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

Friday, April 10, 2009

Debating causation

If I'd have to point out just one of the weak assumptions in President Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, taken from the interagency white paper behind it, it could be this one. Quoting from the white paper proper.
"Assisting Pakistan's capability to fight extremists (...) will include increased U.S. military assistance for helicopters to provide air mobility, night vision equipment, and training and equipment specifically for Pakistani Special Operation Forces and their Frontier Corps."
Pakistan's military may certainly use such equipment for all sorts of purposes. But ever since the US made its move in Afghanistan, the Pakistani military's readiness to fight extremists did not really hinge on how well-equipped its soldiers were/are. It is not a matter of asking them more nicely. And not a matter of giving them better equipment for counterinsurgency. To the extent that they did things at US request, it was partly out of pragmatism (with regard to the US-provided life-support to the Pakistani economy); and it was usually dependent on how much sabotage any such effort faced from within, partly equally out of (a different kind of) pragmatism, partly out of the extremism that has gained influence even within the military. (See what I refer to as "sinking boat operations" here, under the sub-title "Calling 1-800-HAQQANI".) In other words, you can add what you mean to be a counterinsurgent's game-changers to the mix, but the internal Pakistani equilibrium between the only partly visible factions is unaffected by that. The Pakistani army does not become more committed to counterinsurgency just because it gets some fancy equipment for that. Such a change would need to come from elsewhere. From heads, mostly.

On the other hand. One can understand the dislike in India of the Pakistani aspects of the Obama strategy shown for example in this article by Madhav Das Nalapat, father of the NAATO idea. But saying that the Pakistani army is motivated by a "vision of Mughal-era India" is just another misinterpretation to me. Sure there might be people in the Pakistani Army and the ISI who believe in a borderless umma. Or people who never reconciled with the switching off of support to Kashmiri insurgents. Or people who would have never given up support to the Taliban regime, even after 9-11, faced with U.S. military power (and faced with the possibly missed opportunity of getting loads of money in GWOT assistance).

But that Mughal-era India would be the motivating factor for the Pakistani Army, even for the top brass? I mean it's one thing what education generations after generations of Pakistanis get. What I am interested in asking is if it - reestablishing Mughal rule over India - is truly a factor of causation for anyone, meaning there's surely no 5- or even 50-year plan for the realisation of exactly that project within any faction of the Pakistani security sector.

See superficial illustration:

1 comment:

Jengnameh said...

Great post, Peter. If COIN success in FATA/NWFP is premised on Pak Army and ISI cooperation, it is doomed to failure.