Tag Archives: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

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.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Explains Why Open Markets Support Democracy

Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke at CFR, where he discussed the regional development challenges that Pakistan faces due to the catastrophic floods, the need for constructive dialogue with India and Afghanistan, the strengthening relationship with the United States, as well as the fight against terrorism.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Talks To Katie Couric

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently sat down with Katie Couric on CBS News to discuss Pakistan’s response to the devastating flood crisis, the country’s struggle for democracy, the threat of extremist groups – and how the Pakistani military is fighting that threat.

Rand Report And Historical Context

Rand Corporation released a new report on Pakistan yesterday that includes a mixed bag of observations and recommendations. While the report does recognize the complicated situation that is religious extremism in Pakistan, it is imperative to a successful American-Pakistan partnership that we consider policy in the proper historical context.

Steve Coll, President of the New America Foundation, spoke with Judy Woodruff on the PBS News Hour last night and his conversation provides a good starting point for discussing key elements of the report.

Mr. Coll rightly notes that Pakistan has suffered immensely from extremist violence. The New York Times reported at the beginning of this year that,

The number of Pakistani civilians killed in militant attacks rose by a third in 2009 over the previous year, according to a new research report, a toll that exceeded even the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

Those numbers don’t include the over 7,000 injuries sustained by Pakistani civilians, nor the thousands of Pakistani military and police personnel killed by religious militants.

This is important to keep in mind when discussing Pakistan’s complicity with Taliban and other religious extremist groups. The Rand report recognizes this, noting that “[s]ome of these groups pose a grave threat to the Pakistani state…”

The fact is, the Pakistani state has a self-interest in defeating the Taliban and other groups that engage in religious violence. That’s not to say that there are not elements within Pakistan’s civilian, military, and intelligence services that don’t provide either indirect or direct support for militant groups. But it does mean that claims of an ‘official policy’ of state support for these groups are far fetched at best.

In fact, the present government, has taken unprecedented steps in eliminating the threat of religious militancy. But eliminating the terrorist threat will not happen overnight, and this government has only been in power for less than two years. As Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, writes in the new book, The Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater: Militant Islam, Security & Stability

…these problems come not just from continuing official support for religious militancy, but also from an institutional culture and outlook that grew over decades. The road to reversing this course will not be easy, but clearly understanding the problem – and acting upon it – is necessary.

It’s going to take time to root out lingering ties between Pakistani officials and militants. We must also keep in mind that these residual ties to militant groups are firmly rooted in longstanding tensions between Pakistan and India – tensions that past American policies have historically complicated.

Shuja Nawaz, Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, describes the “roller coaster relationship” between the US and Pakistan as a key reason for lingering relationships between some elements within Pakistan’s security agencies and militant groups.

Though the United States sees itself as standing for democracy and freedom, it has acted in Pakistan over the decades in a shortsighted manner, making alliances largely with the military to advance its own strategic interests. First, it strengthened the hands of the army by increasing its size and heft in the 1950s via the Baghdad Pact against the Soviets. The U.S. looked the other way as martial law was declared by President Iskander Mirza in October 1958, and then as he was overthrown by Ayub Khan later that month. The U.S. decamped from the scene after the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, when Pakistan expected the U.S. to assist it. Pakistan then turned to China as its new best friend.

Being abandoned by the US is fresh in Pakistan’s memory, even if too many Americans may have forgotten. Without the confidence that the US will be a neutral arbiter between Pakistan and India and ensure Pakistan’s security and sovereignty, the temptation to resort to the old self-defeating use of militant groups as proxy fighters will continue.

To this end, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi deserves praise for his continued work to bridge the trust gap between the two nuclear powers. But the US must do more to ease Pakistani concerns that the we are not partners for the long-term.

During a panel discussion last week, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross observed that short-sighted American policies during the 1980s resulted in a trust deficit with Pakistan. Discussions of foreign policy related to Pakistan should be framed within the context of a long-term view of political engagement in the region with an eye to future dividends from continuing to support democratic reform. Otherwise, policies that attempt to maximize short-term security gains at the expense of long-term democratic reform in Pakistan will only continue the cycle of mistrust and violence, significantly threatening both Pakistani and American security in the future.

US-Pakistan Strengthen Cooperation

“Both the United States and Pakistan agree that the terrorist threat against both countries by extremists must be fought jointly and is done most effectively by strengthening the already existing strategic partnership between our elected governments.  It is our belief that the Pakistani people welcome U.S. support for stronger economic ties and a focus on our common interest in strengthening democracy, civil society and empowering people through education and economic growth.”

To that end, General Jim Jones, U.S.National Security Adviser, CIA Director Leon Panetta. and U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson called on President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss U.S. Pakistan relations and the security situation in the region.  The two countries issued a joint statement, commenting on their common interests.