The Wars of the State.

By Feroz Khan

The reality has a way of obscuring the obvious. As the nation of Pakistan deals with the multiple threats facing it, it seems doubtful if it even understands the full gravity of the existential challenges, which face it. For too long, the state of Pakistan has identified the identity of its problems in terms, which seemed alien to the nature of the problems themselves.

This article is not about Pakistan’s “place in the sun” or why the dreams of greatness, nourished for so long and wished upon so fervently, never materialized, but rather it is about an explanation that seeks to answer, why Pakistan is tottering on the brink of failure as a nation. This article is not about Jinnah or what Jinnah wanted and neither is it a mea cupla or an instigation of blame, but it is about those imponderables of power which make up the very soul of a nation and provides it with the very breath that sustains its national persona.

In order to understand the root causes of the problems facing Pakistan presently, it might make sense to revert to the mists of the past and discern the logic, which would shape the evolution of Pakistan’s destiny from its creation. Again, this article is not about the origins of the idea of Pakistan or the struggle for Pakistan as much as it an article that seeks to ask why the idea of Pakistan could never be fully defined and explained; to the world and to the Pakistanis themselves. The purpose of this article is not to debate the meaning of Pakistan but to comprehend the thought by which Pakistan sought to characterize itself as a nation-state and one, which would embody its policies both domestically and internationally. If the argument is to be made that Pakistan is a failed state or is on the cusp of failure, then what the discourse needs to emphasis is the totality of the genesis of a nation-state, in its modern lexicon, and how Pakistan chose to interpret the very definition of a modern-state.

 It would seem that the arguments of Pakistan’s success or failure reside in Pakistan’s own understanding and perceptions of its own role as a nation-state and what it wished to attain and more crucially, how it sought to achieve those goals. The most basic goal, which Pakistan sought to attain, at independence, was not establishment of a homeland for the Muslims of India per se, but the survivability of its existence as a viable nation and to deal with the multitude of birth-pangs it was forced to confront; from the refugee crisis to forming a government to matters of paying for it and to the issues of defending its independence from the very onset of its existence as a nation-state. Pakistan, from the moment it came into existence, was shadowed by a phobia of Indian intentions and therefore, it instinctively would portray itself as an existential response to India, but this did not necessarily mean that it was physically threatened by India.

There is no denying the fact that upon its creation Pakistan faced daunting challenges to its existence and it would be in the midst of these problems that the debate about the future nature of the Pakistani polity would be forgotten. The debate that should have taken place in the early years of Pakistan, and which still has not been fully debated, is what is role of a military within the politics of the state. On the surface, it might seem clear as to what is the proper role of a military within a nation, but the answer is a lot more nuanced than simply staying away from politics or not intervening in it. Pakistan is presently engaged in a series of debates arguing the role of constitutionalism; of an independent judiciary; of a free media and the nature of a civic society’s responsibility to the state, but it has not yet began to debate the role of the Pakistani military within Pakistan.

The role of the Pakistani military, within the politics of Pakistan, needs to be understood and the role of the military within Pakistani politics needs to be crafted concisely in a manner that avoids any ambiguity. In order to formulate such a role, but more importantly determine the place of the military within the Pakistani state, it would be instructive to understand the evolution of the military’s role in politics since the time of Machiavelli in the 1400s. The simple reason for this historic regression is that Pakistan inherited a system of government from Great Britain, which was a system of governance that was alien to the experience of the governance in South Asia and as Pakistan persisted with its imperial legacy, it never bothered to understand the reasons that lead to the civilian control of the military.

 Whether one is willing to admit it or not in Pakistan, the fact of the matter remains that at the time of Pakistan’s independence in 1947, nearly four hundred years of war fighting experience and intellectual thought had shaped the perceptions of a modern state and its role vis-à-vis war and politics. Hence, the idea of the military’s role within a modern nation-state, which Pakistan gained from Great Britain was one in which role of the military was clearly defined and categorized as being subordinate to the powers of the state itself. Five hundred years ago, when the edifice of feudalism was crumbling in Europe, it was common for a monarch to exercise both military and political powers within his reason and European history has recorded many instances of great kings, who were also great captains of war.

 As Europe was transiting from medievalism to the post-medieval world, the continent was fraught with wars of succession and national consolidation and from these conflicts would emerge a new understanding of the forces of war and politics. It soon became clear to many who were critically observing this interplay of war and politics that wars resulted from a failure of diplomacy and the bedrock of all future wars would be economic and not the military prowess of the state or the size of its army. In this sense, the nature of war and its conduct all underwent a change because wars were no longer considered as the exclusive rights of monarchs but rather as the instruments of the state to be used by the state in pursuit of its interests.

 The last sentence of the preceding paragraph was pregnant with far-reaching possibilities, because if war was an instrument of state power then questions arose as to who would guide the application of that state’s power? The answer would not be so easily forth coming and it would take the experience of the First World War to convince the Europeans that military power had to be controlled by the representatives of the state – the parliament – and that its direction and guidance in times of war had to be clearly defined by the civilians rather than the military men. It would take the Europeans nearly four hundred years to come to this stage and during this time, as Europe was still debating this issue, Great Britain’s parliament was gradually solidifying its control over the politics of war and by the time Napoleon Bonaparte would dominate Europe in the early nineteenth century, the issues of “supremacy of parliament” in Britain were already settled and Great Britain would fight the Napoleonic wars as a constitutional monarchy.

The salient caveat is that of all the nations that entered the First World War, only Great Britain’s army was under the control of its parliament. This meant that the British parliament was not easily influenced or even impressed by the logic of “military necessity”, which was used successively by the general staffs of Germany, France, Austro-Hungary and of Russia to circumvent the parliamentary control over the conduct of the war. As the French premier George Clemenceau once said “war is too important to be left to the generals”, the lessons of the First World War convinced the Europeans, and validated the British believe, that the end result of all wars were political and the force used in wars had to be proportionate to the political needs of the state.

It goes without saying, as the experience of the First World War proved, that the military should come always under civilian authority, but that statement belies a bigger realization. Wars may be the continuation of diplomacy by other means and that maybe the nature of wars as Karl von Clausewitz might suggest, but the purpose of wars is more specific. There is a difference between the nature of war and the purpose of war; and there is a difference between a military force and its raison d’ etre, which has hardly been debated or understood in Pakistani politics.

Military force is the instrument of the sovereign – the state – and its purpose is to advance the political interests of the state through the application of violence. This application of the force, otherwise known as war, has to be determined by the state and the state alone must judge it value; its usage and its intentions. The aim of a war, in a military sense may be considered as the defeat of the enemy’s armies, but in a political sense the aim of a war should not simply be the defeat of an enemy’s armies, but to exert a level of persuasion that lessens the enemy’s will to resist the political demands being made on him. A good example of this thought, in practical terms, would be the operations of the Indian army in the war of 1971 against Pakistan and where the political aim of separating East Pakistan from West Pakistan was achieved by the defeat of Pakistani forces in the east. Once that aim was attained, the hostilities were ended because India was in a more favorable position to influence the post-war politics; a reality that was embodied in the Shimla Agreement.

Therefore, the purpose of a war is to reestablish the levels of political engagement between two states and the purpose of a military is to allow it’s sovereign power to re-enter the diplomatic discourse from a more advantageous position. Hence, the idea of war; to fight a war itself must be politically considered and the manner in which a war is persecuted must be politically controlled. Politics must limit the duration of the war to the extent that wars must be ended once the political aim of the fighting, to bring an opponent back to the discussion table with amenable intentions, is gained. Consequently, military strategy must follow from within the political reasons for a particular conflict and as political interests tend to be flexible; military strategy should be adaptable to the changing political needs and must not be rigid in its execution of the state’s interests.

What this implies is that the “doctrine of military necessity”, whereby the military seeks to justify its independent nature from politics, must never be tolerated. The reason being that military’s need to exist outside political control is, and can be, an existential threat to the nature of sovereign power itself because of one of most enduring hallmarks of sovereign legitimacy, in international relations, is the ability of the state to make war and peace. A military that tends to remain outside of a civilian control might endanger the safety of the state by embarking or giving the state a certain set of policy choices, which might not be easy to defend diplomatically.

 A military force, which is allowed to create a set of policies, or influence policy decisions of a civilian government, on the basis of “military necessity” in a polity and which is unwilling to amend those policies in the light of changing political circumstances, tends to diminish the sovereign power of a state to make peace with its neighbors. This, should it be allowed to remain unchecked, can force the state into a realm of perpetual war, which may adversely affect the long-term security interests of a state. Pakistani politics needs to understand this thought as it prepares to fight an insurgency within its country and defend the existence of its “writ of sovereignty”.

A successful Pakistani response to the present insurgency will not manifest itself from the military destruction of the insurgents per se, but from the use of intelligent political policies in Islamabad, which effectively uses the Pakistani army to gain a particular political aim and more importantly, which understands what it hopes to achieve. A successful conduct and completion of a war implies that it must be politically guided and the military power must be proportionate to the attainment of a political goal, but it also strongly suggests that politics must never ask the military to do what is not possible to achieve. Wars are not, and never have been a solution to political problems and for politicians to think that a military can solve a political problem through the application of violence is highly disingenuous.

Therefore, as Pakistan prepares to confront the issues of insurgencies in Baluchistan and the FATA and as it prepares to fight them, Pakistani political thought needs to pay attention to the causes of the insurgency itself and ask a few pointed questions. All armed insurgencies, historically, have originated from a political reason and until and unless those political grievances are not addressed; the insurgencies have continued. Pakistan needs to decide whether the problems it is facing, in the guise of the present insurgencies, is of a political or a military nature? Is the solution to the present insurgencies a military response that seeks to destroy the insurgents and if it does; then it should be remembered that the physical death of insurgents in an insurgency will not mean the death of the idea or the political grievances, which are fuelling the insurgents.

 What this means, in a larger sense, is that the entire contract of sovereign power in Pakistan needs to be revisited. It does not simply mean a restoration of the 1973 constitution to its original form, but what it suggests is a new understanding of the political, economic and social and cultural forces within Pakistani politics and the realization that Pakistan is a nation of heterogeneous interests. It means an awareness, within Pakistan by all the Pakistani interests, that Pakistan needs to understand the nature of sovereign power and it needs to respect the limits of that power as constitutionally defined and more importantly, it needs realize that Pakistan, as a nation, is too diverse to fit into anyone or any groups “idea of Pakistan”.

However, before it attempts to do all of this, the issues of the role of the military within a modern nation-state and the interaction of war and politics and their place in relation to another has to be clearly defined in Pakistani politics. It will on this issue, as Pakistan seeks to define the parameters of its civilian-military relations, that real issues of the “sovereignty of Pakistan” will be eventually decided. The future issue of Pakistan’s sovereignty will be decided on the basis of the following premise; is the military in Pakistan an instrument of sovereign power or is the sovereign power a hand-maiden for military power Pakistan and until Pakistan answers this question within all its socio-economic and politically cultural permutations, it will be always at a loss to define itself as a modern nation state and will be always remain imbalanced on the knife’s edge of failure and success

37 Comments

Filed under Pakistan

37 responses to “The Wars of the State.

  1. amar

    Feroz writes:
    “Pakistan, from the moment it came into existence, was shadowed by a phobia of Indian intentions and therefore, it instinctively would portray itself as an existential response to India, but this did not necessarily mean that it was physically threatened by India.”

    Pakistan was supposed to incorporate the heroic, the heroic-islamic, the heroic islamic-anti-hindu. Even today letters abound in pakistani newspapers from young bloods (born 30 years after 1947) about how “we” got our beloved Pakistan despite the vile bania hindu, how the hero Jinnah single-handedly defeated the gang of vile sinful scheming hindu banias headed by Gandhi etc.

    These early pakistani theatrics of heroism and self-deceits became mainstream. Army, judges, parties, government, burocrats, teachers at all levels, mullahs – they all became heroes in an islamic world of their own muhammad-bin-kasim type fantasies.

    The crucial question is: what do the armymen in Pakistan get to read?

  2. Maryanne Khan

    Sent to Feroz in response to this most insightful article,

    “”Military force is the instrument of the sovereign – the state – and its purpose is to advance the political interests of the state through the application of violence. This application of the force, otherwise known as war, has to be determined by the state and the state alone must judge it value; its usage and its intentions. The aim of a war, in a military sense may be considered as the defeat of the enemy’s armies, but in a political sense the aim of a war should not simply be the defeat of an enemy’s armies, but to exert a level of persuasion that lessens the enemy’s will to resist the political demands being made on him.”

    Cut and paste into Afghanistan.

    Ignoring this vital precept is what is muddying the waters in the US who have announced (at the level of the people and from the Generals, and what we’re hearing over here in the tea-and-scones party talks in the Australian Parliament at the moment) that they are in a war “To Win”.

    A bit further on you spell it out: “it should be remembered that the physical death of insurgents in an insurgency will not mean the death of the idea or the political grievances, which are fuelling the insurgents.”

    As you conclude, it is indeed a master-servant dilemma and from here it looks like the Pak politicians want to occupy the position of power without exercising it per se and sit back and hope that the army will clean up the mess resulting from the clashes between socio-economic interest groups who do not look to the politicians for leadership in any case. A case of “seek not what you can’t hope to find.”

  3. Feroz Khan

    @ Maryanne Khan

    War is an act of political violence and the legitimacy of a state comes from its war making powers. These powers must be used in the pursuit of the state’s interest and those interests are defined by the political complusions which create the contextual environment in which a state undertakes its external relations – diplomacy.

    Diplomacy is the creation of opportunties, which allows for the preservation of a state’s interests from being undermined by the interests of another state or sovereign power. The purpose of a war, in the interests of the sovereign power, has to be seen in this sense to be fully appreciated.

    A credible diplomacy, then, is based on the idea of what is plausible and this implies the very reason behind a war is to limit its duration to the fact that it revives the diplomatic engagement between sovereign powers. International treaties, after wars, are created to this effect and treaties, which fail to secure a peace are treaties which fail to solve the reasons for a particular war and cannot revive the political process of engagement between sovereign states.

    ciao

  4. Maryanne Khan

    and furthermore:

    “A military force, which is allowed to create a set of policies, or influence policy decisions of a civilian government, on the basis of “military necessity” in a polity and which is unwilling to amend those policies in the light of changing political circumstances, tends to diminish the sovereign power of a state to make peace with its neighbors. This, should it be allowed to remain unchecked, can force the state into a realm of perpetual war, which may adversely affect the long-term security interests of a state. ”

    I found this interesting as this logic can be applied to several past US wars which were instigated by the so-called ‘Military-Industrial Complex.’ In those cases, both military AND economic/industrial interests profited equally from war and enlisted politicians like Robert Mac Namara to put a political ‘face’ to the “military / industrial necessity” of the war in question (at the time, framed as crushing Communism’s perceived attempts to spread its influence through South Asia.)

    The prosecution of the current Afghan war still involves the MIC, but the generals are the ones talking about ‘Winning” (as in killing members of the Taliban or disabling the opponents’ ability to retaliate in A’stan.)

    This is completely unachievable, given that whilst the American military (and the Aussies) are talking about ‘Winning’ the entire conflict is actually about curbing Iran’s re-ingress into your region. The Australian news posts Karzai’s admission to receiving ‘bags of money’ from Iran* and Pakistan has a done deal with them for the billion-dollar pipeline. The US politicians are stirring up opposition to Iran for this very reason, now they’ve lost their puppet-shah.

    * You asked me from whom in Iran exactly, and I’d say it’s the Oil Interests. The politicians may not give a damn about Afghanistan other than for reasons of shared ethnicity, history etc, but I reckon it’s a case of (potential) “money doing the talking.”

    Also, you posit that the aim of conflict is the very need to resolve that conflict in a manner tolerable to both parties.

    Look no further than the Treaty of Versailles, which did not achieve that, thus WWII was more an extension of WWI rather than a completely fresh conflict.

    This harks back to your argument regarding ‘dissatisfaction with the status quo’ as the root cause of war and insurgency alike and killing insurgents doesn’t remove their raison d’etre. The victorious parties in the first war decided to ‘Squeeze the German lemon till the pips squeak’ and we all saw what that achieved.

    It will be impossible to ‘defeat’ the Taliban with the aid of a self-interested third party when the Taliban, like it or not, are part of the State of Afghanistan. Instead of defeating them in their numbers, and taking out a disproportionate number of innocents in the process, a future grounds for some kind of partnership is the only realistic solution.

  5. Maryanne Khan

    ” . . . treaties, which fail to secure a peace are treaties which fail to solve the reasons for a particular war and cannot revive the political process of engagement between sovereign states.”

    Exactly. If in talking about ending the war in Afghanistan, it will be politically and diplomatically desirable to address the Taliban’s reasons for opposing its own government/State. It is not impossible to imagine that some group of politicians charged with this task might not be able to secure such a treaty.

    But how to secure a ‘treaty’ with the US (NATO)? if what they want is no longer the initial express reason for the conflict? Let’s not forget that the US’s initial objective was to root out Al Qaeda (a legitimate aim after 9/11) but now it’s about halting the emergence of a strong political and economic alliance between the Arab world, Iran in particular, and South Asia.

    Kabul is a fickle ally. . . .and so is Islamabad when they stand to gain much more in the long term. US aid will not buy the energy infrastructure that can be built in partnership with Iran et al. At some point, the US will adopt the policy you have indicated time and time again — that of weighing up the actual cost of achieving a given goal will be.

    When it costs too much, and benefits too little, it ends.

  6. Feroz Khan

    @ Maryanne

    You will find this interesting. When Eisenhower coined the term the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell speech, he orginally wanted to say “the military-industrial-congress complex” but then deleted congress. It is the Congress, which authorizes the funds that sustain the military industrial complex and there is one military-industrial related unit in each congressional district.

    Robert McNamara was managing the Vietnam War like a business and that has been a problem with the American wars. Since the end of World War II, United States has not been able to generate public support for a total war. It had a very good case for a total war in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 but the muddled policies of Bush, Jr. wasted that public support.

    The interesting point about the Treaty of Versailles and its failure is that it was punitive in nature and punitive treaties are always resisted. Signing treaties, between sovereign states, is a consensual act and when a treaty is forced upon a state, it may be forced to signed it but the public opinion will rebel against it and that in turn, will create internal problems for the state.

    The war inside Afghanistan and Pakistan will end in a political solution, with the Taliban in both countries being a part of the political matrix of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The political reality of the Taliban cannot be wished away and the state of Pakistan, will have to compromise with them and will have to bring them into the mainstream politics of the country. This is already happening in Afghanistan as Hamid Karzai is openly making overtures to the Taliban.

    In a very brutally realistic sense, the war against the Pakistani Taliban cannot be won and the present fighting has only one aim: negotiations. The politics of the state of Pakistan, which are shaping the war strategy of the country are to fight the Taliban and in the process, create a favorable political situation where the state of Pakistan can enter negotiations with the Taliban from a position of strenght.

    It seems that the Pakistani military has accepted this reality and as long as its own political interests in Pakistan will not be threatened by the inclusion of the Pakistani Taliban into Pakistani politics, it will have no objections. The political parties, which are silently also of the same view, will soon openly support this idea. What it means in the long term will be interesting but the writing on the wall is that Jinnah’s Pakistan is dead and buried.

    A new Islamic Emirate of Pakistan is about to be born that will replace the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    ciao

  7. Maryanne Khan

    “Robert McNamara was managing the Vietnam War like a business and that has been a problem with the American wars.”

    Indeed. I remember his flow-chart apparatus (back when that was Cool and New, my ex was in Business Information Systems, way before the net changed it all.)

    I am in full agreement with you regarding the inevitable ‘merger’ between the two ‘warring’ parties, the Taliban and Pakistan’s political entities. As you say, the purpose of conflict is to amplify the mainstream to accommodate dissenting powers that have the potential to destabilise the whole. Like you, I see any polity as an emerging creature that must accommodate change, and the reality of today, for whatever reason, is much removed from any reality that Jinnah might have contemplated. In 1947, Jinnah was more preoccupied with the exit of the Raj and its aftermath than in becoming a visionary who was in the unique position to predict the rise of the US, the Cold War, and everything else that has changed the context he might have imagined for Pakistan. Some forget this.

    I would very much appreciate an elucidation on the ‘constitution’ (both literally and in terms of the political entity) of an Emirate.

  8. Feroz Khan

    @ Maryanne

    The idea of Pakistan turning into an “emirate” is just an idea. The caveat is, which direction will Pakistan evolve as a nation when it accomodates the Taliban into its mainstream politics?

    No modern army has defeated an insurgency since 1776 and it is doubtful if the Pakistani army has the capacity to do the unthinkable and actually win this war. There is another problem. Pakistani military can create the space for a political dialogue, but so far it seems that the civil administration in Pakistan has not followed up on the success of the army and it still needs to move back into the areas freed from the militants. Even though the army is clearing these areas, there is no civilian presence there and therefore, there is no writ of the government.

    Even so, if the Taliban are acccomodated, it still implies a compromise of sort and the question is, what will the State of Pakistan give up and is prepared to give in order to make the Taliban agree not to fight the state? If the Taliban are accomodated, they will press their demands onto the state and what will those demands be? The idea of FATA as an exclusive emirate of the Taliban and when that happens, what happens to Pakistan?

    It is more than likely that if a durable peace is to be found and a solution to this problem has to be found, there will be some sort of Balkanization of Pakistan. Pakistan, in its present form, can not exist given what has happened since September 11, 2001. The other option is for Pakistan to fight endlessly and it might just come to that when the Americans finally leave.

    The state of Pakistan by outsourcing its war making powers to non-state actors has grieviously undermined its own legitimacy and sovereign interests. It is, presently, incapable of regaining those war making powers and its sovereignity. There are too many imponderables and what makes them worse to contemplate is that the state is too enfeebled and too politically fragmented and instable to offer a credible defence of its interests.

    It is hard to forecast what sort of a constitution will emerge for an emirate of Pakistan. In any case, the idea of secularism would be dead. One can hazard a guess that a constitution of an emirate in Pakistan will be the end of everything mentioned in Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech.

    The Afghan end game will be interesting and how the talks progress between the external and internal stake holders, will have far reaching consequences, for many, for many years to come.

    ciao

  9. Caroline

    Mr. Khan: I found your post, “The Wars of State”, one of the best pieces I have read in a very long time. Also, I might add, the commentary from both you and Maryanne added greatly to that piece.

    I am in my 60’s and from the U.S. and was lucky enough to have been taught “Civics” and World History, quite thoroughly in high school along with updates of world news with a little newspaper called the “Weekly Reader”, which was handed out in our school system in the southwest. In other words, we were kept up to date on what was happening around the world and were not “isolationalist’s”, as is the case with so many Americans today. What is really happening in Pakistan is of great interest to me even today.

    When reading your “Wars of State”, I couldn’t help but think of Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the subsequent “mess”, to put it mildly, that it has made. I will never forget where I was standing and just what I said when the announcement was made. My aunt, who has, now crossed over, was standing with me in my bedroom, and we both expressed the same words simultaneously; “we have just invaded a sovereign nation!” No matter the tyrant or criminal Saddam Hussein was, George Bush committed an act of war against Iraq without the full consent of our Congress and that is the act of a tyrant against a tyrant. I believe that the purpose of our retribution was to go after al Queda in Afghanistan; not the Taliban, not Saddam Hussein, who certainly did not allow terrorist’s in his “State”. The fallout over our “Invasion of Iraq”, shall have exponential, reprehensible consequences to every country in that region for many years to come and for what reason? Just because one man exercised his power to do so! If for no other reason, than that one most recent glaring example, Pakistan should take heed as to what can happen when one uses the power to make war just because they can.

    Perhaps if the U.S. had concentrated on Afghanistan right after 9/11 then Pakistan would not have to deal with a newly empowered Taliban which was allowed to expand with the lack of presence of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Oh yes, they were off in Iraq doing “Bush work”! Sorry “bout that.

  10. Maryanne Khan

    Let us return to 1805, and a statement made by John Malcolm speaking of the East India Company’s policy:

    “It was a true saying which the great Lord Clive applied to the progress of the British Empire in India –‘ To stop is dangerous; to recede ruin.’ And if we do recede, either from our right pretentions and claims — nay if we look as if we thought of receding — we shall have a host of enemies, and thousands who dare not even harbour a thought of opposing the irresistible tide of our success, will hasten to attack a nation which shows by diffidence in its own power that it anticipates its own downfall.”

    . . . . .

    So when you say, “(The State of Pakistan) is, presently, incapable of regaining those war making powers and its sovereignty. There are too many imponderables and what makes them worse to contemplate is that the state is too enfeebled and too politically fragmented and instable to offer a credible defence of its interests.” We are right back at what the British calculated (correctly) as the compounding effect of contempt for a leadership that cannot prevail, most often militarily, to enforce its mandate. I think what we are saying here, is that the individuals comprising the ‘Government of Pakistan’ have a narrow set of ‘interests’ and preserving the integrity, the whole of national territory does not preclude ceding some of that territory when the cost of maintaining it is calculated to be too high.

    Pakistan is facing an endless war against an ideology that has gained traction amongst its adherents who can hark back to the vestiges of the rationale upon which the very State was supposedly founded. Such a war is too expensive, as its prosecution benefits none at the higher levels of government who can choose to walk away.

    How do the FATA regions currently factor as a base of any kind of power to the federal Government? If they and other regions were to become autonomous, a conglomerate of ’emirates’, how would that alter the nation’s economy and stability?

    You mention internal and external stakeholders in Afghanistan and I suspect, that will emerge to be the case in Pakistan, where, to return to the mindset described by Malcolm, Pakistan presents as “a nation which shows by diffidence in its own power that it anticipates its own downfall.”

    So if the State of Pakistan implodes, what will the resulting vacuum represent? If the US has spent vast amounts of money in Afghanistan (with Pakistan as its ‘Staunch Ally’) will the US be willing to watch that ally disintegrate into a subset of local/ideologically based autonomous provinces or mini-states. This would leave a great tract of potentially strategic territory south of China, north of Iran, east of Afghanistan and west of India – a tract of territory potentially bordered by two potential economic powerhouses, one potential link to an increasingly crucial and significant source of energy and an emerging fundamentalist Muslim state run by the Taliban.

    A sobering thought, but one that apparently does not cause the Pakistan government to find the will to guarantee its own survival. To quote T. S. Eliot, the Pa government is content to continue “living, living and partly living.”

  11. Maryanne Khan

    Caroline

    This is Mr. Khan’s article, and he will reply, internet access permitting, but let me just say that it’s great to have you involved in this discussion!

  12. Maryanne Khan

    Caroline,

    may I direct you to the excellent analysis in Seth G. Jones’ book, ‘In the Graveyard of Empires, America’s War in Afghanistan.’ It offers a very exhaustive analysis of how the US forfeited the gains against the Taliban that it had reached in 2002, abandoning the thrust against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in favour of other ambitions in Iraq. The Taliban seized the day.

    When Jones mentions the ‘graveyard’ of Empires, he is referring to the past empires that have always come to grief when fighting Afghanistan. None has ever succeeded, the USSR being the last of many ‘mighty armies (who have been historically brought) to their knees’ to quote Doug Childers of the Richmond Times Dispatch. I recommend it.

  13. Caroline

    Maryanne,

    Thank you. I do not mean to intrude. I feel that we Americans have “intruded” in the wrong way too many times. I love following the thread and will only contribute if I think it is relative. History is my forte’! Carry on!

  14. Feroz Khan

    @ Maryanne

    The longevity of a state and whether it exists or not or is respected, is measured by its ability to make war. Pakistan has clearly failed this test. Pakistani leadership’s greatest weakness is that it has absolutely no control over the war making infratructure of the state. This control comes not from just a civilian control of the military but from an institutional sense of purpose, which must exist within the military itself.

    The purpose of a military, in the support of the sovereign interests of the state, is to be prepared to act for attaing those interests, when required. This task was the reason, why the framework of a general staff was created in the first place and which was to coordinate the military policies with the political policy so that the state has clear aims as to what to achieve in case of a war. The function of a general and a general staff is not only to wage war but also act as advisors to the politicans and telling them what is militarily achievable and what is not.

    This is where the reference to Caroline’s comment is so true. The leadership of a military, which is under a civilian control also has an onus of responsibility to advice the politicans when to end a war and when a war has reached a stage, where the nature of the conflict is not necessarily in tune with its political aims. In other words, a general/general staff has a responsibility to tell a politican when it seems that a war is becoming open-ended and a liability to the political interests of the state itself.

    The individuals comprising the government of Pakistan are way beyond their depth. They have no awareness of the issues involved and they are not suited to the needs of the time. It is for this reason, Pakistani leadership will always remain on the level of a politican and never mature to the level of a statemen. The difference being, a politican looks to the next election while a statemen looks to the future of his country.

    As far as this war is concerned, Pakistan does not have the option to walk away and it does not have the capacity to fight to a conclusion. So, that automatically invites a reasonable doubt as to an eventual compromise to end this war, but since all wars are ended on the basis of a political settlement, what kind of a political settlement will end this war and like the political settlement in Swat, will it be honored?

    The United States’ concern vis-a-vis Pakistan is not mitigated by Pakistan’s fate in the region or whether it lives or not, but by the intangible calculus of United States’ regional interests. Pakistan, in its present shape, is a protectorate of the United States and so, it really does not matter what Pakistan may think about the issues, because those issues are going to decided in Washington and not Islamabad.

    Pakistan does not need to implode as it has already imploded. The reason for the above stated sentence is based on the preception that to avoid a potential implosion, Pakistan and its leadership would have the means to over come the present set of challenges facing it and resolve the issues afflicting it. The answer lies in the experience of the Pakistani response to the problems facing it and is not a very encouraging one.

    The failure of hope, to solve the problems, is connected to the irrationality of the state of Pakistan itself. The state of Pakistan, in its actions and intentions, appears confused and this confusion entails acts, which seem contradictory and self-defeating. The function of the present government is not to administer and govern Pakistan but to survive till the next elections and to do this, this government refuses to make a decision.

    This is the real problem. A lack of a decision is worse than a bad decision, because it only compounds the issues without offering any chances of solving them. This government has adopted a policy to be resolute in their indecisions and to be fluid in their contancy and to be principled in their lack of principles. This suits the United States and hence, there is no reason why it would like to see the end of this government and why it will support this government for its own regional interests.

    Yes, it is a very sobering assessment.

    ciao

  15. Feroz Khan

    @ Caroline

    Thank you for kind words. A lack of world awarness is a major problem, which the corporate media exploits. Another idea, to increase global awareness in the Americans, was the Peace Corps, which allowed the Americans to see a world at its own door steps. Also, your generation was more internationalist in the wake of the American experience in World War II, but the defining moment was Watergate and I think that turned many Americans away from their government.

    Vietnam and the manner in which it was fought, has made the Americans wary of foreign military committments and besides, there has always been an isolationist streak in the American character.

    Interestingly, the word “tyrant” in ancient Greece meant a person, who was not bad but ruled without laws. It only means an unconsitutional ruler and not a person with a bad personality or a character.

    The problem in Vietnam as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan is, what does the United States hope to achieve?

    At the start of the Vietnam War, the military had clearly told Lyndon B. Johnson that it would take nearly 400,000 over a period of 10 years to pacify the country. In Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld opted to ignore the advice of Colin Powell and went into Iraq with too few forces to do the job.

    In World War II, in 1940 when Churchill became the prime minister and Britain was facing defeat, one of his first tasks was to create an organization that would administer Germany as an occupied country and provide the day to day needs of the German people. There was no Amerian plan on what to do in Iraq when the war ended and Saddam was defeated and this created a vacuum, which was filled in by the sectarian militias and the end result was a civil war in Iraq.

    As some one said, what do you do after you have won a war?

    After nearly a decade in Afghanistan and close to that in Iraq, the reasons why the American public is having doubts on these wars, like it did on Vietnam, is because the aims and reasons for fighting these war were never clarifed and explained to the American public.

    I hope you continue to comment, as it would be intresting to hear an American perspective on the issue.

    ciao

  16. Maryanne Khan

    An interlude before I respond to today’s comment from Feroz Khan

    This from Seth G Jones in ‘In the Graveyard of Empires’:

    one of two themes playing out in Afghanistan in 2006, and that contributed to what Jones calls ‘the perfect storm’, was this:

    “Another theme was the diffuse, highly complex nature of the insurgency, which was perhaps best described as a complex adaptive system. This term refers to systems that are diverse (made up of multiple interconnected elements) and adaptive (possessing the capacity to change and learn from experience.) Examples of this complex adaptive systems include the stock market, ant colonies and most major social organisations.

    At least five different categories of groups were included in this system. The first were insurgent groups, who were motivated to overthrow the Afghan government and coerce the withdrawal of international forces. They ranged from the Taliban to smaller groups such as the Haqqani network, Gullbiddin Hekmatyar’s hezb-i-Islami, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), and al Qa’ida (sic). A second category included criminal groups involved in such activities as drug trafficking and illicit timber and gem trading. The third included local tribes, subtribes and clans that allied with insurgent groups. Most were Pashtun. The fourth category comprised the warlord militias, many of whom had become increasingly powerful after the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban regime. A fifth category included local or central government forces complicit in the insurgency, such as the afghan National Police and the Pakistani Frontier Corps.”

    Jones continues to describe the interaction of these groups as the three-pronged forces (northern front, southern and central fronts) along which the conflict in Afghanistan is devolving. Interesting is that the Northern front involved activities of the TSNM “whose objective was to enforce sharia law in Afghanistan and Pakistan. TNSM fractured into three blocs based out of Pakistan: Sufi Mohammad’s loyal followers, a Swat based faction started by Sufi Mohammad’s son-in-law Mullah Faizlullah, and a Bajaur-based militant group led by Mullah Faqir Muhammad.”

    If we look at what is happening in Pakistan, a parallel to this model certainly applies. As was the case in Afghanistan, the central government in Pakistan does not enjoy a mandate encompassing all or even many of the similar forces against which it is struggling to survive.

  17. Maryanne Khan

    “The longevity of a state and whether it exists or not or is respected, is measured by its ability to make war. Pakistan has clearly failed this test. Pakistani leadership’s greatest weakness is that it has absolutely no control over the war making infratructure of the state. This control comes not from just a civilian control of the military but from an institutional sense of purpose, which must exist within the military itself.”

    “The purpose of a military, in the support of the sovereign interests of the state, is to be prepared to act for attaining those interests, when required. This task was the reason, why the framework of a general staff was created in the first place and which was to coordinate the military policies with the political policy so that the state has clear aims as to what to achieve in case of a war. The function of a general and a general staff is not only to wage war but also act as advisors to the politicans and telling them what is militarily achievable and what is not.”

    Well yes. This is how the military is ‘framed’ in a constitution based on the post-British model. To put it very simply, there are checks and balances worked into the arrangement so that no one branch of government can seize control of power. The military are supposed to be the political instrument with which to enforce the war-making power of the ‘leaders’ (and we mean statesmen, not politicians.) But how can the military exist as an instrument of the State when the population looks towards the military as an ‘ally’ as law-enforcer, to fill the lack of law and order that the very government it purportedly serves fails to provide? It seems to me that when I read the numerous rumblings on PTH calling for another coup, it is patently obvious that the Pak military is perceived as guarantor of internal stability. This is a scenario unconscionable elsewhere (and I don’t mean Burma etc.)

    “This is where the reference to Caroline’s comment is so true. The leadership of a military, which is under a civilian control also has an onus of responsibility to advice the politicans when to end a war and when a war has reached a stage, where the nature of the conflict is not necessarily in tune with its political aims. In other words, a general/general staff has a responsibility to tell a politican when it seems that a war is becoming open-ended and a liability to the political interests of the state itself.”

    Forgive me, but I am not privvy to any press coverage or internal reports that reflect what the military there are actually saying in regard to the internal conflict with the Pak Taliban. Whether they are being ignored or listened to by the government is something I am completely unaware of. In reading Graveyard of Empires, it’s been fully reported what the US military advisors were telling the US Govt was required, eg. “Neumann asked for approximately $600 million for the fiscal year 2006 supplemental budget, but he received only $43 million of which $11 million was for debt reduction in Afghanistan.”

    “The individuals comprising the government of Pakistan are way beyond their depth. They have no awareness of the issues involved and they are not suited to the needs of the time. It is for this reason, Pakistani leadership will always remain on the level of a politican and never mature to the level of a statemen. The difference being, a politican looks to the next election while a statemen looks to the future of his country.”

    TRUE. And if you look at the array of forces in operation as per the model I previously posted, you will see that Islamabad has no control over most of the internal forces at work to obtain their interests at the expense of the central government.

    “As far as this war is concerned, Pakistan does not have the option to walk away and it does not have the capacity to fight to a conclusion. So, that automatically invites a reasonable doubt as to an eventual compromise to end this war, but since all wars are ended on the basis of a political settlement, what kind of a political settlement will end this war and like the political settlement in Swat, will it be honored?”

    As you later say, the idea is to last for the short term, reap the benefits and let someone else be elected once whatever has been gained is safely stashed away offshore or whatever.

    “The United States’ concern vis-a-vis Pakistan is not mitigated by Pakistan’s fate in the region or whether it lives or not, but by the intangible calculus of United States’ regional interests. Pakistan, in its present shape, is a protectorate of the United States and so, it really does not matter what Pakistan may think about the issues, because those issues are going to decided in Washington and not Islamabad.

    Pakistan does not need to implode as it has already imploded. The reason for the above stated sentence is based on the preception that to avoid a potential implosion, Pakistan and its leadership would have the means to over come the present set of challenges facing it and resolve the issues afflicting it. The answer lies in the experience of the Pakistani response to the problems facing it and is not a very encouraging one.”

    From what I know about the conduct of the Pakistan government, it is rather delusional in thinking that it can ‘milk’ the US because of the strategic position it indeed occupies, yet it ignores the grand game the Americans are waging in that part of the world to contain the ambitions of China and Iran (and others like Uzbekistan who had a power-supply deal in place with Afghanistan that never materialised as it was intended to service what the US considered ‘non-strategic’ regions of Afghanistan, northern rural areas, that have now become the locus of dissent with the Afghan government and the strongholds of the Taliban.) Pak is dealing with both the US and the emerging economic forces the US is hedging against. Ain’t gonna work in the end.

    “The failure of hope, to solve the problems, is connected to the irrationality of the state of Pakistan itself. The state of Pakistan, in its actions and intentions, appears confused and this confusion entails acts, which seem contradictory and self-defeating. The function of the present government is not to administer and govern Pakistan but to survive till the next elections and to do this, this government refuses to make a decision.”

    What’s more, the government is ineffective in dealing with internal local, regional interests whose allegiance is not to a bunch of politicians as a collective, but perhaps to the one politician who enjoys some sort of mandate to serve special interest groups.

    And yes, this is an incredibly important issue now playing out in Afghanistan, where the success of the Taliban is shored up by the overt failure of the centralised, urban government (a mistake the Americans made) and the dissatisfaction the rural population overwhelmingly feels for it.

    “This is the real problem. A lack of a decision is worse than a bad decision, because it only compounds the issues without offering any chances of solving them. This government has adopted a policy to be resolute in their indecisions and to be fluid in their contancy and to be principled in their lack of principles. This suits the United States and hence, there is no reason why it would like to see the end of this government and why it will support this government for its own regional interests.

    Yes, it is a very sobering assessment.”

    It is indeed. Only time will tell what the plan Washington has in mind will entail. Pakistan’s ‘leadership’ has chosen a ‘say nothing, do nothing’ approach, sitting on their hands and enjoying the roses while they bloom. Pruning time ahead.

    Actually, more like a great big International Harvester header coming their way . . . .

  18. Caroline

    Thank you for including me!

    Ah yes, the history of Afghanistan. About 6 months ago I finished wading thru Volume 1 and 2 of Percy Sykes “A History of Afghanistan”, just for fun? Ghost Wars by Steve Coll, and “The Kite Runner”, were more entertaining! Of course we are all aware of Alexander the Great’s little jaunt over that way. He spent two years in the area of Bactria but never successfully subdued the people in that region before moving on to the subcontinent of India!

    Although Alexander’s group left behind some of their culture, later groups, the Persians, Arabs, the Hindus and Buddahist’s, also passed that way, however, the Afghans still remain their own unique group. They have never been conquered; they just seem to wait until the invaders leave and then they just go back to their old ways; they are beyond tribal because they are of two groups. One seems to want to be educated; this group rejects the harsh fundamentalism of the Taliban while the other, these “people of the land”, seem to embrace it as if it is a deep part of their psyche. The Taliban are using al Qa’ida and al Qa’ida is using the Taliban as long as it suits each others purpose.

    As far as Pakistan is concerned you seem to be a victim of the overflow along with your own unique fight; religious infighting and well, religion vs. government! Oh dear, aren’t most wars fought over religion? I have been following Jahane Rumi’s blog and most recently he has posted a piece on Mohammah al Jinnah’s speech to Pakistans first constitutional assembly on August 11, 1947 about wanting Pakistan to be a secular state. It would seem that Jinnah’s dream for Pakistan didn’t last too long. I am so reminded of how many times as of late that I become so irritated when so many of my internet friends send me things that say that the U.S. is a “Christian Nation”. I send them back a direct quote from out First Amendment to our Constitution that clearly states that this country is anything but. This country was founded on the principal that it was not ever to be a theocracy! We escaped from England just to get away from the oppression of religion! These very same Americans that constantly accuse Saudi Arabia of being oppressive because they are ruled by religion yet they want us to be a “Christian Nation”, but they cannot see that they are calling for us to be a theocratic state by saying that? So, you expect these people to understand what is going on in your part of the world? I also remind them on several occasions that out of those 1.5 Billion Islamic’s that only 20 million of them are Arabs, and that only 20% of those Arabs are Salafists, which I further explain the difference between fundamentalism and Sufis. Just when I think I have gotten somewhere, these same people come back two weeks later and guess what? All Arabs are terrorists, and all Islamic’s are Arabs! Oh yes, they are my age to! Go figure! I give up! And, they are really nice people too. So, you have just me. But then I have spent time in Europe and the Middle East besides my education so I guess I have an advantage!

    Thanks for the tip on the book Maryanne. I’m looking for it now.

  19. Maryanne Khan

    Sobering reading, again from Seth Jones:
    p315

    “The existence of a weak and ineffective government was a critical condition for the rise of violence in Afghanistan. In the past, insurgencies have been likely to develop and acquire local support where state control has declined or collapsed. Afghan leaders at all levels failed to provide good governance. National and local officials were unable to manage resources effectively and implement sound policies. In rural areas of the country, such as the southern provinces of Kamdahar and Helmand, there was virtually no improvement in the provision of key services, such as electricity and water, from the Taliban period to the Karzai era. ”

    Sounds familiar.

  20. Caroline

    Yes Maryanne; I believe when the U.S. “Invaded” Iraq, they had the same problem because they also had problems with providing key services such as electricity and water. So now look what has happened?

    I was watching a video (In Arabic) and had to review it 3 times because I haven’t done this kind of work in 35 years but I managed to decipher the content and the story is all too familiar. They now have had to devalue their currency and the civilian speaking was lamenting that he could only buy the necessities for his family, the job market was becoming tight, and then the “officials” were interviewed, and many of them were giving the “party line” of how the government was trying to get things back on track, and it was just same’o, same’o, and I was reminded of both the Obama Administration and Iran’s recent lopping off the Zeros of their currency to hedge against inflation or did he really make good on his threat? One doesn’t know these days “who’s on first”!

    When I think of the mess we made in Iraq, and then how “politics as usual”, has made us “take a hike” out of there, and just what is bound to happen, all I can think of is, O.K., when is this whole thing going to spill over into Kuwait, AGAIN? How much more irresponsible are we going to get? Then somewhere on this blog a nice gentleman seemed to still have hope about Obama? Might I state here something from the Bible; Matthew 8:44, “Truth is not in him”. Please do not pin your hopes in a man who has very clay feet. Not only does he have no direction but his administration has none either! And, there is a discussion here about the military; well the U.S. is totally rudderless now with a military dependent on an administration that seems to have no clear political agenda but to destroy the infrastructure of this country and take with it everything that happens to get in the way! Why? Those of us who have let this slip through our hands cannot figure out how this happened but we are going to try and take back what we can in 7 days! In the meantime, until we can, there are those that are concerned about Pakistan and India and Afghanistan but I am afraid that they are not in a position of power right now to do anyone any good .

    When I stated that we should have gone into Afghanistan right after 9/11, I didn’t mean as an invasion; I only meant to get the budding faction of al Qa’ida. Ahmed Shah Massoud had warned us, which we had ignored, about bin Laden, and what was happening with these groups but because of the disenfranchised leadership of the CIA, his warnings were ignored. Also, as is often the case, history was ignored. As has been written over and over, Afghanistan has never, nor will it ever be conquered. So now, guess what(?) we have been there longer than anyone else! So after making another mess, and spending a lot of money we can’t afford we are going to declare victory, (somehow the press will put a spin on it) and next year we will leave and then Afghanistan will go right back to where it was before. End Game!

    Oh yes, and now your problems are multiplied as if you needed more. And now al Qa’ida is expanding into India! So tell me in retrospect, lets be honest here; “Who shot John?”

  21. Feroz Khan

    @ Maryanne

    The comment, to Caroline, about the military advising the politicans and whether their policies were actually gaining their political aims through war, was intended in the context of the American military. The fact that the Pakistani military is dominating the counter-insurgency campaign and the politicans have rejected all ownership of such a policy, makes one wonder if the Pakistani politicans are even capable of understanding military strategy.

    For a civilian control of a military and to control it effectively, there needs to be an understanding of the role of a political leader as a military strategist. A political leadership must define the goals, from which a military leadership develops its strategy as the best means to attain those goals, but it does not mean that political leadership should influence the military planning on a tactical level.

    This was exactly what was happening in Vietnam, when Robert McNamara was approving or disapproving each bombing target and to some extent, this is also happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. A political leadership’s function is to give the military an over view of what needs to done but once it starts to micro-manage a war, the nature of combat operations are then held holdage to political considerations, which are mostly influenced by opportunistic considerations.

    This is where the American strategy becomes muddled and in all the politics of the war, the reason for the war is lost and suddenly, the conflict becomes open-ended.

    Seth Jones’ views are interesting and he does have a point. It would be safe to suggest that Pakistan in 2010 is what Afghanistan was 40-50 years ago. It is fast becoming a mirror to Afghanistan in the sense that it lacks a central government; its writ of the state has devolved into semi-autonomous regions, which resist it; it is being dominated by warlordism and the government, instead of governing it, seeks compromises from a position of weakness just to rule Islamabad.

    Outside of Islamabad, who listens to Islamabad?

    The fate of Pakistan will be the experience of Afghanistan and you are very right in identifying the similarities.

    In the case of Pakistan, we need to understand that a population’s partiality towards the military is case of lack of viable choices. Pakistani military is seen as a stabilzing force on an individual level and the reason why people support the idea of another coup is not that they wish for a military rule, but they wish to escape the UNCERTAINTY of a civilian rule.

    This is the Faustian bargain, which the people of Pakistan have made; trading their freedoms for a sense of security. The Pakistanis who support another coup are hoping for an end to the perpetual crisis, which has marred this civilian government’s term of office since 2008. This is what gives democracy a bad name in Pakistan and which is simply an expression of the political immaturity that exists in the political discourse in Pakistan and where the civilian governments are more keen to victimize each other than provide goverance to the people.

    Maryanne, I am afraid that what makes the case for Taliban so strong and discredits the present system so well, is a sense of indifference. If the Taliban were to stop blowing up everything and instead, were to concentrate on the social issues of the people and offer them relive; the people of Pakistan would gladly accept their rule. The popularity of the Taliban in Pakistan, will always be based on the logic of a hope, that the Taliban will be no worse than the present rulers and therefore, might as well be given a chance.

    When all else has failed, it makes sense to try the last option no matter how illogical that option is.

    As to roses and gardens, as Caroline was saying about declaring victory and going home in the manner of George Bush’s “mission accomplished” statement, we always create a desert out of a garden and call it peace.

    ciao

  22. Feroz Khan

    @ Caroline

    Indeed! Who shot John? In the words of the Watergate generation, who knew John was shot and when did they know it?

    This Islamophobia in the United States is a perfectly natural socio-political development. It has to be seen within the American experience of getting to terms with Islam itself. Americans, after September 11, 2001, are realizing the existence of Islam and Muslims within in their midst and are slowly coming to terms with that reality. This phobia is more out of lack of awarness than it is from mal-intentions and yes; the politicans may be milking this to the brim, but then again, we need to understand that a politican is a person who when not kissing the baby – is trying to steal the baby’s lollipop!

    In the words of Simon and Garfunkle, a nation turns its lonely eyes to Edward R. Murrow, but he has gone and left us. His words, uttered at the height of the Red Scare and against the Senator Joe McCarthy, need to be re-said today.

    “We must remember always, that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another, we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, we will remember we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Sen. McCarthy’s methods to keep silent or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom wherever it still exists in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home”

    Just change the word “Senator McCarthy” with Islamophobia, and the message is clear, but who will hear the message? Are we living in Jerico, where the walls have fallen but there is no one left to hear the sounds of the horn? Have we fled into the night? Are we the prisoners of the prisoners we guard?

    The irony of the Pilgrims to escape religious intolerance in England to seek a paradise in New England only to burn women at the stake as witches in Salem!

    Getting back to the awareness and ignorance, let me share a story with you. When I came to Utah from Canada for college, one person asked and when told where I was from; asked if we had indoor plumbing in Canada and whether we actually lived in Igloos in Canada! This was 1986.

    Some times I wonder if it is true that the nations United States wishes to destroy; it makes friends with them and yes, Pakistan has paid a heavy price for American friendship but we went into this relationship with eyes open and we too exploited the American fear of a resurgent communism for our own benefit and profit.

    In the case of Pakistan and in the United States and even else where, where the corporate media has reached, in the words of Edward R. Murrow, we have confused dissent with disloyality and in the process, the soul of our conscience has died. The end result is that our nations have become hallow creatures of our souless existence and we are too afraid to think for the fear of what others will think of us.

    When patriotism becomes a badge worn as adornment but not believed in, Samuel Johnson’s words come back and hark and make sense that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. The world we live in, intellectualism has become a slur and Lemming like docility has become a virtue.

    In 1927, a German movie by Fritz Lang, by the name of Metropolis, came out and which was a futuristic version of the world years before George Orwell and it showed the world we live in today with uncanny accuracy.

    There is something of the American experience and what you refer to as “business as usual” that is so evidient in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and in Orson Well’s Citizen Kane. Like Rosebud, there is something noble within all of us but in the pursuits of life and being caught up in the shoals of chance and not really escaping from the vortex of our own insecurities, we lose that quality, which in Yiddish is called “menschkeit” and can be roughly translated as humanity.

    If you get a chance, please read The Quiet American, a novel by British author Graham Greene. It talks about the good intentions and how they create problems for the later and is actually a very good explanation of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, because that is what the problem is with the United States and it attempts to make the world in its image.

    When you go out and try to save the world, and I am being metaphorical, have you ever wondered if the world wants to be saved?

    There is a difference between the words “United States” and “America”. United States refers to the idea of the sovereign power but America is an evocation. America really believes in its ideals and its Declaration of Independence et al, and thinks it is equally applicable to all and should be accepted by all because it is the very embodiment of an enlightened thought in all its perfection.

    The problem is that the instrument of implementing this ideal is the sovereign power of the United States and what the world and Pakistanis reject is the idea of force being used to implement this ideal, and not aspirations of the American ideals themselves. In case, the Americans wonder “why do they hate us” of Pakistan and Pakistanis, the answer is the world and, we, do not hate America; an evocation but it is United States, which is the idea of the sovereign power that we object and what it tries to do in the name of an evocation.

    Unfortunately, this dicotomy has not been well explained or even understood in Pakistan or the United States itself and therefore, when people say “we are a Christian nation” do they even know what they mean?

    What happened to intelligent discourse?

    Has it been lost in the artificiality of what passes for news these days, which is more purient in its interests than educational in its aims but when news becomes a profit making enterprise, tomorrow is speculative and yesterday has no tangible value and the role of journalist becomes that of sales person and when corporate media becomes a cartel of sorts; when there is a stress for uniformity over diversity of opinions, the debate loses its salience and the civic forum stands less informed.

    I have digressed but in my digression, I hope I have answered your question as to what do we expect the people to know and understand that do not know anything, because they have been told nothing.

    ciao

  23. Caroline

    Gosh you guys, this has been great! I haven’t been challenged so intellectually since my days at Georgetown! It has been a long time since I worked in D.C., and now I have to just “muse” all the things on my own. Hopefully, we can meet again at the Pak Tea House or on Jahame Rumi’s Blog!

    It might be of great interest to you to Google jamestownorganization.org. Daily updates are most helpful!

  24. Maryanne Khan

    yes, guys, this is a most fruitful and engaging discussion.

    Feroz, I agree with your amplifications on the comments I posted, micro-managing of military strategy is a pit the US often falls into (and here I am appreciating your subtle distinction between the two apellatives, US and America.) Am currently reading ‘Obama’s Wars’ and the degree to which the president ultimately makes independent decisions is a little alarming.

    Yes, the Pakistani population is looking towards the military for certainty and if the Taliban (or anyone else with the will and organisational skills to do so) did indeed address the need for security and infrastructure they would be gladly accepted. This has been the subtle change in US strategy – from ‘counterterrorism’ (killing insurgents i.e. any group opposed to the central government) to ‘counterinsurgency’ – meaning providing security, infrastructure, schools, roads etc. This expenditure has paid dividends in certain regions of Afghanistan, whereas in other regions, operations are referred to as “mowing.” Without the commitment to spending a great deal of money on what is required by the locals, the NATO forces find themselves clearing an area only to return to again “mow the lawn” that has sprung up again.

    I found this particularly interesting:

    “This is what gives democracy a bad name in Pakistan and which is simply an expression of the political immaturity that exists in the political discourse in Pakistan. . . ”

    What is the cause of this ‘immaturity?’ You have answered several aspects of that (and I have been acutely aware of it also on the ground in Pakistan) in that ‘Islamabad’ represents a social status, a badge of privilege. Rising to the heights of power is an end unto itself amongst the class of ‘politicians’, comparable to a process of ‘King making.’ As you say, outside of this competitive circle, who listens to Islamabad? And what has ‘Islamabad’ to say that is of any relevance to, say, my people in my village in NWFP? Not much.

    Will have more to say later.

  25. Feroz Khan

    @ Maryanne

    Have been busy but will reply soon. Please post your follow-up and that way, I can reply to both of them.

    ciao

  26. Caroline

    @Feroz: I have re-read your original post several times and find it more informative each time I do and I do not mean to be over complimentary here but it is so eloquently put that I still say that it is just one of the best pieces of material I have ever read on the subject of wars in general in this past Century! Gotta say, I have no idea who you are, but of course you are a writer by profession. I am sure that ever one else here must know who you are, but I do not. Sorry about that! I am only a pedestrian when it comes to the affairs of State of Pakistan, but am in the fray of learning so if you care to, please feel free to check with Mr. Rumi and fetch my e-mail address from his Webmaster as perhaps we could correspond if you like because I would like to “pick your magnificent brain”, on the subject of all things Pakistan. Hope I am not being too “cheeky”! Caroline

    P.S. @ Maryanne; Am looking forward to your continuing comments but I am bowing out to your superior knowledge on the subject at hand!

  27. Humanity

    @ Mr. Khan
    I read the article when it was posted a few days ago. I was captivated by it and acknowledge that I did not fully understand it. I kept going back to it and have since re-read it and along with all the follow up comments.

    I agree with Caroline. This is perhaps the most informative and eloquently written piece that I have read. I am no scholar by any means but I must say that your command on the subject is very impressive. The ongoing commentary is engaging and thought provoking. Thanks to all the participants!

    Have said that, my heart says that this is just an academic exercise and things will sort themselves out eventually. My mind tells me it is quite likely that the Pakistan we hope for will never be. I cringe at the thought. I feel a deep sense of sorrow to think that my Quaid’s vision of a secular-democratic Pakistan will go down in history only as a dream. Please tell me it is not true and that the sacrifice that went into making Pakistan will be redeemed.

    Is there any way in your mind to alter the course somehow? How can the people in Pakistan be mobilized to unite and prevent a Taliban take over? How can sanity be restored in Pakistan? Please tell me there is a way out of this mess and that there is hope. I look forward to a response. Thank you.

  28. Maryanne Khan

    Humanity

    so welcome your response. Reading and thinking — and questions– are the source of intellectual life.

  29. Feroz Khan

    @ Caroline

    Thank you for kind words and I hope, the article and the subsequent comments made you think about war and its nature and its reasons. I am not a writer by profession, and my background and interest are in politics. I grew up in Pakistan surrounded by politics and I got the opportunity to see Pakistani politics from a very personalized vantage point and later on, I worked for the United States Congress and the Republicans and thus, saw and experienced politics in the United States from its inner most sanctums.

    War, the theme of this article, has always fascinated me and the study of war has been a hobby of mine for a very long time. War and politics when they combine as an interest, as they do within me, are simply intoxicating. To study war is to appreciate the words of F. E. Manning who once said that man might rage against war, but war could always turn to him a face, from its myraid faces, which was his own.

    A life time devoted to this hobby has shorn all vestiges of glory, from war, only to leave behind a reason, which shows war for what it really is; reflections of our own vanity and a grotesque sepulchre of devoted to our own sense of narcissism.

    Wars orginate in the tangled labyrinth of the human mind and to understand wars, is to understand the human mind itself.

    Afterall, the two most constant and enduring sources of inspiration for the bards of the old were the themes of love and war. War, like love, is the most grandest of all human passions and in its totality encompasses all that is best and worst about us and is nothing less than a bright, shining mirror to all our hopes and fears and frustrations and idealism and how we, as a people, see ourselves.

    ciao

  30. Feroz Khan

    @ Humanity (October 31, 2010 at 8:28 am)

    Thank you for your words.

    I hope that this article, as academic as it is, generates a debate because in Pakistan, we seem to debate the issues, without understanding the logic behind the issues.

    The tragedy of Pakistan has been, as you stated “things will sort themselves out” but we do not even understand why they sort themselves out in a particular way. For a state such as Pakistan, so overwhelmed by the shadow of a military influence, it cannot debate the role of a military in a state if it does not even know or understand what is a role of the military within a state.

    As to Jinnah and his dreams for a Pakistan and trying to make Pakistan as envisaged by Jinnah, it is a futile task. Pakistan cannot deny the responsibility of its acts for the last 63 years as a state and the decisions taken in those last 63 years have realized conquences, which cannot be wished away.

    Jinnah’s Pakistan will remain a dream never to be realized.

    The only way in which Jinnah’s Pakistan can be created is to roll back time and undo all the mistakes that been committed since 1947, which like nails have progressively shut the coffin of Pakistan and as that is not possible, so the best option left is to forget Jinnah; forget his dream; forget seeking to change past, which cannot be changed and instead decide, how to make the future less worse and more hopeful than it is presently by accepting the realism of your situation instead of seeking shelter in the make-believe of a past.

    The course can be altered, but are you prepared to alter the course and pay the costs associated with a changed direction? Are you prepared to make the decisions which demand a resolution? Do you really believe in what you want?

    How can you hope to unite the people of Pakistan and prevent a Taliban take over, when you have offered them no alternative to the Taliban and everything the Taliban stand for?

    You cannot unite a people that does not believe in a leadership that rules over it as one that is beneficial to their interests. What difference will it make to an average Pakistani if the Taliban rule or PPP rules or Nawaz Sharif rules or MQM rules or the mullahs rule? Has any leadership in Pakistan ever done anything good for the people of Pakistan and provided them with what they were asking and listened to their concerns instead of preaching to them what their problems are?

    A leadership, and a leader, first of all has to believe in themselves and only then, can they convince a people. What do the leaders of Pakistan believe in?

    What is a purpose of a leader and a leadership?

    It is to offer an alternative, which is believable and has the political leadership in Pakistan offered, or is it capable of offering an alternative that is believable?

    Sanity can only be restored to those, who are willing to be sane and those who do not wish to be sane and reject sanity, cannot have sanity restored to them.

    As said earlier, there is always a way out and there is always hope, but what are you prepared to do for it?

    This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it?

    ciao

  31. @Feroz; Alas, I thought I was “be-goned”, however, something about your last statement has brought out the “old retired shrink” in me and I am about to step in the proverbial “Cow Pile” and spread it around a bit. Naughty of me I’m afraid!

    Although you have admitted that war is nothing but an expression of vanity, narcissism, and I might add the redundancy of hubris, lets call it what it has been down through the ages; testosterone gone awry! So, other than a few recent women who come to mind as leaders, those being Golda Meir and Elizabeth I, who I believe were forced by their male counterparts to “go to war”, haven’t all wars pretty much been started by males? Why is that women are not so “Possessed”? You have studied this phenomena so extensively, so I ask you; can you answer that?

    Furthermore, and here I go deeper into the pasture; until the advent of Baal, Yahweh, and the advent of Monotheism, women were worshiped. Could it be that monotheism was created for the purpose of controlling women? If you read the the Old Testament you will certainly find those rules there. Uh, where do the laws of Sharia come from? I love quizzing the Christians on this!

    Back to war! So, has war been for the purposes of acquiring land for the inheritance of the offspring for the new laws of marriage? Look to the Greeks for the early marriage laws. Or were the land acquisitions “just because we can”? Just when did these wars begin to be over religion? Are you so sure about your narcissism theory? What about the Egyptians? Is it all really about man’s hubris? Or could it just be man’s testosterone territorial pursuits?

  32. Feroz Khan

    @ Caroline (November 1, 2010 at 1:36 am )

    I guess, there is an element of testosterone in a war, but then again; everything is Freudian when it comes to power and as to the Abrahamic religions, the concept of original sin proves your point rather well.

    You have raised some very interesting questions and I do think that there is truth in the manner in which organized religion of the Abrahamic variety has demonized the persona of a woman.

    There was an article, which had a similar thesis and that was organized religion, and it was refering to Christianity, had to devalue the role of a woman as creator of life in order to amplify the role of God as the creator.

    The pre-Christian pagans did place a higher emphasis on the role of women in their society, because woman had the power to create, which was real, tangible and proven in comparsion to God’s power to create, which was/is dogmatic, intangible and unproven.

    Religion had to destroy this idea in order for its own idea to take root and this thesis, if valid and accepted, speaks more about political imperatives of power than anything else. Yesterday was Halloween and then there will be St. Valentine’s Day, which are all pagan holidays adopted by Christianity and then, the very idea behind the Council of Nicea and the Holy Trinty was a political idea of Constantine and had nothing to with Jesus or what he was saying.

    As to Elizabeth I or Golda Meir or any other woman as a head of a state, we might have to separate their personality from their roles as the head of state, because interests of the state will always triumph over any other consideration and one does not attain the pinnacle of what the British prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, called the “greasy pole” without having made compromises and then, having invested so much in the attainment of that position; why risk it on a whim of morality?

    On the other side of the coin, when it comes to testosterone, how does that explain idea of women joining the military forces and being trained to kill?

    Maybe, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!

    ciao

  33. Thank You Feroz! I knew you would be ever so eloquent in your response in that wonderful dissertation! I spent many an hour in the classroom studying Western Civilization and you summarize it quite well!
    And now you have come about to the new phenomena of women in the military forces being trained to kill, perhaps we can cite here as, “snipers”. However, “snipers”, are removed from the reality of “close combat”, and we shall see in the future just how this affects their psyche, just as we saw how those pilots in the Vietnam war who flew the B-52’s and dropped the bombs “from on high”, and never saw their victims. I know some of those old pilots and although most of them are aware of the horrors they rained down on their victims they still cannot feel intrinsically the emotion of their “kill”. This is a disassociative response. As to women having a “close combat” experience in “killing”, it will depend on whether or not it will be in a defensive action. Otherwise, we will see in the “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome” studies that are sure to follow just how this affects them.
    We have not had much experience in this field yet because women are just now being put in this situation. Because of women’s unique hormonal makeup, I believe there will be problems. The lack of female sociopaths in the population is proof. The studies of sociopaths in general seem to lean toward inheritance in males from mothers, however, the gene while inherited from the mother is strictly carried from the female, but it does not manifest in her. Female sociopaths are created, not genetic, therefore, are they true sociopaths? We shall see in future studies just how “close combat”, will affect the female gender!
    Feroz, you say you are not a Journalist, however, do not deny you are a writer. What talent. Why not a “Blog”?

  34. Feroz Khan

    @ Caroline

    The role of women in combat and for that matter in the military is still in its infancy.

    The idea of a sniper opens up the dicussion into a new realm, with far reaching conclusions. Snipers, by method and by training, have to operate alone and without support and a good sniper’s requirement is more of a mental strenght than physical strenght.

    Then again, the idea of a combat operation is so blurred that there might be no need for a gender bias in which roles men or women can play. For example, in the case of drone pilots, a woman technican can as well pilot a drone as a male technican and drones are considered as a part of combat operations and you could be easily sitting in Nevada in an air-conditoned room, sipping on an ice frappacino, and killing someone in Pakistan.

    What modern combat makes up in its intensity, it loses in its humanity.

    The problem with combat, and I have talked to quiet a few veterans about it, is whom to talk to? Unless you have experienced the terrifying horror of combat, it is useless to share an experience with a person who has no clue to what is being said and therefore, most combat veterans just bottle up these feeling inside of them.

    I used to hike in the Franklin Basin, which is a part of the Yellowstone eco-system, in Southern Idaho. I used to stop over at the farm of Old Dillard and chat with the old man. Dilly, as I used to call him, was a Marine and in 1945, he was 19 years old and scheduled to be in one of the first waves to invade Japan and was not expected to surivive. Then they dropped the “bomb” and Old Dilly was able to come home and guess what he thinks of Truman’s decision to drop the bomb?

    It will be intersting to see what kinds of studies emerge from the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    A blog?

    Incidently, I will email the editor at PTH to send you my email address. If the editor PTH is reading this, please forward my email address to Caroline.

    ciao

  35. Thank you Feroz. Google is giving me such a hard time along with everyone else and I am having to change my e-mail address this evening to hook up with my Website. I so hope to get yours. I want to continue this discussion; in particular my thoughts on Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    Maryanne, the best to you. I really enjoyed your intelligent input!!!!

    ciao

  36. Feroz Khan

    @ Maryanne & Caroline

    Another perspective on the nature of the United States’ many wars and the public response to them.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LK02Ak01.html

    The first anti-war song to come out during the VietnamWar, and the reason I am talking about is because I am listening to it, and one, which had a deep impact upon the popular culture, was Bruce Springteen’s War. Speaking of songs, Credence Clearwater Revivial’s Fortunate Son is a powerful statement on the nature of sacrifice. The Long Road Out of Eden by Eagles is a very good song on the greed of corporate wars and the indifference of the good life to the misery of war and its suffers.

    As to movies; nothing compares to the sheer power of Michael Camino’s The Deerhunter though Full Metal Jacket is a powerful statement on the creation of rigidity, which is the state of a military mind and how it is dehumanized.

    Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory literally shows the venality of war and ranks much higher as an anti-war film, in my view, than the All Quiet On The Western Front. Interestingly, the title of the movie comes from the last war communique issued by the German Army Headquarters on the Western Front after armistice was announced saying “nicht neues im westen” – no news in the west, which was translated as into all quiet on the western front.

    The greatest war movie, ever made till today, in my opinon, is Das Boot; a German movie about submarine warfare in the Second World War based on true events. Lasting nearly 4 hours on a canvas worthy of Leonardo da Vinci, and all those 4 hours shown within the hull of a submarine; dark, depressing, cramped, and clustrophobic it is the only movie, which shows and captures the essence of war as an experience – long hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror.

    Saving Private Ryan is a very realistic view of war and the opening opus of Steven Spielberg’s recreation of the landings on Omaha Beach is pure genius in capturing the confusion of the battlefield.

    If one is interested in a movie that deals with the absurdity of war, then Kelly’s Heros is the natural choice.

    After nearly 10 years, there is hardly any movie on Iraq or Afghanistan worth mentioning other than the Hurt Locker and speaking of Afghanistan, the only movie on that conflict, which had a serious theme, was The Beast which was about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The interesting thing about this movie was that that American actors playing the role of Afghans spoke in Pushto throughout the movie.

    Anyways, time to go and eat some ice cream and watch the TV anchors predict the election results tomorrow.

    ciao

  37. @ Caroline

    I have a started a blog with no idea where it will go and if you are reading this, you can sample it at http://silentdispatches.blogspot.com/ and let me know.

    ciao