Monday, February 6, 2012

Yunas Samad's "The Pakistan-US Conundrum"

Yunas Samad is Professor of South Asian Studies and the Director of the Ethnicity and Social Policy Research Centre (ESPRC) at the University of Bradford. He is a leading expert on the study of South Asia and its diaspora and has published several books on the topic of Pakistani nationalism, ethnicity, Islam and the War on Terror and the diaspora.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Pakistan-US Conundrum: Jihadists, the Military and the People–The Struggle for Control, and reported the following:
Page 99 ends with the CIA involvement in Afghanistan against the Soviets and starts on the Saudi intelligence involvement. The significance is that Osama bin Laden was operating within the Saudi intelligence network and was considered highly for his support by Riyadh at that time.

The page is in the section Revenge of History that explains why the United States had to return to Afghanistan at the turn of the century. It examines the emergence of the transnational processes among Militant Islamic social movements that has become so problematic today and differentiates them according to their nationalist and internationalist agenda as well as ideology and politics. The War on Terror and the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, in some cases, collapsed the difference between these organisations and reactivated the transnational networks established during the Afghan intervention of the 1980s. These networks include wealthy benefactors in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states who financially support the Taliban insurgency to the tune of half a billion dollars a year.

The book begins with a sustained critique of the War on Terror as an inappropriate device for hunting down the perpetrators of 9/11. Osama bin Laden, killed a decade latter, could have easily, in that time period, have been brought to justice through a sustained criminal investigation rather than through the use of military might. The problem with War on Terror is that it is losing the battle for hearts and minds partly because of a worldview which sees only good guys and bad guys. If Washington really wants to leave Afghanistan a safer place it needs to use politics and negotiate with the Taliban, who are not necessarily pro-Al Qaeda. Politics is needed to drain the swamp and isolate the recalcitrant elements but its needs to involve the Pakistan army who have a considerable influence among the Taliban.

The third part of the book looks at issues within Pakistan and how the War on Terror has alienated public opinion, making it difficult for the government to extend support to the degree that Washington wants. Anti-American hysteria is also being used to destabilise a corrupt and inefficient government by the army to bring changes to the political situation. The book is highly critical of the Pakistan military for its anti-democratic role, for triggering an insurgency in Baluchistan and for maintaining close relations with militants, some of whom are attacking the state. The army support for militancy is threatening to draw the country into hostility with India, potentially a nuclear conflict. An alternative strategy of peace with India is evaluated and the enormous impact it would have on Pakistani body politics by allowing for a discussion on the downsizing of the army and the delinking of national security from militancy.
Learn more about The Pakistan-US Conundrum at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue