FUTURE OF PAKISTAN: DEATH AND DESTRUCTION LIKE HER BIRTH IN 1947
Date: 25 Mar 2007
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 23, 2007
An Islamist insurgency is afoot in Pakistan, posing a dire threat of overthrowing Musharraf.
And this may happen sooner rather than later.
If the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is created, it means Islamists get their hands on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. This, in turn, means that such weapons will then be passed to the new regime’s allies – which will include, among others, the Iranian mullahs, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
To discuss this nightmare scenario with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests today
B. Raman, the former head of the counter-terrorism division of the Research & Analysis Wing, India's CIA, and a well-know analyst of jihadi terrorism. He has been closely following the activities of the jihadi terrorist groups in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region and writing and speaking extensively on the subject.
Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, the author of Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. He is Head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the Institute of
Defence and Strategic Studies in Singapore.
Steve Schippert, co-founder of the Center for Threat Awareness and managing editor for ThreatsWatch.org.
Daveed Gartenstein Ross, a
counterterrorism consultant. He is the author of the new book, My Year Inside Radical Islam, which documents his time working at the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, an international Wahhabi charity that proved to be an al-Qaeda financier.
Thomas Joscelyn, an expert on the international terrorist network.
FP: B. Raman, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, Steve Schippert, Daveed Gartenstein Ross and Thomas Joscelyn, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
Steve Schippert, let’s begin with you.
Please tell me that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not a
Schippert: It is quite realistic, I am afraid. The fall of the Musharraf government - and with it, Pakistan's nuclear arsenal - to a murky cabal of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the ISI and other Islamist fellow travelers would be a horrifying potential turn of events. As I have said, the face of the conflict we think we know would change in horrific fashion overnight. It must be acknowledged, however, that this is a worst-case scenario and not an absolute certainty. That said, the consequences would be so
grave that it must be considered soberly and with greater urgency than that currently afforded the Iranian nuclear crisis.
What we know is that there are elements of Musharraf's government (military and intelligence) that are sympathetic to al-Qaeda and/or the Taliban. We can reasonably surmise that his recent agreements with tribal leaders, such as the Miramshah Agreement in North Waziristan, are in response to his ineffectiveness in the tribal regions. More agreements are coming, for instance in Bajour and potentially the whole of the North-West Frontier Province. These agreements have and will cede control of significant swaths of territory to what I refer to as the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance, different groups with differing objectives and both aided in large part by at least a portion of the ISI, the Pakistani military intelligence service. Yet, even as Musharraf bends to their demands, they hate him no
less and disregard agreed-to terms without fear of consequence.
There have been numerous assassination attempts against Musharraf, the last disturbingly included the participation of two the former General's own Air Force commanders. As a friend often reminds, however, Pervez Musharraf is without doubt a shrewd politician and a survivor. Yet, the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance is believed to have amassed combined-forces strength of about 200,000 fighters throughout the FATA and NWFP region.
In the end, one bullet or blast potentially separates the various Islamist groups from the 30 to 50 nuclear warheads in Pakistan's arsenal and the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
In an immediate aftermath, India is most at risk. Perhaps this had a hand in the recent agreement reached between
India and the Musharraf government to ensure communications between the two rivals in order to 'avoid an accidental nuclear exchange.' It surely is an urgent concern.
Vice President Cheney's recent visit to Islamabad was to deliver the message that Musharraf must do more to eliminate safe havens and to combat the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance fighters streaming into Afghanistan and back. Yet Musharraf is in a rather precarious position. Asked to do too much and his actions may inspire an all-out insurgency shifted toward Islamabad rather than Kabul.
The question, perhaps academic, is whether Musharraf can survive - whether he leans forward or continues to tolerate Islamist control of the
border regions. And, if the US perceives he can survive the latter but not the former, is it willing to cede his relative inaction internally in exchange for his trustworthy stewardship of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal?
FP: Thank you Steve Schippert. Thomas Jocelyn, what is your take on Mr. Schippert's reading of the threat?
Joscelyn: Steve is right. Predicting Musharraf’s future, as well as the future of Pakistan, is fraught with uncertainties. But the consequences of a nuclear-armed Pakistan falling to al Qaeda and its Islamist allies are so dire that there is no more important issue today. And with Pakistan ceding large portions of territory – e.g. in North Waziristan and probably more territory in the near future – the fear that Musharraf will not be able to contain the Islamist hydra is certainly justified. Even with Musharraf still in power, Pakistan is unquestionably a
central front. For readers who are not immersed in these issues, let me lay out three concrete ways the tenuous situation in Pakistan impacts the current “war on terror.”
The first has to do with the ability of so-called “al Qaeda central” to orchestrate terrorist attacks. Numerous reports indicate that senior al Qaeda officials operate out of the mountainous border region separating Pakistan and Afghanistan. And plots around the world have been traced to their doorsteps. (On a side note:
There is also a substantial body of evidence indicating that senior al Qaeda officials continue to operate from Iran as well.) The most well-known of the plots traced to Pakistani soil are those executed or attempted in England over the last few years, including the July 7, 2005 London bombings. Initially, some analysts tried to claim that the 7-7 bombings were executed by a group of radicals who were inspired by al Qaeda, but did not receive any active direction from senior al Qaeda leaders. This is now, as it was previously, demonstrably false. There are numerous ties between the London plotters and the terror network operating out of Pakistan. As Brian Ross of ABC News recently told viewers during an interview, intelligence compiled by the British indicates that the last three attempted/executed attacks in the
UK were coordinated from Pakistan. Thus, we should be very worried about the ability of al Qaeda’s senior leaders to play a leading role in future terrorist attacks around the globe, especially if they are able to operate with impunity in what was once northern Pakistan.
The second issue concerns the future of Afghanistan. The Taliban, al Qaeda and their allies are once again resurgent. Their ability to attack
coalition forces, who are trying to stabilize the broken nation, has steadily grown. There is no doubt that the safe haven our terrorist enemies enjoy on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan allows them to orchestrate these attacks with increasing efficacy. They even made a vain attempt to assassinate Vice President Cheney during his recent visit to the region. As one anonymous senior Afghan government official told the Associated Press afterwards, “We understand now that the U.S. government realizes that in order to stop terrorism in Afghanistan and to stop terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, there must be a clear fight against terrorism in
The third issue, which is in no way less important than the first two, concerns ongoing terrorist attacks against India. Pakistan’s intelligence services have long supported Islamist terrorist operations inside India. It has been a prominent part of Pakistan’s ongoing proxy war. Recently, there has been some rapprochement between senior
Indian and Pakistani government officials. The two sides are attempting to limit cross-border terrorism as well as prevent Islamists from triggering a devastating nuclear exchange. As al Qaeda and its allies continue to operate from northern Pakistan, however, there is a significant possibility that they will undermine any possibility of future progress by continuing to attack Indian civilians. It is also clear that some parts of Pakistan’s intelligence service and military do not want see these talks achieve any measure of success and are therefore willing to continue sponsoring terror attacks. Will Musharraf be willing and able to rein them in? It remains to be seen.
These are just three of the many problems coming out of Pakistan that the world faces today. Obviously, should Pakistan fall to al Qaeda and its allies then these problems will be magnified immeasurably. There is no easy solution, I would argue. But I look forward to hearing the other symposium participants’ thoughts on this crucial topic.
are four possible negative scenarios:
Scenario #1: (Worrisome Probability): Musharraf is removed from the scene either by death due to natural causes or through assassination either by a terrorist or an accomplice of the jihadi terrorists inside the armed forces. Another Army officer will takeover, hold elections after an interregnum and hand over power to the political parties, while retaining the control of the Army and the ISI over the national security and nuclear establishments. This is what happened when Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash in August, 1988.
Scenario #2: (Medium Probability): The Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam) created by Musharraf and its allies, who are loyal to him, do badly in the elections due later this year or even lose them. A coalition consisting of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, and the religious political parties is voted to power. Musharraf will have only two options: Either prove his democratic credentials by handing over power to them or
refuse to do so or avoid doing so. If he adopts the first option, the world may not have much to worry about. If he adopts the second option, there could be a mass uprising as happened in East Pakistan in 1971 when the Army refused to honour the election verdict. There would be considerable instability of which the beneficaries could be the fundamentalists and the jihadis.
Scenario #3: (Low probability): A group of Army and ISI officers unhappy over his perceived
co-operation with the US overthrow him, assume power and stop co-operation with the US in its war against terrorism. Such a coup will have some public and political support in the interregnum. It will particularly enjoy the support of the fundamentalists and the jihadi terrorists. But, the new Army leadership staging the anti-Musharraf coup will retain its control over the nuclear establishment and will not allow the fundamentalists and the jihadis to come anywhere near it. It will step up terrorism against India and the Hamid Karzai Government in Kabul, but will try to ensure that there are no acts of terrorism from Pakistani territory against the US, its nationals and interests outside Afghanistan.
Scenario #4: (Even lower probability): There is an Islamic uprising similar to what one saw in Iran in 1978-79 and the Sunni/Wahabi terrorists take over power and assume control over the national security/nuclear establishments. Such a scenario will have very serious consequences for the international community, but is unlikely in the short term, but one cannot rule it out in the long term.
The most likely scenario as of today is that Musharraf will continue to be in power; he will manipulate the next elections, with the US closing its eyes, in order to ensure the victory of the parties loyal to him; will continue to use terrorism against India while making a pretence of stopping it; will continue to keep the Neo Taliban alive and kicking hoping one day it could come back to power in Kabul and carry out the Pakistani agenda; and will extend co-operation to the US in its operations against Al Qaeda to the extent he can do so without undermining his own position. Jihadi terrorism originating from Pakistan will continue in the short term.
I have always held the view that if there is an act of jihadi terrorism anywhere in the world in which a WMD is used, it would have almost certainly originated from Pakistan or Chechnya. In Pakistan, the military has effective control over the nuclear establishment and I visualise no danger of the jihadis getting control of the nuclear material. The danger at present is of Al Qaeda or other organisations getting hold of WMD-capable material from elsewhere and managing to convert them into usable weapons with the knowledge, expertise and experience of serving and retired Pakistani scientists. Many Pakistani scientists, who are
religiously inclined, are members of the Tablighi Jamaat and do missionary/charity work for it during their annual vacation.
Past reports in the Pakistani media had referred to the participation of some unidentified Pakistani scientists in the annual conventions of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).Documents reportedly recovered by the US troops in Afghanistan in 2001 exposed the contacts of two retired nuclear scientists---Sultan Bashiruddin Mohammad (Canada trained) and Abdul Majid-- even with Al Qaeda. Retired senior officers of the Army and the ISI such as Lt.Gen.Hamid Gul, ISI chief under Benazir Bhutto during her first tenure as the Prime Minister, Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, the chief of the ISI under Nawaz Sharif, and Lt.Gen.Mahmood Ahmed, the
chief of the ISI under Musharraf, who was removed by Musharraf in October, 2001, under US pressure are among those actively assisting the Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and the jihadi organisations active in India. They share two qualities---a hatred of India and an equally strong hatred of the US. Musharraf is aware of their activities, but is keeping his eyes closed, because they have many supporters among the serving officers of the Army and the ISI. Similarly, there must be many retired scientists who must be in touch with the jihadis---either for money or out of ideological affinity. I am most worried about them. Bashiruddin and Majid were the tip of the iceberg. Neither India nor the US knows much about the jihadi
influence on the Pakistani scientific community. The intelligence agencies of the two countries should pool their efforts to find out more about the WMD iceberg and neutralise it in time.
Gunaratna: After the US-led coalition intervention in Afghanistan, the ground zero of terrorism has moved to the FATA in Pakistan. Pakistan needs all the support the international community can give to fight both terrorism - but more importantly -
Musharraf is America's most pivotal ally in the fight against terrorism. More than 25% of detainees in Gitmo were captured in Pakistan by the government agencies of Pakistan -- especially ISI and IB working with the CIA. If Musharraf is assassinated, he will be succeeded by a group of officers that will follow the same line Musharraf is towing. I have no doubt that the nuclear infrastructure of
Pakistan will be protected. To ensure that the anti-jihadist leaders like Musharraf remains in power and survives in Pakistan, the West must work even more closely with Pakistan and support Islamabad.
Gartenstein Ross: One of the problems with predicting Pakistan’s future is that there are a lot of unknowns about the country’s
politics. In particular, there is an enormous amount that Western and other intelligence agencies do not know because of the fluid nature of the Pakistani military’s politics. If Musharraf is overthrown, who will have the support of key generals and officers? Our intelligence services cannot say with confidence. But we do know that factions within Pakistan’s military aren’t afraid to step in and take control. Three Pakistani governments—those of Ayub Khan, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and Musharraf—grew out of military coups.
To that extent, I think B. Raman does a good job of running through possible negative scenarios for changes in
Pakistan’s leadership. However, I would add a fifth possibility: A group of Army and ISI officers ideologically sympathetic to al-Qaeda and Taliban factions overthrows Musharraf and seizes control. This cadre could include the likes of Hamid Gul and Aslam Beg. They may stop cooperation with the U.S. in the war against terror, or even make a pretense of helping while in actuality allowing terrorists to continue training, planning, and functioning. In that case, what becomes of the nuclear arsenal? While I have great respect for Rohan Gunaratna, I am nowhere near as confident as him that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal will be safeguarded against extremists.
It is worth emphasizing B. Raman’s statement that Musharraf is avoiding confrontation with the likes of Hamid Gul, Javed Nasir, and Mahmood Ahmed because of their influence among army officers and the ISI. These gentlemen have influence not only with high-level officers, but also among the rank-and-file. If these men have enough support that Musharraf feels compelled to back down from a confrontation, we must take seriously their chance of seizing power. Pakistan’s history is replete with examples of swift change at the governmental level, either through assassinations or doctored elections. There’s no reason to believe that this penchant for instability has ended.
Also alarming is Musharraf’s increasing inability to effectively direct his own military. Adnkronos International recently reported that Musharraf was unable to order an air strike on a madrassa in his own capital city because his air force refused to carry out the attack.
Overall, there are no good answers to the problem of Pakistan at present. Analysts and policymakers are at a loss not only about how to safeguard
Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, but also when it comes to addressing the problems that exist even with Musharraf in power (which Thomas Joscelyn does an excellent job of outlining). The fact that we don’t have good answers to current problems means that we need to carefully think through the perilous situations that may arise in the future, including worst-case scenarios. The U.S. had not even contemplated the destruction of Iraq’s Askariya mosque that occurred in February 2006. We were thus unprepared for the sectarian violence that subsequently engulfed the country. The consequences of being caught by surprise in
Pakistan could be even deadlier.
Schippert: Daveed hit the nail on the head in saying that there are no good answers to the Pakistan problem at present. The nature of the relationships among the governments, groups and peoples of the Pakistan/Afghanistan region seem to serve to impede an outsider's understanding. The manner in which the various actors simultaneously push both against and in concert with one another, creating a swirling and uncertain cloud of activity, can intimidate even the most capable Western observers.
B. Raman and Rohan Gunaratna are among few peers when it comes to publicly available study of both Pakistan and al-Qaeda. I hope readers here can fully appreciate their input, both in this symposium and elsewhere.
With that, we should all hope B. Raman's view that Musharraf will most likely survive any assassination attempts and stay in power, thus providing continued trustworthy stewardship of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Should he be assassinated (or,
less likely, driven out), then we should all subsequently hope that he would be succeeded by like-minded Generals who would continue on just as Musharraf has. Short of a stable, assertive and strong anti-Taliban and anti-al-Qaeda Pakistani government capable of engaging and defeating those forces within its own territory, these are the two best possible outcomes.
However hopeful, I also do not share the optimism that generals loyal to Musharraf would retain power after his demise. Powerful groups and individuals in Pakistan are certainly unlikely to execute an assassination without preparations to fill the power void it would
leave behind. Otherwise, were Musharraf-aligned generals to be left to assume control and lead as he had, one would have to believe that an assassination of Musharraf would be intended as merely a personal punishment rather than a power play, which is almost never the case historically. Why attempt an assassination only to get more of the same?
The mention of Pakistani nuclear scientists Sultan Bashiruddin Mohammad and Abdul Majid and their jihadi contacts is timely, considering the reports that to two Pakistani nuclear scientists were recently kidnapped from a Pakistani nuclear facility in the North-West Frontier Province by the Taliban and are said to have done so at the behest of al-Qaeda. The veracity of this particular report notwithstanding, its plausibility demonstrates the multi-faceted WMD risk Pakistan presents. It's not just nuclear warheads, though clearly the most dangerous. Pakistan is a state with myriad WMD technological capability and human resources that exists within a spiralling nexus of terrorist activity.
At the end of the day, one thing remains clear: While the regime in Tehran must be changed, the Musharraf regime in Pakistan must be preserved, regardless how messy the former or how imperfect the latter. The alternatives for Pakistan are clearly uncertain, as demonstrated here in the shared views of observers I hold great respect for. Uncertainty and nuclear weapons are a dangerous proposition.
FP: Let’s narrow in a bit on how the
U.S. can best preserve the Musharraf regime.
Joscelyn: In terms of preserving Musharraf’s regime, there are a number of key issues. But, two of them stand out: (1) Senior U.S. officials need to convince Musharraf that appeasement is a feckless and dangerous strategy and (2) The U.S. and Musharraf’s regime need to work together to limit the reach of Musharraf’s most deadly rivals, who
also pose a significant threat to U.S. interests. As Daveed righly points out, however, the U.S. understands little of what is going on inside Pakistan. So, both of these are easier said than done. But here are some quick thoughts on why these are both necessary tactics.
As for the first tactic, the Pakistani government’s appeasement strategy – that is, ceding large portions of territory to the Taliban and its allies – is untenable. It not only provides America’s terrorist enemies with a vital safe haven, but also Musharraf’s enemies (whether he sees them as such or not). B. Raman explains that Musharraf’s regime, if it stays in power, “will continue to keep the Neo Taliban alive and kicking hoping one day it could come back to power in Kabul.” I have no doubt that Mr. Raman is right, but there is a big problem for Musharraf in this scenario. By gambling on the Neo Taliban’s resurgence, Musharraf and his
cohorts are ignoring the fact that this is 2007, and not the 1990’s. While the Taliban could be counted on as a mostly-loyal Pakistani ally after its rise to power in the 1990s, it no longer can be trusted for a variety of reasons. The Neo Taliban has clearly aligned itself with Islamist forces who threaten Musharraf’s very life. Musharraf has sought to quell his opposition and maintain power by simply conceding large portions of territory to the Islamists. But this short-sighted strategy only pushes off a potentially more deadly confrontation into the future, and is not a real strategy for maintaining long-term, pro-Musharraf stability inside Pakistan.
Some will no doubt argue that Musharraf’s hand has been forced, and he has no other realistic options. The thinking is that Musharraf’s tenuous grip on power can only be preserved by avoiding a direct confrontation with his enemies, thus his concessions are necessary. This is rubbish. These concessions have not dissuaded Musharraf’s enemies from trying to assassinate him. Nor have they prevented his enemies from orchestrating further attacks against Western targets from what was formerly Pakistani soil. And the West cannot afford to make excuses for these concessions.
Think of it this way: We know that last year’s plot to bring down roughly 10 U.S. bound airliners, which were flying out of the UK, was orchestrated by terrorists with numerous ties to the terror network operating out of Pakistan. Some press reports even indicate that Musharraf’s regime played a key role in preventing the plot from coming to fruition. But, let’s say that a similar plot or
any other massive attack is executed in the near future from the territories Musharraf’s regime has handed over to the Islamists. What do you think the response of the U.S. and British governments will be? Will they look the other way on Musharraf’s concessions? Or, will their people demand action against the terrorists operating from these conceded lands?
It is, therefore, in both Musharraf’s and the West’s
interests to roll back these concessions. It is better for them to jointly pursue their enemies now, instead of allowing them more time and space to operate.
As for the second tactic, it makes no sense for Musharraf to pretend that he can ignore the duplicity of current and former senior ISI and military officers. Again, B. Raman correctly points out, “Musharraf is aware of their activities, but is keeping his eyes closed, because they have many supporters among
the serving officers of the Army and the ISI.” Among the most dangerous of these officials is the aforementioned Hamid Gul, the former ISI chief. Gul has been at the epicenter of al Qaeda’s vast terror network since its inception in the 1980’s. He is a true believer in the cause and is inextricably linked to the network of terrorists who pose such a deadly threat to Western and Indian interests today. He has provided vital aid and intelligence to al Qaeda throughout the group’s existence and there is no indication that his activities have diminished. He is also among Musharraf’s chief rivals. He is, therefore, an enemy of both Musharraf and the U.S. and there is no reason that he should be allowed to continue to operate. It is in the interests of both Musharraf’s regime and the U.S. to cease the activities of Gul and his ilk
Those are just two steps the U.S. should take to help preserve Musharraf’s regime. In both cases, they are also essential aspects of the “war on terror.”
Raman: In the Pakistan Army, the moderates are still in an overwhelming majority among the serving officers in the ranks of Majors-General and Lts-General. They should be the constituency of the US, instead of keeping its attention focussed exclusively on Musharraf. The US should interact actively with the moderate officers, who are unhappy with growing jihadisation in the bordering areas. The proportion of fundamentalist/jihadi elements in the ranks of NCOs is about one-third of the total strength. This is not an insignificant number. A determined and well-motivated minority can prevail over the majority and capture power as we saw in Russia during the October Revolution and during the Nazi take-over in
How to neutralise them and how to ensure that recruitment to the army at least in future keeps out potential jihadi elements is another issue that should engage US attention.Zia-ul-Haq facilitated the entry of fundamentalist elements into the Army by giving the certificates issued by the madrasas equivalence to the diplomas/degrees issued by non-religious educational institutions. This is potentially an explosive issue, but ways have to be found of pressurising Musharraf and the Army leadership to reverse the mischief created by Zia. Musharraf added to Zia's mischief by giving the madrasa degrees equivalence to degrees of non-religious
universities for purposes of elections to the Parliament and the provincial Assemblies. He made a college degree obligatory for contesting elections. As a result, many non-religious, meaning not fundamentalists, politicians were kept out of the elections because they were not graduates. Many jihadis got elected in the FATA, NWFP and Balochistan because of their madrasa degrees.
There has to be a whole basket of measures---short, medium and long-term--- to weed out the jihadi elements in Pakistan and sterilise them. Neither the CIA nor India's R&AW has the faintest idea about the
extent of penetration of jihadi elements into Pakistan's scientific community. The two should undertake a crash joint operation to identify the penetration of jihadi elements into the scientific community and examine ways of neutralising them. So much needs to be done. The current developments in Pakistan over the suspended Chief Justice issue have considerably embarrassed Musharraf, but not yet significantly weakened him. The US has been strongly backing him and pressurising Benazir and Nawaz not to add to the difficulties of Musharraf at this juncture. The US cannot afford serious instability in Pakistan at a time when the Neo Taliban is threatening to step
up its attacks in Afghanistan.
Gunaratna: Yesterday I flew back from Karachi, after a week in Islamabad and Lahore. I was a part of the Pakistan-ASEAN dialogue. As student of Pakistan for over 15 years, my observations are as follows.
First, the jihadist threat, intertwined with Islamist politics, is growing. Musharraf has been effective to dismantle Al Qaeda and foreign groups but the local jihadist groups have survived. Politically, Musharraf has done a lot - he can do more, provided the West continues to support him.
Second, Pakistan has not witnessed such a high rate of economic growth ever before., If their economy grows at this current pace, in 15 years, Pakistan will have an economy in par with the East Asian Tigers.
Third, the West must invest more in Pakistan to ensure that its economy will grow at the current rate. This will also
strengthen the hand of Musharraf and his long list of "likes" to succeed him. The military and law enforcement and intelligence academies of US, Europe and Australia, New Zealand and other developed countries must offer scholarships and fellowships to Pakistani officers to ensure that its future leaders are responsible and friendly to both East and the West.
Pakistan's future is determined not only by the Pakistani
and its leaders but by the international community. US assistance has helped in a major way. For instance, the Ministry of Defence of Pakistan has created a Strategic Plans Division under a Major General to secure the nations strategic infrastructure and personnel. There are 15,000 Pakistani scientists and technicians working in this community. They have come under greater scrutiny and will remain so in the foreseeable future. This is a major step but it is no guarantee that its scientists will not be recruited by terrorists or extremists. But the creation of a dedicated division with controls and oversight is a step in the right direction.
Gartenstein-Ross: One problem with U.S. counterterrorism policy is that it tends to be reactive rather than pro-active. Most government analysts weren’t paying attention to the situation in the Waziristan area of Pakistan until late last year when the mainstream media picked up on it. The U.S. stood idly by while the Islamic Courts Union took power in Somalia last year, and after Ethiopia’s intervention we’re not doing enough to prevent the burgeoning insurgency in that country. It seems that this panel has emerged with a consensus that Pakistan is currently one of the two most critical areas in the global war on terror because its terrorist safe haven significantly helps extremist forces in Afghanistan and because of the possibility of a “nightmare scenario” if Musharraf falls from power. (The other critical area is Iraq, which is already receiving much attention from high levels of government.) Hopefully policymakers, analysts, and other officials will be pro-active in Pakistan rather than standing by idly as the situation in that country
I said before that there isn’t a good answer to the situation in Pakistan, but the suggestions put forward by this panel would make a far better starting point for a comprehensive U.S. policy than the efforts that are currently being undertaken. I think the most important recommendation is B. Raman’s focus on the informational approach: U.S. and Indian intelligence do need to undertake “a crash joint operation,” as he puts it—not just to identify jihadist elements in Pakistan’s scientific community, but also in other areas that can help us better understand Pakistan.
What emerges from this panel, I believe, is a four-pronged
approach. The first prong, as I already discussed, is informational: we need to learn more, as it will make us more effective in dealing with Pakistan. The second prong is diplomatic, as Thomas Joscelyn suggests. We need to convince Musharraf to move away from the course of appeasement that he has been following, as it jeopardizes the U.S.’s security, and ultimately jeopardizes Pakistan as well. (In this regard, Pakistan’s signing of the new Bajaur Accord is not a good sign.) The third prong is engaging the
internal dynamics of Pakistan. This includes efforts to weed out jihadist elements (in the Pakistani military, the ISI, and beyond), and by engaging moderate officers within the Pakistani military as B. Raman suggests. The fourth prong, as Rohan Gunaratna suggests, is economic: helping to ensure continued growth of the Pakistani economy.
These four steps would comprise a far more sensible Pakistan policy than our current efforts.
FP: B. Raman, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, Steve Schippert, Daveed Gartenstein Ross and Thomas Joscelyn, thank you for joining