Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (4)

4. A Long-Term, Phased Approach

Given the challenges and assumptions above, the United States should address the tribal areas through a phased approach, with immediate, short-term, and long-term components. These phases suggest a policy roadmap but are not strictly intended to prioritize resources since long-term projects will require up-front attention and funding, and urgent security threats may crop up over an extended timeframe.

A. Immediate: Manage The Most Urgent Security Crises In The Tribal Areas

For the United States, al-Qaeda is the single most urgent threat emanating from Pakistan’s tribal areas because it is the only group with the demonstrated desire and capacity to strike the U.S. homeland. Taliban leadership and foot soldiers engaged in organizing and conducting attacks on U.S. and ISAF/NATO forces in Afghanistan represent the second-most-immediate threat. Pakistani militants (such as TTP and TNSM) are an immediate but primarily indirect threat, since they offer safe haven and support to other dangerous groups while simultaneously undermining the stability of the Pakistani state.

In the near term, these threats must be managed with existing political and military forces. Six primary tactics are available to these forces: targeted counterterror strikes, military offensives, border control, law enforcement, negotiations, and strategic communications. Since 2002, serious problems in the implementation of all six tactics hav e permitted-even contributed to-the breakdown of law and order in the tribal areas.

– Counterterror Strikes

Targeted strikes against terror cells and militant commanders, including commando raids and the use of missiles fired from Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, will remain essential U.S. and Pakistani counterterror tools as long as al-Qaeda operates from remote regions that are otherwise inaccessible to large ground forces. Al-Qaeda’s top leaders have proven remarkably elusive, and their global capacity to plan, fund, and inspire massive terrorist events makes their elimination an immediate imperative for Washington. Removing these individuals would offer the single most tangible sign of success in the fight against al-Qaeda, even if the organization were to carry on under new leadership.

That said, the political costs associated with these strikes must also be taken into consideration. Judging from press reports, the intelligence used to direct targeting remains imperfect; mistakes are inevitable. Civilians, including women and children, have been killed in these attacks, leading to popular protests against Pakistan’s partnership with the United States. More than six years after 9/11, Pakistan’s collective patience for counterterror efforts is thin. In many quarters, targeted strikes have been perceived as little more than American attempts to undercut peace negotiations between Pakistan’s government and local militants.

With a new, more representative civilian government in Islamabad, the national debate ov er these counterterror tactics is likely to become more prominent and politicized than it was under Musharraf’s military-led regime. A healthy debate might allow Pakistan to arrive at a more constructive national consensus on the need to combat militancy, but it simultaneously offers a chance for anti-U.S. critics to play up the costs of partnership.

The long-term costs of a bilateral rupture between Washington and Islamabad are likely to outweigh the potential gains from eliminating nearly any al-Qaeda leader. Decisions to eliminate specific terrorist cells must therefore be weighed against the plausible stresses they will impose on the U.S.-Pakistan partnership. This decision process would be enhanced by the creation of a forum for information exchange between senior U.S. and Pakistani national security officials.

Increasingly, another cost-benefit calculation must also be made, based on the fact that counterterrorism does not necessarily complement counterinsurgency. Counterterror operations that result in significant civilian casualties threaten to tip the scales of localized tribal sentiment against the Pakistani government. Militants have shown themselves to be quite shrewd in exploiting these attacks for propaganda purposes, uniting disparate groups under a common anti-Islamabad, anti-Western banner. Since a fundamental goal of counterinsurgency is to exploit differences between the different militant organizations and to drive a wedge between these groups and the wider population, the local costs of attacking any individual terror cell may outweigh the benefits. That said, in instances where operational links might have already been forged, such as between al-Qaeda and the TTP, hitting one should also hurt the other.

The choice to eliminate a terrorist or militant in Pakistan thus should involve more than a simple assessment of the direct threat he poses to the United States. In attempting to make the essential calculation about an attack’s political implications, accurate information is paramount to success. Better pre-targeting intelligence can limit collateral damage and help policymakers determine whether local dynamics will make any given strike counterproductive in the context of a broader counterinsurgency mission.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– Pakistan and the United States should establish a joint Security Coordination Committee. This committee, nominally chaired by U.S. and Pakistani national security advisers, would provide an institutionalized forum for consultation on the political dynamics associated with possible operations against terrorists and militant leaders. A new deputy cabinet-level coordinator for Pakistan and Afghanistan based at the State Department would oversee the committee’s day-to-day operations.

– A working-level cell based in Islamabad and staffed by military and intelligence officers would support the joint Security Coordination Committee with intelligence sharing, strategies for crisis management, and longer-range planning. The committee would help national leaders avoid serious ruptures in the bilateral relationship and build greater confidence between the new civilian leaders of Pakistan and the U.S. government.

– Military Offensives, Law and Order, Border Control, and Negotiations

In the immediate term, Pakistan’s combined security, police, and intelligence services are manifestly incapable of eliminating militant groups in the tribal areas or stemming the flow of Taliban fighters across the Pakistani-Afghan border. The Pakistani army remains a blunt, conventional instrument with only rudimentary counterinsurgency capacity, better at inflicting punishing blows than targeting and eliminating specific enemies. Ongoing U.S. efforts to enhance FC and Pakistani army capacity through training and equipment will have only a minor impact over the next three years. A strategic stalemate in the tribal areas is the most realistic aspiration in this time frame.

Consequently, security and development efforts on the Afghan side of the border take on special urgency. Interdicting the narcotics trade is especially relevant. Without a more effective counternarcotics campaign in Afghanistan, one that stresses shutting down major trafficking rings, militants in Pakistan will continue to enjoy easy access to cash, and, by extension, to foot soldiers, vehicles, and weapons.

Driven primarily by recognition of its own weaknesses, the Pakistani government is likely to continue to pursue cease-fires and negotiated settlements in the FATA and NWFP. In Washington, evidence of the poor quality of security in Pakistan’s tribal areas will inspire calls for unilateral military intervention and full-throated criticism of Pakistan’s deal-making. But neither of these responses is constructive.

A unilateral U.S. intervention in Pakistan is not a serious option in any but the direst near-term scenario: a 9/11-type incident traced to terrorists operating from the tribal areas. In that event, Washington’s leadership might feel compelled (by domestic politics and/or a desire to assert U.S. power) to undertake punitive bombing raids and ground incursions from bases in Afghanistan. But the U.S. military would find Pakistan’s tribal areas extremely tough going. The pr imary challenge would come not from the militants or terrorists, but from the rest of Pakistan’s 165 million people and army. Under almost any conceivable circumstance, the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis would perceive a U.S. invasion of the tribal areas as an attack on national sovereignty requiring resistance by every means possible. As a consequence, U.S. threats to unleash its military in Pakistan’s tribal areas under less dire conditions lack credibility-they accomplish little other than to confirm Pakistan’s worst suspicions about U.S. intentions.

Nor should Pakistan’s negotiated settlements with local tribes be entirely written off. Tactically, cease-fires can offer a timely breather for Pakistan’s overstressed army and other security services. Managed correctly, deals provide a means for the Pakistani government to divide its enemies from local populations (for instance, by seizing the moral high ground when militants violate the terms of an agreement), or to pit one set of militants against another. Therefore, Washington should avoid criticizing deals per se, but should certainly demand
explanations about precisely how specific settlements are likely to benefit the counterinsurgents more than the insurgents. To the extent that Washington and Islamabad can agree on principles-or at least clarify U.S. redlines-for subsequent agreements, it would represent a tangible sign of progress.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– In the near term, Washington should calibrate realistically its expectations for Pakistani security forces and must continue to build capacity on the Afghan side of the border. Improving the Afghan security forces and pressuring the narcotics trade also weakens militants within Pakistan’s tribal areas.

– The United States should refrain from threatening to intervene unilaterally and should not rule out the potential tactical utility of Pakistan’s negotiations and cease-fires. Instead, Washington should clarify its specific preferences for future agreements, including a set of general principles (such as “accords should include a transparent mechanism for assessing infractions, action time lines should be announced publicly, tribal signatories must put up real property as collateral,” etc.) and specific redlines (such as “no cross-border
militancy, no safe passage or hav en to foreign fighters, no participation in narcotics trade, no attacks on or obstruction of NATO/ISAF supply convoys for Afghanistan,” etc.).

– Washington should stress Pakistan’s sovereign responsibility to eliminate threats to international peace and security within its territory. This approach is important throughout the tribal areas, including Balochistan, where by most accounts Islamabad needs to take a more aggressive stance against resident leaders of the Afghan Taliban.

– To improve U.S. confidence in Pakistan’s own military and to provide Washington with a greater window into the tactical logic of Pakistani army operations, the U.S.-Pakistan Defense Consultative Group (DCG) should hold meetings on a bimonthly basis, chaired by the new DC-based, deputy cabinet-level coordinator for Pakistan and Afghanistan, with participation from the Office of Defense Representative, Pakistan (ODRP).

– The ODRP should expand and constitute a new cell based in Peshawar to support the DCG and complement ongoing U.S. Embassy/ODRP activities in Islamabad. This new cell should partner with the Pakistani army, FC, and other security forces active in the tribal areas to obtain accurate, timely information on their operations.

– Strategic Communications Gap

Pakistan’s extremists demonstrate a remarkable capacity to exploit print and electronic media, undermining public faith in the government and security forces and building sympathy for anti-state causes. This is true throughout Pakistan, but is especially evident in the tribal areas, where mullah-run radio stations and DVD-based extremist propaganda unduly influence the local populace’s opinion formation and appear to have played a central role in the rise of local
militants, including Maulana Fazlullah in Swat Valley and Mangal Bagh in Khyber.

The Pakistani government has so far missed opportunities to influence the message. It has neither effectively presented its side of the story nor silenced the most egregious extremist propaganda. The military’s approach to public relations has proven counterproductive in recent years. Because army spokesmen are typically unwilling to admit the deficiencies of their own institution, they tend to raise false expectations that ultimately leave Pakistanis (and international observers) frustrated and confused. In the present security stalemate, managing public expectations will be ev er more essential to sustaining morale within the army’s ranks and building confidence with Pakistani citizens. So while even the best communications strategy cannot overcome real deficits in the implementation or capacity of Pakistan’s security forces, a poor strategy will unnecessarily exacerbate the challenge.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– Drawing upon its strategic communications experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military should send advisers to the Pakistani security forces, including the army and FC.

– The United States should also offer to share relevant technical expertise in targeted FM radio broadcast jamming.

B. Short Term: Bring Rapid, Tangible Political Reforms And Economic Opportunities To Win Allies In The Tribal Areas

Genuine economic and political development is a long-term proposition. Even so, certain targeted efforts in the short term can reinforce immediate security gains and help to pave the way for more ambitious programming down the line.

Widespread political alienation and a dearth of lucrative, licit economic opportunities in the tribal areas fuel militancy in at least three ways. First, militant leaders win popular support by playing upon legitimate grievances with underperforming Pakistani government institutions, especially the judicial system and law enforcement in the provinces and the political agents in the FATA. Second, militants with income from smuggling, narcotics, and other illicit channels routinely intimidate or eliminate traditional tribal leaders who might otherwise ally with the Pakistani government. Third, poorly educated and unemployed young men in the tribal areas provide ready cannon fodder for insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

– Redressing Grievances to Undercut Extremist Appeal: Law and Order

In NWFP and Balochistan, dysfunctional judicial systems and underpowered police forces stand out as examples of poor governance that contribute to widespread alienation. These institutions cannot be transformed overnight, but an immediate focus on reform and the rapid injection of resources could improve the situation in the short to medium term.

By many accounts, the popular appeal of sharia-a touchstone for militants like TNSM as well as Islamist political parties like JUI-F-is driven in large part by the breakdown of provincial judicial processes, notorious for extreme case backlogs. Rather than implementing sharia-based judicial systems and giving in to Islamist demands (as advocated by the previous Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal government in NWFP, or, even more recently, in the qazi-court proposals for the PATA, which appear more symbolic than substantive), the Pakistani government would gain greater credibility if it considered quick-hitting reforms of the existing legal structures to grant relief to litigants in cases that have dragged on for years.

Provincial police, often the first line of defense against militants in NWFP and Balochistan, would benefit from better communication and coordination with more heavily armed security services, including the Frontier Constabulary and army.(24) In addition, the police need an independent surge capacity in the form of rapid-reaction units-some outfitted for SWAT-type operations, others to support larger-scale investigations-in order to fill the gap between standard policing and paramilitary operations.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– The United States should assist Islamabad and Peshawar in formulating alternative strategies for judicial reform in the PATA, drawing upon technical expertise within the U.S. and Pakistani governments as well as international organizations.

– Washington should support (with funding and training) the expansion of a new provincial rapid-reaction police force, based on the recent NWFP proposal for 7,500 new officers with a “capital” cost of $70 million and an annual recurring cost of $15 million.(25)

– Redressing Grievances to Undercut Extremist Appeal: Governance

In the FATA, a crisis of governance is likely to persist at least until the tribal agencies are incorporated into modern, democratic institutions. Recognition of this fact has led to calls for repeal of the FCR, which would annul the colonial-era administrative framework that vests political agents with supreme authority. But the risks to immediate implementation of such a massive transition are quite high, particularly given the FATA’s extremely poor security environment.

Three incremental reforms could help to redress legitimate political grievances without risking greater destabilization in the near term and would also pave the way for a more significant transformation over time.

First, extension of the Political Parties Act into the FATA could enable national political parties to compete for seats as they do throughout the rest of the country. This would begin the process of political normalization and integration.

Second, the FCR could be amended quickly to allow limited judicial appeal of decisions by political agents. Appeals could be heard by a special bench of the Peshawar High Court, but the specific process is less important than the broader implication: a limited right to appeal would empower legitimately aggrieved tribesmen and introduce a higher degree of responsibility among political agents without immediately destabilizing the existing administrative structure.

Third, a joint committee of the political agent and locally elected Agency Councils could make funding decisions for certain FATA development projects. At present, these councils have no defined purpose, but they might provide a representative consultative mechanism for more transparent distribution of resources and greater local ownership of development projects.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– The United States should lend public support to FATA reform measures, including extension of the Political Parties Act and FCR amendment.

– In consultation with political agents, the NWFP High Court, and the Pakistani government, a U.S. advisory team should assist Pakistan in formulating proposals for a judicial appeals process in the FATA.

– USAID should identify a significant portion of FATA development assistance funding to be managed by committees that include political agents and Agency Councils (or other local representative bodies). This process should begin with pilot studies in less violent
agencies, then expanded over time.

– Empowering Moderate Tribal Leaders

In addition to the longer-term humanitarian impact it might have, development assistance represents a valuable political incentive over the short run as an indirect means for building influence with and empowering local leaders. In the FATA, delivering resources to tribal leaders-in the form of cash or small development projects like schools, wells, or a visiting health clinic-might help them compete for public support against a new generation of militants. U.S. military commanders and USAID officers in Afghanistan and Iraq have funded smaller programs designed to hav e quick, tangible effects for similar tactical purposes.

At present, poor security conditions in the FATA will make the use of U.S. assistance to this end extremely difficult. Official U.S. activities are likely to be particularly constrained, given widespread and violent anti-Americanism as well as the concern that militants might specifically target U.S.-funded projects. In this context, it is essential that some development programs have the flexibility to reduce the local visibility of U.S. sponsorship (“branding”) if necessary to achieve greater success on the ground.

The field offices of the political agents represent a unique platform for political, economic, intelligence, and military coordination in the FATA, backed by security from levies, the FC, and the Pakistani army. Despite the fact that these offices grant the political agents a great deal of influence and allow for relatively little U.S. influence or oversight, they provide the best near-term method for assistance delivery and regular interaction with tribal leaders.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– In the short term, USAID should employ quick impact programming as a political tool to build inroads with tribal leaders. The relative profile of U.S. sponsorship for these projects should be calibrated to local security conditions. To the extent that existing legal restrictions limit USAID’s flexibility (requiring extensive waiver procedures, for instance), Congress should consider legislative relief.

– Unless security conditions improve enough to facilitate official U.S. travel in the FATA, USAID should enhance its “virtual” forward presence by inv esting in communications technologies (secure internet, video, phone) to link up with field offices of Pakistan’s political agents, thereby facilitating greater interaction with tribal leaders.

– Other technological tools should be considered to improve USAID’s capacity for monitoring and oversight of its programs in remote locations, but Congress should also recognize the need for flexibility in instances where high-quality oversight is impossible but the political utility of development funds is clear.

– Employing Young Men

USAID’s $300 million Livelihoods Development Program includes a “cash-for-work” component, presumably intended to offer the young men of the FATA a nonviolent employment option.(26) Along with vocational training and investments in local industries, temporary work programs might well represent the first step toward salvaging parts of the region from a militancy-based economy. In the short run, a temporary work program may also be a useful means to compete with the Taliban for the many mercenary foot soldiers who only fight for the paycheck.

That said, any cash-for-work program that does not lead to stable, sustainable incomes might quickly prove counterproductive by frustrating the ambitions of the men (and their families) it is intended to serve. A successful program must be widely perceived as offering a realistic pathway out of poverty. But given the current lack of private-sector opportunities in the FATA, the Pakistani government may need to stand in as the primary employer in the near term. The FC, already a major public-sector recruiter from the FATA, could be expanded to include a civilian wing, commanded by army officers with expertise in relevant fields such as logistics, engineering, and management. Although such an effort might distract from the FC’s other responsibilities, there are no other government institutions of consequence in the FATA to form the backbone of a civilian corps. Success will therefore require a commitment by the army to staff effectively both the military and civilian side of the FC.

This sort of civil service model offers at least two additional benefits: it would give the state a chance to forge greater economic links (and eventually trust) with tribesmen, and it would offer qualified, disciplined tribesmen an entry point for training and higher government service.

One recommendation for U.S. policy is:

– The United States should approach the FC, FATA Secretariat, and Islamabad to assist in establishing and maintaining a civilian wing of the FC as the cash-for-work component of its Livelihoods Development Program. Success should be measured by how quickly the program gets off the ground as well as the number of Pakistani tribesmen it employs in full-time, sustainable positions.

C. Medium-To Long-Term Security: Build A Sustainable Pakistani Counterterror And Counterinsurgency Capacity

While the United States and Pakistan seek to address immediate threats, they must also focus attention and resources on building Pakistan’s independent capacity for fighting terrorists and militants over the medium to long run. More effective Pakistani military, police, and intelligence forces are necessary but insufficient ingredients for ultimate success.

In addition, Washington must overcome at least three high hurdles. First, Pakistan’s security institutions will fail at counterinsurgency as long as they are not popularly perceived to serve a legitimate government. Second, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship is marred by deep distrust. Most Pakistanis continue to doubt U.S. commitment to the partnership, and a persistent sense of national insecurity, particularly with respect to India, continues to animate Pakistan’s sluggish approach to shutting down all militant and extremist organizations.
Third, Pakistan’s progress is intimately connected to the ongoing struggle in Afghanistan, but strategies, institutions, and policies remain poorly coordinated across the Durand Line.

– Building More Effective Security Forces

Significant U.S. resources-whether Coalition Support Funds, Foreign Military Financing, or other allocations for training and equipment-will be required to assist Pakistan’s own security forces over the long haul. But more critical than the specific level of U.S. expenditures will be the process of transforming the organizational culture of Pakistan’s security institutions. They need to evolve from stovepiped, bureaucratic structures designed to manage conventional
wars and law enforcement operations into responsive, horizontally integrated units built to address a rapidly shifting spectrum of twenty-first century threats.

In the tribal areas, the army, FC, police, and intelligence services need to be networked and, where possible, operationally integrated. The Pakistani army will need to take the lead in this process, as it is the most well trained, disciplined, and financed. The army should develop and promulgate a new doctrine for counterinsurgency warfare and the United States should be ready to help. Army training and acquisition must reflect a serious and sustained commitment to this new mission, which cannot be handled by more commando units or a more robust FC alone. In short, the army must take full ownership of security in the tribal areas rather than perceiving the mission as a distraction from other responsibilities.

Several major hurdles stand in the way of U.S. efforts to build a more effective FC. The first is timing: even a minimal counterinsurgency capacity is difficult to develop and must be expected to take at least three to five years. Terrorists and militant groups will undoubtedly exploit this gap if it is not plugged by the Pakistani army. Second, although the Pashtun identity of FC troops should eventually make them better at navigating FATA’s complicated political environment, in the near term, the FC’s tribal allegiances may hurt morale and undermine effectiveness. Finally, the FC now lacks the capacity for tactical air support or mobility, leaving its troops especially vulnerable in difficult terrain.

Accordingly, short-term efforts to train and equip the FC are vital, but instead of building an FC with independent tactical air, intelligence, or logistical capabilities, the FC should be more fully integrated into the army. Only thorough integration can break down existing barriers to improved FC morale and effectiveness. The cultural, organizational, and technical barriers to integration must not be underestimated-the change will take time-but it will ultimately avoid duplication of effort and will help to keep the army engaged in the mission. Similarly, the development of rapid-reaction police units (in the provinces) and levies (in the FATA) are necessary steps, but cannot substitute for enhanced coordination with paramilitary and intelligence institutions.

Deep institutional, doctrinal, and operational changes to a nation’s military never come easily, even in comparatively wealthy countries like the United States. Armies resist downsizing or reducing the prestige of once-dominant units-such changes require generational shifts in order to be implemented fully.(27) Washington can help to spur Pakistan’s emphasis on the counterinsurgency mission by structuring U.S. military assistance in ways that reward transformation and discourage investment in conventional platforms.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– The United States should use the DCG to help the Pakistani army develop a long-term commitment to counterinsurgency, which should include a road map for greater coordination and integration of the various security forces in the tribal areas.

– The United States should continue to provide significant security assistance to Pakistan, but the Pentagon should focus on equipment and training that will promote doctrine, training, and platforms appropriate for counterterror and counterinsurgency. Washington and Islamabad should begin by formulating a formal, jointly defined definition of U.S. assistance that emphasizes these categories.

– As an incentive to promote the army’s long-term transition, to build capacity for countermilitancy, and to improve coordination with the FC, Washington should assist Pakistan in a major upgrade of its helicopter fleet. This upgrade should be phased in gradually, and be contingent upon the army’s implementation of counterinsurgency doctrine and greater operational coordination with the FC.

– Enhancing the Legitimacy of Force

Over the past year of electoral campaigns and political transition in Pakistan, a great deal of lip service has been given to the vital link between Pakistan’s civilian political institutions and its long-term capacity to fight extremism and militancy.(28) In a nutshell, broader public debate is widely believed to represent the only means by which the Pakistani public might come to see the fight against extremism and militancy as its own-rather than America’s-war. The fundamental weakness of Islamabad’s military-led regime was its inability to legitimize its operations through a democratic process.

The electoral process that culminated on February 18, 2008, returned Pakistan’s major political parties to power, but the relative balance of power between civilian and military institutions is still very much in flux. Given the historically dominant stature of the army, its political influence is not likely to wane quickly. At present, a civilian attempt to knock the army from its pedestal is probably more likely to hasten the return of a general as president than to prompt the army’s meek retreat to its barracks.

A healthy civil-military balance would still accord the army a role in the formulation of security policy while subordinating its role in national leadership to civilian masters. Pakistan has rarely, if ever, achieved such a balance. Treating most of the various pathologies that plague Pakistan’s civil-military relationship is well beyond the power of U.S. diplomacy or assistance. But a greater focus on the institutional structures charged with coordinating Pakistan’s national security process would be a good place for Washington to start. President Musharraf’s attempt to implement a National Security Council (NSC) was incomplete, under-institutionalized, and unlikely to last in its present form. Its successor institution might play an important role in improving working relations between politicians and officers, and, by extension, imparting greater democratic legitimacy to the military’s activities. Regular meetings of this new body would represent near-term progress on the path toward civil-military reform.

Along with new institutional structures, Washington should invest in Pakistan’s new national and provincial civilian leaders in order to help them increase their capacity for delivering improved services (health, education, infrastructure) and, by extension, for staving off extremist challengers. In addition, because Washington’s close association with recent military regimes in Islamabad has convinced many Pakistanis that the United States prefers pliant generals over fractious civilians, the next administration would do well to counter these false perceptions by demonstrating a higher than normal degree of patience and generosity toward Pakistan’s democratically-elected leaders.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– In the context of a fluid, post-February 18, 2008, restructuring in Islamabad, Washington should use diplomatic pressure and technical assistance to support the establishment of an improved NSC-like institution, charged with facilitating communication and coordination between Pakistan’s civilian, defense, and intelligence agencies. If Islamabad rejects direct U.S. assistance on this sensitive issue, Washington should encourage other states with successful models of civil-military relations to play a more active role.

– To signal U.S. support for Pakistan’s civilian leadership in Islamabad and the provincial assemblies, the next White House should work with Congress to win bipartisan support for multiyear assistance guarantees at a baseline no less than the levels delivered under the Bush administration. To build greater Pakistani trust in U.S. intentions, any conditions imposed on this assistance should focus on ensuring proper accounting procedures and building a closer working relationship between Pakistani and U.S. civilian officials.

– Building Bilateral Confidence

In order for the U.S.-Pakistan security partnership to prove effective over the long haul, greater trust must be established on both sides at all working levels. In Pakistan, deep concerns about U.S. abandonment and a popular perception that the United States is simply exploiting Islamabad to serve its own purposes fuel resentment in military and civilian circles. Fears of Indian regional hegemony also make Islamabad particularly sensitive to Washington’s improving relationship with New Delhi. Within Pakistan’s army and intelligence services, the bilateral trust deficit is most acute in the junior and mid ranks, where personal interaction between Pakistanis and Americans is remarkably infrequent and where officers are most likely to reflect the anti-Americanism that dominates the national discourse.

In U.S. policymaking circles, a widespread concern that Pakistan may be hedging its bets by continuing to support militants passively (or actively) in order to project Pakistani power in the neighborhood fosters misgivings about the wisdom of increased security assistance. The policy often advocated by Americans most worried about Pakistani intentions is to threaten sanctions unless Pakistan demonstrates adequate commitment to prosecuting the fight against terrorists. But this approach risks backfire: threats to curtail U.S. assistance undermine Pakistani confidence in the bilateral partnership, raising insecurity and consequently rendering Islamabad even more likely to hedge its bets on militancy. This “confidence dilemma” is especially acute within the Pakistani military and intelligence communities, which are professionally inclined to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– In an effort to win the confidence of Pakistan’s military, Washington should extend long-term security assistance guarantees at a baseline no less than the levels delivered under the Bush administration. And in order to demonstrate its intention for a lasting partnership, the next White House should seek a bipartisan congressional consensus for a multiyear package.

– Any conditions imposed on U.S. assistance-by the new administration or by Congress-should focus on processes designed to enhance bilateral confidence, such as mandating closer working relationships, greater information sharing, or more extensive joint training exercises, thus extending the U.S. “coercive embrace” of Pakistan rather than implying an underlying threat of abandonment.

– The ODRP should maintain a two-star presence in Islamabad. ODRP staffing should be expanded to enable greater liaison with Pakistani commands in Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Peshawar and to build greater transparency into the security relationship.

– To address Pakistani concerns about the U.S.-India relationship, Washington should support and facilitate India-Pakistan normalization efforts (primarily behind closed doors in New Delhi), and it should continue to brief Islamabad at the DCG regarding U.S.-India cooperation in a good faith effort to mitigate apprehensions despite obv ious Pakistani preconceptions.

– Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination

Security in Pakistan’s tribal areas depends upon security in Afghanistan and vice versa, but the only political-military institution that effectively spans the border is the Taliban. The Tripartite Commission and new Border Coordination Centers represent an attempt to fill this gap, mainly by providing venues for intelligence sharing and coordination at the strategic and tactical levels.

But in most ways Pakistan-Afghanistan confidence building remains in its infancy. Recent summit meetings and the Pakistan-Afghanistan peace jirga have been more symbolic gestures than tangible steps forward, in part because they have lacked persistent institutional support structures. Far more extensive steps are needed to integrate counterinsurgency operations, implement sophisticated border controls, and build a foundation for a sustainable reduction in bilateral tensions.

Many of the changes needed to achieve progress are politically sensitive and will require subtle diplomacy by motivated parties in both Kabul and Islamabad. The central dispute between Pakistan and Afghanistan-the Durand Line-cannot be negotiated to full mutual satisfaction because neither side can afford to face the firestorm of domestic political abuse that would follow territorial concessions. Increased bilateral interaction should be promoted without the
expectation of political breakthrough, but with the hope that new discussion forums can drain tension from the broader relationship.

Other medium-term improvements in Pakistan-Afghanistan coordination might be facilitated by eliminating bureaucratic stovepipes that now exist within the U.S. government and NATO. For instance, inside the American National Security Council, Pakistan and Afghanistan are handled by different directorates, and there is no senior U.S. official with primary interagency responsibility for Pakistan-Afghanistan affairs. NATO maintains no institutional presence in Pakistan, despite the fact that the Afghanistan mission is the most ambitious deployment in the history of the alliance.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– The United States should support the establishment of a Pakistan-Afghanistan peace secretariat with a headquarters and permanent binational staff as a means to build upon irregular bilateral summits and jirgas. A subcommittee of this secretariat could-on mutually acceptable terms-discuss technical border issues without necessarily attempting to resolv e the Durand Line dispute.

– Within the U.S. national security bureaucracy, interagency responsibility for Pakistan and Afghanistan should be managed by a single deputy cabinet-level coordinator based at the State Department in order to seize opportunities for building connections across the two accounts.

– The new Pakistan-Afghanistan coordinator in Washington should draft a new National Security Presidential Directive that outlines U.S. strategy for addressing the threats of terrorism and militancy from Pakistan’s tribal areas. An unclassified version of the strategy should be released in conjunction with a presidential speech on Pakistan policy within the first six months of 2009.

– The United States should press NATO’s North Atlantic Council to open a diplomatic mission in Islamabad as a means to improve Brussels’ capacity for cross-border analysis and planning.

D. Medium-To Long-Term Political/economic: Transform Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Even a cursory review of the history of Pakistan’s tribal areas exposes the fact that many of the most serious development challenges faced in 2008 hav e their origins in hundreds of years of history. That said, current political, economic, and social conditions also owe a great deal to more recent upheavals in Afghanistan, the global revolution in communications technologies, and what appears to be an irreversible breakdown in traditional tribal and administrative governing structures.

Therefore, regional development strategies must be informed by the past, but should not be aimed at a return to history. The region requires a fundamentally new political and economic rationale in order to escape from poverty and war. In the twenty-first century, threats like al-Qaeda dictate the need for the United States (and others) to support radical change in the FATA and throughout the Pakistani-Afghan tribal areas, including Afghanistan itself. A full transformation of this sort will take time, measured in decades or even generations, not budget cycles, and sustained by access to education, health care, and employment. It will require a new social contract between the people and the state, and the establishment of capable, modern

This vision for generational change should guide the U.S. and Pakistani approach to development even in the relative short term. Initial investments in political institutions and economic infrastructure may establish relationships and dependencies that are hard to break later. From this perspective, the issue of how best to incorporate the FATA into Pakistan takes on added significance. Similarly, the economic transformation of the tribal areas must begin with a realistic assessment of the region’s possible comparative advantages in regional and global markets.

In order for Washington to support such a transition, it should also think realistically about its management of the business of assistance programming as well as the need to foster conditions more conducive to a sustainable U.S. development presence in Pakistan.

– FATA Integration

The peculiar colonial-era mechanisms for governance in the FATA-its federal administration through the governor and political agents by application of the FCR-must yield to a more representative and transparent political process. But there are good reasons to avoid a rapid overhaul of the existing system. First, the demonstrated inability of the provincial government in NWFP to implement effective governance in the territories of the PATA raises questions about how well those same governance structures would cope with the even higher level of violence in the FATA. Second, scrapping the old system without an alternative in hand would likely lead to greater turmoil, and there is not yet a popular consensus about what a new political system
should look like or how to implement it.(29)

Under these conditions, the office of the political agent may well remain a focal point for governance, even if it must be reformed and gradually morphed into a far different-more accountable, representative, and rule-of-law bound-sort of political institution. New frameworks for justice and state service delivery will need to be formulated, along with plans for taxation, utilities (electricity), and property laws.(30) Civil society groups, including Pakistani nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), will need to play a role in mobilizing and coordinating local sentiment on these issues.

Identifying the precise terms of this governance transition will first require the Pakistani government to undertake a broad process of consultation with tribesmen. For its part, U.S. investments in institutional capacity building should be harmonized with Pakistan’s own reform plans.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– The United States should press (and assist, where possible) the Pakistani government to plan and implement a formal mechanism for consultations between tribesmen and the government on a road map for political reform. One option for this mechanism would be to expand existing Agency Councils, though the expansion of the Political Parties Act might offer party-based alternatives. In agencies where security permits, the use of polling data to gauge public sentiment may also prove useful.

– USAID should develop capacity-building programs for the provincial governments of NWFP and Balochistan in order to improve service delivery and, if necessary, to prepare for the eventual provincial integration of the FATA.

– Building an Economy

Relative isolation, few valuable natural resources, and difficult terrain pose serious challenges to growth in the tribal belt. It is no surprise, then, that raiding and smuggling have been the most profitable enterprises for centuries. Only a more highly skilled population connected to outside markets can possibly manage a better future.

Long-term economic prospects for much of the tribal areas hinge on regional land trade links, connecting markets and resources from Central to East Asia. Local trucking concessions are one area of the legal economy where Pashtun tribesmen have done extremely well. The greater the volume of trade, the more these businesses-and associated industries-will benefit. U.S. and other international donors already engaged in Afghanistan’s development should also focus on this lifeline to the wider regional economy. The opening of the India-Pakistan border to trade and transit would likely provide the single greatest opportunity for a development boost along the land corridor through Pakistan into Afghanistan and Central Asia. The standardization of national tariff regimes throughout the region would also boost the flow of trade.

Prospects for industrial development in the FATA are dim in the short-to medium-term. But the relatively greater potential for building more business-friendly legal and administrative structures in the rest of the tribal areas (NWFP and Balochistan) suggests that supporting new industries on the fringes of the FATA may be the best medium-term approach to sustainable growth.

Balochistan’s development prospects hinge on natural resources (especially gas) and the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, built with Chinese assistance. At present, both tend to contribute more to political tensions than to widespread economic opportunity. Many Baloch remain convinced that the profits from these investments will accrue to outsiders, deepening long-standing inequalities. Over the long run, Islamabad must address these political and economic
grievances in order to stem the province’s violently secessionist tendencies.

Few states or international donors other than the United States and Pakistan itself have responded generously to existing plans for development in the FATA. Major Pakistani partners, including China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have contributed remarkably little, considering the importance of Pakistan’s national stability to these regions. If assistance and investment do start to accrue from a wider array of sources, avoiding duplication of effort will be essential. Given the complexity of harmonizing donor activities, the first priority for this group should be establishing baseline principles and sharing information on assistance programming throughout the tribal belt.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– The United States and other international partners should include trade routes through Pakistan’s tribal areas as an essential part of the regional development strategy for Afghanistan. The Regional Economic Cooperation Conference may be a useful forum for planning more ambitious strategies for investment and reforms that could boost land trade.

– Washington’s proposed ROZs must be combined with infrastructure development programming to ensure the potential for profitability and the generation of employment opportunities for local populations. The opportunity to invest in ROZs and infrastructure improvements (roads, communications, water/power supply) should be leveraged to attract additional outside investors from Pakistan and beyond.

– The United States should press Islamabad to formulate a long-term political and economic development strategy for Balochistan, including proposals for financial/technical assistance from the United States and other foreign donors or investors.

– The United States should organize a multilateral donor or investor group-including China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Japan, and the European Union-to improve coordination, transparency, and
conditionality of assistance to Pakistan.

– The Business of Development

As Washington contemplates the long-term expenditure of billions of dollars in development assistance for Pakistan’s tribal areas, it must also consider whether existing bureaucratic practices are appropriate to the mission. As is the case throughout the world, USAID depends upon implementing partners-grantees and contractors-to manage projects. This business model offers global flexibility, and on average it may be more cost-effective than direct U.S. management by government personnel.

But if Washington intends to sustain development programming in Pakistan for at least the next decade, building USAID’s in-house capacity may prove a better bargain if it enhances U.S. capacity for direct oversight and control. Moreover, a significant investment in U.S. personnel also demonstrates a more serious commitment to the many Pakistanis who are inclined to question U.S. staying power.

A long-term commitment to Pakistan (and Afghanistan) should therefore be matched by the cr eation of dedicated bureaucratic structures within the U.S. State Department and USAID, facilitated, if necessary, by congressional approval of specific waiver authorities. Managing programs of this magnitude and duration requires special personnel and procedures that may not be appropriate to the broader parent institutions with global responsibilities. In particular, the U.S. Foreign Service’s standard practice of personnel rotation is inappropriate to the mission in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The accumulation of region-specific expertise is essential to success. The next White House may need to break with established bureaucratic practices in the Foreign Service in order to accomplish its long-term goals in this region.

But along with the ongoing, potentially accelerated expansion of U.S. presence in Pakistan, the United States must also seek ways to address the challenges of working in a political environment now dominated by anti-American sentiment. Where the delivery of development programming is more important than the fact that it comes from the generosity of American taxpayers, USAID should make efforts-as it has-to prioritize effectiveness over U.S. “branding.” At the same time, in some cases, popular Pakistani expectations-based on Washington’s promises of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid-would be better met with large-scale, high-profile U.S. projects. A proper balance must be struck between these two approaches.

Recommendations for U.S. policy include:

– The long-term U.S. commitment to all Pakistan’s tribal areas (not limited to the FATA) requires specialized and expanded institutional structures and personnel, including a significantly larger embassy and consulate as well as supporting offices in Washington. The State Department and USAID should develop a professional corps of officers trained for service in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

– USAID should begin a process of transitioning from the use of “implementing partners” (contractors and grantees) to direct-hire officers in order to manage programs, build USAID’s institutional memory and expertise, and demonstrate staying power to Pakistani partners. If necessary, Congress should pass legislation to facilitate these changes, specific to the Pakistan-Afghanistan context.

– USAID should identify and fund several high-profile, economically important development projects in the tribal belt, possibly in the power (electricity) or water management sectors, in addition to funding a wide variety of other programs that might benefit from a less prominent U.S. face.


24 For more on Pakistan’s internal security, see C. Christine Fair and Peter Chalk, Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2006).

25. Figures confirmed by Pakistani law enforcement official.

26. USAID, FATA Development Program, January-March 2008, April 14, 2008.

27. On the difficulty of innovation in military institutions, see Stephen Peter Rosen, Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991), pp. 2-3.

28. See Benazir Bhutto, “When I Return to Pakistan,” Washington Post, September 20, 2007; Grare, Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan: An Action Agenda for the United States and Europe (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2007), p. 7; Husain Haqqani, “Terror vs. Democracy in Pakistan,” Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2007.

29. The only recent attempt to survey the FATA’s residents provides strong evidence of a lack of consensus. See Shinwari, Understanding FATA, pp. 88-90.

30. For more on the traditional formulas for allocation of tribal incomes (such as rents from government or private entities), see Stephen Alan Rittenberg, Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the Pakhtuns: The Independence Movement in India’s North-West Frontier Province (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1988), pp. 31-33.


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