Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nepal & Pakistan: Lessons for USA


by Swaraaj Chauhan

The other day I came across a very fine, sober and critical evaluation of the happenings in Nepal and Pakistan. Swaraaj Chauhan on the editorial board of a website titled “The Moderate Voice”, has posted this piece. I reproduce it for the readers of WOP.

Comments by Swaraaj are very apt in the Nepal and Pakistan context. Yet to throw some more light on the whole scenario, I have added my own comments and feelings in parenthesis).
          Nepal and Pakistan provide good lessons in foreign policy to both Barack Obama and John McCain. The democratically-elected new Prime Minister of Nepal, Prachanda (photo above) who led a 10-year guerrilla war, now professes that his country’s era of “capitalist democracy” has begun. He was sworn in by Nepal’s first president, Ram Baran Yadav.
          Lesson No. 1: The president or prime minister of any country must not be sponsored / pushed by the USA to remain friendly. Good diplomacy is making friends out of enemies. (May this work for India and Pakistan as well).
          Lesson No. 2: If the USA looks for, and sponsors, loyal and subservient leaders in the world, the public in that country would rise against their own subservient/sponsored leaders and the USA.
          Lesson No. 3: It is a dangerous foreign policy to bribe foreign leaders / dictators and tempt them to follow the US policy. (It miserably failed here in Pakistan where US’s overt and covert support to a dictatorial one man regime did neither any good to Pakistan nor to the United States. With more than 10 billion US$ doled out to Musharraf, this could not help put a lid over a never ending terrorism in Pakistan; it has on the other hand generated more sympathetic layers of people finding solace in outfits like al-Qaeda and the Taliban).Only myopic policy needs to find supporters abroad with the help of bribery. Corruption would ultimately corrode the democratic functioning in the USA itself. Unaccounted billions of dollars went to the Musharraf regime.In the end the USA has become a staunch enemy of both militants and the Pakistan public.

          Lesson No. 4: To turn an enemy into a friend needs patience and sincere efforts. In other words SINCERITY and PERSEVERANCE. The BUSH and MUSHARRAF strategy of BLUFF and BLUSTER ultimately boomerangs. It also empowers / strengthens terrorism.

          Lesson No. 5: NEVER take foreign policy decisions / actions unilaterally. There is the United Nations. Only dictators act unilaterally. (Again Musharraf’s is a typical case of this bitter but dangerous fact). The USA has lost much credibility with its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even in Afghanistan there should be UN troops, if at all. The US will never be able to justify (or get results) by only taking NATO forces. The Musharraf tangle was solved when the US involved Britain, Saudi Arabia and other countries for parleys.

          Lesson No. 6: If my neighbour has begun to treat his family violently, I can only call the police. I can’t force my way into my neighbour’s house and then tell him that I am going to stay there for years to prevent violence (as in Iraq).

          Let’s come back to Nepal. After months of bickering among the political parties, a huge majority of the assembly has elected a former rebel as prime minister who wore Western clothes (another first) but made a gesture to national custom by donning a traditional Nepali cap.

         “It has been an astonishing transformation. For over a year the Maoists have been part of Nepal’s transitional government, heading ministries and becoming ambassadors. Many poor Nepalis will wonder whether, after ten years of war costing 13,000 lives, the Maoists will now sink into the comforts of power and prestige and forget them.

         “The Maoists will have to prove them wrong. Their election manifesto called this the era of capitalist democracy in Nepal and stressed that the private sector is intrinsic to their plans. More immediately Prachanda must reassert the authority of the state, which has been badly eroded over the past two years as crime has spiralled and ethnic groups clamoured for their rights.” (Same goes for Zardari and Gilani combination here in Pakistan; where condition is far more dangerous, Govt’s writ is getting shrunk every day and people are feeling lost). Country’s northern tribal belt which was always a peaceful area barring few incidents of tribal warfare is up with arms against the central authority
         Things are pretty bad in this land of the pure but all is not lost. Pakistani people have demonstrated amount of resilience in the past. It can do so now as well. It can meet the pending crisis but the challenges are colossal and it is now a test for Zardari-Gilani duo to prove that they can steer a course out of this challenging scenario, so that people can convince themselves they made a sensible decision while they voted the party of BB to power.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.
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