South Asia

Pakistan: Runaway Horse Looking for a Rider

Anticipating possible midterm elections, EWI board member Ikram Sehgal analyzes Pakistan’s current political regime and its history of corruption in his weekly editorial for The News.

For Sehgal, Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s current president and co-chairman of the ruling party Pakistan’s Peoples Party (PPP), “qualifies as perhaps the craftiest politician of his time.”  Sehgal writes that Zardari, who has a reputation of corruption, has done little to improve the political regime in Pakistan aside from maintaining a vague semblance of democracy and a decent relationship with the U.S.

Sehgal argues that Zardari's predecessor Musharraf was no better, but that he could be the “Comeback Kid," pointing out that Musharraf did make some positive progress during his first two to three years as president.

Mian Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister of Pakistan and head of the conservative political group Pakistan Muslim League (PML), is “unpalatable for the West,” states Sehgal . “Sharif is considered ‘dangerous’ even by our friends.”  Similarly his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, was a successful leader when Mian Sharif was prime minister, but lost his strength when his brother lost power.

With his failure to differentiate between the Taliban and terrorist groups, Imran Khan is unable to “translate his popularity into votes,” writes Sehgal. “Such views are not acceptable to even those who genuinely like him,” explains Sehgal.

With the midterm elections on the horizon, Sehgal assesses that there is little promise of finding Pakistan’s next great leader this time around.

Click here to read Sehgal’s piece in The News

Grading the President: Between Indian Hopes and American Reticence

Writing for India’s The Telegraph, Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary of India and member of EWI’s board of directors, assesses the success of President Obama’s visit to India.

After considering the potential expectations from the American and Indian perspectives, Kanwal concludes that while the expectations were not met on every level, the visit was not unsuccessful.

There were four main focus points during Obama’s visit to India: the economy, India’s candidacy for permanent UNSC membership, terrorism and defense in India and the India-Pakistan relationship. 

Obama expressed concern about U.S. outsourcing, which did not bode favorably for the U.S.: “Obama has overplayed the outsourcing card and unnecessarily targeted India as a source of job losses.”  India-U.S. trade only accounts for one percent of the 2009 U.S. trade deficit.

Regarding India’s permanent membership to the UNSC, Sibal assesses, “His words do not amount to an unqualified support for India’s claim.”
Kanwal asserts that Obama made symbolic gestures regarding terrorism in India, but merely skimmed the surface of the issue.  At the heart of this are the conflicted relationships between the U.S., Pakistan and India.

Sibal concludes that the U.S.-India relationship will continue to have its challenges, but that Obama’s visit was an overall success: “All in all, he would merit a B+ grade.”

Click here to read Sibal's piece in The Telegraph

NATO Should Hand Over in Afghanistan

Greg Austin wrote this piece for his weekly column in New Europe.

In August 2003, NATO took over the leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan under the mandate of the United Nations. As the ISAF website notes: “The Alliance became responsible for the command, coordination and planning of the force.”

But who is running this Alliance? Where is the Allied command at political level that binds together these allies around a political strategy agreed by all of the Allies? According to ISAF, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) “provides overall coordination and political direction”, working “in close consultation” with non-NATO troop-contributing countries. The NAC meets at least weekly, often more frequently, at Ambassadorial level in Brussels, and twice yearly at Ministerial level, and occasionally at Head of State level. Is the NAC really making the political command decisions for the counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan? Should it be?

The answer is no, on both counts. The NAC is not and cannot be a supreme decision making body for the politics of war inside Afghanistan. This gap in political control and accountability for war waged by the international community needs to be fixed.

Everyone accepts the need for a clear transition from the massive intervention by NATO and other allies to a politically sustainable future premised on a self-confident and secure Afghanistan. To do this, we need a new (a genuine) political command council that is dominated not just by a handful of NATO members but by the key political players in the war, of which the Afghanistan government has to be one.
Because support from inside NATO for Afghan combat operations is weakening, the UN Allies and the NAC need to think rather urgently about creating a new structure that provides for a durable, representative and workable political command. The United States has been the pre-eminent policy designer for NATO in this war (and still runs its own independent forces in Afghanistan) but it is not a credible long-term leader for the political transition we now need. The United States, like NATO, has to pass the baton, but to whom and to what?

The answer may lie in how the main actors address the need for a second requirement: effective regional security arrangements that can counter the violent extremists using Islam as their cover. That problem has to be solved primarily by Muslim states and Muslim communities.
The only answer may be to create a new standing Council at head of state level that brings together key stakeholders from the region and the major external powers. It might comprise the UN Secretary General (as chair), Afghanistan, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the United States, the European Union, Russia, China and India. There would have to be a place for Iran at the table. This Council would not be a command authority for Afghanistan alone, but a political stabilization council and allied command authority for the South and West Asia regions.

The Council could devise, fund and execute a clear set of complementary political, military and economic action plans for these regions in their entirety, even if discrete elements might need to be packaged country by country according to political sensitivities and practicalities. These measures could include a Muslim Peace Corps building on the OIC’s youth initiative from 2003. The Council could serve under UN mandate for renewable periods.

This might be a path marked by controversy, division and failures, but it is the only sustainable path. Such a step would serve to force the pace on regional security cooperation in a part of the world where it is so embryonic, so mistrusted and so visibly needed.

A Defining Moment: The U.S.-India Bilateral Relationship

Writing for, W. Pal Sidhu explores the challenges and possibilities of the U.S.-India relationship, in light of Obama’s long-awaited visit to India.

Sidhu begins by unraveling commonly-held myths correlating presidential visits to the bilateral relationship, including the idea that Republican presidents have stronger relationships with Indian leaders than Democrat presidents. Sidhu writes, “The reality, however, is far more nuanced. It is determined by domestic politics, quest for exceptionalism, lack of trust and inherent complexity of any relationship, which is becoming increasingly intertwined.”

Sidhu writes that, at its root, discord between India and the United States lies in the countries’ differing approaches to democracy and innate sense of exceptionalism – or belief that they are somehow exempt from playing by the rules.

“Indian exceptionalism is based on its rich civilizational past, its freedom movement, its leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement and its desire to be an autonomous actor in a world of alliances,” Sidhu explains. For the United States, Sidhu cites the “Bush doctrine of preventive war, which was evident in the unprovoked attack on Iraq in 2003.” 

For Sidhu, this sense of exceptionalism ultimately hinders the bilateral relationship, as it can preclude constructive international military and defense decisions. He points out, “India and the U.S. have chosen to test the limits of their exceptionalism on some of the most contentious military, nuclear and security issues on which they have had little or no interaction or serious differences. For instance, New Delhi was reluctant to accept the end-user monitoring arrangement with the U.S. (a standard even for Washington’s closest and oldest allies), which is essential for any transfer or military equipment to take place.” 

Sidhu concludes that on both sides, diplomatic efforts should extend beyond Obama’s visit to such forums as India-US Strategic Dialogue and the UN Security Council.

How will we know if Obama’s visit has been a success? “The litmus test will be the joint declaration that will follow from the visit,” Sidhu writes. “If it candidly acknowledges the challenges and opportunities, then the relationships will benefit.  Otherwise, it will be a clear signal that the relationship will descend into familiar and meaningless platitudes.”

Click here to read Sidhu's article on

Pakistan: A Resilient Nation

To paraphrase Mark Twain: “Rumours about Pakistan’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.” By any measure, the country has defied the odds, and we are one of the most resilient nations on earth. How many nations are capable of surviving the manmade and natural catastrophes that we are periodically subjected to, not counting the disaster that is our democratic leadership? Even incurable optimists like me do not cease to wonder at our inherent ability to rise from the ashes. Something like Razzak’s amazing century the other day in Abu Dhabi.

In 2009, parliament (which is “supreme”) voluntarily surrendered sovereign authority in Swat, with hardly any debate and in less than one day. The public mask for the evil designs of Fazlullah, his murderous son-in-law, Sufi Mohammad gave away the jihadis’ hand by publicly heaping scorn on the Supreme Court. For good measure, he added that the militants did not recognise the country’s Constitution. Had the media darling of that time not shot off his mouth prematurely, Swat’s population would today be subject to the Fazlullah brand of Shahriah, thanks to parliament that has never revoked that despicable Resolution. With Islamabad only 60 kms away as the crow flies. The “domino theory” was very much a possibility in the adjoining districts. The outraged public reaction and the continuing atrocities perpetuated by Fazlullah was “casus belli,” giving space to the army deal with them effectively.

Once given the green signal and with the population firmly behind its campaign the army showed no reluctance or hesitation in going after the insurgent terrorist menace within our borders. The successful counterinsurgency overcame the psychological barrier, the feeling that the jihadis could not be beaten. The battlefield momentum was thereafter extended to South Waziristan. The Mahsuds provided the supposedly impenetrable outer ring around the non-Pakistani Al-Qaeda stronghold. But the myth of their invincibility, created with the help of uninformed media hype, soon evaporated. Many cadres of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed. Some were taken captive but a substantial number melted away, many of them seeking (and receiving) refuge in North Waziristan from the Haqqani group.

Not that the army is infallible. The other day someone mentioned that the Pakistani army was working on a new doctrine. One was not surprised that an enquiry about the national security strategy on which the doctrine should be based produced blank looks. One may be forgiven for being rather skeptical. But, after all, who can forget the brilliance (and the after-effects) of the last two “doctrines”: (1) the defence of the East lies in the West, and (2) Afghanistan gives us strategic depth.

In similar vein, when Mian Nawaz Sharif talks about a 25-year charter drawn up by all stakeholders, one wonders what in the world is he talking about. For example, what really is the PML-N chief doing about the electricity and petroleum rates hiked beyond description? Forget the “vision thing.” The PML-N leader should start playing the role that Pakistanis want from the opposition, both within parliament and outside, providing the checks and balances that are the essence of democracy.
The Supreme Court judgment on the 18th Amendment was quite Solomonic, and hopefully parliament would respond in a mature fashion and correct the anomalies that have slipped into an otherwise commendable Raza Rabbani-led achievement. The PML-N’s ineptitude and the Supreme Court inaction have gifted Zardari time and space time and again. The one public official in Pakistan who does not have to declare his assets, the president has used this repeated let-off quite brilliantly, launching an effective attack against the Supreme Court’s credibility. While the Supreme Court has been forced occasionally to take the opposition’s role by default to ensure and/or enforce the rule of law for the hapless people of Pakistan, it has only itself to blame for vacillating in implementing its judgment on the NRO, whose beneficiaries continue to disfigure at will whatever governance there is in Pakistan.

The US is generous in getting material and monetary aid to us whenever we face either manmade and/or natural disasters. The US Chinooks supplementing Pakistan Army Aviation helicopters made the difference between life and death for millions stranded above the snowline in the high mountains during Earthquake 2005. The Chinooks were joined this time around during the devastating Floods 2010 by Sea Stallions in saving thousands upon thousands from the rising floodwaters, as well as delivering timely material aid. The $2 billion in military aid promised by the US recently is rather niggardly (at $500 million a year beginning 2012), when the amount is compared to the $18 billion largesse for the Afghan National Army (ANA). One must not look a gift horse in the mouth, but one feel more than a little aggrieved at what is being poured into a black hole in Afghanistan. The Pakistani army has lost more than 3,000 killed in the last 18 months, the ANA less than 300 dead (all the coalition forces put together have lost about 600 killed in action this year).

It is a fact of life that our young men in uniform are being killed in the line of duty at a ratio of 10:1 to the number of coalition casualties put together. Compared to the Afghan civilian casualties, our young and old – men, women and children – are dying at about the same rate at the hands of suicide bombers in the streets of Pakistan. While we must own the war against terrorism, it is ours to fight and win, the disparity in our effort compared to the treatment meted out to us rankles with us.

US ambassador Cameron Munter has hit the ground running. That is good, given the rather large shoes of his predecessor that he has to fill. Ambassador Anne Patterson was a class act and, even though one did disagree with her shoring up an inherently corrupt and ineffective leadership in Pakistan which represents everything that the average American can never stomach, she was outstanding in coalescing the core interests of the US with the concerns of Pakistan.

It is no secret that the US has always had (and continues to have) inordinate influence over our rulers, civil and military included, and while Pakistan may not always carry out their express instructions immediately, either because of a lack of resources and/or long-term core interests: e.g., action against the Haqqani group in North Waziristan, the US can (and must) use its considerable clout, Holbrooke notwithstanding, to ensure that our corrupt-to-the-core rulers adhere to the rule of law.

Let’s call a spade a spade and not insult everybody’s intelligence. We should be content being paid a pittance as mercenaries. What else will be made out to look when President Obama visits the real US “strategic partner” in the next few days? While the security of the US president must be the deciding factor, Obama should be persuaded to put himself in harm’s way for “a country that refuses to fail.” Even a few hours on our soil would be a tremendous vote of confidence.

Click here to read this piece online

India's Host of Friends

Writing for India’s The Telegraph, Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary of India and member of EWI’s board of directors, discusses India’s need for balanced relationships between the U.S., France, Russia and China.

“India’s ‘strategic relationship’ with each of these countries requires tending,” states Sibal. 

Sibal discusses the formation of the India-France relationship after India’s 1998 nuclear tests: “France sensed the opportunity that had emerged to forge a strategic relationship with an independent-minded country that could be a partner in promoting multipolarity as a response to U.S. unilateralism.”

The India-Russia relationship, which had drifted during the Yeltsin years, was renewed under Putin: “Putin saw the strategic need for Russia to restore its traditional ties with India as part of a more balanced foreign policy that reflected Russia’s Asia dimension.”

The India-U.S. relationship is complicated by nuclear weapons, U.S. arms supplies to Pakistan, and the growing economic interdependence between the U.S. and China. Despite many shared values such as democracy, religious tolerance and respect for human rights, “the burden of responsibility to eliminate the negative elements from the India-U.S. relationship still remains with the U.S.,” Sibal claims. 

Sibal believes that Barack Obama should announce his support for India’s permanent membership to the Security Council during his upcoming visit, in order to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

Sibal concludes, “India would need to finely tune the balance of its defense ties with each of these strategic partners to ensure that all three contribute to India security optimally.”

Click here to read Sibal's piece in The Telegraph

Negotiating with the Taliban: Lessons from Vietnam

For EWI Associate Franz-Stefan Gady, recently back from Kabul, the Vietnam War holds lessons for ending the war in Afghanistan. 

Click here to read this article in Small Wars Journal.

Negotiating with the Taliban: Lessons from Vietnam

Despite many critical voices of the overuse of the Vietnam War metaphor when talking about the war in Afghanistan there are many striking similarities between the last years of the Vietnam War and the Obama administration's attempt to extract U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan. I therefore think it is important, given the upcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon in November and the looming withdrawal of NATO forces from the region, to examine the Nixon administration’s effort to win the Vietnam War on the negotiation table and to have, in Nixon’s words, “Peace with Honor."

Just like President Obama in 2009, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon came into the White House in 1969 to end the war which, at that point, was already a “bone to the nations throat,” to quote a former White House speech writer. Talks with the North Vietnamese had already started under the Johnson administration in Paris but come to no satisfactory conclusion. The main objectives of the United States on the negotiation table were the territorial integrity and independence of South Vietnam, a withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops from South East Asia and a withdrawal of Vietcong insurgents in South Vietnam.

Similar to today’s situation in Afghanistan, the Nixon administration had to deal with a largely unpopular leader, Nguyen Van Thieu, who was reelected in 1969 after winning a fraudulent election and whose regime was infamous for its corruption. North Vietnam’s strategy in a nutshell, again similar to insurgents in Afghanistan, was to outlast the Americans, get rid of the Thieu regime and to take over the country once the United States withdrew.

Comparable to President Obama’s surge strategy, Nixon decided to increase military pressure on Vietnam. Henry Kissinger insisted that, “A fourth rate power like North Vietnam must have a breaking point.” Upon taking office in 1969, Nixon secretly conveyed to the North Vietnamese that he was seeking peace and willing to negotiate, but that the United States was willing to escalate the conflict should its demands not be met. Over a period of 15 months, the United States Air Force dropped more than 100,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia. Nixon’s first attempt to gain concessions from the Vietnamese on the negotiating table failed. The major stumbling blocks, the integrity of South Vietnam and the preservation of the Thieu regime, were to stall negotiations for the next three years.

Despite what current proponents of escalating U.S. engagement in Afghanistan claim, North Vietnam in 1969 shifted from an offensive to a defensive strategy. They did this by limiting offensive operations in the South and even withdrawing troops across the demilitarized zone, not due to military setbacks, but to wait Nixon out until public opinion at home forced the U.S. to withdraw combat troops, something sources in Kabul claim is precisely the Taliban’s strategy. Frustrated by North Vietnam’s unwillingness to make any substantial concessions at the secret negotiations in Paris, Nixon ordered the formation of a secret National Security Council Study Group to come up with “savage punishing blows” for the North Vietnamese. However, the conclusion of the Study Group, chaired by Henry Kissinger, showed that increased military pressure would not yield additional concessions from Hanoi.

The insurgents in Afghanistan, despite being battle weary, will certainly also not be willing to make any major concessions with U.S. troop withdrawal a few months away. This is happening in spite of an increase in drone strikes and special forces operations activities throughout the country. The North Vietnamese, by cleverly manipulating U.S. negotiators, essentially bought time by making vague proposals that amounted to little substance and complaining about procedural matters such as the size and set up of tables at the negotiations in Paris. Their real goal until 1972 was to buy time for North Vietnamese Forces to get resupplied and strengthened for the final military blow against the Thieu regime. The insurgents in Afghanistan, although in no way comparable in size, equipment and capabilities to the Vietcong and the regular North Vietnamese Army, will probably employ similar delaying tactics until the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition forces. Any initial “willingness” by Taliban leaders to talk has to be seen in this critical light.

The famous Vietnamization policy was a direct consequence of the United States' failed attempt to break the deadlock at the negotiating table with military force and domestic pressure to start withdrawing U.S. combat troops. Without consulting his South Vietnamese ally, Nixon unilaterally announced this policy, frustrated by the lack of military progress and mounting US casualties. Within months the South Vietnamese Military became one of the largest and best equipped Armies in the World (by 1974 South Vietnam’s Air Force was the fourth largest in the world). At the same time the United States stepped up its Phoenix program headed by the CIA, and just like its modern successor, the drone strike campaign, aimed at decapitating the leadership of the Vietcong and destroying Vietcong strongholds in the South. The United States claimed big successes and the elimination of over 20.000 Vietcong targets in South Vietnam. However, the Vietcong’s command structure and ability to conduct operations remained intact. So far the same is true for Taliban safe havens in Pakistan, which have been targets of drone strikes.

Indeed, there are also striking similarities between Obama’s decision to step up the drone strikes into Pakistan and Nixon’s controversial decision to invade and bomb Cambodia to buy time for Vietnamization, and destroy North Vietnamese safe havens. In the end, despite having claimed to have killed 2000 insurgents and substantially disrupted North Vietnamese supply bases and “treasure troves” of intelligence (according to Henry Kissinger), it did not alter the outcome of the conflict, but led to the massive destabilization of Cambodia. Events in Pakistan today illustrate the danger of undermining a government’s authority on their own territory. The strategic military impact of recent drone strikes remains to be seen, but so far have not influenced the Taliban’s offensive capabilities substantially.

In October of 1970 Nixon launched a “major new initiative for peace” which was promptly rejected by Hanoi. More U.S. troops were withdrawn and the process of Vietnamization sped up. Nixon also expanded the war into Laos in 1971 to disrupt enemy supply line and to force a military decision. Talks failed over the same fundamental issue: the future of the South Vietnamese government under Thieu. Later in 1971,  Kissinger made yet another secret proposal to the North Vietnamese: Complete US withdrawal in exchange for US POWs held in Hanoi. Again North Vietnam rejected the offer. POWs were one of the few bargaining chips they had when negotiating with the United States and only would give it up last. North Vietnam again insisted on the removal of the Thieu regime, which the U.S. dismissed. North Vietnam proposed open elections in September 1971, on the condition that the United States withdraw support for Thieu. Kissinger and Nixon refused.

In March 1972, North Vietnam launched a large scale invasion of South Vietnam with conventional forces, having carefully prepared its offensive capabilities over the previous two years and stalled negotiations in Paris. Despite some initial progress, North Vietnam was beaten back by massive U.S. air raids in the demilitarized zone on Hanoi and Haiphong. For the first time, Kissinger made secret concessions to North Vietnam that would allow North Vietnamese Forces in South Vietnam after a cease fire, undermining the sovereignty of South Vietnam, but still insisting on the future existence of the Thieu regime. North Vietnam rejected them and Nixon further escalated the air war, and mined Haiphong harbor. In June 1972 alone the US dropped 112.000 tons of bombs.

North Vietnam estimated that it would need three years to recover from the losses incurred during the Easter Offensive (which proved correct) and agreed to shift their war strategy to a “strategy of peace” to buy time and guarantee the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam. A tripartite electoral commission comprising the Thieu regime, the Vietcong (Provisionary Revolutionary Government), and neutralists such as the Buddhists was to come up with a political solution to the conflict after the U.S. withdrawal. Nixon ordered additional bombing raids over North Vietnam over Christmas 1972 to force the Vietnamese to agree to a settlement and to save face vis-à-vis Thieu and the American people. Despite massive air raids it did not set back North Vietnam’s capacity to conduct war in the South. When the United States and North Vietnam finally came to an agreement in Paris in January and February 1973, Thieu who had the least interest in an agreement and withdrawal of US troops did not sign the treaty. The Paris agreement was a compromise agreement securing the return of the majority of US POWs, guaranteeing the US troop withdrawal from South Vietnam and leaving the Thieu regime in power. North Vietnam still had forces in the South and the large question of the political future of Vietnam was unresolved.

Describing the Nixon administration’s year-long struggle to extract the United States from Vietnam holds some valuable lessons for the Obama Administration. First and foremost, it shows that there can be no solution to the conflict if the underlying fundamentals causing the insurgency are not addressed. North Vietnam could not accept the Thieu regime. The Taliban will not accept the Karzai regime, especially with the looming withdrawal of NATO-led forces. The only answer will be unconditional Afghan-led talks between the warring factions should any agreement ever be reached.

Second, military escalation of the conflict will not fundamentally influence the negotiation process; it will only prolong the fighting. Temporary military setbacks by either side may delay talks, but the essential issues will remain unchanged: How can the United States extract itself with protecting its core security interests and how can Afghanistan be stabilized?

Third, one of the reasons why Thieu proved a very difficult partner in negotiations was because Nixon and Kissinger never consulted him on major changes in U.S. foreign policy such as Vietnamization. President Karzai was also presented with a fait accompli with the July 2011 withdrawal deadline, and voiced his deep concern that it will empower the Taliban in the long term. An increasingly insular perception of the White House is gaining a foothold in Kabul and among NATO allies. Whether true or untrue when it comes to making peace, allies and partners need to be informed of every aspect of U.S. strategy, since any reconciliation of warring factions has to be based on consensus.

Fourth, the United States in any negotiation should stick to its core national security interests in Afghanistan. The United States made the critical mistake of equating the preservation of the Thieu regime with rolling back communism in South East Asia because it lacked a clear perception of its core national security interest in the region. Supporting Karzai may or may not guarantee the dismantling of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but the United States has to insist that a future government, which may include insurgent/Taliban representation, disassociate itself completely from Al Qaeda. Destroying Al Qaeda is the core national security interest of the United States in Afghanistan. Reconciliation, on the other hand, should be entirely left to the Afghans.

Last, and most important: Afghans on both sides, the government and the Taliban, know that Western Forces will eventually leave. This alone undermines any military credibility sought for the purpose of having a strong negotiating position vis-à-vis the Taliban and guarantees that the United States and its allies may win every battle but in the end lose the war. Vietnamization had its limits, as the United States painfully learned with the fall of Saigon in 1975 and defeat of the South Vietnamese Army. The current capabilities of the Afghan National Army leave little doubt how the tide will turn once U.S. forces have left Afghanistan.

Franz-Stefan Gady is an associate at the EastWest Institute. He has previously worked as an adjunct research assistant at the Institute for National Strategies Studies of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., focusing on regional security issues. He was also an analyst for the Project on National Security Reform, a congressionally funded nonprofit organization founded to reform the national security structure of the United States. He holds an M.A. in Strategic Studies/International Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and has served in the Austrian Army and the Austrian Foreign Ministry, working on various security issues.

Pakistan's National Anti-Narcotics Policy 2010

Writing for The News, EWI Director Ikram Sehgal addresses the current issue of drug trafficking in Pakistan, and how to eradicate it.

“For Pakistan, supply reduction requires an integrated strategy of domestic enforcement, border control and international cooperation, both within the region and with partners such as the UN,” explains Sehgal.

With the increased proliferation of drugs throughout Pakistan, Sehgal explains that the problem needs to be addressed at several levels: “Proliferations of drugs and psychotropic substances within Pakistani society and the subsequent increase in numbers of drug addicts are emerging challenges, particularly because sale and distribution occurs at the micro-level with responsibility spread across many Government agencies.”

Another aspect of the national drug problem that must change is the way governments handle drug users and dealers:  “Drug users should be assisted with treatment and rehabilitation, be treated as victims rather than criminals. Drug traffickers must be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

Sehgal explains that the link between drug trafficking and drug use with terrorism and civil unrest is paramount: “The nexus between insurgency, terrorism, drugs manufacturing smuggling and organized crime requires Pakistan’s counter-terrorism and counter-terrorism strategies to be integrated with the poppy-eradication strategy at the national level to ensure a comprehensive approach to transnational crime.” 

Sehgal concludes: “Enhanced public participation in combating drug abuse, strengthened drug enforcement structures and boosting of treatment and rehabilitation services will achieve the ultimate goal of a drug-free Pakistan.”

Click here to read this piece online

The U.S.–Pakistan Dialogue

Writing for The News, EWI Director Ikram Sehgal anticipates the third round of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which began in Washington on October 20 with an assessment of the countries’ relationship.

Sehgal, who found the last round of talks “pragmatic and even-handed,” highlights current areas of concern. In particular, he calls for a reevaluation of the aid that the United States has directed to Pakistan, asserting that “comparatively Afghanistan gets far more for doing far less.” According to Sehgal, the United States should bolster Pakistan’s economy through policies, like permitting market access for Pakistani cotton textiles, and with financial support for infrastructural projects (like dams and power plants) and job creation.

Turning to the military aspect of the bilateral relationship, Sehgal applauds Pakistan’s successful counterinsurgency operations and encourages the creation of a full-fledged counter terrorist force.

He calls upon the United States to replace its criticism of Pakistan’s military efforts with a substantive show of support, chiefly through a long-denied nuclear energy deal. And the United States must demonstrate real, disinterested concern for the Pakistani people: “The people of Pakistan must gain confidence that the U.S. is genuine about sustaining a meaningful long-term relationship.”

Click here to read this piece online


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