Tag Archives: Bruce Riedel

Ambassador Husain Haqqani Resigns

Ambassador Husain HaqqaniAmbassador Husain Haqqani announced today that he has resigned from his post “to bring closure to this meaningless controversy threatening our fledgling democracy.”

In an email to Yahoo! News, Ambassador Haqqani said that, “a transparent inquiry will strengthen the hands of elected leaders whom I strived to empower. To me, Pakistan and Pakistan’s democracy are far more important than any artificially created crisis over an insignificant memo written by a self-centred businessman. I have served Pakistan and Pakistani democracy to the best of my ability and will continue to do so.”

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, P.J. Crowley, called Haqqani’s resignation, “a loss for US-Pakistan relations.” Indeed, many in Washington have been surprised by the turn of events, describing the memo at the root of the controversy as “a clumsy fake.”

“Haqqani’s accuser, Mr. Ijaz, has a long track record of fabricating false information and self-promotion,” said Bruce Riedel, former CIA officer who chaired President Obama’s Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy. Pakistan’s army is, “using this invented scandal to oust a long time critic” and weaken the civilian government, said Riedel, now a senior analyst at the Brookings Institution, a D.C. think tank. “None of this is good for U.S. interests.”

Sen. Kerry (D–Mass.) noted that Husain Haqqani was “was a strong advocate for his country and the Pakistani people,” and said his “wisdom and insights will be missed here in Washington.”

Many in Washington continue to express concern for the personal safety of Pakistan’s former Ambassador, though on his famous Twitter feed, Ambassador Haqqani confidently states that he will be focusing his energies on “building a new Pakistan free of bigotry & intolerance.” Washington insiders have long asked where Pakistan would be without Husain Haqqani. Despite his resignation, he does not appear to be finished working for democracy and justice in Pakistan. We wish him well, and look forward to seeing what he does next.

US needs to take a new approach to aid

USAID Pakistan

As Congress continues looking for ways to trim spending, officials in the Obama administration are worried that some lawmakers may be considering shrinking civilian aid to Pakistan. They are right to worry as this would be a mistake.

Experts on both Pakistan and international aid and development agree – attempts to ‘buy’ Pakistan’s cooperation will always fail. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, using civilian aid as a ‘carrot’ by tying disbursement to unrelated security conditions is deeply humiliating. The underlying change mechanism requires that a sovereign government be, in essence, for sale. Even if one can find such a pliable partner, their shelf life will invariably be limited.

Another reason that aid is not a realistic tool of leverage is that the amounts in question are simply not large enough to buy anyone off. As we noted last month,

The Kerry-Lugar-Burman bill (KLB) provides for $1.5 billion in economic aid annually for five years. While this aid is valuable, it represents about 0.3 percent of the nation’s GDP. Moreover, in the first year of KLB, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that only $179.5 million was actually disbursed. Even if it were possible to buy Pakistan’s cooperation, this amount of foreign aid is simply insufficient to do so.

But the most convincing reason is found in empirical evidence – what are the outcomes we have seen from US aid? Since the US pledged billions of dollars in civilian aid to Pakistan – all tied to security-related conditions – military-to-military relations between the US and Pakistan have actually soured. If aid is tool of leverage, it’s a very bad one. But that doesn’t mean that civilian aid has not had a positive impact.

Though delivery mechanisms still need improvement, as the Washington Post reporter found, using aid as an investment in improving the lives of ordinary Pakistanis does pay long term dividends.

Last summer, USAID used $500 million to help Pakistan cope with ruinous floods. More than $60 million went toward seed and fertilizer for farmers whose crops were flooded out in villages such as Jangi, in the northwest, where anger pulsates over CIA drone strikes in the nearby tribal belt.

On a recent day, farmers in the village said they had expected to lose this spring’s wheat harvest. Instead, there was a bumper crop, and they attributed the success to U.S.-funded seeds and canals.

“Earlier, it was our perception that the United States was only for destruction,” said Noor Nabi, a community leader in the village. “But in that critical time, it helped us.”

Civilian aid can result in outcomes that benefit both Pakistani and American interests. In order for this to happen, though, the US needs to reconsider the goals of civilian aid. The goal should not be to ‘buy’ Pakistani cooperation, but to strengthen civilian institutions and civil society so that America’s natural allies in Pakistan – the Pakistani people – have the ability to determine Pakistan’s future.

Sadanand Dhume, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, notes that “democracy, however messy, is the only alternative to the military-jihadist complex that has stunted Pakistan’s economy and tarnished its international reputation.”

A sensible Pakistan policy, as outlined by [Bruce Riedel], would make strengthening its fragile civilian institutions the underlying goal of all U.S. engagement. The U.S. needs strong intelligence and military-to-military ties with its Pakistani counterparts, but unlike in the past these should not come at the cost of stunting Pakistani democracy.

Using aid as a means of leverage in military-to-military relations weakens US influence and delays democratic reforms that will move Pakistan away from destructive, anti-democratic policies rooted in a Cold War mindset. By continuing to use aid as a ‘carrot’ to lure Pakistan into taking actions that provide short-term security gains, the US is actually setting back its own long-term objectives for the region. It’s time for a new approach.

Pakistan’s Democratic Government Under Attack Following US Raid

While the US is asking tough questions about how Osama bin Laden was able to live undetected just outside a major military base, it is important to move forward with an eye not only on the past, but the future as well. Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari recently wrote that he is “fighting terrorists for the soul of Pakistan.” Following the US military operation that killed Osama bin Laden, that fight has intensified, and pro-democracy forces in Pakistan are under assault from all sides.

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Bruce Riedel, wrote that the greatest threat to the fight against global terrorism is Pakistan falling into the hands of extremists.

Bin laden and his likely successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, increasingly believed that Pakistan is their best chance at a global game-changer: a coup that delivers to the global jihad the world’s sixth-most-populous country with the bomb.

And judging by recent events in Pakistan, that may be exactly what the militant groups are attempting to do. Using a strategy honed in Iraq, extremist militant groups in Pakistan are launching sectarian attacks that divide the people while fan the flames of violence and extremism.

A deadly pattern is emerging: the terrorists are going ahead full-throttle in a murderous rampage against Pakistan’s minority sects and demonstrating their disturbing willingness to make the daily lives of the people of Quetta, and beyond, a pawn in their armed agenda.

May 4 2011 Anti-Government CartoonUnfortunately, it’s not only extremist militants who are jumping on the opportunity to divide and conquer a confused and frustrated public. Some opposition politicians have launched attacks on the civilian government for allegedly failing to secure Pakistan’s sovereignty. The News, an English-language daily owned by the same company that the Washington Post compared to “a political opposition group”, has published a series of articles and cartoons criticizing the civilian government, despite the fact that Osama bin Laden was found living next door to the nation’s largest military academy.

In addition to Pakistan’s activist media, some opposition leaders are also using the situation to advance their own ambitions. Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, whose Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz faction) has been accused of funding the very militant groups the government is trying to crack down on, has called on President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to resign. This call for civilian resignations has also been picked up by former government minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who said the government should have a “no foreign boots on our land” policy, despite the fact that as Foreign Minister until earlier this year, Qureshi would have overseen the increased cooperation between US and Pakistani military and intelligence that led to last week’s raid.

Karin Brulliard, writing in The Washington Post, says these calls for civilian resignations likely reflect an attempt to divert attention from the nation’s powerful military and intelligence agencies noting that Shah Mehmood Qureshi in particular “is viewed as close to the Pakistani military, and his demand was widely though to reflect that institution’s thinking.”

While this might be the thinking of the military establishment, pro-democracy forces within the civilian government are

Appearing on This Week, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, told Christiane Amanpour that Pakistan’s government will conduct a full investigation into how Osama bin Laden was able to enter and stay in Pakistan undetected.

“Heads will roll once the investigation has been completed,” Haqqani said. “Now if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you, and if, God forbid, somebody’s complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that as well.”

Later on the same show, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Liz Cheney said that “we cannot afford to walk away. We walked away once at the end of the 1980s and we saw what happened…It’s very important that we deal with this relationship in a very well advised way going forward and we not jump to the conclusion that we’ve got to walk away.”

Past strategies of attempting to isolate Pakistan have weakened the civilian government and pro-democracy forces in the country, allowing extremist groups to move in and gain influence. It is no coincidence that these militant groups turned their sites on the Pakistani state following the election of the present pro-democracy government in 2008. This same government The US should not repeat past mistakes of walking away from Pakistan in a time of crisis, but should

Bruce Riedel identifies the way to prevent Pakistan from falling into the hands of al Qaeda and its affiliates: Supporting the pro-democracy forces in Pakistan’s civilian government.

It is easy to get angry with Pakistan, but that’s not a strategy. We need a healthy Pakistan that fights terrorism. That means helping democratic forces, such as President Asif Ali Zardari, despite their shortcomings.

Advice decision makers in Washington would do well to heed.

Bruce Riedel: Obama Should Signal Support for Democracy in Pakistan

Writing for The Daily Beast, former CIA officer, presidential advisor, and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Bruce Riedel, says that the US should follow the successful operation against Osama bin Laden by signaling our support for President Asif Ali Zardari and democratic forces in Pakistan.

Bruce RiedelObama was right to call his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, to thank him for help in the chase. Zardari’s wife Benazir Bhutto was murdered by al Qaeda in 2007; the death of the country’s most popular and capable leader was perhaps the group’s biggest triumph since 9/11. Pakistan has yet to recover from her demise. Al Qaeda has been focused like a laser beam on Pakistan for the last decade. It rightly judges Pakistan to be both uniquely vulnerable in the Islamic world to jihadism and equipped with the ultimate strategic prize, the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. With allies like the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, al Qaeda will remain a threat to Pakistan’s nascent democracy and to peace in the Indian subcontinent.

Obama should schedule an early Zardari visit to Washington and his own visit later this year to Pakistan to signal our support for democratic forces there.


Give Pakistan’s Democracy Space to Grow

At Monday’s conference, “The Future of Pakistan,” Moeed Yusuf, South Asia advisor for the US Institute of Peace, argued that what appears to be instability in Pakistan may actually be the natural contours of the democratization process – a conclusion we also reached during the recent “political crisis that wasn’t” in Islamabad.

Moeed urged the crowd of diplomats, military officers, and government officials to give Pakistan’s burgeoning democracy space to mature, and not to repeat past mistakes of buying short-term stability at the cost of long-term development.

This sentiment was reiterated on by blogger Salman Shah Jilani who writes that, “What we need is for democracy to be given the time it lost to despotism”. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, which are only now dismantling the autocracies that have denied their people the right to self-determination, Pakistanis overthrew their dictator and replaced him with a democratically elected government in 2008.

Since the 2008 elections, Pakistan’s government has achieved quite a few important successes in dismantling the power consolidation and discriminatory policies implemented under dictators and autocrats of the past. Pakistan’s transformation from a nation oppressed by military rule to one of enlightened freedom will not take place overnight, but we owe them the patient support required to see them succeed.

As to whether or not Pakistan is at risk of an “Islamic revolution”, Salman Jilani reminds us that Pakistanis have been down the road led by charismatic leaders promising easy change, and they are all too familiar with the results.

They have experienced the elusive revolutionaries who have always usurped the throne impersonating as true representatives of the people in a quasi democracy which serves as a smokescreen to protract their rule.

Bruce Riedel recently advised that we “don’t underestimate the Pakistani people.” Indeed, there is growing evidence that Pakistan is not following the Tunisia/Egypt model of democratization, but leading it. The US should welcome Pakistan to the community of democratic nations by helping provide the space necessary for its democracy to grow and mature on its own.

Put away the carrots and sticks to help Pakistan

Carrot and StickA key point of Bruce Riedel’s remarks on Tuesday was that attempts to ‘buy’ Pakistan’s cooperation will always fail. Pakistan cannot be bought, and attempts to persuade Pakistan’s leadership with monetary incentives only waste taxpayer money and distract Pakistan’s government from making reforms necessary to move the country forward.

During the course of the Q&A session following his remarks, Mr. Riedel told an anecdote about an exercise he conducted at the request of President Obama in which he and his colleagues considered ‘out of the box’ ways to influence Pakistan. During a brainstorm session, one of the approaches discussed was to buy Pakistan off with a civilian nuclear energy deal. The participants realized, however, that the likely outcome of such an attempt would be for Pakistan to say, “Thank you for giving us what you already owed. Now we’re even.” The US would have made a tremendous investment of political and financial capital, but would not have influenced any positive change in Pakistan’s domestic policy.

Following their brainstorm session, the group reached the obvious conclusion – instead of trying to buy or coerce the nation, the US should be looking to work constructively with Pakistan based on mutual goals and overlapping priorities.

So if you eliminate the extremes — buying them off, coercion, the out-of-the-box — you come back to what are basically relatively simple solutions and all of those involve working with Pakistan, not against it. Not trying to create an alliance against Pakistan, but trying to create an alliance with Pakistan.

Nancy Birdsall, Wren Elhai and Molly Kinder came to the same conclusion in a post for Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel blog earlier today.

It’s true that Secretary Clinton and her diplomatic team have the ability to work with Pakistan’s good technocrats in nudging along economic policy conversations — including by getting the right political actors around the table. However, it is unrealistic and impolitic to expect officials in Pakistan to take often politically toxic actions in return for U.S. aid payments.  That is a hard reality increasingly understood by many in the administration and in Congress.  The question is whether aid money in some cases might help grease the wheels so that the Pakistani political process performs better.  Could U.S. aid to Pakistan sometimes support the difficult politics of economic reform — as opposed to mostly providing a short-term band-aid to help the country muddle through its current mess?

The key point is that certain aid projects can carry both direct benefits (better services and infrastructure for the people of Pakistan) and indirect benefits (incentives for the Pakistani political system to achieve greater results with their existing resources). Here are a few examples to consider: U.S. investments in energy generation and transmission capacity can be linked to public commitments to raise electricity tariffs  only when brownouts have been reduced below an announced benchmark. In this grand bargain, as service quality improves, tariffs would go up, and another round of aid investments would be delivered. In another case, U.S.-financed tools can be deployed to help Pakistani citizens hold their government accountable-with regular reports on simple indicators of development, for example, or an easily accessible database of all development projects funded from internal or external resources.  Or a pilot Cash on Delivery aid contract in one or more Pakistani provinces could put levers in the hands of education reformers and help their ideas gain traction.

This approach to development does not rely on economic coercion, the “carrots and sticks” approach but instead involves understanding and respecting the needs and priorities of the people of Pakistan and working to help them achieve their goals and, though this, achieving our own.

Nancy Birdsall is president of the Center for Global Development and chair of the CGD Study Group on a U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan. Wren Elhai is a research and communications assistant and Molly Kinder is a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Development.

“Do Not Underestimate the Pakistani People.”

Bruce Riedel

The Brookings Institution yesterday hosted the official book release for Bruce Riedel’s new book, Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad. The author, Bruce Riedel, is a career CIA officer and has advised four US presidents on South Asian policy. He is widely regarded as one of the United States’s preeminent experts on Pakistan.

The auditorium at the Brookings Institution, one of Washington’s oldest and most prestigious think tanks, was filled to capacity with representatives from several governments as well as the military. The rear of the room was packed with journalists from across the world. Mr. Riedel began his remarks by thanking several people, but he paused to give special praise for the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto whom he recognized for her courage and inspiration.

Mr. Riedel noted that Pakistan is one of the most important countries in the world not only for its proximity to the war in Afghanistan, but because it is home to the second largest population of Muslims in the world, it has the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, and it is a long-time American ally. Despite its importance, however, most Americans know very little about the country.

According Mr. Riedel, there are three main issues that he deals with in his new book: Pakistan’s domestic politics, US-Pakistan relations, and the growth of the global jihad movement.

Pakistan’s domestic politics, he said, is influenced largely by two primary struggles: one between the military and the civilian government, the other between the moderate majority of Pakistanis and the vocal but minority of Islamists. He mentioned that these struggles are often exacerbated by an irresponsible press.

But Mr. Riedel pointed out that there is one thing that has always trumped these struggles over the history of Pakistan – “the yearning for democracy has pushed dictators out of power over and over.” There is, he said, a constant underlying push for democracy, rule of law, and accountability. This was a key theme of Mr. Riedel’s remarks – more than anything, the people of Pakistan want to decide their own fate.

On the second issue, US-Pakistan relations, Mr. Riedel was honest and open about the fact that the US has not been a consistent friend to Pakistan. He referred to the relationship between the two countries as ‘a deadly embrace’ – one in which neither side knew if they could trust the other – and urged the members of the audience to change this from a deadly embrace to a friendly embrace.

Mr. Riedel pointed out two major mistakes made by the US:

First, that over the history of US-Pakistan relations, too much has been built around secret projects that are not really secret. He referred to the U2 base in the 1950s; the role that Pakistan played as intermediary between the US and China during Nixon’s presidency; the cooperation between the US and Pakistan in arming the Afghan mujahideen during the Cold War; and most recently the drone attacks on al Qaeda. By continually basing our relationship on secret agreements, we allow an air of intrigue to mischaracterize what is often a healthy cooperation.

The second major mistake the US made, of course, was the support for Pakistan’s dictators over the years – an error of both Republican and Democratic administrations, and one that set back Pakistan’s democratic progress by decades. Mr. Riedel urged the US not never repeat this mistake again.

The third issue Mr. Riedel addressed is Pakistan’s relationship with the growth of the global jihad movement. Here, Mr. Riedel says, we should understand that Pakistan is a nation at war for its soul. While the vast majority of the country are peaceful, moderate Muslims, Pakistan is also home to the largest number of militant groups in the world. As such, the country is divided between those who are loyal to the vision of the nation’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and dark forces who seek to convert Pakistan into a jihadist state similar to Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

The roots for the global jihad movement, Mr. Riedel explains, can be traced to the dictatorship of Gen. Ziaul Haq during the 1980s – a dictatorship supported by the United States. Make no mistake, he reminds, the US shares responsibility for this situation.

The good news, however, is that Pakistan’s military is engaged in the most serious counterinsurgency efforts it has ever conducted. While there may be some elements of the military and intelligence agencies still supporting militant groups as a holdover from previous doctrines of “strategic depth”, the military has realized that the nation most threatened by these groups is Pakistan itself. In answer to a question from the audience, Mr. Riedel said that if you had told him two years ago that Pakistan’s Army was conducting counterinsurgency operations in six of the seven tribal areas, he would have said you were dreaming. Today, though, that dream is a reality.

So what is the solution that Mr. Riedel proposes?

First and foremost, he says, the future of Pakistan is not up to the US. Only Pakistan can decide its own fate, and the US must not repeat past mistakes and try to push Pakistan one way or the other.

The US must not undermine the civilian government or the democratic process. To those who question whether one or another politician is preferable, Mr. Riedel reminds the audience that democracy is not about individuals, but about a process.

The US must also support Pakistan’s efforts to normalize and improve relations with its neighbors, especially India. Mr. Riedel gave special praise for the efforts of Pakistan’s current President Asif Ali Zardari to improve trade between the countries. While these may seem like small steps, he said, it is this path of incremental change and trust-building that will ultimately succeed.

Above all, however, the US must not try to broker a peace between Pakistan and India. It will not work, he said, and we must trust and support the Pakistani leadership to develop a path to normalization that satisfies their own needs and strategic interests.

The people of Pakistan have shown a remarkable determination to hold on to Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a nation at peace with its neighbors and itself. There are no magic solutions, he warned, and progress will take time. But, he advised, we should never underestimate the people of Pakistan’s desire for democracy and peace. If there was one message that Mr. Riedel left the audience with that day, it was this: “Do not underestimate the Pakistani people.”

Helicopters for Pakistan

Apache Helicopters

On Monday I wrote that the answer to whether or not the US can trust Pakistan can be found in the answer to a related question: Can Pakistan trust the US? Like an iterated prisoner’s dilemma, each side is searching for an equilibrium of cooperation despite a past of defections. The Tuesday New York Times article speculating that the US wants to expand raids over the Pakistani border didn’t help matters, instead seeming to confirm Pakistani fears of American duplicity. While the US immediately rejected the Times report, the US needs to give more than verbal assurances to our Pakistani allies. We need to give helicopters.

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