[Pakistan has developed a very strange theory of counter-terrorism, an amalgam of competing ideas, borrowed from their two greatest benefactors, the United States and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan has Created its own synthesis of the American idealistic efforts to “win the hearts and minds” of the heavily-punished Vietnamese, and the Saudi theories on Islamist terrorist rehabilitation and reconditioning. Believing that it was possible to “wean” a tribal population away from violence with highways, development and economic opportunities, Pakistan convinced its Arab and American friends (Asian Development Bank) to sponsor a massive infrastructure development project in the FATA Tribal Region.
Under authority of FATA Long-Term Governance Action Plan 2015-2025, Pakistan has given the Tribal Regions to the Pak Army, empowering them to not only make most life and death decisions for the population there, but giving the Army control over international development projects which were being planned for the region, as well.]
“Pick-up the burden of building a new Pakistani state…this is the message being delivered to graduates of Balochistan’s schools and universities by government shills…that it was ‘incumbent on them to do their best and strive for national development.”–Population Welfare Minister Zakia Shahnawaz
[The biggest problem with that civilian government decision is that the Pak Army has some very strange ideas about counter-terrorism, concerning the cause and effect of Pakistan’s terrorist infestation. The Pak Army operates on the principle of “good terrorists and bad terrorists”, creating a category of terrorists who are basically immune from military action. For everyone else in FATA, Army leaders preach the theory that economic stagnation and deprivation are the primary causes of terrorism, claiming that terrorists are a bi-product of their environment.
In their view, the “terror war” must be driven by efforts to bring development and prosperity to the Tribal Regions, by converting “tribal areas rural to urban centers”. In their view, you simply take international development funds and invest them in the FATA Region, expecting that to create an economic miracle and full-employment and to pacify all enmity. The militants would then, theoretically, simply lay down their guns and pick up some tools, if offered the opportunity.
This drove Pakistan’s megalomaniacal generals to believe that they could simply do something so radical as to evict the entire Mehsud Tribe from Wana and South Waziristan, in order to allow workers time to concentrate upon building roads, schools and new homes. Operation Rah-e-Nijat and Operation Zarb-e-Azb were the first stages of Pakistan’s militarized development, sweeping (bad) terrorists from FATA. This also meant the flushing of the entire Mehsud tribe from S. Waziristan, for their deep connections to the outlawed TTP. The Army’s demonstration project was to be built in the Mehsud area around Wana.
All, or most, of the TTP terrorists were either flushed into Afghanistan or killed. The result has totally eliminated Afghanistan’s meager abilities to defend itself, since the TTP Taliban served to reinforce the Afghan Taliban and to provide mercenaries to be hired by ISIS.]
(SEE: Obama’s Practical Joke On Gen. Kayani–”Quick Impact Projects” Don’t Repopulate Ghost Towns
Analysis: Pakistan army tries to win over population in war-torn tribal region
The Pak Army’s Alternate Reality Awaits Returning Tribes In S. Waziristan
The Effort To Disarm and Develop South Waziristan
Pak Army Fights Terrorism With Fish-Farming and Vocational Training–The Lunacy of “Rehabilitating Terrorists”)
The government is building more airports, roads and railways, even though the existing ones are underused
NEARLY 20 years after it opened, Pakistan’s first motorway still has a desolate feel. There is scant traffic along the 375km link between Islamabad and Lahore (pictured). Motorists can drive for miles without seeing another vehicle, save perhaps for traffic cops manning speed traps. As the two cities are already connected by the Grand Trunk Road, which is 90km shorter and toll-free, there is simply not much demand for a motorway.
Yet this $1.2bn white elephant is one of the proudest achievements of Nawaz Sharif, who was prime minister when it opened in 1997 and is once again running Pakistan. Mr Sharif, who enjoys comparisons to Sher Shah Suri, a 16th-century ruler who renovated the Grand Trunk Road, never tires of talking about it. He regained power in 2013 with a campaign which both harked back to his famous road and promised more infrastructure to come. He even pledged bullet trains that would enable pious passengers to leave Karachi after dawn prayers and arrive in Peshawar, more than 1,000km to the north, in time for evening worship.
It is an article of faith for Mr Sharif and his party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), that investment in infrastructure is a foolproof way of boosting the economy. His government is racing to finish umpteen projects before the next election, due by mid-2018, including a metro line in Lahore and a new airport for Islamabad. The likelihood is that the new airport (which has been plagued with problems, including runways that have been built too close together) will be as underused as most of the country’s other airports, many of which are modern and spacious.
Pakistan’s infrastructure is underused because the economic boom it was meant to trigger has never arrived. Over the past three years the government has successfully staved off a balance-of-payments crisis, achieving some measure of macroeconomic stability. It has trimmed the budget deficit, partly by broadening the tax take and partly by cutting energy subsidies. That, along with lower oil prices, has narrowed Pakistan’s trade deficit and allowed it to begin rebuilding its foreign-exchange reserves. The stockmarket has risen by 50% since the end of 2015.
But terrorism and insurgency have put off investors, both foreign and domestic. The country is also held back by inefficient and often cartelised industries, which have fallen behind rivals in India and Bangladesh. Exports, 60% of which are textiles, have been shrinking for years. Much more needs to be done to create an educated workforce. Almost half of all those aged five to 16 are out of school—25m children. Health, like education, is woefully underfunded, in part because successive governments shy away from taxing the wealthy. Only 0.6% of the population pays income tax. As the World Bank puts it, Pakistan’s long-term development depends on “better nutrition, health and education”.
Cement to be
But Mr Sharif’s government is pinning its hopes on yet more infrastructure to fix the country’s economic problems, in the form of a $46bn investment scheme known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Much of it is being financed on commercial terms, including several power plants. Pakistan undoubtedly needs to relieve a chronic shortage of electricity. But critics fear the country will struggle to pay back the debt, especially if foreign-exchange earnings from exports continue to dwindle. At the very least, the government will need to continue chasing deadbeat customers to pay their bills and cutting expensive subsidies—steps that are deeply unpopular.
In addition to boosting Pakistan’s power supply, CPEC is supposed to link China by land to Gwadar, a deep-water port on the Arabian Sea, in the hope of creating a lucrative new trade route. New or upgraded roads will stretch the length of the country. The Karakoram Highway between the two countries, which was built in the 1960s at vast expense over a high and crumbly mountain range, is being upgraded as part of the trade corridor. But it forever needs patching up and is little used. Sceptics say Xinjiang, China’s westernmost region, is still too poor for better transport links to make much difference to Pakistan’s economy. Securing isolated stretches of road from separatist rebels in Balochistan is also gobbling up large amounts of cash.
Lijian Zhao, a Chinese diplomat, says China is all too aware that Pakistan needs more than just big-ticket infrastructure if it is to flourish. Disarmingly, he praises the efforts of Britain and other countries to improve Pakistan’s “software”, such as education and the rule of law. “But China’s expertise is hardware,” says Mr Zhao.
It may not concern Mr Sharif unduly if the next generation of roads is as deserted as the last. Civilian governments have often struggled to get much done in between military coups, but voters are impressed by gleaming new projects, even if they never use them. It’s an approach that has worked for Mr Sharif’s brother, Shehbaz, the popular chief minister of Punjab province. He has lavished resources on endless sequences of over- and underpasses to create “signal-free” traffic corridors in Lahore, the provincial capital, that are of most benefit to the rich minority who can afford cars.
There are limits, however. Khawaja Saad Rafique, the railways minister, recently admitted to parliament that the country would not be getting a bullet train after all. “When we asked the Chinese about it, they laughed at us,” he said.