Stephen Philip Cohen is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of classic books on India's and Pakistan's armies and the widely praised India: Emerging Power (Brookings, 2001). He was a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. Department of State and before joining Brookings was a faculty member at the University of Illinois.
Two military dictators have ruled Myanmar with an iron fist for nearly fifty years. A popular uprising in 1988 was brutally suppressed, but it forced the generals to hold an election in 1990. When an anti-regime party led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landside, however, the generals rejected the results, put Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of two decades, and continued to exploit the country's abundant resources for their own benefit while depriving citizens of basic services. Years of Western sanctions had no measurable impact, but in 2009 the Obama administration adopted a new policy of "pragmatic engagement," encouraging greater respect of democratic principles and human rights as a basis for eventual removal of sanctions.
This thoughtful volume examines Burma today primarily through the eyes of its ASEAN partners, its superpower neighbors China and India, and its own people. It provides insights into the overarching problem of national reconciliation, the strategic competition between China and India, the role of ASEAN, and the underperforming, resource-cursed economy.
Contributors include Pavin Chachavalpongpun (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore), Termsak Chalermpalanupap (ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta), David Dapice (Tufts University), Xiaolin Guo (Institute for Security & Development Policy, Stockholm), Gurmeet Kanwal (Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi), Kyaw Yin Hlaing (City University of Hong Kong), Li Chenyang (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Yunnan University, Kunming), Andrew Selth (Griffith University, Brisbane), Michael Vatikiotis (Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Singapore), Maung Zarni (London School of Economics)
This timely book brings together journalists, activists, academics, and artists to provide a rich, in-depth, and intriguing portrait of contemporary Pakistani society. Straddling a variety of boundaries—geographic, linguistic, and narrative—Dispatches from Pakistan is a vital attempt to speak for the multitude of Pakistanis who, in the face of seemingly unimaginable hardships, from drone strikes to crushing poverty, remain defiantly optimistic about their future. While engaging in conversations on issues that make the headlines in the West, the contributors also introduce less familiar dimensions of Pakistani life, highlighting the voices of urban poets, rural laborers, industrial workers, and religious-feminist activists—and recovering Pakistani society’s inquilabi (revolutionary) undercurrents and its hopeful overtones.
Contributors: Mahvish Ahmad; Nosheen Ali, U of California, Berkeley; Shafqat Hussain, Trinity College; Humeira Iqtidar, King’s College London; Amina Jamal, Ryerson U; Hafeez Jamali, U of Texas at Austin; Iqbak Khattak; Zahra Malkani; Raza Mir; Hammad Nasar; Junaid Rana, U of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; Maliha Safri, Drew U; Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Lahore U of Management Sciences; Ayesha Siddiqa; Sultan-i-Rome, Government Jahanzeb Postgraduate College, Swat, Pakistan; Saadia Toor, Staten Island College.
In recent years the stakes have increased as India and Pakistan have each acquired a hundred or more nuclear weapons, blundered into several serious crises, and become victims of terrorism, some of it from across their borders. America is puzzled by the problem of dealing with a rising India and a struggling Pakistan, and Cohen offers a fresh approach for U.S. policy in dealing with these two powers.
Drawing on his rich experience in South Asia to explore the character, depth, and origin of Indian and Pakistani attitudes toward each other, Cohen develops a comprehensive theory of why the dispute between New Delhi and Islamabad is likely to persist. He also describes the terrible cost of this animosity for the citizens of India and Pakistan, including the region's high levels of violence and low level of economic integration. On a more hopeful note, however, he goes on to suggest developments that could ameliorate the tension, including a more active role for the UnitedStates in addressing a range of issues that divide the nations. Kashmir is one of these issues, but as much a consequence as a cause of the rivalry.
Can India and Pakistan resolve their many territorial and identity issues? Perhaps the best they can expect in the near term is a limited degree of normalization, including bottom-up ideas generated by the peace and business communities, as well as a realistic assessment by strategic elites of the two states' shared common interests.
"Right now, full normalization seems unlikely," Cohen writes in the preface, "so this book is suffused with conditional pessimism: normalization would be desirable, but there are worse futures than a projection of the present rivalry for another thirty years or more."
The book contains new historical materials on Operation Gibraltar (the 1965 War with India), the conspiracy behind General Zia-ul-Haq's plane crash in 1988, a botched military coup by fundamentalists in 1993-4, and on how General Musharraf handled the volatile situation after the 9/11 attacks. In addition to a detailed profile of General Musharraf, the book evaluates India-Pakistan relations vis--vis the Kashmir conflict as well as Dr. A. Q. Khan's nuclear proliferation crisis, and also offers predictions for Pakistan's domestic and regional prospects.