Tag Archives: equation

US-Pak relations

Fresh start awaited

Excerpt;

….. Pakistani politicians are notorious for saying one thing behind closed doors and something quite different in public. Be it fecklessness or an opportunistic streak that seeks to be on the right side of public opinion whatever the cost, Pakistani politicians have just not been able to tell the truth to the people, the ones whose interests they ostensibly represent. The truth is this: by closing the supply lines to Afghanistan, in boycotting Bonn and by succumbing to sundry other emotional responses since last November, Pakistan has put itself dangerously close to being definitively regarded as part of the problem in the ‘Af-Pak’ region and not part of the solution.

It’s not just the US that Pakistan has challenged, the mission in Afghanistan is still an international one and from Nato countries to other powerful states, all have a desire to prevent Afghanistan from descending into chaos and civil war again. Pakistan really cannot afford to be on the wrong side of that equation.

The problem is, with elections on the horizon and the right-wing mobilised and baying for blood, mainstream parties will not want to be seen to take the lead in restarting relations with the US, a relationship that is immensely unpopular after the active cultivation of anti-US sentiment over the years. Perhaps they may want to think about doing it in the national interest, the real, not perceived, one.

Read more » DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/04/06/fresh-start-awaited/

Clinton: U.S. must put economics at center of foreign policy

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

(CNN) — The United States must position itself to lead in a world “where security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors — as well as on battlefields,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will say Friday in a major economics and foreign policy speech in New York.

Economic forces, Clinton will say, are transforming foreign policy realities around the globe.

“We have seen governments toppled by economic crisis,” a text of the Secretary’s remarks released by the State Department on the eve of the speech reads. “Revolutions born in a Tunisian marketplace have swept across an entire region. Europe faces its strongest test in a generation, thanks to recession and debt. And everywhere I travel, I see countries gaining influence not because of the size of their armies, but because of the growth of their economies.”

Clinton will say she is updating U.S. foreign policy priorities to include economics “every step of the way,” suggesting the United States should take a cue from the leaders of emerging powers like India and Brazil who put economics at the center of their foreign policies.

“When their leaders approach a foreign policy challenge — just as when they approach a domestic challenge — one of the first questions they ask is, ‘how will this affect our economic growth?'” the text of the speech says. “We need to be asking the same question — not because the answer will dictate our foreign policy choices, but because it must be a significant part of the equation.”

In the address before the Economic Club of New York, the fourth in a series of speeches Secretary Clinton is giving on economics and foreign policy, she will say the world’s “strategic and economic center of gravity is shifting east” and the United States is focusing more on the Asia-Pacific region.

“One of America’s great successes of the past century was to build a strong network of relationships and institutions across the Atlantic,” she says. “One of our great projects in this century will be to do the same across the Pacific.”

The United States should help other countries find economic solutions to strategic challenges, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, she says. “We need a sophisticated effort to integrate the region’s economies, promote investment and assist in economic modernization. The Arab political Awakening must also be an economic awakening.”

Clinton takes aim at Americans who would turn inward, arguing “you can’t call ‘time out’ in the global economy. Our competitors aren’t taking a time out, and neither can we.”

Increasingly, the United States is focusing on “tracking and thwarting” the financiers of terrorism, using sanctions and other economic tools to cut repressive regimes off from insurance, banking and shipping, Clinton says.

Finally, Clinton says, the United States is “modernizing (its) agenda on trade, investment and commercial diplomacy to deliver jobs and growth for the American people.”

But the United States cannot compete, she says, if it is frozen in domestic political fights.

“Washington has to end the culture of political brinksmanship — which, I can tell you, is raising questions around the world about our leadership.”

Courtesy: CNN

Civilian supremacy over military: a process, not a transaction – Dr Mohammad Taqi

In post-bin Laden Pakistan, a unique prospect exists for the civilian leadership to neutralise the establishment and literally reverse the power equation. Such a constellation of events does not happen often and the agents of the status quo are hard at work to quickly close this small window of opportunity

Wherever and whenever nation-states make the transition towards a democratic form of government, the question about civilian supremacy over the military is bound to come up. In stable western democracies, such as the US and Japan, both convention and the constitution provide well-established safeguards against the military’s encroachment on the civilian power to oversee and control it. But in budding democracies, and especially countries like Pakistan that go through praetorian autocracy and democracy in a cyclical fashion, the issue of civil-military balance of power remains highly complex, unresolved and pernicious.

It was this struggle for power that Samuel Adams — one of the US’s founding fathers — had warned against, in a letter to James Warren: “A standing army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the liberties of the people. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a body distinct from the rest of the citizens. They have their arms always in their hands…Such a power should be watched with a jealous eye.”

Standing armies have nonetheless become a norm and the citizens’ militias, looked upon favourably by Adams and the legendary Baloch leader Sher Muhammad Marri, as a bulwark against martial law, have survived just in theory. Since the Portuguese Carnation revolution of 1974, ironically led by the military, a series of new democratic dispensations — the so-called third wave democracies — have continued to grapple with the issue of consolidating civilian control over the military, as part of the overall cementing of democratic change. The quest for fledgling democracies has been not only to oust the military from power but also to prevent it from staging another outright coup d’état as well as an indirect intervention in or competition with civilian power.

In the political scenario evolving in Pakistan after the US took out Osama bin Laden, the security establishment has found its chokehold on power to be in mortal danger. The façade of the military’s organisation and invincibility, nay infallibility, has been lifted, tilting the balance of power against it internationally, but more importantly, domestically. It is this exposed domestic flank that is really worrisome for the establishment, as a potential civilian compact could emerge and dislodge it from the direct and indirect role of control over the state that it is accustomed to exercising. The Latin American and Southeast Asian models of the juntas defanged and sent packing by the united political elite are not completely lost on the Pakistani deep state. …

Read more: Daily Times

The Downfall of Political Islam

by Samir Yousif

Finally I would point out that political Islam has failed to provide a political model that can compete with other contemporary political models, such as the Chinese model, Western democracies, or even developing democracies such as India and the other Asian countries. That comes with no surprise, as religion, any religion, keeps itself centuries behind.

The theme of my argument is the following statement: Islam, as a religion, has nothing to offer to economic or political theory. This simple idea has serious consequences. Political Islam, when it runs the country, will ultimately fail. It has no appropriate agenda that provides solutions to real political or economic challenges such as underdevelopment, unemployment, inflation, recession, poverty, just to mention a few.

(I will not touch upon the most significant political-socioeconomic issue which is income inequalities, because Islam accepts a society composed of very rich classes living side by side with very poor classes- examples can be found from history or from today’s Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and Iran). While some Islamists continue to claim the existence of “Islamic economics,” they have failed in producing anything close to a simple theory of economics.

I believe that the main reason for the downfall of Muslim civilisation was the inherent social crisis: a society composed of few rich surrounded by the poor masses kept going by a strong religion. Social and political revolutions took place several times during the heyday of Muslim civilisation, as happened during the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, in Muslim Spain, and the famous Zanj Rebellion during the year 869 in Basra. But historians have ignored such revolutions. Muslim economies have failed throughout history to solve the very basic problem: the wage equation. Unskilled and skilled workers were downgraded to the lowest classes in Muslim societies, and were paid the minimum. History has showed that under Islam the wealth of the country went mainly to the Calipha, feeding his palace, army, the royal family, and to the vested interest that the Calipha has chosen himself. The tax system was mainly imposed on the agricultural sector, what was known as the produce tax (Kharaj).

“Islamic economics” is a term used today to justify the significant income inequalities in such societies and to find religiously- accepted investment opportunities for the rich. …

Read more : http://www.document.no/2011/01/the-downfall-of-political-islam/

Pak-China: Changed Equations

Changed Equations

by: Aparna Pande

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, August 26th, 2009

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in China on Friday, August 21, on his fourth visit to the country since taking over as President in September 2008. President Zardari is not the first Pakistani President to visit China so often. Regular visits to China are routine for every Pakistani head of state going back to the 1960s-1970s.

Continue reading Pak-China: Changed Equations