May 8, 2011

THOSE LUCKY INDIANS, COMMUNISM FAILED FIRST:

The Double Game: The unintended consequences of American funding in Pakistan. (Lawrence Wright, 5/16/11, The New Yorker)

It’s the end of the Second World War, and the United States is deciding what to do about two immense, poor, densely populated countries in Asia. America chooses one of the countries, becoming its benefactor. Over the decades, it pours billions of dollars into that country’s economy, training and equipping its military and its intelligence services. The stated goal is to create a reliable ally with strong institutions and a modern, vigorous democracy. The other country, meanwhile, is spurned because it forges alliances with America’s enemies.

The country not chosen was India, which “tilted” toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Pakistan became America’s protégé, firmly supporting its fight to contain Communism. The benefits that Pakistan accrued from this relationship were quickly apparent: in the nineteen-sixties, its economy was an exemplar. India, by contrast, was a byword for basket case. Fifty years then went by. What was the result of this social experiment?

India has become the state that we tried to create in Pakistan. It is a rising economic star, militarily powerful and democratic, and it shares American interests. Pakistan, however, is one of the most anti-American countries in the world, and a covert sponsor of terrorism. Politically and economically, it verges on being a failed state. And, despite Pakistani avowals to the contrary, America’s worst enemy, Osama bin Laden, had been hiding there for years—in strikingly comfortable circumstances—before U.S. commandos finally tracked him down and killed him, on May 2nd.

American aid is hardly the only factor that led these two countries to such disparate outcomes. But, at this pivotal moment, it would be a mistake not to examine the degree to which U.S. dollars have undermined our strategic relationship with Pakistan—and created monstrous contradictions within Pakistan itself. [...]

The main beneficiary of U.S. money, the Pakistani military, has never won a war, but, according to “Military Inc.,” by Ayesha Siddiqa, it has done very well in its investments: hotels, real estate, shopping malls. Such entrepreneurship, however corrupt, fills a gap, as Pakistan’s economy is now almost entirely dependent on American taxpayers. In a country of a hundred and eighty million people, fewer than two million citizens pay taxes, and Pakistan’s leaders are doing little to change the situation. In Karachi, the financial capital, the government recently inaugurated a program to appoint eunuchs as tax collectors. Eunuchs are considered relentless scolds in South Asia, and the threat of being hounded by one is somehow supposed to take the place of audits.

In 2008, Pakistan’s government made the dramatic announcement that it was placing the I.S.I. under the control of its Interior Ministry—a restructuring that was revoked within hours by inflamed military leaders, who effectively vetoed the government. That November, Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organization that has reportedly received backing from the I.S.I. to wage jihad in Kashmir, carried out attacks on tourists in Mumbai. According to American indictments, an I.S.I. officer directed the surveillance of suitable targets. Those sites included the Taj and Oberoi hotels, the train station, the Leopold Café, and the Chabad House, a Lubavitch outpost run by an American rabbi and his pregnant wife. According to Sebastian Rotella, who has written extensively for ProPublica about the attack, “They were going out of their way to kill Americans.” At the hotels, the attackers sorted through passports, looking for American and British citizens. In the end, a hundred and sixty-six people were killed, but only six were Americans. The Pakistani government denied any involvement, although it eventually conceded that the attacks had been planned in Pakistan.

Ali Soufan, a former F.B.I. special agent who interrogated many of the Al Qaeda members captured in Pakistan, told me that “the majority of them said that Lashkar-e-Taiba had given them shelter.” After the battle of Tora Bora, he added, the Al Qaeda members who fled to Pakistan—including top leaders—were greeted by Lashkar operatives and taken to safe houses. Some Pakistanis worry that Lashkar may become the new Al Qaeda.

In 2009, Senators Richard Lugar and John Kerry, recognizing that American military aid had given the Army and the I.S.I. disproportionate power in Pakistan, helped pass legislation in Congress sanctioning seven and a half billion dollars in civilian assistance, to be disbursed over a period of five years. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, apparently at the direction of the military, flew to Washington, and insisted that his country would not be micromanaged. So far, less than a hundred and eighty million dollars of that money has been spent, because the civilian projects require oversight and checks on corruption. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, submits expense claims every month to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad; according to a report in the Guardian, receipts are not provided—or requested.


Just as we forced the Afrikaaners, the Israelis and the Protestant Irish to disgorge their territorial claims after the Cold War, we needed to devolve Pakistan into its constituent parts.

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Posted by at May 8, 2011 11:05 AM
  

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