Richard Haass spot on

Extracted from Najmuddin Shaikh’s Op-Ed piece in today’s Dawn newspaper.

Mr. Richard Haass, currently the president of the council of foreign relations, appeared on a popular TV programme (the Charlie Rose show) in America on the September 5 and was asked whether he agreed with the view that “Pakistan is the most challenging issue in the world today because it’s right (sic) ripe with terrorists and corruption and nuclear weapons. If there’s a place that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of wrong people that’s it”.

He started his reply by saying “Alas I think he’s right. When I look at the world and I look at situations that worry me, Pakistan is towards the top of my list. It’s a country with a population now greater than Russia. We’re talking about a country with a population of 145-150 million people. In which you haven’t been able to work out a stable democracy to say the least. You’ve had basically a series of coups and military governance. You’ve got significant number of nuclear weapons.

“You’ve got a running low-level war with its neighbour, India. You have a degree of involvement with terrorism. You’ve got an intelligence service that historically has been slightly out of control. They’re once again messing around in Afghanistan. You’ve got schools that (sic) these religious schools Madressahs that are in many ways turning out young men who are trained for nothing except extremist causes in many cases. When you look at this country of 145-150 million people, you’ve got every right to be concerned. If Pakistan ever becomes a failed state, that is a strategic nightmare. ….

“When I look at American foreign policy and I look out at what really matters I would say one of the biggest priorities, if not the biggest priority, for American foreign policy in addition to these immediate crisis ought to be to help influence the trajectory of societies like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, but Pakistan above all. We ought to be putting as we are beginning to send a large amount of aid in there, economic assistance but on a conditional basis.

“So we will give you economic aid if you, you know, introduce the rule of law, get rid of corruption. We will start reform, help you reform your schools to give you a decent curriculum. We’ve got to work with their police and their law enforcement, their intelligence services to clean up….. If we don’t, what happened on 9/11 will simply be the dress rehearsal for the future.”