In Pakistan's Enduring Challenges, experts on the region survey Pakistan's prospects following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, examining the country's security concerns, its domestic political and economic issues, and the withdrawal's ramifications on Pakistan's ongoing relationships with foreign powers like the United States.
2015 | 320 pages | Cloth $69.95
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Pakistan's Challenges Beyond 2014
—C. Christine Fair and Sarah J. Watson
PART I. SECURITY CHALLENGES
Chapter 1. Pakistani Militancy in the Shadow of the U.S. Withdrawal
Chapter 2. A Cooperative Jihad? The Religious Logic of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and the Limits of Pan-Sunni Cooperation in Pakistan
—Joshua T. White
Chapter 3. The Future of the American Drone Program in Pakistan
—Sarah J. Watson and C. Christine Fair
Chapter 4. The Safety and Security of the Pakistani Nuclear Arsenal
PART II. DOMESTIC POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ISSUES
Chapter 5. Democracy on the Leash in Pakistan
—C. Christine Fair
Chapter 6. New Media in Naya Pakistan: Technologies of Transformation or Control?
Chapter 7. Pakistan's Self-Inflicted Economic Crises
PART III. FOREIGN RELATIONS
Chapter 8. America and Pakistan After 2014: Toward Strategic Breathing Space
Chapter 9. Partner or Enemy? The Sources of Attitudes Toward the United States in Pakistan
—Karl Kaltenthaler and William J. Miller
Chapter 10. Friends of Last Resort: Pakistan's Relations with China and Saudi Arabia
Chapter 11. Violent Nonstate Actors in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Relationship: Historical Context and Future Prospects
—Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Tara Vassefi
List of Contributors
Introduction: Pakistan's Challenges Beyond 2014
C. Christine Fair and Sarah J. Watson
Pakistan on 9/11: From Pariah to Paladin
On September 10, 2001, Pakistan was virtually a pariah state. It was encumbered by layers of sanctions meant to punish it for, inter alia, nuclear and missile proliferation, its May 1998 nuclear tests (conducted immediately after those of India), and the 1999 bloodless coup in which Chief of Army Staff Pervez Musharraf overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The U.S. Department of State had even considered placing Pakistan on its list of countries that support terrorism. While Pakistan narrowly escaped designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, it did in fact support a vast fleet of Islamist militants waging a terror campaign throughout India, particularly in Indian-administered Kashmir, and it was providing key military, political, diplomatic, and other support to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. When then U.S. President Bill Clinton visited the subcontinent in 2000, he spent several days in India, but in contrast, only a few hours in Pakistan. He took the opportunity to lecture Pakistani leaders on their reckless policies and even refused to shake the hand of General Musharraf, the country's fourth military dictator. Prior to 9/11, the George W. Bush administration had embarked on a serious effort to reconfigure its relations with India and Pakistan. Whereas the United States sought to engage India in a significant strategic partnership, it was trying to prepare Pakistan to accept its unequal position in South Asia and diminished importance to the United States (Fair 2004; Tellis 2001: 88; Tellis 2008).
The tragic events of September 11, 2001, afforded Pakistan the opportunity to regain its standing among the community of nations and to force the United States to modify its plans to forge an entirely new policy in South Asia, one predicated upon moving boldly forward with India while helping Pakistan to accept its unequal and indeed inferior position in South Asia. Almost immediately, the United States had to find some way of releasing Pakistan from its burden of sanctions, both in order to secure the necessary Pakistani political will to support the looming war effort in Afghanistan and also to arm Pakistan, which would—once again—become a frontline state in an American war. Virtually overnight, President Musharraf was transformed from yet another "mango republic" dictator into a much-feted partner of the free world and an intrepid cobelligerent in what became known as "the war on terror."
Pakistan's assistance was critical to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, launched on October 7, 2001, under the name "Operation Enduring Freedom." Pakistan provided the United States with unprecedented access to ports, military bases, airspace, and ground lines of control, and Pakistani security forces also provided highly necessary security for U.S. assets positioned in Pakistan (Fair 2004). As the United States and NATO developed the Afghan theater, they freed themselves somewhat from their dependence on Pakistan. But Pakistan remained a crucial player in the war effort because the United States was unable to find a cost-effective alternative to trucking supplies into Afghanistan over Pakistani territory. Goods were off-loaded at the Karachi port and then transferred onto thousands of privately owned local transport trucks for the trip into Afghanistan, either through the pass at Chaman (in Baluchistan) or through Torkham (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). As the war in Afghanistan drew on, Pakistan also became an indispensable partner in the drone program, which targeted al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and (ostensibly) "allied forces" in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
President Musharraf benefited politically from his role in the war effort. Even as he became a greater and greater liability for the Pakistan army and as his policies vexed and alienated ever more Pakistanis, the United States redoubled its commitment to securing his place in Pakistan's politics (Markey 2007). In order to keep him on as president while quieting critics of U.S. hypocrisy, the United States, working with the United Kingdom, helped broker a deal in 2007 that would allow Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan. The legislation that came about, the National Reconciliation Ordinance, offered her and her associates amnesty for any crimes committed during their previous spells in power, thus allowing them to contest elections. Musharraf would remain the president, with Benazir Bhutto as prime minister. The deal faltered when Bhutto was tragically assassinated in late 2007. Musharraf's career could not be resuscitated, and by the end of 2008, he had resigned from the position of the presidency and from the military (Wright and Kessler 2007; Sehbai 2011). Even though the 2008 elections ushered in a civilian government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party, the United States focused instead on Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Musharraf's successor as chief of army staff.
For the first five or six years of the war, Washington was relatively pleased with Pakistan's cooperation. President Bush would frequently cite the various al-Qaeda operatives who had been captured with Pakistani help as proof of Musharraf's dedication to the war. When al-Qaeda began targeting President Musharraf in 2004 for this very cooperation, Washington worked even harder to support him and his army (Vandehei and Lancaster 2006). Between fiscal years 2002 and 2008, the United States provided Pakistan some $2.2 billion in security-related assistance and $3.2 billion in economic aid. These figures paled, however, in comparison to the $6.7 billion that the United States transferred to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Funds (CSF) program, under which the United States reimbursed Pakistan for its expenditures on the war on terror in the same period (Congressional Research Service 2014). The terms of reimbursement under this program were absurdly favorable and subject to very little oversight (GAO 2008a).
By 2007, tensions between the two countries were apparent. The Bush administration had slowly come to the realization that, while Pakistan had aided the U.S. war on al-Qaeda, it had also continued supporting its clients in Afghanistan, most importantly Mullah Omar's Taliban and the North Waziristan-based network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani. This realization was all the more troubling because the United States and its NATO partners were finally convinced that they were fighting an insurgency in Afghanistan, led by the very same groups patronized by Pakistan. Prior to 2007, the international community had assumed that the military operations in Afghanistan would soon begin winding down, as the Taliban had long been vanquished and even al-Qaeda no longer operated in Afghanistan (Jones 2007a; Jones 2007b).
From Pakistan's perspective, on the other hand, the United States had fallen short on many counts. First, in late 2001, the United States was unable to prevent the Northern Alliance from taking Kabul. The Northern Alliance was the only remaining source of resistance to the Taliban and it received assistance from India, as well as Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, and the United States, among others. From the point of view of Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies, the United States had handed the keys of Kabul to India's proxy. Second, the December 2001 Bonn Conference, which excluded the Taliban, was a convention of the conquerors of a government long-sponsored by Pakistan. Third, India slowly rebuilt its presence in Afghanistan under the U.S./NATO security umbrella. Pakistan saw every Indian gain in Afghanistan as a direct threat to its own interests and believed that India—in connivance with the anti-Pakistan Afghan government—was using its strongholds in Afghanistan to support insurgency and terrorism in Pakistan.
Worse yet, in 2005 the United States announced its support for a civilian nuclear program in India, explicitly embracing the objective of assisting India's ability to develop nuclear weapons (Tellis 2005: 35-37). Additionally, Pakistan's military support for the U.S.-led coalition that routed the Taliban and destroyed al-Qaeda prompted a lethal rebellion among some of Pakistan's erstwhile militant assets. By 2007, several militant commanders—all of whom were associated with the Deobandi interpretive tradition—had grouped themselves under the umbrella of the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban Movement, or TTP). These Deobandi commanders had long-standing connections to the Afghan Taliban through a shared architecture of Deobandi madrassas, mosques, ulema, and political leadership. Because of the colocation of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, many of these Pakistani groups also had ties to and sympathies with al-Qaeda. At first, Pakistan's military, paramilitary, police, and intelligence agencies bore the brunt of the TTP's onslaught. However, by 2008, the TTP began savagely attacking civilians far beyond the tribal areas and in Pakistan's important cities of Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, and Quetta, among others (Fair 2013).
From the army's point of view, this sequence of events was all the more troubling. While the American and Pakistani publics routinely cited the ever-higher amounts of military assistance poured into the Pakistan army's coffers, and while Americans increasingly complained that their government was not getting what it paid for, the Pakistan army had its own complaints. The monies that the United States gave to Pakistan did not go to the army directly but rather to the Ministry of Finance, and the Pakistan army claimed that it was not receiving the stipulated reimbursement. General Kayani, Pakistan's army chief at the time, told American interlocutors that in fact only 40 percent of CSF funds went to the military. Kayani requested changes in the way in which CSF funds were distributed to prevent the impression that the Pakistan military was "for hire" (U.S. Embassy Islamabad 2011). Unfortunately, that impression had long settled in, and, in a final blow, the Pakistani public began viewing the army with contempt. Pakistanis did not like the perception that the Pakistan army had become a mercenary army operating at the behest of Washington. Nor did they support the bloody operations being conducted against their own countrymen.
Things Fall Apart—Rapidly
When Barack Obama campaigned for the U.S. presidency in 2008, he spoke strongly about the need to end the "wrong war" in Iraq and rededicate American efforts to the "right war" in Afghanistan. Obama chastised the Bush administration for failing to develop a policy toward Pakistan, which was necessary for any kind of victory in Afghanistan. Obama was not alone. The nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a scathing criticism of the U.S. failures in Pakistan (GAO 2008b). In response, the Bush administration commissioned numerous assessments in the final months of its tenure. Upon assuming the presidency, Obama asked Bruce Riedel, a long-time Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official who advised several U.S. presidents on issues pertaining to South Asia and the Middle East, to conduct an assessment of the assessments and proffer a way forward (Riedel 2012).
The first document to emerge from this process was a white paper that declared that "the core goal of the United States must be to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan, and to prevent their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan" (Office of the President 2009: 1). To achieve this core goal, the white paper laid out numerous "realistic and achievable objectives," which included disrupting terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, promoting better government in Afghanistan, developing the Afghan National Security Forces, assisting the civilian government of Pakistan to better economic growth, and enlisting the involvement of the international community in all of these endeavors—all formulaic bromides. What the study did not address forthrightly was the fact that, while Pakistan had been an important partner in aspects of the war, it was in fact the biggest hindrance to ensuring that the Taliban did not return.
While the Obama administration, under Riedel's guidance, considered the best course for the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the August 30, 2009 initial assessment report of General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assessment Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, was leaked to the public. While the report acknowledged the need for a better partner in Afghanistan, most analysts and policy makers focused upon the other key element of his conclusions: the need for some 40,000 more troops (Commander ISAF 2009). Obama did not immediately consent to the military's calls for more troops, but on December 1, 2009, he announced a "way forward" in Afghanistan, which included a so-called "surge" of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops along with an ironclad commitment to begin wrapping up the war, transferring all security duties to the Afghans, and withdrawing troops. This plan focused upon military objectives in Afghanistan and presented a scaled-back version of the nation-building goals announced in March 2009. Obama stated clearly that "we will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011" (Obama 2009: n.p.). That deadline came under immediate fire. Obama's political foes cried that he had given the Taliban an incentive to wait out the American withdrawal and argued that such a declaratory position assured a Taliban victory. However, Obama was also under considerable domestic pressure to end a war that had become deeply unpopular. Trying to navigate between the opposing positions, Obama eventually announced that "by 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security" (Obama 2011: n.p.).
The Obama administration repeatedly stated that it understood that American "success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan" (Obama 2009: n.p.). However, the Obama administration—like the Bush administration before it—was never able to formulate a coherent policy toward Pakistan that would enhance the likelihood of achieving any of its goals in Afghanistan. Unlike the Bush administration, however, the Obama administration did not view Pakistan as an indefatigable collaborator in the U.S. efforts in South Asia. Instead, policy makers understood that Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies were working assiduously to undermine many of the gains in Afghanistan and in South Asia for which the Americans and their allies had sacrificed much blood and treasure. Yet despite this very different view of Pakistan, the United States under Obama became even more dependent upon Pakistan than it had been under Bush. With an expanded number of troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan became ever more important as a logistical lifeline to sustain the war. Thus, ironically, the very troop surge that was intended to help defeat the Taliban rendered the United States ever more dependent upon the one country dedicated to restoring some version of the group to power in Afghanistan. The United States had no strategy for addressing this fundamental conundrum.
As suggested above, the Obama administration was not ignorant of the paradoxical position in which it found itself. By the time Obama assumed the presidency, Pakistan fatigue had begun to set in across the departments of Defense and State, in the intelligence community, within the White House, throughout the members of Congress, and among the American people. The South Asia analytical community largely understood that it was Pakistan—not Afghanistan—where the most salient U.S. national security interests resided. But with troops in Afghanistan, sustaining the expanding military presence in Afghanistan took up almost all America's attention. The "Pakistan problem set" was just too hard to solve. Thus, Obama—much like Bush before him—continued a policy of pushing on core issues while deferring punitive or coercive measures, fearing that Pakistan would further undermine the war effort in Afghanistan. Using less delicate phraseology, all understood that the Americans were "simply kicking the can down the road," hoping that someone would deal with the problem later.
While the United States continued to fund Pakistan—ultimately providing some $28 billion between fiscal years 2002 and 2014 (Congressional Research Service 2014)—these disbursements became increasingly controversial as more information became available about the extent to which Pakistan was continuing to invest in the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, while also expanding its rapidly growing nuclear arsenal (Joscelyn 2011). Despite knowledge that Pakistan was still pursuing policies that were antithetical to U.S. interests and that by law precluded Pakistan from obtaining U.S. security assistance, in March 2011 the U.S. secretary of state declared that Pakistan was in full compliance with all security assistance conditionalities. In August 2012, Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, formally notified Congress that the administration would seek to continue funding Pakistan by requesting that those conditionalities be waived. In doing so the administration conceded that Pakistan was not in compliance but argued that to cease funding would be damaging to the national security interests of the United States. This was the first time that the Obama administration waived aid sanctions on Pakistan.
At the time of writing, all key American decision makers agree that the Pakistan of late 2014, at the end of the war in Afghanistan, is likely to be a greater danger to itself, its neighbors, and the United States than it was on September 10, 2001.
Escaping Afghanistan's Pull
With the United States resolved to wind down major military operations in Afghanistan by 2014, tension between the United States and Pakistan intensified. On the one hand, Pakistan became ever more committed to waiting out Washington and attempting to secure the best possible future for itself in Afghanistan. At the same time, Washington was ever more anxious to wrap up the war while still saving face. The patience of both countries has worn thin.
American legislators, who write the checks to Pakistan, are wary of continuing to fund Pakistan while it in turn continues to fund U.S. enemies (not just the Taliban but also the Islamist militant groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which Pakistan uses to harass India). At the same time, as Karl Kaltenthaler and William J. Miller show in this volume (Chapter 9), Pakistani civilian and military leaders alike have been pushed to the breaking point by U.S. policies that Washington pursues with indifference to Pakistani sentiment. The entire country, it seems, is fed up with the United States.
The list of recent Pakistani grievances is long. In January 2011, Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, shot and killed two armed men he claimed were menacing him and brandishing their weapons in Lahore. An American rescue vehicle raced to the scene to extract Davis and in doing so hit and killed a third person. There has been some speculation that the two men killed by Davis were themselves contractors for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the ISI (Waraich 2011). The Davis affair helped bring to light the expanding U.S. intelligence presence in Pakistan, which was undertaking operations beyond the purview of the ISI. Some of these operations targeted Pakistan's prized militant assets such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba. This impasse over Davis was only resolved when the two governments came up with a plausible solution: the United States would pay blood money to the victims' families, who would then drop the charges (Miller and Constable 2010).
Just as the two countries were struggling to reestablish some degree of equilibrium, in May 2011 the United States launched a unilateral raid upon Osama bin Laden's Pakistani hiding place. The United States learned that bin Laden had been living for years in Abbottabad, home to the esteemed Pakistan Military Academy. The raid was conducted using stealth helicopters and a large Navy SEAL team. The Pakistan military was humiliated by the U.S. ability to conduct a raid of this sort, undetected, in a sensitive area. Pakistanis' outrage tended to focus on the unilateral nature of the raid, rather than the disturbing fact that bin Laden had been in Pakistan all along, despite repeated Pakistani claims to the contrary. Many Pakistanis felt confronted with a choice: should they believe that their government had been complicit in harboring the world's most notorious terrorist? Or was it simply incompetent? In November 2011, yet another upheaval jarred the U.S.-Pakistan relationship when U.S. forces, operating as part of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, erroneously attacked and killed numerous Pakistani armed forces personnel at a border outpost in Salala. The United States refused to offer a formal apology.
Combined with the CIA's escalation of drone strikes in the tribal areas, 2011 was a tipping point in the fraught history of U.S.-Pakistan relations. In the wake of the bin Laden raid, Pakistan's national assembly convened a Parliamentary Committee on National Security, which sought to redefine Pakistan's relations with the United States. While Pakistan's defense and security policy remain firmly in the hands of the army, this move was an important step. Not only were civilian politicians inserting themselves into the army's domain, the Pakistani people began to grow accustomed to seeing elected officials in this arena. After Salala, Pakistan closed down the NATO ground supply routes through Pakistan (although not Pakistani airspace), forcing the United States to develop more expensive ground routes through Central Asia and to fly in more cargo. Pakistan also forced the United States to vacate a drone base in Shamsi. (It is not clear if the United States is still using other bases in Pakistan for drone strikes.)
At the time of writing, the United States and Pakistan are still struggling to recalibrate their relations. Each country adheres to its own narrative of defeated expectations. Pakistan deploys a highly stylized account of its relations with the United States since the mid-1950s as proof that the Americans have never honored their commitments to Pakistan. Pakistanis cite the failure of the United States to support Pakistan in its 1965 war with India; the inadequate support Pakistan received in the 1971 war with India; and the U.S. arming of India during the latter's 1962 war with China. All of these actions (or inactions) are seen as flouting U.S. treaty obligations to Pakistan. Yet as Husain Haqqani, among others, has long noted, these criticisms are invalid. The treaties that bound the Americans and the Pakistanis specifically excluded any conflict with India and only promised U.S. support in the case of communist aggression (Haqqani 2013).
The Americans, for their part, continue to pursue the same (failed) policy toward Pakistan, one of transformation through economic and military assistance. As Haqqani (2013) also notes, during previous periods of engagement the Americans have tended to assume that there is a level of assistance that will suffice to transform Pakistan into the partner the Americans desire—or that will at least obtain needed amenities. While Americans are continually shocked at Pakistan's ingratitude, Pakistanis lament that the United States gives only when doing so is in its strategic interests. While neither side much likes the other, there appears to be no exit for either (Markey 2013).
As 2014 begins, Pakistan seems better set to achieve its objectives in Afghanistan than does the United States. The United States has been unable to conclude a so-called bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the government of the outgoing Afghan President, Hamid Karzai. This agreement would specify the number of U.S. troops that would remain in Afghanistan and the roles that they would serve. It would also lay out the terms of a long-term economic support package to Afghanistan. While Pakistan's goal of resurrecting some variant of the Taliban in Afghanistan is still far off, the lack of a BSA can only improve the Taliban's prospects.
Not All Bad?
While it is easy to inventory the vast swamp of problems in which Pakistan is mired, it should be remembered that in recent years Pakistan has taken a few meaningful, positive strides. Most significantly, the past several years have witnessed the slow consolidation of democracy, and a corresponding growth in civil society, within Pakistan. The 2013 general elections were an important and unprecedented milestone: they marked the first time in Pakistan's history that a democratically elected government carried out a constitutional transfer of power to another such government under an entirely civilian dispensation. But these gains are far from secure. The internal security crisis has taken a particular toll on Pakistan's neglected minority populations and on its increasingly embattled liberals. The threat of terrorist attacks hobbled liberal parties during the 2013 campaign season, and, even more disturbing, Pakistan's sectarian terrorist organizations appear to be waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Pakistan's Shia population. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has yet to exhibit a vision or policy agenda to contend with Pakistan's myriad security challenges, economic stagnation, or the widening gaps between its citizens' various visions of Pakistan's future.
While civilians have made important gains, these are limited. Civilians still have precious little input into Pakistan's foreign or national security policies, the bailiwicks of the army and its associated intelligence agencies. Pakistan's security establishment continues to be primarily focused on India and to see the conflict in Afghanistan as an extension of its decades-long rivalry with its far larger eastern neighbor. This strategic perspective has governed its actions in Afghanistan and the tribal areas and will continue to determine its responses to the postwithdrawal political situation in Afghanistan.
After 2014, the Deluge?
Pakistani politicians have publicly urged the United States to leave Afghanistan, and indeed America's departure from the region will present Pakistan with opportunities as well as challenges. In May 2014, Obama announced that 9,800 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan "for one year following the end of combat operations in December . That number will be cut in half at the end of 2015, and reduced at the end of 2016 to a small military presence at the U.S. Embassy" (De Young 2014). While this is a serious revision of the "zero option," it is still safe to assume that the United States will begin to take a more hands-off approach to Pakistan as troop levels in Afghanistan continue to decline. To the extent that American outreach to Pakistan is currently disproportionately aimed at the military establishment, a shift to a more traditional diplomatic relationship may help Pakistan's civilian leaders continue to claw back the military's power over foreign affairs and security policy. Pakistan's military establishment, in contrast, likely believes that it will have a freer hand in its quest to control Afghanistan's future.
But Pakistanis who believe that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is the cause of their country's problems are likely to be disappointed. The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will leave turmoil in its wake, and there is no doubt that the resulting chaos will spill over into Pakistan (as it has for the past ten years). A power vacuum in Afghanistan will also mean fertile new ground for the Indo-Pak rivalry. A deep insecurity regarding India has dictated Pakistan's actions since independence and will continue to do so as long as Pakistan's security establishment escapes civilian control. Furthermore, Pakistan faces a host of economic and governance challenges, none of which have an easy solution. In the end, Pakistan alone can take control of its destiny.
For years, Pakistani and American analysts have wondered what will happen to this problematic relationship after 2014 when the United States has less need for Pakistan. Will the United States reorient its policies away from appeasing Pakistan and toward more punitive policies such as coercion or even containment? Without a BSA with Afghanistan and with a diminished presence in Pakistan, how will the United States be able to sustain its counterterrorism initiatives centered on al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other terrorist groups based in and from Pakistan? Other analysts counter that such a deliberate effort to abandon Pakistan is impossible, if for no other reason than the threat posed by Pakistan's ever-expanding nuclear program.
Some Pakistanis have also long sought to restructure, if not dismantle, Pakistan's dependence upon the United States. Yet not only has the United States supplied enormous financial and military assistance through grants, debt relief, and military sales on favorable terms, it has also been an important voice at multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. While some Pakistanis may dismiss the actual amount of U.S. development assistance, only the foolish would dismiss the important role that Washington plays in ensuring that multilateral organizations continue investing in Pakistan despite Pakistan's repeated failures to fulfill its side of the bargain.
Pakistani media and political and military elites often reassure its citizens that should Washington again abandon Pakistan, China will step in to the fill the void. China, however, has not been so willing to play this game. China's record of relations with Pakistan is not so different from that of the United States. China encourages Pakistan to formalize the status quo with India in Kashmir, urges Pakistan to take its domestic Islamist terrorism seriously, and chides Pakistan for supporting international Islamist terrorist groups. While China does provide military equipment and even nuclear technology to Pakistan, it does not wish to see Pakistan and India go to war. Nor does China want to encourage a complete break between Washington and Islamabad, as it has no interest in taking over America's expensive role in propping up Pakistan.
While Pakistanis and Americans alike would like to find some way of unlocking what Bruce Riedel has called a "deadly embrace," the essays in this volume suggest that this may be more easily said than done. There is little evidence that the two estranged "frenemies" can simply walk away from each other. Yet there is also little evidence that this relationship will become more palatable to domestic elites and ordinary citizens on either side.
The contributors to this edited volume hope to cast light on several interrelated issues that will contribute to Pakistan's post-2014 trajectory. One cluster of concerns pertains most closely to Pakistan's domestic security situation. The internal security threats to Pakistan are numerous and stem in part from the long history of the deep state's patronage of Islamist terrorist groups to achieve foreign policy goals in India and Kashmir. This policy commitment enabled the rise of an armada of Islamist militant groups, some of whom have turned their guns and bombs against their erstwhile Pakistani patrons. The domestic security situation is also related to the state's inability to resolve persistent debates, not just about the role of Islam in the state but also over what kind of Islam Pakistan should hold up as the banderole of the Islamic state. Pakistan has long failed to manage the sectarian differences between Sunni and Shia and even among Sunni Muslims. Needless to say, Pakistan's religious minorities have long been treated as second-class citizens. A third set of events that has influenced the rapidly degrading security environment is at least partially exogenous: the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Iraq, antagonistic U.S. policies such as the drone campaign, and fluctuations in the Indo-Pakistan competition.
Part I of this volume thus focuses on these security challenges. In Chapter 1, Stephen Tankel explores the evolution of the militant nexus in Pakistan and assesses the implications for domestic and regional security. Tankel argues that Pakistani militancy has become a buyer's market, the fluidity of which decreases the utility of separating prostate from antistate militants, thwarting even committed counterterrorism efforts. Factors such as the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan and continued India-Pakistan competition could exacerbate tensions among militants, while also granting them greater maneuverability and making it more difficult for Pakistan to manage even "prostate" entities. In the short term, the fluid nature of the militant milieu makes it more difficult for Pakistani militants to unite behind any single cause and less likely that they can overthrow the state. Over the medium term, however, the creeping expansion of jihadist influence will have a pernicious impact on the health of Pakistan's society, and the militant infrastructure in Pakistan will remain a persistent threat to regional stability.
As Tankel makes clear, the diversity of Pakistan's militant groups tends to prevent them from effectively uniting their forces. The same is true of Pakistan's Islamist movements, which emerged out of a diverse set of ideological traditions, yet nonetheless have managed at times to join their efforts in the political domain.
In Chapter 2 Joshua White discusses these efforts at collaboration among various Sunni Islamic movements, and the ways in which they might shape the contours of post-2014 Pakistan and the security of the wider region. One striking and representative example of such collaboration has been the formation of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council—an ad hoc pan-Sunni collective that has brought together the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (i.e., Lashkar-e-Taiba) of the Ahl-e-Hadith tradition, the Jamaat-e-Islami of the modernist tradition, and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Sami ul-Haq faction) of the Deobandi tradition. By comparing recently published Quranic commentary from Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to parallel commentaries from other Sunni traditions, White explores both the potential and limits of Sunni cooperation in matters relating to jihad and the state. He finds that, particularly in a post-2014 environment in Pakistan in which market pressures are likely to drive Islamist groups to differentiate themselves, the existing ideological divides between Sunni groups may preclude certain forms of joint mobilization for jihad within Pakistan itself. The analysis also points, however, to the relative ease by which broad-based Sunni coalitions will find it possible to forge substantive cooperation targeting already-vulnerable minority groups inside Pakistan, or working together on a case-by-case basis to support jihadi projects outside of Pakistan's borders.
In the third chapter Sarah J. Watson and C. Christine Fair turn their attention to the U.S. armed drone campaign. The American-operated drone campaign against militants in Pakistan's northwest is not obviously an internal security issue for Pakistan. But the authors argue that the program is in fact a crucial element in Pakistan's internal security landscape. This is so whether, as critics charge, the drone program fuels terrorism or, as its proponents counter, it is the only realistic method of targeting Pakistan's militants, whose redoubts in the tribal areas are beyond the reach of Pakistani law enforcement agencies. While the program's foes denounce the strikes as emblematic of an American effort to secure its global and regional security objectives at the expense of Pakistan, Watson and Fair argue that American drones have increasingly targeted Pakistan's enemies, rather than those of the United States. In fact, the Americans launched the drone campaign in 2004 with a "goodwill kill" of a wanted Pakistani terrorist. The United States certainly wanted to gain Pakistan's consent to strikes in the tribal areas. But it also has a direct interest in securing the Pakistani state due to fears that militants will gain access to Pakistan's nuclear materials or know-how. Furthermore, given the complex and fluid alliances among militants operating in this area, Pakistan and American interests may often converge.
In this chapter, the authors argue that the drone program is in fact conducted with the consent of Pakistan's establishment, and that in fact the Pakistani military has a crucial stake in the program's continued success. When seen in this light, it becomes clear that much of the legal and moral opposition to the program is based on mistaken assumptions about Pakistan's consent to the program, as well as on dubious reports of high civilian casualty rates. When evaluating the drone war in Pakistan, they argue that while drones certainly have their drawbacks, they are superior to Pakistan's other options for combating its increasingly severe internal security crisis. Recognizing the strikes' utility naturally gives rise to questions about Pakistan's ability to manage its internal security issues should the drone strikes cease with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
As noted above, Pakistan's troubled internal security picture has important consequences for its (in)famous nuclear program. As Christopher Clary points out in Chapter 4, while Pakistanis often find U.S. concerns for the safety of the arsenal insulting, the nuclear program faces real dangers. Clary identifies four command and control threats to Pakistan's program: Pakistan's relationship with nonstate militants, the insider threat from Pakistani army officers or nuclear scientists, the external threat posed by antistate militants (who have long targeted Pakistani military installations), and the risk that ongoing tensions with India will escalate into full-scale conflict, causing Pakistan to relax the protocols in place for protecting its nuclear warheads. While Pakistan has taken many steps to secure its arsenal, its inherent instability means that the risk of a command and control failure will remain small, but real. Clary's analysis is not likely to reassure American policy makers. Pakistan's fragile internal security, coupled with fears of nuclear proliferation, will no doubt help drive American policy well beyond 2014, and fears about the security of the arsenal will make it difficult for the United States to ever fully end American involvement in Pakistan.
Part II of this volume focuses on Pakistani domestic politics and political economy. While the first part of this volume lays out the risks to Pakistan's internal security, and the implications of these doomsday scenarios for the United States and the international community, the chapters in the second part will exposit domestic movements that can either exacerbate or mitigate the problems addressed in Part I.
One of the most important developments of the last decade in Pakistan has been the rebirth of democratic institutions. Historically, internal security and foreign policy have been the sole responsibility of the Pakistan army. But, as C. Christine Fair shows in Chapter 5, the balance of power between Pakistan's military and civilian rulers may finally be shifting. In the spring of 2013 Pakistan witnessed a historic peaceful transfer of power. The outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government, despite its limitations, made real progress toward institutionalizing democracy, including making considerable efforts to take responsibility for foreign and defense policy making. President Asif Ali Zardari is the first sitting Pakistani president to have ever devolved extensive presidential powers to the prime minister and has also made unprecedented strides to pass power to the provinces. The PPP's replacement, Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), won a sufficient parliamentary majority to enable him to rule without the constant fear for his political base that dogged the previous government. This does not mean, of course, that Pakistan's democracy is in the clear. While civilian agency is emerging within Pakistan's government, it is still fragile. While the army remains restricted in freedoms of movement and tainted by Musharraf-era policies, it has developed new tools to keep Pakistan's democracy on a tight leash.
One of President Musharraf's most important contributions to Pakistan, ironically, was the legal space for private media. Over the last decade, Pakistan's media has developed into a lively and raucous terrain, which has certainly helped shape Pakistani views toward domestic and foreign policy—for better or for worse. As elsewhere, social media has become an important factor in Pakistan's domestic politics. Pakistan's 2013 general elections were the first such contests in which social media played a significant role, particularly in the unprecedented success of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). In Chapter 6 Huma Yusuf explores Pakistan's new media landscape, with particular attention to the social networking platforms, such as Facebook, that are becoming an increasingly large part of middle-class Pakistani life. Some believe that social networking technologies, which offer an alternative to Pakistan's corrupt and state-controlled mainstream media, have the potential to transform Pakistani politics. Yet the reach of these technologies is still small and class bound, and Pakistan's authorities are taking steps to control the Internet, just as they have successfully harnessed Pakistan's other media platforms. It remains to be seen whether social media in Pakistan can expand beyond its current middle-class base and achieve the impact they have had in countries such as Egypt.
Chapter 7 turns to Pakistan's economic challenges. In this chapter Feisal Khan addresses the two main problems that have hobbled Pakistan's economic growth: the inability of the country's energy sector to produce enough power to keep Pakistan running; and the dismal performance of Pakistan's taxation system, which is one of the most inefficient and inequitable in the world. Khan shows how a series of shady backroom deals tied Pakistan to an inefficient and overpriced power generation system in the 1990s. The decision to allow the development of private power plants, although championed by international institutions such as the World Bank, has resulted in Pakistan paying far more for its power than it would have done if it had built the plants itself. Exacerbating the problem is the country's massive "circular debt"—a huge, and still growing, imbalance of payments that prevents the existing utilities from investing in infrastructure, making power generation even more expensive. Pakistan's taxation system is equally shambolic, being marked by rampant income tax evasion at even the highest levels of government. Politically motivated decisions to exempt certain sectors from taxation have shrunk the tax base even further, making Pakistan dependent on loans from multilateral institutions and on the financial support of the United States. Although the government of Nawaz Sharif was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility, it has shown itself unable to truly confront these issues. In the absence of bold and concerted action, Pakistan's economic outlook is dark and getting darker.
Part III of the volume looks beyond Pakistan's domestic affairs to examine its foreign relations both within the region and beyond. The first two chapters in this part are devoted to Pakistan's most contentious alliance: that with the United States. This focus is warranted for several reasons. First, whether Washington wants to admit it or not, it cannot afford to walk away from Pakistan. Pakistan will remain the single most important producer of insecurity in the region. Similarly, while Pakistanis may wish they could walk away from the Americans, they too know that they will require American diplomatic and economic support. At a minimum, Pakistan would like to prevent the Americans from declaring it to be a state sponsor of terrorism or from undertaking a punitive campaign that would further undermine Pakistan's economic prospects.
In Chapter 8, Paul Staniland argues that the drawdown from Afghanistan provides the United States with an opportunity to create strategic breathing space. The United States and Pakistan have had a particularly dysfunctional relationship since 9/11, characterized by resentment and suspicion despite huge flows of U.S. money and supportive public euphemisms. The U.S. drawdown will reduce American reliance on Pakistan and its military, giving America a freer hand in the region. Over the long run, India will be more strategically important than Pakistan, and a reduced U.S. commitment in Afghanistan allows the United States to move beyond the debilitating paralysis that afflicts its current strategy on the subcontinent. In turn, a more distant American role may benefit Pakistan as well. It may reduce its civilian leaders' vulnerability to being accused of acting as a puppet for America and limit, if only on the margins, the military's domestic power. Eventually, a more "normal" relationship between the United States and Pakistan may emerge that avoids the costly and unproductive dynamics of the last decade.
Much has been made of the importance of anti-Americanism as a factor in U.S.-Pakistani relations, but relatively little has been done to explore the sources and correlates of Pakistani attitudes. In Chapter 9, Karl Kaltenthaler and Will Miller explore the Pakistani mass public's attitudes toward the United States. They argue that at least two different strains of anti-Americanism are present in Pakistan: one is driven by concerns about Pakistan's sovereignty and the other is colored by a religious discourse that paints the United States as the enemy of Muslims. While the majority of Pakistanis express only a passive anti-Americanism, a small minority hold a militant view that is primarily the product of a radical Islamist discourse in Pakistan.
With the future of U.S.-Pakistan ties in question, Pakistan has sought to cultivate China ever more. As Aparna Pande shows in Chapter 10, Pakistan, never fully certain of American aid, has over the years looked to countries with which its leaders feel an affinity, either ideological or strategic, in order to diversify its avenues of support. China has been a source of military assistance, while Saudi Arabia is an ideological and economic collaborator. Between them, the two countries are seen as Pakistan's friends of last resort. The 2014 American withdrawal from Afghanistan will result in a lessening of U.S. interest in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In order to compensate for lack of American interest, Pakistan's leaders may attempt to make Pakistan relevant and critical to countries they believe will be able to provide them economic and military support. In this context, Pakistan may be tempted to seek security and economic strength by turning even further toward Saudi Arabia and China, even if that means providing an assurance of military security to Saudi Arabia and hoping China will use Pakistan for deterrence against India.
Finally, Part III turns to Pakistan's endgame in Afghanistan. In Chapter 11, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Tara Vassefi examine the legacy of the extraordinarily strained relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan and how it will continue to influence Pakistan's policies as the United States draws down. Gartenstein-Ross and Vassefi show that a critical factor that first drove Pakistan's support for Islamic militant groups in Afghanistan is Afghanistan's historical demand that an independent "Pashtunistan" should be carved out of the Pashtun-majority areas of Pakistan. Afghanistan's aggressive military actions in support of Pashtunistan look much like Pakistan's support for violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan today. A potent mix of factors now driving Pakistani support for these violent groups in Afghanistan virtually guarantees that this support will continue as the United States draws down. However, Gartenstein-Ross and Vassefi perceive a paradox in Pakistan's strong position in Afghanistan and argue that the more Pakistan presses its advantage in Afghanistan, the more likely it is that Pakistan's adversaries will similarly sponsor violent nonstate actors operating in Pakistan's own territory. In that way, Pakistan's advantage in Afghanistan may in the longer run help to destabilize the country that currently appears to have such a strong hand.
Looking Beyond 2014
The chapters in this volume identify several issues that will continue to confront Pakistan. Pakistan's elected government will struggle to assert its writ, not only over the army but also over an activist Supreme Court that has sought to intrude upon legislative powers. The courts and the military are likely to fight just as hard to preserve their prerogatives. While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has secured a strong electoral mandate from his wins in the May 2013 election, Pakistan is thoroughly hobbled by economic malaise, a persistent shortage of power (which only worsens its economic challenges), decrepit human development, and rampant Islamist and ethnic insurgency. Navigating this suite of problems would be daunting for any leader. Sharif's problems are rendered all the more difficult because Pakistan's electorate is deeply divided about the path forward on virtually every domestic and foreign policy question.
Events in Afghanistan will certainly have enormous impact on Pakistan's domestic security and foreign policy concerns. Pakistan likely wants some kind of a stable Afghanistan—as long as the government there is hostile to India and friendly to Pakistan. Owing to long-standing bilateral disputes, Pakistan has never accepted Afghanistan as a neighbor; since the 1950s Pakistan has invested heavily in rendering Afghanistan into a client state. Some Pakistanis recall that on the eve of 9/11, many in Pakistan were ready to jettison their problematic Taliban allies, who had brought such international disgrace upon Pakistan. With the passage of time, however, most Pakistanis nostalgically recall the Taliban era as a relative golden age in which the Indians were at least kept in check, even if the Taliban did not deliver on Pakistan's hope that they would accept the validity of the Durand Line.
The Afghan Taliban as it has evolved over the last decade is also problematic for Pakistan. Many members of the group resent the fact that Pakistan continues to orchestrate events in Afghanistan, at the expense of Afghans. While the Pakistanis hope that some kind of Taliban representation can be achieved at the provincial and subprovincial levels, and maybe even in federal cabinet positions, Pakistan surely does not want the Taliban to control Afghanistan as it did before 9/11. To achieve an optimal result in Afghanistan, Pakistan has to achieve multiple outcomes simultaneously.
The Pakistani army likely wants the United States to remain engaged in Afghanistan at some level. (This is at odds with the public positions of most civilian leaders.) The reasons for this are twofold. One, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan will ensure that Pakistan retains its salience for U.S. regional policy. Second, American support is likely critical to maintaining some form of central government in Kabul in the near-term. This will ensure a steady tension between the central government and the Taliban—necessary to minimize the chance that the Afghan Taliban may turn its guns and suicide bombers against the Pakistani state or offer sanctuary to the Pakistani Taliban. Ideally, with such tension between Taliban and non-Taliban forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan's varied militant groups can reengage themselves in Afghanistan rather than Pakistan.
But the Pakistan military does not want such a robust U.S. or international military presence in Afghanistan that Washington puts pressure on Pakistan to facilitate these operations. The Pakistan army hopes that when it is no longer seen as collaborating with the Americans some of the anti-Pakistan militants can be rehabilitated to once again focus their efforts in Afghanistan or in India. Equally important, the Pakistan army assesses that once the heavy American security presence is gone, India will also have to retrench from some of its most provocative positions in Afghanistan. The Indians have relied on the American security umbrella to prosecute India's various political and development projects in Afghanistan and possibly to engage in covert operations to aid separatists in Pakistan's restive provinces (Fair 2011).
While both Pakistan and the United States may hope to find some way of prosecuting their interests irrespective of the other, neither has very attractive options. Pakistan often threatens to embrace China or Saudi Arabia ever-more tightly, but neither of these states seems willing to pick up the tab. In fact, both prefer that the United States continue to shoulder the heavy burden of keeping Pakistan afloat. While many American policy makers, legislators, and ordinary citizens would like to write off Pakistan for good, this is likely not feasible, due to the enduring threats terrorist groups based in Pakistan pose to regional and international security and the related specter of such militants obtaining nuclear weapons. It seems that Daniel Markey may have put it best: there is "no exit" for either the United States or Pakistan (Markey 2013).
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