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India can’t do a ‘Geronimo’

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Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd).

Consequent to American operation ‘Geronimo,’ at Abbottabad in Pakistan to eliminate Osama bin Laden, many in civil society have been asking whether India can go ahead with a similar operation. ‘Geronimo’ involved painstaking intelligence work spread over many years, though the final ‘fine- tuning’ took seven months or so. Detailed intelligence work and application of cutting edge technology apart, it required an enormous amount of co-ordination among those in the higher echelons of the civil administration and military high command as well as with the one who was to control the mission. The entire planning was closely monitored by the Chiefs of Defence Staff, the CIA chief and the President himself, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

For months they worked on the plan, disseminating information strictly following the principle, ‘need to know’. A mock-up of the ‘Osama house’ would have been erected and an operation rehearsed a number of times by the designated team of helicopter crews and Seals, and the latter had otherwise been undergoing one of the most vigorous training schedules. Only then was it possible to complete the mission with clock-work precision. It was the President who had to take the final call and gave written orders.

Since intelligence is the most essential input for such an operation, can Indian intelligence agencies measure up to this basic requirement? Weaknesses of Indian intelligence have repeatedly surprised the nation, be it the Chinese road across Ladakh, the scale of aggression in 1962, and mass infiltration in 1965 in J and K followed by the attack in Chamb-Jorian. Kargil was a major intelligence failure and so was the attack on Parliament where there were security lapses too. It was repeated at Mumbai, in spite of some early leads. More recent are the cases of lists of terrorists in Pakistan and the CBI team arriving in Copenhangen with an out-dated warrant of arrest. The list is endless.

Accurate and actionable intelligence is fundamental to the success of covert operations, whereas it remains our weakest point. In fact, in the case of Indian intelligence agencies, it is not the case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing but the little finger not knowing whom the index finger, of the same hand, is fingering?

At the national level we have the NSG, especially trained and equipped for such operations. At Mumbai these commandos first took too long to arrive and later too long to complete the operation. Equally, are the NSG commandos equal to the job? Just recall the visuals of a commando holding his weapon well above his head and firing at supposedly some terrorists! This visual was repeatedly shown on the American TV, where we saw the drama unfold. The NSG was commanded by an army officer, invariably an ex-commando, but now it is a police officer with no ground-level experience of commando operations. Grabbing jobs, irrespective of the suitability of the appointee, is another feature of Indian setting.

There was no centralised control over the operation and the entire scene around Taj Hotel appeared one of a ‘circus,’ with apparently no one knowing what to do. The details of ammunition and grenades expended by the commandos in this action would give an idea of the operation and our suspicion of possible collateral damage.

Both the Indian Navy and the Indian Army have special forces which can carry out missions of the type conducted by the US naval Seals at Abbottabad. They are organised and trained for such missions and have the best of leadership. Quality of intelligence inputs apart, it is the joint operations where more than one service is to take part and then problems arise. There are major fault-lines in the field of coordination and meshing together of various aspects of such an operation between the two Services taking part in the operation. This lack of ‘joint-ship’ has been the bane of Indian defence forces, which essentially is the handiwork of the politic-bureaucratic combine. The policy of ‘divide and rule’, and ‘turf-tending’ over national interest has been the dominant feature of the Indian defence apparatus.

In the case of the Abbattobad raid, in spite of the complete integration of the defence forces in the United States, the Naval Seals had their own helicopters to ensure total involvement and commitment of those taking part in the operation. In the case of India, helicopters meant for carrying such troops are with the Indian Air Force rather than the Army! So, the total commitment required on the part of all those taking part in the operation will not measure up to the level required in an operation of the type conducted at Abbottabad. In fact, discord has often appeared when two Services had to operate together. It surfaced in rather an ugly form during the Kargil operations.

In the Indian political setting, a clear direction and the will to go for the kill will continue to be lacking. At Kargil, troops were told to carry out a ‘hot pursuit,’ but were forbidden to cross the Line of Control. This is when Pakistan had violated, on a very wide front and to great depth, India’s territorial integrity and the situation called for and justified a befitting response. However, India’s timid and inappropriate reaction resulted in frontal attacks up those impossible slopes, with avoidable casualties. Pakistan suffered no punishment for its blatant act of aggression. Consequent to attack on Indian Parliament, ‘Operation Parakaram’ kept the troops in their battle locations for months and ended in a fiasco. Indian reaction to these two incidents conveyed to Pakistan that it can take liberties with India and the latter carries no deterrence for the former. At the same time, it demonstrated that Indian political leadership will never have the stomach to order an operation of the ‘Geronimo’ type, no matter how provocative the action of the other country may be.

Civil society has suddenly woken up and is now seeking answers to searching questions on these issues, having closed its eyes and switched off its mind to national security issues all these decades. The inescapable fact is that the full potential of various components of the defence forces just cannot be realised without adopting the concepts of Chiefs of Defence Staff and “Theater Commands” along with the integration of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Services headquarters on the lines of the Pentagon. What has currently been carried out by way of amalgamation of Defence Headquarters with the MoD is a joke and a fraud on the nation. Yet civil society has remained a silent spectator. The Arun Singh Committee Report continues to gather dust, as it stands consigned to the archives of the Indian government.

Besides the above fault-lines in the Indian security establishment, it is the watertight compartments in which various organs of the state work. Foreign policy is evolved and practised in isolation of national security considerations and consultations. Intelligence agencies are never made accountable and have inadequate interaction with the defence Services.

Protests mount against Indian nuclear plant

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SAKHRI NATE, INDIA: In the busy Indian fishing village of Sakhri Nate, it’s obvious what the locals think of the plan to build the world’s biggest nuclear power plant just across the creek.


A worker wearing a protective suit points at a cracked concrete pit near its No. 2 reactor of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, April 2, 2011.

“Say No To Nuclear Power. We Don’t Want To Get Sick,” reads one slogan in Hindi on the side of a tarpaulin-covered shack selling sweet tea and sugary snacks.

Chalked on a wall around the corner is a message for the French company that has signed a $9.3-billion deal to supply the plant’s first state-of-the-art pressurised water reactors.

“Areva Go Back,” it says simply in English.

Opposition to the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project runs deep in this part of the Konkan region of western India, whose people have earned a living from fishing and farming for generations.

As with many in the hard-to-reach coastal area 400 kilometres from Mumbai, 45-year-old fisherman Abdul Majid Goalkar’s argument is well-rehearsed.

At least 5,000 people work on about 600 boats, bringing in 50 tons of fresh fish, prawns and squid every day, he says. If the plant is built, he warns, all those jobs are under threat.

Others want to protect the village’s most famous export – the creamy, Alphonso variety of mango – grown on rocky, clifftop land earmarked for the 2,318-acre plant.

Over the last four years, the grassroots campaign against Jaitapur has built up a steady momentum and become increasingly vocal.

But resistance has hardened since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima plant, forcing a rethink on nuclear safety around the world and calls in India for a halt to atomic expansion.

Pravin Gaonkar, a fisherman and mango farmer spearheading the anti-nuclear campaign, said the Japanese nuclear crisis was all the more relevant, as the Konkan coast is prone to regular seismic activity.

Another development is that the so-far largely peaceful anti-nuclear campaign has turned violent.

On Monday, the police opened fire on a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring several others.

The victim, Tavrez Sejkar, was buried in the red earth of the steep hillside cemetery in mainly Muslim Sakhri Nate on Wednesday.

Comparisons have been drawn with Singur in West Bengal state, where Tata Motors abandoned its plans for a new factory to build its Nano car after violent protests from farmers backed by local political parties.

Fast-growing, energy-hungry India, which wants to increase the share of nuclear in its energy mix from three percent to 13 per cent by 2030, could pay a high price if Areva followed Tata’s example.

At full capacity, the six-reactor Jaitapur plant would provide 9,900 megawatts of electricity – more than double the current energy deficit in all of Maharashtra, home to commercial capital Mumbai.

Supporters say it could provide power to a chunk of the 500 million homes across the country that are currently off the grid and is vital to India’s economic progress.

India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh has angered opponents by insisting that the project will go ahead, even as he conceded that additional safety measures may be required because of Fukushima.

“India cannot afford to abandon the route of nuclear power,” he said on April 18. “From a greenhouse gas point of view, nuclear power is the best option.”

Professor Surendra Jondhale, head of political science at the University of Mumbai, doesn’t think the project will be be abandoned, although a delay is likely while the government reviews safety.

“We are now seeing the real issue being very much politicised. It’s overshadowed the real, genuine protests.”

Back in Jaitapur, where a giant poster of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and local leaders has been put up on the main street, locals Mahesh Karankar and Chetan Narkar say the impact of the violence has already been felt.

Police have locked down the area, fearful of further unrest. As a result, three days’ worth of fish is rotting in warehouses.

“Whether the Shiv Sena is with us or against us we don’t care,” said 23-year-old Narkar. “We don’t need anyone to help us carry on our protest.”

Another demonstration is planned for Sunday. Pravin Gaonkar says there will be no let up after that.

“If the government does nothing, at least 5,000 fishermen and farmers will go to Delhi and protest,” he added.

Advani: bring back black money stashed away abroad

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MUMBAI: Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Sunday welcomed the Supreme Court’s move to make public the details of black money stashed away abroad by Indians.


Senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani at the ‘Mahasangram’ rally in Mumbai on Sunday. Others in the photograph are, from left, JD (U) president Sharad Yadav, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray.

Speaking at the Mahasangram rally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) against corruption and price rise here, he said, the Supreme Court pulled up Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam and asked him why the government could not divulge the details of those who had kept black money abroad.

Mr. Advani said that he would appeal to the court to take the steps on this front to a logical conclusion. The Indian government must ensure that all the money abroad was brought back and it must punish the people involved and make special laws, if necessary on this issue. He called on the Congress which had belittled him when he raised key questions on black money and said it must reply to NDA’s letter on this issue and called the party to account.

This had happened in other countries, the U.S. and Germany got back money and there was a law on this subject, he said. Linking the issue of black money in foreign banks to corruption and scams, Mr. Advani said this was the key issue related to corruption.

“In 2009 I said black money by those who have earned it through nefarious means, is kept in countries like Switzerland, where banking norms allow having secret accounts and no one will even ask you. Banking secrecy laws are there in many countries. Now there is a chance, the U.S., Germany felt that their money should return to their countries during the time of the economic slowdown. The United Nations passed a Convention on corruption and now laws are being drafted for the repatriation of money,” he pointed out. “When NDA raised the issue, the Congress reacted by saying no country will change laws for us, how will they give us back the money and they made fun of me,” he added.

Before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had created a task force, and Vaidyanathan who was a member, gave examples of how much money was stashed in foreign banks. Global Financial Integrity, an international group published a small booklet and estimated that Indian money abroad at Rs. 20.85 lakh crore, Mr. Advani said.

The NDA rally on corruption and scams came down heavily on the Congress and the Maharashtra government. BJP president Nitin Gadkari, said this was a government which looted its people by making laws to suit them. For instance, for the Commonwealth Games, there was a rule that contractors had to have previous experience with such games and thus all the Indian contractors were ruled out.

Suicide by farmers

He said lakhs of farmers have committed suicide, and there were reports which said that in India 70 per cent of the people spend less than Rs. 20 a day. On the one hand, while Mr. Pawar was Agriculture Minister, foodgrains were rotting, there was no storage facility, gas prices were spiraling, he said.

Calling on the Congress to reply to all allegations of corruption, Mr. Gadkari said that he had all the evidence of Win Chaddha’s son’s accounts, and also proof that Quattrochi had deep relations with the Gandhis. He also had information on Mr. Quattrochi’s bank accounts but refused to divulge more details.

He also reiterated the NDA’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into 2G scam and asked the Congress “what is wrong thing we have done by asking for a JPC?” The Congress was afraid because their faces were already blackened and they were afraid that more scams would spill out. Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav said this was a fight for justice. He said a majority of the parties wanted a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum and the Commonwealth Games scam, even the Congress allies were game, but the Congress with 206 seats was not relenting. “Even during the meeting with Pranab Mukherjee all of us had agreed to the JPC probe from 1998. It is the Congress which by its refusal has put a lock on Parliament,” he said.

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said, the Congress and its allies had no shame. He said “an economist heads the country and a farmer’s son is the Agriculture Minister. Yet farmers are committing suicide and prices are going out of control.”

Referring to the Adarsh Society, he said, while the Environment Minister suggested that the building be demolished, the question of the Lavasa remained to be seen. Mr. Sharad Pawar’s ‘connections’ with the Lavasa implied that little was said about it, he alleged. He dared the Environment Ministry not to clear the Lavasa. If the Adarsh was not demolished by the government then common people would take the law into their hands, he warned.

The Congress wanted to target Hindutvawadis as terrorists, said Mr. Thackeray. “Action must be taken against whoever is against the State. But why give a colour to terrorism,” he asked. How did Aseemanand’s confession came to the press and Digvijay Singh first, he wondered.

India divided

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By: Swati Gauri Sharma

A powerful Hindu extremist party has held a firm grip on Maharashtra. But the people are starting to fight back.

ANTI-IMMIGRANT and anti-Muslim sentiment is spreading fast in Europe and the United States. In India, these sentiments aren’t new, and have long been a tactic used by Hindu extremists to retain power in the western state of Maharashtra. Their party, the Shiv Sena, also opposes the influence of Western culture, putting it at sword’s point not just with Muslims but with the growing cosmopolitan community in India as well. How this conflict plays out will be a test of India’s democracy.

Last month, the Shiv Sena, which means “God’s army” in Hindi, initiated aggressive protests and book burnings against a novel, Rohinton Mishtry’s “Such a Long Journey,” because the Sena claimed it made derogatory remarks about the party and its constituents. In a surprise response to the protests, the University of Mumbai has banned the book, which had been short-listed for the Booker Prize.

The Sena also recently protested against the two Pakistani participants of a popular reality show, “Big Boss,” which is India’s version of “Big Brother.” The protests resulted in many cable operators banning the channel that aired the show.

Now, the party has decided it would like to ban the burqa, a troubling issue for a secular country with at least 100 million Muslims.

Although the power of Shiv Sena and other Hindu fundamentalist groups throughout the country has dwindled over the years as India has prospered, the Sena always held on to their base by insisting on government jobs for natives of Maharashtra and denying them to immigrants from other parts of India.

Because of the Sena’s strong hold on Maharashtra and its largest city, Mumbai, the entertainment and financial hub of India, few have successfully spoken out against the party. But the country’s new urban and intellectual class became concerned that that the university and cable operators’ concessions to Sena pressure would institutionalize the party’s regressive and racist platform.

The secular community’s most recent successful push-back against the Hindu fundamentalists involved Shahrukh Khan, one of the most popular stars of the Mumbai-based film industry in India, known as Bollywood. Khan, a Muslim from North India, was demonized by the Sena for his comments supporting the inclusion of Pakistan’s cricket team in India’s Premier League and rejecting the party’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. In response to Khan’s statements, the Sena protested and threatened to use violence and political will to limit Khan’s latest Bollywood release, which was one of the most anticipated films of the year.

In previous such showdowns, Bollywood stars and filmmakers have often ended up apologizing to the Sena in fear of financial and social repercussions. But in a surprise move, Khan stood firmly against the party. Opposed by much of the film fraternity and the business community, the Sena lost this battle, and the film went on to be one of the largest box-office hits in Bollywood history.

In the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November of 2008, India showed the world that Hindus and Muslims can live peacefully together. Peace marches took the place of the communal violence that had been a usual aftermath to terrorist attacks. Today, while the Sena objects to Pakistani participants in the reality TV show, there are other musical shows dedicated to promoting peace between India and Pakistan by having Pakistani and Indian judges and contestants.

As other nations around the world are struggling with a growing vocal and often institutionalized intolerance of Muslims, Indians are beginning to stand up against religious extremists’ regressive campaigns. With luck, India’s economy will continue to flourish, and Hindu extremism will wane.

Top Indian politicians resign amid corruption probes

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By Salil Panchal

MUMBAI – Two senior figures in India’s ruling party resigned on Tuesday under heavy pressure over separate corruption scandals involving apartments meant for war widows and the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Ashok Chavan, the chief minister of Maharashtra, home to financial capital Mumbai, resigned Tuesday over his alleged role in a housing scam involving apartments reserved for widows that were sold to politicians and military officers.

The chief organiser of the graft-tainted Commonwealth Games in October, Suresh Kalmadi, who emerged as a public hate figure for his role in the fiasco, also stepped down from his position as secretary in the ruling Congress party.

Both politicians had embarrassed Congress, and the Press Trust of India reported that party president Sonia Gandhi had personally directed Chavan to step down.

“Pending enquiry, his (Chavan’s) offer of resignation has been accepted,” ruling Congress party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said in a brief statement.

Only three days ago, Chavan was the first person to shake Barack Obama’s hand when the US president landed in India.

Announcements of the resignations came as parliament resumed for its winter session and opposition MPs attacked the government over its corruption record.

India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s state general secretary Vinod Tawade accused Chavan of involvement in a “sin” of grabbing land reserved for war widows.

Eknath Khadse, leader of the opposition in the state assembly said they were satisfied with Congress’s decision, having “admitted to the corruption.”

Defence minister A.K. Anthony has ordered an investigation into the scam, which is estimated to run into several million dollars.

“A CBI probe has been ordered and the investigating agency will take over soon,” defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar told media in the capital, adding that the probe would “fix responsibility for any lapses.”

The Congress-led government has still to announce a replacement for Chavan, who insisted he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

“I will emerge clean, let the investigations take place,” he told reporters.

“I do not see this as a setback. In politics and public life, there are always ups and downs,” he said, adding he would continue to serve as a Congress party worker in the state.

Chavan took charge in December 2008 from Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was forced to step down in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed by Islamic gunmen in a three-day siege.

Kalmadi, 66, is a veteran MP from the Congress party, and has headed the Indian Olympic Association for 14 years.

“Suresh Kalmadi’s resignation as secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party has been accepted with immediate effect by the Congress Party,” Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told AFP.

Dwivedi would not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Kalmadi’s exit, but the chairman of the Delhi Commonwealth Games has borne the brunt of public criticism for cost overruns, shoddy planning, and graft allegations that tainted the October event.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a panel in October to investigate the corruption charges.

India has slipped three places to 87th spot in watchdog Transparency International’s ranking of nations based on their perceived level of corruption, partly because the scandal-tainted Games.

Activists have also called for a probe for environmental violations allegedly carried out by the group running the housing project.

India holds its breath for divisive Ayodhya ruling

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LUCKNOW, India – India has ramped up security ahead of a high court ruling Friday on a bitter religious dispute responsible for some of the bloodiest sectarian violence since independence.


Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers stand alert in New Delhi

The decision on the future of the Ayodhya mosque site — and even more so the reaction to it — poses a crucial test for India and its image as an emerging global player and a beacon of stability in a volatile region.

India’s home minister P. Chidambaram appealed for calm Wednesday ahead of the politically charged judgement.

“It is the government’s earnest hope that all sections of society will maintain peace, order, harmony and tranquillity,” he said in New Delhi.

“It would be inappropriate to reach any conclusion that one side has won or the other side has lost” following the ruling that will be extremely complex and is bound to be appealed to the Supreme Court, he added.

In 1992 the demolition of the 16th-century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya by Hindu activists sparked riots that killed more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, and propelled India’s Hindu nationalists into the political mainstream.

Hindus say the mosque had been built by the Moghul emperor Babur on the site of a temple marking the birthplace of the Hindu warrior god Ram in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Ever since the destruction of the mosque 18 years ago the 47-acre (19-hectare) site has been cordoned off with barbed wire and steel fencing and guarded by troops.

Now a three-judge bench in the state capital Lucknow will rule on ownership of the site between Hindu and Muslim groups.

A senior Uttar Pradesh home department official told AFP in Lucknow more than 200,000 police, paramilitary and other security personnel had been deployed across the state ahead of the ruling.

“Processions of all kind have been prohibited not only in Ayodhya but also in 44 sensitive districts,” added Brij Lal, additional director-general of police.

Muslims called for calm.

“We now wait for Friday’s verdict but no one should celebrate victory or raise protests against the ruling,” said Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer for the Babri Masjid Action Committee, which wants the site handed to Muslims, India’s largest religious minority.

The government and numerous religious leaders have urged both Hindus and Muslims to accept the court ruling, no matter which way it goes.

“The way the country handles this — the aftermath — will have a profound impact on the evolution of our country,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said earlier in the month.

The radical Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP insisted that the government would have to give the site to the Hindus.

“The Indian government must hand over the (Ayodhya) site to Hindus through an act of parliament because it is linked to faith or else this dispute will never end,” the VHP’s national spokesman Prakash Sharma told AFP.

The drive to build a Ram temple on the ruins of the razed mosque remains a key political aim of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the main opposition party in parliament.

India’s chief Muslim cleric, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, echoed the calls for calm, but also criticised hardline Hindu groups for shunning efforts to find an out-of-court settlement.

“One can only strike a compromise with those who want to resolve the dispute through sincere talks,” Bukhari told AFP.

Mahant Gyan Das, a senior member of the Hindu trust seeking to build a Ram temple on the site, insisted that any violence resulting from the ruling would not come from the people of Ayodhya.

The government has taken out newspaper ads warning against any knee-jerk reactions that might inflame communal tensions.

“There should be no attempt whatsoever made by any section of the people to provoke any other section,” the published appeal said.

India has avoided any major outbreak of Hindu-Muslim violence since riots in Gujarat in 2002.

The government is especially keen to keep a lid on any unrest ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, which begin on October 3, and the visit of US President Barack Obama in November.

Pakistan and Times Square

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By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

If we want Times Square to be safer from terrorists, we need to start by helping make Pakistan safer as well.

People with links to Pakistan have been behind a hugely disproportionate share of international terror incidents over the last two decades: the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks; Richard Reid’s failed shoe bombing in 2001; the so-called Bojinka plot in 1995 to blow up 12 planes simultaneously; the 2005 London train and bus bombings; the 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliament; and attacks on two luxury hotels and a Jewish center in Mumbai in 2008.

So it came as little surprise that the suspect in the attempted car bombing in Times Square, Faisal Shahzad, is a Pakistani-American.

Why does an ostensible “ally” seem to constitute more of a threat than, say, Iran? Or Lebanon or Syria or Iraq? Or Egypt, birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood brand of militant Islam? Or the West Bank and Gaza, where resentment of America’s Middle East policies is centered?

One answer, I think, is that Pakistan’s American-backed military leader of the 1970s and 1980s, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, drove the country off course, seeking to use fundamentalism as a way to buttress the regime. Instead of investing in education and infrastructure, he invested in religious sanctimony.

The public education system, in particular, is a catastrophe. I’ve dropped in on Pakistani schools where the teachers haven’t bothered to show up (because they get paid anyway), and where the classrooms have collapsed (leaving students to meet under trees). Girls have been particularly left out. In the tribal areas, female literacy is 3 percent.

There’s an instructive contrast with Bangladesh, which was part of Pakistan until it split off in 1971. At that time, Bangladesh was Pakistani’s impoverished cousin and seemed pretty much hopeless. Henry Kissinger famously described Bangladesh as an “international basket case.”

But then Bangladesh began climbing a virtuous spiral by investing in education, of girls in particular. It now has more girls in high school than boys, according to Unicef. This focus on education has bolstered its economy, reduced population growth rates, nurtured civil society and dampened fundamentalism.

Educated girls formed the basis of a garment industry, making shirts for Americans. This brought in currency, boosted employment and provided an economic lifeline to the country. Those educated girls went to work for poverty-fighting organizations like BRAC and the Grameen Bank.

In Pakistan’s tribal areas, you can hear American drones buzzing faintly overhead, a reminder of our focus on military solutions. Drones and hard power have their place, but not to the exclusion of schools and soft power. An important 2008 study from Rand, “How Terrorist Groups End,” concluded that “military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups.”

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is on visits to rural Pakistan to see fundamentalist Wahabi-funded madrassas as the only game in town. They offer free meals, and the best students are given further scholarships to study abroad at fundamentalist institutions so that they come back as respected “scholars.”

We don’t even compete. Medieval misogynist fundamentalists display greater faith in the power of education than Americans do.

Let’s hope this is changing under the Obama administration. It’s promising that the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package provides billions of dollars for long-term civilian programs in Pakistan, although it’s still unclear how it will be implemented. One useful signal would be for Washington to encourage Islamabad to send not only troops to North Waziristan but also teachers.

We continue to be oblivious to trade possibilities. Pro-American Pakistanis fighting against extremism have been pleading for years for the United States to cut tariffs on Pakistani garment exports, to nurture the textile industry and stabilize the country. Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, told me that his top three goals are “market access, market access, market access.” But Washington wants to protect North Carolina textile mills, so we won’t cut tariffs on Pakistani goods. The technical word for that: myopia.

Education and lower tariffs are not quick fixes, sometimes not even slow fixes. But they are tools that can help, at the margins, bring Pakistan back from the precipice. It has been reassuring to see the work of people like Greg Mortenson, whose brave school-building in Pakistan and Afghanistan was chronicled in “Three Cups of Tea.” Ditto for Developments in Literacy, or D.I.L., which builds schools for girls in Pakistan that are the most exhilarating things I’ve seen there.

It costs $1,500 to sponsor a D.I.L. classroom for a year, and that’s just about the best long-term counterterrorism investment available.