Thursday, July 2, 2009

Will Pakistan Understand Responsibility?

Historically, the Government of Pakistan (GoP) and the idea of security and responsibility are synonymous with contradiction and excuses. The situation that the GoP currently finds itself in the SWAT Valley and Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) comes as no surprise to anyone in the intelligence and human security arena. Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, following the partitioning of the sub-Continent, Pakistan has utilized militias, radicals and insurgent groups to do the dirty work in order to maintain relations with nation states free of blame due to the actions of 'independent' groups. This approach afforded the GoP an ability to blame others rather than take the necessary responsibility nation states must accept when groups emanating from their territory threaten, kill and terrorize another nation states security. Of course, the majority of this practice took place during the Cold War, where Pakistan was aligned with the United States and India with the Soviet Union despite New Delhi’s stance that they were ‘neutral.’ The lack of understanding of the term ‘responsibility’ in the psyche of the GoP finally has come at a price.

The Beginning – Kashmir

Despite the countless human rights violations from India’s abuse of the Kashmiri people, what gets lost in historical reality is that it was the father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who initially sent mountain tribes into the Valley of Kashmir in order to prevent the Kashmiri their right to self determination, and forcing India’s hand to militarize the region. Moreover, the three wars fought since were the result of militant groups trained, funded and given logistical support by the GoP terrorizing the Indian Military. The last major military skirmish between the two rivals, the Kargil War, started when Pakistani based militants engaged the Indian Military which escalated to the brink of nuclear war between the two states. Today, the GoI maintains the reason for the 700,000 troops stationed in the Valley of Kashmir are specifically to defend India from what GoI refers to as “raiders.”

Following the Mumbai tragedy of a year ago, India tightened their grip on the Kashmiri people, despite denials by the GoP regarding the level of involvement from the military and intelligence service (ISI). Unfortunately, the people of Kashmir continue to pay the price for Pakistans misdeeds in the form of rapes, murders and custodial killings. Most recently, the double rape and murder in the village of Shopian.

Failures of SWAT and NWFP

The current situation in SWAT and NWFP was the result of the GoP empowering anarchic militant groups by cutting deals with the likes of the Taliban. The current war in this region of Pakistan has come at a severe cost. The displacement of over a million people is a humanitarian nightmare. Moreover, the daily suicide bombings, kidnappings and assassinations of officials proves that groups like the Taliban, despite their ties to the ISI and military establishment, have no allegiance to a government who since the mid 1990’s gave financial, militaristic and logistical support. All of this culminating in a complete lost of the publics trust that the government will provide adequate security from these militant organizations, let alone from the perceived threat from India.

The current situation in SWAT and NWFP requires more military aid from the international community, most notably the United States, and an increase in boots on the ground. However, the United States just last year granted the GoP its largest military appropriations in history to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda in SWAT and NWFP, and the GoP put the money into buying equipment to fight a war with India. Moreover, despite the necessity of an increase in military personnel in SWAT and NWFP, the GoP still maintains a position of leaving troops on the LoC. This only creates instability with India which is negligible at best. If Pakistan would dismantle the militant factions in Azad Kashmir and Punjab, the fear of a war with India would dissipate and basically be eliminated because India would no longer have the excuse that their troops are necessary to fight militants who come across the border.

Responsibility is the Best Confidence Building Measure (CBM)

In order for Pakistan to rid themselves of this self-inflicted damage, the GoP must finally accept responsibility and stop financing the ‘chickens who have come home to roost.’ By turning over those involved in the Mumbai tragedy to India, this will be a major CBM with the GoI. Next, the GoP must cut all ties and dismantle the militant camps in Azad Kashmir and Punjab who wreak havoc on the Indian Military in IJK, who respond by taking out their frustrations on the Kashmiri people. Finally, by shifting military personnel from the borders of India to fight in the NWFP and SWAT, this would create an undeniable CBM with their own people. The people of Pakistan know all to well where the origins of the their security problems begin. Unfortunately, their confidence in the GoP doing the right thing is minimal at best.

So, at what point does this irresponsibility begin to be fundamentally addressed? Well, it appears that just like a spoiled child refused a lollipop to learn a lesson so will the GoP. Due to struggles in the Af-Pak border region, and the GoP's reluctance to seal their own borders, dismantle the safe havens for the Taliban and deal with the militants, the USG has cut the military off once and for all. The new aid package for Pakistan from the USG will again be the largest in history. However, the aid is specifically for education, food and development; and not a penny for the military. The Government of Japan is considering a $20 billion dollar investment into Pakistan for construction of civil nuclear energy plants and technological transfer. However, unless the GoP shows accountability and responsibility for what happens within their own borders and ensure that another A.Q Khan won’t resurface, this deal will ultimately fail as well.

Much has been made of the democratic steps Pakistan has made in the last year and a half. However, until Pakistan learns to accept responsibility and be accountable for problems created within their own institutions, Pakistan will remain dysfunctional and untrustworthy. The greatest lesson Pakistan must begin to learn is responsibility.

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