Dr. Haider Shah

Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance (Plato).

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OVER A COFFEE: Governing without governance !

OVER A COFFEE: Governing without governance —Dr Haider Shah

Zafar Qureshi and Hussain Asghar are just civil servants like thousands of others. But officers like them today will determine whether a new Pakistan will emerge from the debris of old Pakistan. If we fail them, or they fail us, we strangulate the budding hopes of a new Pakistan

Can a government be seen governing when in its first three years two finance ministers resign, two information ministers step down and one State Bank chief calls it a day? One does not need to be a political scientist to judge the level of governance when a government makes its own Secretary Establishment an officer on special duty (OSD) after he fulfils his constitutional duty of implementing the honourable Supreme Court’s orders. Not very long ago we saw legal officers of the government playing a game of musical chairs as well. Governance in the fields of foreign policy and defence matters had already been outsourced to the military establishment, while the government has been acting as an extended arm of ISPR. In a country where there is no dearth of talented and hardworking graduates from illustrious Business Schools nightclub managers are made heads of national institutions. Governance in the field of civil administration, where the government has some say, has become an endangered species and if the present trend continues it will soon be on the verge of extinction.

General perceptions are generated by recurrent experiences over a long period of time. They are, therefore, often not untrue. The perceptions of commoners are like a sorcerer’s crystal ball through which they can clearly see what is going to happen in the future on the basis of what had always happened in the past. One such commonly held perception is that in Pakistan ‘might is right’ is the rule as there is no rule of law. A long time ago Plato had proposed his ideal sate ruled by a guardian class. He argued that the guardian class should be unencumbered by law. Plato would have been very happy in Pakistan as we are ruled by such a class. A member of this class can get away with any crime from murder to multi-billion rupees embezzlement. If arrested, he gets VIP treatment in both the police station and the jail. Most often he is suddenly diagnosed with a heart ailment and gets shifted to an air-conditioned room of a hospital. Meanwhile, all witnesses are either bought off or coerced into cooperation to facilitate an early acquittal of his majesty. They are men like gods who are not subject to laws of earthlings like us.

The movement for the restoration of the judiciary in Pakistan generated a new perception. A perception of a new Pakistan! A Pakistan that could be rebuilt on the golden principle of the rule of law. Mr Zardari’s government tried in vain to kill this perception in the bud with the help of Dogar bulldozer. A man in the street is however not convinced if the rule of law will ever blossom in the traditional Pakistan. To lend weight to their fears a few instances have arisen where old perceptions are all set to devour the new perception. A commoner, therefore, whispers that nothing will happen to Moonis Elahi in the end. Makhdoom Amin, like the British monarch, can do no wrong, and hence will always be an honourable ‘Makhdoom’ even if a few billions inadvertently found their way into his bank account. Saleem Shahzad has died in vain and in the end it will somehow be proved that he either committed suicide or that he was killed by a small-time highway robber.

When Julius Caesar expressed his reluctance in attending the Senate session on Ides of March, he was asked to cite adequate reasons for that. In the absence of a valid reason, even Caesar could not use his discretion as he deemed fit. The PPP government’s resolve of using its executive powers in a discretionary manner is repulsive as mischief and mala fide are noticeably floating on the surface. The doctrine of ‘mufahimat’ (reconciliation) means scratching each other’s back, as is the norm according to a layman’s perception. Investigating officers of scandals are therefore not just individuals. They have assumed symbolic importance in this defining battle between the forces of old and new Pakistan. If the investigating officers play to the official tunes, the old Pakistan will remain invincible and no one will ever challenge the divine rule of ‘king is law’.

According to Dicey, a respected constitutional law author, sovereignty of parliament only exists in Britain as there is no distinction between ordinary or constitutional law in Britain. But in federations or states created on the basis of a constitution, power is divided among various organs of the state. Therefore, it is the constitution that is supreme. According to generally accepted maxims of modern constitutional law, the Supreme Court is the guardian of the constitution and in cases of conflict it has the final authority of determining what the correct law is. Does it mean that both the executive and parliament are powerless and play second fiddle to the Supreme Court? The executive is of course subordinate to the courts. However, it can use its control of parliament to deal with any order of the Supreme Court if it does not like it. It can lead parliament in passing an overriding statute. But if it does not take that route, it has no other option but to implement all orders issued by the court. Not doing so is an act of treason, as the whole edifice of the constitution falls apart.

Some pro-government analysts at times seek asylum in the doctrine of separation of powers. They contend that courts cannot interfere in the domain of the executive. Nothing is further from truth. All superior courts of the world regularly consider cases of judicial review whereby they scrutinise executive actions and declare them null and void, if found contrary to law, as interpreted by the courts. In India, courts spearheaded and oversaw demolition of illegal encroachments in the recent past and of late have been giving tough time to the government in corruption cases. The steadfastness of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in cases of mega scandals is therefore a cause of hope in an otherwise failing state of Pakistan.

Zafar Qureshi and Hussain Asghar are just civil servants like thousands of others. But officers like them today will determine whether a new Pakistan will emerge from the debris of old Pakistan. If we fail them, or they fail us, we strangulate the budding hopes of a new Pakistan. If the swamp of corruption and bad governance is not dried out, our homes will remain infested with stinging mosquitoes of terrorism and lawlessness.

The writer teaches in the UK and is the founding member of Rationalist Society of Pakistan. He can be reached at hashah9@yahoo.com


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Billions going down the Capacity building drain.

OVER A COFFEE: Billions going down the ‘capacity building’ drain—Dr Haider Shah

Training and development are vital for overall human resource management of an organisation and should always be informed by organisational objectives. Unfortunately, public sector organisations do not have the culture of treating human resource management in a holistic way

Capacity building is one of the most frequently used buzzwords of our public policy makers in Pakistan. It is an essential element of faith and you need to say it umpteen times to look progressive and educated. Starting with the notion of ‘institution building’ in the 1970s, the phrase became more common in the official discourse of international organisations in the 1990s. The UN and other donor bodies view capacity building as a pure public policy level issue. The central hypothesis is that since in the developing countries public sector managers lack public policy making skills, therefore, if they are sent on courses abroad they would be equipped with the required knowledge and skills and hence transform the economy on their return. One wishes the world was actually that simple.

Different organisation theorists have studied organisations by comparing them with other more understandable processes. For instance, system theorists see an organisation as a system where inputs are processed with a view to producing certain outputs. The cell theorists compare it with a cell where the organisation interacts with its environment; absorbing changes and radiating its influence. Whatever theoretical framework we may choose, one fact remains unchanged. Humans are the most important resource for improving processes and outputs associated with any organisation. Therefore, the emphasis placed on improving skills and capacity of employees is not without merit.

The advocates of capacity building programmes, however, fail to take into account an obvious ground reality in the public sector management of developing countries such as Pakistan. Like Plato’s ideal republic, the public sector in Pakistan in particular, and developing countries in general, is characterised by the presence of three distinct classes. The top level echelon of many important organisations comes from the ruling elite comprising politicians and retired big guns of the military establishment. Then there is the middle level management that often belongs to the middle classes and uses its knowledge and skills to rise up the ladder. And finally we have at the bottom the workers class, which comes mostly from the lower middle sections of society. In Pakistan, ‘capacity building’ programmes have traditionally focused upon the middle level management employed in the civil services. But the question is whether the panacea has really worked. If, despite spending billions of dollars on capacity building programmes, we see little actual change in the quality of services provided to the recipients, there must be something fundamentally wrong with the whole framework of these programmes.

The noticeable absence of any meaningful change can be explained on account of two main factors. First, since the heads of majority of public sector organisations are appointed on a political basis, they bring along their own notions of good management. Such bigwigs often believe in top down approach and their reforms usually disappear when they exit the scene. Secondly, the fatal weakness of capacity building is that such programmes have taken little notice of the importance of operational level staff. With meagre subsistence level salaries and a poor knowledge base, the operational level employees suffer from very low level of motivation. There is a wide body of research that correlates organisational performance with stress and motivation of the operational level staff. The capacity of our public sector organisations can, therefore, not be improved if we are unable to improve the working conditions and knowledge base of our operational level staff. Annually, billions are spent on funded foreign tours of our stiff neck officers. Instead, the focus should have been on improving core skills-related capabilities of the field and operational level staff. All officials employed in the public sector organisations need to be properly trained in essential skills like IT, literacy, numeracy and customer focus.

In order to ensure maximum outcomes-based effectiveness of their programmes, it is suggested to the donor organisations that they should attach the following conditions to their capacity building programmes: 1) The recipient organisation must conduct a proper training needs analysis (TNA) and then identify courses that can provide such skills. 2) To ensure value for money, foreign institutions should only be considered if such courses are not locally available. 3) A bigger proportion of the funds, say 60 percent should be used for enhancing public services delivery skills of operational level staff. Such officials interact with the public in general, therefore, they should be sent abroad on short courses so that they are exposed to ‘how can I help you?’ working culture.

Training and development are vital for overall human resource management of an organisation and should always be informed by organisational objectives. Unfortunately, public sector organisations do not have the culture of treating human resource management in a holistic way. The donors should, therefore, compel our public sector organisations to first outline their core organisational objectives and then carry out a proper TNA to fill the capacity gap. Capacity building should, thus, be a part of overall organisational strategy. Unfortunately, while in theory capacity building programmes have very noble objectives, in practice such programmes end up becoming a paid holiday bonanza for our government officers. They return and resume their old jobs with little utilisation of the newly acquired knowledge. Perhaps the only usage of such qualifications is that they sit glamorously on their CVs, which they use in their pursuit for alternative service careers or postings at major world bodies like the World Bank and the UN.

Public services delivery has undergone a tremendous change in the developed world. It is high time we learnt lessons from their experience. One leap in that direction would be to accord due importance to the operational level staff of our public sector organisations. Redesigning our capacity building programmes along this principle would go a long way in improving the quality of public services delivered by our public sector organisations.

The writer teaches in the UK and is the founding member of Rationalist Society of Pakistan. He can be reached at hashah9@yahoo.com

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Revival of Commissionerate System.. Daily Times 16 July

OVER A COFFEE: Long live the British Raj —Dr Haider Shah

Change management programmes often do not succeed in the first go. Old habits die hard. A lot of de-learning and re-learning has to take place before any change starts bearing the desired results

The commissionerate system has been restored and according to some media reports, workers of the PPP distributed sweets over this restoration. This development in particular, and the way our political parties deal with major reform initiatives in Pakistan in general, reminds me of the curse of Sisyphus. According to Greek mythology, as a punishment from the gods for his trickery, King Sisyphus was made to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. He would do it with great enthusiasm but before he could reach the top of the hill, the rock would always roll back down, forcing him to begin all over again. Like Sisyphus, our public policy making is also cursed with the maddening punishment of moving in circles. After speedy reincarnation of the corpse of the commissionerate system his Excellency, Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, jubilantly declared that this system would usher in a wave of prosperity in Sindh. Perhaps only Pir sahib can tell us how much prosperity was achieved when the system was in force with all its pomp and glory for more than 50 years since the creation of Pakistan.

The authors of Freedom at Midnight state that the essence of the Victorian era was frequently enunciated by Rudyard Kipling who contended that white Englishmen were uniquely fitted to rule “lesser breeds without the law” and that “the responsibility for governing India had been placed by the inscrutable decree of providence upon the shoulders of the British race”. The authors remark that ultimately this responsibility was exercised by a “little band of brothers, 2,000 members of the Indian Civil Service, the ICS”. Pakistan inherited the legacy, which despite the reforms of Bhutto in 1973, was kept alive by the band of brothers reorganised as the District Management Group (DMG).

In their hatred for the district level devolution system, the politicians of Sindh are not alone. Ever since the new political order emerged after the elections in 2008, many conspirators became active in plotting the murder of a system that was still in its infancy. The new child was seen as a threat to the thrones of two power centres — the traditional constituency-based politicians and the DMG band of brothers. Both happily connived to drive a dagger into the heart of the defenceless contender.

There are three oft-repeated defence pleas offered by the conspirators of the murder plot. First, the district government system was introduced by a dictator. A lame excuse! After all, none of the elected governments ever considered ending the monopoly of PTV. The same dictator awarded licences to private channels with the hope that the action would improve his credentials. Does it mean that all private channels should be shut down and the glorious age of PTV restored? Similarly, the computerised database of personal records through NADRA was also launched by the same dictator. Should the government then not go back to the pre-NADRA glorious age?

The second defence plea of corruption is also a damp squib. On many occasions in the past, federal governments were overthrown by dictators on charges of corruption. If derailing of the democratic system at the Centre is unjustifiable on such grounds, why should a democratic system at the local level be uprooted on the same charges? Corruption is a national problem and needs to be countered at all levels with strict vigilance and an accountability system. So far no such resolve has been noticed in the mode of governance adopted by the present government.

The third plea is that the law and order situation would be improved with the commissionerate system. If the officers belonging to the DMG had some magical wand, the situation in FATA would have been exemplary. The law and order situation is the outcome of many socio-political determinants. When those determinants were out of control, no officer could prevent the imposition of martial law in Lahore in 1953 and the partition of the country in 1971. In the absence of good governance, social justice and rule of law, a vacuum is created that gives rise to militancy and anarchy.

So then what is the real motive of the murder? Simple! Loss of prestige on the part of the ‘band of brothers’ and loss of control over monetary resources on the part of the MPAs and MNAs. Reportedly, the reconstruction of destroyed schools in the Malakand division got delayed by a year as the MPAs, MNAs and Communication and Works Department were at loggerheads over their control and share of the funds provided by various donor agencies for the said purpose. If the local government system is operational, the share of the pie gets even smaller. Like a roaring lion, the politicians do not want any rival predator anywhere near the kill.

Change management programmes often do not succeed in the first go. Old habits die hard. A lot of de-learning and re-learning has to take place before any change starts bearing the desired results. The devolution system of 2001 had replaced the commissionerate system with elected officials-based government at the local level. Like any hastily designed system, it had many structural flaws and needed many fixes over a number of years. A governance system is not like a money plant that you can buy off the shelf. It needs to be allowed organic growth with some regular gardening care.

Interestingly, Benazir Bhutto had advocated devolution of power to the lowest level in her New Social Contract Programme. Similarly, Bacha Khan had relentlessly struggled against the British rule in India. Pakistani politics are showing signs of degeneration instead of evolution as the political scions of both Benazir and Bacha Khan should today take pride in resurrecting the buried legacy of the British Raj. The US Church establishment has unsuccessfully tried to use intelligent design theory to counter the Darwinian theory of evolution. Perhaps it is best advised to use Pakistan as a solid proof against any evolutionary theory as, like Sisyphus, Pakistan is still sweating with the punishment of playing with the boulder of the legacy of the British Raj.

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Ending the deadly embrace — II

Over a coffee: Ending the deadly embrace — II —Dr Haider Shah

The chief US strategist strongly supports long-term engagement with Pakistan so that it is able to end its deadly embrace with terrorism. Bruce, in fact, finishes his book with a chapter on helping Pakistan and is frank in admitting that the US proved a very unreliable friend in the past

In the previous part of this article, primary elements of Obama’s strategy on Afghanistan were analysed with the help of Bruce Riedel’s recently published book. A strategy is defined as answering three basic questions. Where are we, where do we want to go, and how do we get there? But in order to understand where we are it is also important to know how we ended up there in the first place. Like all other strategists, Bruce in his book also first traces the roots of Pakistan’s problems in its early history. In doing that, he appears sympathetic to Pakistan’s early security concerns and its scrambling for outside help. Pakistan’s fixation with India is identified as the defining feature of its foreign and domestic policy. When the US offered money and arms during the Afghan jihad, there was therefore a mismatch of strategic objectives. The US wanted to use Pakistan and jihadis for defeating the Soviet Union and communist threat while Pakistan viewed it as an opportunity for using the terror structure built with the US money against India. This theme has been discussed by both Bruce and late Saleem Shahzad in their respective books.

Appearances can be deceptive. This is what we discover from Bruce’s description of his meetings with our main political leaders. Bruce is intrigued by the dubious liberal leaders in furthering the cause of jihadis when in power. He laments, “It is one of the many paradoxes of Pakistan’s history that the most liberal and enlightened of its leaders Benazir Bhutto would be the one to help midwife the Taliban, an action that would ultimately lead to her assassination.” Similarly, Musharraf portrays himself as an enlightened moderate but under his watch double gaming continued unabated. Ironically, he too had a narrow escape from the assassination attacks by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and other militants that had long benefited from Pakistan’s warm embrace. Based on his confidential meetings, interestingly, Bruce is less damning about Nawaz Sharif. He equates Sharif with Hamlet who is torn between making his personal desire of making difficult decisions but is hard pressed by circumstances surrounding him. Bruce observes that in a one to one emergency meeting Sharif expressed his readiness not to go nuclear if the US could assure the resolution of the Kashmir issue as, without that, Sharif is quoted as warning Strobe Talbot that if nuclear tests were not done, “next time Strobe came to Islamabad the prime minister would be a jihadist with a long beard”. Unfortunately, in the establishment, media and politics, there are many such jihadists without any beard at all.

Like Saleem’s book Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11, Bruce also in his book views the present terror network in Pakistan as a troika comprising al Qaeda with an international jihad perspective, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) with Indian and Kashmir focus, and their common connection of ISI. Saleem wrote about radicalisation of military officers in his reports and book. Bruce also examines the nexus between the military establishment and militant groups. He emphasises the social dimensions of this affinity by stating that the Pakistani Army and LeT recruit in the very same villages and towns in Punjab. The result is that some family members go to the army while others join LeT. Therefore militants and the military enjoy very cordial family level relations in Punjab. The author claims that both al Qaeda and LeT have gained synergistic gains by working together as they pooled their resources for strategic planning, training facilities and monetary channels. Bruce reviews LeT’s attacks on the Indian parliament and Mumbai and concludes that both attacks were carried out to heighten tensions between Pakistan and India so that Pakistan is forced to shift its forces from the western border to the eastern one and consequently the pressure on al Qaeda is eased in the tribal area.

The chief US strategist strongly supports long-term engagement with Pakistan so that it is able to end its deadly embrace with terrorism. Bruce, in fact, finishes his book with a chapter on helping Pakistan and is frank in admitting that the US proved a very unreliable friend in the past. He severely criticises the short-term US policy in which the US provided massive aid to all military governments in Pakistan but imposed economic sanctions when democratic governments were in power. Like all analysts he is also alarmed at the future economic figures relating to Pakistan. Just consider some basic facts, e.g. by 2050 the Pakistani population will be expected to be 460 million, making Pakistan the largest Muslim country surpassing Indonesia.

About 54 percent of the population is below 19 and 38 percent between 20 and 39. Water availability per capita has already gone down drastically from 5,000 cubic meters in 1951 to below 1,000 cubic meters in 2010. The country is also suffering from an acute power shortage as against the required 14,600 megawatts the supply is only about 10,200 megawatts. As per the official Economic Survey of Pakistan, up to 36 percent schools do not have a boundary wall, flush toilet or drinking water facility while 60 percent schools are without electricity. A recent Brookings study claims that illiteracy is actually increasing and that the education infrastructure resembles that of a poor Sub-Saharan nation. The fragile economic situation can be remedied if Pakistan is able to transform its negative image. The $ 1.5 billion a year aid arrangement under the Kerry Lugar-Berman Act already signalled a shift in emphasis from the military to social and economic sectors like education, water and energy.

While advocating full economic assistance to Pakistan, Bruce emphasises that two red lines must be drawn for engagement with Pakistan. First, safe havens for the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network must be shut down. Second, the deadly embrace with LeT, which Bruce claims operates with impunity in Pakistan, must be ended. Since the US engagement in Pakistan is going to be a long term one, it is better that we use this renewed interest to our best advantage. The strategy of bleeding neighbours with the help of jihadi organisations has not worked and has instead backfired. It is in our own larger interest that we end our embrace with the terrorists and instead follow a clearly articulated national strategy of economic revival of the country.


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6 July- Ending the deadly embrace — I

OVER A COFFEE: Ending the deadly embrace — I —Dr Haider Shah

The Af-Pak strategy requires long-term engagement of the US in Pakistan as Pakistan is considered to be too dangerous to be left on its own

The recent address of Obama regarding the troops drawdown from Afghanistan has generated a renewed interest among many analysts dealing with Afghanistan. Their thoughtful analyses, however, create an impression that the shifting of emphasis from Afghanistan to Pakistan is perhaps a shift in the US strategy. The geo-strategic thinking of various policy making establishments of major power players are often deciphered by defence analysts with the help of a historical lens, emerging trends, and a bit of their own imagination. However, there is hardly any need for guesswork in the case of Obama since Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward provides in-depth coverage of the actual devolvement of the Af-Pak strategy. Though the term Af-Pak was coined by late Richard Holbrooke, it was Bruce Riedel who was entrusted with the task of developing Obama’s strategy on Afghanistan. Bruce had spent 29 years in the CIA, Pentagon and Clinton’s national security staff. He had also served as South Asian expert in Obama’s election team and has recently published a book, Deadly Embrace, which is an important read for understanding how the US-led world views Pakistan and its involvement in the war effort against the international jihadi movement.

Obama is known as a professor who likes to make a decision after thorough analysis and calculation. When he assumed office, demands for additional troops in Afghanistan were made but he refused to decide in haste and commit more troops unless he was satisfied that a well-defined Afghan strategy was in place after a thorough needs analysis. Consequently, he assigned the task of strategy development to Bruce Riedel. Bruce had already made his strategic assessment about the situation and had very bluntly stated that it was not Afghanistan that needed a long-term strategy but rather it was Pakistan that was the main problem. The essence of his prescription for conflict resolution in South Asia can be summarised in the following quote from Woodward’s book: “Pakistan had to end its complex, schizophrenic relationship with terrorists in which they are ‘the patron and the victim and the safe haven all at the same time’.” Riedel’s view of Pakistan is then also reverberated in President Obama’s strategic discourse as is evident from the following remark, which he had made while chairing the strategy review meeting: “Let’s start where our interests take us, which is really Pakistan, not Afghanistan.”

No strategy is cast in stone as unexpected externalities often render original strategy out of sync with ground realities. However, it seems that so far Obama’s administration is implementing the Riedel Af-Pak strategy in letter and spirit. In fact, the US never wanted to remain engaged militarily in Afghanistan for an indefinite period. Obama was aware of the war weariness of the US people and did not want to sustain a war without a clear objective, as was the case with Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam. He, therefore, had asked Riedel to draw up a strategy that did not warrant a long-term commitment of US troops to Afghanistan. Riedel consulted all principals in the American war effort and presented the Af-Pak strategy to Obama and discussed its main objectives while he was on board Air Force One. The strategy was embraced fully by the president and later, while chairing a major decision making meeting, he enunciated three major concerns driving his strategy as, one, protecting the US homeland, allies and US interests abroad; second, concern about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and stability; third, Pakistan-India relations. It is, therefore, not difficult to see that the military drawdown is in line with the strategic planning, which has been immensely helped by the timely elimination of Osama bin Laden.

The new phase of the US strategy focuses on helping Pakistan end its deadly embrace with the Frankensteinian militants. Riedel in his book examines the entanglement of Pakistan’s security establishment in the complex cobweb of various militant organisations. The main thesis of the book is that Pakistan became a safe haven for al Qaeda leaders after the Taliban were routed in 2001. As the US had little faith in Pakistan’s security establishment, it evolved an operational strategy that prescribed drone attacks as an effective method of crippling the al Qaeda network by selective killing of its main leaders. The strategists, though, admitted that drone attacks alone would not solve the problem. They thus also focused on developing an independent human intelligence network in Pakistan to find all al Qaeda leaders and eliminate them. The Raymond Davis affair, therefore, was seen as a serious threat to the operational level strategy and no wonder even President Obama was obliged to personally step in. The successful operation in Abbottabad, however, has reassured Obama that his strategy finally delivered what it had promised.

The Af-Pak strategy requires long-term engagement of the US in Pakistan as Pakistan is considered to be too dangerous to be left on its own. In 1998, Bruce had written a memo to President Clinton titled ‘Pakistan: the Most Dangerous Country in the World’, which aptly portrays the image of Pakistan among the chief US strategists. The post-Osama situation could have been used by Pakistan to its great economic advantage. It could have identified quickly any culprits that were responsible for safekeeping of Osama and thus have earned the goodwill of the US and the world.

An American businessman confided to me in a private chat that the US had earmarked huge funds for economic uplift of affected areas in Pakistan and many projects were in the pipeline. But, unfortunately, Pakistan has squandered the chance as the belligerent stance taken by Pakistan has antagonised not only the US government but also public opinion in the US. If Pakistani decision makers had shown some sagacity in appraising the international scenario, they could have announced a complete end to the deadly embrace with the jihadi outfits. The watershed event could have also been used for some rational rethinking on our foreign and defence policy, which, due to our obsessive fixation with India, had gradually led us towards extremist organisations. Unfortunately, this has not yet happened and the acrimonious environment does not augur well as the US is now all set to deal with Pakistan after achieving the short-term objective in Afghanistan.

(To be continued)