Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’
Pakistan’s recent military offensive against the Taliban has earned the country some international support for its counter-terrorism efforts. There is hope that the democratic government will be willing and committed to fighting terrorism. However the events of the past week have raised a disturbing concern in my mind. Pakistan has, beyond doubt begun combating terrorist elements operating on its soil; but at the same time Pakistan’s counter-terrorism strategy is selective and self-serving. In a matter of few days the Government of Pakistan has re-arrested Sufi Muhammad and released Hafiz Saeed. To me this is not a simple case of supporting terrorism against India but has deeper implications. It’s about Pakistan’s reluctance and not inability to combat terrorism. The Sufi-Saeed case points to three trends in Pakistan’s ‘counter-terrorism efforts’: no person-specific operations, inconsequential arrests on mild charges and treating terrorism as legal problem. Click to continue…
As the AFPAK strategy session concluded in Washington arguments for and against providing aid to Pakistan dominated the op-ed columns and the blogosphere. The U.S. cannot deprive Pakistan of essential aid because there are fears that the Country might collapse. At the same time U.S. aid will not solve most of Pakistan’s problems. So what should the Obama Administration do? Can the U.S. merely feel sorry for the state of affairs in Pakistan or should the challenges facing the Pakistan be recognized and a cooperative counter-Taliban effort be continued? Or should the U.S. rationalize in terms of delineating the respective responsibilities of the Pakistani Government and the international community? Click to continue…
The Kerry-Lugar Bill, presented before the Senate yesterday, seeks to apply the Afghanistan prescription suggested in Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea to Pakistan. The very title of the book is a suggestion on the best strategy to be pursued in Afghanistan: the Western style of speeding up operations doesn’t work; slowing down and building relationships would help to achieve the desired objectives. Though slowing down is not an option in Pakistan but building relationships is a viable strategy and this is what the Kerry-Lugar Bill intends to do. In the words of John Kerry, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (Kerry-Lugar bill) seeks to “fundamentally change America’s relationship with the people of Pakistan.”
[Photo Courtesy: Boston Globe, May 5, 2009]
The most important element of the proposed bill is the repeated reference to the ‘people of Pakistan’. U.S. commitment to the needs of Pakistani people is proposed to go beyond the fluctuating government to government relationship. The people of Pakistan cannot be punished for the inability of their Government to optimally utilize U.S. military aid to counter terrorism. The justification for reducing and conditioning military aid to Pakistan is as strong as the rationale for increasing non-military aid to the country. Click to continue…
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Unites States Mr. Husain Haqqani has defended Pakistan’s Taliban strategy in the WSJ today.
Mr. Haqqani has excelled in the performance of his duties as Pakistan’s top diplomat in the U.S.; he has presented elaborate arguments rationalizing the recent policy decisions of Pakistani government vis-à-vis the Taliban. Even though I appreciate Mr. Haqqani’s diplomatic skills I strongly disagree with him. Certain claims made by Mr. Haqqani in his submission are faulty and biased:
According to Mr. Haqqani the panicked reactions of the type witnessed in the U.S. media over the last few weeks — after the Taliban drove into Buner, a town 60 miles north of the capital Islamabad — are not conducive to strengthening Pakistani democracy or to developing an effective counterterrorism policy for Pakistan. The panicked media reactions were not confined to the U.S. alone. The Pakistani media was equally rather more apprehensive of the Taliban’s entry into Buner. The scenes of a little boy selling newspapers on the streets of Lahore while shouting out the headlines as ‘Taliban have entered Islamabad’ reflected the anxiety and fear in the Pakistani media. Moreover, Mr. Haqanni needs to realize that counter-terrorism policy is based on empirical data and critical evaluations rather than merely media reports. Click to continue…
The Frontline/World aired on April 14, 2009 a documentary Children of Taliban. In the Documentary, Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy attempts to explore the impact of the Taliban terror on the children of Pakistan. The documentary takes the audience beyond the political and strategic noises of Taliban’s impact on regional and global security. Without taking sides Sharmeen brings before the world the myriad faces of Taliban terror among the young hearts of Pakistan.
[Photo Courtesy: Sharmeen Obaid Films]
In a previous post published on March 12, 2009 I had discussed the mounting conerns over the recruitment of American youth of Somali origin in terrorist training programs. This morning The FOXNews.com reported on a rare press conference by two such individuals. These youth have expressed their desire to be killed “for the sake of God”. The apparent return of some of these American Somali youth after terrorist training to the U.S. makes them a potent threat for national security. According to the Deputy Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center Andrew Liepman there is no credible reporting that these youth pose a direct threat to the U.S. To counter Liepman’s view there is enough empirical evidence to prove that planning of terrorist activities has and can evade intelligence scrunity. Apart from security concerns the entire episode raises some other vital questions:
Why have these youth choosen to speak openly about their involvement in terrorist activities? Did we not expect terrorist to be “hidden elements”? Does this represent a trend towards glorification of terrorism by an increasing majority? Is involvement in terrorist activities now considered ‘cool’?
Why did these youth abandon the quest for the much aspired ‘American Dream’ and adopt a challenging lifestyle in Somalia?
How will the U.S. assert its moral authority in criticizing Pakistan as a breeding ground of terrorism when American citizens can be lured into such extremist activities?
[Photo Courtesy: FOXNews.com, April 6, 2009]
There is a recent and overwhelming influx of the term “AFPAK” in jargon of international relations. The term owes it origin to the new policy approach adopted by the Obama Administration. The intragency review of the international strategy in Afghanistan headed by Bruce Riedel concluded that the counter-terrorism efforts need to focus on the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. So now we have the AfPak war. Though President Obama’s intentions can barely be doubted there are some serious concerns that the U.S. will have to contend with in dealing with “AFPAK”.
[Photo Courtesy: Reuters/Jason Reed] Click to continue…
Evaluating P.M. Manmohan Singh
According to Swapan DasGupta, P.M. Singh was “in office but never in power”; Tarun Tejpal calls him the ‘Shadow Warrior” and Meghnad Desai compares him to India’s Deng Xiao Ping. He has been criticized as being an ‘unelected P.M.’ since he is a member of the Rajya Sabha rather than the popularly elected Lok Sabha. In the words of L.K. Advani, Manmohan Singh has been the weakest Prime Minister. Whether it was the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal or the reopening of the Nathula Pass, P.M. Singh undertook bold initiatives in redefining India’s foreign relations. P.M. displayed his political skills at managing coalition pressures when he refused to be cornered by the CPI-M. Few would realize that this architect of India’s economic reform programme also managed to avert a near war situation with Pakistan after the Mumbai terror strikes. India had come forward with its first Climate Change Plan under P.M. Singh in 2008 and also enacted the much debated Right to Information Act in 2005.
After five years in power his promise of ‘reforms with a human face’ is open to criticism, especially when child malnutrition rates are the highest in the Country. Reports of slowing down of economic activity have challenged P.M. Singh’s economic insights. His failure to break the Congress-PDP deadlock in Jammu and Kashmir was widely criticized as was his inability to deal with the issue of Tamil civilian deaths during the recent phase of the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis. The menace of terrorism continues to threaten the country with the LeT warning of more strikes in near future.
The Prime Ministership of Manmohan Singh has been marked by highs and lows; flattered and condemned, praised and criticized. What according to you is the best and worst decisions of P.M. Manmohan Singh? How do you rate Manmohan Singh as India’s P.M.? And most importantly, do you consider P.M. Singh as worthy of a second term in office?
Reformulation of the international approach to manage the Afghanistan crisis is currently dominating political dialogue in most Capitals and strategic headquarters. A host of international conferences scheduled for the next fortnight are expected to explore the best possible alternatives for dealing with the multifaceted challenges in Afghanistan. The Obama Administration has undertaken a comprehensive review of the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan. Suggestions and proposals on the issue are pouring from all quarters and it appears that Afghanistan is poised for a grand moment in history. Will the Afghanistan challenge emerge as the Noah’s Ark – a common platform for global cooperation sheltered from the vagaries of divergent ideologies, political ambitions and nationalistic aspirations? In an atmosphere where power politics of the Realist School is dominating international relations, can Afghanistan serve as a common cause for which ideological differences will be shed and new forms of global engagement will emerge? Click to continue…
Terrorism is as much detested by the majority of the global Muslim population as is U.S. troop presence in Muslim countries. A recent study of public opinion in predominantly Muslim countries reveals that the population is widely opposed to the use of violence for religious purposes. However, they endorse the Al-Qaeda’s mission to expel U.S. forces and bases from territory of Muslim countries. Here are few interesting figures from the Survey:
Across eight Muslim publics on average, 66% considered the presence of U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf as a bad idea. The opposition is largest in Egypt (91%) but also considerable in the NATO member state of Turkey (77%)
From 87% (Egypt) to 62% (Indonesia) of the population believes that the U.S. seeks to weaken and divide the Islamic world.
Widespread support for involvement of Islamic parties and groups in national politics: 83% in Pakistan, 81% in Indonesia, 53% in Turkey, 50% in Jordan.
55% in Pakistan and 84% in Egypt disapproved of attacks on civilians in the U.S.
Significant numbers approved of attacks on U.S. troops based in Muslim countries: 83% of the Egyptians approved of the attacks on U.S. in Iraq.
According to 36% in Pakistan and 59% in Azerbaijan, the U.s. favors democracy only if the government is cooperative.
Highlighting the general views towards the U.S. the Survey concludes:
Views of the US government continue to be quite negative. The US is widely seen as hypocritically failing to abide by international law, not living up to the role it should play in world affairs, disrespectful of the Muslim people, and using its power in a coercive and unfair fashion.
It is interesting to note that some the most negative responses towards the U.S. have come from countries that are not traditionally considered threatening. This highlights the fact that despite cordial political relations, the Muslim population in many countries is opposed to the U.S. foreign policy strategies. Some of these figure and responses might help the Obama Administration in refurbishing the U.S. policy towards the Muslim world.