Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nitin Pai on Pakistan

Nitin Pai:
We need to stop believing that dialogue with Pakistan will somehow convince the military-jihadi complex to change. We need to start engaging the powers that scaffold Pakistan and compel them to influence the behaviour of their charge.

It is generally a good idea to let bad ideas self-destruct. For all the chaos in Russia in the 1990s, few people -- at least in the West -- will argue that allowing the Soviet Union to collapse was a bad thing to do. Imagine what ordinary Americans might have thought if, say Japan, had injected billions of dollars to prop up the Soviet Union, because, you know, "who wants a failed state with nuclear weapons?" Yet that is exactly what the United States is doing now with Pakistan.

India has sought to reassure the military-jihadi complex of its peaceful intent through a policy of unilateral reassurance. In the words of a former high commissioner to Pakistan,"[if] we want to give the Army reasons to change its mind on India, we can only do it through the reassurances we convey in a sustained dialogue." The reassurances, unfortunately, have been read as arising out of weakness: there is every sign that General Ashfaq Kayani is resolutely focussed on the old project. (Some Western analysts are sympathetic to the argument that intentions mean little and Pakistan is justified in worrying about India's growing capabilities. By this logic, Mexico and Canada must have nuclear arsenals, hundreds of missiles and non-state actors targeting the United States).