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'Forget pakistan' advises Gerald Segal

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    'Forget pakistan' advises Gerald Segal

    An India-Pakistan War Is Unlikely

    By Gerald Segal International Herald Tribune

    LONDON - Although the military coup in Pakistan has alarmed India, the risks of war between the two countries are minimal.

    The coup leader, General Pervez Musharraf, is well known to have been a major architect of the Pakistani incursions into Indian-held Kashmir that brought the tense relations between New Delhi and Islamabad to crisis point this year.

    But Indian successes in the battles among the peaks and serious pressure from the United States on Pakistan convinced this pragmatic professional that Pakistani objectives could not be achieved. Where he parted company with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in the humiliatingly public and swift form of the climb-down.

    The point is that General Musharraf is no hot-head about to go to war with India at the first opportunity. His decision to pull troops back from the sensitive border with India this week is an indication of that.

    Nor are we likely to see a change toward the Afghan conflict. The Pakistani armed forces have long been in control of the extensive program of assistance for the Taleban, who now control most of Afghanistan. The military felt no real constraints on its operations from civilian leaders in Pakistan, and therefore will feel no need to change policy.

    The real message of the coup is the depths of its futility in dealing with the domestic problems of Pakistan. The lengthy time in deciding what form of administration should follow the military takeover is a clear sign of the bankruptcy of ideas in the army about how to dig Pakistan out of it troubles.

    Hope is held out that a technocratic administration can restore stability. But the divisions in society are so deep, and the ambitions of venal politicians so great, that the technocrats will not stand a chance. Perhaps the Turkish model of a strong military standing behind a civilian government might work.

    Turkey, however, is no paragon of success. The Indonesian variant of strong military influence over a government with a civilian cloak is a warning how bad things can get.

    There is no getting away from the real message that Pakistan is a shattered state. For far too long, especially during the Cold War, Pakistan was treated by the United States and other Western nations with moral and strategic equivalence to India. In truth Pakistan has long been a weak country with weak institutions and crises that periodically burst into the open.

    In the Cold War, it made some sense to support Pakistan and believe that it could be a constructive regional player. Now the strategy must surely be to encourage Pakistan to reform, but to assume that it will need to be regarded as a problem to be contained.

    Pakistan's ethnic divisions can add dangerous fuel to Central Asian fires. Its involvement in the drug trade is already a major problem for narcotics control agencies in the West.

    For India the conclusions should be not too different. Pakistan should be regarded as India's back door, where security locks need to be strengthened to prevent further attempted break-ins. Achieving a political breakthrough for a long-term settlement with Pakistan is more remote than ever and little diplomatic energy should be expended to that end.

    The challenge for India and its new government is to clearly redefine itself as committed to greater domestic reform and openness to the outside world. The trick for India is to understand that now is the time to pay less attention to Pakistan, while learning the lessons why Pakistan has become such a basket case.

    The writer is director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. He contributed this comment to the International Herald Tribune.

    So, whats the point?

    Fata Morgana


      The point Mr. morgana , is that pakistan has nothing to contribute to the world community...In values , art or economy...
      The role of pakistan has been overestimated in the past for no reason of her own.....Today there is no need for any country in the world to take her seriously, or provide economic assisstance...
      We are like the BiGGrra hua Bacchaa of the family , with a vulgar sense of entitlement .....who refuses to take responsibility and threatens to throw tentrums if ppl wont do what he wants....
      we have never done anything to strengthen ourselves and after the cold war , no one has a reason to keep on helping us....

      [This message has been edited by Nova (edited October 22, 1999).]


        I think sofar Pakistani rulers have been serving foreign nation, and in my opinion, its still not late to serve our own nation.

        The fact is that Pakistan is the most talked about and feard country on the face of earth today. Except the US, the most of the countries are ill-learned about Pak.

        I am extremely convinced if we clean our own house first, the same people who talk or do against Pak, will come to us, kissing the ground! This world is small; there are not so many places left to go or explore.

        Fata Morgana

        [This message has been edited by Fata Morgana (edited October 22, 1999).]