Shuja Nawaz

  • Philanthropy in Pakistan

    The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center held a discussion on philanthropy in Pakistan with Robin Raphel, senior adviser on Pakistan, Office of Special Representative for Af-Pak, US Department of State; Qaisar Shareef, executive volunteer and USA representative, I-Care Fund America; and Farrokh K. Captain, chairman, i-Care Foundation and director, Shell Pakistan, Limited. South Asia Center Director Shuja Nawaz moderated the discussion.
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  • A Continuing Misalliance?

    The tattered relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been patched up yet again—with the political equivalent of duct tape. A low-level Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by bureaucrats, not political leaders, to provide a diplomatic fig leaf. But basic flaws continue to haunt the relationship that has degenerated, again, to a transactional one. For a while, it appeared that the United States and Pakistan had agreed on some common goals for Afghanistan and the region and disagreed only on how to get there. Now, all bets are off.

    One strong reason for the failure to reconnect is the lack of a center of gravity in both countries in terms of ownership of the relationship at the highest levels. At one time, Vice President Joseph Biden and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to be invested in the relationship in the United States. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke took it upon himself to knock down some stovepipes and get things moving. Now, policy is being managed, not made, but in bits and pieces and a major part of the new policy seems to reside in Langley—where the drone, an instrument of war, has become a virtual strategy and a policy. There are no indications that the Central Intelligence Agency or for that matter the U.S. government would allow Pakistan the access to drones or control over them that it seeks. If the new director-general of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence managed to claw back some control from his U.S. counterpart or get a written agreement during his recent visit to Washington, D.C., then he can claim a major victory. But chances are slim that this happened during this meet-and-greet encounter.

    In Pakistan, the civil and military divide remains a huge chasm. The military has allowed the government to drift at times instead of nudging it into action. In the absence of a national security council, it may be necessary to bring together an ad hoc group of the civil and the military to discuss and agree on key issues of national importance so nothing is left to chance and domestic decisions are not postponed. Involving business leaders may be a critical element in this process. But domestic legal and political squabbles have become a major distraction, with the rampant judiciary playing a major role in creating a climate of uncertainty.

    A major reason for the U.S. distraction is that election season is upon us in the United States and neither President Barack Obama nor his Republican challenger Mitt Romney has deemed Afghanistan or Pakistan worthy of public discussion on the campaign trail. If Obama were to find a magic lamp tomorrow with one guaranteed wish, my guess is he would ask for an exit from Afghanistan yesterday! Afghanistan fatigue has set in with the American people, Congress, and the administration. Pakistan fatigue may not be far behind. It will require a determined effort by the American team in Islamabad to make its case in both capitals in the months ahead and to convince the average Pakistani that the U.S. is not ready to fold its tent and fade into the night once more.

    What will change this depressing scenario inside Pakistan? Pakistan needs to show a determination to craft and implement sound economic policies at home, adopt a proactive approach to helping stabilize Afghanistan, and mend relations with its neighbors so it does not need to rely on military or economic aid from afar. Improved domestic governance and restoration of economic growth and stability are paramount. But Pakistan too is gripped by pre-election fever. Denial is not the right approach. Half measures will not work. Government needs to think boldly and play the long game. This means taking charge of security and economic policy, and working with the best and the brightest inside Pakistan to ensure that Pakistan is prepared to deal with its looming demographic challenges. Most of the population is very young and Pakistan needs to educate and create jobs for millions of youth entering the workforce in the next decade or two. Once Pakistan begins to take itself seriously, its friends in the United States and elsewhere will find it easier to come to its aid.

    Otherwise, the risk is that economic woes at home will lead to the shutting off of the aid spigot from the United States and Europe. And the economic pie inside Pakistan would then begin to shrink further and at a faster pace. The consequences of that will be instability and unrest. Pakistan’s South Asian neighbors seem to be accelerating away from Pakistan in terms of growth and open societies, despite the many short-term growing pains they face. Pakistan can catch up with them if it starts now. Leaving things for another year or two may be too late. 

    Shuja Nawaz is the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. This piece originally appeared in Newsweek Pakistan. Photo Credit: Saul Loeb / AFP

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  • Pakistan's Unfinished Challenges

    Pakistan Independence Day 2012

    As it completes its 65th year as an independent state, Pakistan faces a host of challenges that only it can resolve, if its people and leaders have the will to do so.

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  • India's Economy: 8/10/12 - Transcript

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  • Stilling a Stormy Relationship

    With the word "sorry," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently opened the door for the United States to continue to supply its forces in Afghanistan through Pakistan.  Getting to this word took months of effort on both sides but "sorry" may not be enough to keep the relationship on an even keel for too long. It will need a sustained effort on both sides. The auguries are not good.
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  • Gender Dynamics of Development in Pakistan

    The Atlantic Council's South Asia Center held a public discussion on "Gender Dynamics of Development in Pakistan," with Ms. Roshaneh Zafar, founder and managing director of Kashf Foundation, chair of Kashf Holding and chair and founder of Kashf Microfinance Bank Limited based in Pakistan.

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  • India-Pakistan Trade: Profitable Relations?

     Vice President of the India-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Syed Yawar Ali provided an overview of the current trade flow between India and Pakistan, highlight mutually beneficial opportunities of bilateral and regional agreements, and emphasize the need for new infrastructure to increase cooperation.

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  • Exiting Afghanistan: A Regional Approach

    Now that the dust has settled on the Chicago Summit, it might be time to see what truly emerged from all the noise and celebration about the cooperation among NATO allies and with Afghanistan. One issue got lost in that hoopla: Afghanistan’s regional context.

    As NATO troops come home, a diplomatic strategy for the region must be put into place. It isn’t a stable Afghanistan that is key to generating regional stability and prosperity — rather, the opposite is true: if the region cooperates to maintain wider stability, then Afghanistan stands a better chance of becoming stable and prosperous.

    Interestingly, even the Chinese seem to have understood this issue. According to a Reuters report out of the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, President Hu Jintao told the official People’s Daily, “We will continue to manage regional affairs by ourselves, guarding against shocks from turbulence outside the region, and will play a bigger role in Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction.” He added: “We’ll strengthen communication, coordination and cooperation in dealing with major international and regional issues.”

    The best path to Afghan self-sufficiency is to work with Afghanistan’s neighbors near and far to ensure that Afghanistan’s economy can develop via trade and investment. That is the most effective and sustainable method of weaning Afghanistan away from U.S. and European assistance beyond 2014. Last week’s regional “Heart of Asia” conference, hosted by President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, was a modest step forward in the process.

    U.S. support for such efforts would advance what is now a regional trend. Already India has invested more than $1.2 billion in Afghanistan. Pakistan, too, has sent economic aid and supplies, as has Iran. China and India have both invested in the mineral sector. Trade between South Asia and Afghanistan, and through Afghanistan with Central Asia and Iran, would provide much-needed revenue and facilitate direct investment in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan remains key to these endeavors. A stable Pakistan that has normalized its relationship with India would find common ground in Afghanistan rather than fear being bracketed by a hostile India in Afghanistan. It could partner with India in opening up gas and hydroelectricity links to Central Asia and even invest in joint exploitation of the Kabul River gorge for producing electricity that both Afghanistan and Pakistan badly need. A secure western border with Afghanistan would allow Pakistan to combat the so-called U-turn trade with Afghanistan that deprives it of some $2 billion in taxes each year, where duty-free goods imported into Afghanistan are smuggled back into Pakistan.

    The United States need not take the lead in underwriting Afghan stability post-2014. But it can achieve that objective by acting as a facilitator, bringing neighboring countries of the region together and using its clout in the international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to direct aid to support regional trade and development efforts.

    Revival of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) oil-and-gas pipeline could also be a boon to the region. The Asian Development Bank has already done much of the groundwork on the TAPI pipeline. And, as the United States brings Iran into talks on Afghanistan’s future, it might find it possible to ease up on sanctions enough to allow India and Pakistan to benefit from Iranian gas and oil rather than making it a hindrance to relations with these important South Asian partners.

    Crafting a sustainable policy toward Afghanistan and its surrounding region requires less emphasis on “architecture” and more on longer-term relationships. With elections looming in the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India, and a changing of the Politburo in China later this year, the danger is that short-term actions fueled by domestic considerations could derail long-term actions and relationships. The United States must remain engaged with all countries in the region surrounding Afghanistan and bring its powerful business community into its efforts to create a network of investments in the region as a whole. This approach would tie the economies of South Asia with Afghanistan and Central Asia and thus help create stability over the longer run.

    Shuja Nawaz is director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. Abigail Friedman is former Director for Afghanistan at the National Security Council in the White House and a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State. This post originally appeared in The Hill. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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  • Relations with Pakistan: Forging a New Partnership

    Pakistan is at a precarious point in its faltering return to democratic order, after yet another extended period of military-dominated rule that has left its bureaucratic system and civilian institutions stunted. Its polity and society have undergone rapid change, with countervailing forces emerging to counter the military’s overwhelming power. Though political parties remain weak and divided, the democratic impulse appears to be taking hold in civil society, as illustrated by the emergence of active media and social networks combined with an increasingly assertive judiciary. Although elements in the intelligence services still occasionally attempt to control the media and political actors, the military has neither the will nor the capacity to mount a coup, nor the ability to effect major political change.

    Public opinion in the U.S. and views on the Hill are heavily biased against a cordial relationship with Pakistan, reflecting years of mistrust of Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war. Pakistan’s two-handed approach to the Afghan Taliban, taking U.S. assistance and payments for military operations in the borderlands while allowing selected groups of Afghans free movement to and from Afghanistan, hinders the Administration’s ability to provide more military aid to Pakistan. On the Pakistani side, suspicions that the U.S. has shifted its stance away from Pakistan and towards India, with the ultimate goal of defanging Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability, make it nearly impossible for U.S. officials and aid representatives to operate freely inside the country. Public denunciation of the drone campaign by government and civil society actors fuels antipathy toward the U.S. Pakistan’s Parliament has echoed these fears in its calls for protection of national sovereignty and for greater controls and taxes on coalition supplies going through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

    In such an environment, cutting our losses and walking away from the region, and specifically from Pakistan, might seem an obvious —and popular—choice. But such a decision would entail significant longer-term costs. Not only will the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan require ground and air lines of communications via Pakistan, our Afghan allies will continue to require supplies and air support via Pakistan. Cutbacks in air and military support would be disruptive at a critical stage when their security forces are being prepared to take on more ground operations. Without air support, those might be jeopardized and Afghan morale would plummet.

    What happens inside Pakistan affects its immediate neighbors— India, China, Iran, and Afghanistan—instantly, and more distant countries over time. A precipitous U.S. withdrawal could lead to heightened conflict in the borderlands of Pakistan, allowing the Pakistani Taliban and their Punjabi allies to use the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as well as contiguous Afghan territory as sanctuaries in fighting the Pakistani army and state. It would give extremist elements inside Pakistan greater voice and control over public discourse in civil society and the military.

    Latent anti-U.S. sentiment in the military, especially among younger officers and perhaps the soldiery, is indicated by the fact that some of the attacks against General Pervez Musharraf and military headquarters included lower-level personnel from both the army and air force.

    Large portions of public opinion in Pakistan view the U.S. civil nuclear deal with India as an anti-Pakistan move, and the absence of any attempt to engage Pakistan in a similar dialogue as proof of an entrenched anti-Pakistan bias. A shift toward India, if this were to accompany U.S. withdrawal, would strengthen conspiracy theorists inside Pakistan in their belief that the U.S. always intended to compromise and weaken Pakistan.

    The U.S. has been and remains the largest supplier of assistance to Pakistan, both civil and military, and via the International Financial Institutions (the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, in particular). But our aid program has been sporadic and tied to regional or global aims in a manner that has led Pakistanis to become wary of U.S. ties, understandably regarding their relations with China more kindly. The U.S. has an opportunity now to change that dialogue and move toward a longer-term relationship with Pakistan as the center of gravity of U.S. engagement in the region, rather than as an after-thought relative to emerging regional crises or changing global policies.

    What needs to be done?

    Firstly, the U.S. should expand its approach to Pakistan by working with regional partners, many of them Pakistan‘s friends, to ensure a stable Pakistan and a steady U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Building on the Pew Global Attitudes Poll results that regularly indicate that six out of 10 Pakistanis polled want better relations with the U.S., we can create a steady, longer-term relationship that is not tied to short-term goals.

    Helping Pakistan to help itself should be the key to this new relationship. If Pakistan’s people and government want to improve governance and provide jobs and education to their growing population of nearly 200 million, then the U.S. should make that its aim too.

    Combining our resources with those of the United Kingdom in the education sector, as has been done recently, offers a good model. Working with China in building infrastructure and the energy sector could bolster Pakistan’s ability to get out of its economic hole. Open borders with India for trade and the movement of people would help to remove decades of fear and hostility on Pakistan’s eastern border. Our new strategic relationship with India enables us to use moral suasion on India to show “strategic altruism” and give Pakistan the breathing room for its economic and political development. A moratorium on active Indian and U.S. intelligence operations inside Pakistan would most likely win Pakistan’s trust in this endeavor.

    Secondly, the U.S. should review and rebalance its policies on aid to Pakistan. Specifically, U.S. assistance to Pakistan can gain from the multiplier effect of aid from IFIs that Pakistan sorely needs and is more willing to accept. U.S. support in the boards of these institutions can help Pakistan to garner the resources it needs to restructure its economy. The U.S. can also help in persuading Pakistan’s government and bureaucracy to move faster on the reform path.

    An Aid to Pakistan Club may be one way of doing this. The U.S. Congress may be able to help the Pakistani Parliament, via direct parliamentary contacts, to allow Pakistani parliamentarians better understand economic issues and the value of a reform agenda that has been crafted inside Pakistan but still lacks support from its politicians. Congress could thus come to be seen as a partner of Pakistan, rather than the hectoring controller of the U.S. aid purse that it is often perceived to be.

    A greater role for civil society

    Thirdly, U.S. aid and a strengthened relationship with Pakistan should be made contingent on actions by Pakistan to allow civil society and business to play a greater role in setting it on the path to economic and political stability. The civilian government needs to show a desire and ability to re-establish its control over government, instead of outsourcing decision-making to the military. Once the military recedes into the background, relinquishing its role as default drafter of policy on India, nuclear policy, Afghanistan, and U.S. relations, the U.S. could commit, under an agreed military aid program, to improve Pakistan’s ability to combat insurgency and defend its borders with a more mobile and better-equipped army and an improved and integrated police force.

    Pakistan is both a strategic ally and a potential bulwark of stability. If its people and government are prepared to align and commit themselves to fulfilling that potential, the United States must be willing to help them. 

    Shuja Nawazis director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. He is the author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within. This piece is taken from the Atlantic Council publicationThe Task Ahead: Memos for the Winner of the 2012 Presidential Election.

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  • India-US Strategic Dialogue: Expanding Horizons of Bilateral Partnership

    On May 30, the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center held a public discussion on "India-US Strategic Dialogue: Expanding Horizons of Bilateral Partnership," with H.E. Nirupama Rao, ambassador of India to the United States.

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