What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The fence with disorder on both sides

MStFB Update
I have largely left the issue of fencing along the Afghan-Pakistani border alone these days. So for an update I'll include links here to some news connected to it.
Fencing is going ahead, and the way it is going ahead suggests that it might have more of an effect on cross-border infiltration than one tended to think originally. As I pointed out in an earlier post, some experts believe that the key to the effectiveness of fencing, for the party contemplating such a measure as erecting a security barrier, is constant monitoring and the ability and readiness to quickly intervene if somebody wants to e.g. blow his way across it. It seems like Pakistan is now promising the intensified patrolling of the area.
The relevant parts from the article linked to above, with the locations of fencing named, and with the hint on more patrols: "We have completed 20 kilometres (12 miles) of fencing in North Waziristan's Lwara Mundi area," spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said. "This is that difficult part where most militants reportedly were crossing over." Another 15-kilometre stretch would soon be fenced in the neighbouring South Waziristan tribal area, Arshad said. The army has also deployed extra troops and increased patrols in the area which faces insurgency-hit southeastern Afghanistan."
If they really go ahead with this and seriously follow through in the implementation phase, that might put the Taliban in a more troubled situation, especially now that Talibs have apparently lost one of their major commanders, Mullah Dadullah. A lot of comments from the blogosphere to the daily press have made jokes out of the planned fencing, but technically it can produce results. Check out the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs site and its info on fencing along India's borders on Bangladesh and Pakistan (the erection of the fence in Jammu and Kashmir was even protested by Pakistan a lot). Fencing there comes together with floodlighting, and with serious monitoring efforts of course. Now, it of course wouldn't be much to say that one may have doubts whether the same enthusiasm for enforcement will or will not be there on the part of Pakistani forces along the Afghan border, and whether they are just happy to put any kind of man-built structure on the border line disputed by the Afghan side.
It might be because of more U.S. pressure for instance that Pakistan may now be seriously considering to patrol these areas more. Hardly a day passed by recently without someone in the U.S. administration stating that Pakistan's tribal areas serve as a sanctuary for Talib insurgents.
And on May 9, for instance, PCR Fellow and CSIS Deputy Chief of Staff Craig Cohen testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs (part of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) on Pakistan, in a hearing titled 'Extremist Madrassas, Ghost Schools, and US Aid to Pakistan: Are We Making the Grade on the 9/11 Commission Report Card?'. He pointed out that of the $10 billion in aid provided to Pakistan since 9/11, some 60% was for direct patronage of the Pakistani military for its efforts against militants (technically a 'reimbursement').
He also says, and I'll quote this directly: "Roughly 15% has gone to security assistance, with the vast majority of this money being used to purchase major U.S. weapons systems that are better suited for military confrontation with India than confronting al Qaeda or the Taliban.
• Another 15% has gone to budget support, which is a direct cash transfer to the government of Pakistan based on loosely worded shared objectives with few accountability mechanisms built in.
• This leaves about 10% for long-term development and short-term humanitarian assistance, including our response to the October 2005 earthquake.
Education—which the 9/11 Commission rightly said was critical to making a long-term commitment to Pakistan—comes in at only 3.4% of total U.S. spending."
Read the rest of the testimony here. So altogether he is very critical of the way the U.S. is assisting Pakistan and finds it rather counterproductive to the wide range of efforts the U.S. is officially involved in promoting in Pakistan.
You may also find interesting this piece of news here, that the U.S. is currently building large madrassas for Afghan youth in Afghanistan's Paktika Province, 'super-madrassas' that could each accomodate about a thousand boarding students. The purpose: to keep them from receiving the same religious education in a more radical version in Pakistan. (And actually more of such madrassas are planned for the future.)
So, getting back to the fence issue. One may think that Ankara (the April 30 Ankara meeting between Presidents Musharraf and Karzai) was a good occasion to get Afghans not to attack Pakistani forces involved in raising the fence. Wrong assumption: even if not clearly connected to the fence issue, there was at least one firefight lately, and this time with deaths (the deaths came on the Afghan side). One can only speculate as to the motivation of the forces involved in the incident. It might be that some locally strong Afghan actor initiated the incident for one reason or another, independently from the central Afghan leadership. It might be that for Afghanistan as a state (and its leadership) it's a way to emphasise there being an Afghan state - by concentrating on the challenge of maintaining their policy on the former Durand Line, which might be a somewhat welcome change of task when one usually is mostly involved in trying to assemble one's state from scratch. And it might also be that Pakistani forces initiated the fighting with one reason or another. It might be the general context which makes soldiers there pull the trigger more easily, or many other things. I'll be interested to read some more in the next days to try and arrive at some more precise conclusion on the issue.
Anyway, with the current disorder in Karachi, now there's disorder on both sides of the fence under construction. Right now the Pakistani military doesn't look like having lost control, they are just calculatedly more passive perhaps than one would normally expect them to be in a situation like this. Dawn says that paramilitaries have also been deployed by now, and that they have been given the license to shoot-to-kill (which might also produce controversial results, though).
Still, the kind of one-urban-community-shooting-at-the-other situation going on in some quarters of Karachi does tell one to closely watch what's going to happen.

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