Games dictators play
Groupthink in the Pakistan policy context is manifested by the ease with which U.S. policy framers accept certain ideas on Pakistan as axioms.
The first one is the notion that current Pakistani dictator, Musharraf is striving to be a “moderate” Islamic leader and seeks to wean his country away from jihad-friendly policies.
The second Groupthink assumption is that the U.S. alliance with Pakistan would collapse were Musharraf to be killed or replaced.
The biggest Groupthink assumption is the U.S. acceptance that the Pakistan military’s interests coincide with the country’s interests.
For a Pakistan policy to succeed, Musharraf needs to be explicitly reminded of U.S. red lines — no nuclear trade, no adventures on either border and no victimization of secular political parties while enjoying unstinting U.S. support.
Every time he reneges on promises, instead of privately nudging him, the United States needs to make its reminders public. Pakistan’s generals are not suicidal maniacs like al-Qaida. They might cry wolf, but are likely to fall in line rather than lose face internationally.
U.S. policymakers should also cease their public comments that tend to portray Musharraf as indispensable and instead focus aid toward institution building in Pakistan. The Pakistan policy situation is a quagmire only because of America’s own faulty assumptions. Sans those assumptions, it is not that hard to frame a meaningful and effective Pakistan policy. [Washington Times]
Related Links: US Senate Foreign Relation Committee’s hearings on Pakistan: Balancing Reform and Counter-terrorism. Hussain Haqqani lists how America’s indulgence of Pakistani dictators has led to miscalculation and instability.