By: Brigadier Samson Sharaf (R)    

It was over two years ago while opining on the Nature of International Coercion of Pakistan, I wrote in the Daily News: –

‘What ever the concept, scope and objective of such limited escalations, India with its new found allies has decided to maintain a constant vigil and coercion of Pakistan over a prolonged period of time but well below a Fire Break Point. The obvious targets in tandem with its allies will be addressed through diverse instruments like control of rivers, economics, diplomacy, international pressure, international law, military intimidation and even insurgency. The war has already begun’.

Published belatedly and with no sense of urgency by the editors, the article was hotly debated world over for its contents and hypothesis. It was followed by a non stop series of articles both in The Daily News and Nation on the US War in Afghanistan, Security Perspectives of Pakistan and how Pakistan could become weaker through societal fragmentation, manipulation of the political economy, bankruptcy and the disconnect of military operations to the public perceptions.

The various hypotheses in these series of articles were neither a product of expediency nor conspiracy theories grown out of fear. They were in fact the conclusions of my thesis of a Future War that Pakistan could confront, written well back in 2001.

Ever since, the inevitable has come to pass; ironically before the very eyes of those who know and matter. Pakistan has become a state that nibbles at itself least cognizant what this cannibalism could lead to. At no point does it appear a country at war within the context of the Great Game as also with itself. Politically, the fait accompli is a foregone conclusion. There appears neither a political direction nor a will to ride the wave of crises. In the midst of a tempest, trapped between a hard rock and an angry sea, Pakistan lacks a helmsman who can see the vessel home.

A brief review of how all this came to pass would be appropriate.

The Trojan of circular debt deliberately created during the era of Shaukat Aziz has succeeded in melting the economy and plunging Pakistan into a spiral of energy crises that are not likely to abate for some time to come. The international financial institutions are now in control along with hapless financial advisors with no clue about how to ride the crises other that seeking more foreign aid and debt. Intellectually bankrupt, they resort to the obvious ie increase consumer taxes and energy tariffs.

Political elites spend their best time in machinations of political survivability while the masses suffer one shock after the other. The reconstructions in the wake of 2005 earthquake are far from materializing. As if this was not enough, the country has faced the worst floods of recent history in which dykes and levies were manipulated at will to inundate the most productive agricultural areas of Pakistan. This has already affected food security, poverty lines and law and order.

Pakistan’s concept of National Power rises from a somewhat stable platform of geography through elements of national power like melting economics, fragile and self promoting political system, un-explored and rented out natural resources, a rejuvenating judicial system and an army that is fighting an insurgency that it helped create, partially to gain trust of USA and partially to gain time and space without compromising its core interests. Yet, as a country, we are not sure that the end game that Pakistan pursues would reach its objectives or will it be another case of believing too much in faulty assumptions? Pakistan’s present situation is neither this way nor that. The Americans mistrust us as much as our own radicals and insurgents working on an anti Pakistan agenda. Anarchy and militancy grows by the day.

Amazingly, despite such a pessimistic and forlorn situation, this resilient Nation survives being labeled as a State that refuses to fail.

Much of what has happened was avoidable had the government and the military sat together and drafted a comprehensive and realistic national policy on the US intervention in Afghanistan and its effects on Pakistan. Though social scientist in Pakistan cried hoarse over the manner in which Pakistan handled its cooperation with USA post 9/11, each organization within the government continued to work its own way during the crises. Hence what should have been a synergized and unified effort has ended up as a lethal broth cooked by too many cooks.

Pakistan is an agglomeration of an ally of opportunity, dwindling in national power, corrupt to core, a reluctant go getter and a people who refuse to succumb.  Tragically, Pakistan has ostensibly landed itself into a position wherein all choices are bad and destructive. Still, it appears that Pakistan’s immediate and long term future will be shaped by US policies in the region.

If Pakistan continues to cooperate with USA and takes the military operations into North Waziristan, it will have to contend with the backlash in other parts of the country. The decision will also tempt diverse militant groups to cooperate with each other for their own survival and hence expand the theatre to other areas stretching Pakistan Army from Amri in Balochistan to Chitral along the Durand Line and deep inside the heartland. The counter insurgency war will be long and bloody and Pakistan will have to fight it all alone, albeit with measured military and economic assistance.

If it does not, than Pakistan will have to forego military and economic assistance controlled by USA and yet battle the conflict spreading along the Durand Line and the mainland due to the AF-Pak Strategy objectives spelled out by President Obama. It will also have to contend with military operations launched from coalition citadels inside Afghanistan with a choice of either looking the other way (drone syndrome) or involving itself in pitched battles with the coalition forces. Ultimately, some parts of Pakistan will become targets to stand off precision guided munitions and deeper drone attacks.

The weak economy, situation in Balochistan and the ability of power brokers to switch Karachi on and off will be a common denominator to both choices.

Though USA will have the illusion of having India as a long term strategic partner in the region, India will extract the maximum and yet only  proceed up to a point where its own interest are not compromised. A very important interest in this context is to disarm a nuclear Pakistan preferably through a diplomatic option or through anarchy wherein a hapless government with a defeated and discredited army is pressurized to ask for international assistance.

Military dispositions for any one of the scenarios are now well placed. The coming days will witness a wider cooperation amongst all neighboring countries of Afghanistan including Iran, India and Russia. The purpose will not be to fight Pakistan but rather to contain the insurgency within the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and push it into Pakistan to make AF-Pak a reality. Once that is achieved, USA and ISAF will maintain their pivots in Afghanistan to damper Afghan Taliban as also launch Cold Start type operations along the Durand Line. That will be the first step of US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the next phase of the Long War.

The reluctant ally is most likely to trudge along unless the people of Pakistan decide to shed the yoke.

(The writer is a retired brigadier and a political economist).


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  • Zafar Akhtar  On November 7, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I wonder why a think tank like Brg Samson is not consulted by the Govt in formulating its policies with respect to relations with USA and the regional powers.I find this article full of good analysis and advise
    Zafar Akhtar

  • Rauf  On November 7, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Zafar Akhtar Bhai
    If Brig. Samson given the consulting job at least 20 fellows will loose their
    jobs and their income. No can do. This government is to provide jobs
    (in whichever form) to their supporters and well wishers (whether they are
    able or not, is immaterial).

    Pakistan’s interest is the least concern to “Them”

  • Shahbaz  On November 7, 2010 at 10:08 am


  • I.Naqvi  On November 7, 2010 at 10:09 am


    The Govt does not consult their own Parliament,Cabinet,Party or
    the Minstries when making decisions,how do expect them to involve
    third parties in that process ?

  • Rauf  On November 7, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Precisely that is what it is. Talking of Democracy ? It is nothing but a joke.
    Mr. Nawaz Sharif had postponed for the fourth time to have party election.
    (latest news) Why is that ? All the talk of transparencies and decision of
    the majority is nothing but “rubbish”

  • Parvez Amin  On November 7, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Pakistan will not be rudderless as soon as the work required to launch Madadgar Pakistan is completed. Madadgar’s manifesto will systematically take the people of Pakistan to prosperity and self reliance through a detailed and practical plan. The journey is difficult and long, but Madadgar’s clear vision and the step by step approach to move towards prosperity will banish the gloom of impending failure and replace it with the joy of achievement. The plan to integrate the work of all who wish to contribute to the planning and implementation is on the party’s agenda.

  • Idrees  On November 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    So we are agreed that the state is not rudderless but has defective steering and defective rudder

  • Umar  On November 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    An illuminating, enlightening discourse from a lucid savant. You have this uncanny knack of draping real, existential, geopolitical arguments in fine literary apparel to lend each of your dissertations a scholarly finesse. I would reserve my final analysis till the savant explicates the China factor in this great game.

  • Banerjee  On November 7, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Brigadier, To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If Pakistani civil society were stronger, India and Pakistan would have found peace with honor by now. But as long as Pakistan’s military has an overweening voice, intrigue, terrorism, and finally war will remain Pakistan’s tools of choice in statecraft.

  • Umar  On November 7, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Mr. Banerjee civil societies are to be found among “living” nations, not among dysfunctional rabbles. Pakistanis are incapable of fostering strident and empowered civil society!

  • Nelson S. Alfred  On November 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Samson I am asking for forgiveness at the very start of this opinion, if it hurts anyone, my question is why we are a nation of whiners and why anything and everything makes us whine, whine whine? If we analyze the reason for this nationa…See More

  • Samreeh Jilani  On November 7, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    very well written, and extremely a needed one

  • Dr. Imtiaz Hussain  On November 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

    A Resilient Nation ? Not ready to sccumb …… I do not not how come Brigadier sahib has got into this perception… perhaps he has not yet forgotten his priviliged days while in service where all priviliged officer beyond the rank of full colonel believe this ! Its time that they must be willing to see the true face of this false perception ..
    There were days when people were never use to give their daughters to corrupt and malafide, regardless how affluent they may be .. yes sir in Pakistan that use to happen… today daughters are given to rich and affluent not asking what the buisness is ….. Dr. Ain uddin was a reputed honest general practitionner of Hyderabad city, whoes only daughter was married to an army officer called Pervaiz musharraf…. daughter of a descent man sccumbed did nt; she brigadier sahib…. you must be knowing many hundred in army who sccumbed also to corruption and immorality… this entire nation sccumbed to crruption and immorality .. it all started in Ziz era where in the name of law of neccessity common person was allowed to undertake corruption unabatedly.. with the result today that suger is sold in market at a rate of PKR 125 / kg and each one of us has liftd our rates accordingly…… we are not ready to pay tax but willingly pay a note of PKR 5000/- to a patwari to do the needful…… take money from us for our judicious buisness illegally but do not ask from us a single penny which may go into the pocket of governemnt … we are a corrupt nation brigadier sahib trying to loot and plunder a resourceful country like Pakistan. If you would have written ‘ a corrupt nation trying to loot and plunder resielient country ‘ i would have readily agreed with you.. There is no country which is as resourceful as Pakistan , in the entire world and as for the nation lives here , no revolution seems to be in pipe line keeping in view its mind set and ability of Pakistan to provide to its loot and plunder, but then Dec 2012 is also not far ….. or evn before … such nations are always destroyed to be replaced by those who are God fearing…… I guess you need to correct your perception brigadier sahib, Pakistan is not rudderless, it does have a rudder, the real issue is that it does not have a nation to take control of the rudder, therefore which been held by the AMERICANS ..!

    • Simon  On November 13, 2010 at 8:07 am

      You do not even now me. Rant of the Year is all I can say.

  • seo thai  On November 10, 2010 at 7:46 am

    good molly Pakpotpourri2

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