Sunday, August 16

URGENT to Ghani, Modi, Obama, Xi re Pakistan: STAND DOWN! STAND DOWN!

From all I've seen of the situations during the past couple months, it looks to me as if with the best of intentions the Afghan, American, Chinese, Indian, and British governments have inadvertently worsened a power struggle between PM Nawaz Sharif's faction and Pakistan's top generals.  

If I'm right, then all the foreign players need to take a deep breath and stand down. Just chill, because anyone who thinks that COAS Raheel Sharif is a potted plant is much mistaken.  

Of course this isn't the first time in his life that Nawaz Sharif has butted heads with Pakistan's military -- and the last time he did, he lost. But at least he lived to tell the tale and run again for office. This time, there is a situation building in Pakistan that strikes me as similar to the one Egypt's top generals faced in 2010, when the Gamalists were wooing so many foreign investors that the Egyptian military's power was seriously threatened. 

I think China's huge investments in Pakistan and Sharif's attempt to woo big American FDI should be considered in the same light. 

The final straw, from the viewpoint of Pakistan's military, was the Ufa Summit. By then I think the generals were asking who's running Pakistan -- China's military or us?  

The generals were seeing the most serious threat to their power in the nation's history.  And the generals clearly believe that Nawaz Sharif is willing to make concessions to India in the interest of China's 'Can't we all just get along' initiative that Pakistan's public isn't ready to accept. 

Cynics would say that Pakistan's military is manipulating the public view. But the entry of two leaders -- Narendra Modi and Ashraf Ghani -- who have clearly signaled that they'd consider making concessions to Sharif's civilian government to gain a larger peace is I believe seen by Pakistan's generals as bringing about a fundamental change in the balance of power in Pakistan. This is because standing united behind Modi and Ghani's peace intiatives with Sharif are Western powers and China.

If I'm in the ballpark, the Obama Administration should consider that the vaunted split in the Taliban actually represents a split between Pakistan's civilian government and military. And that the string of horrific terrorist attacks in Kabul about a week ago was actually aimed at Nawaz Sharif and his negotiations with Ashraf Ghani. 

PM David Cameron should also contemplate recent events in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- and India, including the extraordinarily large number of ceasefire violations from Pakistan across the LoC since the Ufa Summit and the promise of rapprochement signaled by Sharif and Modi at the summit. 

Cameron should also reconsider, if his administration is nudging BBC Urdu to get more involved in Pakistani politics than it's traditionally done. I would not want to see the Beeb booted out of Pakistan.

We all want peace in the region. We all want an end to terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. But in light of events in Pakistan in just the past 24 hours, I feel like Mrs Corleone at the dinner table when she told Sonny, "Don't interfere."

He didn't listen, and we all know what happened because he didn't.

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