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Reporting doom

Pakistan’s cash-for-cooperation tactic seems to be working again

Written by The Indian Express |
April 7, 2009 11:00:51 pm

The Pakistani state has been given six months to live by David Kilcullen,a key adviser to General David Petraeus,the Centcom commander,who asserted that we may soon witness a calamity that,given the country’s size,strategic location and nuclear stockpile,would “dwarf” all other current crises. This is not a lone assessment. But through the years,this sort of apocalypse-now mentality has been exploited by Pakistan to maximum advantage. Musharraf made a fine art of touching up the US for massive aid packages,even as insurgency raged on.

The Obama administration’s Af-Pak policy,and the method in which Pakistan is being coaxed into taking tangible action on terrorism,has caused concern in India. As has the flurry of reports by think tanks,which reflect the state of American policy debate. Recently,Washington had demanded cooperation from the recalcitrant ISI,and insisted that the days of the blank cheque are over. However,if documents like the Asia Society report are any indication,it looks like this co-operation is going to be wheedled out of Pakistan with an acknowledgement of its nuclear weapons status,and another infusion of massive,long-term financial succour to the inflation-ridden Pakistan economy. President Zardari has called this promised aid package “an endorsement of our call for economic and social uplift as a means to fight extremism.”

This just fits in with Pakistan’s successful marketing of its own dysfunction — as the overused phrase goes,it negotiates with a gun to its own head. The Pakistani state might make the right noises as it wangles concessions from the US,but it is equally obvious that the military and security establishment are still hung up on India as public enemy number one. So these dire timelines being trotted out in the American policy establishment only indicate tussles within,as they decide how best to buy Pakistan’s support.

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