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Can positive and negative inducements be effective in containing radicalism in Pakistan?
C Christine Fair, in a very well articulated article, titled, 'Can this alliance be saved? Salvaging the US-Pakistan relation', published on Time magazine's website on 30 April, 2013, wrote that Pakistan needs to change its jihadist policy and she blames past and present American administrations' policies of overlooking Pakistani misadventures around its neighborhood, particularly in Afghanistan and in India, for Pakistan turning into jihad-supporting nation.

She asserts that the past US approach to Pakistan has failed. She assigns the inability of the successive US administrations since Carter administration to balance positive and negative inducements while providing economic and strategic assistance as the reason for failure. It is another way of implementing long-tested and still-believed US policy of ‘carrot and stick’. The inability to persuade Pakistan fully has made Islamabad marginally satisfying Washington, DC, while generally reaping the benefits without much accountability.

According to Ms. Fair,  whatever the US offered Pakistan was never enough to persuade it to give up the only assets it believes works for it: jihad under a the security of its ever-expanding nuclear umbrella. But now in this irreversible asymmetric world the US administration could offer more, but simultaneously it needs to seek more accountability and Pakistan must respond to the newest demands.

She says that creating a fair and transparent system will require Pakistan and the US to admit and say things that are difficult if not outright gut-churning. For its part, the US will have to consider putting forward political inducements to Pakistan that are meaningful and significant from its standard. One of them could be a conditions-based, civilian-nuclear deal with Pakistan, similar in many respects with that with India. According to Ms. Fair, while the deal with India was motivated by a desire to work with India, in the region and beyond, to manage China’s rise, the proposed deal with Pakistan would be aimed to slowly wean it from its jihad addiction and work with Pakistan to secure the command and control and ultimate safety of its expanding nuclear weapons.

She also suggests negative inducements to make Pakistani government toeing the American line. These negative inducements should include declaring American support to render the Line-of-Control (LoC) cutting through those portions of Kashmir administered by Pakistan and India as the international border. Ms. Fair admits that this will not be easy and will require high-end diplomacy at the United Nations (UN) and in other international forum.

The arguments given in the article are well-stated, only thing is that they are too mechanized to be practical. There is nothing wrong in offering positive and negative inducements to curb the growing radicalism and extremism in Pakistani society. Only thing is that it can affect the behavior of the state and not that of its people. One cannot convert or even reform people because of favor or threats being offered to their state. This is most certainly true for non-Western nations.

But sure, disengaging and discouraging Pakistani state institutions from supporting radical and jihadist activities, if it gets done, would be a big positive and welcome step. Legitimizing Pakistani nuclear weapons would be a great favor to Pakistan but unfortunately Ms. Fair fails to understand the civilian nuclear agreement with India.

First of all, the US has not legitimized Indian nuclear weapons. As Indian media reports and this is correct too, that India is not yet the member of the nuclear supplier group (NSG). The then US President George W Bush should have tried freezing India’s nuclear potency with partial roll-back in order to actualize the deal. In essence 123 Agreement was as much as business effort and containment strategy as it was serious non-proliferation effort.

But since Bush administration and subsequent Obama administration would agree to end India’s nuclear ambiguity in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) by permitting it possessing somewhere between 30 to 40 warheads, no Indian administration would agree to it. The same is true with Pakistan. Additionally, India would agree for minimum half of the size of Pakistani nuclear arsenal to what India has.

It is near impossibility and therefore the deal cannot be tried again with Pakistan, at least in the same format. On its side, India should not object to the US signing deal with Pakistan as the deal would stabilize the region under all circumstances. The fact is that India and Pakistan are not going to abandon their nuclear weapons in any time that could be conceived. Moreover, Pakistan may not be in a hurry to limit its arsenal as per American diktat as Pakistani weapons have legitimacy so long as India has.

As far as negative inducement like converting the LoC into international border in the disputed region of Kashmir is concerned it is extremely difficult; next to impossibility, without Pakistani consent. First of all, the US policy makers themselves will not agree for this kind of forced behavior, secondly Pakistan is no orphan state. Pakistan is part of the ever-increasingly radicalized Islamic world and in their relative context Pakistan is a moderate state when judged from its size and influence.

While this is true that nuclear potency of India, Pakistan and Israel needs to be accepted and also that Kashmir dispute needs to be resolved, the fact is that they cannot be forced upon any state, including upon India and Pakistan. The best solution for the resolution of Kashmir dispute is the compromise and acceptance of inevitability of all parties in any possible solution to the dispute. The solution to the Kashmir dispute lies in making LoC negotiated porous border between Indian Kashmir and Pakistani Kashmir but it is completely different from any unilateral forced diplomatic action on behalf of the US.

India and Pakistan should conditionally ‘sell’ part of their possessions in respective Kashmir to the US which would eventually partially ‘sell’ to other party in swap, partially hold it and partially invest in building peace structures and appropriate institutions. These conditional sales have to be time-bound and constantly updated with currencies and other tangible items getting exchanged.

To be serious, the US cannot dictate all conditions to India and Pakistan even though it is irreversibly dominant and asymmetric global power. Sure, the idea is very good and article is very well written but only thing is that political-bureaucratic-military executives of any of the nations will not agree. Pakistan's temperature can be somewhat cooled down by resolving the Kashmir dispute. It is the Anglicized Right in Pakistan which can heal the demographic frictions there, particularly inter-sectarian conflicts, but for that the US has to be investor there and support Pakistani nationalism as well without offending Indian sensitivities. A tough task indeed! But one thing is certain it would be foolish to castrate Pakistan because of the radicalization, even if it is possible and is feasible. Such an attempt would induce huge instability all over South Asia and in the Middle East and could have domino effect affecting the psychology of people turning them more towards jihad.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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