The Daily Beast looks at why the parties can’t agree, what a shutdown could mean, and what it might cost taxpayers. ith negotiations stalled and a shutdown looking more likely, this article reflects the latest news as of Wednesday.
The $61 Billion Problem: How deep will the first cuts be?
Despite arresting the “downhill descent” in its relations with the U.S., Pakistan must also realize that the TTP can not be allowed to gain momentum, and the outcome(s) of the Afghan scenario in the next three months factor in as crucial elements of Pakistan’s counter-terror and COIN strategies
For some time in 2011, the War on Terror as it is ongoing in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theatre was focussed on just one man; no, not Osama bin Laden, but Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who had invited the ire of the people of Pakistan and its security establishment by murdering two Pakistani citizens in broad daylight, and causing the death of a third by his (unsuccessful) escape. Raymond Davis’ release further aggravated the political situation in Pakistan, as many Pakistanis felt that national sovereignty had been compromised for personal gain and for currying favor with the United States. The end result of the Raymond Davis episode is that extremists have been strengthened while moderates continue to be weakened. The murder of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti shows the precarious faultlines in Pakistani society which cannot figure out how to legitimately oppose the United States’ policies that detrimentally affect Pakistan, and how to do so without adopting an aggressively religious/Islamic tone.
Regardless of how conservative or liberal they are, all Pakistanis asked themselves the following question on March 16, 2011: Is U.S. sovereignty more valuable or important than its friendship with allies? Is the extraction of one American more important than the due process, the rule of law, and dispensation of justice?
It does not seem like Pakistan will continue to “ignore” the U.S. and Afghanistan in terms of War on Terror operations and security cooperation - not only will these allies urge Pakistan to return to the table, but Pakistan also needs to recalibrate its security goals and execute policies that achieve such goals. A special session of the Parliament - whether a sitting of the National Assembly, or a joint sitting of both houses - can deliver such an outcome, or a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, or - given the internal political situation in Pakistan - an All-Parties Conference may elicit views from all political stakeholders (whether in Parliament or not) to formulate the overall strategy and new stance (if any). Most importantly, Pakistan needs to ascertain the true extents (as well as limits) of its state-to-state relationship with the U.S. - the limits would most probably be constituted over issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity that no foreign country should meddle in, and also over an end to covert operations within Pakistan - whether sanctioned by the U.S. Government or by private contractors and mercenary companies (in collusion with whichever other South Asian country). If these two parameters have been identified and agreed upon - as news from Thursday might indicate - then Pakistan would be all the more inclined to resume cooperation on the War on Terror and related security issues with the U.S. and Afghanistan.
In addition to its protestations over drone strikes, Pakistan must also announce a review of its foreign policy, its COIN strategy, and its stance in the War on Terror (in the entire Af-Pak theater, and not just in Pakistan). Such a review must be carried out in a consultative fashion, where all stakeholders are encouraged to present their views, and at a forum where policy will also be made/remade after review. Policies borne out of such a lengthy, tedious and time-consuming process - although urgently required - may also be revealed to the public and will help build the necessary public support (in addition to political support) needed by the state of Pakistan to deal with existential threats.
The complete analysis - as well as new developments, such as the semi-annual White House report to Congress which is critical of Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terror, and Pakistan’s rebuttal - is contained in the link.
While some argue that there should be talks with the Pakistani Taliban (who are different from the Afghan Taliban - and this is not a ‘good Taliban’ ‘bad Taliban’ thing) there is indication that military operations in militant-infested areas and tribal areas may be stepped up. Whether this means a thrust into North Waziristan remains to be seen, but is still unlikely because of the very factors that make it unfeasible in the first place.
Any counterinsurgency is bound to fail when there are no political components (mainstreaming the marginalized) or economic benefits and opportunities that accompany the military option. But when the security situation gets worse enough that suicide bombings start happening daily (again) the military again has to step up.
Maybe when the US and the West say “do more”, they mean the politicians and the economic agents should do more. Even UK PM David Cameron said, in a recent visit to Pakistan, “My job is made more difficult when people in Britain look at Pakistan, a country that receives millions of pounds of our aid money, and see weaknesses in terms of government capacity and waste”.