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Homeland Security




Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128

 

Testimony of
Dr. Timothy D. Hoyt
Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy
United States Naval War College

Before

The House Committee on International Relations,
Joint Hearing of the Subcommittees on Asia and the Pacific and International Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Human Rights,

On "US Counterterrorism Policy toward Asia and the Pacific"

Wednesday, October 29, 2003.
1:30 p.m.
Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building

 

Note: The views contained in this testimony are solely those of the author. They do not represent the policy of the Naval War College, the US Navy, the Department of Defense, or any other official organization.

 

Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify at this hearing. I must begin by stating for the record that the views expressed here are my own, and not those of the US Navy, the Naval War College, or the US government.

The war on terrorism in South Asia is a complex and daunting task, and requires the acknowledgment of certain realities. First, the US cannot win this war alone. We need the support of friends in the region - but we also must recognize that US interests will not always coincide perfectly with those of other nations. Second, ending terrorism in the region will not be accomplished cheaply, requiring the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and significant economic assistance to regional partners. Third, and most important, defeating terrorism in this region requires greater attention and greater priority. The accomplishments of 2001, including the liberation of Afghanistan, are now threatened by competing priorities for the U.S. and the resurgence of the Taliban.

South Asia represents the single most likely environment for Al Qaeda to regroup. Al Qaeda has close links with the region - a network of terror developed over two decades of cooperation, joint training, and combined operations. The terrain is rugged, transportation facilities limited, government control in many areas is weak, and the local population remains friendly and supportive. The US faces three major short-term dilemmas in this struggle - Pakistani sanctuary for terrorist groups, the degree of official support for these groups, and possible threats to the Musharraf regime.

The core of the problem is the sanctuary Pakistan provides these terrorist forces. Well-organized, sophisticated terrorist groups operate freely across Pakistan’s borders with India and Afghanistan, backed by local political parties and sympathetic publics. This terrorism predates President Musharraf’s coup in 1999, and has strong support among active and retired Army officers and intelligence officials. So long as Pakistan relies on terrorism to achieve its political objectives, it will be impossible to eliminate terrorism and the Al Qaeda presence in the region. In these circumstances, Pakistan - an ally in the war on terrorism - is both part of the problem and a key part of the solution.

We do not know how much control or leverage President Musharraf has over these terrorist groups, or over hardline factions in the army and intelligence. Pakistan has consistently managed to capture and turn over to the U.S. key, high-ranking Al Qaeda leaders - Abu Zubaydah (March 2002), Ramzi Binalshibh (September 2002), Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (March 2003), and Walid B’Attash (April 2003). More recently, the military staged a major raid in the tribal areas this October, virtually coinciding with Deputy Secretary of State Armitage’s visit.

Not all signs are positive, however. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was reportedly found in the apartment of an opposition political official, and Deputy Secretary Armitage hinted last month at cooperation between elements of Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Several Pakistani Army officers suspected of Al Qaeda sympathies have been arrested. We also know that Pakistani nuclear scientists consulted with Al Qaeda charities before 9-11. Infiltration across the line of control in Kashmir dipped during last year’s crisis, particularly in June and July of 2002, but has since been restored to roughly its 2001 levels. The UN has recently warned of Taliban's recovery in Afghanistan, announcing that Taliban controls several provinces. All of these incidents indicate substantial support for Al Qaeda and Taliban within Pakistan’s government, military, and intelligence services.

An additional concern is the threat of the collapse of Musharraf’s government and a takeover by a radical coalition. The recent elections and a series of related press reports suggest that radical Islam has enormous influence in Pakistan. A coalition of Islamist parties - the MMA - is now the official opposition party following the October 2002 elections. The MMA controls the regional government of the Northwest Frontier Province, and shares authority in Baluchistan - the two regions bordering Afghanistan.

The short-term problems we face with Pakistan are all part of a larger issue - that being the dominant role the Army has in Pakistani society, and the collapse of civilian political institutions over the last 25 years. These two factors have locked Pakistan into an ever-shrinking spiral, as its economy collapses under the weight of excessive military spending and corruption, and it continues to rely on increasingly powerful anti-secular Islamic groups to wage a proxy war in Kashmir. Unchecked, these pressures will lead to crisis - the splintering of the state, seizure of power by radicals, civil war, or a regional war with India. Each of these outcomes would be a disaster for the US war on terrorism.

Like Pinochet in Chile, the military must be encouraged to professionalize and remove itself from politics, transitioning to a genuine civilian-led democracy. Any aid we offer - in return for Pakistan’s clear and unambiguous cooperation - must be tailored to the development of a strong civil society - education, economic development, creation of a strong and fair judicial system, and a permanent, lasting constitution. The long-term objective of US policy must be to encourage a democratic Pakistan with civilian oversight of the military.

This will help the U.S. in the war on terrorism in several crucial ways. First, the current relationship involves a simple transaction - US financial assistance in return for Pakistani military cooperation. When the terrorist threat recedes, in the absence of some broader strategic policy, the US will have no reason to continue financial assistance. Hence Pakistan has every incentive to make slow progress in cooperating to achieve US goals in the war on terrorism. So long as US aid continues flowing, Pakistan can defer difficult economic and political choices indefinitely. An alternative vision of the US-Pakistani future provides a rationale for cooperation, with some guarantee of longer-term commitment.

Second, support for terrorism has corrupted Pakistan’s government and its military. The strategy of calibrating the insurgency in Kashmir - providing enough assistance to tie up substantial Indian resources, but not enough to goad India into regional war - produced perverse results. These include: support for the Taliban; use of Afghanistan as a training area for Kashmiri terrorist groups; links between the Pakistani military, Al Qaeda, and prominent Pakistan-based terrorist groups; and bringing Pakistan and India to the brink of regional war on several occasions.

The result is that it is now unclear whether, and to what extent, the Army can police itself on this issue - as there are no checks and balances. President Musharraf has made pledges to India and the U.S., but these have not yet been realized. There is no independent institution in Pakistan that can provide reliable oversight for the Army or ISI. Under these circumstances, terrorism will continue to find supporters, and the military will continue to use them in ways that satisfy strictly tactical or institutional objectives at the risk of long-term stability and security. Only strong civilian institutions, and a formalized civil-military relationship, can resolve this dilemma, ensuring that military leaders are incapable of acting independently or covertly in violation of Pakistan’s obligations and commitments.

Some will argue that President Musharraf is our only alternative to a "Talibanized" Pakistan. We must be careful not to create a "cult of personality" or to rely too heavily on President Musharraf himself. There have already been several attempts on his life, and he continues to rule through the support of the Army - a situation which could change abruptly. Civilian rule after the death of Zia was marked by a decade or more of venality and corruption. However, the system failed at least in part because of the pervasive influence of the Army, particularly over foreign policy, the defense budget, and the nuclear program.

Civil institutions can be rebuilt, and must be a US priority. The recent elections provide an important reason for why this is the case. The MMA won 11% of the vote in an election in which candidacy and voting rights were restricted, and where voter turnout was roughly 33%. The result is that a group representing 3% of the potential electorate now controls or shares control of the two regions that border Afghanistan and which provide sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban. This is a significant problem for ending terrorism in the region, as the MMA is pro-Taliban. In a more open election, these groups would be marginalized as a tiny minority party - a vastly superior outcome for both the US and Pakistan.

Finally, the Pakistani army remains committed to the recovery of Kashmir and the use of terrorism to maintain that conflict in perpetuity. This creates two dilemmas for the US. The first is that in pursuing this policy, Pakistan continues to run the risk of nuclear war with India. Whether Kashmir is the cause or the symptom of Indo-Pakistani tensions, avoidance of such a conflict in this region should remain a US and an international priority. A Kashmir settlement is more likely under a civilian Pakistani government.

In addition, by supporting terrorist groups in Kashmir - Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harakut-ul-Mujaheddin - with past and present Al Qaeda links, Pakistan is aiding and abetting groups which may strike the US, or assist others that aim to do so in the future. This means that Kashmir remains an incubator for a future wave of international terror - a further reason to consider encouraging a settlement to this dispute.

To address terrorism in the region, the US must have a two-stage policy with Pakistan. In the short-term, we must continue to work with the current regime, because its assistance has been vital in the early stages of the war on terrorism. Pakistan continues to be a critical intelligence resource against Al Qaeda and Taliban.

In the longer-term, however, we must systematically and conscientiously work for regime change and democratization in Pakistan. Our aid must be unequivocally earmarked for the development of civil institutions, education, and the improvement of Pakistan’s economy; our public rhetoric must focus on democratization and the rule of law; and our diplomacy should publicly demonstrate our support for elected civilian leaders like Prime Minister Jamali, rather than focusing on Musharraf. The role of the Pakistani Army in political life must be systematically delegitimized in the interest of strong civilian institutions.

Democracy is not a panacea for combating terrorism or for regional security. It is simply a necessary step. However, it is a step, as we have seen elsewhere in Latin America and in the Far East, which can only be accomplished through foresight, planning, and vision. Pakistani political instability, and the role of the Army, are important contributing factors to both regional and global terror networks. Defeating terrorism requires a new vision of Pakistan, which will hopefully contribute to a new and lasting relationship with its neighbors, the United States, and the international community.

Thank you.

 



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