How can India destroy Pakistan financially

Pakistan and Afghanistan

Khalida Ghaus

To person

Dr., born 1957; Prof., Director of the Social Policy and Development Center in Karachi. Previously, she was Head of the Department of International Relations at Karachi University. She is active in the Indian-Pakistani peace initiative Neemrana. In her work as a political advisor, Khalida Ghaus is an advisory member of various commissions of the Pakistani government. [email protected]

Talks with the social scientist Khalida Ghaus and the poet and women's rights activist Kishwar Naheed deal with the effects of the difficult security situation in Pakistan on the country's society.

Nusrat Sheikh in conversation with Prof. Dr. Khalida Ghaus

The security situation in Pakistan has steadily deteriorated in recent years. How does this affect Pakistani government policy and society as a whole?

Without a doubt, the current government is facing enormous security problems. Mention should be made of the emergence of militant and extremist groups, the permanent instability of Afghanistan and its effects, known as "Talibanization", that is, the increasing control of areas beyond Afghan territory by the Taliban. While the ongoing "war on terror" complicates the situation further, extremist and radical groups like them are demanding Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and a number of other movements (initially independent of one another and now jointly) brought about the power of the Pakistani state. Their presence in all four provinces of Pakistan, particularly in southern Punjab, adds to the complexity of the situation.

So it knows Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies a sharp increase in terrorist attacks over the past two years: there were a total of 2,577 terrorist attacks in 2008; a year later there were 3816. [1] The current wave of violence, which now extends well beyond the northern areas of Pakistan, initially only targeted government institutions. For some time now, violent non-state actors have also been attacking so-called "soft targets" (soft targets) such as shopping malls, religious events, hotels and schools.

Pakistani society is affected by these developments in different ways; for example, funds have been diverted into the persecution of terrorists and military counterinsurgency measures at the expense of the socio-economic development of the Pakistani population. In addition, there are destabilizing effects due to the unstable security situation along Pakistan's north-western border with Afghanistan. [2]

The confidence of foreign investors has been severely shaken, which is having a negative impact on the Pakistani labor market and local industry. The direct and indirect costs of the "war on terror" for the Pakistani economy are alarmingly high: Compared to 2004 and 2005, the direct costs, including damage to property or infrastructure and additional expenditure on security measures, are around 169 .9 percent, while indirect costs such as loss of income to the local economy increased 293.6 percent over the same period. The entire economy of the northwestern province of Pakistan was destroyed. Pakistani society is faced with uncertainty and hopelessness.

Pakistan and India have resumed peace talks. To what extent is peace between India and Pakistan important to tackle security challenges in the region, especially with a view to Afghanistan?

It is extremely important to get the derailed Indo-Pakistani peace process back on track. After the attacks in Mumbai in 2008, the Indian government, the political leadership of India and the media in the country were very hostile towards Pakistan. The majority did not seem to be aware that our common enemy, namely terrorism, can only be fought together, which requires a coordinated strategy and joint action. Instead, the Indian government tried to put Pakistan under global diplomatic pressure. The Indian position insisted that it would not resume peace talks until the terrorist attacks stopped or the danger of renewed attacks has been averted. The position taken by India was dangerous in that it linked the entire peace process to the issue of terrorism - giving extremist groups far-reaching opportunities to sabotage the bilateral dialogue process.

The growing role of India in Afghanistan, especially its presence in the south of the country, is of concern to the Pakistani government and various social groups in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has repeatedly referred to Indian interference in the Balochistan uprising and in northern areas of Pakistan. She claims that the Baloch movement, which is fighting for an independent Balochistan, is being financially and militarily supported by the Indian secret service in order to destabilize Pakistan and the Pakistani central government. With the increase in militant movements in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the emergence of the radical Hindu RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, which in turn led to the formation of militant counter-movements like the Indian mujahideen accelerated, it is also essential for all three governments to identify common counter-terrorism mechanisms in order to deal with the threat.

For decades, both Indian and Pakistani security circles were dominated by the notion that the power vacuum in Afghanistan was serving their own interests: by controlling and influencing Afghan fortunes, both sides promised each other a "strategic depth". The Pakistani leadership hoped to expand its "hinterland", that is, the areas of retreat in the event of a war with India, through the influence in Afghanistan - the main focus was on the unsolved Kashmir issue, which triggered off in 1948, 1965 and 1971 Wars between the two states. Parts of the Indian government also had a strategic interest in a power vacuum in Afghanistan, as they tried to curb Pakistan's "room for maneuver" and "freedom of movement" through the influence in Afghanistan. But especially in the last few years it has been shown that an unstable Afghanistan will never produce the "strategic depth" desired by the two governments. And even more important is that the consequences of Afghanistan's instability, which was historically also caused by Pakistan, can no longer be sustained - this is where Pakistan has learned its lesson - and that both countries must act together. We see that the consequences and risks of terrorist attacks are devastating for both societies.

It is often said that Pakistan is at the crossroads between "Talibanization" and democratization. The latter primarily means the withdrawal of the military from politics, the emancipation of the Pakistani judiciary from politics and constitutional reforms to strengthen the rule of law and civil society. How can one explain this ideological polarization within Pakistani society and what are its historical and social backgrounds?

An important break, the consequences of which can still be seen today in this ideological polarization, is the era under General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq from 1977-1988. On July 5, 1977, Zia ul-Haq launched a coup against the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and declared that he wanted to establish an "Islamic system" in Pakistan. While Pakistan was a rather secular society until the 1970s, an "Islamization" of society was set in motion under the dictator Zia ul-Haq. An Islamic jurisdiction at the federal level and Sharia laws in family and women's rights were introduced, religious minorities were disadvantaged and the education sector was "Islamized", which increasingly divided society into a secular and non-secular "camp".

Zia ul-Haq's policy of Islamization was closely related to his Afghanistan policy: The spread of religious extremist madrasas to train mujahideen fighters against the Soviets in the Soviet-Afghan war of 1979-1989 was an essential part of his strategic military approach . The Pakistani Secret Service ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) supplied weapons and took over the military training of the mujahideen, who also received financial and military support from the USA and Saudi Arabia.

There are further historical and socio-political causes for this polarization, which are to be viewed either in connection with Pakistan's Afghanistan policy or independently of it; These include (1) the widespread use of madrasas also within Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s, as state schools were unable to guarantee schooling for all children, (2) the external influence, especially of the Saudis and Iranians, who also disseminated their ideas through their grants, (3) the extreme poverty and social inequality within Pakistani society, which were not compensated by state programs and thereby made underprivileged classes more susceptible to extremist ideas, (4) the neglect of the education and human resources sector as well as the welfare state through state agencies, which made it easier for non-state actors to penetrate, especially into the social sector, (5) the unfortunately still existing structural gap between the government and the people, which further promoted mutual alienation, and (6) the increasing one Religiousness within the Pakistani people. These are but a few, albeit the most important, of the reasons that can be attributed to the failure of governments.

To what extent do civil society movements influence the country's politics? In the last few years it was mainly the judges' movement[3]

Hope for change "from below"?

The critical mass that is required for a change in society as a whole is missing or is just a silent observer. There are no comprehensive public debates that encompass all sections of society on core problems in Pakistani society such as corruption, lack of tolerance, state violence or deficits in the rule of law. The media can make public opinion more sensitive, but of course they cannot solve these problems on their own.

Since I believe that the judges' movement has also been politicized, I personally do not think that it has in any way helped to improve the justice system for the "ordinary" citizens or socially disadvantaged groups. However, it has certainly encouraged and strengthened the civil society movements since the "80s movement" - a movement primarily supported by women's organizations, which in the 1980s turned against Zia ul-Haq and its discriminatory politics and as a Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) was known - hardly existed.

The trust deficit between the government and society persists, however, and the "ordinary" citizens struggle for their daily survival and livelihood. In short, socio-economic and political instability overshadows all other developments.

The interview took place on April 13, 2010 in Bonn.