January 22, 2009academicsForeign Affairsforeign policyIndiainternational relationsPakistanpolitics

The non-existent department

India must increase its intellectual investment in studying Pakistan

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

For a country that faces an acute, chronic threat, India does not have any–forget the best–think tank or school engaged in a multi-disciplinary study of Pakistan. When most analysts offer policy recommendations, it is either based on experience or polemics, and not on deep analysis. So it is good to see Jerry Rao draw attention to this lacuna:

In trying to understand why Pakistani leaders behave the way they do, we need to be cognisant of these and other patterns. Let us consider a range of questions:

Given his Baluchi-Sindhi-Shia connections, can a Zardari or for that matter a Bhutto appear conciliatory towards America or India and get away with it? Will he not be accused of having soft traitorous and heretical instincts?

Can the Pakistani officer corps, increasingly populated by upwardly mobile but traditional social groups (not by Aitchison college alumni as was the case in years past) take an overtly anti-Islamist or pro-Western stance?

Why is Pakistan not able to come up with a Sadat or a Mubarak who seem to be able to manage the contradictions within Egypt?

Despite having China as their close ally, why has Deng’s growth strategy not appealed to the Pakistani elite? They could easily increase their trade with China and create domestic prosperity instead of simply buying arms (nuclear and conventional) from their friends in the PRC. Why is this not happening?

Saudi Arabia has strong Islamic credentials. They are able to lock up extremists. Why can Pakistan not take a cue from them and do the same?

Over the next few months and years, we all need to collectively invest in understanding the Pakistani society better and in opening up dialogues with disparate elements within that society. Merely complaining that Pakistan is beginning to resemble a rogue state will not do. We need to understand persistent domestic compulsions within Pakistan and see if we can open up multiple dialogues not only with the elements in the Pakistani society who are ostensibly in power but with others whose motivations may be more complex and mysterious. In doing so, we may be able to resolve the conundrum of Pakistan and move it away from its migraine” status. If we fail, the consequences for all of us are grim. For the unhappy Pakistani people the consequences will be catastrophic. [IE]

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