Thursday, August 2, 2007

A day late...

Brian Ulrich at American Footprints links to an article in the Christian Science Monitor about a proposed US campaign to win hearts and minds in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. (The campaign had been reported on earlier as well). I had posted something on this in the comment section at Newshoggers which got butchered by haloscan. Here is a slightly updated version of that post.

Musharraf also saw the danger from the federally administered tribal areas (FATA) early on and the necessity for a hearts and minds campaign in the FATA. This is from a 2003 article from the New Yorker:

The Pakistani government has tried to advance this argument in Washington, encouraging a less confrontational strategy in the tribal regions. In December, 2001, according to several knowledgeable sources, Musharraf met with Wendy Chamberlin, then the American Ambassador to Pakistan, and asked for American support in helping him extend his control over the tribal areas. He argued that, unless the borders were cauterized there, the flow of fighters from Afghanistan would be impossible to stop. Musharraf told Chamberlin that the local Pashtun people could be bought off with basic government services that their tribal leaders had never provided—such as schools, clinics, roads, and water. Large cash awards could be offered to locals who helped track down fugitive Arabs.

“How much do you need?” Chamberlin asked. Musharraf’s answer was forty million dollars.

Chamberlin told Musharraf that she would back his plan. But when her funding request reached Congress, it was derailed. Charlie Flickner, the powerful Republican clerk of the foreign-operations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, felt that the expenditure was a waste of money . He had travelled to western Pakistan, and concluded that the tribal areas were essentially sinkholes. On his recommendation, Chamberlin’s proposal was rejected. Instead, the committee agreed to give fourteen million dollars to the tribal areas, in the form of law-enforcement assistance to the local constabularies.

“It’s not something you throw money at,” Flickner told me. “It’s the typical thing that the bureaucrats in Islamabad think of. I don’t think everything in the world is susceptible to American money.” Members of the Democratic minority on the committee refused to respond to questions on the record. One Democrat, however, told me, “We blew it. There was a window of opportunity, but we lost it by not funding them adequately.” Soon after Chamberlin’s proposal was dismissed, the North-West Frontier Province fell into the hands of Musharraf’s Islamist opponents; in the tribal areas, fundamentalists further expanded their influence. (emphasis mine)

Musharraf also tried to get the US to fund a campaign against the Madrassas.
He got an agreement from Bush who then reneged.


Commenting on a different report with similar components Brian said:

In Pakistan, by contrast, the influence of tribal leaders has seen a sharp decline for perhaps a decade, with the balance tilting toward religious leaders linked to the Taliban movement. ... I'm skeptical that these tribal leaders can really make a comeback against the religious movement which operates under the general "Taliban" label,

I agree with the general thrust of Brian's comments. The nature of the political landscape has been changing since 2001. And what stood a good chance of working in 2001 may not be feasible any more. Even as late as 2003 there were tribal leaders in FATA talking with the generals about "regularizing" the status of FATA and removing it from, what the tribal leaders saw as, the tyranny of the political agents. The impotence of the tribal leaders was a significant part of the attraction of the jihadis. It makes one heartsick to see the record of wasted opportunities and because of them the lives that have been wasted and will continue to be wasted.

1 comment:

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