Category Archives: Pakistan

A New Coup in Pakistan?

By Luke Brinker

Since independence, Pakistan’s politics have been defined by short intervals of civilian governments, punctuated by coups d’état and periods of military rule. (For more on this, I highly recommend current Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani’s superb 2005 book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military).

Civilian governments in Pakistan tend to fall when the elites of the Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) perceive that the civilian leaders are weak and ineffectual in the face of security and/or economic challenges. There’s reason to believe Pakistan is vulnerable to a coup now. President Asif Ali Zardari and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are languishing in public opinion polls. Despite public protests over U.S. military operations in Pakistan, it’s widely believed that Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani quietly give assent to such operations. The public protests are aimed at mollifying vociferously anti-American public opinion in Pakistan. But the ISI, with longstanding links to militant groups, is growing impatient. The U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbotobad compound in May raised the intelligence and military establishment’s furor. Many assume that if a military coup comes, it will be because of the Pakistani government’s unpopularity stemming from its unwillingness to more strongly assert sovereignty in the northwestern tribal areas.

As if the Pakistani government didn’t confront a grave problem in militancy along the Afghan-Pakistani border, the southern port city of Karachi has been mired in ethnic violence for the past few weeks. Upwards of 1000 people have died, and the violence has exposed fissures within the Pakistani government. Feuding politicians, increasing insecurity, and a population desperately seeking order – it has all the makings of another military coup.


Filed under Pakistan

No One Was Pleased But Him

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the war in Afghanistan during a televised address from the East Room of the White House in Washington June 22, 2011. - U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the war in Afghanistan during a televised address from the East Room of the White House in Washington June 22, 2011.

I think the president gave a pretty strong performance in his Afghanistan speech.  He did not stumble, and he projected strong language.  Still, his plan was typical Obama.  He wants to draw down slowly with an increment of 10,000 troops first and bring the rest of the surge troops home by next July.  2014 will be the final withdrawal date, not surprising because NATO made commitments until 2014, and we are NATO.

In the end, Afghanistan is not a winnable situation.  President Hamid Karzai is corrupt, Pakistan is an unreliable ally, it is impossible to eliminate all Al-Qaeda’s presence, and reports show that aid to the country is a failure, with all that the deck is stacked against the administration.  Added onto the war weariness (56% of the public wants to leave) and parts of both political factions calling for withdrawal, the president is trapped.  The slow withdrawal is just delaying the inevitable.  There was a time when the slow decrease in troops was politically the best option, but now it just appears to be a cop out.

Tonight, the president gave the speech everyone thought he would give.  The problem, nobody wanted that speech.  The dream for both sides was for the president to call for immediate withdrawal of all troops and shift towards a secret counter terrorism strategy, similar to Yemen or Pakistan, than continuing the counter-insurgency strategy, which requires nation building.  I’m not even convinced that speech would please the right, who would hate the speech no matter what.  It was a night to please no one except himself and for that I say “Mission Accomplished.”

Photo Credit: Globe and Mail

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Filed under Afghanistan, foreign aid, independent internationalist, Middle East, Obama, Pakistan

Morning Memo: Thursday, April 14

A combination photo shows House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) taking a question at a news conference held to unveil the House Republican budget blueprint in the Capitol in Washington April 5, 2011 and President Barack Obama delivering a speech on U.S. fiscal and budgetary deficit policy at the George Washington University in Washington, April 13, 2011.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Good Morning!

U.S. foreign policy stories ready for your delight

Top Topics:

President Obama lays out deficit plan

GOP hates tax hikes in Obama’s plan

Despite orders to slow down strikes, Pentagon is firing away in Libya

Clinton condemns Gadhafi’s continued atrocities

North Korea just detained American

Pakistan lambastes CIA drone attack

American consulate employees in Mexico targets for drug violence

Senator James Inhofe’s support for Ivory’ Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo

Figures of Note:

Mentions of the Federal Budget/Budget Deficit as the Most Important Problem Facing the United States, 1990-2011 Trend

Opinions of Note:

Matt Yglesias ‘s liberal persective on Obama’s deficit reduction plan

Yuval Levin’s conservative perspective on Obama’s plan

Video of Note: Deficit conversation

Photo Credit: Reuters

Figure from Gallup

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Filed under budget, defense, Libya, Morning Memo, Obama, Pakistan

All the Arms Control, Russia, and Pakistan Talk You Can Handle

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Filed under arms, foreign policy, independent internationalist, Pakistan, Russia, START

Osama Bin Laden Living The Good Life in Pakistan

Osama bin Laden: Osama bin Laden 'behind plot to attack European cities'

Reports this morning indicate that Osama Bin Laden is hiding in North-West Pakistan.  A senior NATO official has told reporters that Bin Laden is being sheltered in a house in the region somewhat supported by the Pakistani government.  A report from the Daily Telegraph says:

However, the Nato official said bin Laden was thought to have ranged from the mountainous Chitral area near the Chinese border, to the Kurram Valley which borders Afghanistan’s Tora Bora, one of the Taliban strongholds during the US invasion in 2001.

North Waziristan, in particular, has become a nexus for Afghan, Pakistani and Arab militants as they plot attacks against Nato forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month a leaked White House report accused its ally Pakistan of playing a double game by avoiding “military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda forces in North Waziristan”.

A senior Pakistani security official denied that bin Laden was being protected and said the latest allegations were designed to heap pressure on Islamabad ahead of talks in Washington this week that would focus on strengthening co-operation between the two countries.

If this report turns out to be true the implications for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship could be disastrous.  Reason being, that Pakistan has denied for years that Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan and that the Pakistani government was sheltering him.  Of course, the U.S. and Pakistan have always had a “frienemy” relationship because Pakistan likes to help the U.S. when it is convenient and also help the Taliban when it benefits them.  If this turns out to be true, it would not be surprising.   

Photo Credit: Daily Telegraph

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Filed under foreign policy, independent internationalist, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, terrorism