Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's Foreign Policy Reading List on Pakistan and Afghanistan

from The Atlantic, a story about Pakistan and its dealings with the Baluchs that live within its borders. To me this article makes the case for enlightened imperialism or federalism. Governments which oppress minorities in their countries eventually lose them (see how Russian nationalism led to the war in Chechenya or how excessively-exclusive Serbian nationalism led to the loss of Kosovo and Montenegro).

Countries with diverse ethnic or religious groups must provide its minorities a means to rise to the top or to share in the country's spoils if they want to undercut or head off the call for nationalistic, self-determination movements.

China won't keep Tibet, ts Muslim-populated neighbor to the north (or regain Taiwan for that matter) by strangling them. It would keep them by co-opting their messages. The Dalai Lama has no quarrel with those who would keep Tibet in China but his successors at any future negotiating table would.

The Pakistanis could benefit from this message. Note the message coming from some of those interviewed in this story. Some look back fondly to the age of an Omani sultan. You heard me right. Another foreigner ruling them. Hardly the inspiration of a nationalistic movement. Could not the Baluchis live with the Pakistanis as their overlords? Sure. If the Pakistanis would give them some space.

Also in The Atlantic, a look at some old reports on Afghanistan.

Not that I'm sponsoring the magazine or anything but this story about the Pakistani military's tight control over the economy is also very interesting. What struck me though, as an American was the repercussions that followed after the United States suspended Pakistan's involvement in International Military Education and Training program:

"Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan, Musharraf’s press secretary until March 2007, spent six months in infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1983. He explained to me how the American training shaped the mentality of thousands of young officers of his generation. “It helps you to establish a better relationship and more understanding [of the U.S. perspective],” he said. “It broadens your outlook.” At a recent gathering of regional commanders in Kabul, Shaukat Sultan formed an immediate bond with an American brigadier he had last seen during his Fort Benning days. “It gave us a connection,” said Shaukat Sultan. “[Now] I can pick up the phone and call him directly.”

Shaukat Sultan was among the last of a breed, however. In 1987, toward the end of the mujahideen campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Congress threatened to impose sanctions if Pakistan continued to develop nuclear weapons. Three years later, the sanctions went into effect, and the United States suspended the IMET program. For the next 11 years, until 9/11, Pakistani officers had little or no contact with the U.S. military (IMET resumed in late 2001). “We lost a generation,” the Western military liaison officer told me. That generation now overwhelmingly makes up the ranks of brigadier, colonel, and major—and includes some generals—in Pakistan’s military.

By the early 1990s, as the Cold War was ending and the United States was disengaging from Central and South Asia, Pakistan’s army had taken on a more Islamist character. Back in 1979, Zia ul-Haq—in an attempt to stir up zeal for the campaign in support of Afghanistan’s mujahideen—had enacted a raft of Islamist ordinances, or hudood, posting an imam to every unit, encouraging prayer in the barracks, and installing a religious-affairs directorate at general headquarters. Banners outside army recruiting centers reportedly urged Pakistanis to enlist for the sake of Allah and jihad."

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