Strategy options for the US in NWFP

Shehjar e-magazine
Strategy options for the US in NWFP
Kunhar River, NWFP (Image courtesy
*-K. N. Pandita 
n recent weeks alarm about fast deteriorating economic situation in Pakistan has received sudden hype in the US and western media. Political punditry in the US made wild predictions of a catastrophe looking straight into that country’s eye. It talks of things like the state having reached the brink of economic collapse, state on the verge of balkanization along ethnic lines, failure of law and order and imminent take over by the radicals etc.

A gloomy picture like this is painted to create impression in world community, but more particularly in the west, that in the event of imminent implosion, the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine would take control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and with that, the threat of a holocaust would loom large over the fate of entire humanity.

The objective of exaggerating threat perception about Pakistan’s economic and security instability is to prepare the mind of western tax payers for supporting any remedial measures which the ruling apparatus and think-tanks in the US and in western countries would, in their own wisdom, suggest to ward off the threat of annihilation to human existence emanating from the nuclear monster winking from underground plants at Kahuta and Cheshma. People with short memory may have forgotten that those crying wolf had a covert role in letting Pakistan become nuclear without creating obstacles in her quest for acquiring the weapon of mass destruction.

In this background, political pundits in western capitals sermonized that the limping economy of a near-to-failed state of Pakistan has to be provided with crutches to avert economic collapse. With much pride and élan they declare that this was not the first time when aid prescription is proposed for Pakistan. Spoon-feeding the country, which, by general admission, has become the breeding ground of international terrorism, has been their desk-book policy ever since it was created six decades ago. Its military regimes were supported and now under the rubric of democracy, its war machine is being boosted considerably.

This time the justification for huge funding for Pakistan has been found in the problems created by large-scale displacements from strife torn Swat and Malakand regions of NWFP. Official, non-official and NGO circles vie with one another in raising the numerical graph of IDPs which means updating each day the quantum of aid needed to provide relief to the IDPs.

Concerned planners and strategists have subtly linked international political and financial organizations with the crisis in Pakistan. It is to justify providing crutches to a roguish client-state in South Asia forgetting that creating war hysteria in a part of the country or the region is what serves the interests of the Punjabi ethnic hegemony in that country.

Official circles in the US computed the number of IDPs to the tune of two million souls, an increase of half a million from an earlier estimate specifying that the displacements had happened owing to Pakistan military operations against the Taliban insurgents. Mr. Ron Rodmond, spokesman of UN High Commissioner for Refugees broke UNHCR’s normal practice of desisting from playing the game of numbers, and made threadbare statement on the subject. Calling it “the biggest internal displacement after that of Rwanda genocide of 1990”, he pleaded that “Pakistan needed 455 million US dollars to help estimated 1.5 million IDPs from Swat and Malakand.” This UN subsidiary never said a word about three hundred thousand people of a minuscule religious minority hounded out of its ancient habitat in Kashmir in 1990. The UNHCR did not even make a mention of what happened to them in their displacement leaving aside estimating the cost of their support.

Asia Society, a pro-American organization, declares that Pakistan needed 50 billion US dollars in next five years to prevent economic collapse lamenting that production had fallen by 8 % owing to disturbed situation in the country. The IMF did not lag behind and rushed to relax Pakistan’s financial deficit target for 2009-10 in order to boost growth.

In this well-laid out political background, Pakistani President proceeded on a formal three-day visit to the US last week. Besides meeting with President Obama, he had brief meetings with the British Prime Minister and the French President in Paris. By all standards this was a very successful visit abroad and Pakistan was able to achieve its objective to a large extent, thanks to Pakistani diplomats who had prepared the ground for the event.

The US House of Representatives has approved US dollars 1.9 billion by way of aid to Pakistan for her “war on terror”. UK committed 640 million pounds (989 million US dollars) for next 4 years. Under President Obama’s “New Strategy of War on Terror”, the US is likely to pour more funds into Pakistan’s kitty.

But the support committed by the French President Sarkozy to Islamabad is revealing. France agreed to transfer civilian nuclear technology to Pakistan to help her overcome energy deficiency. Actually France will be competing with the US that has concluded a civil nuclear deal with India late last year and the French President bluntly said that his country would bring Pakistan at par with India in civilian nuclear technology sector. Besides this, France has committed 409 million US dollars as her share of aid to Pakistan.

During last week’s tour aboard, President Zardari has also concluded bilateral agreements with Libya over a range of bilateral economic and financial cooperation, banking sector and opening of a Pakistan-Libya Bank besides subsidiaries for oil, gas and agricultural projects.

All this hefty package of financial aid comes on the plea that Pakistan is fighting America’s war on terror. But taking the reports of huge financial assistance to Pakistan into view, there is no conditionality clause anywhere though in words much is said about Pakistan desired to take “more action” on the ground. Pakistan claims that 1.4 million people are displaced and over half a million have been lately added to them who are now registered in NWFP. According to an estimate made by official circles in Pakistan, the government needs 600 to 800 million US dollars by way of support to the IDPs from war-torn regions in NWFP. Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan has asked for 544 million US dollars but says that in case of expansion of conflict, many more people would get uprooted and the estimates of restoration plan would consequently escalate.

The concept behind vast funding is that prevention of economic and political dismemberment of Pakistan is a guarantee to the security and safety of her nuclear arsenal. This is a bizarre piece of logic taking into account the past history of rise of theo-fascism in the region. The question is that when a strong section of Pakistani Army, especially the cadres below the age of 30, a formidable segment of powerful ISI and the feudal lords are all in unison over the power crescendo of militant organizations in that country, will these enormous cash doles cure the disease afflicting Pakistani society or work as just pain killers and sedatives? Would it not be more realistic for the US and her western allies to deal directly with traditional tribal chiefs and warlords of NWFP eschewing the intermediation of US’s blue boys in Pakistan politics? Three centuries ago the British colonialists had thoughtfully devised that rewarding strategy. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University)

*K.N. Pandita: Born in Baramulla, Kashmir in 1929 did graduation from St. Joseph’s College in Arts with English literature. The tribal raid of October 1947 destroyed his family like hundreds of other Kashmiri Hindu families in Baramulla.

After doing M.A. from Punjab University, he served as Lecturer in State Degree Colleges and in 1958 earned a scholarship from the Indian Ministry of Education for higher studies at the University of Teheran, Iran. Four years of study and research at the University of Teheran earned him a Ph.D. in Iranian Studies. He joined Kashmir University in 1963 and it’s Centre of Central Asian Studies in 1976. He rose to become Professor and Director of this Centre till his superannuation in 1987. He is not only the first Kashmiri to obtain Ph.D. from Teheran University but is also the first to have worked in close collaboration with a number of Central Asian Academies of Science particularly the Tajik Academy. His travelogue titled My Tajik Friends won him Sovietland Nehru Award 1987.
Copyrights © 2007 Shehjar online and . Any content, including but not limited to text, software, music, sound, photographs, video, graphics or other material contained may not be modified, copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, or distributed in any form or context without written permission. Terms & Conditions .

The views expressed are solely the author's and not necessarily the views of Shehjar or its owners. Content and posts from such authors are provided "AS IS", with no warranties, and confer no rights. The material and information provided iare for general information only and should not, in any respect, be relied on as professional advice. Neither nor represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other information displayed, uploaded, or distributed through the Service by any user, information provider or any other person or entity. You acknowledge that any reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement, memorandum, or information shall be at your sole risk.