Pakistan and US Strategy

by Eqbal Ahmad
published in MER90

How would you characterize the situation in Pakistan today?

The most striking thing about the present regime is the extraordinary degree of its isolation. It is a regime which, from one end of the country to another, does not seem to have any popular support. It lacks even the support of vested interests. It is difficult to find people in any social class or among any nationalities, literally anyone, who is willing to defend or justify the existence of the military regime in Pakistan.

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China's New Silk Road Strategy

by Haiyun Ma , I-wei Jennifer Chang | published May 20, 2014 - 3:14pm

In the current issue of Middle East Report, we write about the strategic logic of China’s increasing investment in teaching Middle Eastern languages, particularly Arabic, Persian and Turkish. A key goal of the push for Middle Eastern language competency is to help rebuild the Silk Road that China stood astride in centuries past.

Mao in a Muslim Land

by Kamran Asdar Ali
published in MER270

In the coming years, China is expected to invest some $18 billion in an “economic corridor” crossing Pakistan to the Arabian Sea at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The latest installment is the development of the Pakistani port of Gwadar. The port scheme is a strategic move linked to the restoration of Gwadar’s oil refining capacity. The plan is that China’s purchases of crude from the Middle East will be refined there before flowing to China by pipeline.

China has been Pakistan’s close economic and military ally since soon after the 1962 Sino-Indian war. But Chinese influence in South Asia has been ideological as well.

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Pakistan and the Central Command

by Jamal Rashid
published in MER141

Congress this fall will begin reviewing a new six-year US aid package to Pakistan totaling more than $4 billion. Crucial to the outcome is Pakistan’s military role in the Gulf. Pakistan’s military missions in 22 countries in the Middle East and Africa make it the largest exporter of military manpower in the Third World. Its role in the Gulf has a direct bearing on Washington’s strategy in the region, on the future security role of the Gulf Cooperation Council and on Pakistan’s own internal political dynamic.

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Pakistan's Nuclear Fix

by Joe Stork
published in MER143

Earlier this year, stories citing US intelligence documents reported that Pakistan now had the capacity to enrich uranium to 93 percent. In other words, Pakistan could produce its own weapons-grade nuclear material. This is perhaps the single most difficult step in manufacturing nuclear bombs.

Few persons who had been following Pakistan’s efforts were surprised by this news, or doubted its accuracy. In February 1984, Pakistan’s general-president, Zia ul-Haq, confirmed that Pakistan had made its first enrichment breakthrough, to the 5 percent level needed for research and nuclear power purposes. From that point it was only a matter of time before the country’s nuclear technicians achieved weapons-grade enrichment capacity.

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Quetta's Sectarian Violence and the Global Hazara Awakening

by Zuzanna Olszewska
published in MER266

On a cold February day in London, over 40 Hazara men, women and children sat wrapped in blankets at the foot of the King George V monument opposite the Houses of Parliament. They were protesting the bombing of a vegetable market on February 16 in Quetta, Pakistan, that killed at least 91 of their brethren and wounded 190 more. It was the second day of their three-day sit-in and many had braved the freezing temperatures and the rain overnight. They had chosen to protest in this way as Hazaras -- a predominantly Shi‘i Afghan ethnic group with a large, long-standing community in southwestern Pakistan -- rather than joining the larger and more vocal crowd of diverse Shi‘i protesters outside the Pakistani High Commission two miles away.

Lessing, The Wind Blows Away Our Words

by Fred Halliday
published in MER153

Doris Lessing, The Wind Blows Away Our Words (London: Picador and NY: Random House, 1987).


The travel book that touches on the political is a tricky genre. At its best it enables the author, freed from the constraints of formal narrative and factual analysis, to present a special insight into a society in turmoil and into his or her encounter with the protagonists. The anecdotal and the experiential can provide a unique access. The contrasting accounts of China in the 1930s by Edgar Snow and Peter Fleming are classics of this kind: more recent examples might be Graham Greene, Paul Theroux, Ryszard Kapuscinski, James Fenton at his more considered, the Naipauls at their less dyspeptic.

Pakistan's Movement Against Islamization

by Eric Hooglund , Joe Stork
published in MER148

Nikki Keddie traveled to Pakistan in 1985 and 1986 to investigate groups that in various ways have worked against President Zia ul Haq’s attempts to “Islamize” Pakistan’s legal system. Many of these activists are from women’s organizations; the Shi‘i community and certain lawyers groups have also mobilized protests. This activity flies in the face of the popular wisdom that Islamist politics is becoming more and more popular everywhere in the Middle East. Keddie’s observations suggest that it may be much less popular in countries which are actually experiencing Islamization. Keddie is professor of history at the University of California-Los Angeles. Eric Hooglund and Joe Stork interviewed her in Washington in December 1986.

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Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Gulf

by Ahmed Rashid
published in MER148

After the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark in mid-May 1987, senior State Department officials scurried around the Gulf to drum up political support. Pakistan received a more significant visit. In late June, Gen. George Crist, commander-in-chief of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) arrived in Islamabad with 15 military experts for a five-day visit. It was Crist’s second visit to Pakistan in eight months, and it underlined the growing importance of Pakistan in Washington’s military plans for the Gulf.

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Pakistan After Zia

published in MER155

Just a few weeks before he died in the plane crash with Zia ul-Haq, even General Akhtar Abd ul-Rahman Khan was anxious over the possibility of a shift in US policy under a new administration. General Khan had engineered and administered the secret war in Afghanistan, first as director of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and then as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. “The outcome of the war in Afghanistan may not be decided by November,” he told us. “We can only hope that the US will continue to see the great benefits of the mujahidin’s victory.”

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