Experts discuss the strains on the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, including the Raymond Davis case.
CAROL A. GIACOMO: Welcome to this evening's program with the Council on Foreign Relations. I just want to remind you that our next meeting with be Tuesday morning, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
As usual, I have to give this instruction: Please turn off your BlackBerrys and anything else that vibrates. Even -- don't put it on vibrate. Turn it off completely, because it otherwise interferes with the sound system.
And unlike most of our meetings, this one is on the record, so please be aware of that. Council members will be participating around the nation via password-protected teleconference.
We have an excellent turnout tonight, in no small measure because we have a very expert panel to talk about one of the most compelling issues on the foreign policy agenda.
Hassan Abbas was a member of the governments of Benazir Bhutto and General Musharraf, and was a police officer in Pakistan. Now he is a professor with the South Asia Institute at Columbia University and a senior adviser at the Kennedy School's Belfer Center.
Anatol Lieven recently returned from Pakistan. He spent 20 years as a journalist covering Pakistan. Right now he's a senior research fellow for the New America Foundation and the author of a(n) aptly titled book, "Pakistan: A Hard Country."
Candace Putnam has spent two decades as a career foreign service officer. Her last post was consul general in Peshawar. And she is now the Cyrus Vance fellow in diplomatic studies here at the council.
So we have a very weighty topic to discuss. Admiral Mullen has been in Pakistan. He has publicly laid down some tough words for the Pakistanis in terms of going after the Haqqani Network. I think there is -- you'd be hard put to say there was any tougher case facing the United States today than relationships with Pakistan. This is a critical time. We are -- the Bush -- I mean -- the Bush administration! I'm dating myself. The Obama administration has important decisions to make in the run-up to July and August, when the president is supposed to be making some decisions about taking troops out of Afghanistan. It requires maximum effort on all sides, and Pakistan is a huge problem in terms of doing what the United States thinks that needs to be done in order to go after the militants.
So I'm going to start with our panelists and ask: How damaging is the Davis case? And what do you think needs to be done in order to get beyond the crisis that we seem to be in?
Let's start with Candace.
CANDACE PUTNAM: Wasn't expecting that question. (Laughter.)
GIACOMO: What question were you expecting?
PUTNAM: (Chuckles.) Look, obviously the Davis case created a problem for our bilateral relations. As Admiral Mullen said in his Geo interview, we're going through a rough patch in our bilateral relationship.
But equally he was in Pakistan to work through that relationship. It followed General Pasha's trip to Washington to meet with his counterpart at CIA. And today the top diplomat for Pakistan arrived in Washington to begin another round of the strategic dialogue on the bilateral relationship.
So it was a setback, but we have to work through it, because the relationship is just too important to both sides.
GIACOMO: But Anatol, I mean, the United States and Pakistan have been working through this relationship for years now, and everybody keeps saying, you know, we've got to have a partnership, we've got to dig in, we've got to have person-to-person relations. And we seem to, with great regularity and more -- you know, sort of with -- with greater consequence than ever, run up against a brick wall. Can these two nations really work together cooperatively?
ANATOL LIEVEN: Well, I certainly hope so. I mean, the problem between --
GIACOMO: (Chuckling.) That's really conclusive.
LIEVEN: Well, you see, the thing is that -- the funny thing about the relationship with Pakistan is that on one critical issue, it really has been a partnership, and generally pretty effective, I have to say. I mean, that's what our intelligence services generally testify. That is in preventing terrorism against America, Britain and Europe, actual terrorist attacks against our homelands.
There the cooperation has generally been good, hampered in part simply by the -- if I may say so, the incompetence of the Pakistani security forces and their lack of coordination, rather than ill will. That's one side of things.
The other side of things is of course Afghanistan and our fight against the Afghan Taliban. There Pakistan has indeed been a problem, but I would just add two qualifications to that. The first is that our soldiers are supposed to be in Afghanistan to protect American and British citizens at home, not for the sake of victory in Afghanistan for its own sake. If the needs of the war in Afghanistan radically contradict the needs of security at home, there's no doubt in my mind what should come first.
The second thing is of course that if at any stage a United States administration decides that it wants to try for a peace settlement in Afghanistan with the leadership of the Taliban, not good Taliban or moderate Taliban but with Mullah Omar and his lieutenants, then Pakistan automatically turns from -- to some extent from a problem into almost an inescapable asset, because only Pakistan can actually mediate and bring pressure to bear. And of course as long as we believe we have a chance of defeating the Taliban, Pakistan, as things stand, is indeed a terrible problem.
GIACOMO: I do want to get into this whole idea of trying to negotiate a political settlement, but let's stay on the military side of things for a while.
Hassan, what do you think? I mean, is there a way -- I read a quote from some U.S. official in The New York Times story today which suggested that this individual thought that, you know, the Pakistanis just didn't want to cooperate; really it was all sort of smoke and mirrors. I mean, you know -- you know these people. Is there a basis of cooperation?
HASSAN ABBAS: First let me begin by thanking CFR for inviting me, and it's a great honor to be here and especially with these two very accomplished people.
First, brief comment on the Davis issue, and then I'll link this with what you have asked. I think the Raymond Davis crisis opened up a Pandora's box, a Pandora's box in this sense: that there is one prevalent perception in Pakistan: that this war on terror cooperation was actually dependent on some Blackwater guys, some CIA folks, some Special Forces folks. Many people, when I go to Islamabad -- even from very so-called -- from our perspective here, moderate, progressive people -- at the end of day or after three or four Scotch on the rock(s), I get a basic question: So why -- Hassan, you are based in U.S. Why are Americans doing this to us?
And you ask them: So can you explain what -- what you think Americans are doing to Pakistan?
And they would argue that the whole thing is, after all, to take out our nuclear weapons.
So this is -- part of this is conspiratorial thinking. Part of this, frankly, is U.S. failure to explain the real policy to the Pakistanis. And when something like Davis -- Raymond Davis case happened, it had a terrible impact on the public opinion because it proved some of the misperceptions or misconceptions. That is one side to it.
Whether there is a basis for cooperation, I think there certainly is, and all what we need to do is to look at history, whether it was 1960s -- Pakistan was a front-line ally -- whether it was 1954, '55 -- SEATO and CENTO -- whether it was 1980s, fighting the Afghans, for in the Pakistani mindset, Pakistan had been a longtime friend of United States.
It has started unraveling now because partly because of differences between the different pillars of the Pakistani state. I think the Pakistani military and even the Pakistani intelligence wants a good relationship, but they want a certain amount of money for that, to put it simply.
The United States has a very clear focus on -- in case of Afghanistan. Both the countries have failed to find out -- find a common agenda. That's the bottom line.
GIACOMO: Can I just interrupt you there? I mean, the United States has paid Pakistan and the Pakistani military billions of dollars over the last decade. How much more is enough? (Laughter.)
ABBAS: Good --
GIACOMO: I mean, I don't -- I don't get the sense that they're really viable.
ABBAS: Excellent question. I would say the Pakistani people, the ordinary people, argue that all the money went to the military. I went to FATA. I went to the tribal agency, and I've served as a police officer there as well. My visit one year ago -- people asked me: Can you show us one hospital and one school? The Pakistan military -- that is the problem, that it's only Pakistan military which is the recipient. And people say this is part of the military-industrial complex.
The ordinary people on the -- on the democracy in Pakistan has not received any benefits. The law enforcement, the police in Pakistan, which really has to fight insurgency, militancy -- I had served as a police chief in a district in Swat -- in -- close to Swat. When I go there after 10 years, I find the same vehicles. I find them -- same incompetence, lack of resources. We have opted to sell Pakistan F-16s rather than police equipment.
PUTNAM: Well --
LIEVEN: If I may say so, I would -- (laughter) --
GIACOMO: Oh -- yeah, OK.
LIEVEN: -- I would strongly endorse those remarks from my own experience.
GIACOMO: You will endorse those.
LIEVEN: Absolutely, yeah.
GIACOMO: All right. Candace, go ahead.
PUTNAM: Well, it's not quite that simple. (Laughs.) I mean, first of all, a large portion of our assistance to Pakistan has come in the form, post-9/11, of reimbursements to the general treasury. Now, money is fungible, and this allowed the Pakistani military to continue to consume an enormous percentage of Pakistan's budget while they provided less than 2 percent, for example, for education. But all the money didn't actually get to the military directly, so that's point number one.
Point number two is that we have seen the need to rebalance this relationship, and the Congress just generously agreed to triple economic aid to Pakistan so we can start to demonstrate to the people that, in fact, we do support projects to make the lives of the everyday people better.
The other problem with U.S. assistance frequently is we give it in ways in which we think is efficient but don't necessarily give us credit for it. For example, we provided the overwhelming amount of assistance to the IDP crisis, the refugees out of Swat. But we did it through -- primarily through U.N. agencies because they were the most efficient and they know how to take care of refugees. So we gave them that money, but the general public was not aware that we supported them.
We did actually give money to the police, and we continue to give money to the police. But I give you one example. We had vests, armor-plated vests, to give to the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and they got stuck in customs in Karachi because they wanted to charge us customs fees on a gift, and then they wanted to charge us to -- (inaudible). (Chuckles.) So there are a lot of bureaucratic issues that we have to work through in even trying to help the police. But we and the Brits have, in fact, provided assistance.
ABBAS: No doubt.
GIACOMO: But the $7.5 billion that Congress, the Kerry-Lugar money, really hasn't gotten out to -- hasn't been spent yet.
PUTNAM: Well, it takes time to spend that kind of money. You have to have capacity on the ground to do that. And the other problem is -- and it's spread out over years -- the needs in Pakistan are so great that if we took our entire assistance budget and put it into one sector, it would still have a limited impact.
PUTNAM: It's an issue of scale.
GIACOMO: Even though the United States has been what many people would think generous on the military side, on the development side, although there are questions about how it's being used and spent. As several of you said, you know, this doesn't really resonate with the Pakistani public.
The United States was a huge participant in the rescue and recovery efforts after the floods, and it doesn't seem to have any lasting meaning with the Pakistani public. Why do you think that is? And what should the United States be doing to increase the chances that anti-Americanism in Pakistan can be diminished? Go ahead.
LIEVEN: Well, I have to say, I'm afraid rather pessimistically, that given the scale of anti-Americanism in Pakistan and the extent to which, frankly, it is fueled by often totally irrational conspiracy theories -- as well as, one has to say, sometimes more justified feelings -- it has to be said that, I think according to the World Bank, Pakistan's losses as a result of its embroilment in the war on terror have been considerably greater than the entire total of American civil and military aid put together. So that's worth keeping in mind.
But I don't think the point should be to buy Pakistani goodwill. I've come to the melancholy conclusion that it is almost impossible to get Pakistanis to deliberately help America, at least if this is in any way against their own interests.
You have to understand this is a country where the overwhelming majority of the population believes that 9/11 was actually a CIA/Mossad plot. That's pointless. The point is Pakistanis are prepared, most of them, to defend their own state, their own country, against revolution, against terrorism, against extremists.
We can help them to do that. And because, of course, the collapse of the Pakistani state in the face of Islamist revolution will be a catastrophe for us as well -- I mean, a catastrophe, given the increase in terrorism that would result, quite apart from nuclear weapons, that in itself is worth doing, in my view.
GIACOMO: But I mean, the Pakistanis have taken on the Pakistani -- the Taliban -- the elements of the Taliban that they feel threaten their own existence. And this gets back to sort of where we started, but they will not take on or have not taken on the Taliban -- the Haqqani Network. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ISI, and --
LIEVEN: Not exactly. It's an --
PUTNAM: It was.
GIACOMO: Too glib?
LIEVEN: Yeah, I mean, it's an independent force which has been closely allied to the military. Put it that way.
GIACOMO: But was -- has been nurtured by ISI and used by ISI in order to advance their interests.
At any rate, the fact that -- I mean, that remains the nub, that our interests are in trying to get, defeat, diminish these other networks that the Pakistanis feel are in their interests, and we keep running up against a brick wall.
ABBAS: I think we have to acknowledge that the greatest failure of Pakistan has been that they continue to look at the original political scenario with one lens towards Afghanistan, with the other lens towards India, and in that process they forgot that the militants and some of the extremists that they were in some ways either supporting directly or manipulating in other cases or in some cases looking the other way -- that those groups, while supporting Pakistan's foreign policy agendas at one level were radicalizing the nation itself.
And the denial has been so obvious in Pakistan about the expansion and growth of these militant groups in a very step-by-step process. These are the same militants who were initially used against Afghanistan. That's also a very important part of history. There is some reluctance within the United States partly because of ignorance, partly because of lack of knowledge that many of these militant groups were formed for the Afghan jihad of the 1980s, with CIA money, with Saudi money, with Pakistani intelligence. Everyone was on board. Everyone was very happy. The picture of President Reagan with some of those Taliban are on the website of President Reagan. And I don't want to even repeat the statements that he gave to them.
After that, Pakistan used some of those militant groups against Kashmir, some in Afghanistan for their agendas, and they forget that they had a(n) internal agenda as well. I was -- for example, in some cases, they were supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba, thinking they're only going in India hurting Indians. They didn't realize that they -- the publications they were doing in Lahore, the radicalization they were doing in Pakistan was terrible for Pakistan. So what is happening today is part of denial, part of failure, part of U.S. walking out of Afghanistan in 1989. I'm sure many of you have heard this so many times. These are all part and parcel of the overall story.
GIACOMO: Has the United States done enough to try to help strengthen the civilian government in Pakistan?
PUTNAM: Well, I don't know what enough is, but we certainly support it, and one of our major goals is to try and break the cycle of continued military intervention in Pakistan.
But the current government is politically weak. They're struggling to hold on to a full five-year term, which no civilian government has ever completed in Pakistan's history. So again, the economic assistance in particular is something that we were trying to use to strengthen the civilian side.
GIACOMO: The -- does anybody else want to take a shot at that or --
LIEVEN: Only to say I don't think we should get into the business of strengthening a particular Pakistani government. We need to strengthen the Pakistani state --
GIACOMO: Well, that's --
LIEVEN: -- as long as it is cooperative with us at least one of our key issues.
GIACOMO: I wasn't trying to endorse, you know --
PUTNAM: One or the other.
GIACOMO: -- supporting one candidate or one government over the other. I meant the system of democracy. So --
ABBAS: I have a feeling if -- we have seen some change during the Obama administration, to give them credit. The Kerry-Lugar bill, I think, for which -- the vice president, Joe Biden, really came up first with the idea even during the Bush administration. But one thing which we have failed to realize is that it takes time. Democracy takes time to find its roots.
And what happened was that when this new government came in, some of the U.S. friends came in power. We had too high expectations, but at times we had demands from Pakistani leadership which were unfair. For example, President Zardari decided that the ISI should be brought into the civilian government -- very noble idea, very -- but it was very poorly translated into reality.
They -- one fine morning, they issued an instruction that from today, ISI chief will report to the minister of interior -- a very incompetent minister of interior, I must add. And there was a reaction to that. Some people in Washington, D.C., they're fully onboard with the idea. If there was incompetence on the other side, some -- (inaudible) -- should have realized what was happening.
So, yes, support to democracy is crucial. It will be a step-by-step process. We have to be patient.
LIEVEN: May I pause for a very brief advertisement? There is an enormously fat book lying in wait outside -- (laughter) -- much of which is about the fact that the underlying structures of Pakistani society means there actually is a great deal less difference between military and civilian rule in Pakistan than we tend to think. So --
QUESTIONER: (Off mic.) (Laughter.)
LIEVEN: My publisher. (Laughter.)
GIACOMO: Recently Secretary Clinton gave a speech and made some comments that I think were unfortunately overlooked, in which she put the United State(s) -- put the Obama administration much more firmly on the side of seeking a political settlement in Afghanistan than had been articulated before.
I'm wondering what you think about the chances of that having any success and what -- you know, what needs to be done in order to give it a real chance. I mean, are there real Taliban who are interested in -- not real Taliban, but Taliban who are really interested in some sort of a political deal?
PUTNAM: Well, first of all, the focus in the debate in the United States has been on troop levels, which has kind of shifted the focus in a way that was a bit of a red herring, because the original purpose of the surge was really to put us in a better position to come to the table. Even General Petraeus has repeatedly said that there is no military-only solution to Afghanistan.
The problem has been, at least from our side, in coming up with a degree of confidence that in fact the Taliban were ready to come to the table. And I think there are quite a few indications that elements of the Taliban are now ready to jettison al-Qaida; that under the Pashtunwali tradition of offering sanctuary, they have outworn their welcome. But that has not yet come from the top Taliban leadership. So there are opportunities there, and I think we have begun to explore them. But it's going to be a long, complicated process.
LIEVEN: But the question is also who we're willing to talk to. I mean, at present, the essential strategy seems to be the Soviet strategy of breaking off bits of the -- of the opposition and doing deals with them, with individual commanders. I believe that that may well do what the Soviets also managed, which is to contain the enemy. But I don't believe that it will bring a peace settlement, and I think that it risks the whole thing falling in on us, you know, after we withdraw or pull back. If --
MS: GIACOMO: Why -- could you explain that a little bit more? Why do you think that's true?
LIEVEN: Principally because the Afghan state we've put together is so weak and fissiparous and corrupt and, in parts of the country, so unpopular that I am deeply concerned that as the U.S. pulls back, that state will progressively collapse, will fall under military rule, and then the military itself will split -- at least that's my nightmare scenario -- and we'll go down the same path as the Soviets in the 1970s.
MS: GIACOMO: You've been spending a lot of time in Pakistan.
LIEVEN: No, I was -- you see -- (laughter) -- no, no, on the contrary, I was -- I was with the mujahadeen as a journalist in the '80s, and then I was in Kabul in 1989. That's where it comes from, as a British journalist.
But the thing is, if it's a question of talking to the top Taliban leadership, then it's a question of what they want. Now, what I gather from, shall we say, people close to them is, that they would be wiling to do a deal that would exclude -- though not hand over al-Qaida, they'll never hand over al-Qaida -- but exclude al-Qaida, but is part of a deal in which all non-Afghan armed forces leave Afghanistan. That means a complete withdrawal of U.S. and Western forces as well -- complete, no bases. Now, the question is whether that is acceptable to the United States.
MS: GIACOMO: Can the -- can the talks start, though? I mean, the United States and NATO aren't expected to leave until at least 2014. So can negotiations -- real negotiations start before then, or is it going to take --
LIEVEN: I think negotiations could start. I mean, one suggestion is that the Taliban be allowed to set up an office --
GIACOMO: Yeah, in Turkey. Right.
QUESTIONER: Or somewhere.
LIEVEN: -- or the UAE or somewhere like that, so that we could actually go to them and, well, ask them, you know, whether they're prepared to stop, at least talk. You know how these things go. We'd have to start by talking about talking about talks before we could get to -- (laughter) --
GIACOMO: Right, right. It could take forever.
Hassan, could you talk a little bit about Pakistan's equities in this and what Pakistan may -- you know, what kind of sort of limits Pakistan might put on any talks like that?
ABBAS: Absolutely. And before that, if you'll allow me just a kind of one-liner about Anatol's book --
ABBAS: I'm reading him after eight years. This is my -- only second meeting, but I must add there are very few American and Western scholars who really have a deep understanding about Pakistan and who really know the ground realities and spend time there and not go to the Lahore, Islamabad, sit with a friend in an elitist setting and come back and say: We were there.
Anatol is one of them who has gone to the areas, and his book is highly readable, and I highly recommend you to read the book.
ABBAS: And --
GIACOMO: Did he pay you for that? (Laughter.)
ABBAS: This is the second time I'm meeting him in 10 years and never had a chance to keep track with him on email, so it's a purely independent, objective comment.
About Pakistan -- and there I cannot promise objectivity, what I'm about to say -- (laughter) -- we in United States -- and, I must add, my adopted homeland -- we have become victims of certain generalizations that we ourselves created.
Al-Qaida. Yes, absolutely, they were a group of militants, terrorists, but we started the using the word in very general term.
"Taliban" is another term we'd use generally, and I'm talking now about negotiations as well as the Pakistani military's control of some of the groups. There are five or six major groups. There's no time to go into detail, but very briefly, one is Mullah Omar and company, who are maybe somewhere in Karachi, Quetta, Pakistan-Afghanistan border. I'll not be surprised if they're found in Islamabad. That is one leadership who had run away from Afghanistan.
The second leadership of Taliban who are Pakistani Taliban, some Afghans who are in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas running suicide camps, controlling the area -- pure terrorists.
There's a third group who are insurgents in Afghanistan who think their country has been taken over by outsiders. They're at times ordinary people as well who are either harassed, either -- or may be manipulated. Maybe there's no other chance because Taliban give them more money. They're fighting their independence war, you can say, or their freedom war or -- under harassment. They're all different categories.
Pakistan has more leverage with Mullah Omar and others whom I think -- and there's an excellent Century Foundation report which has come out recently which talks about these things also. The issue is Pakistan wants to keep looking the other way or support some of the groups, like Haqqani group, because they think India is expanding its influence in Afghanistan. When United States will leave Pakistan, we'll be sandwiched. Just look at the Pakistani map. They think from the east and west, India will come. They want to keep some assets which they can use if they need to.
But Prime Minister Gilani went to Kabul with the army chief, with the ISI chief -- I think they are -- they -- because they don't want Taliban rule again in Afghanistan. At least they want some relationship with Haqqani, who can create some trouble when they want, but they don't want Taliban, because there is now this realization that Taliban in Afghanistan again will lead to more Talibanization of Pakistan, will be -- which will be devastating.
GIACOMO: Now we'd like to invite the members to ask questions. Please wait for the mic and identify yourselves before.
This woman right here, please.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. My question to -- is to any of you, but I think you'll come --
GIACOMO: Could you identify yourself, please?
QUESTIONER: Identify yourself, please.
QUESTIONER: Oh, it's working, yes. I'm Maya Chadda. I teach at William Paterson University. My question is -- from what I hear and what one reads all the time, the bombs going on every other day in Pakistan, it seems to be a country under siege from within and without, whatever, however it came through, but that's what it is now.
Do you see that this -- do you think this is reversible? Do you think that the Pakistani state can recapture and reestablish control over its own nation, if you like? And if your answer is yes, I'd like to know what are the reasons, what gives you confidence -- to any of you -- that -- to answer India -- (inaudible).
ABBAS: For me, as of Pakistani origin, this is -- I really and earnestly hope so and pray for that. But if I take off my Pakistani hat and look at it as a political scientist, as a Pakistani, I would really believe this is reversible. If I look at it very objectively, I'll have to see whether there are enough people who fit in the political -- who are framing the political discourse, who are challenging the militants that they can stand up and fight it out. I have some hope there.
(Name inaudible) -- was killed by a guard, but yes, he stood up. He challenged those who were saying, (don't ?) go for blasphemy.
Dr. Farooq Khan (sp), a writer, a Muslim philosopher in Swat area -- he knew he will be killed. He stood for it.
Benazir Bhutto -- (inaudible) -- I remember my conversation with her in New York when I asked her, Benazir, you're going back? What are you expecting? She said: I know I'll be killed, but I -- I owe this to Pakistan.
So long as there are people in Pakistan who are ready to stand up and die for the cause -- because those things have come to center stage. And I see that there are people. There is Tahir Qadri, who gave a 6000-page fatwa against the militants. There was another -- (inaudible) -- John (ph) in Peshawar. A very known militant from the -- (inaudible) -- gave us -- a fatwa against the suicide bombers. So I see those elements who are challenging these extremist forces. Military, despite all the negativities, is a disciplined, organized institution.
And the political leadership -- people voted for Awami National Party, a progressive party in North-West Frontier province. People voted for MQM, a comparatively progressive -- liberal not in the American sense but in the Pakistani context and comparable sense. So I am making the case there are forces. They'll have to continue to stand up and fight it out.
And I am hopeful that this is reversible. If there is peace in the region, India will have to help Pakistan. China will have to start being a little critical of some of the things there, because China has a huge influence on Pakistan. So without China and India's help -- Pakistan needs more understanding from India also -- without that regional effort and some international support, they'll not be able to make it. But we need to see who India needs to support and China and Pakistan and United States and help those progressive forces expand the space. This is not purely theoretical. I can give you many instances where I think some people are trying to expand the space, and I am hopeful.
LIEVEN: If I might just add, I was last month in the district of Swat, which by the spring of 2009 was largely controlled by the Pakistani militants, and the civil administration and police had largely collapsed. Well, as a result of the army counteroffensive, the militants have been driven out. I mean, it was a ruthless campaign, but it was an effective one. There hasn't been a terrorist attack now for more than six months. And in parts of FATA, too, they've proved that they can drive back the insurgency, and that's partly because -- you know, as well as, you know, some good politicians. There's a -- there was a colleague of yours. You probably knew him, Safra Kirur (ph).
ABBAS: Absolutely. My boss. My -- he was my first boss.
LIEVEN: A very fine man, I thought, a senior policemen who rallied the police of the North-West Frontier province and reformed the force to right against the Pakistani Taliban, and in consequence he was killed by the Taliban last summer, to my great regret. But on the other hand, his work does live on.
So I think when it comes to pushing back insurgency, the state has proved that it can prevail. Of course, the deeper changes within society are, yes, frightening in the long run.
QUESTIONER: I'm I.K. Cush with Global Breaking News. A question for Mr. Abbas and one for Ms. Putnam.
Mr. Abbas, with regards to Mr. Raymond Davis, that issue, what can you tell or anyone tell the Pakistan citizens -- citizens of Pakistan to dispel their conspiratorial notions in the context of the Raymond Davis case?
And Ms. Putnam, given the Obama administration's interpretation of the Geneva Convention -- Articles 38, 37 and 41, with regards to diplomatic immunity -- is it possible that any diplomat accredited to the United States, perhaps an ambassador, can maybe walk into this room and kill a few people and then claim diplomatic immunity?
ABBAS: In case -- (laughter) -- in case of Raymond Davis, I mean, some of the facts are very obvious. Mr. Raymond Davis -- or whatever his real name is -- he killed two people point blank and then was trying to go away from the scene; he was caught. There are then legal issues involved as well.
What U.S. now can do after learning from the experiences, tell them as much as they can: Yes, we have these. This is the diplomatic corps. We have 5(00), 600 other people who are supporting Pakistani counterterrorism efforts. And the Pakistani government should be onboard. Pakistani government and especially military had been taken -- taking a lot of money and getting a lot of support, but saying one thing -- WikiLeaks tell us -- saying one thing for the public, another thing in closed doors.
U.S. has to be very clear with Pakistan. And I think Admiral Mullen did the right thing, absolutely, I have no reluctance to say it. Say it clearly. For 10 years, you have been supporting military, and if they're supporting Haqqani, you need to come out clear, tell them this is what we think. Clarity, honest interaction will always help. That's my view.
PUTNAM: Pakistan did the right thing in complying with the convention. It's based on reciprocity. It's not the first, and I probably regret to say, won't be the last case of people on the diplomatic list being accused of doing things that they shouldn't do. But the system is in place to protect the larger diplomatic community and allow things to continue. So --
LIEVEN: May I just add something? I do not approve of most aspects of ISI behavior. However, I think if you look at it objectively from the point of view of America's own interests, it probably isn't a very good idea to have large numbers of it would seem not in fact fully trained intelligence operatives, but former special forces soldiers who, as I think some of us know from personal experience, others from watching the news, can be a little trigger-happy and sort of wired to the max, as they say, running around in a society like Pakistan, carrying guns.
I say in my book -- if I make another little advertisement -- with I think a measure of prophecy, that these people were hostages to fortune. Now, I wrote that long before the Raymond Davis case, but a hostage to fortune is what he turned out to be.
GIACOMO: The gentleman sort of in the middle of the row there. Oh, OK. You're next.
QUESTIONER: Donald Shriver of Union Theological Seminary. Every time an American like Terry Jones says or does something stupid, like burning a Quran, it harms our relationships with Islamic countries. Contrary-wise, every time that there is religious persecution of somebody in an Islamic country because of their religion, it harms at least Americans' image of that country.
What I'd like to know is, weak though it may be, is the current Pakistani government able and willing to promote something like a regime of religious freedom, or such freedom as we Americans might recognize it?
ABBAS: I think they're willing. The political leadership is willing; they're not able to. And the reason is that some of the religious hard-liners and extremists who, maybe 5 percent -- I will not be surprised if there are 10 percent. And I'm not talking about terrorists, I'm talking about religious extremists who want to go to heaven but take you to heaven by force. (Laughter.) And we have some here in U.S. also and elsewhere.
That group, that 8 (percent) to 10 percent of the group, for that, education will help. That will make Pakistan able. And unfortunately, Pakistan is spending 1.2 percent on education and maybe 20 percent on the military. There was just a missile test, a nuclear missile test, yesterday. They have 100; I don't know how many more they want. The point is, unless that change will happen, Pakistan will not get that ability.
And it will take some time because now Pakistan is going towards -- there has been this question in Pakistan: why Pakistan is not following Egypt's model or Tunisia or whatever it is -- I think a great thing that is happening in the Muslim world. And the reaction to that was, because of a lack of that educated class, Pakistan might lead -- its situation may lead to more chaos. It will only be education, and that's a long-term thing.
QUESTIONER: Hi. Asim Rehman, Muslim Bar Association of New York. On the issue of U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relations, how important is the drone issue, the use of U.S. military drones on Pakistani territory? We hear it a lot as a sticking point, both with respect to the Pakistan public opinion but also on a military level.
Is it actually a real issue that is solvable? Or is it just a proxy issue that, if you took that away, there would be something else to fill the sticking point between the countries?
PUTNAM: The ultimate solution to the drone crisis is for the Pakistani government to regain control of all of its territory and prevent it being used by others to launch attacks on its neighbors or on the United States and the West. And they are working towards that goal. The strikes are essentially a short-term measure until -- to disrupt operations until in fact the Pakistanis do succeed in this endeavor.
Obviously it's been a point of friction, but it's interesting to note that, according to the polls, it's kind of a where-you-stand-depends-on-where-you-sit issue. The closer you are to the tribal areas and the repression of the Taliban rule, the more you are likely to support the strikes. If you're sitting in the drawing rooms of Karachi and Lahore, you perhaps have a different perspective.
ABBAS: Just one brief comment. It was a very good tactic. We can work it into a full-fledged strategy. If we would have taken out Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, that would have been a great day. We have not been able to do that.
Pakistanis have been asking for this drone technology. They have their own interest. Maybe they need those drones -- surveillance over India also.
But just today and before coming, I was looking -- googling this news on iPhone, and it said U.S. has agreed to give 85 small drones to Pakistan. I think that's a good strategy. Let them finish off Pakistani Taliban and Pakistani militant groups. As quickly as they do it, U.S. leverage will increase. They'll say: OK, now please start targeting those people who are a threat to us.
This should have happened before. I don't know why it took us five years to come to this stage.
LIEVEN: I mean, that also reflects the fact that there has been a good deal of hypocrisy in the Pakistani official response. As we know from WikiLeaks, what they've been saying in public, condemning the drones, and what they've been saying to America in private --
LIEVEN: -- is very different.
However, I would say it's not just the drawing rooms of Karachi. Ordinary Pakistanis on the street -- in FATA, I'm not sure; I've had different opinions from there, I must say -- but certainly elsewhere in Pakistani ordinary Pakistanis are infuriated by this. And I'm afraid that's also true of the rank of the file of the armed forces.
GIACOMO: These 85 drones are surveillance drones?
ABBAS: These are surveillance drones.
GIACOMO: OK. Do you have any insight as to why it's taken so long to get to that point?
PUTNAM: Well, Pakistani has had drone capability of its own for some time. It's a highly -- it's a technology transfer issue, primarily. So --
GIACOMO: More questions?
QUESTIONER: Steve Markovich with Booz & Company. Keeping with the drone issue, so what sort of lessons should we learn and what lessons shouldn't we learn because of Pakistan-specific factors about, you know, America's experience with drones and their applicability to other antiterrorism efforts?
LIEVEN: Well, I mean, it seems to me that there must always be a consideration of the trade-off between tactical advantage and diplomatic or political impacts. That's obvious, one.
Secondly -- and I mean, that comes even to individual drone strikes, because I'm pretty sure that the drone strike which came on the same day that Raymond Davis was released was simply the U.S. military, you know, trundling along with an existing strategy. But I can assure you that it was taken on the street in Pakistan as a deliberate slap in the face. You know, you've -- we forced you to pay money so that Davis is released. Well, we're going to show you who's boss. You know, that's how ordinary people took it. And it was yet another blow to attitudes to the United States.
But in addition, I would say that it's been -- it does seem to have been disruptive of Taliban operations. It's knocked out experienced commanders. But so far there has always been another commander to step forward to take the dead commander's place. It is not having, as far as we can see yet, a strategic impact.
PUTNAM: Well, there hasn't been an attack launched against the United States. That's one strategic impact.
LIEVEN: No, but there is -- I'm sorry, there is absolutely no evidence that drone attacks are having a direct impact on that.
PUTNAM: On their operations, yes, they are.
LIEVEN: I mean, they -- well, I mean, you know, there are so many different factors involved in preventing terrorism against the United States that it's -- I mean, it may have contributed, yes, but there are so many other things that have contributed too. And I mean, among them --
PUTNAM: It's hard to prove a negative, so --
LIEVEN: Well, true, true, yeah, but among them the cooperation of the Pakistani state, which is perhaps being endangered by the drone attacks, which is what I mean about trade-offs.
PUTNAM: There is -- there is a trade-off.
GIACOMO: The gentleman with the yellow tie. (Laughs.)
QUESTIONER: (Off mic) -- my tie.
QUESTIONER: I'm Sy Sternberg. Let me turn to the nuclear issue. We've heard over the past -- I don't know -- 10 years that the one concern we should not have is -- that nuclear weapons of Pakistan's are under tight control by the military, and we shouldn't be concerned about that issue. However, with the further degradation of the environment in Pakistan, does any of you have a later update on the issue of nuclear weapons control?
PUTNAM: The scenario where a terrorist wanders into a Pakistani nuclear compound and walks out with a nuclear weapon is highly unlikely. We have fairly high confidence that that is not going to happen. As you said, the larger concern is what happens if the state deteriorates and loses control of those systems, and we're not there yet.
LIEVEN: I mean that to me is one of the biggest arguments why we have to help keep the state together, you know, as long as it is at least reasonably cooperative in certain other areas.
But something else to mention, though, is that for me, a bigger threat is actually Pakistan's nuclear materials in the civilian nuclear sector, which are not so well guarded. And some of the people involved with that of course have had links to terrorists. That would not in itself create a nuclear bomb, but of course, there is the threat of a radioactive bomb. And so that's something that we do need to help with, I think, very closely.
GIACOMO: Gentleman two rows back with a red tie.
QUESTIONER: Todd Johnson from Ferrari Consultancy. I was wondering if -- just shifting the focus a little bit to India, and you've remarked a number of times, all the panelists have, about the heavily securitized nature -- militarized nature -- excuse me -- of the Pakistani state. And I'm wondering if, in terms of a -- ever if there could be a detente between India and Pakistan, a legitimate, genuine detente. Would that be possible in terms of institutional culture of the Pakistani military, ISI, et cetera in terms of the frame of reference, the mind-set, so to speak, of the rank-and-file line officers, general officers, et cetera? Could they ever wrap their mind around the idea of India not being enemy number one?
ABBAS: India perhaps -- in the case of India, Pakistan army, we should not expect from any military to talk of this -- such peace processes. Musharraf had tried it, frankly, from 2004 to 2007. It really started working. In that case, I think India missed the bus, and India should have accepted that, whatever was decided. What they (thought with ?) Musharraf being a military dictator was losing support and they walk off. But to India's credit, especially to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he has restarted the peace process.
Something else has happened in Pakistan, keeping sight all the other things that have happened. There is -- for example, the most popular Pakistani news channel, called Geo TV -- they are -- they along with Times of India, one of the top-most Indian newspaper groups -- they have started a program called "Aman ki Asha," which is translated as peace -- a project of peace -- or hope for peace. Thank you.
And this is the most popular channel. They are dependent on public opinion. They have been bringing in Indians -- writers, scholars; and Pakistan -- Pakistani scholars, writers, journalists have been going to India. There is a lot of good will and there is a lot more space among the ordinary people, civil society actors. The Pakistani judges after this lawyers -- successful lawyers' movement, they have started quoting Indian law. Indian judges recently quoted Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the legendary Pakistani poets, in one of their judgments. And that judgment was about someone arrested in -- an Indian national who was in Pakistan. After reading that poem in the Indian judgment, the Pakistani court gave up that person who was in a Pakistani jail for so long.
From army, you may not expect -- it will take army a very long time. It will take any military a very long time to go and reach out to the opponent, because they are groomed and -- in that mind-set.
But from ordinary people, Pakistani president, the People's Party, the prime minister, even MQM, ANP, they have been reaching out to India, and India has been reciprocating. So I have more hope from the civil society, because people in middle class or from this middle class who knows their sons or -- sons, daughters, family members have to live in Pakistan. They have realize -- they are realizing, I should say, that this animosity, hatred, fight with India has been catastrophic for Pakistan. India survived because it's a big country, it has a great economy, it has a great democracy. For Pakistan, this rivalry has been catastrophic. There is a realization of that -- maybe not in the military mind-set yet, but among the ordinary people.
PUTNAM: And as -- if I could make a pitch for your book -- (laughter).
LIEVEN: That's what they're here for. (Laughter.) Thank you so much.
PUTNAM: As Anatol points out, the real crisis in relations has yet to come, because it's going to be over water. The -- if you graph the supply and demand for water in India and Pakistan, it's a dangerous X in both countries, with growing populations and a diminishing share of the Indus River Basin. If they don't solve Kashmir and some of these other issues first, then it's going to be really, really difficult to tackle the water issue.
ABBAS: And although I'm trying my best to impress your publisher, though, so that his next book on Pakistan, he should consider me also, but --
GIACOMO: Is that it? (Laughter.)
OK, who else? In the back there.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is Manik Mehta (sp). I'm a journalist, and my question is to Mr. Abbas. How relevant is Pervez Musharraf for Pakistani politics today?
ABBAS: Not at all, not at all! (Please ?).
QUESTIONER: And secondly, you -- (laughter) --
QUESTIONER: (Off mic.)
QUESTIONER: I'm not through yet. (Laughter.)
ABBAS: I know.
QUESTIONER: Secondly, you spoke about getting help from India. How do you define this help? What exactly do you want from India?
ABBAS: Thank you very much for that question.
Because of the kind of rivalry between India and Pakistan, what they forgot was that Pakistan -- Pakistan thought of their strategic depth in Afghanistan and forgot that they actually have strategic -- they have civilizational depth on two sides, one in India. It's the same culture, same language, same people. The Indus Valley civilization is celebrated by both sides.
On the other side, Pakistan has a civilizational depth in, for example, Iran, not in Ahmadinejad's Iran specifically, but in Iran because of the Persian culture, the beauty of the Persian literature and civilization.
There is -- because of those barriers which were created because of certain wars, there was this disconnect.
In -- from India what Pakistan expect is that -- understand that all the militant groups who -- God forbid, God forbid there's something more like the Mumbai attacks, but they should understand all of these militant groups -- some of them have become Frankenstein monsters -- not to stop the peace process if, God forbid, anything more or something happens in India.
More interaction with the political leadership. It was an excellent step on the part of India when there were these floods in Pakistan. India offered Pakistan help, and -- though Pakistan accepted it through U.N.
So more interaction, cricket match. Pakistan lost to India in the semifinals, but I think both the countries won in a great fashion when the prime minister of Pakistan was received with all the protocol. Both prime ministers sat together. And when the Pakistani cricketing captain at the end said a few positive things about India, it was highly appreciated in India. More interaction. There is no shortcut for this peace process. India should open up more as a big brother.
LIEVEN: I'd just like --
GIACOMO: I'm going to take --
LIEVEN: I'm sorry. May I just add one thing?
GIACOMO: OK. We're running out of time, though.
LIEVEN: The use of detente, the word "detente," in this context is, I think, interesting, because, having been involved in a good deal of track two-ish stuff between India and Pakistan, I'm pretty pessimistic, at least in the short to medium term, about the possibility of an overall settlement, including a deal on Kashmir, where the emotions on both sides, the interests are very deep.
But if you look at the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, even within an overall structure of hostility, it was possible to -- both to achieve briefly at least detente, to reach the Helsinki Accords, and also, on particular limited issues, to come to pragmatic agreements.
I think, for example, that it is just possible that as they draw back from their sort of maximal goals, that India and Pakistan might be able to reach a modus vivendi over Afghanistan, for example.
GIACOMO: I think that's going to have to be the last word. I'm sorry about that. I know you've all got other questions, but we have a format to sort of honor here.
So thank you all for coming. You can certainly talk to the panelists afterwards. (Applause.)
LIEVEN: Thank you so much.
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