`Pakistan should normalise ties with India’

An American scholar listed a few things Pakistan must ensure before it can be safely put in the category of a normal state.

Washington: Pakistan must ensure few things, including normalisation of ties with India, rebalancing civil-military relationship and reviving the economy, before it can be safely put in the category of a "normal" state, an eminent American scholar has said.

"Five or six things must happen before Pakistan can be safely put in the normal state category," eminent American scholar Stephen P Cohen said amidst increasing perception in the western world, the United States in particular, that Pakistan is either on the verge or headed towards being a failed state.

"They include developing nearly-normal relations with India, reviving the economy, repairing the state, rebalancing the civil-military relationship, redefining the role of the military in the state, taxing the rich, fighting domestic insurgencies more effectively, and allowing a reshaped police force to emerge," Cohen said.

"The politicians would have to moderate their disputes, concentrating on issues and reform, not on patronage and corruption.”

"However, none of these steps seems to be a sufficient factor that trumps all others. In the end, muddling through will have at least four or five variations," Cohen, from the Brookings Institute -- a Washington-based think tank -- writes in the just released book `The Future of Pakistan`.

Brought out by Brookings Institute, `The Future of Pakistan` is a compilation of a series of articles by eminent scholars from the US, India and Pakistan, including Stephen P Cohen, C Christina Fair, Shuja Nawaj, and Kanti Bajpai.

Noting that Pakistan`s future is not immutable, he said Pakistan has lasted sixty years, but in the process it has lost more than half of its population in a breakaway movement and barely resembles the tolerant state envisioned by

"The territory and the people of what is now Pakistan will remain, even if they are altered beyond recognition by population movement, environmental change, redrawn boundaries, or war. Pakistan`s nuclear weapons will also remain, even if they are not controlled by a central government," he said.

Cohen argues that a more normal relationship with India is necessary if Pakistan is to avoid further deterioration.

"Although India does not want to see an assertive Pakistan, a failing Pakistan has the capacity to do India considerable damage. The nuclearisation of their sixty-year conflict makes the stakes even higher. Further crises, deliberate or inadvertent, will distract Pakistan from the rebuilding task and endanger India itself," he said.

Observing that in all of its recent crises, whether external or internal, Pakistan`s government has demonstrated extraordinary incoherence at the top, Cohen said the Mumbai crisis saw confusion reign in Islamabad, and when one civilian (the national security adviser, himself an ex-general) tried to set the record straight, he was fired.

"There was and is no coherent system of presenting alterative policies before the government, no systematic planning process, and no effective mechanism for coordinating the actions of different parts of the government.”

"Usually the military has its way, but there is no question that Pakistan`s Army does not have the strategic capabilities necessary to formulate a coherent strategy on any but the narrowest military issues," he said.

"It has been unable to develop a response to the domestic terrorism that rages in all parts of the country, especially the government-free zones of KP. If Pakistan does not create such a mechanism, presumably including a National Security Council (unlike the sham NSC created by Musharraf), it will continue to stumble strategically," he added.


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