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Pakistan Symposium at FrontPage

With thanks to Dr. Jamie Glazov of FrontPage Magazine, ThreatsWatch's Steve Schippert participated in a symposium on the looming Pakistani nuclear threat. Among the participants were notable experts B. Raman, former head of Indian Intelligence; Rohan Gunaratna, author of Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror; Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, author of My Year Inside Radical Islam; and Thomas Joscelyn, a New York City-based economist and terrorism researcher and analyst.

The contributions of the panelists were significant and the conversation engaging. Included were estimates on the likelihood of various possible scenarios, potential consequences of each, and - most importantly - an introduction to a potential advised new approach for the US in dealing with the Pakistanis and the growing Pakistani crisis.

To that end, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross' concluding statement effectively summed up the resultant ideas from the symposium and are worth republishing here:

One problem with U.S. counterterrorism policy is that it tends to be reactive rather than pro-active. Most government analysts weren't paying attention to the situation in the Waziristan area of Pakistan until late last year when the mainstream media picked up on it. The U.S. stood idly by while the Islamic Courts Union took power in Somalia last year, and after Ethiopia's intervention we're not doing enough to prevent the burgeoning insurgency in that country. It seems that this panel has emerged with a consensus that Pakistan is currently one of the two most critical areas in the global war on terror because its terrorist safe haven significantly helps extremist forces in Afghanistan and because of the possibility of a "nightmare scenario" if Musharraf falls from power. (The other critical area is Iraq, which is already receiving much attention from high levels of government.) Hopefully policymakers, analysts, and other officials will be pro-active in Pakistan rather than standing by idly as the situation in that country worsens.

I said before that there isn't a good answer to the situation in Pakistan, but the suggestions put forward by this panel would make a far better starting point for a comprehensive U.S. policy than the efforts that are currently being undertaken. I think the most important recommendation is B. Raman's focus on the informational approach: U.S. and Indian intelligence do need to undertake "a crash joint operation," as he puts it—not just to identify jihadist elements in Pakistan's scientific community, but also in other areas that can help us better understand Pakistan.

What emerges from this panel, I believe, is a four-pronged approach. The first prong, as I already discussed, is informational: we need to learn more, as it will make us more effective in dealing with Pakistan. The second prong is diplomatic, as Thomas Joscelyn suggests. We need to convince Musharraf to move away from the course of appeasement that he has been following, as it jeopardizes the U.S.'s security, and ultimately jeopardizes Pakistan as well. (In this regard, Pakistan's signing of the new Bajaur Accord is not a good sign.) The third prong is engaging the internal dynamics of Pakistan. This includes efforts to weed out jihadist elements (in the Pakistani military, the ISI, and beyond), and by engaging moderate officers within the Pakistani military as B. Raman suggests. The fourth prong, as Rohan Gunaratna suggests, is economic: helping to ensure continued growth of the Pakistani economy.

These four steps would comprise a far more sensible Pakistan policy than our current efforts.

The FrontPage Pakistan symposium can be read here to see in detail how such conclusions were reached.

1 Comment

This point might be moot but combating terrorism in the 21 st century requires a much agile, specialized force than the Pentagon, DoD nor the military can provide without getting bogged down or better yet delayed to reach that threshold of effectiveness. Recently, congress have suggested that the Administration take another look i.e. money into beefing up counter terrorrism within the state department. Brilliant idea! Nothing better than a little inhouse competition. I would suggest folks look into the Atlas program that our europeans counterparts gave developed. This is a time to put differences aside and SINCERELY acknowledege that this war on terror can only be fought and won with the help of our allies & not act differently while saying another.