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Conference Call with Daniel Markey

Speaker: Daniel S. Markey, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider: Gideon Rose, Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs
July 25, 2007
Council on Foreign Relations


July 25, 2007

GIDEON ROSE: our conference calls, triggered by a Foreign Affairs article.  We are fortunate enough to have with us today Dan Markey, who is going to talk about his piece, “A False Choice in Pakistan”, which is in our July/August issue, and about the broader questions of how the United States should handle Pakistan and Musharraf and the crisis going on there.  Dan got his PhD from the Department of Politics at PrincetonUniversity .  He’s worked on these issues inside the system at the Policy Planning Staff at State, and he’s now a Senior Fellow for India , Pakistan , and South Asia at the Council.  And we are fortunate to have him with us today. 

Without further ado, let’s get right to the substance.  Dan, why don’t’ you briefly summarize the argument of your piece for those who might not have read it carefully, and then we’ll get into some of the elaborations.

DAN MARKEY: Great.   That sounds good.  Thanks, Gideon.  Well, as you probably know, the title of the article itself is “A False Choice in Pakistan ”, and I think it’s...  A good place to start is to try to explain what that false choice is.  And the basic point is that it’s a false choice the way I see it between working cooperatively with the Pakistani military, and by extension with President Musharraf, and promoting a democratic transition.  And so the argument that I’m trying to make is that in fact, we should not choose between these two, and so we should be pursuing them both.  And that unfortunately, we’re not doing that as well as we might. 

            If I step back a little bit further, I would say there was...  The motivation behind writing this piece came in the fact that in listening to the debate here in Washington, both at sort of the tail end of the time that I was at the State Department and then once I joined the Council, I was hearing a great deal of frustration on the Hill and also in the think tank community in the media, and this was very legitimate frustration with US policy towards Pakistan and towards the region.  And I think this was mainly born out of two things:  One is the obvious fact that the high value targets of al-Qaeda and international terrorists, global terrorists, had not, in fact, been wrapped up in the way that we might have thought they would have been this many years after 9/11.  And the second thing that was driving the frustration was this concern about the pattern that Afghanistan had fallen into, especially after the resurgence of the Taliban—not this past spring but the spring before that—and the concerns that many people had about the fact that this resurgence was at least in part, if not in large part, made possible by the fact that the Taliban had sought refuge and safe haven in Pakistan. 

            So there was a great deal of frustration around, and what this frustration was turning into, I thought, was unproductive.  It was turning into a questioning of ties with Pakistan , a broad desire to sort of have Pakistan , as people put it, do more; have Mr. Musharraf do more.  And the next step that was taken by many of these critics was to say that the problem with our...  The main problem with our policy towards Pakistanwas that we didn’t have enough democracy and that the Bush administration had over-invested in Musharraf, the man, and under-invested in promoting democracy.  And if the administration was even to live up to its own principles of the freedom agenda, it should do more to promote democracy there.

            I was also frustrated personally with the response that I was hearing out of the administration, and this tended to be a response that was twofold:  One is that Musharraf is really the only barrier to the Islamist peril that is in Pakistanand in the region, and without him the whole place would go under.  And I didn’t quite buy that.  And I also was hearing sounds...the people saying things like, “Well, Musharraf is, in fact, more democratic than you think,” trying to suggest that in fact he’s really not so bad and that we were seeing a transition towards democracy.  I didn’t quite buy that, either.  So I wanted to kind of pick up the critique that was floating around and see how far it would go.  And again, I reached this conclusion that democracy was not going to be a magic bullet solution, nor was it true that the only option we have in Pakistan is working with a military dictator; that we could in fact, and that we should, maintain a close and good working relationship and build up the relationship with Pakistan security forces, its military, its intelligence, while at the same time, we needed to broaden our efforts and deepen our efforts in terms of promoting a more sustainable and real democratic transition and making it possible for us to really cooperate with individuals well beyond President Musharraf himself.  That single point of failure was something that we really couldn’t tolerate.  Yup?

MALE SPEAKER: Keep going.

DAN MARKEY: Okay.   I also wanted to make the point that while this balancing act of trying to do these two things, you know, walk and chew gum at the same time, is going to be difficult, it’s not impossible.  And beyond that, that right now we’ve kind of reached a point where we have a better chance of success than maybe we’ve had in the past.  And the reason I reached that conclusion was that right now, I find the Pakistani military as an institution and Pakistan strategists, who are thinking about its place in the region, now have more of a reason to believe that working with the United States and working very closely with the United States, they may be more open to the possibility that we can be the kind of partner that they need to resolve some of their central security concerns.  And these are typically seen as concerns about stability in their neighborhood, especially in Afghanistan , and then their greatest concern with respect toIndia .  And I found that after 9/11 and possibly going back to the end of the Cold War,Pakistan ’s strategic place in the world has shifted, and its relationship with Indiahas also shifted, and the UnitedState ’s role in the region has shifted.  All of these have changed in a way that makes the United States maybe a more viable partner over the long run for Pakistan and so that we could convince the army of this and bring them closer to us.  And then by doing that get them, as the critics say, to do more on the things that are most important to us. 

            And I also saw an opportunity on the domestic side, because as many of you know, I’m sure, Pakistanhas elections upcoming, and these...  It’s very clear from a ways out, you could see that these were going to be an important milestone event in this potential transition towards democracy and an opportunity for the United States to weigh in both directly, in terms of facilitation of, you know, political arrangements, and also indirectly, in terms of its rhetoric, in terms of its kind of the bully pulpit of the American presidency, to try to move Pakistan in a direction, move President Musharraf in a direction that was more truly and sustainably democratic.

            So I saw some opportunities here, and the last thing I tried to do in the article was sketch out the policy tools that we had at our disposal to try to move us in these directions.  And here, in terms...  You know with the two goals being to win over the army and to arm Pakistan ’s democrats, or to make them more capable.  And on the military side in terms of winning them over, I suggest strongly that it’s much better if you’re looking to gain trust to provide examples of tangible benefits and closer cooperation, and it’s much less advisable to use tools of sanctions or threats or public rebukes.  And so I suggested that what we needed to do was to continue with a great deal of military assistance, which is ongoing, and also look for ways to convince those who are prominent within the Pakistani intelligence and security forces that working with us will actually serve their broader strategic ends. 

            And beyond that, I suggested that if we are intending to coerce them because we believe that they’re not taking as aggressive actions as we would like against threats that we face, we should coerce them through greater engagement.  Rather than pushing them away, we should draw them ever closer to us, and we should do that through forcing or working to promote greater intelligence sharing, conducting joint operations and training, and providing them with the kind of resources and equipment that would make them more effective partners.  And at the extreme that we should, if necessary, take military actions that would be indirect or from a distance, and that could always be done in cooperation with the Pakistanis rather than trying to go it alone.

            And on the civilian side in terms of assisting the civilians to be better democrats and more part of the process, I suggested that we needed...  We, the United States, needed to work very hard to make sure that this upcoming election passes the free and fair test and to try to do that first by repeating regularly the mantra of the necessity of that; also by supporting institutions like the Pakistani Election Commission, which is supposedly an independent body and which is responsible for building up the voter lists and monitoring elections; and then finally by insisting that we do have international monitors in Pakistan when the elections take place. 

            I suggested that we could do more to unify and work together with Pakistani moderates and progressives by pressing the issues of human rights and rule of law, and by doing that make it clear which side the United States stands on on these issues, and suggesting how the Pakistanis who are sort of natural partners, the progressive mainstream political parties and some of those, I think including President Musharraf, should actually be working together rather than in opposition, as they have been.

GIDEON ROSE: Okay.   Dan?

DAN MARKEY: Yeah?   Good start?

GIDEON ROSE: That’s a very good start.  You know what would you say to the argument that well, whether it’s because of naiveté or cynicism, such coddling of a friendly...arguments to coddle a friendly tyrant are beside the point, because clearly his domestic base is crumbling.  Your article has been overtaken by events, and the crisis there is spiraling out of control, and there may not be a Musharraf to try to nudge along in the way you want.  Do you think that what has happened on the ground over the last couple of months is a new set of developments that dramatically changed the story?

DAN MARKEY: I think it has the potential to.  I mean you’re referring at least in part to the Chief Justice, the sacking...or the attempted sacking of the Chief Justice and then finally the red mosque affair and the attack on that.  And I think both of these have been destabilizing but in very different ways.  And I think that Musharraf has definitely taken a hit.  He was not especially popular prior to March 9th, and he’s been even less popular ever since.  I think he can ride it out.  I mean I could be very wrong on that; he could leave the scene tomorrow.  But regardless, I think the basic argument of the article holds, which is that as a power force within Pakistani politics, it’s the military that holds the cards.  Whether it’s Musharraf himself or a military successor, the military stands at the center of that political game.  And even as we look to promote a democratic transition, we cannot afford to ignore that military or whoever is sitting at the top of it.  So I think that basic point still holds that we need to have that close relationship with the military if we intend to get things done, even as we work to build that democratic process, as well.

GIDEON ROSE:  Do you think as we go forward and do what you say...  If we were to do exactly what you said, would there be significant progress in getting at al-Qaeda and the other bad guys hiding away in the badlands (inaudible) and elsewhere?

DAN MARKEY: I think that we have a better chance at that than if we pushPakistanaway from us.  Some of the comments that have come out of the White House this past week, even which I think are primarily intended for a US domestic audience to demonstrate that we are willing to do whatever it takes on al-Qaeda to get the job done, I think even those tend to undermine Pakistani confidence that we are, in fact, a partner and that we’re not just looking to use them and then leave.  And so I do still think that engagement is a better strategy, and public—as I said before—public rebukes are not such a good strategy.  Whether or not this is going to net bin Laden in the next year, I think that’s where the sort of coercive, closer engagement could pay dividends.  I have no confidence that we can do this alone, but I also don’t think the Pakistanis will do it unless we keep at it and keep forcing them work more closely with us.

GIDEON ROSE:  Do you see any prospect of or desirability of a direct USintervention on the ground over there?

DAN MARKEY: In a narrow sense, yes.  And the narrow sense being targeted strikes from some sort of a stand-off plane or a missile of some sort, absolutely, because as the media has reported, things that look an awful lot like US drones have already done that.  So in that narrow sense, yes.  In a broader sense as a, you know, an attack as the one that was mentioned in the media this past week of several hundred US forces basically invading Pakistan to take out some target, I’m not convinced that that would either be advisable or that that’s likely unless we got a green light from President Musharraf himself.

GIDEON ROSE: And do you think we would?

DAN MARKEY: At this stage, no.  But I think that as things move ahead and you build that trust, then down the line, then absolutely.  That’s the ideal.  You know once the Pakistanis trust that we are not in fact there to take advantage of them and leave or to really, you know, impinge on their national sovereignty but that we in fact share the same goals, then you can expect that kind of cooperation.

GIDEON ROSE: We have a lot of people here on the line.  Let’s get to their questions.  A lot of aspects to this subject that people are interested in, so without further adieu, let’s throw it open to questions from our audience for Dan Markey.  Okay, do we have a moderator here from the call who can tell people how to ask questions?

OPERATOR:  Yes, and thank you.  At this time, we will open the floor for questions.  If you would like to ask a question, please press the star key followed by the one key on your touchtone phone now.  Questions will be taken in the order in which they are received.  If at any time you would like to remove yourself from the questioning queue, press star, two.  Again, if you would like to ask a question, please press star, one now.

GIDEON ROSE: While we’re waiting for people to queue up Dan, how does all this play into US relations with India ?

DAN MARKEY: Well, for the most part, the past couple years have been very good for the US-India, US-Pakistan, and Pakistan-India three-way relationship.  And I think that there’s a good reason to believe that we can continue to build up that closer...  We, the United States, can continue to work closely with both of them without having it be contradictory, which was always a problem in the past.  You know establishing closer ties with Udeli (sp?) in the past meant hurting Islamabad .  And I think there’s still fears on both of their ends that that’s the case.  But their composite dialogue over the past several years, the fact that they have made noises about really trying to tackle the Kashmir problem, and that they’ve undertaken a number of specific confidence-building measures, including the bus service and other things, suggests that that’s not the kind of fundamental problem that we used to face, you know, a decade ago or even maybe five years ago.

GIDEON ROSE: Mm-hmm.   Do we have any questions lined up?

OPERATOR:   Our first question is from Ayesha Tanzeen with the Voice of America.

AYESHA TANZEEN: Yes, hello.  My question is that you mentioned that we shouldn’t...  US shouldn’t push Pakistan to get rid of Musharraf very soon, but my concern is that the situation on the ground in Pakistan is such that it seems like Musharraf’s on his last leg, and he doesn’t have much options, because constitutionally, he cannot run for president, whether in uniform or without it.  That’s why he tried to get the Chief Justice suspended.  Now the Chief Justice is back, and everybody thinks that they day he tries to run for president, it’ll be challenged in court and the courts will overturn it.  His only option will be to have an emergency in the country, which would be highly unpopular and people would be out in the streets.  So is Americalooking beyond Musharraf?  Because this is... It’s quite possible that he won’t be there a couple of months from now.

DAN MARKEY: Yeah, I would agree.  There are many scenarios by which President Musharraf is, in fact, on his last legs, either because constitutionally he’s not able to get past the Chief Justice, or because his own army decides that they’ve had just about enough of him and the time has come for him to go.  Or for one of a variety of other reasons.  I happen to be a little less concerned that he’s really on his way out in the immediate term.  What I think is more likely is that he can pull off a kind of a next balancing act, whereby he comes into partnership through...and everybody’s rumoring various deals with Benazir Bhutto and her party, the PPP.  I think it’s possible that he can manage that and stay alive and stay in a position and finesse some of these constitutional issues.  I mean I think it is worth pointing out that there’ve been a variety of ways that he has been in power, and it’s very clearly unconstitutional, his current place in Pakistan , the fact that he came in very obviously not elected in a coup.  SoPakistanhas seen its share of unconstitutional leaders.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he could hold on for six months or a year, possibly even longer, if he’s able to kind of share power with Banazir or with other political parties and build a kind of a working coalition. 

            Now whether the United States has given thought to who might come next, I think I would retreat back to the earlier point, which is most likely whoever comes next is going to look a lot like who has come before and will have a kind of a military leadership either in the front or the military sort of pulling the strings in the back.  And I think the USgovernment will respond to that, probably reluctantly, but will learn to deal with them, as well.  I don’t see it as necessarily a tragedy, but it certainly would be a hiccup, and it would impose short-term cost in terms of the US-Pakistan relationship.

GIDEON ROSE: Does the manner in which he leaves matter?  In other words, if there were an assassination that was successful, would that affect how the succession played out (inaudible)?

DAN MARKEY: Yeah, absolutely.  And I think the more staged his departure or managed his departure is, probably the better for everyone.  For Pakistanis who are in business or who are invested in the stock market or are simply looking to buy food at the market, these kinds of (inaudible) transitions bring significant cost.  And so if whatever happens, if it can be managed, I think that’s significantly better.  It’s also better for theUnited States.  It’s the kind of intelligence cooperation and investigative work and other things that are presumably ongoing are much easier to maintain if you know that whoever’s coming next will be continuing to work with you, and if it’s clear, how this process is going to play out.  Something more sudden than that throws everything up in the air, and even if it’s a period of days, weeks, months, this can jeopardize these kinds of investigations and operations.

OPERATOR:   Thank you.  Our next question comes from Jonah Meadows with Chicago Public Radio.

JONAH MEADOWS: Hi.   So I wanted to start by asking what do you do whenPakistansays no.  You suggested monitoring the election with an international organization.  What do you do when they say no?  Or you greater intelligence cooperation, what do you do when you find out that there’s a separate directorate to the ISI that’s doing its own thing, the ISI doesn’t even know what it’s...I believe directorate (inaudible).  And so while you say that the White House should insist on greater access, you say it shouldn’t threaten to cut off insistence.  So what sort of coercion or anything—how do you get them to do something without threatening to cut out...  What leverage do we have besides the money?  That’s my question.  I mean if they say no, what do we do then?

DAN MARKEY: Right.   I think...  It’s an outstanding question.  It’s the question.  The point I would make is that it is much better to coerce, and even make threats if you have to, privately rather than publicly.  So that’s point number one.  Because publicly, you lead to a situation where if they do actually come through and they do provide you what they want, then politically, they look very weak domestically.  They look like they’ve cow-towed to the Americans, and that undermines them.  So first of all, you know, avoid the public rebuke.  Secondly, I still believe that at the private level, it is better to demonstrate...  So for instance, if you’re recognizing that they’re not doing as much as we’d like, that there may be intelligence operations that are ongoing that are things that we obviously don’t think are right, as you hinted at.  If that’s a problem, then you privately expose to them what we know is happening.  You suggest how troubling that is.  You suggest that, you know, our cooperation can’t be built on that, and you demonstrate at the same time where our cooperation actually will be effective in other ways.  So you give them the kind of demonstration effect of how well it works when we actually cooperate, and then you tell them what we know is happening.  Sometimes just exposing what they’re doing and telling them, you know, revealing what we know they’re doing can be enough. There’s a kind of embarrassment element.  And then the next step, obviously, would be privately...not sanctioning, but basically coercing by threatening certain resources that they hold especially dear.  But I really...  It’s the public level debate that’s especially dangerous, because that makes their lives and our lives more difficult.

JONAH MEADOWS: But you haven’t seen any public rebukes of Musharraf.  I mean like you write, after sacked Chief Justice Choudhary, you didn’t hear anything from Condoleezza Rice, and...

DAN MARKEY: Yeah, that was very quiet.  I would say...  For instance, this past week, these points about that the United States will go into...  You know it’s been walked back since by Tony Snow, but that theUnited States will take steps that are necessary to protect...  You know even if that includes a direct strike on Pakistani territory.  These things, obviously, are intended to help out on the home front here in the United States, but they really play very poorly over there.

JONAH MEADOWS: (inaudible)   Do you see the potential to be that American resources such as the...I think it’s 150 million this year...the money that’s through USAID into the federally administered tribal areas...  Do you see a danger towards this what you describe as a partnership and a, you know, functional working relationship?  Do you see any danger like what resulted out of the partnership with the (inaudible) regime and the ISI in the ‘80s and some of the unintended consequences and blow bath that came out of that?  And could we be seeing that already?

DAN MARKEY: Well I don’t know about seeing it already, but specifically on the 150 million, yes.  I mean there is a big problem with trying to funnel that level of resources into a region like Sefata (sp?), because we have such limited monitoring capacity for how these programs will actually be run, which means, you know, we have relatively few people on the ground.  If we decided we wanted to use that money for economic development, which is a big part of it, would we even have the capacity to go in and make sure that the wells were being built, or the roads, or the clinics, or the schools.  It’s questionable.  So I think what would be better is to try to come up with plans, strategies, for how to use—it’s a fairly high level of resources—how to use them in ways that don’t need to be monitored as closely and could still be effective.  One of those I’ve heard of was promoting kind of a civilian conservation corps concept that would have kind of a two-fold effect.  It would basically help to provide employment to a variety of Pakistani young men who are in these areas and who are otherwise unemployed.  And at the same time, it would give them an opportunity to do this kind of infrastructure building that would help from an economic development more broadly.  That’s the sort of thing where you don’t need to be there every day watching it, and you could conceivably funnel it through existing administrative mechanisms that the Pakistanis have or build upon existing mechanisms.  You might still be successful with that high level of resources.

OPERATOR:   Thank you.  Our next question comes from Garret Mitchell with Mitchell Report.

GARRET MITCHELL: Dr. Markey, I want to see if I can’t craft this into a single question, but I’m interested in sort of the calculus of options with respect to Musharraf.  And since from a practical standpoint he really is Pakistan , as far as the United States is concerned, I mean in terms of where our relationships are, I gather.  That’s a hypothesis. If you’d like to challenge that, I’d like to hear it.  But anyway, it seems to me you have two options of Musharraf goes.  One is peacefully, which is to say in a relatively democratic way, that the Chief Justice says you can’t run again, and he doesn’t.  The other is that he goes violently via an assassin.  You have, I gather, a couple of Musharraf stays options.  One is, you know, declaring state of emergency and throwing the country into some sort of turmoil.  And then—and this is less clear to me—some more sort of democratic he’s going to run again, he agrees to step out of uniform.  I don’t know whether those four options represent the realm of the possible, but I’ll use them as examples.  My questions are: a) Are those...  Does that sort of describe the arc of possibilities over the next 12-plus months in Pakistan , and if you were forced to put your money or to counsel someone to put their money on those options, where would you put the money?

DAN MARKEY: Well, prognostication itself on this one.  It’s very difficult.  You know every day, there are new rumors coming out.  But let me say first of all, yes, I mean I think that’s broadly speaking the kind of the spectrum of potential outcomes.  If I could suggest, as I have in the article, where we’d like to be is that last one you lay out.  What you say is a little bit murky, but, which is essentially some sort of negotiated compromise between Musharraf, and by extension his army, and with civilians, including Benazir’s party.  So that’s the optimal, I think realistical that we could set for ourselves. 

            Which is the most likely?  At this stage, I would say there’s kind of a...  There’s a chance of that, maybe a 20% chance of that.  There’s certainly a chance equally that something will be more profoundly destabilizing over the next six months that could leave him out in one way or another.  And then there’s always the possibility that he or the army without him will reach some sort of an accommodation either with civilians or go it alone, as you suggested, in a kind of return to emergency rule or marshal law. 

            And you know I think, depending on how things go with the aftermath of the Chief Justice affair, because here you have...  This is at the constitutional level the kinds of challenges that you might see.  It’s a question of how the justices are going to respond to that.  If they look to...  If the Chief Justice, for instance, looks to recuse himself and kind of duck the question, then Musharraf has a chance of holding on constitutionally or massaging the constitutional issue and staying on.  But if there’s more of a kind of a steady drumbeat within the judiciary that they will not bow to continued flaunting of the constitution, then you could get a real crisis there.  I don’t think that would be a good thing, but it’s certainly a real possibility.  And if the army decides that it’s had enough of all of this, and you know there’s certainly a good chance of that, they’ll toss him overboard and make their own deals.  So you know, you’ve got to give that at least 30%.

GARRET MITCHELL: And if I can just do one quick follow-up, if you assume, and I’m not saying that you do, but if one assumes that the options...that the optimal option doesn’t come to pass and one or or other of the least desirable options comes about in Pakistan, in what ways does that impact the destabilization of that whole region?  What’s...  In addition to what happens inPakistan , what’s the sort of, you know, domino effect?

DAN MARKEY: Right.   Well, if you take one of the closer to worse case scenarios in Pakistanand you have a period of prolonged instability, political instability there, which is in some ways paralyzing, at least...  So you don’t have a collapse, but you have a drift and a lack of leadership withinPakistan .  This is going to be, I think if not disastrous, exceedingly bad for Afghanistan .  So that’s the first obvious thing.  All of our efforts and NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan are going to be made that much harder if Pakistan is not even cooperating at the level that it’s cooperating now or lacks the capacity to control the border even to the level that it does now.  One other potential downside is that—you know and this is the dog that hasn’t barked since 2002—but the Indo-Pak relationship could really take a turn for the worse.  And one way of looking at this would be if you did have a military government that came back in or civilian government that was trying to curry favor with strategic hawks in the Pakistani community, they may drum up the boogie man of India in an attempt to make themselves popular, and they may turn that front back on and make that into another kind of bloody border as it has been in the past.  And that would be a real loss, too.  That would really impose costs on Pakistan, I think, but also on India and make India’s transition and its emergence as a great power that, you know, would delay that that much more.  So those are the kind of downsides you would get out of these less stable transitions.

GARRET MITCHELL: Great, thanks.

OPERATOR:   Our next question comes from Gordon Luboldt with the Christian Science Monitor.

GORDON LUBOLDT: Hi.   I was just curious; you talked about the unlikelihood of the USusing any strikes against Pakistan .  I wondered if you thought that was the result of strategic or tactical even thinking or if it’s really in response to the reality that the American voter/taxpayer audience would not be able to stomach, you know, the US in effect invading another country.

DAN MARKEY: Well, it’s certainly got to be some of each.  The idea that the administration wants to take on an enormous challenge like that at this point in its term is politically, at least in the American context, very hard to imagine.  But it also has to be each one of these, and each operation has to be weighing the real costs of a failed operation or even a successful operation that’s successful in the short term, say hitting some target or arresting some high-value al-Qaeda leader, and the longer-term political impact that it’s going to have in Pakistan .  And I do think the administration’s sensitive to this, but some of the talk over the past week, I think, hasn’t been maybe as sensitive as it might be.

OPERATOR:   Again, if you would like to ask a question, please press star, one now.

GIDEON ROSE: I’ll take one.  This is Gideon.  Dan, as we go toward another presidential election, I hark back to the last time and the famous quiz of George W. Bush in which the failure to be able to identify the President of Pakistan, of Musharraf, was a key measure to ridicule and inexperience of this incoming candidate.  Did that matter at all?  In other words, I guess I would say is that how much of US policy towards a country such as Pakistan, both in the past and going forward, is driven by the temporary vagaries of the President and their knowledge or instincts or guts, as opposed to the dominant structural features of the situation?

DAN MARKEY: That’s a great question.  The extent to which they matter, I mean that’s tough to say.  I think one thing that...  And I wasn’t in the administration at that period.  But one thing that did happen was those in the administration, and in particular Colin Powell and Richard Armitage, who did have a slightly more intimate knowledge of Pakistanand of having worked on those issues in the past, were given greater latitude in building and maintaining and working on that relationship, in part because they had had that experience.  So in some ways, you know, Bush’s inexperience was mitigated by the fact that there were others in the administration who had more experience.  It got tossed over to them.  But in other ways, you know, just having a sense of a country and having worked with its leader prior would probably have saved us a lot of trouble in building this relationship.  I mean just immediately after 9/11, the kind of interaction there was obviously exceedingly tense, and it wasn’t until...  And even now, that kind of personal back-and-forth just isn’t where it might have been if you had had, say, a President Bush who had really had that kind of close, personal understanding of Pakistan .  I think it also might have led us to be more ambitious in Pakistan in terms of seeking to reach out beyond Musharraf and doing these kinds of things to build up a broader relationship with political parties and, you know, the people of Pakistan, and understanding that dynamic, I think, a little bit better, rather than simply seeing him as the man of the hour and placing so much emphasis on him alone.  So I think it does matter.

OPERATOR:   Our next question comes from Ayesha Tanzeen with Voice of America.

AYESHA TANZEEN: Hello.   I have...  My question is that I’ve noticed a myth in the American public opinion that the only thing standing between Muslim religious extremists and Pakistanand the nuclear weapons of Musharraf, whereas history shows us that religious parties have never won a democratic election inPakistan .  So I want to know is this thinking also somewhat in the administration?  Or do the people making policies know better than that?

DAN MARKEY: Well, I think the people making policies do know better than that.  But I think unfortunately, the rhetoric that has typically come out of the administration has reinforced that myth.  And I agree with you that it is a myth insofar as religious or extreme religious parties in Pakistanhave really never won anything close to working majorities at the national level and are unlikely to do so in the near future.  So it’s a myth that needs to be debunked.  I think it’s a myth that’s recognized as a myth within the administration, but I do...  As I said, I think so much emphasis has been placed on working with Musharraf as a primary partner and not broadening out that relationship and building up democratic allies outside of his government, so much of that has been done, it looks like we believe that myth.  And I think that’s unfortunate, because I think many Pakistanis come away with the impression that the US government has no idea that the vast majority of Pakistanis are not extreme in their views and not necessarily, you know nothing close to Taliban or al-Qaeda and wouldn’t vote that way if they were given a chance to vote freely at the elections.

AYESHA TANZEEN: So a follow-up question would be why does the USadministration prefer to deal with a military government when, again, history shows, for example, in the first Gulf War when they needed support, a democratic government gave them support.  And also, the only time the religious parties have become stronger are under the military rule, the (inaudible) or like Mr. Musharraf, the only religious parties that are in government and end up (inaudible) because of Musharraf.

DAN MARKEY: Right.   Well, I would say I don’t accept the proposition that the United States prefers to work with military leaders.  But I would say is that in this particular instance, when after...  Because prior to 9/11, the United States did not have a particularly good relationship with the military leadership in Pakistan .  It was the exigencies of the 9/11 attack on the United States, and the fact that Pakistan was right there next door to Afghanistan, and that President Musharraf was given the option by the US government at the time, essentially with us or against us, and he chose to be with us.  So I wouldn’t...  This is not a decision, a considered decision or a preference to work with a military leader.  I think it’s much more that he was there, and we didn’t put him there, and we needed a partner.  And in the interim, in the intervening years, he has been a partner.  I think the US government has actually gotten some good help from Pakistan, and that’s why I’m suggesting that it’s worth trying to foster a kind of a soft landing and a gradual transition to democracy, rather than seeking to toss Musharraf overboard right away, or immediately, or in a more dramatic way.


OPERATOR:  Our next question comes from Margaret Warner with McMeil Lehrer News Hour.

MARGARET WARNER: Hi, Mr. Markey.  My question is what impact do you think the three recent events, the red mosque storming, the bombing then at the Chaudhry...the gathering for the Chaudhry speech, at which many PPP workers were killed, and then, of course, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Chaudhry has on the prospects for a Bhutto-Musharraf deal?  In other words, what impact do you think those events are having on the incentives for each of the parties to come to a deal and the degree to which they’re going to have to demand more or willing to accept less in such a deal?

DAN MARKEY: Yeah, a tough question, because it’s difficult to get inside of that deal.  But my sense would be that a lot of these events actually made a deal somewhat harder.  In particular, Benazir cannot afford, no matter what kind of deal she actually makes with Musharraf, she cannot afford to look as if she’s in bed with him figuratively.  She cannot afford to look like she’s given up opposition.  So any kind of a real effective deal would have to be one in which they agree to work together, but she will campaign as an opposition party leader.  And the reason I say that is because her own party, her own you know, sort of the foot soldiers within the party, will not be energized by a Benazir who very clearly is in league with Musharraf.  So she needs to maintain that distance from him.  And so all these events, you know the bombing, may pull her away from him possibly even further than she needs to be and probably make her more reluctant to, you know, to work with him. 

            Now the red mosque, though, is a little bit different, because by taking a tougher line on that and actually...and storming it, Musharraf...and her response, Benazir’s response to that of a kind of a favorable one, suggesting that that was the right thing to do, even though it’s sort of a tragic outcome, that actually brings them closer together.  It’s on those kinds of issues where they’re natural allies, and her party will accept that fact.  And it’s on that basis that the seeds of the deal come into being in the first place.  And so to the extent that that is extended, you know that Musharraf and his army continue to take the fight to the extremists, to the militants in NWFP and FATA and elsewhere throughout Pakistan, he is serving similar interests that she shares, and so that makes the prospect of a deal more likely.  So you get these sort of counter-veiling trends here.  I would say this deal is still possible.  It’s always been difficult, and it will continue to be made and remade up until the very last minute.

MARGARET WARNER: If I could follow up, then, how do you assess both the...I mean the will, the sincerity, the appetite that Musharraf actually has for taking on the radicals, the Taliban forces?  Both in the FATA and more broadly.  I mean he seems to be sending mixed signals, a few more military operations but at the same time, trying to restart that deal he had.

DAN MARKEY: Yeah.   Now here, you’re talking about the different deal.  You’re talking about the deal with tribal leaders, the FATA.

MARGARET WARNER: That’s what I mean, the agreement.

DAN MARKEY: Yeah, and this is something that I think is important to point out.  Musharraf, and nearly every other Pakistani that I’ve ever talked to, don’t see any realistic option other than ultimately coming back and cutting another deal.  And by that I mean they’re not...  The only other option out there is outright military conquest and occupation, and they see this part of the world as part ofPakistan .  These are Pakistanis.  And so this willingness to come back and cut another deal after a series of military operations, which I think in the United States, is interpreted as a failure; in Pakistan , it’s interpreted as the only real and reasonable option that they face.  That doesn’t mean that the military actions themselves are not important.  They need to show a very strong coercive capacity for bringing pain to the militants and supporting the sliver of that population that they can actually work with down the line.  So they need...  It’s a divide and conquer strategy, and it’s going to take many iterations for it to play out.  And so that’s what I think we’re seeing in that deal.

MARGARET WARNER: Mm-hmm.   Thanks.

OPERATOR:   Our next question comes from Gordon Luboldt with the Christian Science Monitor.

GORDON LUBOLDT: Hi.   Since we’re maybe nearing the end of this, I want to ask a question that’s on topic but slightly off and just wondered to the extent that the US military leaders are the ones engaging with countries like Pakistan to shape events, do you have any feeling on whether the new faces in the Pentagon, particularly Admiral Mullin, who may be confirmed tomorrow, would have an affect there?

DAN MARKEY: Short answer is no, I don’t have a good sense of precisely how that’s going to matter.  I mean the...  In many of these cases, you know, it’s both having a ground knowledge of the place but also having existing relationships there, and my guess is that coming out of the Navy, he doesn’t have the kinds of existing relationships in Pakistan that somebody who was coming from the Army might have, somebody who’d spent time at CENTCOM might be more likely to have those ties.  But this is at this point fairly speculative.  I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how that would necessarily change things.

GIDEON ROSE: Dan, let me ask a quick follow-up on that, Dan.  You mentioned CENTCOM.  Is because the relations would be Army are so crucial and because Pakistanfalls into CENTCOM’s territory?  Does the USmilitary either have a position on these issues, or is it a more of a player in debate over Pakistan ’s policy than it might over other areas that would be more traditionally foreign policy (inaudible)?

DAN MARKEY: I would say the military and intelligence in the United States have a great deal of role to play in that policy in a way that the might not elsewhere, and that’s partially because of Pakistan, and that’s maybe even more so because of the ongoing operations in Afghanistan.  The extent to which we have people on the ground there really makes their voices heard in a way that, say, an India—obviously not CENTCOM—but there’s much less, I think, of a military input, of an intelligence input.  And also because the relationship with Pakistan , as the administration has been hinting, has a great deal of an intelligence component.  That’s bound to be central to the policy process in a way that it, you know, wouldn’t be in some different kind of country.

GIDEON ROSE: So bureaucratically, who drives USpolicy towards Pakistan ?

DAN MARKEY: I always tried to figure that out while I was at the State Department.  I think it’s kind of shifting.  In the last configuration when we had Ambassador Crocker, who’s now in Iraq , when he was in Islamabad , I think he was a very significant player even bureaucratically in Washington , because he was one of the few places in the USgovernment where all of these various bureaucratic interests kind of came together.  And he was there on the ground and had established very close relationships with all of the key players within Pakistan .  So he was a central figure then.  Since that point, I’m not...  I’m not entirely sure where the game has shifted to, but at least temporarily, it’s obviously shifted away from Pakistanwith a new Ambassador there.

GIDEON ROSE: We’ll take one more question from the floor.

OPERATOR:   Our last question comes from Jonah Meadows with Chicago Public Radio.

JONAH MEADOWS: Yes, so you write that Pakistanwants...

DAN MARKEY: I’m sorry to interrupt, but would it be possible to turn up the volume?  I can’t very well.

JONAH MEADOWS: Yeah, is that better?  Got it?  Can you hear me now?

DAN MARKEY: Yeah, much better.

JONAH MEADOWS: All right.  You write that Pakistan wants to extricate itself from Afghanistan, and I wonder why you think that and why you wouldn’t accept that it is for them a zero sum game in terms of interests, competition with India in Afghanistan, and other players so that they would not want to extricate themselves in order to act as a buffer towards any of their peer competitors getting influence there.

DAN MARKEY: I would say, and I’m not exactly sure what I wrote and what you’re referring to, but my broader point would be we would want Pakistanto want to extricate itself.  The way you’ve described it is traditionally exactly how they have always seen it, as Afghanistanis a regional playground where they have to fend off Indian influence and where Pakistanhas to maintain a hand.  Otherwise, it will be attacked on both sides by India , directly by Indiaon one side, and by an India-sympathetic Afghanistanor Indian forces on the other side.  And so our goal, I think, should be...the United States...should be to maintain a long-term influence and demonstrate our commitment to Afghanistan , so that Pakistanwill no longer fear that outcome and feel the need to be as engaged, directly or indirectly, in Afghanistanand play those games.  So we have an opportunity by really committing to Afghanistan .  We have an opportunity to help Pakistannot feel so threatened on that flank.

JONAH MEADOWS: I mean if you examine the history of the Durand Line and the...  I mean isn’t than an impossible goal?  I mean what evidence is there that we could ever changePakistan ’s interests so that they don’t feel like they have this existential, you know goal of being a major player in Afghani politics?

DAN MARKEY: Well, there’s a difference between being a major player and a disruptive force.  Pakistan will obviously always be next to Afghanistan and always be concerned about what’s happening there, but there are things in terms of the kind of games and the level of violence and the level of intelligence, scheming, and operations that can be significantly reduced, and so that should be the goal.

JONAH MEADOWS: Well, that’s totally subjective, though, a disruptive force, because you could say in the ‘80s they were a disruptive force, but we wanted (inaudible).

DAN MARKEY: Against (inaudible), exactly.

JONAH MEADOWS: And you could say that the Taliban was a stabilizing force or a disruptive force, depending on what side of the equation you’re on.  So I think that might be a kind of false dichotomy or at least a very subjective term.

DAN MARKEY: Possibly.   I would just say that our goal for Pakistanshould be to promote better relationships between IslamabadandKabul , and there’s where the question is.  And so here we have a friend inKabuland presumably a friend in Islamabad , and the problem has been the destabilizing...the belief inKabulthatPakistanis playing a destabilizing role.  That’s the political challenge there, and the idea is that by demonstrating our desire to stay in Afghanistanand to turn Afghanistaninto a stable and viable state that we can reduce Pakistan ’s concerns about that.  Now it’s possible that you’re right, that Pakistanwill always see an interest in mucking around in Afghanistan , but I think that part of that interest is a defensive one and can be cured if they feel that they’re not as threatened as they would otherwise be.

JONAH MEADOWS: Okay, thanks.

GIDEON ROSE: On that note, I’d like to thank you all for attending, and Dan, I’d like to thank you.  We play three shows nightly at the Council; you can catch him there for the rest of his run. Pakistan ’s not going anywhere.  In fact, it’ll probably get worse before it gets better, and we look forward to continuing the conversation on these kind of calls and bilaterally with Dan and you guys in another context.  Thanks a lot for attending.

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