Saturday, June 11, 2005

Where will Pakistan be (if and) when it turns 100?

Envisioning Pakistan in 2047
Ahmad Faruqui

In the mid-nineties, Yale historian Paul Kennedy called Pakistan one of nine pivotal states in the developing world, since its collapse would create mayhem in the surrounding areas while its steady economic progress and stability would bolster its region’s economic vitality and political soundness.

In the year 2000, the US National Intelligence Council (NIC), which advises the US Central Intelligence Agency, offered a grim prognosis for Pakistan in the year 2015. It said that Pakistan would experience continuing domestic turmoil that would see the central government’s control being reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi. The latest report from the NIC, Mapping Global Futures, does not dwell much on Pakistan’s misfortunes, focusing instead on the rise of China and India.

Given the lawlessness that prevails in Pakistan today, it is hard to envision a positive future for Pakistan in the near term or even the medium term. However, it is possible to imagine such an outcome over the long term, when the current oligarchic leadership of generals, feudal lords and corrupt politicians would have turned over. There is a chance that they will have taken Pakistan down with them but there is an equally good chance that Pakistan would have survived their self-serving agendas. It is probable that their departure will create the conditions when Pakistan as envisioned by Allama Iqbal and the Quaid-e-Azam would finally come into being, thus fulfilling its Pakistan’s destiny.

Let us focus on the year 2047, when Pakistan would be observing its first centennial. It is reasonably close to 2050, the focus of two recent global economic and demographic projections.

The economic projection is by the investment-banking firm of Goldman Sachs in New York. It says the U.S. domination of the world would have come to an end by then. In 1950, the U.S. accounted for half of the world’s economic output. Today, it accounts for a fifth. By 2050, it may account for just a tenth. The Chinese economy will become larger than the U.S. economy around 2040 and by 2047 it would be some 25 percent larger. India’s economy would exceed Japan’s by 2030. However, by 2047 neither China nor India would be the richest nations in the globe, as measured by per capita income. China’s per capita income would be less than half of the U.S.’s while India’s would be about a fifth.

The Goldman Sachs report does not say anything about Pakistan but its approach can be applied to Pakistan. The projections are based on a widely used economic model, which forecasts economic growth as a function of three variables: growth in the labor force, the rate of investment and growth in labor productivity (managerial ingenuity and technological progress).

The demographic projection is by the U.N., and says that by 2050, Pakistan will be the fourth largest nation in the world. It would have a population of some 350 million, up from 141 million in 2000 and from 40 million in 1950. India would be the world’s most populous country but there would be one Pakistani for every four-and-a-half Indians, compared with one Pakistani today for every seven Indians. Pakistan would have a very large labor force, one of the conditions for rapid economic growth.

The second condition is that Pakistan sustains a high investment rate in the range of 20-25 percent of GDP. This rate is similar to India’s but much lower than China’s 35 percent. It is within the realm of feasibility but would require substantial foreign direct investment. This will only flow to Pakistan if a strong civil society takes root there and stamps out the current culture of intolerance between diverse ethnic and sectarian groups. There would be respect for law and property rights. Anarchy, kidnappings, rapes and tortures would become a thing of the past. Mosques would not be guarded by guns. Sardars, zamindars, waderas and siyasi faujis would give way to a new entrepreneurial class.

In addition, Pakistan’s economic managers would have to exercise fiscal discipline and ensure a budget surplus of two percent of GDP, brought about by expansion of the tax base and reduction in unproductive government expenditures such as those on the military. Foreign debt payments would be small and genuine economic reforms that provide significant incentives for private enterprise would have been implemented.

Pakistan’s global economic competitiveness would have risen from its current ranking of 91st out of 104 countries, as compiled by the World Economic Forum based on quantitative economic data and subjective information gleaned from a survey of business executives. Pakistan was ranked 67th on the quality of its macroeconomic environment, 83rd on the quality of its business environment, 87th on its technological capabilities and 102nd on the quality of its public institutions. Pakistan’s aggregate ranking is down from a value of 73 in 2003, largely because of a fall in the softer factors. India is ranked 55 and China ranked 46. Both countries have held their rankings between 2003 and 2004.

The final condition is productivity growth. This requires a commitment to education, science and technology. Pakistani universities would have to become centers of learning in both the sciences and the arts and attract the best talent from around the globe. The current drift toward extremism and militarism would have been replaced with a bias for invention, innovation and commercialization of new technologies.

If this begins to sound unrealistic, let us keep in mind that Japan, which has the world’s second largest economy today, was a developing country in the late fifties. Malaysia and Thailand did not become the powerhouses they are today until the seventies.

The 2047 vision will require inspired political leadership that represents the people and translates words into action. It will require the institution of checks and balances between the three branches of government and the establishment of democracy. And, most importantly, it would require the complete transformation of the adversarial relationship with India.

Gone would be the congenital insecurity and dread of being reabsorbed into the “mother country.” Something akin to the Canada-U.S. model would have settled in, allowing defense spending to be lowered to 2 percent of GDP. India would emerge as Pakistan’s largest trading partner and investor with many cultural affinities.

This scenario calls for a radical change in Pakistan’s strategic culture. Without such a change, the future is bleak. As Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew put it in his memoirs, “The Pakistanis are a hardy people with enough of the talented and well-educated to build a modern nation. But unending strife with India has drained Pakistan’s resources and stunted its potential.”

Militarization on Parade (what a joy ride it has been)

"Islam Under Siege" by Akbar Ahmed--A Book Review

Middle East
BOOK REVIEW Islam Under Siegeby Akbar S Ahmed Reviewed by Ahmad Faruqui The world's 1.3 billion Muslims are being squeezed between two equally strong forces. On the one hand are the forces of the West that want to modernize them, if need be through regime change. On the other hand are the forces of Osama bin Laden who want to de-Westernize them, if need be by wrapping their women in dark flowing robes. The pain is being shared equally by the two-thirds of the Muslim population that lives in Muslim countries, and who are often governed by tyrants that suppress all independent scholarship and dissent and the one-third that lives in non-Muslim countries, where even some of the longest standing democracies are rapidly regressing toward tyrannical control over their Muslim minorities. Critics of Islam in the West have begun to argue that the Koran asks Muslims to follow it blindly and resort to fanaticism. Yet in the words of linguist and translator Thomas Cleary, "Islam does not demand unreasoned belief. Rather, it invites intelligent faith, growing from observation, reflection and contemplation, beginning with nature and what is all around us. Accordingly, antagonism between religion and science such as that familiar to Westerners is foreign to Islam." It is a fact of history that Islamic civilization eventually nursed Europe out of the Dark Ages, laying the foundation for the Renaissance. It is unfortunate that Islam, which means "submission to the will of God", and whose followers greet each other with the expression, "Peace be on you", stands accused in the West of fomenting violence due to the acts of a few extremists who are acting contrary to the teachings of their faith. A few months ago, I interviewed a learned Islamic theologian about these issues, Dr Khalid Siddiqi. He teaches Arabic and Islamic studies at several colleges in the San Francisco Bay area and directs the Islamic Education and Information Center. With degrees from Dar-ul-Uloom Nadwa in India, al-Azhar University in Cairo and a doctorate from the University of London, Dr Siddiqi is in a unique position to judge the compatibility of terrorism with Islamic precepts. He said, "Violence against innocent civilians had no place in the life of Prophet Mohammed, and it should have no place in the life of his followers today." There is perhaps no better writer to analyze and diagnose the Muslim predicament than Professor Akbar S Ahmed, who holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair in Islamic Studies at American University. Professor Ahmed is an anthropologist by training who began his career in the Pakistan civil service and subsequently switched to academe. He has taught at Cambridge, Princeton and Harvard, and is the author of many books, scholarly papers, and newspaper articles. More tellingly, he is also the producer of a BBC film series about Islam and a feature film about Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He is also a former high commissioner to Britain. His latest book, Islam Under Siege, takes head on the challenges facing the Muslims in the aftermath of the events of September 11. The book deals with the plights of Muslims from the vantage point of reflexive sociology, and certain parts of it constitute an ambassador's memoir. The thesis of the book One would be hard pressed to disagree with the core argument of the book, which is directed at Muslims. It consists of two parts. First, don't blame the "Great Satan" for all your ills. Second, be inclusive and compassionate toward other human beings regardless of their faith, because that is what God has willed the believers to do. Many (but not all) of the problems facing the Muslim world are indeed self-inflicted, and blaming the West for all of them has set the Muslims back on the path to progress. Conspiracy theories dominate Muslim views of the West, which is believed to be plotting for the extermination of Islam while indulging in an orgy of sex and violence. It is too often the case that the lives of Muslims are cloaked with a fatalism based on a misunderstanding of God's will. Ahmed eloquently debunks many commonly held myths about Islam, some of which are held by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. For example, he points out that there is no room for killing even a single innocent civilian in Islam. Much of the conflict between the forces of moderation in Islam and those that are inclined to take extreme positions and carry out acts of violence against innocent people arises from the misinterpretation of the concept of jihad. Islam allows jihad in the form of armed struggle against oppressors. However, there are very specific conditions under which fighting in self-defense is allowed. One must be deprived of the right to live and to earn one's livelihood. Individuals are not allowed to take on this fight, and jihad has to be carried out with the collective will of the Muslim community. Individual acts of vigilantism would create anarchy and are prohibited. Ahmed's interpretation is consistent with that put forth by the vast majority of Muslim scholars. For example, Siddiqi asserts that the Muslim community has to observe very strict limits when carrying out jihad. Thus, those fighting a jihad cannot harm women, children and unarmed civilians on the enemy side under any circumstances. Willful destruction of property is condemned. A Muslim is prohibited from even harming a tree that is green, because it is a common asset of humanity. The Koran states, in the 192nd verse of the second chapter, "But if they cease, God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." And this command is reiterated in the following verse, "But if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression." The terrorists have reinforced a common misperception in the West that the Koran asks Muslims to kill Jews and Christians. In fact, the Koran addresses the believers among the Jews and Christians with great respect, calling them "the people of the book". Former president Jimmy Carter, winner of a Nobel Peace prize, wrote about the common family ties among Jews, Christians and Muslims in The Blood of Abraham in 1985. It was this broad vision that brought about the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. In the Koran (46th verse of the 29th chapter), God says to the Muslims: "Do not argue with the followers of the earlier revelations otherwise than in a most kindly manner - unless it be such of them as are bent on evil-doing - and say: We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, as well as that which has bestowed upon you; for our God and your God is one and the same, and it is unto Him that we all surrender ourselves." It is a common misperception that friendship between Muslims and non-Muslims is prohibited in Islam. That is also incorrect because the Koran (7th verse of the 60th chapter) even encourages making friends with one's enemies, "It may be that God will grant love [and friendship] between you and those you [now] hold as enemies. For God has power [over all things], and He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." It goes one step further and says, in the next verse, "God does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight for [your] faith nor drive you from your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loves those who are just." Methodology Ahmed's methodology is derived from the concept of group solidarity (or asabiyya in Arabic) first propounded by Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), regarded by many as the father of modern social science. Group solidarity serves a constructive purpose when it gives individuals a sense of identity and belonging to society. However, exaggerated feelings of tribal and religious loyalties can lead to a pathological case that the author terms hyper-group solidarity. The collapse of group solidarity also brings with it the collapse of justice, compassion and balance in society. These concepts hold a society together and their absence creates conflict and violence in society, leading to chaos and confusion. The author cites the Taliban, who were originally religious students confined to an Islamic seminary in Kandahar, Afghanistan as an example of a tribal society with social cohesion. Once the Taliban took over the regime in Kabul, their lack of training in political and civil administration, coupled with their exclusivist political identity that prevented them from assimilating non-Taliban ideas, ensured their failure. Their puritanical variant of Islam, which had been their strength in Kandahar, now became their weakness. They resorted to placing restrictions on women and destroying ancient Buddhist statues and when the US demanded they give up their special guest, Osama bin Laden, they failed to do so, because that would have compromised their tribal sense of honor. The author is quick to point out that hyper-group solidarity, as exhibited by the Taliban and the clerics in Iran, is not confined to Muslim societies. He mentions the Serb militias in Bosnia and the Hindu mobs that killed thousands of Muslims in Gujarat as examples of people who have succumbed to the same social disease. He also mentions that the freedom of speech and religion in the US prior to September 11 had created an atmosphere that could be compared to that of Muslim Spain (Andalus) when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived side by side in peace. However, everything changed after the terror attacks, as the US came in the grip of hyper-group solidarity. Muslims could be arrested anywhere and held without charges indefinitely, merely for being Muslims. Many who were arrested had their beards shaven forcefully. Is the book hard on Muslims and soft on the West?This question arises because depending on how one reads certain sections of the book, it comes across as being hard on Muslims and soft on the West. For example, there are instances when the book seems to equate Muslims generally with the bin Laden ideology, and holds them collectively responsible for his alleged actions. While discussing president Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, the book suggests that Muslims interpreted the president's actions as being those of a dishonorable man, and took that to mean that all Americans were dishonorable. The book says, "Muslim reading of Clinton had much to do with their planning for September [11], bin Laden misread Bush on the basis of Clinton's behavior." Second, the book is silent on the harm that has been inflicted on the Muslim world by the West over the past two centuries. It does not analyze why the grievances of bin Laden and his cohorts have acquired much legitimacy in the Muslim world. In its 12 pages of references, there is no mention of the Project for the New American Century. By now it is common knowledge that the neo-conservatives in Washington have a very definite plan to remake the Muslim world in their image. As they carry through on this agenda, they make it easier for bin Laden to recruit young Muslims to his cause. This point has been made by a variety of non-Muslim writers, including Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky and Norman Mailer in the US and many others in Europe and Latin America. Both parties are fighting a "war of self-defense", using whatever weapons are at their disposal. For the fighters of al-Qaeda, terrorism represents a form of guerilla warfare, which helps them overcome the asymmetrical balance of military power between themselves and the West. It may not have religious legitimacy in the opinion of the vast majority of Islamic scholars, but they are undeterred because they have chosen to interpret the Islamic scriptures differently. Third, the book may suggest to some readers that the Muslims are at the center of political violence. A review of the past century will reveal that millions were killed in political violence and wars that did not originate with either the Muslims or their religion. The primary examples being of course the two world wars, followed by the internal wars carried out in the name of communism by Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union and Mao Zedong in the People's Republic of China. The Korean War killed hundreds of thousands, the Vietnam War killed a million, the civil war in Kampuchea (now Cambodia) killed almost 2 million and another million were killed by the Soviet-Afghan war. In none of these wars were Muslims perpetrators of political violence. If anything, Muslims have often been the victims of political violence. As the book shows, large scale and systematic rape against Muslim women has been the hallmark of the past two decades, first in Bosnia and then in Gujarat. Fourth, the book seems to attribute the backwardness, illiteracy and misogynistic nature of society so prevalent in Muslim countries to the religion of the people who live there. Vast numbers of Muslims come across as simpletons who are gullible followers of the Egyptian activist Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s and 1960s and bin Laden in the 1990s. However, a review of the data published by the World Bank in its World Development Report and the United Nations Development Program in its Human Development Report reveals that the same problems bedevil much of the Third World. Muslim countries do not have a monopoly on backwardness. As others have shown, the problems faced by developing countries around the globe are caused by a miasmic interaction of culture, ethnicity, politics and economics, set against the backdrop of centuries of imperial conquest and colonialism by the West. As the author notes, the horrifying case in which a young boy was sodomized for walking alongside a young woman in Mianwali (Pakistan) and the girl gang-raped had nothing to do with the religion of Islam and more to do with a perceived violation of group honor by the elders of the tribe, ie, it was an act of hyper-group solidarity. Fifth, the book offers an incomplete analysis of terrorism. It seems to suggest that terrorism is caused by the existence of vast numbers of unemployed youth in the Muslim world, who are easily swayed by figures like bin Laden. This explanation overlooks the social and political grievances that are possibly the major drivers for terrorism. It was the Gulf War that spawned al-Qaeda. Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza causes Palestinians to resort to suicide bombings. Beijing's repression of its Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang and Moscow's brutal suppression of Chechens leads the survivors to commit acts of terrorism, just as New Delhi's failure to accommodate the aspirations of Kashmiris leads them to carry out terrorist acts. Nor is terrorism a recent phenomenon. Throughout history, oppression has led to what is called terrorism now and was called fighting for freedom in days past. Such was the case when black Africans were fighting the apartheid regime in South Africa, and when the American colonies were fighting imperial Britain. The proposed solution After reviewing the driving forces that have placed the Muslims and the West in conflict with each other, the author proffers a solution in the last chapter called the Global Paradigm. He argues that a just, compassionate and peaceful global order would be created if both parties would become inclusive in their thinking, and engage in a dialogue of civilizations. While agreeing with the noble premises of this solution, it is difficult to be optimistic that an early solution will be found to ease either the Muslim or Western predicaments. As the author notes, the Bush administration has embarked on a war that has no boundaries or time horizons. It is seething with as much anger and rage as its adversaries, and it is difficult to see any end in sight to this conflict that threatens to kill and maim Muslims in large numbers, in addition to curbing their civil rights in many countries. Viewed against the backdrop of the recent wars that the US had waged against Afghanistan and Iraq, and its plans to create a thousand military bases in 99 countries, a call for a dialogue among civilizations seems awfully Utopian. The book proposes that ultimately the Muslim world has to embrace democracy, and that is undoubtedly true. However, just as true is the fact that any form of government that is imposed externally in the Muslim world will reduce the new leaders to Western puppets, and undercut their credibility. Unfortunately, the West has a long tradition of installing puppet governments, under the guise of establishing democracy. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's comment that the liberated people of Iraq can elect any type of government as long as it is not an Islamic theocracy is an ominous development. Similarly, the West's objections to the Islamic laws being promulgated by the democratically elected government in North West Frontier Province in Pakistan does not serve the cause of democracy. There is a long list of Muslim grievances that can be cited, including Algeria's decision to ban the Islamic FIS party just as it was about to win the elections in 1992, the banning of the Muslim Welfare party in Turkey and the Central Intelligence Agency coup that overthrew the Mossadeq government in Iran in 1953. In fact, the West has a long track record of supporting military dictatorships during the past half century throughout the globe, including those in Chile, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Vietnam. Thus, if there is going to an inclusive dialogue between Muslims and the West, it has to be carried out by both sides. Lack of trust between the two sides remains a major impediment to the beginning of such a dialogue. A dialogue has been initiated by inter-faith groups on all sides. However, these groups often do not represent the center of gravity of the people who they represent, so that even total cohesion of viewpoints in the inter-faith dialogue may not carry over to the much-needed dialogue between civilizations. It is also important to recognize - and the author acknowledges this - that there is no monolithic entity called the West or the Muslim world. There is a lot of diversity in both. The Iraq war showed strong opposition in the West to the actions of the US government. There are many in the Muslim world who are opposed to the views articulated by bin Laden, and many in Pakistan are opposed to the Talibanization of parts of the country. It is this diversity in views within both worlds that gives hope that Samuel Huntington's apocalyptic clash of civilizations can be avoided. In closing, Ahmed has penned a must-read book. Part memoir and part exposition in social science, it should be required reading for scholars, policy makers and opinion leaders in both the Muslim world and the West. Islam Under Siege by Akbar S Ahmed, Polity Press, UK, 2003, ISBN: 0745622100, Price US$19.95, 224 pages (Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

The Idea of Pakistan--A Book Review

Jinnah's unfulfilled visionThe Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Cohen Reviewed by Ahmad Faruqui Stephen Cohen concludes his new book The Idea of Pakistan with an ominous sentence, to the effect that Washington has "one last opportunity to ensure that this troubled state will not become America's biggest foreign-policy problem in the last half of this decade". For those looking for inspiration to avail themselves of this opportunity to set things right in Pakistan, this book has much to offer. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a plethora of books has been published on Pakistan. What makes Cohen's book noteworthy is that he is a veteran of South Asia. Currently serving as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, Cohen served in the policy planning staff of the US State Department during the administration of president Ronald Reagan and for years taught political science at the University of Illinois. In some ways, this book is a companion piece to Cohen's India: Emerging Power that appeared three years ago. But in other ways, it extends the work that began with The Pakistan Army, a book that was banned in Pakistan when it came out in 1984. Nothing generates more controversy among Pakistanis and Pakistan-watchers than the idea of Pakistan. Some opine that it was a bad idea to begin with, while others argue that it went awry because of faulty implementation. Virtually no one argues that it was successfully implemented. For the first quarter-century, it seems, Pakistan's primary problem was the failure to integrate the eastern and western wings of the country. But new problems arose during the second quarter-century. Cohen's book will not resolve the controversy about whether Pakistan was a good or bad idea, but it will give proponents on both sides fresh ammunition for debate. It is likely to get a cold reception in Pakistan, where anyone questioning the idea of Pakistan is viewed as unpatriotic. But it will be read with great interest in Britain, China, India, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and, most particularly, in the United States. The book begins by reviewing the ideas that led to the birth of Pakistan in 1947 and then progresses to discussing how these ideas were implemented. Despite the title, most of the book is focused on the implementation of the idea rather than on the idea per se. Cohen discusses how the state of Pakistan came to be ruled by an oligarchy composed of the army, the civil bureaucracy and the landowning class (called feudal lords in Pakistan). Reflecting on Pakistan's troubled history, he is moved to quote from Aristotle, who in his classic work on Politics regarded oligarchy as the evil twin of aristocracy, one of three forms of government along with monarchy and polity. The book concludes with a presentation of future scenarios and an assessment of US policy options. From the Quaid to al-QaedaMuhammad Ali Jinnah, who came to be known as the Quaid-e-Azam (great leader), was the founder of Pakistan. He brought to fruition the idea of Pakistan that was first put forward by the great poet and philosopher of India, Allama Muhammad Iqbal. As Cohen says, the Quaid had the vision of a secular, liberal and democratic nation state that would serve the needs of the Muslims of British India. Iqbal's vision had stronger religious overtones. Over time, the delicate tension between these two visions was exploited by various ethnic, sectarian and religious groups to argue their own agendas. This was partly due to the death of the Quaid within a year of the nation's founding and partly to the death of his lieutenant, Liaquat Ali Khan, three years later. But this proliferation of visions may have been due in part to the ambiguity of the idea of Pakistan and also to the cunning of the rulers who inherited the mantle of power. The most notorious among them was a former civil servant, Ghulam Muhammad. While serving as governor general, he deposed a democratically elected prime minister, Khwaja Nazimuddin, on April 17, 1953. This unconstitutional act was carried out in concert with the army chief, General Ayub Khan, and the defense secretary, Iskander Mirza. The US looked the other way, since it was interested in enrolling Pakistan in the fight to contain communism. Democracy in Pakistan may be said to have died that year, even though Cohen places that date in 1955. In 1954, the US enrolled Pakistan in its Military Assistance Program and began to provide personnel training, hardware and munitions to field five and a half army divisions equipped with Patton tanks and heavy artillery pieces and a dozen air force squadrons equipped with F-86 fighter bombers, F-104 interceptors and B-57 night bombers. This heavy infusion of firepower strengthened the Pakistani military at the expense of other institutions and would lead to a military coup four years later. Three more coups would occur in the succeeding four decades. Citing the work of Mahnaz Ispahani, Cohen says there are at least three potentially conflicting visions of Pakistan: a state for the Muslims of South Asia, an Islamic state and a democratic state. Some would argue that this ambiguity and conflict are captured in the official name of the country, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Each of these visions poses its own problems. The first vision is based on the two-nation theory of statehood according to which the Muslims of South Asia would reside in Pakistan. At the time of partition, 400 million people lived in India, of whom 100 million were Muslims. When partition took place, a third of the Muslims wound up in West Pakistan, a third in East Pakistan and a third remained behind in India. After the secession of East Pakistan a quarter-century later, only a third of the Muslims of South Asia resided in the "new" Pakistan, making it difficult for Pakistani leaders to claim that the "two nation" theory on which the state was founded was still valid. Today's Pakistan cannot justify its existence on this vision, since there are almost as many Muslims in India and in Bangladesh. The fact that Bangladesh continues to exist as a separate state from India does not change the reality that the majority of the Muslims of South Asia now reside outside of Pakistan. Of course, this trifurcation of the South Asian Muslim population has not deterred the two-nation ideologues in Islamabad from calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir, the disputed territory with India. Cohen argues cogently that the pursuit of Kashmir has done more damage to the nation-state of Pakistan than any other single issue. In his other writings, he has argued that Pakistan's dispute with India is more than just a quarrel involving a piece of territory: it is a dispute about national ideology. One wishes he had expanded upon this line of reasoning in this book. Kashmir has caused Pakistan and India to fight two major wars and several minor wars. Recognizing the disparity in conventional forces between the two countries, the Pakistani army has adopted the strategy of waging a covert war in Kashmir. It has armed, trained and funded guerrillas that operate in Kashmir as "freedom fighters". Since the Afghan-Soviet war ended in 1989, these groups have increasingly drawn individuals into their fold who subscribe to a militant pan-Islamic ideology. Today, Pakistan is in the grip of a witches' brew of freedom fighters, militants and anarchists, including al-Qaeda fighters who regard terrorism as a legitimate weapon in asymmetric warfare. The Pakistani army has to shoulder the responsibility for bringing terrorism into the social fabric of the Pakistani nation-state, but the blame must also rest on the shoulders of Washington, which bought into the army's strategy of using the mujahideen in the covert war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Cohen erroneously concludes that the al-Qaeda ideology stems in part from the writings of Maulana Maudoodi, one of the leading Muslim writers of the past century and a political icon in Pakistani history. Nowhere in Maudoodi's writings would one find a reference to the use of terrorist attacks on innocent civilians as a way of establishing an Islamic state. The second vision of Pakistan was that it would be an Islamic state. The problem is that there is no unique interpretation of an Islamic state, since there are numerous sects and sub-sects within the Islamic faith. Invariably, a single brand of Islam would come into power and seek to impose its vision over the others by using the authority of the state to declare other interpretations as un-Islamic and subject to criminal prosecution. Thus, and this is the big worry in the West, how would one prevent al-Qaeda from coming into power under the guise of creating an Islamic state in Pakistan but intent on exporting its militant ideology globally? The third vision of Pakistan was that it would be a democratic state. In such a state, the people would be sovereign, not the army. The elected government would control the army's budget and set the foreign policy and national security strategy. This vision has yet to be realized. It was attempted unsuccessfully during the early-to-mid-1970s by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and then again in the 1990s by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Anyone who has traveled through Pakistan and talked to a cross-section of the 150 million people who reside there may be forgiven for concluding that there are not just three interpretations of Jinnah's vision but dozens. There is nothing unusual about that, since many other countries have a diversity of opinions about their national identity. What makes the situation in Pakistan dire is not the multiplicity of ideas but the exclusivity of these ideas. This leads to a culture of intolerance where the followers of different ideological schools, blinded by the certainty of their beliefs, are ready to impose them on every one else. Debate and competition allow for the co-existence of competing ideas in democratic countries and lead to their vitality and rebirth. Such "shock absorbers" have yet to be institutionalized in Pakistan's polity. Cohen contends that there was confusion from the very beginning about the idea of Pakistan but stops short of pronouncing judgment on whether the idea was good or bad to begin with. Others have been less circumspect in concluding that it was a bad idea. Altaf Hussain, who leads a large political party in Pakistan, gave a speech in New Delhi recently in which he said, "The idea of Pakistan was dead at its inception, when the majority of Muslims chose to stay back after partition, a truism reiterated in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971." A tradition of militarismA review of the historical record indicates that there was no consensus about what type of state Pakistan would was going to be. Thus it is no surprise that it took nine years for the Constituent Assembly to adopt the constitution. India, by contrast, adopted its constitution within two years of independence. The constitution that was nine years in the making only lasted for two years, when it was abrogated by the first military government of General Ayub Khan. Ayub provided his own constitution embodying the concept of "basic democracy" in 1962 and a presidential form of government. While reviewing the report of the Constitution Commission of Pakistan in 1961, Ayub noted, "politically, our people are immature. However, there are signs that after a couple of generations are reared in an atmosphere of freedom and suitable education on which we have launched, a national outlook will emerge. Until then we have to be continually on our guard, and may even have to do things to save [the] people against themselves." Ayub's constitution was replaced by a third constitution in 1973, which reverted to a prime-ministerial form of government, and was made necessary by the cataclysmic events that followed the secession of East Pakistan in 1971. Along the way, this constitution was amended numerous times, mostly notably by the third military ruler, General Zia ul-Haq, who introduced the infamous Eighth Amendment giving the president the power to dismiss the prime minister and dissolve parliament. Subsequent civilian governments softened this amendment. However, in December 2003, this provision was brought back into the constitution in the form of the 17th Amendment. Ironically, that amendment was crafted by Syed Sharifudin Pirzada, a lawyer who was a personal assistant to the Quaid. Cohen notes that Pirzada had earlier assisted the three previous military rulers in establishing their legal bona fides. A separate parliamentary bill has recently passed both houses of parliament in Pakistan allowing General Pervez Musharraf to serve simultaneously as the president and army chief. Earlier, in April, a bill was passed creating the National Security Council to promote political stability. This is designed to institutionalize the involvement of the armed forces in national decision-making and is patterned after a similar arrangement that has been in place in Turkey. In the words of Musharraf, "You have to let the army in in order to keep the army out." To most people this sounds like letting the fox guard the henhouse. Moreover, as Cohen points out, the Turkish example is becoming increasingly irrelevant, since that country has almost cured itself of the scourge of militarism. Musharraf continues to fight a crisis of legitimacy five years after he seized power in 1999. He declared himself president after holding a referendum in the spring of 2002. This was widely regarded as a farce that drew only 10% of the voters to the polling booths. Musharraf claimed that 98% of the votes were cast in his favor, contradicting every analyst's assessment. Similarly, when he decided a few months ago to change his December 2003 decision to retire from the army the following December, he claimed that 96% of the people supported the reversal of his decision because the realities had changed. Winning percentages in the high 90s only accrue to military dictators and are rarely found in mature democracies. Musharraf does not realize that a general in uniform is expected to lead armies, not nations. During the five centuries of the Roman republic, its consuls were elected on an annual basis. During times of military emergency, dictators were elected by the Roman senate for a six-month term. Augustus Caesar put an end to this practice when he declared for himself imperium proconsulare maius (control over the provinces and the army) and tribunicia potestas (personal inviolability and the right to veto the actions of other lawmakers) for life, thereby acquiring complete control of the state, which contributed to the end of the Roman republic. Moved by Musharraf's consolidation of multiple functions in his person, an advocate recently petitioned the Lahore High Court to declare Musharraf the king of Pakistan. The petition was rejected on technical grounds. Perhaps he would have fared better had he asked that Musharraf be called "Qaiser-e-Pakistan", Pakistani Caesar. Cohen provides an extensive critique of militarism in Pakistan and how it has adversely affected the nation's national security. Not one to mince words, he says, "The army lacks the capability to fix Pakistan's problems, but it is unwilling to give other state institutions and the political system the opportunity to learn and grow; its tolerance for the mistakes of others is very low, yet its own performance, when in power, has usually dug the hole deeper." The Pakistani military is now more than 600,000-strong and includes some 165 generals, admirals and air marshals of two-star rank and above, of whom some 125 are in the army. There are five officers of four-star rank, including Musharraf, the chairman of the Joint Staff Committee, the vice chief of army staff, the air chief and the naval chief. Forty officers hold the three-star rank and the balance hold the two-star rank. The army has divided the country into nine corps formations, and it would be fair to assume that Musharraf rules the country with the concurrence of these formation commanders. During the past five years, he has very adroitly replaced all formation commanders who could have been a threat to his rule, either because they helped bring him into power or because they had fundamentalist leanings. The army is about 50% greater in size than it was during the crisis of 1971, when half the country was lost to the formation of Bangladesh. There is no evidence that the security of Pakistan has improved with the increased strength of the military. In fact, since it has diverted resources from other dimensions of national security, such as social, political and economic security, one can argue it has lessened. Cohen points out how Western leaders and academics have often ended up supporting military dictators. For example, he mentions how the noted Harvard professor Samuel Huntington called Ayub Khan a Solon, after the great Athenian lawgiver. General Zia was widely praised in the West for being a bulwark of freedom against the Soviet Union. Much of the same is true of the standing that Musharraf enjoys in the West. Cohen argues that Musharraf's international backers "see him as a wise and modern leader, a secular man who is not afraid to support the West or to offer peace to India, and a man who can hold back the onrush of demagogues and Islamic extremists". Yet, he notes, "no serious Pakistani analyst sees Musharraf in these terms". They see him as claiming to act in an undefined and abstract "national interest" and "taking people into confidence" after having made the key decisions. Cohen aptly comments that Musharraf believes that no civilian can understand the national interest. One wishes he had analyzed this point further. Does it imply that no civilian can be trusted with its protection? If so, that might suggest something more sinister, that in Musharraf's lexicon, the term "national interest" is a synonym for the military's interest. Over time, "Pakistan has adapted to changing strategic circumstances," Cohen observes, "by 'renting' itself out to powerful states, notably the United States, but also Saudi Arabia and China." He warns that the September 11, 2001, windfall and the al-Qaeda card will, beyond a certain point, cease to guarantee cash and support. And although economic growth is currently strong, Pakistan has a fundamentally weak economy. Seeking to put a new face on its legitimacy, the military government has put its macroeconomic statistics on parade. It says that over the past two years, gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at an annual rate of 5.8%, per capita income at 13.9%, and exports at 17%. National savings, as a percentage of GDP, have grown by 8.3 percentage points since 1998-99. Pakistan has attracted foreign direct investment of almost $1 billion and foreign-exchange reserves are at an all-time high of US$12.5 billion. Moreover, defense spending is coming down as a percentage of GDP. In other words, Musharraf would like investors to think that Pakistan is a rising tiger. During a recent visit to Washington, DC, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (and not the president of the central bank, as he is referenced in one place in the book) argued that these positive results could not have been achieved by a democratically elected government. Of course, Ishrat Husain has emerged as one of the leading apologists of the military regime. His book Economic Management in Pakistan, 1999-2002 reads like an apologia for military rule and a paean to Musharraf. One can only imagine what would be left of Alan Greenspan's reputation if he penned a similar work about any of the presidents of his tenure. Husain's thinking runs contrary to recent thinking in social science. What matters to the common person is her or her happiness, which depends on a number of microeconomic factors other than the country's macroeconomic indicators. People's happiness is influenced by a number of factors, including the kind of political system they live in. This is borne out by analysis of data across 38 mainly developed nations at the beginning of the 1990s. Citizens in a democracy are likely to be happier because they can vote poor leaders out of office, while those in a dictatorship can't. Cohen does not comment on the freedom of the press in Pakistan under military rule. According to a report put forward by Reporters Without Borders, last year the press in Pakistan was ranked in the 90th percentile from the bottom. A year prior, it had ranked in the 85th percentile. This group has labeled Musharraf a "predator of press freedom", alleging that he uses the military intelligence agencies to "watch, intimidate, manipulate or arrest both Pakistani and foreign journalists who annoy him". It cites the secret detention and torture of Khawar Mehdi, who investigated Taliban groups on the Afghan border with two journalists from the French weekly L'Express, who were themselves arrested and then released. It also mentions that an investigative journalist was fired from his newspaper in June 2003 because Musharraf accused him of tarnishing the country's image, and another journalist was condemned to death after criticizing the activities of an anti-narcotics governmental agency. In 2002, only 10% of Pakistanis said they were satisfied with their lives as a whole - which was the lowest percentage in a survey of 80 countries. Only one in five persons described him- or herself as "very happy". These are depressing results and are at odds with the rosy impression created by the government's parade of rising macroeconomic indicators. As a result of the largess conferred upon Pakistan by Washington, Pakistan has been able to reschedule $12 billion of its foreign debt and lower the amount of debt-servicing payments. It has received a $1 billion grant from the US and a package of $3 billion over a five-year period, subject to congressional approval. The US has also written off $1 billion in bilateral debt. In addition, Pakistan has received a large one-time injection of funds from its expatriate population in the US. It is questionable whether economic growth in the 6-8% range is either achievable or sustainable for Pakistan without continued foreign assistance. The fundamentals of the economy have not changed. It remains dependent on the export of raw cotton, textiles and apparel at a time when much of the region has shifted to information technologies. The continued political uncertainty and the ongoing "war against terror" do not provide a good backdrop against which to attract foreign direct investment. Cohen discusses the failure of Pakistan to develop much of a tourist industry that would take advantage of its natural beauty in the Karakorums and rich archeological heritage. Quo vadis?The book lays out six scenarios of the near-to-mid-term future: (1) continuation of the status quo, which involves rule by an establishment-dominated oligarchic system, (2) liberal, secular democracy, (3) soft authoritarianism, (4) an Islamist state, (5) divided Pakistan and (6) postwar Pakistan. While the scenarios are intrinsically interesting in themselves, alas, they represent the author's personal opinion. The methodology for developing them is never laid out clearly. The driving factors and their cross-impact matrix, well-recognized techniques for developing scenarios and used by the texts cited by Cohen, are not presented and may not have been used in the development of scenarios. Implicitly, probabilities are assigned to the scenarios through means that are unclear. Perhaps these scenarios can be viewed as the starting point of a Delphi process. The generals have come to power on virtually the same premise every time, ie, to save the country from imminent destruction. They have used Kelsen's doctrine of necessity to justify their unconstitutional takeover. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court has always blessed the treasonous act, validating Sir John Harrington's remark that "treason doth never prosper; for if it doth prosper, none dare call it treason". The "khakis" have assiduously cultivated a myth of their indispensability and overstayed their welcome. The commotion surrounding their entry into power blinds them to the need to develop an exit strategy. When they are forced to exit, the nation is no better off than when they had arrived on the scene. While discussing US options vis-a-vis Pakistan, the author says US policy has always given short-term gains priority over long-term concerns. He says this is no longer feasible, since ignoring the long term could have "grave consequences". For example, the Reagan administration was uninterested in the consequences of supporting the mujahideen because they were thought to be the best anti-Soviet fighters. Currently, terrorism has zoomed to the top of the US agenda but it needs to be given a long-term preventive quality, not just a short-term military quality. Democracy needs to be emphasized, despite the Musharraf government's contention that it would bring incompetent politicians or radical Islamists to power. Education should be a major priority. In the $3 billion aid package, only $100 million has been earmarked for this topic area. Cohen would like the United States to help change the technocratic focus of Pakistan's education system, which is designed to feed workers and scientists into a military-educational-industrial complex that is currently in place. Cohen says "this is an educational vision appropriate for a totalitarian state, not for one that aspires to be a free society". He calls upon the US to encourage the government of Pakistan to increase the share of its expenditures that go for education, especially primary education, by reducing military aid if a minimum amount is not spent on education. Similarly, Cohen argues that the amount of the US aid package should be made to vary with Pakistan's progress in democratization. In his view, the army is the biggest threat to democracy in Pakistan. For 29 years it has ruled directly and for the other 28 it has ruled indirectly. It has unlimited access to the government's budgetary and foreign-exchange resources. It sets the nation's foreign policy and its national-security strategy (inclusive of its nuclear-weapons policy) even when it's not in office. Cohen says that Musharraf is not a truly exceptional person, and the best service he could do for his country would be to allow capable civilian institutions to develop that would allow the military to exit the political sphere and focus on its military duties. He cautions that the army leadership will resist US pressure to change Pakistan's policies, whether foreign or domestic. At the same time, he reminds US policy officials that Musharraf is not irreplaceable and were he to be forced out of office, his replacement would be a like-minded general who will do the establishment's bidding. Unanswered questionsThe book covers a lot of ground in its 400-some pages. However, by the time one gets to the end, many important questions remain unanswered. For example, Cohen says the Pakistani army is long on memory and short on foresight, but he does not discuss either why that is the case or whether it can ever be changed. In addition, by presenting a scenario where the oligarchic establishment continues to rule as the most probable scenario, he seems to be endorsing Pakistan's recidivist militarism rather than analyzing and challenging it. Cohen says it is improbable that liberal democracy will take hold in Pakistan. Just a couple of decades ago, the same was being said of Latin America and Eastern Europe. He posits that Bangladesh, which also had an episode of military rule but now has a democratic setup, is unlikely to revert to military rule since it does not have a security problem. The implicit hypothesis that security problems lead to military rule is a non sequitur. Otherwise India would have military rule a fortiori, since it has security problems with Pakistan and China, in addition to numerous security problems in the eastern and southern states with separatist movements. There is no evidence that any serious coups have been attempted in India. Cohen alludes to Punjab's dominance in Pakistani politics but does not explore the implications of this for national stability. This single province accounts for 56% of the population and about 70-80% of the military and civil service positions. It is widely regarded as the most prosperous province and there is no question that its dominance has alienated the smaller provinces. India, with a population of a billion people, has continued to divide the states it inherited at independence to retain a national balance and the Indian Union now consists of 26 states. None of the states accounts for more than 15% of the population. Afghanistan, with a much smaller population of 29 million, has 34 provinces. The small nation of Switzerland, with a population of 7 million, is divided into 26 cantons, each with its own constitution. The federal character of the US would change irreversibly for the worse if one of the 50 states accounted for half of the population and three-quarters of the government jobs. Would it not make sense to subdivide Punjab into three or four provinces, resulting in a much more equal distribution of resources, assets and positions? This is a fundamental issue to the survival of Pakistan that may be worth addressing in the second edition of this book. While discussing the ebb and flow of the tide in US-Pakistani ties, Cohen does not explore the reasons that the tide has always been at a flood when a Republican administration has been in power in the White House and a military dictatorship in Islamabad. It cannot just be a coincidence, since it has happened at least four times in the past half-century. During Ayub's tenure, the ties were very strong during the Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower and weakened during the succeeding Democratic administrations of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan had good ties with the administration of Richard Nixon but Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's ties with the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter administrations were marginal. During the former, Henry Kissinger threatened Bhutto with making a horrible example of Pakistan if it continued with its nuclear program. Carter stopped arms shipments to Bhutto's government when it used force on protesters that were trying to toppled Bhutto from power. Zia's ties with Carter were poor but they improved dramatically under Reagan. Finally, Musharraf's ties with were very poor during the Clinton period and picked up dramatically under George W Bush. Cohen does not recognize that Pakistan's failure to emerge as a democracy is in part due to systematic US interference in its political development. There is strong evidence that the people of Pakistan want democracy. According to the World Values Surveys carried out by the researchers under the direction of Ronald Inglehart of the University of Michigan, only 4% of Pakistanis support military rule and 88% support a democratic dispensation. The data come from a random statistical survey of 2,000 Pakistanis in the year 2000. The surveys bear out Cohen's contention that the country is run by an oligarchy, with 89% saying the country is run by "a few big interests". Only 34% support having a strong leader who does not bother with an elected parliament. An even smaller percentage, 19%, support having experts (ie, technocrats) rather than elected officials make decisions of national importance. The analysis of anti-Americanism in Pakistan is weak. Cohen seems to suggest that this problem is confined to a segment of the population when surveys suggest the problem is much more pervasive. According to a survey conducted last spring by the Pew Research Center, only 16% of Pakistanis support the war against terror and 7 percent of have a favorable view of President Bush. As expected, conservative religious groups are not in favor of the US. But even the liberal elements of Pakistani society have now formed a negative opinion of the US because of that country's continuing support for military rule in Pakistan and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much of Cohen's analysis does not appear to be based on micro-sources, such as interviews, surveys and polls. Another shortcoming is a lack of comparisons across regions and continents. The few that are made pertain to India or Bangladesh. This otherwise fine book seems to have been rushed off to the publisher. In places, the writing is labored and drags. In other places, the smooth flow of the text is interrupted by a series of dashed paragraphs that suggest they were transcribed from notes in bullet form. The concluding paragraphs in a couple of chapters are not motivated by the discussion in the body of the chapter. And the same event is given different dates of occurrence. In one place, Musharraf's referendum takes place in the year 2001 and in another place in 2002 (the latter is correct). The date of Yahya's takeover from Ayub in 1969 is cited as March 26 in one place as March 25 in another place (the latter is correct). The book comes with copious endnotes, but the source materials listed in these notes are a very small sample of the current literature on Pakistan. In his book on the Pakistani army, Cohen provided a very useful set of bibliographic notes, and one wishes he had done the same in this one. The sourcing of Islamic materials is quite weak and not likely to inspire confidence in the author's understanding of either Islam the religion or Islam the polity. In one instance, he uses a paper by Daniel Pipes to define an Islamist state. This is like citing Bernard Lewis as an authority on Islam or the Muslim world. These authors are inimical toward the idea of an Islamic state, since they assert that such a state would intrinsically use violence to destabilize the West. But the view widely held in the Muslim world is that an Islamic state is simply one that applies Islamic law (Sharia) to all those who live within its boundaries. The index is incomplete and does not list authors whose works are cited in the endnotes nor does it list topics such as the "oligarchs" or "Aristotle's Politics" that are discussed in the text. Even with these limitations, the book is a must read, if for no other reason than for the discussion of the "American Options" in the last chapter. Its most notable contribution is the counsel to Washington to factor in the long-run implications of its actions, especially regarding the need to support the implementation of democratic reforms in Pakistan. Given the author's standing as a veteran South Asian analyst, the book will be widely read in the corridors of power throughout the globe. It presents a US view of Pakistan, an increasingly apprehensive view, but one that can only be ignored by the military rulers in Islamabad at their own peril. The Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Cohen. Washington 2004: Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 0-8157-1502-1. Price US$32.95; 382 pages. (Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.)

Demilitarize or Perish (A book review)

South Asia
BOOK REVIEWDemilitarize or perishRethinking the National Security of Pakistan by Ahmad Faruqui Reviewed by Chanakya Sen Always trust an economist to prick balloons of national security floated by militarists. Economic consultant Ahmad Faruqui's commentary on demilitarizing Pakistan offers an alternative vision for priming human development, the road that rulers in Islamabad never took. Published when generals are yet again preferred instruments of Western intervention in Pakistan, this book warns of dire consequences if new paths are not hewn. A Faustian bargain Faruqui's central thesis is that most of Pakistan's socio-economic problems originate from the heavy emphasis on national defense and military spending. Pakistan's unconditional support for the US's "war against terrorism" after September 11, 2001 has augmented this lopsided stress. President General Pervez Musharraf has been handed "an enduring rationale for continuing as president under Kelsen's law of necessity that has served all prior military rulers". (p xix). He is less inclined to take any major initiatives to pursue peace with India. Military expenditure continues to absorb the lion's share of the government budget and no major overhaul of Pakistan's military organization is likely. The endemic problem of military dominance in Pakistan has been perpetuated with the mutual embrace of the West and Musharraf. More harm than good has accrued when Musharraf short-sold Pakistan to the US. To prevent the "Islamic bomb" from falling into religious terrorist hands, the American 15th Marine Expeditionary unit is ready to "neutralize" Pakistan's weapons of mass destruction even at the cost of engaging Pakistani troops. The arrest of Pakistani nuclear scientists for passing know-how to al-Qaeda was done to please the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Changes in the Pakistan army high command and the Inter-Services Intelligence were carried out to curry favor with the Central Intelligence Agency. India has succeeded in throwing flashlights on terrorist training infrastructure in Pakistani Kashmir. The victory of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan is a major setback to Pakistan due to the former's closeness to Iran and India. Pakistan's economy is deteriorating, with sliding per capita incomes lower than 1%, and foreign economic assistance evaporating after the Taliban were dislodged from Afghanistan. Musharraf's decision to ally with the US turns out to be a Faustian bargain, not a bright tactical move. It is similar to the 1999 Kargil war with India planned by Musharraf. Initially praised as "an act of military brilliance", Pakistan lost both the political and military battle for Kargil. It had to withdraw in humiliating circumstances since "the world chose to accept the Indian version of events". (p 16) History of militarism Pakistan's governance travails stem from dictators who are "specialists in violence rather than in economics". (p 19) Small cabals have acquired disproportionate organizational and collusive power under successive military regimes. The landed oligarchy, the bureaucracy and the jihadis are the main beneficiaries of Pakistan's "political economy of defense". (Ayesha Jalal) Their fortunes have been peaking through policies exacerbating inter-class and inter-regional inequalities. General Ayub Khan nurtured a class of robber barons with gigantic concentration of wealth in a handful of families. West Pakistan's per capita income was 61% higher than the East's under Ayub. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a feudal lord himself, was unable to rise above his roots. He transferred resources from public enterprises to private individuals and income distribution worsened under his so-called socialist tenure. General Zia ul-Haq mass-appointed retired and serving army officers to top public sector positions and allowed one fifth of the US$3.2 billion American aid for Afghanistan to be pocketed by the military-civil service elites. Benazir Bhutto doled out franchises to thugs and convicted murderers and triggered a new arms race with India due to her respect for the Pakistani military's "autonomy". Nawaz Sharif, Zia's protege, misused public funds for favoritism and kickbacks and followed his mentor's promotion of orthodox militancy. Musharraf's coup in 1999 occurred when "the army's corporate interests were threatened". (p 35) He has named manifold ex-generals as diplomats and many senior-serving officers to civilian duties for which they have no core competency. He has not touched the lucrative contracts and sinecures of the defense coteries and has failed to rein in religious militias waging jihad. Misreading India Pakistan's present and past national security strategies are premised on fear of being reabsorbed into India. The Pakistan army has convinced many citizens that India never reconciled itself to the partition of 1947. To counter this perceived Indian threat militarily, "no economic sacrifice is judged to be too much". (p 42) Pakistan's claim to Kashmir is the main legitimating potion of its ruling class and the hawks in its security establishment. This obsession has misbegotten four costly wars and countless acts of subversion that proved fruitless. Pakistan's military planners have projected India as "a pushover adversary that is cowardly because the Hindu has no stomach for a fight". (p 44) They have raised very high expectations about the superiority of Pakistan's armed forces, illusions repeatedly shattered by defeats. In spite of enjoying tactical successes, Pakistan has consistently failed to achieve strategic objectives in wars with India. Often, Islamabad has "completely misunderstood Indian intentions and capabilities" and jumped the gun with hubris and folly. In 1971, General Niazi believed that India would merely conduct a minor incursion into East Pakistan (to become Bangladesh) to set up a puppet regime, though Indian responses to provocation have always been aggressive, like those of other states of similar power and size in the international system. Failures in the higher direction of war have been matched by diplomatic fiascos and leadership blunders. Pakistan expects its foreign allies to bail it out of difficult situations against India, but these hopes have rarely materialized. In the Kargil war, China, the vaunted "perpetual ally", did not support Islamabad owing to fear of Islamic extremism. Counting on China as a counterweight to India is also chimerical because "the Indians have made it plain that they will not be routed a second time and intend to return any Chinese 'lesson' in kind". (p 90) Nuclear fallaciesPakistan's advocacy of nuclear deterrence is meaningless since it has not capped its program after developing a few atomic bombs. In the year following its nuclear tests of 1998, Pakistan had to increase defense spending by 10%, nullifying the publicized benefits of a "nuclear dividend". Nothing changed in the day-to-day life of common Pakistanis, even though nuclear scientists and generals commercialized weapons of mass destruction for personal gain. Cash-strapped Pakistan is incapable of matching the Indian increases in defense budgets, but the vanity of weaponizing "even if the people eat grass" (Z A Bhutto) has not receded. Pakistan's nuclear program cost an estimated $10 billion up to 2001 and set back development indices by more than years. Post-nuclear US sanctions caused Pakistan's economy to suffer a gross domestic product fall of 2.9%. The exorbitant opportunity costs of Pakistan's nuclear white elephant have actually diminished the country's national security. Retrenchment strategies The solution to Pakistan's security deficit suggested by Faruqui is to balance its economic resources with strategic ambitions. What is needed is a "lean and mean military organization, without becoming a drain on the national treasury and undermining the non-military dimensions of security". (p 115) The comparative experience of Israel, which depends on reservists for defending territorial integrity, is a lesson. To defend Pakistan against external aggression, a force level of 300,000 troops is enough, ie half of the present strength. Demobilization can be carried out by offering golden handshakes and compensation packages for converting swords into ploughshares. Small force levels do not imply weak defense. At present, Pakistan is incurring a price tag of $110 million a year for pumping the insurgency in Indian Kashmir and thereby earning the ire of the international community. Faruqui prescribes a more active "third party catalyst" role for the US to provide incentives for peace over Kashmir, though how a superpower interested in running off democratic India against China can be expected to be an honest broker over Kashmir is left for the reader's imagination. Faruqui's reading of post-Cold War realities and US-China equation are confusing. Economic aid, debt write-offs and conversion to zero-interest loans are also recommended to encourage defense spending cuts in Pakistan and India. Faruqui makes assumptions that Indian security is purely Pakistan-centric by adducing two-country game theory models to prove that economic diplomacy works. Bilateralizing concentric multilateral threat perceptions is too simplistic. Faruqui's proposals for reforming the Pakistani military are on firmer ground. To improve national security by lifting the people's confidence in the military, the latter should provide a transparent analysis of its fiscal expenditures. Pakistan's defense spending has been free from scrutiny or audit, thanks to the guiding philosophy of "defense for the sake of defense". Only two lines in the official budget (defense administration and defense services) represent the huge military expense bill, with no explanation of what these two items stand for. Pakistan should switch from exorbitant "offensive defense" to "defensive dominance" strategies that involve civilian participation. The military must formalize rigorous self-evaluation of combat effectiveness and be willing to accept failings. Do or die Pakistan's poor economic situation is linked intrinsically with faulty defense and foreign policies. Faruqui offers Pakistani leaders the example of Deng Xiaoping, who converted China's foreign policy of confrontation into one of economic cooperation. Pakistan's savings and investment ratios are among the lowest in the world, mainly due to defense spending and corruption, both severe drains. It spends 6% of its gross domestic product on defense, while health and education stagnate at 1% and 2%. Faruqui argues for correct, accurate and realistic threat evaluations, not exaggerated and unrealistic ones. These would also bring home the futility of massive arms importing and free resources for public welfare. Military spending in Asia as a whole has declined from the end of the Cold War and helped power investment and per capita incomes in the long run. Disarmament is feasible and practical, as examples from both developing and developed countries reveal. For Pakistan, which is on the edge of the precipice, there is no choice but to pragmatically take a leaf from Deng's famous dictum that strength is primarily economic. But for a disappointing reliance on International Monetary Fund and World Bank formulas for poverty alleviation, Faruqui's study is a fine blend of strategic revision and economic prognosis. The million-dollar question is whether Musharraf reads this honest reappraisal of what Pakistan requires to be really secure. Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan. The Price of Strategic Myopia by Ahmad Faruqui. Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot. ISBN: 0-7546-1497-2. Price US$79.95,190 pages. (Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

Images of Pakistan's Future by Sohail Inayatullah

Sohail Inayatullah*

Exploring current images of Pakistan's futures is the task for this essay. Based on a literature review of Pakistani magazines, newspapers and journals as well as conversations with Pakistani scholars and interviews with members of the general public, we develop and evaluate five images or scenarios of the future. This essay concludes with suggestions for designing alternative futures for Pakistan.
Before we articulate these images of the future, let us first examine the "futures approach" to the study of social reality. A futures view focuses primarily on temporality. Where are we going? What are the possibilities ahead? What strategies can we use to realize our goals? How can the image of the future help us better understand and change today? Who are the losers and winners in any particular articulation of time? The futures perspective is initially similar to traditional political analysis in that it begins with an exploration of economic, international and social events and the choices made by actors that make these events possible. However, the futures view also attempts to place events and choices within an historical dimension; that is, the larger and deeper structures that make these discrete events intelligible, such as core-periphery, urban-rural, gender, caste, and macro patterns of social change. Also important in the futures view is the post-structural dimension; the larger meaning system or the epistemological ground plan of the real as embedded in language that constitutes events and structures.
Unfortunately, most efforts to understand the future remain in the predictive mode. It is often asked, what and when will a particular event occur and how can we profit or increase our power from a specific prediction? Economists and strategic analysts claim to excell at this task. Our efforts here--sensitive to the richness of reality and the need to decolonize the study of the future from narrow models of reality--is to explore images or scenarios of the future. Our task is not to predict and thereby make this essay political fodder for technocrats but to use the future to create real possibilities for change. We thus do not intend to give a familiar reading of Pakistan's future, as might be available in a five year plan, rather we enter into a discussion of alternative futures, of the many choices ahead as contoured by the structure of history and the modern boundaries of knowledge that frame our identity.
In the images or scenarios that follow it should be remembered that these images are meant as tools for discussion and dialog; they are intended to clarify the futures ahead not to reify social reality. Our goal is insight not prediction. As an initial caveat, an important failing of this essay is that the textual sources and conversations were entirely in english--one might get different images with local Pakistani languages.

1. Disciplined Capitalistic Society

The first image of Pakistan's future has many anchors, the most version recent uses S. Korea as a compelling image of the future. Both countries were underdeveloped thirty years ago but now S. Korea has joined the ranks of the developed, it is become an integral part of the "Pacific Shift." Through state managed industrialization with strong private spin-offs (and the economic activity caused by the Vietnam war) Korea has dramatically raised its standard of living. Along with a strong confucian ethic (respect for hierarchy, family, hard work, and an emphasis on education) Korea was a strong national ethic. However, given Pakistan's social structure perhaps North Korea is a better example of Pakistan's possible future as both have strong militaries. However, while North Korea has a strong totalitarian ideology, Pakistan does not. Islam is in many ways a legal/social doctrine and in that sense that it defies any particular authoritative interpretation rather it is up for grabs by a variety of ideologies. While a theocratic military state is possible so far this mixture has not occurred nor has a one-man state managed to succeed. The best way of stating this model of the future is the "disciplined capitalistic society." The military rules directly or indirectly under the guise of "law and order." Not only is civil society disciplined but so is labor. Labor exists to aid capital in its national and transnational accumulation. The Islam that is used is one that aids in societal discipline at the individual and social level. The head of the nation is then the strict father who knows what is best for the children. The mother is in this image is apolitical, remaining at home to take care of the nation's children so they can work for the larger good of capitalist development.
However there is an important contradiction here. Among the reasons of the rise of East Asia was women labor. Females are thus essential for for export oriented strategies that lead to capital accumulation; at the same time the Islamic dimension of this model demands their continued "home-ization." They are to provide care to labor. This is the semi-proletarian existence which in the long run cheapens the cost of labor for capital since the informal sector helps support the formal "monied" capitalistic sector. Females are integral to this semi-proleterian structure.
The other obvious contradiction is the role of the military. Besides the role of women, confucianism, the historical particular juncture in the worldeconomy, East Asia developed because of low military expenditures and high social expenditures. Is Pakistan ready to put health and education before military expansion, that is, to redefine security? We have yet to see. In the meantime, the hope is that through discipline and privatization Pakistan can join the ranks of the rich.

2. Islamic Socialism

This image is partially influenced by interpretations of Islam that give weight to the syncretic personal dimension of Islam; that is, an Islam that does not the become the facilitator of the mullah's rise--not rote discipline but revelation. The rendering of Islam is populist as for example in the view that the land is perceived as belonging to the tillers not the landlords. This image is also partially influenced by the third world movement which has attempted to follow an alternative development path not based on multinational West run capitalism or on soviet party/military run communism. This view was made famous by Z.A. Bhutto in Pakistan. But let us be clear: this view is still industrial and growth oriented like the previous model, however, it has a strong emphasis on "roti, capra, makan," on basic needs and distributive justice. Nehru attempted a similar model but without the Islamic overtones as have numerous other third world leaders. In this model, the state softens the impact of local and transational capital on individuals. At the macro level, import substitution and nationalization become key strategies. However, the larger problem of the world economic system as essentially capitalistic and politics nation-state oriented with Pakistan near the bottom of the global division of labor remains.
The meaning of this image, however, does not come only from the economic as central is the religious. It is Islam that unites, it is Islam that gives direction, it is Islam that integrates individual, family and nation. And although Islam is pervasive, it remains open and committed to distributive justice and individual spiritual growth--a soft Islam, if you will. National allies in this image come from other third world countries with collective self-reliance the long run goal--south/south cooperation on economic, cultural and political levels.
Among other writers, Syed Abidi's writes that these two images take turns dominating Pakistan's politics. Exaggeration of one leads to individual and social frustration and then the rise of the other and visa versa. However, revisionist historians, such as Ayesha Jalal, argue that both are unsuccessful because of the nature of the Pakistani state, molded along authoriatarian lines due to the circumstances of partition.
A third image, based on individual and national identity attempts to transcend the earlier two, using the past as its gateway into the future.

3. The Return of the Ideal and the Search for Identity

The original image of Pakistan was that of a safe heaven and haven for muslims: safe from both the hindus of the east and later on from the jews of the west (in Israeli and American forms). It was derived--at least in its popular myth--as the territory wherein muslims would not be oppressed by the hindus of India. While Jinnah's intent may have been political power (a share in the action when India was to be divided) for the Muslim League and later the creation of a secular state, it quickly became a state for muslims of muslims. Pakistan's self image was to a large degree defined by India. India has been the enemy that gives unity. Even after three devastating wars, military strategists still believe that Pakistan can defeat India. In this view, India has many gods, is bent on destroying Pakistan (the empirical evidence of the Bangladesh war), has nuclear weapons and is allied with godless Russia. But would Pakistan retain any sense of its identity without India since Pakistan knows itself through the other of India? Indeed, is Pakistan but not-India. India has survived thousands of years with and without muslim domination, but Pakistan is still struggling to complete a half-century, to imagine itself as a nation, to find a coherent self.
This image exists in many ways outside our earlier dimensions in that internal identity is more important than external reality. The image is that we reside in the land of the Pure, the place where there is no threat from the outside, wherein the purity of Islam can flourish. Other variables such as the type of political-economy, culture and geo-politics are less important. The moral dimension of Islam is central.
Questions that arise from this view is: has Pakistan achieved this level of purity? Some muslim scholars argue that each Islamic nation attempts to recover the polity of the initial Islamic state, the ideal of the original promise of the time of the Prophet--the revolution had occurred, prophecy had been delivered, the rightly guided caliphs ruled, and there was social justice and economic growth in Arabia. This ideal is then the image of the future for Pakistan; this is the time of partition when there was promise in the air, a great deal had been achieved through sacrifice, the British and the hindus had been thrown back, and the Quaid lived. The image of the future then is a return to a time of hope and dreams; of victory over struggles and of purity, before the politicians in the form of the military and the landlords coopted the future. In this sense this image of the future is a search for an ideal past, a mythic past.
But while this image may be glorious, revisionist historians point out that the birth of Pakistan was already steeped in power politics, in feudal domination: there was never any purity to speak of, to begin with. If this is true then perhaps what is needed is a reimagination of Pakistan. A search for a new vision, a new purpose that makes sense of the last forty years of frustration and creates real visions of the future not dreams based on a past that is but a lie. This reimagination task could occur through a democratic process of collective future envisioning or it could come from the words or images of great artists or others marginal to the present established power structure. But while we await this reimagination of the future, in the meantime the present disintegrates.

4. The End of Sovereignty

This images is the most pervasive and has many variants and levels. The first is conquest by India leading to a greater India. This is possible through military conquest or through economic imperialism if the doors of trade are left wide open.
The second is more sophisticated and deals not with military or economic imperialism but with cultural domination. The main villain is the West, especially the United States. Irrespective of US AID and other ties to Pakistan, religion and their distant locations in the world economy make Pakistan and the USA naturally antagonistic. Recent desires of the US to inspect Pakistan's nuclear development exacerbate this tension. But cultural domination comes in many forms: technology transfer from the green revolution to the microcomputer revolution--technology is not neutral but has many cultural codes and messages embedded in its hardware (the actual physical technology) and software (the rules that make it sensible). For example, certain technologies might promote individualism and the expense of family. Others might promote mobility. Education transfer also leads to cultural penetration, the widespread emigration to the USA for education and then for work is the obvious example. Electronic technology even in the ostensibly neutral form of CNN can but spread foreign views of what is significant and what is unimportant; that Pakistan is rarely covered is not inconsequential to cultural self-images. Travel to the West for tourism, conferences, and medical reasons is another example. While certainly there is a bit of cultural transfer mostly it is but one-way communication. Sovereignty then is clearly violated; the idea that a nation can exist given this level of cultural penetration is highly problematic. For instance, just as there is a world division of labor there is a world division of culture and news with some supplying modern culture others providing exotic or traditional culture. We provide the data for their theories of the traditional. The responses to this form of penetration are obvious: fundamentalism in its strongest forms--a return to the historic text, a denial of physical and mental mobility, and a critique of all things foreign even those which increase the freedom and life chances of individual and family. This is the famous call by the ruling elite for a local form of "democracy" in which basic "universal" freedoms are denied so as to save traditional local culture. Liberals, thus, argue that the defense of cultural sovereignty of the nation is but the denial of the sovereignty of the individual and the reaffirmation of the power of the State. In the name of tradition, all sorts of injustices can be committed and rationalized. Other responses to Western penetration could be further Islamic penetration, for example, by Iran. This could lead to a Pakistan-Iran partnership with an increased Shia influence in Pakistan. It would increase the power of ulema in that they would have the power to define and narrate legitimate cultural and political activities. Conversely the end of sovereignty could become a positive image in that Pakistan could be forced to become an international blend of many cultures and technologies: a place where the future resides, a place where sovereignty finds itself renewed at a higher plantery or spiritual or cultural levels not at a myopic national or local level. This is then a reaffirmation of the idea of the ummah but extended to the entire world in the form of a global community. Pakistan could then become a compelling image for other places to emulate. A receiver and sender of social technology and a creator of postmodern culture. But this direction would take a great deal of daring and courage as there are no models to follow only vague possibilities to explore.
As problematic as cultural sovereignty is the loss of the sovereignty of the self. The self was previously constructed around familiar lines: heaven was above, hell below, and God all around. One knew what one was to do with one's life: class and caste were clear. But with the world continuously being recreated by the science and technology revolution and with the problem of West continuously staring at the Pakistani "self," there no longer exists any clear cut self. Am I Sindhi first? A woman first? A Pakistani first? A wife first? A muslim first? A feudal first? Where do my loyalties lie? Can I integrate these often contradictory fragments of identity? And where do these categories stand in the larger scheme of things? Moreover, the problem of the self can but become increasingly problematic with the feminist movement, increased exposure to the outside world through travel and the development of an overseas Pakistani community. Instead of one mutually agreed upon authoritative construction of self we may see many Pakistani selves all vying for individual and national dominance.
The next layer of sovereignty that is made problematic is internal territorial sovereignty, that is, the provinces increasingly wanting more autonomy and in some cases secession. The calls for an independent Sindh is the latest case in point. The image of this future is of all the provinces going their separate ways with Pakistan finally only being Punjab. The north-west might join with Afghanistan or the Phaktoons might form their own country. In addition, Baluchistan might join Iran, become its own nation, or join a loose confederation with Sindh. And in this image, Azad Kashmir would either join Punjab or unite with the rest of Kashmir to form its own nation. While this might lead to conquest by India most likely the same forces that would lead to end of national integration in Pakistan would also lead to the disintegration of India, from one India to many Indias. Also possible after a period of disintegration is reintegration into a united states of south asia with Punjab as the most likely center of this loose regional federation.

5. No Change: the Continuation of the Grand Disillusionment

The last and we would argue most pervasive image of the future is that of the present continued or "no change." This is a general malaise, a grand disillusionment with the ideal of Pakistan, with the promises of the rulers, with the intentions of politicians. In this view, the power structure--so obviously unjust--appears unchangeable to individuals and groups.
Given this malaise, there are then a range of strategies available. The first is individual spiritual development, an escape from the social and material worlds. The second is to flee the country to brighter horizons outside: "Dubai Chalo" or the fabled green card. The poor and middle class go to the Middle East and the rich and the upper middle class leave for the United States. Within the country the strategy is to find a job and then use one's personal influence to help others find work thus allowing the family as a whole to move up the economic ladder. Of course this is more difficult in times of contraction. During economic expansion, movement is easier. Another tactic is politicization in the form of joining political parties for the purpose of social transformation. However, this strategy is often quickly abandoned once the enormous weight of the historical structures at hand are made obvious (the military, the landlords, and the interpretive power of the ulema, mentioned earlier). What remains is politics as patronage.
This regression from politics as social transformation to politics as patronage has a devastating influence on the national psyche. Individuals are forced into corruption and dishonesty (within their definitions of these two terms) and must live with their own moral failures in a land where morality is central to personal and social valuation. Violence--individual, institutional and state--becomes routine and acceptable. Cities disaggregate; the rich secure themselves and the rest either form separate communities or create their own armies. What emerges is cynicism and pessimism, a breakdown in the immune system of the political and social body--a world ending with a whimper not a bang.
For those in the position of leadership or responsibility the contradictions are even stronger and inasmuch as the local, national and international structures are too difficult to transform others are blamed: the foreign elements, the bad local elements, or the undisciplined youth, to name a few enemies. The oppression of the present bares down on leader and follower alike; both lose their humanity, both lose hope in any collective image of the future. Worse, there is no savior ahead: all models have failed; leaders have failed; religion has failed; capitalism has failed; socialism has failed; political parties have failed.

Conclusion: Designing the Future
The need for reimagination of purpose, of identity, of vision from this dismal final vision is glaring. Part of revisioning is creating alternative structures. Among the points of departure for these new structures should be the centrality of difference. Pakistan has placed its strength on unity; a unity that has proved elusive. Perhaps we need to create institutions and models of change that use difference to create strength, that celebrate our uniqueness among each other and in the world. From an embracing of difference, a unity of self, family and a larger group identity then might be possible. As important as difference is decentralization, the creation of local practices to solve local problems, that is, endogenous development. Finally, we should not forget democracy, not in the trivial sense of voting--which has historically but strengthened statist politics--but in the more important sense of individual empowerment and community participation in the creation of preferred futures as contextualized by the social designs of others. In any case, designing the future at local and community and broader levels (through local and nternational social movements, for example) might be a more promising task than waiting for a politician or some other central authority to solve the problems ahead. Imagination does not mean, however, a forgetting of the material world and the real interests--structural, institutional and individual--that impede attempts to transform the present. The future must then be a sight that one moves toward as well as a site wherein the material and the creative meet. The future--like politics, economics and culture--must be decolonized and reappropriated by each one of us. Today. While the above represents an initial exploration of Pakistan's images of the future, dimensions within these images have yet to be explored: the role of the environment, structural and direct violence, the role of children, images of health, the possibilities of growth and distribution, and the relative powers of various actors, such as nation-states, political parties and social movements. To conclude, one might ask: what is my image of the future for myself? for my family? for my community? for my nation? for the planet? And what am I doing to realize my personal and social image of the future?

*(Dr. Sohail Inayatullah is a member of the executive council of the World Futures Studies Federation and is currently editing a book on the Futures of South Asia. In the preparation of this essay, Dr. Inayatullah, the author's father, provided a wealth of insights and made helpful editorial comments)

Star Wars or earth wars?

Daily Times - Site Edition
Sunday, June 12, 2005
VIEW: Star Wars or earth wars? —Ahmad Faruqui
Chile lost annually one to 1.5 percentage points in its economic growth rate between 1974 to 1988, when the military government of August Pinochet held sway, after having overthrown the government of Salvadore AllendeRevenge of the Sith, the sixth movie in the Star Wars saga, is drawing record crowds and grossing millions by the week. George Lucas, heady with the success of American Graffiti in 1973, conceived the series two years later. It was to be the story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise, fall and ultimate redemption. Since the story was too large for one film, he divided it into two trilogies and decided (for reasons best known to him) to make the second trilogy before the first one. He offered the science fiction concept to Universal Studios, who had produced American Graffiti. In a decision they would regret badly in the years to come, Universal passed on it because they dismissed the story as “unfathomable and silly”. In fact, every single studio in Hollywood passed on it except for 20th Century Fox. The first film in the series was released in 1977. By the end of its first theatrical run, it had become the most successful in the history of cinema and turned Lucas into a multi-millionaire. In the decades to come, the Star Wars brand would acquire a cult following equally among the young and the old. Some would be drawn to it because of the lure of space travel. Others would love the stunning special effects that became its hallmark. And many would love its portrayal of war between good and evil. Located in a “galaxy far, far away” war seemed glorious. However, if you strip the exotic location and the stunning special effects, the film is a gripping portrayal of the arrogance, anger and hostility that drive people to make war on planet Earth. By not calling it “Earth Wars”, Lucas ensured that millions of people seeking to escape the real wars going on around them would become moviegoers. Addressing the Asian defence ministers in Singapore earlier this month, an indignant US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked why China — which faced no immediate threat — was increasing its defence spending in consecutive years by double-digit percentages. Such high spending rates, he said, could destabilise the Asian military balance. One may, of course, ask the same question of Rumsfeld. The only known enemies of the US are non-state actors that hardly justify the type and level of military spending that it is engaged in.While accounting for only five percent of the world’s population, the US accounts for half of global defence spending, according to figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, global military spending topped a trillion dollars last year. This amounts to 2.6 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and represents an expenditure of $162 for every man, woman and child on the planet.In addition to spending $500 billion annually on its military, the US has allocated $238 billion since 2003 to prosecute the global war on terror. As Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute argues in his new book, The End Of Poverty, the US has unfortunately neglected the deeper causes of global instability that lead to terror. Its spending on extremely poor people who live on a daily income of less than a dollar a day is about three percent of its defence budget. These people are chronically hungry, ill and uneducated. They lack basic housing and clothing. Today, there are 1.1 billion such people, all in danger of being killed by poverty. Yet a callous world continues to increase military spending. Nowhere is this more evident than in South Asia, where defence spending grew by 14 percent last year, compared to a global average growth rate of five percent. While always arguing that it is not engaged in an arms race with India, Pakistan has just raised its defence spending by 16 percent to $3.8 billion. The saving grace is that in the same budget, the government has announced it will raise infrastructure development spending by almost 35 percent to $4.6 billion. Higher economic growth rates in the six to eight percent range have made possible the increased spending on both defence and development. However, this should not be taken to mean that there is no trade-off between spending on development and defence. If there is any ironclad law in economics, it is that there is no free lunch.Peace economist Kanta Marwah and Nobel laureate Lawrence Klein have published an analysis of the impact of defence spending on economic growth, drawing upon data from five Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru. During the 1970s and 1980s, these countries spent on average 3.3 percent of their GDP on defence, which translated into an annual military expenditure of $7.4 billion (measured in 1990 dollars). Marwah and Klein quantify the “hidden cost” of defence spending during this period, by assessing how much it lowered the rate of economic growth.Applying econometric methods to annual data over the 1970-91 timeframe, they find that military spending had a negative impact on economic growth in all five countries. The worst affected country was Paraguay and the least affected was Bolivia. To determine the impact of the defence burden, they simulated what would have happened had the burden been reduced to one percent of GDP, emulating the spending cap set by the Central American nation of Costa Rica. Marwah and Klein found that high military spending caused Argentina to lose nearly two percentage points in its annual economic growth rate during the 1976-81 period. It was during this time that the generals in Argentina waged a “dirty war” after having overthrown the civilian government of Isabel Peron. Similarly, Chile lost annually one to 1.5 percentage points in its economic growth rate between 1974 to 1988, when the military government of August Pinochet held sway, after having overthrown the government of Salvadore Allende. For the five countries collectively, excessive military spending took off 1.5 percentage points of the annual rate of economic growth. The findings of this exercise in revisionist history are very revealing and worth pondering over by governments in all developing countries seeking a brighter future for their citizens. In particular, they should be of interest to the leaders of South Asia — home to a third of the world’s poor. Pakistan and India need to take the lead in reducing the defence burden on their populations, especially now that their long-standing tensions seem to be dissipating. Capping (and eventually reducing) military spending would be the ultimate confidence building measure on the road to peace.

Dr Ahmad Faruqui is an economist and author of Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan. He can be reached at