With the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, the ever-tense relationship between Pakistan and its eastern neighbor was once again headline news. Pakistani government officials condemned the attack, but the incident raised questions again about links between the Pakistani Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Islamic terror networks. How does the history of the ISI- and its partnership with the CIA during the 1980s-affect its actions and worldview? How do the United States and Pakistan look on their partnership in today’s circumstances? These pressing questions will be considered and discussed tonight by a panel of experts at the International Spy Museum.
Present will be Shuja Nawaz, Director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council of the United States and author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within; Bruce Riedel, senior fellow, foreign policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, former CIA officer and senior adviser to three U.S. presidents on Middle East and South Asian issues; and Ambassador Teresita Schaffer, the Director of the South Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has written extensively and testified before Congress on Pakistani issues.
To get an idea of tonight’s discussion, we obtained from the ISM a quick Q&A session with Shuja Nawaz.
What steps has the new Pakistani government taken to reduce the Army’s political power?
Nothing major or direct. The best way for the civilians to assert their position is to govern well and efficiently and gain the trust of the people of Pakistan and that of the army. The new leadership has stated it wants the army to stay in barracks and to allow the civil government time and space to operate and return the country to a democratic system. The military’s footprint will remain large though for the foreseeable future and that is related to its security threats, both internal and external.
Does the recent insurgency in the Swat threaten a return to military rule?
Only if the civil system implodes, which is not to anyone’s benefit. Or if there is a serious clash between the civil and the military on how to prosecute the internal war against militancy and terror.
How equipped is the Pakistani military to conduct counter-insurgency warfare and how successful do you think they will they be?
It has the ability to learn COIN (counter-insurgency) but has not yet shifted wholesale. Neither should it. It still perceives a huge conventional threat to the East. But there has been a lot of experience and learning-by-doing that needs to be captured institutionally. This will help the Pakistan army better cope with irregular warfare inside its own borders.
Tickets are $15 per person; the panel begins tonight at 6:30 pm at the International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW.