Crisis in confidence, Pakistan continues to lag behind India: Experts

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Washington, Nov.18 (ANI): American experts analysing the latest developments in South Asia are of the view that by all yardsticks, Pakistan continues to lag behind India, and add that this crisis of identity is dangerously close to settling permanently into the Pakistani mind.

Participating in a university panel discussion here recently that was moderated by former US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Karl F Inderfurth, Dr. Dr. Daniel Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, senior fellow for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, and Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate (South Asia Program) at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, were of the unanimous view that Pakistan faced enormous political, diplomatic and military challenges.

With the first anniversary of the 26/11terror strike on Mumbai around the corner, Dr. Markey said that: "The Indians realize that Pakistan is danger of falling apart, and that this could be more of a threat to them than a direct conventional military confrontation."

He further warned that spasms of violence targeted at India would continue, and the United States was unsure about India practicing restraint if another Mumbai like incident happens.

Dr. Markey also expressed the view that Pakistan has realized that it cannot compete with India, given the doubts that exists in the international community on key issues such as the relationship between the executive and the omnipresent military leadership, the concern over the safety and safeguarding of its nuclear arsenal from both terrorists and insurgents, the perceived unpopularity of President Asif Ali Zardari and the outcome of the military offensive in Waziristan.

On Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, Markey said that the worry for Washington was that they were too close to where terrorists have set up their camps.

Emphasizing that it as paramount for Pakistan to have a capable and credible civilian government to ensure its survival as a modern Islamic state, Markey said current indicators suggested that this is far from achievable at present.

He said there was no doubt in the minds of Pakistanis about the unpopularity of President Zardari, but the greater worry or concern is that: "This unpopularity could turn into fragility, weakness and it may look like he may fall in the near future."

The corruption and ineffectiveness of the PPP, he said is responsible for growing Pakistani dissent.

The current scenario prevailing in Pakistan also suggested that there has been a falling out between President Zardari and Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Asfaq Pervez Kayani.

Commenting on the Waziristan operations, Markey reiterated that while the Pakistani army has been saying that the operations are a success, "no independent media outlet on the ground" has been able to provide evidence to support this claim. This is because the news media is banned."

"We (Americans) have very little confidence with the follow operations after the clean up is happening. If the territory will be held and keep the militants away. In essence they are weeds that will be mowed away but will come back," he added.

On his part, Cohen re-emphasized the view that: "The army cannot govern Pakistan, but wont let anyone else govern it."

He said that even after more than 60 years of Pakistan being independent, the army remains central to its future.

While admitting that former President-General Pervez Musharraf was "ill competent", Cohen said his intentions insofar as Pakistan's interests were concerned, were well meaning.

As far as Waziristan was concerned, he said both the government and the military brass have invested a lot in terms of public relations, but "we do not know what is happening on the ground." By Ishaan Prakash (ANI)

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