should drive home to Chinese officials this week, as Washington hosts the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Indeed, the late Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke made a similar case to the Chinese in Beijing.
To date, China’s relationship with Pakistan — with which it has shared military technology and invested in major infrastructure projects — has only enabled that South Asian nation’s unstable status quo. When it comes to military hardware, China has shared ballistic missiles such as the short-range DF-11, is jointly producing the JF-17 advanced fighter with Pakistan, and has provided its ally with anti-ship cruise missiles, among other weapons.
China also built the massive multimodal port in the southern city of Gwadar, along with a highway and rail link connecting it to China. Indeed, the relationship is so strong that, at the request of Beijing, the Pakistani military stormed Islamabad’s Red Mosque in 2007 to liberate 10 Chinese nationals, a move that crystallized the Pakistani Taliban as an anti-government movement.
Nevertheless, there are two important points of convergence between Beijing’s long-term interests and Washington’s. First, China is concerned with preventing Islamist terrorism from disrupting its Central Asian energy routes and its restive western region, Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan.
China is actively securing natural gas and oil reserves as far as Turkmenistan on the Caspian, rebuilding the old Soviet-era pipelines to feed its western frontier and crossing territory that hosts a majority Muslim population.
Secondly, China has a stake in promoting sustainable, pan-Asian prosperity in the medium-to-long term to fuel its torrid economic growth. China — and neighboring India — are undertaking a monumental frenzy of urbanization. A study prepared by McKinsey estimates that approximately 375 million Chinese and 250 million Indians will move from villages to cities over the next 20 years.
This growth will require a substantial productivity increase across all economic sectors — but along the China-India periphery, the question of whether this massive urbanization will be sustainable hinges on higher levels of food production.
This is where Chinese, U.S., and Pakistani interests powerfully intersect. China needs a marked increase in Pakistani agricultural productivity, while America needs Pakistan to build a prosperous economy and a moderate political order that sees its neighbors to the northwest and east as economic opportunities — rather than threats. Land reform is key to creating a win-win situation for all three countries.
Farm productivity in Pakistan is stuck between 17 and 50 percent of its potential, according to research from the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. Improved agriculture requires better-educated farmers who own their own land and are incentivized to make use of sustainable methods that also boost their production. Even Cuba figured this one out.
Political moderation
Political moderation requires the rise of a phenomenon that does not yet exist in Pakistan — a competent and legitimate political party with a reform mandate. Pakistan’s patronage pyramids — run by powerful family dynasties — are today inseparable from the civilian political parties they control. They are equally responsible for the status quo: economic failure and the government’s sheltering of Islamist militant groups, despite billions of dollars in U.S. foreign assistance.
At the root of that corruption is Pakistan’s system of semi-feudal land ownership, which, ironically, the Chinese Communist Party is more than happy to prop up.
There is little time to waste: Commodity prices are nearing record highs, the fighting drags on in Afghanistan, and the people of Pakistan are hurting. In 2009, the year before the devastating monsoon floods that displaced some 20 million people, the United Nations judged that half of the Pakistani population was food insecure.
Two-thirds of Pakistanis are living in rural areas and relying directly or indirectly on agriculture, with at least 24 percent of Pakistanis living on less than $2 a day.
A green revolution in the Pakistani agricultural belt could forge an independent farming class in the countryside that could remake Pakistan both politically and economically. With a simultaneous effort to formalize property rights in urban areas, a moderate and stable middle-class would have the best chance to peacefully reassert the civilian government’s full authority.
In short, prosperity and self-reliance will lay the foundation for a government that is willing to embrace the Asian economic growth narrative and free itself of the need to bind the nation together using a narrative of perpetual external threats.
But without deep reforms in Pakistan, China will not get what it needs out of its dysfunctional ally — and neither Beijing nor Washington will be able to convince Islamabad to end its dangerous dalliance with South and Central Asian terrorist groups.
Together, however, these two superpowers can succeed where, individually, each would fail.

Should The U.S Cut Off Aid To Pakistan?

Despite American demands for greater cooperation, Yousaf Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister, made clear on Monday that Pakistani officials accepted little responsibility for the failure to find Osama bin Laden, who had been living for years in Abbottabad, just 35 miles from Pakistan’s capital. Tensions rose further on Monday when Pakistani authorities leaked the identity of the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad to the local press.
Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week that Pakistani authorities “were involved or incompetent.” The Obama administration has sought $3 billion in aid for Pakistan for 2012, but some lawmakers are questioning the value of that investment.
Has aid to Pakistan in the past decade — totaling more than $20 billion — helped or hurt American security interests? Should aid be cut off now?

Christine Fair (Get the Proof First)

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship “makes less and less sense,” Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Monday. She and other members of Congress are questioning the utility if not wisdom of continuing to invest in Pakistan’s people and government.The responses of Pakistan’s political and military establishments have not helped. They have chosen to accuse the U.S. of infringing on the country’s sovereignty, for the Navy Seals’ raid on Osama bin Laden’s capacious compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad , rather than focus on his ability to hide in plain sight for six years and mightily infringe on Pakistan’s sovereignty himself.  That said, while Pakistan is busy deflecting criticism, all accounts and statements attesting to Pakistan’s official facilitation of Bin Laden’s presence are speculative. The United States had been monitoring the house since August 2010 and had even erected a C.I.A. house to do so. If there was credible evidence of Pakistani facilitation, the U.S. government should say so. If there is no evidence, then speculation is reckless and may push Pakistan into a position where reclaiming a modicum of collaboration will be impossible in the wake of the humiliation of the country and its institutions.
What is required right now is cool-headed investigation into what happened, how it happened and with what government facilitation. To cut off aid to Pakistan based on unsubstantiated speculation would be a strategic bungle.
Washington has few options but to engage Pakistan. If it declares Pakistan an enemy, what will be the consequences? Washington cannot put together adequate political carrots and meaningful sticks to compel Pakistan to abandon its reliance on militants because Washington lacks the will. In the absence of other obvious alternatives,
Washington needs to step up engagement to secure U.S. interests, be it against proliferation of nuclear technology, terrorism, or both. The only hope for Pakistan’s future is continued investment in its people and civilian institutions albeit with greater clarity of purpose, efficacy and attention to outcomes.

Seth G Jones (Focus on Economic Aid )

perfect storm has hit Washington and Islamabad. The relationship had already frayed thanks to an escalating series of incidents, from a lawsuit against the chief of Pakistan’s spy agency in a U.S. court to America’s drone program in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Then Pakistan’s failure to identify, let alone capture or kill, Osama bin Laden — and the U.S. decision to conduct the raid in Abbottabad without telling Pakistan authorities – only tore further at the relationship.
Add to the mix a fragile U.S. economy, and Washington will find it increasingly difficult to expend U.S. tax dollars in the absence of better results. But if Pakistan helps capture or kill certain individuals – the presumptive new Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, senior operative Ilyas Kashmiri, media chief Abu Yahya al-Libi, and a host of others – America might more readily extend current levels of financial assistance.
It makes little sense to abandon Pakistan and cut off all financial assistance, which would make it even harder for the U.S. to target Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. But America could reduce part of its security assistance, focusing instead on economic and humanitarian aid. There is a range of other options, including placing U.S. security assistance into an escrow account until cooperation improves.
Washington could also keep a scorecard of progress. A similar scorecard might also be kept for efforts to eliminate Afghan Taliban leaders who reside in Pakistan, specifically Karachi and Baluchistan Province. Today, elements within the Pakistan government, including the country’s spy agency, are providing support to groups like the Taliban and Haqqani network, according to credible news reports.
Targeting insurgent leaders would not require large-scale military operations, but rather clandestine police and intelligence raids. The U.S. and Pakistan employed these tactics after September 11, with the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Abu Zubayda, and other terrorists. But these examples of cooperation tailed off as Pakistan became embroiled in its own internal struggles.
Washington can provide some carrots, like supporting Pakistani efforts to stabilize Baluchistan and defeat insurgents there. But it may need sticks as well. There are inherent risks in this strategy, which could cause further deterioration in U.S.-Pakistani cooperation, which has waxed and waned over the decades. But decreasing security assistance is not likely to terminate the relationship.
Today, the threats to Pakistan and the United States are serious and real, and they require substantive cooperation. The true mettle of policymakers is whether they can effectively deal with today’s threats despite their disagreements and conflict over recent events.

Parag Khanna (Cut Military Aid Now)

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is a microcosm of international relations more broadly: talking about change has little correlation to actually achieving it.
Before the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the Government Accountability Office released a study criticizing the lack of progress in making aid to Pakistan more effective. Far less has been spent than promised, and far too few inspectors have been assigned to oversee implementation of the projects.
It is nothing new to assert that Pakistan’s government is incompetent when it comes to national policy and complicit at some level in the spread of radicalism within its borders — with some parts of the government quite ignorant as to who is doing what.
This state of affairs has existed for decades, with Pakistan’s society suffering and its institutions crumbling while it issues statements in its own defense. After Bin Laden’s killing, some are calling for America to reduce its presence in the region, and others are arguing for the need to either cut military assistance and/or make both military and civilian assistance far more conditional on actual progress in eradicating Al Qaeda and combating the Taliban. All of the above are good recommendations.
To take advantage of this inflection point in U.S.-Pakistani relations means focusing more on substance than style, more on policy than money.
First, aid money should be pooled with other donors and private-sector finance mechanisms and directed toward specific infrastructure projects like dams, power plants and roads. This way, there would be monitoring among the various investors and corruption could come to light more quickly than through direct support for Pakistan’s official ministries.
Secondly, military assistance should be dramatically reduced. Pakistan’s military has all of the soldiers, guns, ammunition and equipment needed to move about in the tribal areas and to begin to clear them of Taliban forces. They only need — and have already gotten — access to drones and the intelligence they can provide.
Lastly, the regional “Silk Road” strategy which the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke championed must be the guiding vision of America’s approach to the region. Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India and China need to embedded in a regional economic framework that promotes cross-border commerce, trade, investment and integration. Only then will all parties in the region start to take joint responsibility for their own affairs — and Pakistan can get what it wants: America to leave.

Shuja Nawaz (Consider the Broader War)

When Pakistan’s first military ruler Field Marshal Mohammed Ayub Khan soured on the relationship with the United States, he released his memoirs in 1967 entitled “Friends not Masters” to describe what Pakistan sought in this relationship. Two years later and in the middle of celebrating his “Decade of Development,” he was forced out of office by street power, the victim of his own hubris.
The killing of Osama Bin Laden deep in the heart of Pakistan by a Navy Seal team has exposed the deep mistrust that bedevils the relationship between the United States and Pakistan today. Many in Pakistan will be reviving the Ayub Khan message. The Pakistani military especially was stung that the U.S. action took place without any approval by the local army and air force. It has also been hurt by public criticism that it was unable to protect Pakistan’s borders against a blatant military incursion.
Its first object of blame will be the United States. If the hard-liners win the internal debate in army headquarters in Rawalpindi, another split may be in the works sooner rather than later. The civilian government has ceded major policymaking on security issues to the military: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani decamped to Paris right after the raid. This week, President Asif Ali Zardari takes off for Russia. Even the army chief reportedly complained of the lack of direction from the government on counter-terrorism efforts inside the country. Some in the U.S. Congress, meanwhile, are threatening to cut off aid to Pakistan.
Both countries’ responses would be disastrous. The U.S. would lose primary access via Pakistan for its supplies to fight the war in Afghanistan at a critical stage in that conflict. The Pakistanis would lose the $2 billion to $3 billion of aid, including cash from the Coalition Support Funds that the U.S. provides Pakistan’s military to cover the costs of its operations in the western half of the country.
It is not clear where Pakistan would find the money to finance the war against terrorism and the Pakistani Taliban. Its only option may be further deficit spending that would plunge it deeper into an economic hole, and fuel inflation and public unrest. The aid cut-off would extend to economic assistance as well, designed to build ties with the Pakistani people. If that aid ends, the people of Pakistan, who stand to benefit most from economic development, will feel the United States has left them in the lurch yet again.
The spy-versus-spy games reminiscent of MAD magazine also continue to fuel recriminations in this dysfunctional alliance. The leaking of the name of the C.I.A. station chief in Pakistan, who was involved in planning the Abbottabad raid, raises the ante yet again.
Yet something must be done to restore the damaged relationship, especially prior to the resumption of the ”strategic dialogue” that Secretary Hilary Clinton was preparing to attend in Islamabad in the next few weeks. So why not agree on the broad objectives for the region, and then identify the issues on which the United States and Pakistan’s interests diverge and see how both sides can live with those differences.
Both countries will need to slowly rebuild trust in each other. Pakistan will need to reorder its priorities to eliminate terrorists inside its boundaries, local and foreign, and end any ambiguities involving its regional interests and the use of proxies in neighboring countries. It has suffered much from the blowback of past adventures involving non-state actors who have gone rogue or become anti-state. The Coalition Support Funds should be replaced with a written agreement on what Pakistan needs and what the United States can realistically supply.

George Perkovich (How to Reduce Pakistan’s Leverage)

Aid is not the only independent variable that affects Pakistan. Other things the U.S. says and does are important, too.
For example, the United States’ effort to help India become a global power, including by building up its nuclear and advanced conventional armories, makes the Pakistani establishment ever more angry and distrustful of the United States. The deployment of unaccountable mercenaries like Raymond Davis turns average Pakistanis against the U.S. These and other U.S. policies, including drone attacks in the tribal areas, may be tactically necessary because Pakistan’s own security establishment will not do its best to counter terrorists acting against India and Afghanistan. India’s growing power and importance inevitably will make the U.S. and others seek favorable terms of cooperation with it.
But aid combined with these other U.S. policies clearly has not changed the Pakistani military’s obsession with contesting India. There is nothing India or the United States can realistically do that will change this self-destructive obsession because the problem is India’s existence itself.
The pattern in U.S.-Pakistan relations merely repeats mutual frustrations and failings since the early 1950s. The U.S. always treats Pakistan as a means to achieve a larger end — preventing the export of terrorism from Afghanistan now — and Pakistan uses the U.S. to build capabilities to fight India. In fact, Pakistan is more important than Afghanistan, and too important to instrumentalize.
The U.S. would do less harm, and perhaps more good, by seeking the most friendly possible end of the symbiotic relationship with the Pakistani Army and intelligence services. By moving decisively to negotiate conditions for the withdrawal of most U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, the U.S. would greatly reduce its reliance on the Pakistani security establishment and that establishment’s leverage on Washington. The U.S. could then concentrate on Pakistan’s civilian political-economic development, offering assistance only in and as the Pakistani state itself is clearly committed to combating terrorism and promoting internal development.

Aqil Shah (Help Civilian Security Forces)

The Pakistani military has received the bulk of the $20 billion in U.S aid to Pakistan since 2001. In return, its Inter-Services Intelligence (I.S.I.) has reportedly helped the U.S. catch hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives, including several “high value targets.”
But the Pakistani military has pursued a pick and choose approach to counterterrorism, selectively fighting the “bad” (Pakistani) Taliban that attack its troops and installations, while providing sanctuary and support to the “good” Afghan Taliban (and other militant groups like the Haqqani network) to outbid archrival India in Kabul, especially once the U.S. exits the region.
The U.S government knows this, and has kept up the pressure on the Pakistani military to change its ways, while stopping short of any drastic steps for fear of losing the country’s cooperation in the war on terror. But the discovery of Osama bin Laden in a compound near the military’s main training academy in Abbottabad has brought already strained ties to a breaking point. Several U.S. lawmakers have now called for halting aid to Pakistan.
Cutting off all aid is a bad idea. Nuclear-armed Pakistan needs civilian assistance both for short-term economic stabilization and long-term growth. The U.S. has legitimate concerns about Pakistani government corruption and its capacity to properly utilize the aid. But rather than slowing or suspending aid, Washington should demand transparency from Pakistani authorities while helping them build local capacity.
Although civilian aid must continue, the U.S. should reevaluate its security assistance to Pakistan. First, it should signal to the Pakistan military that it will no longer tolerate its prevarication on eliminating terrorist safe havens on Pakistani territory, period. Tough love may not produce an overnight policy shift but it will raise the costs to the military of behaving badly.
Second, security assistance should be used to support and build partnerships with Pakistan’s civilian security apparatus, like the police and the federal Intelligence Bureau, which are crucial to fighting terrorism but receive only a fraction of U.S. support. These organizations lack sophisticated counterterrorism capabilities, but they have on-the-ground expertise and intelligence networks to tackle militant groups at least in the nontribal areas under their jurisdiction, especially if the I.S.I. lets them do their job. Most important, these agencies are accountable to the civilian government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party, which may be politically compelled to rally behind the generals but unambiguously supports the fight against terror.
The United States helped prop up the Pakistani military during the cold war, the least it can do is use its political, economic and diplomatic influence to help Pakistan’s civil society and political parties put the genie back in the bottle. An economically sound, democratically governed Pakistan would be a far more reliable partner in fighting violent extremism in the region than the militarized state that it is today.

Karl F. Inderfurth (Going from Bad to Worse)

The U.S. has poured over $20 billion into Pakistan since 9/11. We haven’t gotten our money’s worth, but neither have the Pakistanis.
Most of this money went to the Pakistani military, but how it was spent we don’t really know. There was little accountability, by either side. Certainly the $20 billion didn’t win “hearts and minds” in Pakistan, since very little of it ever found its way to programs that would touch the lives of the Pakistani people.
Today relations between Washington and Islamabad are on a knife’s edge. Actions taken by both countries – seen by each as dictated by their own national security and sovereign interests – have placed the two counties on a collision course. Following the U.S. raid that killed Bin Laden, Pakistan has upped the ante by outing the C.I.A.’s station chief. Can it get any worse? Yes. And both countries will be losers.
What is needed now is not further precipitate actions, but a “strategic pause” to see if a recalibration of our relations can be achieved. In this regard, cutting U.S. aid at this time will only accelerate the downward spiral we find ourselves in.

Reza Nasim Jan (A Necessary Ally)

Americans angry at the possible role Pakistan’s security establishment may have played in sheltering Osama Bin Laden would find cutting U.S. aid to Pakistan deeply satisfying. But prudence cautions against such drastic action.
Whether or not the U.S. cuts aid to Pakistan should be based on three basic tests: Would cutting aid change Pakistani behavior for the better; would the result be worth the fallout; and is U.S. assistance to Pakistan in the national interest? For those eager to drop the ax, the answers are, on balance, clear: no, no and yes.
Historically, U.S. aid has been limited in its ability to wean Pakistan away from its support for militant Islamists. Pakistani action is driven by perceptions of its own strategic interests and money alone is unlikely to stop Islamabad from using the Haqqani network or Lashkar-e-Taiba as tools of policy. Cutting aid will certainly not encourage Pakistan to take further action against members of Al Qaeda.
Changing Pakistan’s behavior requires adjusting its strategic paradigm, which can only be affected by sustained U.S. commitment to Pakistan’s fears and regional interests and, ultimately, by success in Afghanistan. Cutting aid, done before, has the reverse effect. The “Pressler years” of the 90s, when Pakistan was cast out of international polite society, did little to reform Pakistan’s behavior but did, arguably, help fuel much of the animosity that causes it to continue to see the U.S. as an unreliable ally.
In reality, the U.S. does care about the stability of Pakistan; it is the theater where the war against Al Qaeda is ultimately going to be won or lost. It is also a pitifully poor, unstable, nuclear-armed country of 180 million people on the wrong side of a radicalization trend. Destabilizing Pakistan is not the way forward.

Lisa Curtis (Suspend Aid, but Don’t Halt it)

The Pakistanis could be seeking to ease U.S. concerns about why Osama bin Laden was able to hide for six years in a conspicuous compound in a military cantonment town. Instead, they’re trying to make themselves the aggrieved party.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani’s defiant tone in remarks made to parliament on Monday will only increase demands by U.S. lawmakers to withhold future aid to the country.
Washington should delay security assistance until Pakistan demonstrates it is breaking longstanding links between its intelligence services and terrorists, and is fully meeting conditions established by the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009.
U.S. officials want to work with Islamabad, but they’re hinting that they’re prepared to repeat unilateral action against terrorist targets in Pakistan. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, said it’s up to Pakistan to decide whether the U.S. pursues Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar and other terrorists on its own or in cooperation with Pakistani authorities.
Abruptly cutting off all aid to Pakistan isn’t the answer, and would likely come at a steep price to United States interests in the region. In that event, Pakistan could play its own cards, perhaps cutting NATO supply lines into Afghanistan and kicking American intelligence officials out of the country. Moreover, maintaining ties — however frayed— allows the U.S. to help keep Pakistan’s nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.
The information recovered at Bin Laden’s compound should help U.S. officials determine the nature of his relationship with the Pakistani intelligence service — the ISI. The question is whether there was explicit knowledge of his location or whether the ISI simply turned a blind eye to a situation that it should have pursued. Whether the ISI was complicit or incompetent is a crucial question that requires answers before further aid is disbursed.

Leaving With Honor

The almost decade- long American war in Afghanistan has now reached the beginning of the end. All hopes of anything like "victory" have long since vanished, but so have most fears that falling short of victory will jeopardize American national security. The essential remaining questions, then, are what they once were in Vietnam: How fast do we leave? And what do we leave behind? My impression, after a short trip to Afghanistan, is that the United States should leave faster than President Barack Obama appears to want to, but slowly enough to give the Afghans at least a chance to stave off total collapse. You can certainly meet officials here who believe, as Simon Gass, NATO's new senior civilian representative, does, that "we can leave behind a stable platform" by the current 2014 target date for withdrawal. But a U.S. official with considerable experience in Afghanistan offered a much more tentative metaphor: "Can we thread the needle here by 2014 ?" he asked. "Yes, but it will take some luck." Pakistan would have to apply pressure to the sanctuaries where insurgents now shelter, the Afghan army would have to make major strides in professionalism, and "we're going to need more political will expressed by President [Hamid] Karzai." "Any sign of that?" I asked. "No," he said, citing the Afghan president's continuing protection of highly placed criminals and warlords and unwillingness to permit independent political institutions, including the parliament, to flourish. So why bother at all? Why not crate everything up and leave as fast as possible? There are several answers to this question, some quite persuasive. A Taliban conquest of large parts of the country would be a terrible enough fate for the Afghan people, but worse yet would be a collapse into a 1990 s-style civil war, an apocalyptic fear that is widely shared by Afghans as well as internationals. Left on its own, the army is likely to fragment along ethnic lines, thanks in part to Karzai himself, who has permitted the warlords around him to parcel out the most senior military posts to their own loyalists. The Somalization of Afghanistan would be even more dreadful than a Talibanization, and certainly yet more inviting to al Qaeda. A more optimistic account holds that something better is in the offing on the other side of the planned national election in 2014. A new Afghanistan is struggling to be born, one often hears, an Afghanistan of institutions rather than one of tribal and ethnic loyalties. A vibrant private sector is emerging; an unfettered media, in league with civil society groups, is exposing the corruption and cynicism of the old order; a new generation has been weaned on Western ideals and technology. Mahmoud Saikal, a former deputy foreign minister and now a political opponent of Karzai's, says that he and allies are forming a " national coalition" of such forces well in advance of 2014 to demonstrate that an alternative exists. Saikal, like other Afghans I spoke with, is worried about " America's short- term vision," by which he means American impatience with the Afghan adventure. That new Afghanistan is no mirage, but even by 2014 it will probably not be able to contend with the old one captained by Karzai. Even if Karzai, who is widely said to be exhausted and played out, chooses not to run once again, the power brokers in the palace will use all the means at their disposal to keep their grip on power. Karzai himself has already tried to preserve his freedom of maneuver by writing to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon, asking the organization to abandon its current role overseeing national elections. So the bridge to the future is extremely rickety, and perhaps also booby-trapped. But the U.S. official I spoke to said that he would advocate a deliberate drawdown of forces even if he thought the probability of a good outcome in 2014 was low. Hasn't the West created a "moral hazard" for itself, he asks, by making such elaborate unfulfilled promises to the Afghan people over the years? Quite apart from any calculus of national interest, isn't it morally unacceptable to leave the Afghans to fend for themselves?

State - Sanctioned Murder : INDIA's Secret Policy

It is Sunday morning. No one is around. The house is uncharacteristically quiet. The only sound in the room is the cascading of the water from our fish filter. I am unused to the quiet. I find it disconcerting, maybe even a little scary. Silence can be frightening. I surf to the news coming out of Bangladesh. The major political combatants are out of the country. The headlines are about the usual unabated killings by the Indian BSF. Only one news source confirms this fact. In the United States, we have gone to war for less. From what I read, Milon Hossain, age 20 ( the same age as my eldest daughter) was shot to death. What sort of inhuman troops does India arm to patrol the Bangladesh border? Where is the outrage? If the reports are accurate, then what it proves is that India is not interested in justice. Talks will continue, smiles, handshakes and photo ops will be the outcome. Soulless border guards will continue to patrol and India will send another smiling someone to make yet another promise. But the killings will continue. The poem by Pastor Marin Niemoller springs to mind: ‘‘Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew…’’ In Bangladesh, neither of the feuding leaders are home. The news, despite the usual murder along the border, continues to be quiet. The international community continues to hold its tongue. Will either leader publicly call India to task for its brutality? It occurs to me that Bangladesh is an easy target. In the Yunusgate affair, however I may have felt about the political motivation of such action, I thought the US commentary was just another case of our interference in the internal affairs of a nation we had no business talking about. But this issue requires international attention. I have written letters to several news sources but to no avail. How many more articles must be written? A week after Mother’s Day, some mother now must live with the fact that her beloved son will never come back home to her. I can guarantee you, if the perpetrators had been Muslim and the victims Indian, the news would have made every newspaper in the world. ‘‘…Then they came for the herders And I didn’t speak out because I crossed no borders. Then they came for the poor Muslims And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a poor Muslim…’’ In my quiet house, my blood boils when I read such reports. Isn’t India supposed to be a friend, a civilised nation? Half a world away, life goes on. My daughter returns from University. She will cross borders between states. She has crossed borders between nations. She has visited India. She experienced the people there as warm and friendly, people who love their children. How could it be then, that this nation can summon no empathy? Where is the outrage of the Indian people when it comes to these murders? But what can the people of Bangladesh do to lift their voices in protest against the actions of a so- called ally? As I read your history, it seems to me that you are very gentle with outsiders, and even if actions at home turn violent, the violence is not nearly on the scale that we practiced it even 60 years after our own independence. We used to slaughter anyone we didn’t like: Mormons, Native Americans, Immigrants…It seems to me that Bangladesh is a more civil society, almost the antithesis of a rogue nation. But these killings have to stop. I ask myself, “What would I do? How could I appeal to the world in a way that the world would take notice?” I might ask, “What act of civil disobedience would attract the world’s attention, or at least win the sympathy of the Indian people so that these killings finally end? I mean, we’ve tried every civil means at our disposal. The world doesn’t care. India lets this continue. What are we to do? The first thing I’d do is put a name to this brutality: The Border Massacres. I would proclaim it the duty of every Bangladeshi, and of all friends of Bangladesh to make the world see that the torture and killing of children, women and men is as outrageous when it befalls the poor and Muslim as it is when it befalls any other human being. This new killing, sheds light on 15- year-old Felani’s death in January, the fact that she was kept hanging on the fence crying for water, as she bled to death was intentional torture on behalf of the individuals India chooses to arm. Some may question the word “ Massacre”. Merriam-Webster defines a “massacre” as “an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people”. I think the label is appropriate. I have considered other words, “murder”– that doesn’t work, because it implies illegality. These killings are policy decisions on the part of a government. “Holocaust” is too politically charged. I consider the shoot-to-kill order an extermination policy, but to call it an “extermination” makes it sound like the people who are crossing the border are something less than human. And the point is that they are real people, with real lives, and have the same God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as anyone in India, or anywhere else. According to my sources, based on a report by the Human Rights Watch, which conducted extensive interviews, almost 1 ,000 unarmed Bangladeshis, including children, were slaughtered in the past decade by India. A UK newspaper, The Guardian, indicates that these routine violations of human rights are condoned, even encouraged by the Delhi government. The same article points to the Wikileaks report about the Indian government condoning the routine torture of detainees in Kashmir. The author of the Guardian article is, likewise surprised by the lack of reaction in the West. He calls the India-Bangladesh border a “South Asian killing field”. I would strive to make the world understand that innocent people are dying merely in the act of trying to make a living. I would let the world know that India is getting away with it because no one empathises with a poor Muslim cattle herder crossing an arbitrary border that divides family, livelihood, and cultural identity. I would trust that if the people of India were made aware of the atrocities, they would do something to stop it. They would not attempt to justify torture and killing. I admit that my original solution was to symbolically link The Border Massacres to the symbols of brutality that the West would understand, like the slaughter of the innocent by the Nazis in World War II. However, such displays may verge on the extreme and be counterproductive, and those who read this article in its original version agreed that my frustration with the West’s silence on this matter, and the willingness of India to allow this to continue made me write a little too radically.  Still, something must be done to call attention to the situation. I recall my visit to Berlin in the 1980 ’s before The Wall fell. There, along The Wall the West Germans had hung markers commemorating those who were shot by East German forces as they attempted to cross into the West. Perhaps “ Border Massacre” displays at prominent border crossings, with the names and ages of each victim should be created by individuals living close to the border in Bangladesh. The markers should be large enough to be able to be read by individuals crossing both ways. I would let the people of the world know that these markers are simply a call for solidarity against the sort of inhumanity that can lead to the sadistic slaughter of the innocent anywhere it occurs. It would invite the West to speak out for the victims of such atrocities no matter where in the world they happen to be. Would the West take notice? Might Friend of the West, Mohammed Yunus, be able to use his fame to ask his friends to bring attention to this issue, now that he’s between jobs? Is there some gentler way of stopping the atrocities? “…Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me…” My house is coming to life, and I read my words with a little more than the usual trepidation that comes whenever it is time to hit the “send” button. I ask, as I always do before sending, if “the words of my pen and the meditations of my heart” are acceptable to God, if they lift the level of understanding in the world in general, if I have told the truth, and if I have filled the page with love. I wonder if I have spoken too radically, if I am so ignorant on this matter that I do not see a larger truth. I have good friends in India, and I have many good Indian friends here. These are people I admire and who have taught me many things. Still, I am guided by the inescapable truth that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, and something must be done. I fear offending my friends. I fear speaking out of turn. I fear my own ignorance on these matters. I fear someone will take me up on my proposed approach and it would lead to unintended consequences. But more than anything else, I fear the silence. I find it disconcerting, even a little scary, here at home and in the world, when “they” come for the innocent. ‘…And I don’t speak up, because I am not innocent.

PM Has Violated The Constitution In Seven Ways

The Constitution is the fundamental written law that establishes the character of a government by defining the basic principles to which a society must conform. It describes the organisation of the government and regulation, distribution, and limitations on the functions of different government departments by prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of its sovereign powers. Accordingly the Constitution is the most important written document of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Our Constitution itself declared its supremacy by saying "this Constitution is, as the solemn expression of the will of the people, the supreme law of Bangladesh, and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void" [Article 7(2) of the Constitution]. All citizens regardless of their position are supposed to obey and follow the Constitution.
Especially those who are in power must follow the Constitution in letter and spirit. What will happen if the government itself, more specifically the Prime Minister herself, violates the Constitution in several ways? What will the general public do? We aim to show in this article how the Prime Minister, the head of the current government, who herself came to power by the force of the Constitution, has violated the very Constitution in at least seven ways.
Foreign treaties    
Firstly, under the Article 145A of the Constitution, all treaties with foreign countries shall be submitted to the President who shall cause them to be laid before Parliament. The said Article also says, provided that any such treaty connected with national security shall be laid in a secret session of Parliament.
After the incumbent government came into power following the General Election on 29 December 2008, the Prime Minister visited India and signed some important treaties and bilateral agreements with India. None of the agreements and treaties has yet been placed in Parliament. The Treasury Bench MPs have not even seen those agreements and treaties in Parliament, let alone the opposition MPs or other stake holders. Even if those agreements or treaties contained any component of national security at all, they could have been laid in a secret session of Parliament, as provided by the above Article. But the government did not do that.
This is clear violation of the Constitution and democratic norms (indeed against the norms and practices of the parliamentary democracy).
Office of Ombudsman
Secondly, Article 77 of the Constitution provides a provision for the establishment of the office of Ombudsman. It says: "(1) Parliament may, by law, provide for the establishment of the office of Ombudsman, (2) The Ombudsman shall exercise such powers and perform such functions as Parliament may, by law, determine including the power to investigate any action taken by a Minister, a public officer or a statutory public authority, (3) The Ombudsman shall prepare an annual report concerning the discharge of his functions, and such report shall be laid before Parliament." Parliament passed the 'Ombudsman Act 1980' in 1980 and empowered the government to bring it into force by notification in the official Gazette. The Act has not been brought into force and the office of Ombudsman has not been established yet. If all the governments, both past and present, have been reluctant to establish the office of Ombudsman, what is the point of keeping such provision in the Constitution?
Although the respective Prime Ministers or Presidents since 1972 have been liable for violating this clear constitutional provision, the current Prime Minister cannot escape her liability for her terms.
Granting pardons
Thirdly, under the Article 49 of the Constitution, the President shall have power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority. This provision has clearly given power to the President to pardon a person or remit or suspend his sentence only after trial and conviction.
How can the President pardon a prime murder accused or suspect whose trial has not been commenced or finished yet? The culpability and criminality of the accused/suspect has not been determined yet. Neither this provision has given such power to the President nor did framers of the Constitution contemplate such scenario.
Furthermore, can the President pardon convicted murderers on political consideration who received death penalty unless all appeal avenues have not been exhausted? It is contrary to the rule of law, justice and fairness. If it is allowed, then the confidence and trust on the judiciary will be lost. The President normally acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. Therefore, the Prime Minister cannot escape her liability in violating or misusing this constitutional provision.
Freedom of movement
Fourthly, Article 36 of the Constitution provides the provision for freedom of movement. It says, "Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the public interest, every citizen shall have the right to move freely throughout Bangladesh, to reside and settle in any place therein and to leave and re-enter Bangladesh."
Since the current government came into power, dozens of important persons (who have, in fact, been holding very important positions of the cabinet or government in the past including the Law Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Communications Minister, the Speaker, the Vice President and so on) have been stopped at airport for no apparent reasons or on flimsy grounds (mostly they were said to have been stopped for superior authority's order - and no written order or reasons were even shown!). Those who have the financial ability have challenged to the High Court by way of Writs and the High Court, after issuing show causes and hearing the matters, ordered the government to let them leave and re-enter. Not a single High Court order in such cases went in government's favour. Still the government has been harassing important personalities - mainly of their politically rival organisations.
This is clear violation of Article 36 of the Constitution. The Prime Minister cannot escape liability, as head of the government, of growing such alarming bad precedents of stopping important personalities at the airport in the name of superior authority's order.
Fifthly, Under Article 30 of the Constitution, no citizen shall, without the prior approval of the President, accept any title, honour, award or decoration from any foreign State. The Prime Minister has taken/received dozens of awards and honorary degrees from different countries of the world during her last term of government. In her current term she has already taken a few foreign awards including Indira Gandhi award from India. We do not know whether she had taken any prior approval of the President at all before receiving those degrees and awards. We have not seen any such news or report of prior approval in the newspapers. If she did not take prior approval of the President, she had clearly violated the Constitution.
   Laws for certain people
Sixthly, the provision for equality before law is enshrined in Article 27 of the Constitution. Article 27 says, "All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law." Enacting or passing law or laws for certain people in the name of 'protecting family members of the father of the nation' is clear violation of Article 27. The State shall have to give equal protection to all its citizens. Since all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of law, certain people cannot be given priority or separate distinct/special protection. Any future legal action by way of Writ in the High Court before an impartial Bench would certainly find this law as ultra virus or unconstitutional, because Article 26(2) of the Constitution says, "The State shall not make any law inconsistent with any provisions of this Part [Fundamental Rights], and any law so made shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void."
Seventhly, Article 23 of the Constitution says, "The State shall adopt measures to conserve the cultural traditions and heritage of the people." Importing or promoting and encouraging to import indecent and alien cultures (almost obscene, three-quarters nude dances in open daylight at stadium in the capital of a country with at least 85 per cent Muslim population) from neighbouring country even in the month of the sacred Bangla Language Movement is directly contradictory to our rich, sober, decent and healthy culture. This is clear violation of Article 23 of the Constitution. As the head of government, the Prime Minister cannot escape liability.
The above examples of violation of the Constitution are unacceptable. As a matter of fact, there have widespread violation of constitutional provisions by diverse State organs and actors, especially in relation to fundamental rights [Article 26 to 47] as guaranteed in Part III of our Constitution. Some well off citizens could get relief from the higher court. But many violations go unchallenged, unnoticed and unaccounted in case of ordinary citizens who cannot afford to go to the higher court.
Finally, the irony is that although Bangladesh's Constitution is quite clear, elaborate and much bigger than most Constitutions of the world, it does not provide any sanction or punishment for violating the Constitution. A citizen can be punished, reprimanded or held liable for violation of the ordinary law of the country.
Surprisingly, there is no punishment prescribed for violating the highest law of the land! As a result, those who are in power or in authority do not often care in violating the Constitution.
We also see how gross violators and mutilators of the Constitution (such as Lt. Gen Hussain Mohammed Ershad, General Moin U Ahmed, Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed and others) can easily get away. It can often be surprisingly observed that some violation goes year after year, term after term or even decade after decade.
Water naturally flows from the top of the mountain, not the vice versa. Those who are in power should be the role models in following every provision of the Constitution. From them citizens should learn and practise to obey the Constitution. If a protector becomes violator, then the country will gradually be directed towards anarchy and chaos.