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From the desk of Chief Editor

Dear Readers,
The Swat is a disaster in all senses of the word. By not paying attention to credible intelligence reports about the activities of Maulana Fazlullah and his brutal henchmen, and the lamentations of civil society as to the danger of allowing the Talibaan free rein, we allowed this tragedy unfold to a bloody climax. Through the blood of our Shaheeds, both military and civilian we are paying the full price for vacillating. We have on our hands a human calamity of the greatest magnitude in the form of more than two million internally displaced persons (IDPs). One must ask ourselves what were our rulers upto in dereliction of their prime responsibility, protecting the life and property of our citizens? The Armed Forces have always done admirably in the field ie at the tactical level. In Swat itself the formations have fought extremely well, one has to question the strategy that allowed the insurgent leaders and a considerable number of their rank and file to escape retribution. The primary aim of counter-insurgency must be to eliminate the leaders and maximum of their cadres. One can only eulogize the sacrifices rendered by our young men on the battlefield, the officer-to-soldier combat ratio killed, which has normally been high in Pakistan during our wars, has been unusually high in Swat 1:5. This is a great moral vindication of our Armed Forces who have time and again been let down by lousy generalship at the strategic level. Who is ever going to hold such people accountable? One has to ask the question, is the blood being spilt by our youth meant only to support the lifestyle of the crooked and the unscrupulous? For the benefit of readers, I am re-publishing my recent article, "Credibility requires substance"

Building a long-term partnership with Pakistan, the US is now transitioning from formulating a new strategy to the more difficult task of policy implementation and execution. The input of several think tanks going through this exercise should be extremely helpful for Richard Holbrooke's team in articulating a comprehensive new strategy. A team from the "Center for American Progress" (CAP) consisting of Lawrence Korb, Brian Katulis and Colin Cookman did a field trip to Pakistan in April 2009. Based on more than 100 interviews on location, the conclusions of "Meeting the Challenges in Pakistan" are credible, CAP has avoided the "cocktail circuit" which usually tends to tell you what you want to hear.

CAP's recommendations are based on, viz (1) the bilateral relationship remaining plagued by a mutual trust deficit, significant steps are required enhancing trust and cooperation in building a lasting bilateral partnership and overcoming the "transactional" legacy of the relationship (2) weak governance remains an endemic challenge throughout Pakistan, the State failing to provide law and order, and the basic needs of the people in some places in the country, extremist groups work to exploit the situation by filling the gap (3) Pakistan's willingness and capacity to conduct comprehensive counter-insurgency and counterterrorist operations seemingly remains limited. Despite increasing domestic anxiety about the actions of militants in the country's northwest, the perception remains that Pakistan's military establishment remains focused on conventional conflict with neighbor India (this premise could have changed after the Swat operations).

CAP's key recommendations are, viz (1) build on recent regional and international diplomatic initiatives by re-engaging in regional diplomacy that seeks to revive dialogue between Pakistan and India, including a discussion of Kashmir (2) U.S. policy must not rely only on an exclusive partnership with army chiefs or particular leaders to advance U.S. interests, the Obama Administration should initiate an expansive plan to establish broad contacts and cooperation between Pakistani and American civilian institutions, including think tanks, lawyers groups, civil society organizations, and the general public (3) formulate a bilateral strategic framework agreement with Pakistan to break the cycle of transactional and reactive policymaking that has plagued the bilateral relationship for decades.

CAP asks for, viz (4) strengthening the police and judicial component of counter-terrorism assistance by providing professional training, equipment, and manpower to the Courts, the Federal Investigation Agency, the Intelligence Bureau, and provincial police forces (5) hugely increased assistance will be needed given the size of refugee displacements due to the Swat operations. The Chinook-led quick US response to the devastating 2005 earthquake in Pakistan improved its standing with the Pakistani people and marginalize militant groups, the IDP crisis is an opportunity to emphasize US commitment (2) increased cooperation on the nuclear front will help prevent the illegal transfer of nuclear technology and expertise and safeguard the arsenal from unauthorized access (3) launch a comprehensive effort to advance Pakistani civilian government capacity and expertise in coordination with proposed bilateral development assistance increases. Long-term economic and social development planning is required, identifying key projects for new assistance money and building habits of transparency with their Pakistani partners.

CAP emphasized importance of, viz (8) including careful oversight and accounting mechanisms in assistance legislation by a bilateral framework to gain input from the Pakistani government to the greatest extent possible on which projects new assistance money should fund (9) reform the leading institutions of U.S. diplomacy and foreign development assistance. The US has under-invested in its own civilian institutions of diplomacy and economic development, Pakistan will be a test case of whether the Obama Administration can reform these institutions to meet the challenges of the 21st century and (10) engaging members of Congress and the American public. With a stronger rationale for its policy and specific plans for implementation thereof to frame a policy for building a long-term partnership with Pakistan.

The problems encompassing the Durand Line notwithstanding, confining dialogue only to Af-Pak will not do. Moreover equating Afghanistan to Pakistan is really stretching it. CAP skirts the fact that this region will remain subject to violent extremism unless the root cause of Kashmir is addressed, inherently involving Pakistan and India,. There has been no progress on CBMs such as Siachen, Sir Creek, Baglihar Dam, etc. Zardari surprisingly agreed to an amazing MOU in Washington DC for "transit trade" giving India land access to Afghanistan and beyond. Without progress over Kashmir this is a non-starter, seen in Pakistan as an Indian-dictated sell-out. There must be an arrangement if not an agreement over the core issue of Kashmir.

With ongoing FATA combat experience since 2004, the successful FC operations in Dir and a tremendous counter-insurgency campaign in Swat, the Army has become a battle-hardened entity. The general officers commanding the formations down to the young officers and soldiers have all faced fire. Contrast Musharraf and his associates who did the good talk but had never heard a shot being fired in anger (at least till the assassination attempts). The Army needs more heavy-lift helicopters, night vision equipment and special communications equipment, above all encouragement instead of constant criticism.

Suspicions about Pakistan's nuclear aspirations and security of Pakistan's nuclear assets will remain until the US enters into constructive engagement with Pakistan on the nuclear issue. Like India, Pakistan needs cheap nuclear energy desperately to secure its economic future, the same core guarantees that India gave to satisfy the US should suffice. Bringing Pakistan out of the nuclear cold will restore the confidence of the Pakistani intelligentsia and masses about US long-term intentions.

CAP is strangely silent whether the US should place priority on accountability of Pakistan's leaders. The Report failed to highlight how the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) has disfigured the entire structure of Pakistani politics, that it continues to undermine the concept of good governance. The Honourable Chief Justice recently observed that the NRO is under adjudication, the "Honourable natives of the SC are clearly restless". Why the NRO has not been thrown out lock, stock and barrel by the Supreme Court (SC) could be because of a SC self-imposed "doctrine of necessity".

How can Pakistan have good governance when the people have no idea who really rules Pakistan? The number of amendments to the Constitution done by Gen Musharraf created a "grey area" of shared governance between the President and the PM. That is a myth, it is the President who rules. After the Mar 15 restoration of the superior judiciary President Zardari promised that powers would be reversed to the PM as envisaged by the 1973 Constitution. Once the political heat raised by Mar 15 subsided we are back to a Presidential form of government, the US tacitly giving sanction to this by the Richard Holbrooke-organised recent Zardari visit to Wash DC. No country's future is safe as long as Washington lobbyists can disfigure US policy, and in the process the US image in the world. There is a huge disconnect here that must be addressed, Holbrooke is too smart not to have worked out that his credibility with the Pakistani people is on the line trying to shore up Zardari. Let's be done with this ambiguity of governance, the only thing that matters is that credibility requires substance.

In Islamabad I met the father of a Shaheed. Non-plussed by Col (Retd) Afzal’s stoic attitude, I did not have words how to express my sorrow. The only salace I could offer was to publish his feelings in an article that he had written earlier on his family’s personal tragedy. It is with a matter of pride that “What after Capt Omerzeb Shaheed’s blood” is included in this issue of DJ. He asked a question that both the civilian and military hierarchy needs to answer, but cannot! Families like Afzal’s do us all proud, in front of them we are all small people.

M. Ikram Sehgal

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