Friday, October 30, 2009

Hillary Clinton patronizing Pakistan

Since Hillary Clinton conceded to Barack Obama in 2008 she behaved perfectly magnanimously. I had nothing but praise for her. She was appointed Secretary of State and she performed her role quite well, that is until she visited Pakistan recently.

I believe what she did in Pakistan was a major diplomatic stumble. She basically told Pakistanis that they are not doing much to fight the Taliban and that if they don't want financial help from the US for such a fight they will get nothing. This is like grandma reprimanding her grand children. It is patronizing. I have been following this conflict a little bit and it looks that Pakistan has lost more soldiers and civilians fighting this US war than all the NATO countries put together.

Hillary Clinton also does not understand the socio-political dynamics of the area. Pashtuns are a major segment of Pakistan's territory, as well the southern part of Afghanistan is Pashtun. As a matter of fact, Karzai is a Pashtun. It is Pashtuns who turned Taliban. What should Pakistan do? Kill all the Pashtuns in its territory. Pakistan has suffered many attacks from extremists including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. More recently their military headquarters in Rawalpindi were attacked which is quite dangerous as Pakistan is a nuclear power. Moreover Pakistan invaded Swat Valley and later Waziristan and killed many people to please Americans. What more does the US want from Pakistan?

Zardari is not necessarily your ideal leader. He is known for past corruption, but then what is new in that part of the world. Look at Karzai. My belief is that this Afghanistan war is an un-winnable war and Hillary Clinton is lashing out for nothing on Pakistanis which is not going to help. This war is a disaster. It has strengthened the Taliban and spread them to Pakistan too, hence destabilizing Pakistan. The US and NATO must rethink their strategy.

Update: Pakistanis gave it to Hillary Clinton:
click here.

Recommend this post


  1. Taking this stance back when Musharraf was giving America the run around and playing both sides of the fence would of been helpful but now that they actually seem to be helping you have to wonder what Clinton is thinking.

  2. I think criticisms of other countries should be voiced in private to the leaders and not shouted out in public. This isn't the first criticism out of Hillary's mouth to reach world wide television. The leaders get backed into a corner and have to polarize against the U. S. to save face with their own people. These public comments just create enemies. Why can't she use a telephone instead of a loud speaker. I hope she gets persuaded to go on to some other career before we end up with no allies.

  3. Austin and Jay thank you for your comments.

    Austin, Clinton did make diplomatic blunder. I suppose Musharraf knew that he had to live with 25 million Pashtuns and proceeded cautiously. It is simply too complex a problem. There are no easy solutions.

    Jay, you’re quite right. Clinton needs to learn the ABC of diplomacy. Airing such grievances publicly was a serious bungle.

  4. Recent history in Pakistan is similar to events in Iran during the rule of the Shah. Both leaderships were strongly backed by the US, and were involved in widespread repression or attacks on their own people. Both regimes followed policies that were deeply unpopular domestically. In Iran, this led the revolution of 1979 which created an Islamic Republic. Could something similar happen in Pakistan?

  5. Canada Guy, that is a very real possibility. Especially given the unpopularity of Zardari. An Islamic fundamentalist government like Iran may take over or the military may get fed up with Zardari and a military take over may result. Either way it will be a severe blow for US interests in the region. Situation can become very grievous especially when Pakistan is a nuclear power. The current policy of the US is riddled with possible calamities.

  6. Hi LeDaro, the ironic thing is, if the Pakistani government stopped cooperating with the US and did what its people wanted, this would probably actually be in the long term benefit of the US as well.

    After all, the war in Afghanistan is going to be over within a few years, one way or another (see here for an argument why), but if there's a big change in government in Pakistan, that's something they will have to deal with for a potentially much longer time.

  7. Which Pakistani government though? Is Zardari government capable of governing effectively with the best interest of all factions of Pakistan? Is US capable of buying such a strategy – Pakistani government giving priority to its own interests? I don’t know answers to these questions. What would you propose which will be acceptable to both US and Pakistan?

  8. LeDaro, I don't know about the PPP. They may have blown their credibilty already. I think the most important think is for the government of Pakistan to govern in the interests of their people, and who cares what the US thinks or wants. They shouldn't attack the US or anything like that, but they will likely have to withdraw all support for the war against Afghanistan and not allow US personnel or supplies through their territory (and of course, not allow drone attacks.)

    As a personal opinion, I think Nawaz Sharif probably has the best chance to govern in a way acceptable to the majority of Pakistanis. His party is moderate Islamist, but democratic (somewhat like Turkey). In the poll I mention in the article he has the highest popularity by far (38 percent). In the end, though, it's up to the people of Pakistan to decide.

  9. You make interesting points. I don’t know much about political parties in Pakistan and who is the best leader. It is a very convoluted situation. There are Islamic fundamentalists who moved into Pakistan from Afghanistan after US invasion. Are they going to sit still? They are going to be problematic for sometimes to come. Then there is the corruption in the public sector in Pakistan. My personal belief is that Pakistan has been severely destabilized and as long as Afghanistan is not stabilized Pakistan is going to remain in turmoil and there may be a few regime changes. How to stabilize Afghanistan? I really don’t know.

  10. There's no way to get perfect stability, but my main argument is that it is Pakistan's cooperation with the US and the war in Afghanistan that is the main *cause* of the instability (since the vast majority of the population doesn't support this.)

    The fundamentalists will always be there, but I think they might be willing to live with a moderate Islamist government. Sure, there will still be disagreements and violence, but it would likely be on a much smaller scale. (Again, this is just my opinion, it's not up to me to tell Pakistanis who should run their country.)

    I agree, though, that the invasion of Afghanistan did make things worse. There are many people in Pakistan and Afghanistan that share similar tribal roots (ie. Pashtuns) that were established long before the modern borders were established. The vast majority don't care about attacking the US at home, they just want to fight foreign invaders.

    Actually, the proof of this is simple, after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, there weren't any bombs going off in Moscow or any other terrorist attacks. The people were just happy to have their country back.

    The sad thing is how much Afghanistan might have achieved over the past 30 years if the Soviets and the west hadn't got involved. Better human, rights, better standards of living, no destroyed infrastructure. Very depressing. The cold war sucked. :(

  11. Canada Guy: I fully agree with your analysis and explanation. It is a sad story all around. We had a moron in the Whitehouse at the time of 9/11. The invasion of Afghanistan and then the move on to Iraq for oil resources was utterly disastrous. To start with a diplomatic effort through Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Afghan government would have been far more effective to get hold of Al-Qaeda. Now we have a very unstable Afghan and Indo-Pak region and a very unstable Middle East. I hope Obama uses the proper strategy to end these wars. One thing is for sure, bullets will not resolve the conflict in Afghanistan.

    It is very obvious that Afghans and Taliban have no international ambitions. However, murder and mayhem which has been carried out there will leave a lasting impact.

  12. One nice thing about being Canadian is I get a bit of an outside perspective on the US. I used to post places with an id that didn't make it obvious I wasn't American, and depending on the conversation, I would either be accused of being a "liberal" (which is funny because that word means something different up here) or a "right-wing nut".

    I'm not a big fan of Bush, obviously, but I'm also skeptical of Obama, and I wasn't a fan of Clinton either (a million Iraqis died under Clinton and the sanctions, remember.) I was a big supporter of Ron Paul, though (I don't agree with him about health care, and he didn't have a plan for global warming, but otherwise I think he had the right ideas.)

    I hope that Obama makes some good decisions that improve things, but we'll have to wait and see. (I did not approve of him getting the Nobel. I think David Suzuki deserved it more, and no, not just because he's Canadian. :)

  13. Canada Guy, Nobel Committee sometimes does that to encourage a person. They did that in case of Desmond Tutu of South Africa. If Obama can end these two wars without any further mass slaughter then he will deserve the prize.

    It does sound premature at this time.

  14. Anonymous8:12 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.