"U.S. POLICY TOWARD PAKISTAN"
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF HUSAIN HAQQANI
DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, BOSTON UNIVERSITY AND SENIOR FELLOW, HUDSON INSTITUTE
BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MARCH 21, 2007
I am grateful to you and the members of this Subcommittee for inviting me to appear before you today. As a Pakistani now living in the United States, I consider it an honor to testify before this Subcommittee and share my views, formed over a lifetime of love for Pakistan and affection for the United States, on the subject of U.S.-Pakistan relations.
At the outset, let me begin by saying that close relations between Pakistan and the United States are in the interest of both nations. The United States needs the friendship of a stable and democratic Pakistan in its struggle against global extremism and terrorism. Pakistan would benefit enormously from alliance with the world's sole superpower and first democracy. But the relationship between the two countries must be nuanced beyond the exchange of aid and policy concessions that has characterized their interaction over the last sixty years.
Pakistan has been an ally of the United States during the cold war, in the war of resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and currently in the global war against terror. Each period of close U.S.-Pakistan ties began with great hopes and ended up in tremendous disappointment for both sides. The U.S. provided large amounts of aid and showered praise on Pakistan's military rulers during the phase of strategic cooperation, only to turn off the flow of aid when circumstances changed. Pakistan's military rulers failed to keep their own end of the bargain in most cases and failed to tell the Pakistani people the truth about why the quid pro quo came to an end, leading ordinary Pakistanis to hate the United States notwithstanding the significant amounts of economic and military aid previously disbursed.
During the Eisenhower administration, Pakistan was referred to as "the most allied ally of America in Asia." But then, during much of the 1990s, Pakistan ended up as "America's most sanctioned ally when Congress imposed sanctions over a range of issues ranging from acquisition of nuclear weapons to human rights violations and lack of democracy.
Since 9/11, the focus of U.S. policy towards Pakistan has been a replay of previous periods of engagement. Once again, large amounts of U.S. economic and military assistance, and covert aid, are flowing into Pakistan because the country's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, gave up support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and chose to become an American ally. The policy has had some benefits. Pakistani support was crucial in the U.S. effort to oust the Taliban from Kabul and most senior Al-Qaeda figures now in U.S. custody were also arrested and handed over by Pakistan's security services. But Pakistan plays a contradictory role in the struggle against global Islamist terrorism -it is considered both part of the solution and part of the problem.
Most discussion in Washington sees General Musharraf rather than the Pakistani nation as the lynchpin of American policy in the region. Actual and budgeted amounts of U.S. aid for Pakistan during the period 2001-2008 total $ 5.174 billions. It is estimated that an additional $ 100 million are given each month as reimbursement for Pakistan's costs in Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terror. There are no publicly available estimates for covert transfers of funds to Pakistan's army and intelligence services.
In addition to lavish praise, generous economic and military assistance and the status of a major non-NATO ally, General Musharraf's regime has been given a virtual carte blanche on human rights violations and his failure to allow the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Let me give a recent example of the U.S. government's attitude towards General Musharraf.
A few days ago, the Pakistani ruler fired the Supreme Court Chief Justice, leading to massive demonstrations against which police used rubber bullets and tear gas. When independent television stations, allowed amid U.S. diplomatic praise by Musharraf over the last five years as a sign of his commitment to pluralism, refused to stop visual coverage of the anti-Government demonstrations, police attacked and smashed the studios of the country's most-watched TV channel. The State Department's comments called for "restraint on all sides" and department spokesman Sean McCormack insisted that Musharraf was "acting in the best interests of Pakistan and the Pakistani people."
This personalization of relations between the world's sole superpower and a nuclear-armed nation of 150-million people is not the best way forward for either. It does not fulfil even the short-term purpose of securing Pakistan's cooperation in the global war against terrorism. Pakistan continues to be a major center for Islamist militancy, the legacy of the country's projection of itself as an Islamic ideological state and a bastion of religion- based opposition to communism during the cold war.
Radical Islamists who came from all over the world to fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan went on to become allies of Pakistan's military intelligence apparatus, which used them to fight Indian control over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir as well as to expand Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan. Musharraf's efforts, under U.S. pressure, to contain the Islamist radicals have consistently fallen short, leading to a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and a revitalization of Al-Qaeda in the rugged region constituting the Pakistan-Afghan border.
Most American analysts have been focused since 9/11 on Musharraf's ability to remain in power and keep up the juggling act between alliance with the United States and controlling various domestic constituencies, including the Pakistani military and Islamist militants.
Musharraf says that he is a leader dedicated to changing Pakistan's course from being an Islamic ideological state to a moderate Muslim country. But the imbalance between Pakistan's perceived external importance and proven internal weakness raises fundamental questions about the dysfunction of the Pakistani state. Careful examination indicates that Musharraf's eclectic policies are aimed less at changing Pakistan's direction and more part of an effort to salvage a critical policy paradigm adopted by Pakistan's military-led oligarchy since the country's early days.
That Musharraf will be able to retain power as long as the United States and the Pakistan military continue to support him is not in doubt. Barring unforeseen events, such as assassination or incapacitation by natural causes, or an unanticipated massive popular uprising that shifts the military allegiances, Musharraf seems able to preside indefinitely over a weakening Pakistani state. But there is more to Pakistan than Musharraf and sooner or later U.S. policy makers will have to turn their attention to the state of the Pakistani state.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Tribal Areas
In the years since 9/11, Musharraf's critics have attributed his failure in rooting out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to a deliberate policy decision. Musharraf has time and again made a distinction between anti-US terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda, who need to be eliminated or fought, and local Islamist insurgents (whether Afghan, Pakistani or Kashmiri) who can be engaged in dialogue. India and Afghanistan have both repeatedly accused Pakistan of continuing to support terrorists targeting the two neighbors with whom Pakistan has had disputes since emerging as an independent country from the 1947 partition of British India.
As violence spiraled in Kabul and the Afghan countryside at the end of 2006, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai stepped up his criticism of Pakistan's role in supporting a resurgent Taliban. "Pakistan hopes to make slaves out of us, but we will not surrender," Karzai declared in a statement that marked the end of quiet diplomacy between two American allies and the beginning of more public condemnation of Pakistan by Afghanistan.
Under U.S. pressure, Pakistan has intermittently applied military force against pro-Taliban and pro-Al-Qaeda Pashtun tribesmen living along the Afghan border. But the tribesmen managed to inflict heavy casualties on the Pakistan military and in the end the government agreed to a ceasefire under a deal that restored the tribes' autonomy in return for a commitment that they would not provide sanctuary to enemies of Pakistan. The deal would have been fine if it had helped in rooting out the Taliban or Al-Qaeda but instead it simply perpetuated their influence in parts of the federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Musharraf's deals with the tribal leaders have proven ineffective in ending militancy and terrorism. The Taliban stepped up their attacks inside Afghanistan and suicide bombings in Pakistan reached an all-time high within the first two months of 2007. Several press reports based on leaks by American and British intelligence sources spoke of Al-Qaeda's reorganization in Pakistan and tacit Pakistani backing for the Taliban.
The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, attempted to resolve the apparent contradiction between Washington's publicly stated view of Musharraf as a critical U.S. ally in the war against terrorism and the persistent intelligence that terrorists operate and train in Pakistan with relative impunity. "Pakistan has been fighting terrorists for several years and its commitment to counterterrorism remains firm," Mr. Crocker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the hearing on his nomination as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The challenge faced by Pakistan in coming to terms with Taliban fighters along its border with Afghanistan, he explained, lies in a lack of capacity.
Internal Weakness While Pursuing External Strength
In the last week of February 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Islamabad. During his meeting with Musharraf, Cheney conveyed U.S. concerns about the Taliban's resurgence and asked for closer cooperation between the Karzai and Musharraf governments. Cheney pressed Musharraf to do more in the war against terrorism while acknowledging that Musharraf has "been closely allied with us going after al Qaeda." There was no public sign of U.S. support for, and dependence on Musharraf, waning.
If Vice President Cheney needed any reminder of the threat posed by the Taliban, it came in the form of a suicide bombing at the Bagram Military Air Base near Kabul soon after Cheney's arrival there from Pakistan.
The week preceding Vice President Cheney's trip was especially bloody in Pakistan, too. The country was the target of seven suicide attacks within one week, some in relatively quiet parts of the country's heartland. Seventeen people, including a senior civil judge, were killed and 30 wounded in a powerful suicide bombing at the District Courts in the southwestern city of Quetta; Two children were killed and three security force personnel were seriously injured in two separate landmine explosions in Balochistan province, bordering Afghanistan; Sixty-seven people were killed and over 50 wounded in a fire caused by a bomb on two coaches of the India-Pakistan Samjhota (reconciliation) Express train; A woman cabinet minister was killed in central Punjab province by a religious fanatic who disapproved of her going unveiled; Several hundred female students from an Islamic seminary in the center of Islamabad continued their month-long sit-in at a public library, threatening a campaign of suicide bombings to protest curriculum reforms proposed by the government for Pakistan's Islamic seminaries (madrasas).
The events of just that one week should be enough to highlight the increasing impotence of Pakistan's state machinery in the face of growing violence and internal conflict. A compilation of published figures of terrorism-related casualties indicates that 1471 people were killed in Pakistan during 2006, up from 648 terrorism-related fatalities in the preceding year. Of these, 608 were civilians, 325 security personnel and 538 terrorists. In 2005, 430 civilians and 137 terrorists were reported killed but the number of security forces losses were a relatively low 81.
Amid widespread lawlessness and the emboldening of terrorist groups, Pakistan successfully tested the latest version of its long-range nuclear-capable missile, also within the fateful February 2007 week preceding Vice President Cheney's Islamabad visit. The Hatf VI (Shaheen II) ballistic missile, launched from an undisclosed location, is said to have a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,245 miles) and has the capability to hit major cities in India, according to Pakistan's military. Clearly, Pakistan's supposed ability to externally project its power is not matched with the strength of an effective state at home. In the process of building extensive military capabilities, Pakistan's successive rulers have allowed the degradation of essential internal attributes of statehood.
An important attribute of a state is its ability to maintain monopoly, or at least the preponderance, of public coercion. The proliferation of insurgents, militias, Mafiosi and high ordinary criminality reflect the state's weakness in this key area. There are too many non-state actors in Pakistan -ranging from religious vigilantes to criminals - who possess coercive power in varying degrees. In some instances, such as the case of the madrasa students' sit-in at the Islamabad library, the threat of non-state coercion in the form of suicide bombings weakens the state machinery's ability to deal with the challenge to its authority.
2007 is an election year in Pakistan but Musharraf has decided not to risk his position and power at a free poll. He will be "elected" president by the parliament and provincial legislatures that were elected in the tainted 2002 elections just as their term enters its last days. Some observers see Musharraf's decision as reflecting his total hold on power in Pakistan. But Musharraf is consolidating his own position at the risk of further eroding the power and credibility of a state apparatus already in decline.
The Pakistani constitution envisions a parliamentary system of government, with directly elected legislatures at the federal and provincial levels. The President, under the constitution, is head of state and the symbol of the unity of the federation. He is, therefore, elected by an electoral college comprised of the National Assembly, the Senate and the four provincial assemblies. Under the constitutional scheme, the president derives his mandate from the mandate given by the people to their elected representatives.
The four presidents elected under the constitution since its adoption in 1973 (Chaudhry Fazal Elahi, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Farooq Leghari and Rafiq Tarar) were elected by newly elected assemblies at the beginning of their five year terms. Musharraf, on the other hand, is seeking election from assemblies whose own flawed mandate is about to come to an end. Such technical legality is not a substitute for legitimacy. Opposition political parties, notably the secular Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the faction of the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML) led by Nawaz Sharif are already questioning Musharraf's legitimacy more vehemently.
Sharif, who was prime minister at the time of Musharraf's 1999 military coup, and Bhutto have buried their differences and joined forces in an Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD). Although both leaders are in exile at the moment, the prospect of their return to Pakistan to lead anti-Musharraf protests adds another dimension to the potential for instability in the country. Musharraf could arrest them or return them into exile but the Pakistani opposition would almost certainly be energized by the homecoming of the two politicians who led Pakistan through its weak democratic phase in the decade preceding Musharraf's military takeover. Musharraf accuses Bhutto and Sharif of corruption but the charges, previously believed widely, have lost their significance because of the government's failure in obtaining a conviction against the two leaders in a court of law.
The PPP and PML remain the country's largest mainstream political parties and both have the capacity to mobilize popular support for the state's action against terrorists. Instead of courting their leaders, Musharraf has attempted to divide the two parties. U.S. diplomats have directly or indirectly supported Musharraf's domestic policies by hinting that Sharif and Bhutto should make way for others within their parties, refusing to acknowledge that doing so amounts to endorsing the Pakistani military's right to determine who can or cannot lead the country's political parties.
As of now Musharraf is "president" because he decreed himself so as a result of the rigged referendum held before the legislative elections of 2002, which were deemed by international observers and the U.S. State department as "flawed." Then, too, Musharraf did not seek election under the terms of the constitution and gave himself a waiver from the constitutional bar on employees of the state (a concept that includes serving military officers) holding elective office. Musharraf's term of office, if it can be called that given that he secured the position by fiat and not by election, ends on November 16, 2007. Musharraf's maneuver, to secure election from the outgoing legislatures, is an attempt to ensure that he remains president without having to seek election from new legislatures elected by the people.
Such quasi-legal maneuvers, aided by notions such as the doctrine of necessity and the concept of a military coup being its own legal justification, have been used by Pakistan's military rulers since the country's first coup in 1958 to legitimate their rule. If history is any guide, Pakistan's coup makers have always become politically weaker after manipulating themselves into a second term.
Pakistan's next parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held by the end of 2007, are unlikely to transform the country into a democracy or return it to civilian rule. Musharraf has made it clear that he intends to continue running the country, combining the offices of army chief and president in his own person. Musharraf has persistently rejected opposition demands that he transform into a civilian leader by seeking election under the constitution after retiring from the army. He has gone so far as to say, "At the end of the day I am a soldier and I love to wear the uniform. It is part of me, my second skin."
Given Pakistan's position as a critical ally in the global war against terrorism, neither the United States nor other Western nations are likely to apply serious pressure for political reform. Pakistan has still not been able to evolve into a democracy 59 years after being carved out of British India essentially because many of the country's leaders, including Musharraf, have assumed that the army has the rightful authority to run Pakistan. If there is a common thread running through Pakistan's checkered history, it is the army's perception of itself as the country's only viable institution and its deep-rooted suspicion of civilian political processes.
The United States is viewed by most Pakistanis as being firmly behind the army. The three periods of significant flow of U.S. aid to Pakistan have all coincided with military rule in Pakistan. According to figures provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) between 1954 and 2002, the U.S. provided a total of $ 12.6 billion in economic and military aid to Pakistan. Of these $ 9.19 billion were given during 24 years of military rule while only $ 3.4 billion were provided to civilian regimes covering 19 years. On average, US aid to Pakistan amounted to $ 382.9 million for each year of military rule compared with only $ 178.9 per annum under civilian leadership for the period until 2002. The largesse towards the Musharraf regime almost doubles the average figure of annual aid under military rule.
The Islamist Surge
The international community pays little attention to Musharraf's legitimacy problems and the democratic politicians' sniping at his heels. The U.S. and its allies are concerned more about the rising influence of Pakistan's Islamists, who made their strongest showing in a general election during the 2002 parliamentary polls. The Islamists secured only 11.1 percent of the popular vote but carried 20 percent of the seats in the lower house of parliament. Since then, they have pressed for Taliban-style Islamization in the Northwest Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, where they control the provincial administration. The Islamists' political success, made possible by restrictions on Bhutto and Sharif, flies in the face of Musharraf's repeated pronouncements to re-assure the world of his intention to radically alter Pakistan's policy direction, away from the recent Islamist and Jihadi past.
In a major policy speech on January 12, 2002, Musharraf had announced measures to limit the influence of Islamic militants at home, including those previously described by him as 'Kashmiri freedom fighters'. "No organizations will be able to carry out terrorism on the pretext of Kashmir," he had declared. "Whoever is involved with such acts in the future will be dealt with strongly whether they come from inside or outside the country."
But Musharraf's government has continued to make a distinction between 'terrorists' (a term applied to members of Al-Qaeda members, mainly of foreign origin) and 'freedom fighters' (the officially preferred label in Pakistan for Kashmiri militants). Authorities have remained tolerant of remnants of Afghanistan's Taliban regime, hoping to use them in resuscitating Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan in case the U.S.-installed Karzai regime falters.
This duality in Pakistani policy is a structural problem, rooted in history and a consistent State policy. It is not just the inadvertent outcome of decisions by some governments (beginning with that of General Ziaul Haq in 1977), as is widely believed. Pakistan's leaders have played upon religious sentiment as an instrument of strengthening Pakistan's identity since the country's inception. As any Pakistani elementary school student knows, Pakistan is an 'ideological state' and its ideology is Islam.
Under ostensibly pro-western rulers, Islam has been the rallying cry against perceived Indian threats. Such rulers have attempted to 'manage' militant Islamism, trying to calibrate it so that it serves its nation-building function without destabilizing internal politics or relations with western countries. General Ziaul Haq went farther than others in 'Islamizing' Pakistan's legal and educational system but his policy of Islamization was the extension of a consistent State ideology, not an aberration.
Islamist groups have been sponsored and supported by the State machinery at different times to influence domestic politics and support the military's political dominance. In the South Asian region, the Islamists have been allies in the Pakistan military's efforts to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan and to put pressure on India for negotiations over the future of Kashmir. As is sometimes the case, relations between ideologically motivated clients and their State patrons are not always smooth, which partly explains the inability of Pakistan's generals to completely control the Islamists in the post 9/11 phase. The alliance between the mosque and the military in Pakistan was forged over time, and its character has changed with the twists and turns of Pakistani history.
Pakistan's state institutions, notably national security institutions such as the military and the intelligence services, have played a leading role in building Pakistani national identity on the basis of religion since Pakistan's emergence as an independent country in August 1947. This political commitment to an 'ideological state' gradually evolved into a strategic commitment to the Jihadi ideology, especially during and after the Bangladesh war of 1971. Then, the Pakistani military used Islamist idiom and the help of Islamist groups to keep elected secular leaders supported by the majority Bengali-speaking population out of power. Bengali rebellion and brutal suppression of the Bengalis by the military followed.
In the 1971 war the country was bifurcated with the birth of an independent Bangladesh. In the original country's western wing, the effort to create national cohesion between Pakistan's disparate ethnic and linguistic groups through religion took on greater significance and its manifestations became more militant. Religious groups, both armed and unarmed, have become gradually more powerful as a result of this alliance between the mosque and the military. Radical and violent manifestations of Islamist ideology, which sometimes appear to threaten Pakistan's stability, are in some ways a State project gone wrong.
Cooperation for a Price
Pakistan's alliance with the United States has been an important part of the Pakistani ruling elite's strategy for building the Pakistani state. If Islam was the cement that would unite the disparate ethnic and linguistic groups within Pakistan, the United States was seen as the source of funding for a country that inherited only 17 percent of British India's revenue sources in 1947. The U.S.-Pakistan alliance was initiated when Pakistan's first indigenous military commander, General Ayub Khan visited Washington in 1953 and sought a "deal whereby Pakistan could -- for the right price-serve as the West's eastern anchor in an Asian alliance structure."
Pakistan joined U.S.-sponsored treaty organizations beginning in 1954 and the alliance flourished further once Ayub Khan took over as President in a military coup in 1958.General Musharraf, too, has followed Ayub Khan in seeking the right price for cooperation in the war against terrorism after September 11, 2001. While Pakistani rulers have bargained well for military and economic assistance since the 1950s, the U.S. has generally had to be modest in its ambitions about what it could hope to achieve. Pakistan's real or projected limitations and compulsions have repeatedly been cited during the execution stage of deals based on a quid pro quo, limiting the fulfillment of American expectations.
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles signed on Ayub Khan as an ally because he wanted to create a "northern tier of containment" with bases in countries immediately to the South of the Soviet Union. Pakistan got the aid it sought but Dulles never got the large-scale military bases he wanted in Pakistan. He had to be content with listening posts and a secret facility for U-2 reconnaissance planes flying over the Soviet Union.
Similarly, during the 1980s, General Ziaul Haq secured aid in return for the CIA operating out of Pakistan in arming and funding the Mujahideen bleeding Soviet forces in Afghanistan. But he did not keep his promises to the Reagan administration about limiting Pakistan's nuclear program and went on to assert that by helping the U.S., Pakistan had "earned the right to have a regime in Afghanistan to our liking." Instead of ending involvement with arming Mujahideen once the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1988, as the U.S. desired, Pakistan played an active role in the Afghan civil war that ensued.
Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and their military successors gave U.S. policy makers some of what they sought but, at the same time, backed out of some of their commitments. It appears that the latest U.S. attempt to buy influence and policy concessions from a Pakistani military ruler are headed in a similar direction. Whether it is a divergence of interests and lack of commitment on Musharraf's part, as his critics assert, or a lack of capacity to root out the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, as Ambassador Crocker explains, Pakistan is unlikely to fulfill Washington's expectations in the war against terrorism. In the process, Pakistan's own internal crises can be expected to aggravate.
An analysis of Pakistan's 60-year history shows that it is the military's desire to dominate the political system and define Pakistan's national security priorities that has been the most significant though by no means the only factor in encouraging an Islamic ideological model for Pakistan.
Pakistan's military has historically been willing to adjust its priorities to fit within the parameters of immediate U.S. global concerns. The purpose has been to ensure the flow of military and economic aid from the United States, which Pakistan considers necessary for its struggle for survival and its competition with India. Pakistan's relations with the U.S. have been part of the Pakistani military's policy tripod that emphasizes Islam as a national unifier, rivalry with India as the principal objective of the state's foreign policy, and an alliance with the United States as a means to defray the costs of Pakistan's massive military expenditures.
An important component of Pakistan's state ideology is fear and hatred of India, which is also the justification for Pakistan's continuous efforts to militarily equal India including the development of nuclear weapons. On each occasion that Pakistan's path has diverged from the one jointly charted with the United States, competition with India has been one of the factors. Containing Indian influence is one of the justifications given within Pakistan for tolerating the Taliban and Islamist militants continue to be seen by some members of the Pakistani ruling elite as an unconventional counterweight to India's preponderant power.
Pakistan's rulers have traditionally attempted to "manage" militant Islamism, trying to calibrate it so that it serves the state's nation-building function without destabilizing internal politics or relations with Western countries. The alliance between mosque and military in Pakistan helps maintain, and sometimes exaggerates, the psycho-political fears about national identity and security that help both, the Islamists and the generals, in their exercise of political power.
The past patterns of U.S. economic and military assistance have allowed Pakistan's military leaders to believe that they can compete with India as long as they can make themselves useful to the United States. U.S. assistance should be calibrated to transform Pakistan from a military-dominated state to a democratic one instead of being the source of the delusions of grandeur of Pakistan's unaccountable generals.
State Of Decline
In an effort to become an ideological state guided by a praetorian military, Pakistan has ended up accentuating its dysfunction, especially during the last two decades. Support for the Pakistani military by the United States makes it difficult for Pakistan's weak secular civil society to assert itself and wean Pakistan away from the rhetoric of Islamist ideology towards issues of real concern for Pakistan's citizens.
The disproportionate focus of the Pakistani state since Pakistan's independence in 1947 on ideology, military capability, and external alliances has weakened Pakistan internally. The country's institutions-ranging from schools and universities to the judiciary-are in a state of general decline. The economy's stuttering growth is dependent largely on the level of concessional flows of external resources.
Pakistan's gross domestic product (GDP) stands at about $85 billion in absolute terms and $300 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP), making Pakistan's economy the smallest of any country that has tested nuclear weapons thus far. Pakistan suffers from massive urban unemployment, rural underemployment, illiteracy, and low per capita income: one-third of the population lives below the poverty line and another 21 percent subsists just above it.
Soon after independence, 16.4 percent of Pakistan's population was literate, compared with 18.3 percent of India's significantly larger population. By 2003, while India had managed to attain a literacy rate of 65.3 percent, Pakistan's stood at only about 35 percent. Today, Pakistan allocates less than 2 percent of its GDP for education and ranks close to the bottom among 87 developing countries in the amount allotted to primary schools. Its low literacy rate and inadequate investment in education has led to a decline in Pakistan's technological base, which in turn hampers the country's economic modernization.
With a population growing at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, the state of public health care and other social services in Pakistan is also in decline. Meanwhile, Pakistan spends a greater proportion of its GDP on defense and is still unable to match the conventional forces of India, which outspends Pakistan 3 to 1 while allocating a smaller percentage of its burgeoning GDP to military spending.
As a result, Pakistan is far from developing a consistent system form of government, with persisting political polarization along three major, intersecting fault lines: between civilians and the military, among different ethnic and provincial groups, and between Islamists and secularists.
America's alliance with Pakistan, or rather with the Pakistani military, is almost always based on some immediate concern and lacks a long-term view. This pattern of partnership has had three significant consequences for Pakistan.
First, because the U.S. military sees Pakistan in the context of its Middle East strategy, Pakistan has become more oriented toward the Middle East even though it is geographically and historically a part of South Asia.
Second, the intermittent flow of U.S. military and economic assistance has encouraged Pakistan's military leaders to over-estimate their power potential. This, in turn, has contributed to their reluctance to accept normal relations with India even after learning through repeated misadventures that Pakistan can, at best, hold India to a draw in military conflict and cannot defeat it. Even now, the bulk of U.S. aid is going towards military equipment, especially the acquisition by Pakistan of additional F-16 fighter planes, sidewinder missiles and P-3 Orion aircraft.
Third, the ability to secure military and economic aid by fitting into the current paradigm of American policy has made Pakistan a rentier state, albeit one that lives off the rents for its strategic location.
These policies have, however, served to encourage extremist Islamism in Pakistan, which in the last few years has been the source of threats to both U.S. interests and global security. It is also the greatest threat to Pakistan's own long-term viability and national cohesion. The U.S. can perhaps deal better with Pakistan in the long-term by using American influence to reshape the Pakistani military's ideologically limited view of Pakistan's national interest.
Normalization of relations between India and Pakistan and Pakistan's return to democracy is most likely the key to the withdrawal of the military from the political arena as well as to Pakistan's long term stability. Pakistan's minority Islamists would lose credibility and legitimacy if democratic institutions operate successfully and are dominated, through free and fair elections, by secularists and moderates.
Instead of thinking only in terms of the extremes of showering Pakistan, mainly its military, with aid or of cutting that aid off, U.S. policy makers should look at the totality of the picture in Pakistan. A policy of nuanced engagement, in which U.S. officials frankly share their concerns with Pakistan's rulers and the people is far better than the current policy of portraying one individual -General Musharraf - and one institution -the Pakistan army-as America's best bet.
It is my view that the U.S. Congress, as well as the Executive Branch, should take measures that demonstrate convincingly an international interest in Pakistan's return to democracy with full participation of all major representative political personalities and parties. These measures could include funding for full monitoring of the forthcoming elections and a willingness of the executive branch to openly comment on Musharraf's refusal to abide by democratic norms.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|