Montag, 3. Mai 2010

Pakistans Security Conundrum

In analysing a region its best to have spent some time there. At least that is often being said and rightly so. Well, I spent the past couple of days in Islamabad, Pakistan and here are some of my preliminary observations:

First, Pakistan is not a failed state. Most Pakistanis, particularly in the Pakistani elite, are afraid that Pakistan is being portrayed as a second Afghanistan. And they do have a point. However, its capital is relatively secure and you can walk down the streets without fear.

Second, Terrorism is still a threat. But not the major one. You may find a checkpoint every three hundred yards or so but Europeans get easily through anyway. The Marriot, target of a devastating bombing in September 2008, is now surrounded by a concrete wall and has an impressive security perimeter. Security of course is illusionary, most streets are guarded, but guards have a natural inclination to fall asleep at night. But nonetheless, though terrorism is a danger, Pakistan takes the threat serious.

Third, during the past year, Pakistan's elite realised that the major security threat are the Taleban and not India. Privately, most Pakistani academics and politicians acknowledge that the border in Kashmir will not be redrawn and they take détente with India as a promising start for better relations in the future. What is missing, however, is a vision of where India-Pakistan relations are to be headed.

All in all, the shifts in Pakistan's security perceptions are serious and they created some breething-space for the country. It remains to be seen, whether Pakistan will use it effectively.

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