Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

What To Do About Pakistan? Crisis in Islamabad, Markey’s Advice, and Congress Gets in the Hot Seat

Posted by K.E. White on July 4, 2007

Proliferation Press News Update

A tense stand-off continues to unfold between General Perez Musharraf and Islamic militants in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.

From Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper:

Paramilitary Rangers and riot police fought a daylong running gunbattle with hundreds of heavily armed and well-entrenched militants around their stronghold of Lal Masjid as a six-month-long standoff between mosque’s radicals and the authorities exploded into a major clash on Tuesday, leaving at least 10 people dead and more than 150 injured.

Dozens of the injured suffered multiple bullet wounds, and the condition of some of them being critical, doctors feared the death toll might rise.

It was perhaps the worst, and the bloodiest, incident in Islamabad’s history as never before such a large number of armed militants had taken on the authorities — and that too in the heart of the capital.

This troubling scenario erupted days after Daniel Markey offered American policy makers advice on Pakistan. His Foreign Affairs embraces an anti-transformational view of Pakistan (i.e. hardheaded realism). He urges small steps to further security and eventual democratization. Markey’s chief concern: combating Pakistani terrorism. Markey brushes aside any flirtation with the quick return of a democratic Pakistan, he urges a tougher small-scale diplomatic approach: build connections with the Pakistani military, solidify the US-Pakistani relationship, and invest more in the current regime to foster security and creeping transparency.

A selection from Markey’s A False Choice in Pakistan:

Still, success in Pakistan’s long-term struggle against extremism will eventually demand a thoroughgoing democratic transition in Islamabad, even if that transition is not realistic at the moment. The Bush administration has failed to broaden its partnership with Pakistan much beyond army headquarters; it views the civilian dimension of Pakistani politics as a distraction rather than an integral part of the counterterrorism effort. Most Pakistanis believe that Washington is all too happy to work with a pliant army puppet.

Islamabad needs greater popular legitimacy in order to muster grass-roots support for the counterterrorism agenda. The United States should work to empower Pakistan’s moderate civilians even as it builds trust with Pakistan’s security forces. These goals are not contradictory: Washington can win the confidence of Pakistan’s military establishment without accepting its exclusive political authority, and it can help empower civilian leadership without jeopardizing the army’s core interests.

Markey sees a growing divide between militants the Pakistani military, but notes the lingering Pakistani fear of evaporating U.S. support after Afghanistan is secure. He urges U.S. policy makers to 1) refrain from counterproductive public criticisms and 2) establish a long-term commitment in Afghanistan. Finally, Markey insists the US flip its response to diplomatic flare-ups with Pakistan. Instead of cutting off aid and contact, he insists America use these crisis-points to further contact the Pakistani security apparatus.

Perhaps Markey’s pointers are proving useful to the Congressional delegation currently in Pakistan. Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Geoff Davis (R-KY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) make up the bipartisan delegation.

The delegation, headed by Rep. Davis, just wrapped up a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. The Associated Press of Pakistan covered the meeting, giving little attention to the delegation:

Ms. Susan A. Davis and other delegation members said Pakistan is a vital ally for US and they are keen to further strengthen this relationship.

Ms. Davis and her colleagues assured the Prime Minister of continued US assistance and support to Pakistan in all fields.

Appreciating the government’s reform policies, the delegation members praised the achievements of sustained high growth rate and development in Pakistan which brought about a qualitative change in the country.

The meeting was attended among others by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and senior officials.

One Response to “What To Do About Pakistan? Crisis in Islamabad, Markey’s Advice, and Congress Gets in the Hot Seat”

  1. […] should American foreign policy be towards Pakistan? Picking up from an earlier blog about Daniel Markey’s recent Foreign Affairs article, Proliferation Press turns it’s eyes to The New Republic […]

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