New Delhi, May 22 : British author and policy analyst Anatol Lieven, who came out with a book on Pakistan just days before the killing of Osama bin Laden, says the the Islamic country will now come under more international pressure to prevent militant groups like LeT from launching terrorist attacks in India.
“I hope that the circumstances surrounding his (Laden's) location and death will lead to more public scrutiny of the military (of Pakistan), and a real holding of senior officers to account,” Lieven, who has written in “Pakistan: A Hard Country” that its military and ISI have sheltered the leadership of the Afghan Taliban and sponsored terrorism against India, told PTI in an interview.
“I also hope that in order to re-establish some credit with the US, the Pakistani authorities will make a greater effort to track down the remaining al Qaeda figures in Pakistan. In addition, I am glad to say that Pakistan will come under even more international pressure to prevent Pakistani-based groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba from launching terrorist attacks in India.”
Lieven's work is based on a profound analysis of Pakistan's history and its social, religious and political structures. He interviewed hundreds of Pakistanis at every level of society, from leading politicians and soldiers to village mullahs and rickshaw drivers.The author does not think his book came a little too early now that Laden has been killed.
“By far the greater part of the book is about how the Pakistani state, military and political systems work, and how power is gained and used within those systems. The final section is about Islamist extremism, but deals above all with the Taliban revolt in Pakistan, the military campaign against them, and the extent of the threat of revolution and state collapse in Pakistan. All of these aspects of the book are unaffected by Bin Laden's location and death,” he says.
“In the book, I wrote that while the Pakistani military and ISI have sheltered the leadership of the Afghan Taliban and sponsored terrorism against India, they had been generally (though by no means completely) helpful in arresting al Qaeda figures and preventing terrorism against the West - as witnessed by the arrests of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Umar Patek (in Abbottabad in January) and others.
“Obviously if writing today I would say that the location of bin Laden so close to military locations calls that help into serious question, though it does not cancel out the other arrests, and ISI complicity in sheltering bin Laden, though likely, is not proven.”
Lieven says there are several things that ail Pakistan today.
“Briefly, a political system based on the plundering of the state for the sake of corruption and patronage, which undermines progress and development in every field; a crippled education system that is not producing the kind of people that Pakistan needs to develop; and a military that is in many ways efficient and dedicated, but is also obsessed with the threat from India to the point where it gravely underestimates other dangers.
“Also Islamist extremists who though relatively limited in numbers are doing terrible damage both to human life and economic progress; and a population which spends too much of its time generating wild conspiracy theories rather than thinking about what needs to be done to move Pakistan forward.
“None of this makes Pakistan a failed state; indeed, some aspects of Pakistan are also characteristic of much of India. It does, however, hold the country back, when in many ways it should be advantageously placed to develop,” he says. Lieven, however, is rather pessimistic when it comes to the possibility of an overall settlement involving Kashmir. “So far, not even the issues of Sir Creek and the Siachen Glacier have been moved to the point of an actual agreement, though the details of one have long since been worked out, and of all the disputed areas on the planet, these must be the most utterly worthless.
“It seems to me that given their domestic situations neither the Pakistani nor the Indian side can muster the political will, vision and unity to move towards the only viable solution, which must be an agreement roughly along the lines of the Northern Ireland Peace Process,” he says. Far from seeing Pakistan as the failed state often portrayed in the media, Lieven's book instead treats it as a viable and coherent state that, within limits and by the standards of its own region rather than the West, does work. Lieven argues strongly against US actions that would risk destroying that state in the illusory search for victory in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, according to him, is divided, disorganised, economically backward, corrupt, violent, unjust, often savagely oppressive towards the poor and women, and home to extremely dangerous forms of extremism and terrorism.
“Much of Pakistan is a highly conservative, archaic,even sometimes inert and somnolent mass of different societies,” he writes in the book, published by Penguin Books imprint Allen Lane."Pakistan is in fact a great deal more like India – or India like Pakistan - than either country would wish to admit," Lieven writes. PTI