Transcript: NATO Beyond Afghanistan Conference – Second Panel

Transcript of the second panel from the NATO Beyond Afghanistan conference held September 27, 2010.







10:45-12:00 P.M.

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

SHUJA NAWAZ:  Good morning, everyone.  I’m Shuja Nawaz.  I’m the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council and I am delighted to welcome you all back to this second session.  Since this is a military-related gathering, we are starting on time and ending on time.  That’s the advantage.  Otherwise, Washington clocks tend to run a bit slow, particularly for conferences after coffee breaks. 

This is the panel that is looking at the topic of “Sharpening or Breaking?  NATO Military Power Beyond Afghanistan,” and there are a number of questions that have been posed to us and I’m sure that there are many others, particularly in light of the fact that the morning session has already covered some of the crosscutting issues, recognizing that NATO is a political military alliance.  So you can’t separate the political from the military and it’s sometimes a question of sequencing and sometimes a question of how you mesh the two together. 

Let me first introduce my panelists.  I’m delighted to have with us Julian Lindley-French.  Julian is a member of our Strategic Advisors Group at the Atlantic Council.  He is a professor of military art and science at the Royal Military Academy of the Netherlands, and he has held various important academic and consultancies and research appointments around the globe, also acted as a consultant to NATO in Brussels at the headquarters. 

Then to his left is Col. Gian Gentile.  He’s a U.S. Army officer who’s on sabbatical from West Point, where he teaches, and he is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and did his Ph.D. in history at Stanford.  Quite importantly for the topic at hand, he has served two tours in Iraq, first as the executive officer of a combat brigade in the Tikrit area in 2003 and then as a commander of a battalion in a restive area of northwest Baghdad in 2006. 

He is currently during his sabbatical a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.  For those that are interested in an earlier kind of warfare that we won’t be talking about today, I guess, he published a book in 2001 called “How Effective is Strategic Bombing.”

COL. GIAN GENTILE:  From strategic bombing to COIN.

MR. NAWAZ:  Yes, so we cover the spectrum.  And then to my right is Vago Muradian.  Vago is the editor of Defense News, which is one of the leading defense news weeklies with correspondents in 16 countries. 

Before that he had other, similar assignments.  He was managing editor of Defense Daily International and also worked on the Air Force Times.  He has covered global operations including in Europe, Haiti, Somalia and Zaire.  Before covering the Air Force, he served as the Defense News’s land warfare reporter and he started his career inside the Army. 

So going back to the topic – and I’m glad that we had the morning session precede us because I think it sort of set the ground for what we are going to be talking about today.  I just want to remind the conference that a couple of years ago at the Atlantic Council – I’m glad Harlan is sitting here because he was part of that group when Gen. Jones put together a paper on Afghanistan that famously began, make no mistake, we are losing in Afghanistan.  So the question now is, are we winning?  And if so, has the purpose, the shared purpose of the NATO alliance been defined properly?

There’s been a lot of commentary that the operations in Afghanistan, despite the fact that we’ve been at it for eight or nine years now, were really not combined operations, that they were divided and that it was not unified command and it took us quite a while to unify that command and to centralize the military leadership. 

So the question then comes up is NATO the tip of the spear, or is it the backpack for the U.S. and a handful of other allies.  And if so, how is NATO’s role going to be defined or redefined, particularly in light of the question that was raised in the first panel, which is when you have already a calendar and a date by which a transition or an exit will begin?  Despite all the caveats about what is meant by July 2011, the message, particularly in the region where I come from, is that the U.S. and the allies are going to be exiting. 

So is this really a time for NATO to try and reorganize itself for the job in Afghanistan?  And then more importantly, in light of the economic issues at home, how on Earth will NATO be able to reformulate its approach to the use of military power as an adjunct of political policy around the globe?  It was mentioned that a big issue is the question of out of area of operations.  That raises a question, is it out of area or is it out of NATO’s depth, and is NATO ready for these kinds of operations?

So what will happen in Afghanistan in particular once the U.S. and some of the other leading countries take off?  What will NATO do?  Will they merely redefine the role of their troops, as is apparently the case?  The U.S. is trying to persuade them, or will they actually find a way to exit even more speedily than planned originally. 

These are some of the questions.  I’m sure you will have many and we hope to have a conversation with you.  I propose to ask Julian to launch this discussion, if you would please, and then, as the program shows, we’ll follow with Col. Gentile and then Vago in this order.  So Julian?

JULIAN LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Thank you, sir.  I’m a strange beast.  I’m a Yorkshire optimist.  There aren’t many of us around in this business.  But you know, I’m attending a lot of these events, as many of my colleagues are at the moment, and too often it feels like we’re attending a wake, a wake for Afghanistan and a wake for NATO.  I don’t buy either, frankly.  It’s not over in the region.  I think we are beginning to get a proper regional perspective about the future, an economic perspective about the future of the region.  Therefore, we have gripped with certain realities we didn’t a few years ago. 

But nor do I accept for a minute, which I hear often in Europe, that effectively NATO is over.  There’s no real alternative.  ESDP or CSDP is bubbling along, but not doing very much.  But I think the problem is – and I think you in Washington in particular have to grip this – I genuinely think there is what I call the great European defense depression going on right now. 

We had the Great Depression of the ’30s.  There’s a defense depression in Europe, where a case for armed forces and the use of force has been damaged so profoundly by a mixture of indolent European action – very few Europeans went into Afghanistan believing that we were going to win; we did the least possible to keep you guys engaged in our security and defense and paying for much of it – and frankly, by a lot of poor American leadership. 

You haven’t led very well since 2001, and you can hardly expect allies to kind of follow you unconditionally when your leadership isn’t very good.  I see that there are again signs of improvement, but that is the essential contract that is at the heart of alliance and that is where we are right now.

In the next three weeks – Edgar alluded to it – we’re about to see what I’ve called the British strategic pretense and impecunity review, which could be a very, very important moment indeed.  I’m hoping that it’s a bit like 1934, that it’s a chance for the Brits to retrench, to look at security in the round, to consider defense as part of their broad security effort and the British leadership role in Europe, along with France, which is critical, frankly, along with Germany, to move us forward.  I fear that it’s merely a kind of function of exhaustion and financial damage, financial disarmament, even. 

If that’s the case, if indeed Britain just becomes another European power, then you Americans have a problem.  And you have a big problem, I would suggest.  In the next three or four weeks, we need your influence.  Now, I use the word influence critically here because whether it’s in Afghanistan or Afghanistan and Pakistan or indeed beyond that, we are in the influence game.  It’s all about influence. 

And I’m old-fashioned.  I happen to believe the world is a safer place when the West is strong, and I happen to believe that the West is strong when it is militarily balanced, credible in all the key roles that we need it to be credible in, and that includes being the dominant military grouping.  And the only organization that can possibly deliver that is NATO.  We’re not going to reinvent it.  There’s no other organization. 

I think beyond Afghanistan, as the question suggests, we might be seeing the need for a radical reorganization of the European pillar.  I think there’s going to have to be a reemergence of a European pillar – that means a pillar where Europeans organize themselves, in effect, to support both NATO and the European Union across a range of missions. 

But as I said in my question this morning, I also believe, Chairman, that NATO must be allowed to grip a fundamental question, which is what is the likely nature of future war and how are we going to fight it?  Because ultimately that is what NATO is for.  If we talk Article V, you can talk architectures, you can talk solidarity, you can talk strategic reassurance – but it’s about the ability of the alliance to be credible and be seen to be credible in a world of uncertain change in considering the nature of future war. 

Now, here is a dilemma.  We will have to make some hard choices.  There’s no question about that, whether they be financial or military.  And here I have some sympathy with our leaders.  We simply don’t want to make the wrong choices.  But in our effort not to make the wrong choices, I fear we will make no choices at all.  What I brought out of this morning’s session and what I’ve heard many times now is that Lisbon will not be that moment when, in fact, the bureaucracy, with partners, the member nations working together, will start to consider the environment, will start to consider creative solutions. 

I’m doing a lot of work at the moment with the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps on operationalizing the comprehensive approach.  There are many things we can do to use our existing resources far better.  And one thing I’m absolutely convinced about is that if we don’t have a major better-spending project as the first day-after-Lisbon project, then Lisbon will have failed because it’s very clear that whatever we have to do more in the military realm, it will at the very least not have to cost any more money. 

That means there needs to be a very clear mandate from Lisbon that we start to look at how we make ourselves more effective and more efficient and the two are not the same.  Now, let me say a few words, if I may, on the situation, just to conclude on Afghanistan right now, as the two questions that were posed, Chairman, to us.  What effect has Afghanistan had on allied military effectiveness and has the experience allowed us to refine doctrines, training, equipment, tactics, et cetera, et cetera? 

My answer to that would be, not enough.  Would you like to turn that off, somebody?

(Off-side conversation.)

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  It’s Boyko?  Really?  (Laughter.)  He always has to be present.

MR. NAWAZ:  Introspection.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Introspection, there you go.  I think the problem with Afghanistan is the way we’ve structured it.  When I go around the world and I talk, particularly in Asia, the dangerous impression that we’ve given to allies, partners and adversaries is that we’re far weaker than we are.  By the way, we’ve given that impression to ourselves as well. 

I think the way we’ve organized PRTs has been far too stovepiped, back to national capitals rather than an international, multinational effort.  I think the way – and part of that is due to the comprehensive approach, the civil-military side of it, which has been so complicated that by definition, it’s tended to disaggregate the multinational level and reinforce the idea of national stovepipes because that’s where the spending decisions are made. 

Look at the NRF.  There’s been much criticizing of the NRF, but NRF 13 had a 27-percent CJSOR – combined joint statement of requirement.  In fact, the future for most Europeans will be a much better use of multinational formations.  And I never understand why we spend so many years working these damned things up and the moment we go on operations, we scrap them and we go back to some very inefficient national stovepipe. 

So I suppose my challenge, given the experience of the last years in Afghanistan and indeed the wider region, given the rules-of-engagement issue, given the caveats issue, is twofold.  Will we have the courage to be radical post-Lisbon, to reconstruct a genuinely European pillar where some of the smaller Europeans who spend an average $4 billion a year very badly – 19 NATO Europe members, very badly – are encouraged to move even towards some limited forms of defense integration and whether the U.S. will wait for us? 

Because what worries me about what I’m seeing in Afghanistan is, in fact, this is no longer a NATO operation.  This is a CENTCOM operation with NATO being used as a fig leaf.  The European allies will tolerate that for a time because we understand that this is the critical crunch period.  The U.S. is pouring in troops, with the Brits doing our best as well, and the next two years are genuinely critical. 

But what concerns me is that if CENTCOM, in a sense, becomes a precedent for the subjugation of NATO Europe to U.S. command structures, then that will accelerate the demise of the alliance.  No one will want that, but it could happen by the sheer preponderance-of-force issue, that the United States is so powerful compared with the European forces that we end up with this reality.  In a sense, it could become an excuse for Europeans to do even less.  If that happens over the next two years, that will be far more damaging that any particular reverse on the ground. 

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Julian.  If I could move to Col. Gentile, one of the pointed questions that emerges is, what kind of future war are we going to be fighting?

COL. GENTILE:  Right.  I heard Julian say that.

MR. NAWAZ:  Yes, and if so, first of all, how do you evaluate NATO’s operations within the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, and what will be the nature of the future war and what lessons have we learned or are learning?

COL. GENTILE:  Hopefully, I can address those excellent questions.  It’s also a privilege to be on this panel with Shuja as the chair, with Vago on it as well.  Anybody who pays attention to defense issues reads Defense News, so I’m operating with a fair amount of trepidation here – and also Julian as well because he’s the editor of an article that I just wrote on the history of counterinsurgency.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  And I’m tough.

COL. GENTILE:  (Chuckles.)  That’s right.  He just sent me this list of – it’s a really good piece, you may want to look at – but no.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Five pages later.

COL. GENTILE:  Yeah.  So I took the train down from New York City this morning and I got in about – I don’t know, probably 30, 45 minutes into the first panel.  As I was just setting my book bag down outside, I heard a question.  I heard a person stand up and the person said, I’m Joe Collins, and I said, I wonder if that’s my old friend and mentor Joe Collins, and it was. 

And Joe Collins brought up this question, or this term, utility of force, which I found to be a very important and absolutely critical question in how we think about what we’re doing in Afghanistan, how we think it’s going there or how we assess progress and effectiveness and also it tied to Julian’s point about how we conceive of the future of warfare, and what role does force play in that. 

So for the next five or six minutes, I have a few points I want to make.  I’m going to try to come at that question of utility of force and future conflict.  But I’m going to come at it from a more narrow angle – I think that it might be useful for this panel, from what came before and what’s going to come after this afternoon – and that’s from the angle of the American Army. 

Because let’s face it, the American Army is the key player in what we’ve been doing in Afghanistan for the last nine years and in Iraq for a few years shorter.  So that is the angle that I’m going to come at this question of utility of force and the future of conflict. 

I found also this question I really liked for this panel.  It says “Sharpening or Breaking?  NATO Military Power Beyond Afghanistan.”  So I’m going to address that question from a view of the American Army.  To be sure, the American Army has sharpened over the last nine years in terms of its ability to do nation-building, counterinsurgency. 

Of course both of those two words are synonymous.  They mean the same thing, at least how the American Army and other major armies do counterinsurgency now.  It is the same thing as nation-building, nation-building at the barrel of a gun.  Certainly, the American Army has been sharpened over the last nine years in its ability to do counterinsurgency. 

However, this has come at a cost, which gets at this whole question – and also, Julian, you raised this – how much money are we going to spend, how we’re going to organize, all these kinds of things.  It comes at a cost, and the cost of becoming sharpened at counterinsurgency is, at least for the American Army, its ability to do combined arms, combined-arms operations, the American Army’s ability to fight, to fight an enemy that fights or operates beyond the laying of IEDs on the road and then running away, but fights in a sophisticated way.

I think you can make the argument – although many would not want to hear this – that the American Army, in terms of its ability to do combined-arms operations at battalion, brigade, division and even higher is not just breaking but it’s broken.  I’m going to come up to that point in a few minutes.  And I’m going to make a few supporting points that are going to lead to this, I think, this essential problem within the American Army of its ability to do combined-arms operations. 

The first point I want to make, after nine years of doing counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, it’s a problem that we have in the United States, especially with the American Army, but I also think within policymaking circles, of strategy.  You often hear the term, our counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.  Counterinsurgency is not strategy.  Strategy, simply defined, is the level of war that should, after assessment, asking questions, of weighing costs and benefits, should link tactical, operational methods in a military sense, other elements of national power to achieve policy objectives.  That is a simple definition of strategy. 

Counterinsurgency is not strategy, but we often hear this term counterinsurgency strategy.  To be sure, strategy could employ the tactics and operational methods of counterinsurgency.  But the problem with the term counterinsurgency strategy, as it’s used today – it implies that strategic rationale and thought have gone in to the employment of the tactics and operations of counterinsurgency, especially with Afghanistan. 

One could make the argument, and I have before, although this is not, I think, necessarily a well-liked or appreciated argument, that our strategy in Afghanistan is out of balance.  If the president’s political objectives are defeat, disrupt, disable al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan so that it can no longer use those places as a base to attack the United States, then as a question of strategy, I ask, why is it that the American Army, as the primary player in this, seems to be able to only offer up the maximalist approach of counterinsurgency – aka nation-building – in Afghanistan?

So in that sense, one could make the argument that our strategy in Afghanistan is broken.  But the problem with the term counterinsurgency strategy is that it implies that strategic thinking has gone into it.  Within the American Army, I think one of the reasons why we don’t have the ability, in terms of strategy, to be able to offer alternatives in Afghanistan is – and this is a second point I want to make – is that the American Army has been, over the last number of years – has become trapped in what I call a counterinsurgency straitjacket. 

By that I mean it’s sort of an intellectual framework that is so confining that it prevents the American Army from thinking about alternatives in Afghanistan and even how it thinks about future conflict in the world.  The counterinsurgency straitjacket consists of two immutable rules that are always in place. 

The first immutable rule of the counterinsurgency straitjacket is that at least the American Army, but other armies too, have to start off doing counterinsurgency badly.  In fact, they must start off failing at it miserably.  But then, once a new doctrine is put into place, some better generals are assigned, maybe a few more brigades are put into the mix, then an army can learn and adapt and get better at counterinsurgency. 

And the second immutable rule that’s a part of this counterinsurgency straitjacket is that counterinsurgency American-style, à la FM 3-24, worked in Iraq, namely during the surge in Iraq, and it was the American Army doing something different, practicing a new kind of counterinsurgency that was the fundamental cause for the lowering of violence in Iraq.  So those are the two immutable rules that make up this counterinsurgency straitjacket. 

But here’s the problem with this thing – it’s that an army – and this relates to Afghanistan – if we do want to seriously consider alternatives, within the counterinsurgency straitjacket, an army cannot learn and adapt its way out of doing counterinsurgency.  It can only get better at it because it starts at a level of not getting it and being poor at it.  It learns and adapts and it gets better at counterinsurgency.  But it can’t learn and adapt its way out of counterinsurgency. 

Hence, this straitjacket that prevents us from seeing alternatives, for example, in a place like Afghanistan, which leads to my final point, which is the one I started with and this problem – this serious problem I think – of combined-arms atrophy, which is also linked to this counterinsurgency straitjacket.  Because we’ve become so consumed within the American Army with counterinsurgency that it has taken our eye off the ball, so to speak, of the serious problems we have within the American Army being able to do combined arms.

Combined arms, what do I mean by combined arms?  At the battalion, the brigade, the division, the corps level within an army, those organizational levels and their ability to combine arms – like artillery, armor, infantry – against an enemy who fights in a sophisticated way.  Think of the Israeli army in Lebanon in 2006 and the experience they had when they faced Hezbollah, who fought them differently from the way the Palestinian terrorists had fought them in the six years prior.

There’s been a number of good analyses that have shown the effects of doing really nothing but counterinsurgency on the Israeli army and what happened to them in 2006.  We can see the same thing happening today within the American Army.  Our artillery battalions don’t shoot like they used to.  When artillery battalions, for example, go to Afghanistan or Iraq, they do other things than firing their guns.  One hears reports coming out of the national training centers of, certainly, a refining of the ability to do counterinsurgency operations, but not necessarily combined-arms operations. 

History shows what happens to armies when they become overly focused on counterinsurgency:  the British army in the Second Boer War; a number of years previously, the French army in the Franco-Prussian War, from the colonial experience; more recently, the army of the Republic of Vietnam, who by 1973 and ’74, when they were left on their own, had become essentially a counterinsurgency army and was defeated soundly by a North Vietnamese army in 1975 who knew how to fight using combined arms.

So history shows what happens when armies spend a lot of time focusing on counterinsurgency.  Now, my argument here is not that the Army has the luxury to stop preparing its units, if they’re going to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq, on counterinsurgency.  My argument is that we need to be able to break out of this counterinsurgency straitjacket, look at strategy in a more creative, sort of alternative way and also appreciate what has happened to the American Army in terms of its ability to do combined-arms warfare.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Gian.  Clearly, this is a major issue, how much are we learning and how will we learn?  So let me move to Vago and perhaps you can address this issue.  One is the strategic shift, and the other is at the tactical level, how much of the lessons have been learned?  Gian was mentioning the Boer War.  The British produced a wonderful little manual called “The Defense of Duffer’s Drift”.

VAGO MURADIAN:  Right.  There’s a new take of that.

COL. GENTILE:  Yeah, “The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa”.

MR. MURADIAN:  Yeah, it was a fantastic little book.

MR. NAWAZ:  Maybe that will give you the opening.

MR. MURADIAN:  Well, I’m going to be neither studied nor optimistic, to counter Harlan’s studied optimism, and I don’t want to apply any kind of strategic thinking in this, and that’s kind of my joke. 

I think that the big problem we have is that nobody really is thinking strategically, where sometimes tactical and doctrinal things are really construed as sort of strategic approaches, which I kind of have a problem with.  There’s a friend of mine in the Pentagon who says, U.S. military people ought to stand more in front of maps and near maps to understand geography and what are sort of, again, strategic drivers.

I think the alliance is really at an inflection point.  You can argue that there haven’t been as many Europeans who are as well-versed in combat operations since World War II, and in many respects that’s a very positive thing, I think, in terms of thinking your way through problems and also improving basic military expertise, being able to identify defects and certain select capability areas that have to be reconciled. 

I also want to give credit where credit is due.  I think that NATO has done a tremendous job.  These contributions that nations have made, despite their caveats, asterisks and 21 layers of impenetrable structure, is still yielding – is still very, very expensive.  It still constitutes massive national investment and, I think, is making a difference on the ground. 

The problem is that we were in strategic drift for a long, long time and now all of a sudden are sort of realizing that, okay, no, no seriously this time we’re really going to get it right and do it right.  So the question is whether you run out of will, steam and, more important, money. 

The treasuries run this.  It really doesn’t matter if what you will save is minimal.  That’s the one thing that I’ve – you could cut U.S. defense spending dramatically and you’re really doing nothing or not that much to address $13 trillion in debt, and yet, as Liam Fox always says, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. 

Defense has to pay its fair share and is paying that fair share.  Whether it’s in Germany, in France, in Britain, with the SDSR, as ill-thought-out as it may be and as scattershot as it may be, it is going to yield cuts.  The British army is likely to leave Germany after seven decades of occupation.  You’re going to find the RAF being much smaller. 

And I think a bigger question I think that everybody has and needs to grapple with is, at what point do you get smaller – so small on national levels that your centers of gravity really start to erode and you’ve really got to think of, again, a much, much more intimate integration, whether it’s under an EU or a NATO banner or what have you where you have a couple of countries that are global still – Britain, France – still maintain sort of broad – broadish national capabilities, and then you have other nations that, literally, you tick off a box and you go into a European army and there are pools of equipment spread around the continent that would be at the disposal.

Well, look, EU has already created a diplomatic corps.  So you can join the EU diplomatic corps.  You’re no longer a French diplomat or a British diplomat.  You’re an EU diplomat and I think it’s only a matter of time before you see that at a national European level.  I think from a capability standpoint, one would assume that the alliance is going to look at this and look at this in a positive way.  I mean, I think that there have been huge gains in Afghanistan.  I think that now you can call somewhat more complicated than going through your national chains of command. 

But you’ve got French aircraft that are supporting American troops.  You’ve got American aircraft that are supporting Dutch troops, and what have you.  National caveats are a way of life.  It will be in any alliance and multinational operation.  To assume otherwise is, I think, just naïve.  We’ve got to realize that at a certain point you can try to dilute it as much as you can but that will still exist.  There will be some still hard lines for folks. 

But the question is – my focus is a little bit more on the future.  What is your driving strategic threat?  What is shaping your mindset?  The Pentagon’s interest in China is growing, has grown.  It is based on the intelligence and this is now – it conveniently has an administration that says, hey, wait a minute, this is a problem, as opposed to having an administration that said, whatever you do, don’t rock the boat.  We have a whole series of other issues and can’t afford to tangle this. 

So the lip service was better.  I think there was more lip service paid, whereas now, folks are looking at this seriously from a U.S. standpoint as to what its equities are in Asia, how does that change vis-à-vis rise of China, and also what are some of the capabilities that the United States is going to need?  And hence there are people who are interested in strategic bombers anew, realizing that the future is not just going to be all COIN all the time that will fit. 

There are some people who make that argument within the Pentagon, by the way.  That which we’ve done – Defense Secretary Gates has sort of hinted at that, that what we’re doing is what we’re going to be doing.  Unlikely:  That’s kind of been a historic and classic recipe for disaster each time we’ve done that.  Well, if you look at it from a European perspective, which I try to do because I visit Europe often enough, it is, what are my driving strategic threats?

I don’t have a Russia now over on the other side of the border.  I have economic integration, which means that the chances of Germany coming crashing across the Rhine is somewhat limited now than maybe it might have been 100 years ago.  So you really start looking at it and saying what are my national militaries there for. 

If you’re a former colonial empire, then you have a little bit more of an interest and have a global role, view.  But otherwise, you’re looking – (audio break) – so it’s cyber, counterterrorism and then as Edgar said, I think the “big idea” idea is great because nobody – (audio break) – European militaries to at least raise their game.  The question is can you get the average – (audio break) – the national leaders just do a really, really poor job. 

I was going to use an expletive but I’m in a sophisticated academic environment now.  I’m not going to do that.  But they do sort of a poor job – (audio break) – all about and what does it mean.  So they really take their cue, anticipatory cue, from what the people will do.  And as anybody knows, it’s a line from “Men in Black”, people are smart – (audio break) – people are stupid sometimes.  So they don’t really realize that what they’re doing is actually not in their strategic interest. 

So my fear is that here we’ve built this capability, admittedly with some major capability gaps, by the way, as nations have at various levels embraced better – (audio break) – surveillance reconnaissance capabilities, UAVs, improved their special operations game.  You’ve got a whole lot of guys who haven’t done that. 

So you’ve got that capability gap that’s built in Afghanistan and one that is likely to widen even more rapidly as the United States, despite its – (inaudible) – drive, is still spending more than everybody else in the world combined.  So even when it’s trying to save, it’s going to be spending huge amounts of money, whereas in Europe, centers of gravity are really being reduced. 

So whether or not the alliance finally decides that I’m no longer an out-of-area operation, then the lesson I take from Afghanistan is, oh my God, this is too hard.  It makes my brain hurt and I really want to go – (audio break) – was, which is a defensive alliance exclusively – (audio break) – defending against what?  Well, I’ll dabble in cyber.  I’ll do missile defense because the Americans will come in with their Aegis cruisers and their ground-based missiles – (audio break) – sit behind that because I can sell that to my people. 

So I think it’s – I want to hope there’s strategic thinking.  I would like to think that folks are going to say, hey, wait a minute; there are really enormous gains that we’ve made.  We are making a contribution on the ground.  Stan McChrystal was right.  If it wasn’t for NATO troops in Afghanistan, the United States would have to cough them up and that would be a very, very – (inaudible) – given where the U.S. Army and the U.S. military is in terms of being tired. 

But you really do need to, again, ditch the agenda, get people to say, okay, what’s at stake here, what are the issues and where do we need to take this.  It can’t just be about efficiency and affordability.  You’ve got to obviously make it better, but you’ve got to start thinking a hell of a lot bigger than anybody’s thinking.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Vago.  That’s a nicely nuanced approach.  So perhaps it will counter some of the earlier wake-like atmosphere that was being created.  I’m actually going to give up my prerogative as the chair, not take up time with my question because I think it’s important to get the conversation going with you, the audience.  You’re the critical part of this conference.  So let’s see if we can begin at the back this time.  So Arnaud, you had a question and then we’ll move to the front.

Q:  Yes, Arnaud de Borchgrave, CSIS.  I wonder if you could apply yourself to the future of warfare, in terms of robotic warfare coming on much sooner than anyone had anticipated.

MR. NAWAZ:  You want to try that?

COL. GENTILE:  Vago’s probably –

MR. MURADIAN:  I’ll take a stab at it.  I was going to say that if you look at robotic warfare, I think it’s growing.  It’s going to get better.  The U.S. Air Force probably tells you that they’ve kind of been in robotic warfare since 1918, and they’re right, with the Kettering Bug and virtually unmanned systems in every war that we’ve fought, including Vietnam. 

So you could argue that that’s been kind of a march of history.  Wherever you can replace people to do operations – the Israelis certainly have made enormous strides both in unmanned ground systems as well.  And obviously the big question that everybody’s asking is intellectually – Peter Singer at CSIS is working on these – excuse me, at Brookings, my apologies.  Sorry about that.

Ten lashes, self-imposed.  What are some of the moral and intellectual questions that come as weapons and systems become ever more automated?  I still think that we will have humans that are actually doing the shooting.  I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where they are going to start autonomously taking out targets. 

But the thing is that given that we’re looking at what are euphemistically called HVTs – high value targets – you’re following them for a long time and once you figure out that, hey, this the guy I’m looking for, you need to shoot pretty quickly.  Otherwise you’re going to lose him.  So that’s an entirely I think different kettle of fish. 

And man-machine interfaces are starting to become a bigger and bigger issue.  If you consider in the U.S. Air Force’s case, the first generation of Predator required 80 man-hours of analysis per each hour of information collected.  The new one collects 10 times as much information and requires 10 times as much analysis.  So you do the math.  You’ve got 65 orbits.  Each orbit is four aircraft, up at any given time.  I mean, you really have to start automating stuff.  Otherwise you’re never going to be able to dig through the analysis load.

COL. GENTILE:  Just a quick comment on technology and war and, again, back to my focus area on this panel and the American Army.  The American Army had a bad experience with technology, so to speak, in the 1980s, but especially in the 1990s, when it came up with this idea called network-centric warfare, which also then cascaded over – as I understand these analyses of these, especially the Israeli army, which was one of the problems that they had in 2006 – this belief that information, knowledge produced through better technology would give a fighting force perfect understanding of the enemy.

This is what the American Army had come to in the 1990s.  And recent experience in war of the counterinsurgency type, but still war, shows that just to be an incredibly bad fundamental premise for an army to operate on.  I mean, it still involves, whether you’re doing counterinsurgency or high-end conflict, making contact either with local populations, or if you’re fighting an enemy somewhat like you, making contact with that enemy, developing the situation, producing information through fighting. 

I mean, I come from the H.R. McMaster school on this, that it is those essentials that are needed in an army.  Technology certainly supports and helps, but it should not replace this fundamental aspect of the nature of warfare.  I also think that if the American Army had this problem in the 1990s with network-centric warfare, counterinsurgency warfare is the same problem. 

It’s the same wine but it’s just in different skins.  And with counterinsurgency warfare, we’ve placed our faith that the theory of counterinsurgency actually works in practice through procedures.  I mean, how many times have you heard – I’m stretching it from the technology and robotics, but there’s a link here. 

How many times have you heard people say as a matter of fact that in Afghanistan this brigade is going to clear, then hold, then build?  The president himself, when he spoke at West Point in November, when he was talking about the additional brigades flowing into Afghanistan, said that these brigades will move in and protect the population.  These are all theoretical ideas contained in the theory of counterinsurgency. 

But we’ve turned them into established facts, so to speak, just like the belief we put in technology in the 1990s, that it would do these things for us.  So there is a link there within the American Army and it’s not a progressive one.  It’s the same problem, although in a different form.

MR. NAWAZ:  Julian?

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Yeah, I’d like to come at this from the angle of a technological shared level of ambition across the alliance.  I suspect that for many Europeans that robotic warfare is actually a way of marching better. 

We often talk about future combat systems, but really, at the national level, it tends more to be driven by defense industries.  And I think defense industries will be crucial in driving the technologies question forward for many European countries, not least because we’ll have to have more synergy across the European defense-industrial base, which will tend to drive that process forward. 

But I thought by way of an answer, because it’s so critical to future combat systems and interoperability, this question – the technological level of ambition – that I’ll give you some figures.  NATO Europe has a combined GDP of 124 percent that of the U.S, yet NATO Europe spends 37 percent of the U.S. in 2009 on defense. 

Now, that’s still quite a lot of money.  That is some U.S. $257.4 billion.  But then you break that figure down.  Of that $257.4 billion, France and the U.K. together represent 43 percent and France, Germany and the U.K. represent 61 percent.  Now, here’s the critical figure.  Those three represent 88 percent of all R&T development across NATO Europe. 

Now, when you’ve got U.S. forces thinking on robotic futures in a whole range of synergistic platforms and systems and then you’ve got the bulk of NATO Europe spending such fractions on this, and even moving towards basic professionalization, I think one could talk strategy until the cows come home.  And it’s a great discussion to have amongst those with a bit of money, but for many European countries, it’s a completely irrelevant question. 

Therefore, I would turn the question around.  What technologies would you Americans see as critical to ensure interoperability with the bulk of your NATO allies who are never going to be dreaming of this stuff?

MR. MURADIAN:  Give it away.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Give what away?

MR. MURADIAN:  I mean, give some of the technologies away, or at least even give some of the systems away, which we’ve done in Afghanistan in particular, to make sure that you resolve interoperability problems so when we go –

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Radios, radios.

MR. MURADIAN:  Hang on a second, here you go.  Just use these because really it’s just going to make life a lot easier.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  You’re absolutely right, Vego.  That’s right.

MR. MURADIAN:  I want to just slightly push back on the colonel, though, for a second, in terms of – and I understand the whole argument on the whole [47:02] and all the mistakes that were made.  There was a whole multiplicity of other factors that were driving it.

COL. GENTILE:  There were, with the Israelis.

MR. MURADIAN:  It wasn’t purely that they’d become an occupation force.  Their enemy really outthought them a lot of times.  There was a very, very clever use of technology. 

For the first time, you had commercial night-vision systems, a question which I’ve asked for a long time, that were set up on rooftops, wired to command centers, did not have any open radio communications because they know the Israelis would read them.  And the thing is, they for the first time knew that there were manned shapes coming up hills at them in the night and I can open fire on them.  I know those are not my guys. 

So all of a sudden, the dynamic – you know, we owning the night was a different dynamic.  They were now starting to own the night and we were starting to taste what that feels like.  Something which is obviously going to happen as technology proliferates, if you go to Price Club and you can buy an NVG for $99, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that some Hezbollah guy or some Taliban guy is going to figure out the same thing.

I also think that there is an almost Neo-Luddism that I’m afraid is developing, in saying every single thing we’re doing is technologically driven.  The man is, of course – the woman, person, human is the most important in the loop.  You can’t do counterinsurgency; you can’t do even – you can’t do any form of military endeavor without people being involved in them. 

The thing is, the technology, the nets and the enabling – and enable I think is a much better phrase – is critical because those COIN units are now drawing real-time full-motion video. 
They have communications to – higher-echelon communications across your squad to a degree that is unprecedented.  And the guys who have tasted a system like Land Warrior absolutely love it because it gets the information into the hands of the guy who needs it.  Okay, wait a minute, now I’ve got that overhead and I know that it’s the second gully, not the first one.  Okay, got it, I’m now oriented more properly. 

So I don’t think anybody – being a very good – you know, having covered Adm. Cebrowski very closely, I don’t think he was ever arguing that it’s a replacement for the people.  I think that folks consistently kind of took that message and twisted it and turned it into whatever they wanted to hear.

MR. NAWAZ:  While we’re moving to the next question, if I can just add that I think it takes a certain amount of thought process to transform information into knowledge and I’d go back to Vago’s point about getting close and looking at maps.  I think you need to understand the enemy and that investment is problem much less than the technological.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Absolutely right.

MR. MURADIAN:  Or who might not be your friend.

MR. NAWAZ:  Exactly, and so I’m struck particularly last night watching “60 Minutes” and the Lara Logan report of this firefight and the U.S. commander of this forward operating base saying that the Taliban have a ridgeline approach, going back to 1894 and 1901, the books that the British produced on Indian frontier warfare.  That was the first thing that was taught, was that you take the ridgeline approach.  You don’t give the ridge away to the enemy.  So you’ve got to know how they fight.  And it struck me that here was this base in a valley surrounded by ridges and the ridges had been left to the enemy.

COL. GENTILE:  Why is it in the valley?  It’s in the valley because that’s where the population is at.  The theory of counterinsurgency says that the way you succeed is through securing the population, which means you give up the ridgeline, even though tactually that might not make sense in that given situation.

MR. NAWAZ:  So the question really then comes to, how well do you know your enemy and how does he fight?  So Harlan, let’s take the conversation forward.

Q:  Harlan Ullman, the Atlantic Council.  A question, and Shuja, I’d like to get your response to this question as well and then a comment.  The white papers for Germany, Britain and France two years ago were remarkable in that they were coincident over the change of danger from national sovereignty and threats against the state to the security of individuals, writ large.  Rupert Smith made this point, arguing that war was about the people. 

To what degree do you agree or disagree with that sentiment, and more importantly, we talk about winning hearts and minds.  Nobody is ever, ever, ever in my judgment had a good comment about what exactly whose hearts it is we are going to try and win, how we’re going to do that, whose minds we are trying to affect and how we do that. 

I wonder if the panel had a couple of ideas about both that in terms of defining, with some specificity, hearts and minds.  And for Gian, you talk about the U.S. Army.  With due deference, I think you’d be talking about land forces or ground forces because there’s another component that has some degree of intellectual input and I think you’re ignoring that.

MR. NAWAZ:  You want to be more specific?

Q:  U.S. Marine Corps.

MR. MURADIAN:  Thank you for holding up the Navy and Marine Corps team, Harlan.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Yeah, thank you, Harlan, one of your zinger questions.  How can I put it?  Those white papers – I think that they were at the end of – how can I put this – a process of strategic political correctness in Europe, where everything was disaggregated down to the individual and human rights and all this, which of course is fundamentally important and ultimately is the object of security. 

But I think they all failed to basically group the reality, which is, the system is built on states and the primary relationship for the security of the individual is with the state and through the state.  Now, I think Europeans by and large misunderstood that we’re actually involved in a struggle at present between the state and the anti-state, and the states never become nimble enough to deal with the anti-state. 

Now, it may be in the future that we go back to the state versus the state.  There’s enough friction in the system, enough competition over resources that I, for one, am pessimistic about this century.  I have no reason to believe there will not be moments of deep tension and stress.  Now, whose hearts and minds, therefore, do we need to win? 

Well, of course it depends on the circumstance.  But my first, classic response would be to say, what I want the world’s leaders to understand, first and foremost, is that the West does exist; the West is tolerant; it will guard the open trading system that it has constructed and to which others are buying into.  The Chinese are not challenging it.  They’re part of it.  They want to beat us at it.  But that there are also limits, that defense matters and that state sponsorship of terrorism, for example, will lead to responses. 

As far as fighting terrorism, which is the implicit question that you had worldwide and worldwide terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, I think it’s more a lesson to us than to our adversaries, and that is to our peoples:  One, that it by definition is a very long struggle.  There is no evidence in history that such struggles are short.  Therefore, the first hearts and minds that we have to win are our own people. 

We were too soft on our own people for many years.  I think Kagan may say more on this at lunchtime, that history has indeed returned post-Fukuyama.  Well, history ended because we all thought they’d buy into our dream.  Well, people haven’t.  We have to return our people from the strategic vacation which is basically undermining the whole effort to restructure our security and defense effort in a complex environment. 

But thereafter, I think it’s important as well that we recognize that we are also in an ideological struggle.  That sounds a bit evangelical, and again, being a Yorskshireman, I tend to avoid such things.  But we are.  And we are involved in a war of ideas and a war of knowledge and we’ve ceded that to the enemy.  We try to present our engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan effectively as an extension of good governance, of management, rather than the fact that we are trying to defeat an aggressive anti-Western idea with a better idea.

I think it’s a tragedy over the last few years, particularly Europeans, we’ve become so incompetent at selling what is a very good message from Europe about how to recover post-conflict and build new societies.  Unless we have that envisioned implicitly in our security and defense strategies, then however technical one is, however managerial one is, one will not actually convey the fundamental reason to our publics and other peoples as to why we need to do this stuff.

MR. NAWAZ:  Go ahead.

COL. GENTILE:  Well, first with the Marines – I know the Army; that’s what I’ve been paying attention to.  Also I think with the Marine Corps, so much of what the Marine Corps does, most of the time, is in response to where the Army is heading.  I mean, you find some really – in the last five or six years in Iraq – I remember, in 2003, reading articles by Marine officers of how the American Army in the Sunni Triangle, the 4th Infantry Division was applying too hard of a hand and that they needed to apply a more adept sort of velvet glove. 

So it was a counter, a response to show difference with the Army.  Interestingly, a few months ago, Gen. Conway was talking about how it was time for the Marines to leave Iraq so that they could go to Afghanistan and get into the business of hard fighting in Afghanistan because that’s what the Marines do.  So I focus on the Army because that’s the institution that I’ve spent my life in.  That’s the institution that I fought as a part of in Iraq two times and what I’ve really been paying attention to over the last three years. 

Clearly, the other services have a role in the greater defense establishment, and especially within the development of counterinsurgency doctrine and all those other things Marines have played a role as well.  I like this question about hearts and minds.  It comes up all the time.  Dave Kilcullen in his newest book just forthrightly talks about the importance of winning hearts and minds.  I question through the study of history and operational experience of trying to win hearts and minds, whether they can be won. 

But hearts and minds is a term – because of the theory of counterinsurgency – that has come to be thrown out sometimes as matter of fact – that hearts and minds can be won.  Then, even if they can be won, the next question I would ask would be from the lane of strategy and say, should we try to win them in Afghanistan?  As an example, should we apply an operational method that tries to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan? 

Is that in our interest to do so as a matter of strategy?  And the last point is – you mentioned Rupert Smith and his widely influential, but, I must say, I believe deeply flawed book, “The Utility of Force,” has also come to be seen almost as a matter of fact for defining future conflict.  Future conflict will be more wars amongst the people. 

This has had a very pervasive effect, especially on the American Army and its stability doctrine that it’s just come out with, this whole idea that future wars will be wars amongst the people.  They might be, but they might be other types of wars. 

My argument has been all along that whatever kinds of wars or conflicts or operations the American Army is told to go off to do – and it’s the same with the Marines and the Air Force and the Navy – but with regard to the American Army, what it should be able to do first and foremost is to fight, using combined arms at all levels.  If it can do that, it can do any other kind of operation. 

Now, that is heresy for the counterinsurgency narrative, which states that no, armies that are trained to do that are predisposed to fail and fail badly at these other kinds of operations.  But that should be what the American Army can do first and foremost.

MR. MURADIAN:  But I think that’s actually, to make Gian’s point here, in a lot of these counterinsurgency and urban operations, they have been full-spectrum operations that have involved air.  They’ve involved artillery.  They’ve involved extremely nuanced combined-arms operations, just in a very, very focused way.  So you’re not looking at mass tanks but selective use of tanks, for example, for exit routes and for entry and stuff like that. 

But to shift to try to answer your question, Harlan, I’m going to take from the other two panelists briefly.  Unless you maintain your hearts and minds, ultimately you’re not going to be able to have any policy objective at the end of the day.  So you’ve got to make sure your population is being brought along and that means consistently selling a message that makes sense to people and how they go, okay, so this makes – this is why we’re spending the blood and treasure there. 

In the case of hearts and minds on the ground over there, it’s not that you want them to love you.  I think virtually every poll that you’ve seen, the vast majority of Afghans don’t want the Taliban to come back.  That’s the end of the story.  For them, it’s a basic security thing and as long as I know that a handful of these guys can come back and kill me somehow or terrorize my village, I can’t really be fully with you because I’m not sure you’re going to be here long enough to make sure that happens. 

So now there are other sorts of issues on how do you empower those guys to take a bigger interest in there.  Iraq succeeded in large part because we got Sunnis to be like, hey, look, you have a vested interest in this.  This isn’t about you just starting trouble.  You can be part of the solution here.  I think that hearts and minds is applied as though people are going to just love us and have a portrait of Petraeus in their house or anything.  I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, but you never know.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  I just want to make a quick statement, if I may.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MURADIAN:  Rent with option to buy.

MR. NAWAZ:  Julian has a quick word and then I think Harlan wanted me to say a couple of words and I will.  Then we have two questions.  I’ll take two questions – one from Sebastian and then one up front here – because we are going to be running out of time and I don’t want to keep you from your lunch.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Just the inability to answer your question, Harlan, for me demonstrates the vacuum created by a lack of leadership.  It’s almost a tyranny of public opinion and we seem to be swinging from a kind of strategic political correctness, which was meaningless in the early part of the last decade, to a kind of fundamentalist accountancy approach now.  There’s simply no balance.  And we have to go back to balance, to explaining to publics why we have to do this stuff.

MR. NAWAZ:  I think, Harlan, you were posing the question to me also about winning hearts and minds.  I agree.  You can’t win hearts and minds, particularly over the kind of short timeframe that politics dictates for what will be deemed to be success or failure in Afghanistan. 

But I think it’s very critical to widen the aperture and to go beyond Afghanistan, to Pakistan, to India, to Iran and see if the U.S.’s rhetoric can be matched over a long time by its actions, and particularly on the economic side.  Picking up on Vago’s point, the Pakistanis overwhelmingly have voted against the Taliban inside their own borders.  So it would make no sense for them to support the Taliban in Kabul because of the contagion effect across the border. 

But tactically, of course, they will play whatever cards they have and take advantage of links or past links with some of the afghan Taliban and they will do that in their national interest.  But both Europe and North America really have an opportunity to open up economic ties with the region and with Pakistan – between India and Pakistan and Afghanistan and that’s probably the best way of strengthening against insurgencies and militancies, rather than simply the use of military power.  So that would be my response.  You want to add something?

MR. MURADIAN:  Well, I was going to say a great opportunity I think was lost when the NATO C-17 capability was not deployed in the assistance of the Pakistan floods and that was, I’m told, a financial concern.  What better would have been to have those aircraft landing with NATO written on the side of it, disgorging supplies, and trying to show I can outdo everybody else in the C-17 relay race?

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  But isn’t the real issue, if I may, Chairman, that we are in fact competing for the large pool of unemployed, under 25-year-olds, with the Taliban and al-Qaida?  And what frightens me is we have no creative thinking here, because we look at history, what were the Brits doing in the 19th century?  They built railways, partly to ensure that they sucked up that pool of unemployed dangerous young men.  Those are the kind of game-changing ideas we need now.

MR. MURADIAN:  Popes launched the Crusades to get rid of them.

 MR. NAWAZ:  Yes.  Sebastian, sorry to keep you waiting.

Q:  I’m Sebastian Gorka, the Atlantic Council.  If I, with your permission –

MR. NAWAZ:  Is the microphone on?  Okay.

Q:  If I can take you back to the wonkish strategy question, the “so what?” of strategy, it’s pretty obvious why broke governments in Europe don’t do strategy in a time of peace, or perceived peace.  You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to understand that.  But could I get Col. Gentile’s and the other panelists’ comments on, why is a hyperpower that has said for eight years it’s at war incapable of doing strategy? 

We have a QDR that says – that goes against the basic fundamental rules of strategy, which is prioritization, the QDR says we will do IW, COIN and everything else just in case China gets meddlesome.  So we’re going to do the whole panoply.  We’re not going to choose or prioritize.  Whose responsibility is that?  How did we get where we are today, please?

COL. GENTILE:  Right.  Again I’ll tackle this from an American military, specifically an American Army perspective – (audio break) – comment on the inner workings of American policymakers.  But one of the problems, again, that I see within the American Army, as I argued before, is we’re doing the same mistakes.  We’re actually making the same mistakes that we did in Vietnam. 

The United States lost the Vietnam War not because it didn’t develop an effective counterinsurgency approach.  That is just a wrongheaded interpretation of the war in Vietnam.  The United States lost the war in Vietnam because it failed at strategy and policy.  And in the 1980s, in trying to recover from Vietnam, the American Army did, in a sense, at least tactically and operationally, but it continued to move away from a broader understanding of war and how strategy uses national power to achieve aims in war. 

The same thing – it’s the same progression in the 1990s and again it’s the same thing today with this hyper-focus and emphasis on the tactics and operations of counterinsurgency.  So there are no alternatives presented to how to achieve policy aims in Afghanistan and potentially other threats and security problems in the world. 

At least within the American Army and, I think, within the greater parts of the defense establishment, we talk a lot about the doing of operations.  We talk a little bit about strategy, but we don’t talk about war in a holistic sense, and the doing of war, and what it takes to achieve policy aims in war.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Was it the British scientist Ernest Rutherford who said famously that, gentlemen, we have no money.  Now is the time to think.  It’s actually not – I actually challenge your basic thesis, Seb, because a hyperpower, by definition, does not have to do strategy because it is a hyperpower. 

In fact, strategy is the preserve of secondary powers that have to use all means to achieve ends.  When I think of how the U.S. was perceived on September 10, 2001, and how the U.S. is perceived on September 27, 2010, I think it’s only now that you realize that in realistic strategic terms you are not the hyperpower you thought you were and therefore you are beginning to do strategy. 

Having said that, the ability of the United States to actually adapt in any given circumstance is unrivaled.  I’m not just flattering you.  As I say, I don’t flatter Americans.  I’m a Brit.  We don’t do that.  But you do have this ability – and what I see now, it’s actually – it’s a bad moment, but you are beginning to grip the reality as it is. 

And I’m pretty confident that over the next decade, the way you will deal with that reality, now that you’ve accepted that you haven’t got this unipolar moment anymore, or never did indeed have it, will be much more creative and much more impressive.  I just hope the people across the road here on the Hill get that as well.

MR. MURADIAN:  I also think, in response to your QDR question, the timing of the QDR was bad in that the administration came into office, regarding China in particular, to try to take a much more – engagement and we can work with them and everything and then that was rapidly seen, especially with Secretary Clinton’s comments in August, being like, that’s just a bunch of bunk.  These guys are up to something.  We’ve got to man up. 

So that’s basically the change that’s happened in the intellectual process.  And China’s belligerence, which from its own strategic standpoint is kind of amazing that they keep making that mistake, and thank God for us they keep making that mistake:  It gives us all sorts of opportunities to get in there with Vietnam, for example, and with a bunch of other countries in the region, Japan in particular, although it did climb down on the fisherman – coast guard captain or whoever they had in their possession. 

I think that, as Julian said, we have a way of going along, not really thinking about anything and not really prioritizing anything because ultimately, you know, what are your vital national interests?  And we tend not to think like that, unfortunately.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thanks.  Please, it’s on.

Q:  Thank you very much.  You are so generous.  Ioan Pascu, European Parliament.  I’m wondering – you know, you said correctly that you have to define the kind of future war and then rally the allies around it and then, you know, give the momentum for the alliance to overcome the current situation. 

I’m wondering what war means for the Europeans because, you know, more or less, if they have an operation like Afghanistan, they will join the United States.  And they will do what they are doing now and leave the United States to take care of that problem essentially because they are more capable and throw more resources at it. 

Secondly, when they are alone, they are sufficiently powerful not to be challenged in a warlike manner by anybody.  So there is no encouragement and I think that, in general, we have to look at how we define war under the current circumstances because I think that we are moving away from – we are moving in the direction that technology is pushing us or attracting us.  But we are still working with the concepts of the Second World War, First World War and these sorts of types, which are not relevant for today.

MR. NAWAZ:  If I could just add that since we are up against the clock, if in each of your interventions, you could take this question and move us to the future, how do you see NATO evolving out of the Afghan experience?  So, Julian?

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Yeah, thank you.  That was great.  Ioan, you’re a European political leader.  You’re involved in this process.  You know how hard it is to get a debate inside the European Parliament on these very issues.  We have the worst of all worlds in Europe right now.  Quite a few of NATO’s Europe militaries are little more than armed pensions, frankly.  The balance between equipment budgets – it’s true – the balance between personnel budgets and equipment budgets is so bad. 

And why do they exist?  They exist because these countries think it’s a down payment to keep the Americans engaged in their security and defense.  Frankly, it would be better if we had a debate in Europe that said, in fact, certain countries will not do war.  But they’ll do other things and they’ll invest in that effort and then we can organize this far better than we do. 

Therefore, what is very clear to me is that Europeans cannot stay in the space we are.  Because we might be strong enough now to be reasonably credible in our own neighborhood – and look at our neighborhood – look at North Africa, Middle East, and Central Asia.  It ain’t easy.  But 10, 15, 20 years from now, if we are still in the same space, we’re in deep trouble. 

And until we Europeans have that proper debate and people like yourself, with respect – as you know, you’re a friend and a colleague who I respect deeply – lead that process and say, we are going to have this debate in Europe, then whether it’s NATO or the EU, there simply will never be the political will because the public doesn’t get it and the public – this is not a debate among the publics. 

Look at even in Britain.  Defense is so far down the political agenda that unless political leaders say, look, public opinion, we understand.  You voted m in to lead.  This is why we’re going to be doing this and this is why our relationship with the United States is so important and this is why we must make that investment. 

I hope one day before I retire, which I hope won’t be too soon, I will hear European political leaders get up and make the case for why Europe alongside the United States is the strategic cornerstone of stability in the world.  Because if we Europeans don’t do that and we leave it to the Americans, then we and the Americans will suffer, which brings me to my point about NATO’s future on the military side. 

I want to see, by 2020, 2025, a European effort, primarily organized through the alliance, alongside the United States, focused on the following areas:  a modernized Article V architecture, which may well include missile defense, cyber defense and will work with Russia and partners to that end because it will reconceptualize what territorial defense means in the 21st century. 

I want to see a genuine effort to build deployable forces because whether it’s Article V defense or security, you need deployable forces.  Main defense forces are out the window.  I want to see much more synergy, intense cooperation, even integration in areas of logistics and other areas of the table because that will prove value for money which will be critical. 

But I also want to see that force be able to operate under a NATO or an EU flag.  Why?  Because as I said, if you look at Europe’s neighborhood and the basic contract between Europe and the United States will be a couple of Europeans will go with America in a small way around the world.  But the basic deal, guys, is this.  We all get strong enough to deal with our neighborhood credibly to take the pressure off you, so you can do things elsewhere, because we are not world powers. 

But if we cannot do that – and by the way, we will need time to send a force under an EU flag because sending a force under a NATO flag or an American flag would simply complicate the political objective implied in the mission – if we can’t do that by 2020, then I don’t believe that this town in particular, for all the niceties, will really believe in the relationship anymore. 

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.

COL. GENTILE:  Yeah, just quickly, I’ll pick up on two terms or phrases that Julian used, looking ahead into the future, 10, 15, 20 years, the years 2020-25.  Julian said deployable forces, absolutely; being able to operate synergistically with other NATO forces, within the American military being able to combine all arms from all the different services.  Absolutely, I agree.  That would be a good aim point. 

But again, for the American military and especially the American Army and how the American Marines relate to that, those deployable forces should be built on the premises of, or the pillars of firepower, protection and mobility. 

And again, the reason why I focused my talk today on the American Army, the direction that the American Army seems to be going is of a conception of future conflict that is grounded in the Rupert Smith vision of future war, which is wars amongst the people, influencing behavior, winning hearts and minds, which in an organizational way, in terms of capability, seems to be pushing the American Army, at least, towards a force that is optimized toward light infantry.  And ne can see that slowly developing, at least within the American Army.  So I agree with Julian. 

Unfortunately, the direction, I think, that the American Army and potentially other parts of the American military are taking are not to that kind of deployable force that can deploy to parts of the world to do lots of different things.  But of all the things that the American military has to be able to do – especially the American Army, as I’ve said before – is to be able to fight using combined arms.  And if we’re not careful, we’re going to move away from that primary function.

MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  Can I add one more sentence?

MR. NAWAZ:  Please.

    MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH:  According to the World Bank, by 2030, 80 percent of the world’s population, 10 billion strong, will live less than 100 kilometers from the sea.  That should be our defining strategic reality.

MR. NAWAZ:  Vago, you have the last word.

MR. MURADIAN:  Oh, my.  Throughout the 2000s, America forgot about Asia.  It has now rediscovered Asia and it’s forgetting Europe, and I think that that can’t happen.  The United States is the only country since the foundation of the alliance that’s been able to lead it, often, in some of these big questions in these moments of crisis. 

It has got to – whether sitting around with a drink in everybody’s hand and figuring out, okay, what do we want to be when we grow up, or in the next stage of our lives – let’s put it that way – and then trying to drive it in that direction.  I mean, I think the whole notion of that – it is an organization better than anything else to try to organize Europe around a pole. 

NATO’s collapse and failure and transition back into a defensive force is also going to bring down and delay any EU effort to advance European military capabilities.  The big problem is that we’ve been here before.  We’ve seen this act before.  Even though some of the subordinate features are different in terms of a different nature of the threat – the anti-government versus the government – I think the problem is that the United States has called on greater defense and called on greater burden sharing and it’s fallen on deaf ears and the problem now is the financial crunch is here. 

So there are folks who are wrestling with fundamental trade-offs in their social and welfare programs and that is driving people to look at anyplace else that they can cut.  We as Americans can look at this and say, okay, four years of unemployment insurance is a little bit too long in Denmark.  Two years ought to be fine.  But for a lot of Danes, it’s a passionate issue.  Thank you very much.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you to the audience for your thought provoking questions and thank the panel.



COL. GENTILE:  Thank you.

MR. MURADIAN:  Thank you.


Pakistan’s Surprising Stability: 09/23/10 – Transcript

Back to Pakistan’s Surprising Stability Event Page




3:30 P.M.

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

SHUJA NAWAZ:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I’m Shuja Nawaz.  It’s good to see a lot of familiar faces.  Thank you all for coming and thank you, in particular, to our speaker, Anatol Lieven, who has come all the way from London to share his thoughts with us on a rather interesting title:  “Pakistan’s Surprising Stability.”  I did warn him beforehand that in Washington, there would probably be some questions about just the title alone, but I’m sure that he has the answers.

As many of you who’ve followed Pakistan know, he’s been one of the, in my mind, better commentators on the situation on the ground, who has earned the respect of people even within Pakistan, which is often very difficult, because they see him actually spending time on the ground, which a lot of other hit-and-run commentators often don’t.  And he is a chair of the international relations and terrorism studies at King’s College, London.  He’s also a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

And importantly for us, as we await his new book – he has a new book coming out called “Pakistan:  A Hard Country,” published by Penguin, that should be out this fall.  Of course, he has an interesting background as a journalist working in South Asia and the former Soviet Union, has produced a number of books on the topic, as well as a great knowledge and understanding of the United States and U.S. policy and its role in the world. 

He’s published at least two books that are worth mentioning “Ethical Realism:  A Vision for America’s Role in the World,” which was coauthored with John Hulsman and published in 2006, and “America Right or Wrong:  An Anatomy of American Nationalism.”  So without any further wastage of time, if I could as Anatol to speak for about 20 minutes, and then we’ll have a conversation after that.

ANATOL LIEVEN:  Thank you so much, Shuja.  Thank you for inviting me.  It’s a great pleasure to be back in Washington again.  I can’t resist this because I just saw it now.  I thought I might show you – and this isn’t directed against the Nixon Center, a place I’m much attached to, with which I’ve done much work – and I don’t know who was actually responsible for the title, but there is something very revealing, a bit, about this title.  And I wonder if anyone can tell me what’s wrong with it.  It is entitled “Asia’s role in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.”  What is wrong with this title?

Q:  (Off mike.)

MR. LIEVEN:  They are actually in Asia.  The implication of this is that the Middle East and the Indian Ocean are situated in, shall we say, Central America, perhaps, or Canada, and that Asia is an outside force trying to play a role.  Now, you’ll forgive me for pointing out, but this is a kind of mindset that I encountered rather often, no doubt in every imperial capital.  It was probably exactly the same in London in the 19th century. 

In fact, I know it was because a friend of mine was at a meeting of the British Conservative Party during the initial years of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and this British MP trumpeted, the Russians have always been imperialists!  Look at all the trouble they gave us in India – (laughter) – India being, you understand, a county of the United Kingdom, you know. 

Anyway, this leads me to, perhaps, an obvious point, which I feel is often forgotten and shouldn’t be, which is that we are visitors in this region.  We may have good reasons for being there; we may have bad reasons for being there, but we do not live there.  We’re not going to stay there forever. 

Sooner or later, we are going to get out, hopefully, obviously, leaving some measure of stability behind, hopefully having achieved some measure of success in our objectives.  But we are going to get out.  The countries of the region will, by definition, have to remain.  We have to remember that.  What happens in Afghanistan is a vital interest of Pakistan in a way that, even given 9/11 and so forth, it is not for the United States. 

That leads to the second point, which is that it is not the duty of Pakistani officers or officials to serve the interests of the United States.  We may advise them that it would be in the interest of their country to do so, but it is their duty to serve the interests of Pakistan, just as it is the duty of an Indian officer or a British officer to serve the interests of their country.  And leaving side questions of personal advantage, they will make up their mind on policy according to what they think is in the interest of Pakistan, not the United States.  It is their duty to do so.

A third point – well, I should say in passing, by the way, that although I bear the dreadful title of “chair of terrorism studies,” I actually try not to use it whenever I can possibly escape it because I find this way of thinking about the world – it can be extremely dangerous because it tends to reduce one’s view of other countries to one prism alone – that of the threat from terrorism.  That in turn, I’m sorry to say, licenses a whole set of people to think and talk about parts of the world, which they have no actual qualifications for doing. 

They do not know these parts of the world.  They don’t understand them.  They haven’t lived in them.  Clearly, any understanding of that part of the world has to originate not from an outside view centered on terrorism – I mean, not, of course, that the terrorist threat is not real and that we must not structure policy around that – but in the end, the great majority of what happens inside Pakistan or, indeed, in other countries throughout the Muslim world, is not centered on terrorism and the extremist threat.  It’s centered on a whole number of other things, which I shall touch on today.

Finally, by way of an introduction, but in the context of the war on terror, I think it is crucially important to remember that in terms of the terrorist and extremist threat to the region, to the United States and to the world, even if one is to regard this as a battlefield against terrorism, Afghanistan is, in itself, a relatively minor feature of that battlefield.  It has only been elevated to what appears to be a center feature by the horrible, malignant, but one-off touch-word event of 9/11. 

Pakistan, on the other hand, is a central feature of that battlefield.  And the reasons for this have nothing to do with sentiment.  I would to say they have to do with mathematics – population.  Pakistan is six times as big, huge army, nuclear weapons.  And in terms of the direct terrorist threat to the West, of course, most importantly of all – a very large diaspora, particularly in Britain, but also to a considerable extent in this country.

In other words, while very understandable, in terms of the fact that we are fighting a war in Afghanistan and we are under attack from forces partly – though only partly – based on Pakistani territory, the fact remains that to sacrifice Pakistan, essentially – Pakistani stability, or even to risk sacrificing Pakistan’s existence – for the sake of victory in Afghanistan, is to make a fundamentally false strategic calculation.  It is to make a mistake analogous to, I don’t know, Napoleon deciding to throw his force obsessively at the castle of Hougoumont at Waterloo, and forget about Blucher on the other side coming up behind him.

Pakistan is the important issue – the really important issue – in that part of the world.  It is also a permanent issue, which will remain of critical importance because of its size, because of its position, because of its relations with India, among other things, because of the Pakistani diaspora long after, in fact, we have withdrawn from Afghanistan. 

And if Pakistan were to succumb – were either to collapse – well, to collapse as a state, to break up or to suffer an Islamist revolution, that would be a catastrophe for Western policy and for the region and for humanity, I would say, which would dwarf anything that could possibly happen – anything, any outcome that could possibly occur – in Afghanistan. 

Now, fortunately – and as Shuja alluded to, this may be a controversial point – I am much less – I’m worried – but I’m much less pessimistic on the subject of Pakistan’s survival in the short-to-medium term, at least, by which I mean some decades, than a large part of the commentators and opinion and so forth in the West.  That’s why I’ve called this talk “Pakistan’s Surprising Stability.”

And the central thesis of my book, which is, in many ways, of course, a rather depressing on – it even depresses me, to an extent – you know, if you want to sell newspapers or books or whoever, and I’m not going to tell you who I’m speaking about here, the best tactic is to write something which says – or books, newspapers, circus tickets, I don’t know, margaritas, perhaps – the best approach is to say, catastrophe is looming!  We are on the verge of an abyss.  And I have the magic solution, here in the bottle or glass or book, which will not just prevent a catastrophe, but which will lead to tremendous improvement and flowering.

Or to put it another way, Pakistan is on the verge of collapse, but if only one had a limited number of, you know, changes in policy, which I will now set out, Pakistan will become a successful democracy.  The notion that there might be something a little contradictory between these two positions seriously does not occur to some of the people who put this line across, partly because, as I say, it sells books and things.

My own view is that the present overall state, political and economic setup in Pakistan is guaranteed, by immensely deeply embedded, innate – stemming from the depths of society and tradition itself – powerful and interlinked forces of kinship, property owning and political power, which operate, to a very considerable extent, under both civilian and military governments, and which operate whichever of the main political parties are in power, either at the national or the provincial level.

And one should not, in my view, be misled, therefore, by the picture of the apparent volatility of Pakistani politics and changes of government.  If you actually look at the way the country is governed and conducts itself and carries on, the changes at ground level are often surprisingly slight – in fact, usually surprisingly slight.  The problem is that these same forces of embedded kinship, property and patronage, which they extract from the state and then redistribute to themselves, are also, to a very great extent, the forces responsible for impeding progress and development in Pakistan.

In my book, I used the phrase “Janus-faced” so often that my editor tells me that he actually went through it with the “find” button looking for the word “Janus” and cutting it out.  But you see what I mean.  On the one hand, this holds Pakistan together.  It holds the Taliban in check.  It holds Islamist revolution in check.  These forces have a deep stake in preventing the overthrow of the system by Islamist revolution.  But on the other hand, clearly this is not a political setup.  And once again, it’s something that operates under both civilian and military governments, which is going to transform the country economically and develop it.

That leads to the inability to do much, it would seem, about what, in my view – and I wrote this in the book before this summer – is by far the greatest long-term existential threat to the existence of Pakistan, which is not extremism or terrorism.  It’s water.  If people are really interested in Pakistan, they should read the World Bank report of 2004 and the updated version, which came out in 2008 – very prophetic, in many ways, it looks predicting, as the Himalayan glaciers melt, catastrophic floods in the short-to-medium term, followed by even more disastrous droughts in the long run.

And I hasten to add, this is not predicated on the absurd line that the glacier’s going to melt completely by 2035 or whatever; you’re looking at a much longer process, but one which still, unless something very radical can be done to improve the country’s water infrastructure and water conservation and water management, threatens absolute disaster in the long run.  And although I won’t go into that in great detail here, that is, in my view, what Western aid to Pakistan should be concentrated on above all.

So I mean, as far as the threat of Islamist revolution within Pakistan is concerned, this, in my view, has been greatly exaggerated.  It’s very important, from this point of view, to distinguish between terrorism and insurgency, something to which I have to say, you know, as somebody who is often asked by the media to comment, the media often misses.  There is a tendency, every time there is another major terrorist attack in Pakistan, to regard this as, in some way, aversion of what had happened in FATA in the tribal areas, in Swat and so forth, which is that it is a sign of the Taliban taking over.  It isn’t.

To the best of my knowledge, terrorism alone, or even chiefly, has never succeeded in overthrowing a state.  It can even, actually, strengthen a state because of course, it gives the state – it can turn public opinion against the opposition or the terrorists or the revolutionaries, and it can also give the state a moral license to become very much more savage and ruthless in response. 

If you want to overthrow a state, you need some combination of three things – one or two or even three:  either an insurgency which overruns more and more of the countryside and smaller towns, which the Taliban did succeed in doing in much of FATA, and then extending outside, briefly, to Swat, a mass movement on the streets of the cities, as is Iran in the late ’70s, or a mutiny of the army – a revolutionary movement within the army.  This is a point to which I’ll return.  Now so far, the first has only occurred in the tribal areas and some of the other Pashtun areas of Pakistan.

It is worth remembering – and this isn’t – I mean, it sounds radical, but the prime minister of India and the interior minister have acknowledged this themselves – that a far greater portion of India is controlled by the Naxalite-Maoist rebels than the Pakistani Taliban controlled of Pakistan at their height.  We haven’t noticed, of course, because the Naxalites haven’t directly attacked Western targets and also, in pursuit of what seems to be a very formal, classic Maoist strategy, they’re building up their bases in the countryside before actually moving on the cities.

Nonetheless, I mean, nobody thinks that the Indian state is close to collapse about this, but nonetheless, there is a very extensive insurgency there.  In Pakistan, the insurgency has been confined to areas where my British ancestors on my mother’s side fought rebellion after rebellion for 100 years, from the 1840s to the 1940s, without, except on very rare occasions, thinking that this was going to lead to the overthrow of British rule in the plains of Punjab, let alone Delhi or Calcutta.  So this is still fairly restricted.

The terrorism, of course, is now occurring across much of the country, and will doubtless continue to do so.  As far as mass movements on the streets of the cities are concerned – sort of overthrow of the state from within – one must remember, again – I mean, this is becoming a cliché, but it’s nonetheless true – that there is something absolutely astonishing about political Islamism in Pakistan, which is this:  Pakistan has the oldest – I mean, deeply troubled and intermittent, of course – but I think I’m right in saying pretty much the oldest tradition of democratic democracy and elections which have taken place even under military rule in much of the Muslim world, with rare exceptions.

Pakistan has among the oldest and most intellectually powerful tradition of political Islam in the Muslim world – Maududi and the Jamaat – and Pakistan is very, very poor.  Many people are obviously deeply impoverished and permanently discontented with their government.  Indeed, I must – many people have said that, you know, given the quality of government in Pakistan, you would have to be insane not to be permanently discontented with it.  And yet, Pakistan has one of the weakest Islamist political movements, in terms of mass support, in the Muslim world, at least anywhere where there is any opportunity for mass mobilization. 

Weaker than in Turkey, obviously; weaker than in Algeria, where they actually won an election until we backed the army to get rid of them again; almost certainly weaker than in Egypt, if truly free elections were allowed; Iran, of course, well, that’s a somewhat separate issue, being Shia.  But isn’t that remarkable, how weak they are, really?  Rather surprising.  And in my view – and I won’t go into great detail about this – but this is largely, once again, to do with the fact that the Pakistani political system is structured around patronage. 

The political system, but much of the actual wealth of the country, consists of extracting money from the state and recycling it to your political followers or, of course, extracting money from the state and spending it on the military and recycling it within the military.  And I mean, that’s one set of things.

The other set of things, which is critically important, is that the Islamists are, to a considerable extent, culturally alien to much of Pakistan.  Their brand of modernist Islam is not the Islam followed by the mass of the Pakistani population.  That, in turn, reflects a – now, that could change, over time, but it seems to be changing very, very slowly

The rather – how shall I describe it?  How would you – sorry, that’s a very unfair question.  I was going to ask how one would describe Nawaz Sharif’s attitude to Islam – certainly highly respectful, and they do many things in the name of Islam.  But without wishing to be offensive, I think it would be fair to say that their attitude to certain of the precepts of Islam, into which I will not go too deeply, is, shall we say, fairly relaxed and genial. 

Now, why hasn’t this cost them, you know, politically and so?  Well, one is, they are embedded in the patronage structures.  But the second is, hey, this is how the bulk of Punjabi males regard their religion, you know?  They are not rigorous, severe Islamists.  And finally, on the subject of revolution in Pakistan, there’s something that a friend of mine who works for a Norwegian company in Lahore said to me a couple of years ago. 

He said, look, if I could come up with or were given by god the most obviously brilliant program for saving Pakistan that could possibly be imagined – something which nobody could conceivably argue intellectually – obviously brilliant and acceptable – and I jumped up on a box and I started preaching this, what would happen?  Well, first, all the other provinces would say, we’re not going to follow this; he’s a Punjabi.  Then all the other Punjabis would say, we’re not going to follow this because he’s a Jat.

Then most of the Jats would say, first, we’re not going to follow him because he follows this particular shrine and we don’t; we follow another shrine.  And then they’d say, well, we can’t follow him, because he comes from this baradari – this sub-thing of the Jat.  Then in his own baradari, they’d say, we can’t follow him because he comes from this village.  So we get down to village level.  Then most of the village would say we can’t follow him because his grandfather and my uncle had a fight over land 100 years go or 50 years or 10 years ago or whatever.

So he said in the end, this wonderful revolutionary program would be followed by my extended family.  And he said, if you know my extended family, you couldn’t be sure even of that.  So you see what I mean.  The country is actually too divided to accept a united revolutionary program.  If, god forbid, Pakistan were to fall to pieces, the result would not be a successful, united Islamist revolution, as in the Iranian style.  It would, in fact, be the fragmentation of the country amidst appalling ethnic and ethno-religious civil war.  Now, is it going to fragment?  Well, I think the answer there comes down, in the end, first, to all the things that I’ve said. 

And when I say that Pakistan is so divided, these very divisions also cause an element of balance.  Take Karachi and Sindh.  You know, there is a lot of hatred there – ethnic hatred – between the various ethnic groups, and the most important being, of course, between the Muhajirs – the Urdu speakers of Karachi – and the Sindhis.  Equally, you do not have to be a great genius to see, if you’re a Sindhi or a Muhajir, that if either of them goes for broke, the result will be a catastrophe that destroys them both.

Now, if you are an impoverished laborer, you may not care.  But if you’re a big landowner or a businessman or anyone with a stake in that society, you know, as this Muhajir politician said to me one time, I could never, ever, ever say this publicly, but I’m tempted, from time to time, to kiss the rangers – the Pakistani rangers who prevent things in that city from getting out of hand. 

So there is a Hapsburg aspect to this.  You know, you keep the Hungarians and the Slovaks in line because they hate each other more than they hate you, if you see what I mean.  The second thing that this quote about kissing the ranger – something which, by the way, I don’t advise as a strategy; I think that it might bewilder them – brings out is that the army is critical to ultimately maintaining the survival of the country and cracking down.

And I think what the past couple of years have shown is that if the army comes to see a real threat to the country, to the government, to the state, and therefore, to itself, it will, in the end, react and react successfully – perhaps belatedly.  One could well say that they took a hell of a lot of time to react to the Taliban’s increasing takeover of Swat and so forth, but when they did react, they reacted very toughly indeed.  I was up there in Swat last summer.  And they did indeed drive them back, and they’ve driven them out of other areas, as well.  I think that they will continue to do so. 

Will the army split and collapse from within?  Will there be this nightmare scenario that is so often raised about Islamist revolt within the army?  In my view, no, except in one scenario, with which I will end.  Why no?  For three reasons.  The first is that the army is a profoundly shaping cultural force.  I’m sitting next to the man who has written one of the very best books on the Pakistani military.  The notion of loyalty and discipline is very deeply ingrained.  It is held in place by, by Pakistani standards, enormous amounts of money extracted by the state and spent on the military – and on the soldiers; you know, not stolen by the generals.

There is an acute awareness in the military, that if there were a mutiny from within the military, which would split the military, it would destroy all that.  It would destroy the country and the army along with it.  And that brings me to this third point, which is that if that happened, who, in the view of the Pakistani military, would walk in?  Well, it would be the Indians.  The Indians would benefit from that.  And in any case, it would destroy Pakistan.

What are the circumstances in which a large part of the army might mutiny?  In my view, and from what I’ve heard in Pakistan, there is really only one.  And that is if the United States were to move into Pakistan on the ground – were to invade and try to occupy, for some considerable passage of time, FATA, for example, or Northern Baluchistan, or even, god forbid, go further. 

Because what I’ve been told by everybody from privates to a lieutenant general is that there is a very strong likelihood, at that point, of the Frontier Corps, at least, mutinying – or, rather, two things happening:  One is, the army decides to fight – to actually order the army to fight against the Americans.  Well, then we are in rather apocalyptic territory, to put it mildly.  Or, of course, the army high command says don’t fight, and then part of the army mutiny in order to fight. 

And one of the ways in which it was phrased to me was this:  The rank and file don’t like the drone attacks.  The mass of the population in Pakistan don’t like the drone attacks.  ¬The army goes along with them partly because it has no choice, partly because, actually, these drone attacks also quite often get people who we want to get, you know, who are fighting against us. 

But there is also the point that the javan (ph) – the ordinary soldier – can’t do anything about the drone attacks but fire his gun in the air if he sees a drone.  If you want to stop the drone attacks, you have to – you know, that has to be a decision of the high command to loose the air force on them, and that’s not going to happen. 

You have American soldiers on the ground, there is something the ordinary Pakistani soldier can do – fight.  And he is expected to fight by his wife, his mother, his sister back in the village.  If he doesn’t, when he goes back to his village, they will call him a coward and a traitor to Islam.  And he couldn’t bear that.  It would hit him in his deepest feelings. 

So I would end by making this point very strongly – and it’s not a hypothetical point because of course, there is, god forbid, always the enduring possibility of another terrorist attack on America, which can be traced back to Pakistan.  And I’ve heard many disquieting suggestions that, at that point, an American administration might be jockeyed into something like this.  It would be an appalling paradox if, after all this, in my view, very hysterical talk, very often, in the U.S. media and politics about the fragility of Pakistan, Pakistan as a failing state, Pakistan as going to collapse if, in the end, what caused Pakistan to collapse would be an American action. 

Because you know, I’ve talked about the stability of Pakistan, the surprising stability, resilience, endurance and so forth, but believe me, if there were ever a serious, open mutiny in the army, then the country would very, very likely begin to go downhill towards disintegration with extreme speed because then you would get every malcontent in the country, which would tend to rally to the mutineers.  And that, once again, would be a catastrophe for the United States and the world, which would dwarf anything that can happen in Afghanistan.  Thank you.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you, Anatol.  I think there’s – (applause) – there’s a tremendous amount of information and knowledge captured in the very brief introductory comments.  Obviously, we’re going to have to read the book to get all the details. 

MR. LIEVEN:  And unlike my students, you can all afford to buy it.  (Laughter.)

MR. NAWAZ:  Yes. Obviously, I would have a lot of questions myself, but given the audience, I’m only going to ask one question and then open it up to the floor.  So when I do, I would request you please wait for the microphone, identify yourself and then speak, so that we can capture this and maybe have a transcript for those that couldn’t make it, as well as for all our own use.  My one question, Anatol, is, you talked about water, and that’s obviously a very serious threat.  It’s no longer over the horizon; it’s on the horizon. 

A very related issue is demography because Pakistan’s population profile is such, you know, with a median age of 18, a fertility rate that is still among the highest in the developing countries and in the region, in particular, in South Asia, and because of the fact, as you’ve mentioned, that you can’t take Pakistan out of its geography.  So where do you see the demographic shift within Pakistan affecting domestic politics, as well as its external relationships in the region?

MR. LIEVEN:  Yeah, well, I mean, clearly, it’s the combination of these two things.  It is, you know to put it at its harshest, the possibility that by the last years of this century, we’ll have a situation in which 250 million people live in a place much of which is as dry as the Sahara Desert.  And that is not a hypothetical possibility, given what’s happening to the water table in various areas.

What you do on the demographic side, I mean – and you know, in turn, of course, exacerbating every internal tension – ethnic tension between the different provinces and different areas.  You can already see this happening.  The problem is what you do on the demographic front.  I mean, I just don’t know.  I mean, we all know the theoretical answers in principle, in terms of spreading women’s education and so forth.  And the consequences of that, in terms of reducing the birthrate, do seem to be very well-established around the world.

But I mean, that – and everybody knows this – but how, in practice, to do this on the ground in Pakistan – I mean, that’s summed up – I’m sorry, this is terribly cynical of me, but somebody was saying to me the other day that 9,000 schools have been washed away as a result of the floods in Pakistan. 

And I have to say that, to judge by my observations and anecdotal evidence around the country, a good third of those might have been built as schools, or maybe the money had been taken to build them as schools, but they were, in fact, being used by local landowning politicians, you know, to keep their cows in, or something of the sort.  Or they’d been built and the teacher had never been appointed or the teacher was drawing the salary, you know, because he was the cousin of the politician and, you know, et cetera, et cetera. 

I mean, once again, you’re dealing here with the deeply ingrained factors obstructing aspects of development.  But on the water side, of course, I’m slightly more opti – well, no, I mean, put it this way:  I could see how it could be done, all the obstacles notwithstanding.  And what gives me some optimism there if, you know, the funds can be provided and structures can be put in place, is two things from Pakistani history.  The first is the fact that in the years after independence, the Pakistani state had a really remarkable and striking success in extending the water infrastructure that it had inherited from the British. 

Now, of course, Pakistan today is a different state.  The idealism of the initial years has run out.  The civil service, unfortunately, has deteriorated.  But nonetheless, I mean, it does show that there isn’t some, you know, innate obstacle to a state-led program radically to improve the water infrastructure.  When it comes to water use, I mean, this will be very, very difficult.  And my god, I saw, when traveling around the country, enough dreadful examples of the waste of water. 

But on the other hand, a large part of the Pakistani rural population – and not just the big landowners, but middling and even fairly small farmers, as well, did, after all, take very, very well to the Green Revolution.  Now, maybe they took to it too well, you know, in terms of use of water, overuse of fertilizers and so forth. 

But they certainly didn’t just sit there saying, ooh, this is new.  What?  Fertilizer in a bag?  No, no, no, we’re not going to have anything to do with this.  Let’s throw it into the river.  No, you know, they saw an opportunity; they took it.  It does seem, to me, possible, therefore – only possible, in principle – that one might be able to put in place, especially, of course, as the water visibly runs out in front of their eyes, to put in place a set of incentives and so on which will lead to the better use of water and water conservation – something which, after all, does have deep, ancient cultural roots in much of this society, you know, in terms of – you know, it’s not an alien idea.  Very, very difficult, but not, in my view, impossible. 

And as I say, this is what I would dump – both because you know, it’s so critical and because it provides visible benefits for large numbers of people and because it employs large numbers of people – it is very labor-intensive, working on water infrastructure – this is where I would be directing much of Western aid. 

And incidentally, I do have to also say, and here, we are talking about a long-term issue, as far as Pakistan is concerned, but also India and the region, in terms o the long-term consequences of Pakistani collapse, which, once again, dwarfs what happens in Afghanistan.  I would not make aid of this kind to Pakistan dependent on what happens in Afghanistan.  I would give the stuff anyway.  One reason for that is – now, I’m speaking, here, as a historian, but you know, hell, that’s why we distinguish between statesmen and politicians. 

A statesman, in my view, is somebody who can look 100 years into the future and see that Pakistan will be gravely endangered as a society and, unless there is some miracle or Pakistan has collapsed already for other reasons, Pakistan will still have nuclear weapons.  And 100 years from now, therefore, what happens to Pakistan will still have some capacity to pose a really radical threat to the United States – 100 years from now, you know.  I mean, this goes beyond what happens in Kandahar in the next six months.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.  Okay, we’ll open it up.  So let’s go here and then right behind – Bob?

Q:  Thank you.  I’m Robert Bauds (ph).  I teach at the National Defense University, which is located here.  Thank you for some really provocative comments, but I must confess, I think I’m less optimistic than you are, water notwithstanding.  Without going into too much detail, I’ve seen two trends in Pakistan which I think could be very dangerous. 

One is that, kind of, the center of gravity, if you will, of the political culture is moving slowly, but maybe inexorably, in a more hard-line, more sort of radical, Islamist direction, number one.  And number two, it seems to me that there are certain elements within the political establishment, going from the Jamaat, maybe the PMLN and certain elements within the growing bourgeoisie, who are ideologically sympathetic to and who actually patronize religious militants. 

And what I am worried about is that even though the military seems to have mobilized itself against insurgents in the tribal areas, that before they know it, the insurgent elements or radical elements will have, sort of, metastasized through Pakistan.  Southern people now talk about southern Punjab and so forth. 

And I’m not sure when exactly, but in the not too distant future, you could have a situation like Algeria, that is not a revolution, but it pits the military against well-entrenched militant organizations inside the country, whether they’re in the mountain areas or in the urban areas, and that poor Pakistan would have to go through, kind of, what Algeria did – this horrible bloodletting for years – before they could really stamp it out. 

But I see right now – I mean, you mentioned yourself that the military was very slow in responding to a growing problem when it was on the border, but now I think it’s my perception it’s sort of spreading through the heart of the country, as well.  I mean, how would you react to that?

MR. LIEVEN:  Well, there’s always been – I mean, first, I don’t, I must say, see the center of gravity shifting towards more radical Islamism.  I mean, the PMLN has always presented itself as an Islamist party.  But equally, I mean, by its very internal nature, it is not a revolutionary party.  It is also backed by the industrial classes in Punjab, who are, in turn, extremely well-aware of what would happen to them and their businesses if there were a categorical break with the United States and the West.

In terms of pursuing, shall we say, an extremely ambiguous attitude towards extremist groups, well, here, you can sort of break it down in different ways.  First, as far as groups acting against India is concerned, yes, they have enormous sympathy throughout at least Punjabi society, probably other areas, as well.  Nobody wants to abolish them or crack down on them.  The military wants to keep them on the shelf. 

The military is willing to rein them in.  We can see that, you know – and prevent them from taking action.  But nobody is willing to actually go out and crush or abolish Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jamaat-ud-Dawa (sp), and so forth.  Keep them on the shelf.  Oh, and incidentally, they’re also not at all willing to prevent their activists going to fight in Afghanistan against us. 

However, terrorism against the West – here, I think, it is also worth remember that you know, I’ve said that we won’t be in Afghanistan forever, whereas Pakistan will be around there, as will Russia and China and India and so forth – it’s also worth remembering we won’t be in Afghanistan, but we will be in Washington, London, et cetera, et cetera.  In other words, let’s remember that we didn’t get into Afghanistan for any other reason, initially, than that Afghanistan had been the base for an attack on the United States.

From the point of view of the safety of American citizens, what matters first and foremost is that the Pakistani state continue to cooperate against terrorism against us, against this country.  That, they have done by no means perfectly, but nonetheless, according to British intelligence, at least, very well and pretty sincerely so far.  So that’s the second thing.  The third thing is the history of sectarian terrorism within Pakistan.  This has been a very, very mixed picture. 

The PLMN, as, on occasions, previously, bits of it are now seeking, at the very least, détente and coexistence with Sipah-e-Sahaba, you know, appearing beside them.  Equally, some of the most savage crackdowns on Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in the past have been conducted by PLMN governments, while the PPP, on occasions while in power, has sought to buy these people off and live with them, and so forth.

You see, well, two things here.  One of the working titles of my book, but it sounded much too academic for Penguin, was “Pakistan:  The Negotiated State.”  And I’ll give you the sort of classic example of this.  A general who was in charge of anti-bandit, anti-dacoit operations in Sindh told me a little story about when he was down there some considerable time ago, now.  And incidentally, I was actually present, listening to one end of a telephone conversation along very similar lines last year.

And he described to me how one of his major generals had identified the base of a considerable dacoit group on the estate of a major landowner in Sindh, who happened, not coincidentally, to be a member of parliament for the then-ruling party.  The major general wanted to go in guns blazing, get these people and so forth, and so on.  The lieutenant general said, no, no, wouldn’t do it that way. 

I mean, it’s not going to do any good.  The government will force you to let them go anyway.  Let’s do it my way.  Flew in by helicopter, had launch with the sardar in question.  Very convivial, a couple of fairly heavy hints were dropped.  Anyway, left a note for the sardar saying, sardar sabah (sp), you know, I’d be very, very grateful if you could oblige me in this matter. 

A couple of days later, four of the dacoits were handed over by this man with a note in response:  General Sabah, it was so nice to see you the other day.  As to these boys, you can shoot two of them.  The other two, I would be greatly obliged if you would put before the courts.  And the implication is, you can go beat the shit out of them – forgive me – along the way, and then they’ll ultimately be released.  But you can shoot two of them.  And I said, did he say which two?  And he said, yes, yes, he said which two.  You know, they’d obviously offended him in some way or whatever, whatever.  Negotiation, he said. 

This is how it works.  In other words, you know, the idea that you’re going to get a blanket crackdown on Islamist groups in Pakistan is not going to happen.  Equally, just because you don’t have a blanket crackdown doesn’t mean that, you know, action isn’t being taken to restrict them.  Now, as for the possibility of a wider insurgency, the danger is there.  And I should have said, I don’t discount that altogether.

And also, I must say, we do have to see what legacy the floods leave behind.  I’m going back there in the winter.  I don’t want to rush in there because – forgive me while I turn this off – but on that score, I must also point out, you know, there’s been a lot of apocalyptic writing about the impact of the floods, as well. 

How many times has Bangladesh suffered natural catastrophes on an even large scale over the decades and yet, these have had, it would seem, almost no effect on Bangladesh’s society, political order, political parties, system of government at all?  There is an extraordinary level of resilience, I find, often, in these societies.  Now, maybe not; you could be right.  Perhaps this is going to lead to the spread of really revolutionary and insurgent feeling through the countryside, maybe. 

But you know, I don’t actually see, as yet, you know, really clear evidence that this is happening.  But you know, god forbid, you may be right.  We’ll have to see, you know.  But it hasn’t happened yet, remember, and we’re not nine years since 9/11.  And you know, Pakistan’s been around, now, for 60 years, 63.

MR. NAWAZ:  Well, there was a question, as we move to the next question – but there was the issue of the cyclone in 1970 that certainly began the process of the dismemberment of Pakistan.

MR. LIEVEN:  Mm-hmm, but I have to say on that score – please don’t take offense – but looking historically, I cannot see how a country configured like that could have survived in the long run anyway.  You know, Pakistan today is a much greater natural ethnic, historical – you know?

MR. NAWAZ:  Please introduce yourself, sir.  It’s on.

Q:  (Inaudible, off mike) – the Eliot School.  Just a comment.  I mean, I’ve been going back to Pakistan every year, because my family’s still there, for the past 16 years, and there is a sense of victimization of the general population that the West and the army and the politicians.  And it has turned into just, sort of, complaining about it to a seething anger.  And that anger, in an urbanized country, could lead to, sort of, a cascading effect that nobody, I think, can predict. 

And then – that was just a comment and then, you know, the issue of water is very much related to availability of food.  It’s related to the quality of the land, energy.  Transportation is linked to that because of urban-rural migration patterns.  So these things are interlinked.  And I think generally, institutions in the West, as well as in Pakistan, are established to deal with single problems.  And these are a multitude of problems, and you never know which one could, you know – combination of these could cause the state to fail.  So my first question is, do you think that’s a valid argument/discussion, and what could be done about it? 

The second question is, with army controlling most of the resources and basically oriented for a physical fight, do you see that they sense this mid-to-long-term threat to Pakistan, and if they’re willing to do something about that?  Thank you very much.

MR. LIEVEN:  Yeah.  Well, on the first point, you know, to some extent, I’m arguing against apocalyptic lines and perhaps I exaggerate a little for effect.  Yes, there is the possibility along the lines that you describe.  Getting this together to the point where it could actually overthrow the state, you know, as opposed to spontaneous, sporadic local eruptions of anger would, nonetheless, in my view, be very difficult, in terms of organization leadership. 

But the possibility is there.  And certainly, I mean, once again, that’s another reason for America to be careful in its policy because one could easily see how an American action could spark this kind of eruption of mass anger.  On the – sorry?

Q: The issues of water –

MR. LIEVEN:  Oh, yes.  Well, you’re quite right, of course.  It is hideously entangled.  But nonetheless, you know, there are a lot of good ideas out there for where to begin, in terms of cutting down on the wastage, relining the canals, relaying the pipes, you know, so that they leak less, spreading drip feed.  I mean, it’s a slow process, but least technically, the answers are available. 

Getting them through, of course, once again, given the nature of the state, the weakness of the state, will be hard.  As far as the army is concerned, well, you know, that brings one to one of the sort of fundamental paradoxes about Pakistan and the army, which is, many people said to me, within Pakistan, the army is either too weak or it’s too strong. 

It’s too strong because it keeps intervening and overthrowing governments and preventing the politicians developing a real sense of responsibility and so forth and so on, although, you know, for the moment, I mean, you know, they’re concentrating on the fight against the TTP and the others, and they’re not actually threatening to overthrow the government, for the moment. 

And indeed, the other thing is, there has been a certain change of consciousness in the political parties, or at least, in the PLMN, because of course, they don’t want to come to power on the shoulders of the army.  They are actually waiting.  They also don’t want to take responsibility for this existing disaster, of course.  So it’s not the thing of the 1990s, where the party in opposition was, you know, desperately, constantly trying to seize power again, in league with the army.

But on the other hand, you know, you often hear that the army is also too weak.  When it takes power, it doesn’t, even under Zia, introduce a really tough dictatorship.  It doesn’t make plans for really long-term development.  It doesn’t, in fact, function, in other words, as the Turkish army under Ataturk and his successors, and that comes partly down, once again, to the nature of the country.  For that, it’s not a question of just men with guns; it’s also a question of an army backed by a nationalist movement, a nationalist consciousness.  And that can’t exist in a country like Pakistan because after all, it isn’t a nation.  It’s something else, whatever it is.  So you know, no, unfortunately, I don’t see that.

Sorry, this is all very politically incorrect, but what the hell.  A Pakistani businessman  – because I was talking about the Fauji Foundation – you know, the military-industrial thing.  And I asked him, you know, one of the arguments that’s been made about the Fauji Foundation is that it distorts the free market and it’s unfair to business.  And he said, no, we don’t really worry about that.  It’s, you know, them competing with us. 

They’re not big enough, really, to distort the market.  ON the contrary, he said, what would be really good is if, instead of retired soldiers becoming the head of the Fauji Foundation, it should be absolute qualification – a criterion for every person who’s going to become chief of staff – that he should have served as the head of the Fauji Foundation.  Because then, he said, the next time we have a military government, at least we’ll be economically literate.  Sorry.  (Chuckles.)

MR. NAWAZ:  Ambassador Milam.

Q:  Bill Milam from the Wilson Center.  I want to go back, if I may, to your comparison with Bangladesh.  And this, perhaps, follows up a little bit on the questions of the gentleman who sat here a minute ago.  I’ve lived in both countries.  I was in Bangladesh when it had one of its worst natural disasters, when somewhere between 65,000 and 130,000 people died in a tidal surge of some proportion. 

The distinction I would draw to your attention is, these things pull Bangladeshis together, which is unusual, because it’s a very fractious kind of society, though homogenous.  And it’s strange that it is so fractious, in one sense.  But on the other hand, when something really bad happens, they do pull together. 

Now in the floods that have just happened in Pakistan, the stories are not of people pulling together, but of people pulling apart.  And I just wonder if – you know, I’ve seen some reporting about some of the – (inaudible, background noise) – opening dikes the wrong way, flooding other people’s property.  I don’t know how accurate that is.  But I just wonder if these floods don’t increase the odds, not necessarily to really high or even over 50 percent, but are not the odds of some sort of social-political dissolution made more likely by the floods?  It’s my black swan theory coming back to haunt. 

The other question I want to ask while I’ve got the microphone is that if there was some sort of pulling apart of the country by province, we saw what happened in 1971, when east Pakistan tried to pull away.  And by the way, I don’t agree with Shuja.  I think the dissolution of what we call united Pakistan started in 1951, not 1969.  But whatever.  Would the army not react in the same way by trying to crush some sort of separatism in these provinces?  And isn’t that an apocalyptic outcome, too? 

MR. LIEVEN:  On the first point, sir, you’re entirely right, of course, and what I should have said was that if, as is, after all – you know, once again, as the World Bank reports suggests – I mean, they were talking about the medium term, but hell, maybe we’re in the medium term already – if these floods become a regular occurrence, then yes, I think they do have the capacity, you know, before even the terrible droughts set in, to destroy the country, possibly not in terms of a sudden apocalypse, but in terms of what you were referring to – the exacerbation of every kind of local strain and conflict, to the point where, in a way, organized society begins to unravel.

I mean, I’ve just been reading a book about the great Arab conquests, and the striking thing is that before they arrived – and this, indeed, enabled the Arab conquests to take place with such extraordinary speed – local Roman and Byzantine society had, to a considerable extent, unraveled.  You know, the countryside was depopulated; the towns were collapsing, you know, because of the collapse of – well, anyway, you see what I mean.  A longer process, but yes, I think that’s very true.

In terms of the disintegration of the country along provincial lines, well, you see there, I would see this as probably only being possible if the army itself had already broken up.  And then you’re in circumstances, of course, of episodes of savage repression, but also, full-scale civil war.  The possibility of a Bangladeshi-style, savage crackdown, as long as the army remains coherent, well, once again, I mean, before you get to that point, say in Sindh, which appears to be the most likely  candidate, you know, you have de facto civil war between the Sindhis and the Muhajirs. 

At that point, the army appears not as the sort of savage, you know, persecutor of society as a whole, but as the savior, in many ways.  You know, and you have moderate Muhajirs and Sindhis saying for god’s sake, please come in and save us, you know.  And then they don’t need to massacre large numbers of people, you know.  They restore order.  Elsewhere, well, I mean, remember, most of Pakistan is Punjab, and that’s why what you said, sir, about the possibility of an insurgency in Punjab is ultimately the death blow, if it happens. 

And what one has to be worried about elsewhere, it’s mostly the army retains the capacity, in the end, to defeat local insurgency, as its proved in the Pashtun areas.  But also, of course, well, a friend was telling me a story about his uncle, who is an ANP friend, actually.  He was saying, you know, we still talk about, you know, the “Pashtunistan” and so on, but actually, nobody in their senses wants to join Afghanistan for god’s sake.  And he described this uncle of his who, in private, had been describing the Afghans as savages and, you know, we don’t want anything to do with them.

But uncle, how can you say this?  You know, you’re an ANP man all these years; you’ve been saying our Afghan brothers.  Oh, forget that.  That’s just to frighten the Punjabis so that they don’t beat us up, you know.  And it’s a bit the same in Baluchistan, as well.  Describing my book, visiting this guy who talked this tremendous Baluch nationalist line, ferocious Baluch nationalist line, he turned out to have just reaccepted a position as one of the directors of Pakistani Petroleum. 

You know, the Baluch provincial assembly is, of course, dominated by parties calling themselves nationalists.  Sixty-two (62) out of the 65 members are ministers, at least to the last of my count, are ministers without portfolio or advisors without ministerial rank.  Why?  Well, without wishing to impugn any of their motives, I would suggest that it may not be totally unconnected with the fact that each of them gets a 50 million rupee personal development grant for their districts, you know. 

It’s frankly, it’s basically the old British “subsidize the tribes” line, except we handed out bags of gold and Pakistan hands out – but the point is, do these people really want to give up their personal development grants in order to join a full-scale insurgency which would turn Baluchistan into Somalia?

I have to say, as well, that the three who are not, at least the last time I counted, the last time I was there, the three who are not members of the government, it’s not out of principle.  It’s the fact that two of them are dead, which is an obstacle to being in government even in Baluchistan.  And the third has a blood feud with the chief minister who has threatened personally to shoot him if he sees him, which would enliven the cabinet meetings.  So you see, you don’t want to believe everything these –

MR. NAWAZ:  I can see that being a real problem.  Maybe the working title of your book should have been, “A Pragmatic State.” 

MR. LIEVEN:  A pragmatic state – eminently pragmatic.

MR. NAWAZ:  And Bill, on your point, I think if you’re looking for the cause of the dissolution of Pakistan, one probably needs to go back to 1947, rather than ’51.  It’s the proximate cause that we were looking to at the time.  Let me just come on this side of the aisle and then I’ll come back there.  So Dan?

Q:  Great.  Dan Markey at the Council on Foreign Relations.  What I really like about your argument is this plea to understand sort of the sub-structure of Pakistani society as both repressive and stabilizing at the same time.  And I think it points out a reality that I think many people who are working on Pakistan, thinking about Pakistan miss because they’re too busy looking at that thin film of formal structures at the top – institutional structures, and so on, with the exception of the army, which, as you point out, has some deeper roots to it in terms of power and influence.

But I wonder if, maybe, you’ve thought about whether – you’ve just done an outstanding job of describing and explaining the stability of Pakistan’s past, but you may not be describing the Pakistan of the future, not just for some of the reasons that have already been pointed out – demographics, floods, climate – but the youth of Pakistan, who may not be as tied into the same repressive social/political/economic structures as the past, the thing that we generally put under the category of globalization, which includes technology change, communication, opportunities for organizing and mobilizing political dissent that simply weren’t available in Pakistan’s relatively recent past, and which can give rise to social movements that can be either fracturing or uniting, depending. 

I just wonder how you think about what is new under the sun.  I mean, you referred to yourself, at one point, as a historian, and I think you’ve come up with a really very impressive and important way of thinking about Pakistan’s past.  But now if you take off your historian cap and look into the future, what are some of the things you think might unravel that we haven’t talked about yet?

MR. LIEVEN:  Yeah.  Well, I have to say, on that score, please forgive me if I make a little plea.  Does anyone here have a million dollars to spend?  Because what I’ve found, in writing this book – and that’s, you know, an excellent question – but what I’ve found is, we are very, very poorly placed to begin to answer these questions.  And that is because the basic sociological research that would enable us to begin to draw even serious provisional conclusions has not been done.

If you look at, you know, the sociological/anthropological literature on Pakistan, it’s, of course, very extensive for the Pashtuns, although much of it quite outdated by now.  It’s pretty substantial, as far as Karachi is concerned.  As far as the rest of the country is concerned, it is, to a great extent, an enormous void.  To give one example, I mean, critical, of course, it is the question of whether urbanization and the growing youth of the population is changing religious patterns. 

Are these people, as most of the sort of standard models would suggest, some anecdotal evidence suggest, becoming less Barelvi and more Deobandi, and more extreme Deobandi, you know, and so forth and so on, or in fact, are they to a great extent, though they’ve moved to the towns, still preserving the religious patterns of the countryside, in terms of allegiances to shrines and so forth?  Well, there’s also anecdotal evidence for that.  What’s the truth?  We don’t know!  Nobody’s done the research.  I mean, think about it! 

But not just on that; there isn’t a single study – not a single study of a single town in Punjab – not one.  There’s not a single academic study of a Pakistani political party – the mainstream parties, though something’s been done on the MQM, and so forth – not one.  So I’m very, very sensitive to that question.  You’re absolutely right.  And I should leave open, quite right, the possibility that this will change fundamentally.  But I don’t think that anyone is in a position, actually, to say very much.  That’s why I say I need a million pounds so that, you know, I can hire teams of –

MR. NAWAZ:  I thought you said dollars?

MR. LIEVEN:  Oh yeah, well perhaps I could re-write the check after you’ve signed it.  (Laughter.)  No, I need a team of researchers – trained researchers, Pakistanis, you know, organized – to go out and actually start asking these questions and producing these deep studies and not, once again – I mean, you know, all the money is going to research in FATA.  Now, yes, that’s fair enough, but I mean, A, I’m extremely skeptical about some of the results that come out because, you know, doing the research on the ground there – meanwhile, as you said, if Pakistan is destroyed, it will be destroyed from Punjab, not from – I mean, something that happens in FATA could be the precipitant, but you know.

And we have very, very little clear idea, actually, about what’s happening in Punjab.  You might be entirely right, all the patterns that I’ve described are shifting and disappearing.  But of course, it’s also true that all these youths need a vehicle.  They need something to move into.  And the Jamaat, as I’ve said – I had a wonderful experience.  I went to Faisalabad – actually, I went to Faisalabad specifically to look into this – big industrial capital, huge youth worker population.  And when I was there, in a really angry mood because of power cuts and so forth.  And you know, there were some riots and bus burnings and so forth. 

Well, I went to see the Jamaat there, because I thought here, if anywhere, you’ll have a Jamaat-led working-class organization that could actually aim at revolution on the streets.  And I went to see the naib amir (sp) of the Jamaat and I asked him about working-class mobilization.  And I’m paraphrasing, but he basically said, oh, you know, these people, they’re so uneducated and I mean, they drink all the time and there’s no good talking to them because they can’t understand what we say. 

They can’t read, you know, Maududi and read the Quran, and so forth.  And basically, it would mean getting our hands dirty, dealing with these people, so you know, I mean, we’ll stick to the middle classes, thank you very much.  So I thought probably not Lenin in 1917, you know.  So the question is, you know, where do they go?  Who organizes them?  Who mobilizes them?  And is there the possibility of the generation of a movement like that, which will place its cadres all over the place and act like the Bolsheviks or the people in the Iranian revolution and lead them to victory? 

Well, I would say that if you forced me to put a name on who could do that, it would be Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which gives me, of course, more sympathy with Pakistani soldiers and officials and intelligence officers and policemen who say, crack down on Jamaat-ud-Dawa; you must be mad!  You know, we want to keep them as close to us as we possibly can to prevent them from joining the Taliban and, yes, spreading insurgency and revolution across Punjab.  Oh and by the way, you know, we’ll stop them most of the time from attacking India and we promise we’ll stop them attacking you at home. 

But if you’re trying to persuade us to stop them – anybody from them going to fight in Afghanistan, I’m really sorry, but we can’t do it.  And what’s more, we shouldn’t do it.  You don’t want a revolution in Punjab, you know?  It’s not in your interest, either.  So let’s sort of keep them – I mean, I know that’s a very unpopular argument in this town, but if you’ve spent some time there in Punjab, precisely because you’re quite right – I mean, it’s not a wholly absent threat.  And well, at the very least, they could vastly intensify, you know, terrorist activity in Punjab.

Q:  Stanley Kober with the Cato Institute.  Back to the army.  One of the things that concerns me is what appears to be infiltration – all these attacks that are occurring inside the army cantonments – and you’re nodding; you know what I’m talking about – one after another, a recent one in Peshawar.  Either security has gotten really bad or they’re getting inside help.  And it’s so widespread.  And that’s – you know, if you could say a few words about that, because if they are that infiltrated, you wonder, you know, about the state of the army. 

MR. LIEVEN:  Yes, I mean, they are infiltrated.  It seems to me that on the record so far, it’s fairly low-level, you know.  And after all, when ordered to do so, the army did fight in Swat very hard, and it is fighting in Waziristan.  But in terms of yes, I mean, individuals and small groups, it’s a permanent threat. 

And I mean, undoubtedly, the – well, you know, I described the nightmare scenario of the U.S. moving into FATA and the army mutiny.  And of course, what lies in the background there is simply that the army as a whole shares the basic attitude of the population.  And the basic attitude of the population is deeply hostile to the United States, I’m sorry to say, and regards the occupation – I’m sorry, regards as an occupation the Western military presence in Afghanistan. 

And that is as general in the army as it is in the great mass of the population.  I mean, all of this being summed up in one, I mean, horrifying fact, which I can assure you is a fact, which is that the overwhelming majority of the population, educated and uneducated – and actually, of all ethnic groups – is absolutely genuinely convinced that 9/11 was a plot by the CIA, Mossad or both. 

And you know, I mean, to be fair – do understand, I mean, I regard this as poisonous insanity – but equally, if any of us believed this, well, of course, we wouldn’t support the campaign in Afghanistan or the whatever, because clearly, it would be – and that all this was done – I mean, the attack on 9/11 was done in order to justify American invasion of Afghanistan and domination of the Muslim world. 

Well, clearly, if you have a whole population which believes this, it’s hardly surprising that there’s so little support for cooperation with the Americans.  But I mean, equally, as I say, you are a long step from that to a full-scale mutiny, which would destroy the army, which they can see would destroy the army and the country.  It would take something, I think really, really – as they would see it, a blow to their honor to get them to do that on a large scale.  At least, I pray that, that’s the case. 

The only other thing, though, of course – I mean, sorry, but there is one possibility, yes, which one should talk about.  And that is that if there were a mass movement on the streets – a really, really mass movement on the streets in Punjab, especially in northern Punjab, the other moment at which the army would collapse is if the order were given to fire into the crowds.  The soldiers will not do it, I think. 

But the point is, the army is well aware of that.  That’s why whenever the real serious trouble spreads to northern Punjab, you see a change of government coming very, very quickly, including a military government, by the way, because they are really afraid of that Petersburg 1917.  You know, the soldiers are ordered to open fire and they see their grandmother on the other side and the rifles begin to waver up and down and then they ground them.  But I think the point is that, you know, before you got to that point, the generals would back down in one way or another, precisely because they would not wish to push the soldiers that far.

MR. NAWAZ:  That’s what happened in 1977, when three brigadiers refused to follow the orders and it created a crisis in GHQ and the only solution was to go – (inaudible).  We have a question at the back there.

Q:  Thanks, Moeed Yusuf, USIP.  Sorry, I was late, but I’m sure you won’t have talked about this.  I still haven’t heard anybody mention it, so I will.  I am one who, frankly, clutches at straws to bring some optimism on Pakistan, if there is any.  But one thing that troubles me more than any other about looking into the future – and Dan sort of brought this up – I’ve recently written a chapter on youth in Pakistan. 

And one of the things that come out of the recent surveys, however credible they are, consistently show, is that about 70 to 75 percent are tired of what is happening and want positive change immediately.  About 80 percent are sure that this current, sort of, lot of politicians cannot bring about that change.  And 86 percent say, in the latest survey that I saw – and it was quite a good one – that we want nothing to do with politics.  Politics is dirty business; we don’t want to be part of this. 

So the question, then, is, where is this change going to come from?  And to me, this is the single biggest danger, politics having been made a curse word in Pakistan.  And if you’re going to get the scum to lead you and then hope they’re going to become angels, you’re in trouble.  And that’s what it’s showing.  So I just wanted to sort of throw that out and see if you had a reaction.

MR. LIEVEN:  Yes.  I mean, the thing is, though, that the attitude to politics is very complicated, isn’t it, partly because politics is patronage, to a great extent, and patronage is politics.  So you have, very often, this phenomenon of – I always remember a taxi driver I interviewed in Rawalpindi who was cursing the politicians exactly along these lines, but he turned out to be a regular driver for one of the local politicians, who was part of his baradari, and who was circulating just a bit of patronage down from –that he extracted from the state down towards this very junior member of his baradari, so that even he was in politics, you know, in politics. 

And you know, he was getting paid to drive people during elections, to ferry people to the polls, to act as a sort of messenger, and so forth and so on.  So as I say, I mean, of course, yes, the sentiment there among youth – it’s all there, but I mean, the question is, who is going to mobilize it and lead it in what direction?  And maybe that will happen, but maybe it won’t.  There are extensive parts of the world where, actually, nothing much happens on that, you know? 

Or rather, it happens in terms of this spontaneous bus burning and local protests.  But no, I mean, certainly, I mean, the absolute – on one level, the disillusionment with politics – though of course, the funny thing there is that, you know, I mean, so many of the politicians, at least with any scrap of idealism left, are also completely, in a way, cynical about themselves.  I mean, everybody is cynical and pissed off, but they don’t know what to do about it.  And well, yeah, I mean, the sad thing, of course, is, as I’ve said, that is also the apathy and divisions and so forth and so on are also the basis of whatever stability exists in the country, to a considerable extent.  That’s the sad thing.

MR. NAWAZ:  The problem, also, is quite clearly that the politicians that are in power are not willing to invest in their own system or in the country.  I was showing Anatol, as we came in, this report from The Express Tribune of today, wherein they examined the assets of all the people in government. 

And according to this report, it says Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, Awami National Party Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Interior Minister Rehman Malik are some of those who did not pay a single penny in income tax in the period 2004-2007.  And then they go into other details as to why these people felt they didn’t.  And the presidential spokesman says that under the law, the president is not supposed to share his tax information, so you don’t need to know.

MR. LIEVEN:  (Chuckles.)  In fact, it’s les magister (sp) even to ask for it.

MR. NAWAZ:  Yes, so there is a kind of a lack of – (audio break) – on the part of the political leadership in their own system, which leads me to believe that maybe there’s going to be a steady decline, rather than the apocalyptic that people are fearing for Pakistan.  Maybe you could end on that?

MR. LIEVEN:  Yes, there is a very interesting twist to this, in terms of reinvesting in the system, which could be due to the fact that Pakistan – I don’t know how many of you know what I mean by the Gini coefficient of measuring social inequality – Pakistan’s is remarkably low, compared to the U.S., but also compared to India and various places.  Now, why is that? 

Well, I’ve developed a theory, on which I very much value comments, which I’ve set out in the book – and it’s only a theory, you know – very difficult to know how to work this into something more sophisticated – which is that in this world outside the sort of metropolises of America, Western Europe, Japan and increasingly, China, if you want to make a lot of money, you need to have something that the metropolises want to buy, that you can actually sell to the metropolises.

Now, that can be, as in Russia, stuff you take out of the ground, or in the gulf; it can be, as in Colombia and, to an extent, Afghanistan, something that you grow and that the West is prepared to buy; or if you’re really lucky and dynamic, as in China in the past, India to a degree, South Korea, of course, it can be something you make.  The point is that the people with lots of – well, bloody obvious, isn’t it – the people with lots of money have to be willing to buy it. 

Now, if you don’t have any of these things, how do you get rich or relatively rich, in a system?  Well, it seems to me you get rich from the way that you always got rich, to a great extent, which is that you milk the state.  It’s tax farming.  The state raises the revenue and the elites then extract it, which is, to a great extent, what happens in Pakistan. 

I mean, again and again, if you look at the biographies of local politicians, very often, you know, they’re called fuedals, but they turn out, actually, to be relatively new families, but behaving, of course, in a feudal way.  But they are relatively new.  And almost as a general rule, the real breakthrough has been, you know, they’ve made a certain amount of money locally through business and so forth, but the real breakthrough is when they get into politics, get into government and steal large amounts of money. 

But there seems, to me, a very interested aspect of this, which is that in Pakistan, in order to get into politics and government, you do have to have followers.  You know, you have to have enough followers to get you elected, to fight for you, occasionally, to defend you.  You need a bloc of followers.  And that’s true, after all – and every military government has also ended up compromising with the political forces, because the military – you know, the state is weak; the military is weak. 

Now, how do you keep your – and this starts, usually, with a kinship group and then it extends into a faction – how do you hold that together?  Through patronage.  In other words, what you extract from the state, some reasonable proportion of it, I mean, until you get to the really stop – not mentioning any names – and can steal enormous amounts, simply transfer it into estates in England, or whatever – but until then, a lot of what you get from the state, you have to redistribute to your followers because otherwise, they won’t follow you anymore. 

This also, of course, is closer, really, to the nature of kinship in Pakistan, as in much of India – not autocratic kinship groups.  There’s always a cousin waiting in the wings of the leadership if they feel that you have failed them.  And so you hear, again – I mean you ask people, you know, why did you vote for so-and-so?  Well, because you know, he’s part of my baradari; he’s – (inaudible) – and respect, and because he’s done things for us and promised to do things for us. 

So you know, because he’s of your baradari.  If he shows us respect and gives us certain things; if not, there are other chieftains of the – (inaudible) – we could fight for, you see?  And that doesn’t get down to anywhere near the huge mass of the population, but it does spread, you know, fairly far.  And it is integral to the nature of the system that it should do so, is the interesting thing.  It’s not a matter of altruism.  It’s a matter of actually continuing to get access to the cow. 

So the thing is, you know, that oddly enough, so many of these Pakistani politicians are – I mean, they’re grotesquely rich by the standards of Pakistan, but they are not actually grotesquely rich by international standards.  And one of the reasons – well, one of the reasons is the money.  And just another of the reasons is you know, it has to be recycled.  The other thing is that, you know – I can end on a really correct note – in terms of aid to Pakistan, Pakistan is not the poorest country in the world by any manner or means. 

If what you want to do is to relieve poverty, then America should be giving to Africa, not to Pakistan.  Is it – (inaudible)?  Well, no, I mean, that’s pointless.  Is it by limited cooperation?  Yes, but then it’s a question of how far you can reasonably expect the cooperation to go and what kind of cooperation is the most important.  I would say that in the end, yes, I mean, of course we need to get as much help as we can on Afghanistan as possible, but have to recognize the limits – (audio break). 

One thing, which, for me, would be killer, is if the Pakistani state ceased to give serious cooperation against terrorism, against, you know, people coming here to commit – (audio break).  I mean, if the state fails to do that, it cannot be regarded, in any way, as an ally or cooperative.  But you see, the other point is – this is why I stress, you know, Pakistan is a vital interest – if the point is to hold Pakistan together as a – (audio break) – nice if at least some of this aid was spent on development.  I think some of it is, you know.

There are – (audio break) – in place to make sure that more of it is.  We should be asking the Chinese about this, by the way.  They have some – (audio break) – ways of doing this.  But if not, financially supporting the existing, relatively pragmatic elites – I wouldn’t describe it as the second best, but it isn’t an absolutely bad third-best, if you see what I mean.  Because we do have to – you know, I worry that we get so tangled up in our own rhetoric and hypocrisy.  You know, in the end, we’re giving this money for geopolitical reasons. 

We should therefore think seriously about the reasons and what we’re hoping to achieve.  And if, as I say, Pakistan does things which just clearly make it clear that we have no serious stake left in this country, then sure, cut it all off.  I mean, I’m entirely for that.  But otherwise, you know, let’s think seriously about our geopolitical goals and not obsess continuously about whether every cent, or even six out of 10 cents, are going to be spent according to the standards of Chicago.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you very much, Anatol.  Obviously, as the author of “Pakistan:  A Hard Country,” you’ve clearly shown that there are no easy answers.  But you’ve given us a lot to think about, and so on behalf of my colleagues at the Atlantic Council and on behalf of this group that has taken the time to join us, thank you very much.  (Applause.)


Second Annual Members’ Conference – Afghanistan Beyond 2011: How do we get it right?

Summary of the breakout conversation “Afghanistan Beyond 2011: How do we get it right?” at the 2010 Annual Members’ Conference.


Clare Lockhart, Co-Founder and CEO, Institute for State Effectiveness
John Tien, Senior Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, National Security Staff, Executive Office of the President, the White House
Moderated by Shuja Nawaz, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council


This discussion focused on the U.S. and NATO strategy in Afghanistan and what steps need to be taken by international forces and by the Afghan Government in achieving success – a stable Afghanistan. While opinions vary on many aspects of the conflict in Afghanistan, a consensus does seem to exist that the solution to “getting it right” cannot consist purely of military force. 

How does Afghanistan, under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, get it right?  In addition to building credible security forces, it will be essential to achieve political order – reaching agreement on the rules of the game and respecting the Constitution and consensus among social groups, internally, regionally, and globally, by addressing their real concerns.  In addition, the government will need to determine how basic services to the Afghans, particularly in rural areas, can be delivered.  Economic self-sufficiency will also drive Afghanistan towards stability and a framework for governance will be essential.  That would include developing a framework of governance for the mineral wealth that the country sits on, looking beyond Karzai (who will be his successor?), and determining how other leading figures in Afghanistan, such as Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Amrullah Saleh, who have weight and talent, can come together and form a team.  

It will also be important for the Afghan Government to determine how to devolve responsibility.  Which function will be performed at what level?  What is the capability of the Afghan civil service?  (How many professional exist right now and what is needed?)  What are the needs within the education system?  (Currently there is only $35 million allocated for education in all of Afghanistan.) 

The U.S. Government faces an increasingly skeptical Congress and domestic public, and continues to seek an end state that involves reduced manpower and resources from the United States.  While many similarities exist between Afghanistan and Iraq, including the leadership of General Patraeus earlier this year, the challenge has been difficult in Afghanistan, with global security forces facing resistance from President Karzai. The U.S. will not back off, but will need to be realistic. In addition, Europe’s perception of the war, which differs from the US, is also an important consideration for the success of short and long term efforts in the country and region.

-Summary by Shikha Bhatnagar, Associate Director, South Asia Center

This session was held under Atlantic Council Rules, defined by President and CEO Frederick Kempe as “Chatham House Rules with military enforcement.” 

FATA Aid Effectiveness and Normalization: 09/14/10 – Transcript

Click here to return to event page







Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

SHUJA NAWAZ:  I’m Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia center, and I’m delighted to have all of you here – a lot of familiar faces.  Thank you for coming.  I’m delighted that we have Mr. Habibullah Khan, who has been running the FATA secretariat for many years, and hopefully, will continue to run it for some years to come.  And with me, also, is Moeed Yusuf, who is a partner in this venture today. 

The USIP and the South Asia center are jointly cosponsoring this event, so I’m delighted to welcome Moeed to the Washington area.  And I think no doubt, apart from our partnership, that he will be contributing a lot to the better understanding of what’s happening in our part of the world.  I’m going to request Moeed, if he could, please do the introduction, and then we’ll proceed.

MOEED YUSUF:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Mr. Nawaz.  I am Moeed Yusuf.  I manage the Pakistan program at USIP.  And I’ve moved down from Boston earlier in the year to do that.  It’s truly a pleasure, actually, to have Mr. Habibullah Khan here.  I want to thank DAIA (ph) and Denise (ph), who set this up for us. 

And when I was told that Mr. Khan was going to be in town, I thought, that’s an opportunity that we must not miss, because there are few people who’ve not only studied, but have worked on FATA and in FATA more than he has, and given that, you know, the U.S. interests in FATA, in Pakistan in general, are perhaps greater than ever.

And this question that we are going to address today of aid effectiveness lies at the heart of, perhaps, the bewilderment, if I may say, in Washington about why Pakistanis react towards the U.S. the way they do.  And a large part of the puzzle, at least we feel, in Washington is to do with the ineffectiveness of the U.S. aid that is going into Pakistan.  And so I don’t want to take too much time.  We should hand it over to Mr. Khan. 

I think the main point to remember and to take away from this is that he’s going to bring us a perspective from the ground, which is not very easy to get in Washington, despite having a number of visitors come through this town and talk to us.  But this is a perspective, having seen what he has done, which I think not many will be able to bring to the table.  So I’d encourage you to please ask, you know, questions about what is happening on the ground to get a different perspective on the issue.  So I think we should invite Habibullah, sir, please, if you want. 

MR. NAWAZ:  If you’d like to sit and speak, it’s up to you.  Otherwise, we have the podium – whichever is more comfortable.  I think the cameraman wants you to stand.  (Laughter.)   So we have to respect the media.

(Off-side conversation.)

MR. NAWAZ:  So Mr. Khan is going to speak for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then we’ll go to questions.

HABIBULLAH KHAN:  Mr. Shuja Nawaz, Mr. Moeed Yusuf, ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to be here and to be talking to you about FATA today.  The topic that was given to me is aid effectiveness and its role in normalizing FATA.  I will try to be very brief and very short so that we have ample time for any question – any question – that you have in mind about FATA.

Maybe in the beginning, I should say that for a goalkeeper, either in football or in hockey, people don’t remember the goals that he has saved, but they do remember the goals that he has missed.  So generally, when we are speaking of FATA, whether in Pakistan or outside Pakistan, we normally highlight the issues where we have not shown any progress, or where the problems still persist.

But we simply ignore the efforts that have been put into by government of Pakistan, by the local leadership and by the international community, that has made tremendous progress – and if I say, that has helped in changing the scenario.  So today, I am here to not only give you this message, that it is not as gloomy as people think.  And secondly, this is an issue that is manageable and this is a problem that can be solved.  And we have made serious attempts to solve it.

And the very simple measurement, the very simple indicator is, compare the situation two years before and now.  And if we are talking that FATA is an underdeveloped area, I totally agree.  I totally agree.  But I will simply request you to please look at the scenario of 1947, when FATA became part of Pakistan:  not a single primary school; not a single health facility; not a single village having electricity from the national grid; only a few strategic roads there for the military purpose, and of course, the postal services that was a requirement of the military and of the paramilitary forces.

When people say that in FATA, women’s rights are not being given due attention, I totally agree that we need to give more focus on this issue.  But again, I will say please also have this thing in mind, that in 1947 – and there was no school for boys; there was no question to – (inaudible) – a primary school for girls.  In the same FATA now, we have degree colleges for women. 

When you could not find a single male person to read and write in FATA, now we have doctors – lady doctors, gynecologists, surgeons, professors, and of course, a very senior civil servant, who has been recently retired.  So changes are there, and changes have come.  But more is needed, and I think I agree with that.

Another question that is normally being asked:  Where the aid is going?  And it is so easy to say that aid is being misappropriated, aid is not going to the common man or aid is not being provided where it is required.  So these are the three different accusations that normally, we receive when we listen, when we speak to the people outside 

Today, inshallah, I would like to clarify all these issues.  My sequence of presentation will be aid effectiveness – what is the international context.  And then I will take more time to understand what is the FATA’s sociocultural environment.  And any initiative by any international partner, or by the government of Pakistan, if we keep those environments into consideration, we will be sure that the effectiveness and the efficiency of aid is multiplied.  And lastly, I will speak about the donors’ intervention and the way forward.

I have many details; if there are any specific questions about any specific program, I would like to answer that.  But I have just kept that information in reserve.  What is aid?  In simple words, to improve the quality of the delivery, management and use of official development assistance.  This is what the Paris Declaration says.  And what is the Paris Declaration?  It is step towards formalizing and focusing international efforts to improve the effectiveness and its contribution to development.

And then this aid should be based on a partnership.  And there are a few principles of Paris Declaration:  ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results, and the last one, very important, is the mutual accountability.  It should not be taken for granted that it is aid, so in whatever way we want to use it, or we just waste it, let the donor country or the donor partner, they should be thinking about it and not the host country, or the recipient country.

So with this background, let’s see what FATA is.  First, the geographical profile, then administration therein, and then I will come to the socioeconomic indicators, and I will stay a little longer on it.  This is Pakistan.  And then Islamabad – and here it is – on the border with Afghanistan is FATA.  FATA is having seven administrative units, known as agencies, six frontier regions, which are sub-units attached to the neighboring districts. 

Twenty-seven thousand (27,000) square kilometer population, and about 3.8 million people living there.  The striped areas, you can see these areas are known as the “newly open areas.”  The government of Pakistan had no physical and no administrative access to these areas.  Now, this is very important to note:  That the hub of the militant activities, most of them are located in these newly open areas. 

The tribal administration is very simple.  One on side is the political administration – elders and mullahs of the tribes.  The security apparatus, the local ones, are hasadas (ph) and levies (ph).  Frontier Corps is a militia force, paramilitary.  And the law is Frontier Crimes Regulation.  The crux of that law is the collective and the tribal responsibility. 

Let me explain it further.  All other areas of the British India were known as districts.  And the British government annexed those areas to collect revenue.  When it came to the tribal area, they found it very difficult, because there was no local resources which they can tax, administratively too difficult to directly administer them. 

So a system was developed where, instead of dipticum (ph), inshallah, our collector, a representative of the government was appointed to deal with the tribesmen.  That representative was known as prutikreja (ph).  And a treaty and agreement was signed between the tribes and between the government with some very simple principles. 

The British government wanted the tribesmen – number one, they allowed their supply lines to be intact and protected.  They will not allow tribal territory to be used for any operation against the British government.  And they will not give asylum to any state offender.  In return, unlike the rest of India, the British government would pay the tribesmen allowances:  the collective allowance – the moajib (ph) – to the whole tribe; secondly, the individual allowances to the tribal chiefs; and thirdly, recruitment of the tribesmen in the local force.  That provided immediate employment to the young population of those times.

The entire tribal territory, so annexed, was then divided into agencies – administrative units – but the general pattern of administration remained the same.  Frontier Crimes Regulation, which is one of the most debated – it is neither a substantive law, nor it covers the entire FATA.  I just want to remove this myth, that tribal areas are governed by FCR.  FCR is applicable hardly, hardly to 10 percent of the population, and hardly to 10 percent of the area. 

The entire 90 percent area – the remaining 90 percent area and people, they are governed by their own customary laws and traditions.  If anything happens in those areas, the tribal chiefs and mullahs – they decide the issue between themselves.  FCR, at the best, could be described as the document that governs the relationship between the tribesmen and between the government.

So if anything happens what is known as “the protected area” – and what are the protected areas?  Roads, telegraph lines, government installations, forts – (inaudible) – posts.  Later, we included schools and health and other such facilities and areas of the smaller tribes which, by their own consent, requested the government that our areas should be taken under the direct control of the government. 

These are the protected areas.  If anything happens there, then the political agent has the right, under the FCR, to take governance of that issue.  Seldom, in very rare cases, if anything happens even in the unprotected areas and the issue is of such magnitude that it can become a threat to the entire security situation of the area, then the political agent can take governance of it.  Otherwise, no.

FATA terrain is normally – generally, it is very high, rugged mountains, cultivable land, very less, little water resources, pine, oak and wild (olive ?) forest common.  The weather is so extreme that on one hand, you’ll find freezing temperatures in upper Kurram and Orakzai, and on the other hand, you will find sizzling temperatures in Jandola and the area in F.R. D.I (sp).  So the weather is also not friendly.

And this area always remain food deficient – it has always remained food deficient.  In a very recent survey – a very recent survey with the help of our international partners – it was found that 43 percent of the population – 43 percent of the population – they live, they work outside FATA to earn their livelihood.

Now, if you take, also, into consideration that one man earns for the entire family, then this 43 percent ratio, or proportion, speaks volumes of the non-sustainability of life in the tribal area.  These are some of the social indicators.  And I have made a comparison with – I have – (inaudible) – FATA then NWFP and Pakistan.  I think this just one side speaks of the poverty and of the current conditions there. 

Population density is 117 from FATA, as compared to 166 and 238 for NWFP.  Irrigated area, as percentage of cultivated area, is 40 to 52 to 82.  And then population per irrigated hectare:  44 persons in FATA, as compared to nine in the rest of the country.  Literacy rate – look at the female rate:  3 percent, as compared to 32 percent in the rest of the country.  So these are the social indicators of FATA.

The social system of tribesmen – it’s a tribal society.  Tribal society thrives, number one, on the kin bonding – possessiveness, opposition to any change, and looking with suspicion on any external factor that may or may not be for the benefit of the tribesmen.  But the very fact that it is an external factor, it will be looked with suspicion.  With this – (inaudible) – with this social condition, the key element of the tribesmen life, the key element is survival. 

And I will stress on this point, because there is a myth that perhaps everything that is being done in tribal area, or everything that is being practiced by the tribesmen, it is out of religion, born out of love for Islam.  There is no doubt about it, that they are all Muslims – practicing Muslims – but this practicing Muslim has a qualification.  And that qualification is – (pause) – ready to die for religion, but not to live for it.  And they will follow their religion if it does not clash with the social norms.

I can give you two examples – one from the neighboring area where Syed Ahmad Shaheed (ph) – (inaudible).  When he came and he occupied almost the entire Peshawar Valley and people respected him, and there is nothing against him that he was a man of his word or he cheated anybody – nothing like this.  And the Pashtuns – all Pashtuns supported him. 

But as soon as he entered into the social life of Pashtuns, just in 24 hours – just in 24 hours – the entire force was exterminated except for three platoons whose commanders were wise enough, who sensed the danger, and they survived by leaving that area before the daytime.  The entire army was eliminated.  And this is the common conclusion of all the historians, whether who are pro-Syed Ahmad Shaheed or who were against Syed Ahmad Shaheed, even his own fellows.

So please remember this point:  That we should not take it for granted that if everything is based on religion, it will be accepted by FATA people.  If it is going to help them in their survival, they will definitely approve it.  But if it is going to become, or perceived to be a threat to their life, they will not take it.

The other example:  You can find that all the religious movements in the tribal area, whether it was Faqir of Ipi in North Waziristan, Mullah Powindah in South Waziristan or Haji Zaral Tarakzai in Mohmand and Bajaur, none of them was a planned movement.  All the movements were reactions.  And this is why they could not survive beyond the pioneers. 

The economic system, I think I have already explained a little bit.  Limited livelihood opportunities; mainly pastoral economy with subsistence agriculture; 70 percent of total area is cultivated.  The land holdings are so small that 85 percent of the land holdings are less than five acres.  Livestock rearing; few businesses and trading.  And then the last point is really important.  There’s internal and external migration.

I think this is a point that maybe someone would like to go into more details, because this is a point that normally, we commit mistakes, and normally, we err.  We have not developed – we could not develop, so far, that critical mass of development in the FATA.  So whatever piecemeal efforts are being done, the result is everyone who gets money, he just shifts that money to other areas for reinvestment.

And if he’d put that investment in the human resources, then whoever becomes a qualified doctor or an engineer or a scientist or an otherwise educated man, his first effort is to find a job elsewhere and not to come back to FATA.  So there is a permanent human and financial drain from FATA.  So a vicious circle of underdevelopment.  Unless we can break down this vicious circle and unless we can develop that critical mass, then we can think of the advanced stages of development.

The donors’ interventions.  The biggest donor is the U.S. government.  It is through the USAID and also, through their other agencies.  One of the major factors that USAID is not seen to be contributing – that the problem is so huge, the requirements are so enormous, and we have hardly covered three years (ph).  And if people expect in three years, miracle will happen, I think he or she is to think twice, whether the development miracles happen in three years or not.

But some things that are very positive, very positive, things are happening.  I give you a small example – a very small example.  Sometimes, when I give this example, people laugh out loud.  Marble quarrying, marble mining is being practiced in FATA.  And we have big resources of marble.  Now, our practice is blasting out the marble mines.  Seventy-five (75) to 85 percent marble is just wasted in the quarry, it is clear.

And when the same irregular blocks of marble are transported to the down-districts, their transportation heads over a processed square feet (ph).  It goes high.  So first, there is a loss in the quarry.  Secondly, there is a loss also in the transportation.  And thirdly, when you cut that irregular piece in different tiles, then there are cracks, which only the businessmen, the contractors and the experts know.  So in the international market we have very limited acceptability.

Now, as a pure economist, when I receive a request that we want to invest in the mining sector, so I just look at it – who is going to pay, back the loan, what will be the guarantee.  And when I come to the conclusion that there is a law that does not protect me, and I’m also not sure of the investment and there are parallel opportunities where I can get better returns, the result is that I do not invest, and as an economist, I do not recommend for any investment. 

But as a social economist, when I look at the same problem, that how much wealth is being saved, how much more taxes are being generated, how many more people are going to get jobs and benefited, and lastly, how many more people are going to take this as a role model and invest their own money in the other quarries, then I really accept it.  We have adopted the second approach.

With the USAID assistance, we started a very small project.  How to produce blocks, how to avoid blasting, and how to go for cutting.  I’m very happy to say that part has started production.  The demand that we have received, it is now beyond our capacity, unless we open more and more quarries.  And even the private sector has started putting their investment in those sectors. 

So just with one little intervention, the savings – just take that 85 percent saving, or 75 or 60 percent saving, and also, the increase in the life of the mine.  So what I want to stress here is that these small and little interventions, which may not find a place in The Economist or in the world media, because here, people are more interested in big things – also in my country, not just here.  We are more interested to project – to Tarbela Dam and Bhasha Dam.  But these small interventions in these tribal areas are making big benefits to us. 

The two other interventions – I’m going to stop very soon – the two other interventions – one is this OTI, where the USAID is more focused on the bigger projects, Office of Transition Initiatives is a U.S. government initiative, but we focus only on small-scale, where we directly go to the beneficiary.  Small farms; lining up irrigation channels; replacement of the traditional seeds with the improved varieties; a drinking water supply scheme in the nearby stream; have a farm – like a cooperative farm – and then providing them with a tractor.

Despite all the militancy in Bajaur, not a single complaint has come out of that project.  Similarly is the FATA rural development project – again, an international intervention with government of Pakistan being a partner, where we have mobilized the community.  Okay, we are going to help you if you also contribute.  That may be very small – maybe 30 percent, maybe 15 percent, 12 percent.  But we are not going to give you for free.  You must contribute. 

And we are not going to involve the government bureaucracy.  You have to mobilize yourselves, tell us the – and this is so difficult in a tribal area where everybody thinks – I may clarify here, we are not like Baluchistan, where a sardar is the chief of the tribe.  Our chiefs, our mullahs, at the best, you can call them first among the equals – that’s all. 

So here, in our (language we say ?) everybody is more than (a kilo ?).  There is nobody a kilo.  So in a society where everybody wants to be leader, community mobilization for our people is a real hard task.  But they have done it.  So these are the small interventions where we work with the community directly.  And here, we produce results.  I have brought some documents just to show that. 

And these are also available on our website.  Anybody wants to have more information, you’re most welcome.  Then one last forum (ph), and then – these are the U.S. government interventions.  Just glance at them.  And then look at the intervention of the rest of the world:  United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Italy, Asian Development Bank, U.N., World Food, IFAD.

So we would request that the friends of Pakistan please join the United States in giving us assistance to improve the livelihood of FATA people.  Don’t make it just an all-American affair.  It means we are supporting that theory that American aid is to fight against the militancy, where my message is and my request should be that fighting militancy is one sector, but to deny space to the militants, to deny space to the militants is another sector of our intervention.  And that is only the development.  Where a military man can give you results within a short span of time, the development man needs a long time. 

And lastly, when you are talking to the tribesmen, they believe what you say.  So once there is a commitment and we go away from that commitment, it means we lose their trust.  And once their trust is lost, I always tell the political agent that no, this is a time for you to pack your bag and come to the secretariat.  Because if you are a political agent and you have lost the trust of the tribe, you have no right to rule that area, to go on that area. 

So my message is very clear and it should be taken at its word, that whatever commitment we make with FATA, for FATA development, it should contain it and all the requirements of monitoring accountability, that systems – we have placed those systems, and anybody is welcome to visit any area.  The only question is if they inform us well in time, we can arrange their visit to anyplace. 

It’s not a normal area, again I say.  But – (inaudible) – wait for the time when the militancy is over and then we go to development, or let the law enforcement agencies confront the militants and we also continue with the development wherever the space is available to us.  Thank you very much.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  You want to join us here?  Thank you. 

MR. YUSUF:  Let me also thank the audience for listening.  (Chuckles.)

MR. NAWAZ:  As Mr. Khan comes back to the table and we begin our questions, I’m going to ask that if you have a question, you try and get my attention.  And then when I recognize you, if you would please introduce yourself after the microphone reaches you so that we can record the intervention, we’d appreciate that. 

And then we hope to put this transcript on the Web so that others that couldn’t make it here could also benefit from listening to Mr. Khan.  I’m going to take the moderator’s privilege to ask you a couple of questions myself, and I’m sure Moeed has a bunch, also.  But let me, first of all, take you back to your reference to the USAID program, which is the largest of all the donor countries.

The $750 million, five-year program, which you said is now in its third year – can you give us a little more specific detail of what it has actually launched and in which agencies has it been most effective?  Because the fighting still continues, or has only, officially, recently concluded in Orakzai.  But is it, for instance, active in South Waziristan?  Has it been used in Bajaur, particularly for the reconstruction and rehabilitation? Or has it been mainly confined to the territories that are closest to Peshawar?

MR. KHAN:  Thank you very much.  The USAID program is the largest program, and the first effort that was made in FATA secretariat, and with the donors, was to identify the areas where we can intervene.  Because the most important point was to fix the strategic direction.  For that, efforts were made and then a plan was prepared.  This is FATA’s sustainable development plan from 2006 to 2015.  It’s a nine-year plan where all sectors have been identified, and then activities have been identified. 

The second step was that in FATA, there were some areas where we did not want to go for any development because they were the hardcore areas, or you can say they were in the control of the militants.  But there were definitely some areas where we could go.  Secondly, there were some programs which we could do it even in those areas, because they were not territorially bound, like vocational training programs, where we could take people outside their areas and train them in the vocation institutes or high-quality educational institutes of the rest of the country. 

So the USAID programs are not confined to a particular agency.  The example of Bajaur, I give, because Bajaur was the first agency were we started this OTI program.  In the OTI program, the beauty of that program was, first, that it started immediately after the area was cleared from the militants.  And secondly, it was a totally decentralized program.  There was a big shopping list.  That shopping list was approved, that okay, we will intervene in these areas.  But when and how, that was left to the field offices. 

So in Bajaur Agency, an implementation mechanism was involved where the political agent, head of the civil administration, the foreign agency’s commander and the U.S. government representative – these three people – and lastly, the department head – if it involves irrigation, then it was irrigation department; if it was public health then the public health department had – they were there to look into those schemes and identify the projects to be launched, prepared the documents for it and then monitored the work. 

So it was very quick, and then secondly, the community was involved.  Because when the schemes were identified, the representatives would go to the communities and tell them that we want to do this, this, this, this job, and what are your priorities, so that we can do the first job according to your priority, or do you want a group of jobs to be done as a priority?  So this is why we neither faced any resistance, nor there was any complaint.  The same model was then replicated in Mohmand Agency, and we hope that we will also have the same model in South Waziristan now.

Among the big projects, with the U.S. government and the USAID assistance we have done, I think the most successful was this vocational training program, where we sent our youth outside FATA and trained them in different skills, and also sent them to different schools.  I give you two small examples that will clarify the issue.  It was not our preference only just to provide them skills; we also wanted to expose them to the new world, that there is also a different world. 

There is also a different world and – maybe I will, a little, deviate from my talk and – there is a book – it is no more confidential; now, it has been published – all the suicide attempts that have been foiled.  Then a group of psychologists went and they interviewed all of them.  The report has now been published.  It is in Urdu.  One thing in common in that report was that those people had no purpose.  That was the common thing.  Many other factors, but one thing that was common was, they had no purpose.

So when these youngsters from tribal area went to Lahore and to Gujranwala and to Peshawar, they were exposed to a different life.  And many of them got jobs in the same institutes or in the same organizations where they were sent for on-the-job training.  That was a success story. 

Similarly, I can recall that in the Taxila education city (ph), we sent people and we provided them financial incentives.  But when it comes to the time of their next relatives, they paid their own fees and they made it a point to get his brother or his cousin admitted into the same institute, they found them to be so good. 

And the bigger point is, the USAID – there were a few projects, and already one I listed – improvement of roads.  But that was design four, five years before.  Now, when the total area was reviewed, in that we found that development of trade corridors between Afghanistan and Pakistan, that is of tremendous importance.  Because even historically in these areas, the trade routes was a very strong point of the tribesmen.

But where there was the communism in Russia and Afghanistan is a poor country, Pakistan came into being after 1947.  So all these factors combined and these trade routes were not utilized for trade.  Now the market economy and even relationships between Pakistan and other countries are more and more tilting towards trade and the improvement of the economy.  So we redesigned all those roads that were leading to Afghanistan as trade corridor roads.

The two project that we have taken in South Waziristan with the USAID assistance – and work is going on.  I’m telling you, this is not just a document or a planning stage.  No, physical work is going on.  One that will connect, ultimately, the Indus Highway, with South Waziristan, to Unguruda (ph), and from – Unguruda is the town which is situated right on the Afghan border. 

And principally aided by the World Bank to develop the other trade route to Nawa Pass that will connect the motorway to Chakdara and onwards to Khar in Bajaur Agency and Nawa Pass and then to Jalalabad.  The Khyber road, which is very common, the government of Pakistan has already sanctioned a project for that, to improve it.  And from Torkham up to Jalalabad, that road has been built by Pakistan funds as a courtesy for the government of Afghanistan.  So these are some of the big projects.  There are two dam projects which are being undertaken by the USAID assistance.

MR. NAWAZ:  Speaking of roads – and you were talking of South Waziristan – can you shed some light on the nature of the relationship between the military and the civil in planning these projects?  Because in the previous administration in Pakistan, the impression was largely that when the military went in, they basically decided what to do and bypassed the civil administration.  So to what extent is that still the case, or to what extent has it changed?   So perhaps you could talk about South Waziristan.

MR. KHAN:  I think we have to go back to the FATA context.  The use of military for development is not something new or novel to the tribal area.  The entire development work that was done by the British government, it was through the military engineering services.  You cannot give me a single example where the military was not involved in the development or construction or any such activity of infrastructure development in tribal area without the military intervention. 

So it can be different in the rest of the country, but in Pakistan, in FATA particularly, the military has the capacity.  And not only these roads, but if I can give you example of the Karakorum Highway, that was built by the Frontier Works Organization.  The main roads, NLC (ph) and the main bridges, NLC with a subsidy of Pakistan – (inaudible) – agencies that is constructing and involved in that construction.

So in tribal area, we are facing three different issues, and converging all on us.  Number one, people want quick results, so we want to have an organization that can deliver according to the time schedule that we agree with them.  So on this road, we have started work at three different places so that we can complete them within one-and-a-half years, or maximum, two years.

Secondly, we want that if there is any security issue – any security issue – then instead of, again, the project going into the cold storage, why don’t we resolve that issue right there and then and move further?  And thirdly, the availability of the organizational skills and people – when the FATA situation became bad to worse or worse to worse, then even our other projects suffered. 

Now, at this time, if I want the civilian organizations to come to FATA, they will have a list of one to 100 demands.  Because if, for example – it’s not something good, but it has happened, that the flood damages have created enormous opportunities for the civil contractors in the rest of the country.  So a man who is stationed in Karachi or in Lahore or in Peshawar or in Islamabad, and he’s getting ample opportunity of business there, why should he move to the tribal area?  Why should he move to the comparatively uneasy conditions? 

We, at the civil administration, we are totally involved with the army.  It’s almost like a giant team effort.  And the relationship or equation with the army and the civilian administration is almost like members of the same team.  So it’s not that the army is doing everything on their own.  No, we are totally involved in it.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.  I’m going to ask Moeed if he has a question before we –

MR. YUSUF:  I just have a quick one and then we can open up.  I just wanted to get some sense of this idea of aid effectiveness, and that being a vehicle for change in the perception of the United States in this region.  In Washington, in my view, more so than it should be, aid is also seen as a lever to, sort of, change hearts and minds, if you will. 

How much of that do you think – first of all, do you think that’s the right lens?  Should one even be talking about aid in those terms?  And second, if so, then are you – I mean, is there any change that is taking place, where it’s not visible by looking at the Pakistani media at all, but can you sense anything?  If all these USAID projects are in place, are people having a buy-in?

MR. KHAN:  Mr. Moeed has asked a very intriguing and a very complicated question.  Back in Kosovo (ph), we had a counseling service within the U.N. system.  So one of the gentlemen, he was a bit disturbed.  So he went to the counseling service and the lady asked him how many times you listen to the BBC yet.  So this man wanted to become smart.  He said, I listen every news edition, and my Internet, the BBC website is always open.  So she said that the first advice is just listen to the news once a day.  (Laughter.)

The problem here is that we have so many other issues that when it comes to an issue related to FATA, then it does not get the limelight, it does not get the primary importance in the national or international media.  And in another way, it has become almost like a cycle, that if there is a new development in science and technology – and I do ask these questions when I interview the young candidates for jobs, that why Mr. So-and-So has been given Nobel Prize this year.

And majority of the replies, that they tell me that they don’t know this man has got the Nobel Prize, what to talk about his work or contribution.  But I can tell you what is the local perception.  The local perception is that in these floods, people came on Pakistan television and other channels – and I will give example of Kalam people from Swat – and they very openly said that the U.S. helicopters were the first helicopters that came to their rescue, and the rest came later.

Similarly, in the anchorperson, these TV talks, when Mr. Holbrooke’s statement was criticized, that he’s trying to create differences between our friends, and one of the gentlemen was trying to advance his arguments on that line.  The man sitting with him, he said very simply, can you go back to the original question?  Where are the friends? 

I mean, these – I can see these changes are big changes – that people are now openly confronting those people who are just opposing U.S. or condemning U.S. for no reason.  And in tribal area, I can give you a few examples that the same OTI program and the FATA rural development program, which, people think that it’s from the donors, still, they are working there.  There are contributing. 

The visitors we receive from outside, the majority of them are from the U.S. government or U.S. government agencies.  (Inaudible) – in this world of media, it needs a separate – I should say a separate channel or a separate sector or a separate department to work on the image-building.  And except for the people who have the ideology and ideological commitment, because they are also supportive of the same ideas, which the militants convey, I don’t feel there’s any problem or there is any criticism underscored. 

In fact, the criticism that is mainly coming is that the U.S. government has announced this much money, and we want – where is that money?  Please tell us where that money is being spent.  And then we have to explain to them that his $750 million is a commitment, is an agreement.  It does not mean that $750 million has come in one day and it is deposited in some bank account.  I hope I have answered –

MR. YUSUF:  Yes, thank you.

MR. NAWAZ:  I think I have a first question here, and then I have a number of names that I’ll –

Q:  Dr. Khan, is there any way – oh, I’m sorry, Arnaud de Borchgrave, CSIS – is there any way of measuring how much of the work you have achieved – the Army, USAID – how much of that has been subsequently destroyed by the insurgents?

MR. KHAN:  There is a general policy guideline that in tribal areas, the system of administration is such that it is the tribe that is responsible for any development intervention and for any government asset within that area.  So once an area – and this is the requirement of the donors – once an area is declared to be free from militants, the first and foremost objective is to have a damage need assessment – DNA. 

That damage need assessment has been completed for Mohmand and Bajaur.  And then it is presented to the donor countries, and the first program that was about to be launched before the floods, that was the assistant to the housing reconstruction, which has been, unfortunately, delayed due to the floods.  Otherwise, we do not focus or we do not direct the USAID assistance, or any other donor’s assistance, just on the infrastructure or facilities that has been damaged by the militants.

We take that development as an overall issue of the tribal area.  So once – when I say that we are building this road, it does not mean that this road has been damaged by the militants.  Or when we are introducing new agricultural techniques, it does not mean that, that agriculture has been damaged by them.  What we are trying to focus is that we should not provide another target to the militants – that I build a school today and the next day, they blast it out.

I would much prefer that we provide the same educational facilities to them in a – (inaudible) – building or in a rented building, or in some other facility, but not to give them another chance to blast my school or my health facility.  In that case, wherever the facility has been destroyed, in all the areas that we have cleared for the IDP returns, it is our first goal to make it so that all those services are restored. 

So if I can say, in Bajaur, in all the areas that have been cleared, and in Orakzai, where now, the IDPs have started, and even for South Waziristan, where we have made the program for the IDPs’ return, to be shortly started after the Eid vacation, there we have made all the arrangements.

Q:  The other thing I wanted to know, Dr. Khan, is what percentage would you say of the seven agencies is now secure territory?  What percentage of the seven tribal areas?

MR. KHAN:  If I compare the situation of 2008 and now, 2010, I think for the small pockets on the border with Afghanistan in Mohmand Agency, a very small pocket – less than, even, 10 percent.  And similarly on Bajaur Agency.  Because now, the militants are on run.  They have no territorial hold there.  So they are just going from one area to another area and they are playing, like, a hide-and-seek game with us. 
But there is no complete territory under their control for these two agencies.  (Inaudible) – was already there.  When we say that area is not secure, we just mean that the infrastructure has not been destroyed completely – the militant infrastructure has not been destroyed completely.  Otherwise, even the most turbulent area of South Waziristan – we have reached the Shawar Mountains, and Shawar Mountain was an area where even the British did not reach.

The Gharazai area of Mohmand Agency, even the British government did not extend those areas.

When I was showing on the map these newly opened areas, these are the areas where the British government did not extend the writ.  But our government has extended the writ there.

MR. NAWAZ:  José and then Christina (sp).

Q:  Thank you.  Thank you, Shuja.  My name is José Cardenas with Kestrel, USA.  We are part of a family of companies that operate, or are based, in Pakistan.  Thank you, Dr. Khan, for your visit here to Washington to help us better understand the situation on the ground.  I had a question going back to the dilemma that you identified of residents of the FATA who leave once they achieve a significant level of education or experience.  They leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere and contribute to this cycle of underdevelopment.

And yet, you also mentioned a successful technical education program, vocational training program.  I’m wondering, how do you reconcile that dilemma when you are working with foreign donors, that you are identifying this cohort, this vulnerable, critical cohort of young Pakistanis that you want to put through these technical education/vocational training programs?  What incentives do you try to build into these programs to keep them there to achieve that critical mass of development that you refer to?

MR. NAWAZ:  I think it’s a very good question, and this is a very big challenge.  A very good question and a very big challenge.  We are trying on many fronts.  The first objective is at least to slow down this process of total migration from the tribal area to the central districts, and secondly, to create centers of security and centers of quality services.  Thirdly, ensuring that communications access is available in almost all areas so that they can keep contact with their own homes or with their own families. 

I will just focus on this one program, this third one – rural to urban centers convergence initiative towards social transformation.  Precisely, this is the program that we have now launched, and we hope that this is going to be a good success story.  The model is based, again, on the concept of providing security and the quality services together at the same place.  Under this program, the major towns, like Miran Shah, Wana, Khar, the headquarters, and then the second-big towns, like – (inaudible) – these areas – first, a circle will be drawn, let’s say five to 15 kilometers radius, that these are the protected areas. 

So legally, any tribe or any section who wants to live here or wants to do business here, they will have the umbrella of government protection.  Secondly, we will make it so that within this circle, also, we have the permanent structure of the law enforcement agencies.  And thirdly, all of the services – we have hospitals, agency headquarters hospitals everywhere – but then people don’t come there.  So we will provide incentive to the doctors, and also change in the service structure, so that these folks do not become transferable; they were just recruited for that very post with a bigger salary, higher salary. 

And then, accommodation and agency facilities to the same people who are coming and living there, and thirdly, also, facilities for their children, like a good primary school.  So schools, health facilities and, for the tribal people, all other extension services in veterinary circle, in forestry, in livestock – they will all be available there.  So they don’t see – they don’t look to us – Peshawar or Mardan or Buner or Dera Ismail Khan – and they are centered towards that area.

This concept of tribal areas rural-to-urban centers conversion initiative, in fact, it has been taken from the old days.  When a city was to be built, first, the law enforcement agencies or armies will come and camp there.  And then they will declare that area to be safe area, so anybody can come and live there.  So it’s an effort to create a nucleus of that social life, which are quite away and quite distant from the tribal life.

Because the tribal life, it revolves around isolation.  Here, we want to break that isolation.  So these are some of the steps that we are taking.  But I totally agree, this is a great and a very big challenge.  And if we can produce the quality services here, and secondly, whatever that we are talking of the trade corridors and the mineral development, I think we will slow down the migration very significantly.  But if there are no jobs, there is no sustainability, naturally, people – this is not a problem of only FATA; it is also a problem of rural-to-urban migration in the rest of the underdeveloped countries.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.  What I’ll suggest is, we take two questions together and then see if we have time for, perhaps, one more at the end.  Because Dr. Khan has to leave at 11:30 sharp to get to his next appointment.  So Christina?

Q:  Thank you.  Christina Rocca from CBR Strategies.  And thank you very much for this very interesting and very helpful presentation. 

MR. NAWAZ:  You may want to keep it closer to your mouth, please.  Thank you.

Q:  Oh, okay.  Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the very helpful presentation.  Very interesting.  And José essentially asked my question, but I do have a follow-up to Moeed Yusuf and Arnaud de Borchgrave’s question, which is, is it a good idea – or are the projects that USAID – that are U.S.-funded that you talked about, and others, are they branded as such, or is it something where the little marker that says that the U.S. helped in this water project is hidden in tall grass somewhere intentionally in order to not make it a target? 

And are USAID or U.S.-funded projects specifically targeted?  Is that something that comes into the calculation of how to go about putting these projects together?  And then finally, a very short one, which is, do you have an example of, really, what not to do?  I don’t want to pinpoint any specific donor, but it’s useful because one learns from one’s mistakes.

MR. NAWAZ:  And let’s take one more question in the back, and then you can respond to.

(Off-side conversation.)

MR. NAWAZ:  But go ahead with the other question.

Q:  Thank you very much.  Hamid Harsin (ph), work for Voice of America Pashto to the border region service.  The area that you are talking about, we broadcast nine hours of live content to the area, and I, myself, come from Peshawar.  Thank you very much.  My question is, you’ve been talking about the challenges in the spread of aid and everything about that, but would you elaborate on how it has changed the life of a common tribesman, trickling down, this aid, in some way, number one?

And secondly, how the federal government, coming to aid the tribal area, I the sense of development?  And the question – we, yesterday, interviewed the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Owais Ghani, and he said the Islamic countries are coming forward and giving aid for the development of FATA.  And do you have any information on what countries and for what purposes?  Thank you very much.

(Off-side conversation.)

MR. NAWAZ:  Go ahead with both these questions.  (Pause.)

MR. KHAN:  If I have understood the question correctly – otherwise, you can correct me – the answer is that in the very beginning, we will not label the development schemes as a U.S. government scheme or a German GTZ program, but now we do.  Not only that number – that plaque is there, but also, those hands (ph) are there.  (Chuckles.)  And there is also, like, a publicity and – we call the elders of those areas and they come and they pray and then they inaugurate that program.  So it’s not a secret anymore.  And we want that people should know.

The point that I want to stress is – and I’m also articulating this point with my international partners, all – that – and maybe this is because of my interest.  I am selfish in it.  Please don’t allow us just to be dependent on the U.S. government, because this conveys a very wrong signal to the population there.  And when the donors – and we are very happy with the U.S. government on this – very happy – because we are working together and they understand our problems and we appreciate their concern.

But then, there are some other donor countries, and they have their own problems.  So if they cannot get a security clearance to move out of Islamabad, who can ask them to come to Peshawar?  And then at the same time, they want me – that, how can you monitor our activities.  I said, my friend, if you cannot come out of Islamabad, how can I tell you how can you monitor your work in FATA? 

So the point that I want to make is that the American media, the U.S. government think tanks and people who make the opinion change, or who, at least, contribute to the policymaking – they should – because the problem that we are facing is an international problem.  It has an international dimension.  Whoever thinks that this is just a Pakistan problem or a U.S. problem, I think they are mistaken. 

So if we can get contributions from the rest of the world, at least we can tell people that the entire world is behind you, and they want to help you and they want to assist you.  So I think I have answered your questions, that first, we are making it very clear.  But if you asked me, I would much like that there should be other nameplates that I should be inaugurating with the tribal areas, because they convey the message to the tribe. 

Today, we have opened a road with a U.S. government assistance; today, we have started work on a dam construction with XYZ country; today, we have started a micro-financing project with the help of ABC country.  So that is the message that I want to convey.  And secondly, when I say I’m a bit selfish, if I place all my eggs in just one basket, and tomorrow, they change the government policy here in the U.S. for some other reason – not because they will be unhappy with FATA. 

And I had that experience, when I was working with the USAID project of – (inaudible).  Everybody was satisfied and we had a number of visitors from the U.S. government and even the third-party village leaders and the outside auditors.  And all of them gave A-plus grading to our project.  And even my counterparts, the American expatriates, they were very happy.  And we were so good with the people – spent nights with them and take their – (inaudible).

But then came the present amendment (ph) and just within 24 hours, we were asked to stop where you are.  If you are in the middle of the road and you are about to be crushed by a 20-meter trailer, we cannot help you, because you just stay there.  Because now, the present amendment has come, and nothing more.  This is why I want to convey this message, and I think this is the opportunity that I also want to share with you our concern.

How FATA people are going to be benefited out of the development schemes?  If we succeed and get these commitments in the time span that we have been told, it will be a total benefit to the community.  I agree, the smart people will take more benefits.  For example, just look at the trade corridors.  I cannot imagine, I cannot imagine the amount of money and the amount of job opportunities that will come. 

Despite the war, despite the turbulent situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the trade on Khyber, it has gone almost 300 percent – the informal trade.  Now, an average man will only be happy because now, he is going to sell, instead of 10 coffee, he will be selling 50 coffee.  But the smart man will open a warehouse.  He will make a giant – (inaudible) – Afghan transporter, and maybe somebody will start becoming a middleman between Afghanistan and Pakistan for the trade routes.  Okay, I will buy here and you sell it in Afghanistan; or you buy it in Afghanistan and I will sell it in Pakistan.

So same indication with mineral development.  The smart guy will go and he will start business in the mining.  And I can name people, just with the chromite or the marble business, they’ll become millionaire.  But other gentleman who belongs to the same village, he’s just happy with the cash allowances that he gets – that every truck that is transported outside my mountain or my village, I will get rupees hundred or rupees thousand per truck.

And one of our themes is that we are going, this time, with the macro-picture.  Because the objective is not the development of this or that, but a macro-development so that we can transform a society that just looks inward to start looking outward.  And about the governor’s statement that Islamic countries are coming, yes, the UAE has very recently sanctioned the – (inaudible, laughter).  So the UAE government has – I mean, this money has already reached Pakistan and the projects have been identified and they have been picked up.

The Saudi government has shown interest.  I had a meeting with the Turkish government.  They are very happy.  So there are some countries who are in the final stages.  And they just need a little jump from this “if” and “but” to start working.  And we are quite optimistic that when they see the other countries and other people, that they are doing work, they will definitely come.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.  I’m going to take the last three questions.  So if you could make the questions short, Dr. Khan will keep his answers short because he has to leave.  So I’m going to start, first, over here.

Q:  Thank you.  My name is Anne Suitzer (ph).  I’m an anthropologist.  I lived in the frontier province.  I’ve also worked with ADB.  I was under the impression that there was a competition between various local radio stations in FATA underway a couple of years ago; does that still exist?  And I’d also like to ask the question that always comes last in these meetings. 

What efforts are being made to address the needs of women under these programs?  When you speak of the community priorities, were efforts made to go door-to-door to ask women what their priorities were?  And was there an initiative included for them in the Taruchi (ph) initiative?  Thank you.

MR. NAWAZ:  Thank you.

Q:  Brian Vogt with the National Democratic Institute.  A question – we would argue, at NDI, that part of development is expanding democratic institutions around the world.  And last year, last August, President Zardari had announced steps towards changes in the political situation in FATA.  So far, those changes haven’t been implemented, related to the FCR and political parties, and so forth.  What is your opinion as to why these changes haven’t been implemented, why they haven’t yet come to pass, even though a year ago, they were announced?

Q:  Well, this is an easy question, I think.

MR. NAWAZ:  If you could identify yourself, please.

Q:  Yes, I’m Mary Hope Schwoebel.  I’m with the U.S. Institute of Peace.  I’m interested in this issue of opening up the trade corridors, and I guess I’d like to hear from you, what are some of the challenges and constraints and opportunities for doing that more effectively, beyond roads?  And also, I disagree with you a little bit, just that it’s smart people that take advantage of economic opportunities. 

I think it’s also people who are well-connected and, you know, have a little bit of capital and this, that and the other.  So I’m wondering how might one open up the trade corridors in ways that, maybe, more people would benefit – you know, that you could reach some of the less-advantaged members of the population in FATA?

(Off-side conversation.)

MR. KHAN:  For the first question, I wish if I could have more time.  Then I could explain something. 

MR. NAWAZ:  Maybe they’ll follow you to your next presentation.  (Laughter.)

MR.KHAN:  Normally, when I read these type of stories, that women in Pakistan are not doing anything, or 50 percent of women are sitting idle, I just feel sorry.  Because women in our areas, and particularly in tribal areas, they get up before the sun rises.  They go to the mountains, cut fruit, cut grasses and then come back to the house, prepare a breakfast for their husbands and for their children. 

Then they start working in the field with the same family and household, rearing anyone there, cooking food for them, and all household jobs.  And this continues till everybody sleeps, and she’s the last one to sleep.  And she’s the last one to take food – the leftover food.  My approach to women’s development is always help the women in sectors where their time is consumed.  Drinking water supply scheme, which it is the total responsibility of women to fetch water.  It can be just a stream next to the village; it can be three kilometers away. 

Try to develop the maternity health centers so that she does not go through that pain every year, with an unborn child or with an unintended abortion.  Similarly, this livestock activity should become semi-commercial so that, at least, the family can start getting some earnings, not just to be an additional activity.  All this, we improve these social indicators.  All this will improve these social indicators, and we think we are going to improve the lives of women.  To me, it is not possible.

What to talk of FATA – I mean, take rest of Pakistan.  The government of Pakistan has increased the number of reserve seats for women in the national influential assemblies.  Purely ideologically speaking, what contribution it has made in the common woman’s life in Pakistan?  I’m not against it.  I want to clarify myself:  I’m not against it.  But what contribution it has made? 

Then our supreme court takes – (inaudible) – of a gang rape case, it has become internationalized.  Has the gang rape been stopped in Pakistan?  Or comparatively, you can take comparisons from similar societies elsewhere.  So the target should be improvement of the living standards of women and the social indicators that impact woman life.  If we can improve that, other things will come automatically. 

I’ll just give a small example of inheritance.  It is a Quranic command – it’s not something by the constitution or by some civil rights or human rights organization – it is a Quranic command.  How many people –I asked this question when I was a very young officer back in 1983 and ’82, when the women commission came to my area of responsibility.  And the head of that women commission, who is a well-known, educated family in our province, I asked her – out of respect, we say madam – your family is the most educated and socially and politically representative family in our country. 

Why don’t you give inheritance to the daughters and to the sisters?  And she could not respond.  So please, when you are reviewing the situation of women in FATA, look into the broader context and put your efforts in that context.  The results will come.  I can give you another perfect example of the population welfare.  All efforts have gone to the drain (ph), but families who are educated, you find in their second generation, people control themselves. 

I should have only two babies or three babies, not that half-a-dozen babies everywhere.  If you look into the demographic balance, it is the poor family who have got more children than the well-to-do family.  Who has told them?  Has any family planning motivator gone there?  No, the education, the exposure. 

Your question, sir, about the reforms that are pending with the president of Pakistan, yes, the government of Pakistan has agreed, in principle.  The president and the prime minister has made that commitment.  It is only the question of time.  And I think the simple argument that I can give is that when the house is burning, every attention is to extinguish the fire.  And secondly, you have also to think twice, that when the militants – when they have lost the ideological base, lost the support of the common tribesman, are we not giving them an opportunity to rally the tribesmen again on another point? 

This will – maybe Mr. Shuja Nawaz and Mr. Moeed Yusuf, they can arrange a lecture on this issue.  The religious movements in the Pashtun environment, whether FATA, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it always had a nationalistic dimension.  So a movement which starts as a religious movement, it turns and morphs itself into a nationalism movement.  And then the third one is the movement of how to survive; it’s an attack on their integrity and their home and their way of life.

So we have to be very careful on these issues.  Secondly, there’s a big question of acceptability.  And I will ask this question and I will not answer this question.  When we are talking of the reforms – and the first thing is the this FCR.  Everybody is talking FCR.  My simple question is, when you talk to the people about FCR, just ask them.  Okay, we agree with you.  There should be no FCR tomorrow, but what law?  

If anybody gives you an answer, I have my e-mail here, please send me that.  And I have not seen any civilized society without any law.  Even the communist countries have a law; even the fascist countries have a law.  So when somebody gives you an answer that, okay, no FCR:  agree, no argument.  What should be the replacement law?  When we are talking of a civilized society, individuals give up their rights, some of their rights, to a collective forum.  The question is, are we ready for that sacrifice?  So this is a bigger question what it seems on the surface. 

The third one was that the smart guys always take benefit.  It is not the question of only FATA or of the development corridor.  I remember when I was studying in – (inaudible) – I had three colleagues, all the three got the same degrees.  One was offered job within the city of becoming a little higher than the teaching assistant.  The second one became a support staff, and the third one was driving a taxi.  So the development only provides an environment of opportunities.  It is not – people, for them, says who can exploit that opportunity?  Who can take that opportunity?

MR. NAWAZ:  I think let’s end on that optimistic note.  (Laughter.)  Obviously, Habibullah Khan could have easily stayed and talked for another hour or two, I’m sure.

(Off-side conversation.)

MR. KHAN:  There was a question of what not to do.

MR. NAWAZ:  Yes, sorry.

MR. KHAN:  I think here is the answer.  (Laughter.)  In some of the cases, it touched almost 50 percent.

MR. NAWAZ:  Okay, thank you for clarifying that.  So please join me in thanking Habibullah Khan.  (Applause.)


Nawaz Offers Views on Changing Pakistani Perceptions of U.S.

Highlight - Nawaz

Shuja Nawaz, Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, was interviewed on The Takeaway morning radio news program on the Pakistan flood situation. The discussion focused on the U.S. being the single largest donor of aid, and the potential for Pakistanis to shift their perceptions of America. Nawaz insists that the U.S. should stay the course with aid to Pakistan, but warns of the long-term effects of America’s goodwill, stating that “changing image takes a long time.”

Click here for audio and a text summary of the program.

This highlight is part of the series Pakistan Floods: Hope from Tragedy. To find a series description and links to related posts, please click here.