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June 18, 2009 |  Print  Your Opinion  

Editorial Team

Topic EU Must Bring Its Expertise to Pakistan

Editorial Team: Terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons are growing threats for the EU. 30 international experts interviewed by nearly unanimously call for a much stronger EU commitments to the stabilization of Pakistan than promised at yesterday’s EU-Pakistan summit. The EU should complement US strategy with a long-term focus on state building.

Scholars from Brookings, Carnegie, the French Institute of International Relations, Bradford University, the Islamabad Policy Research Institute and other leading think tanks and universities, as well as EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove participated in's expert survey. Ahead of the European Union's first ever summit on Pakistan, the thirty experts from ten countries analyzed how Pakistan's instability impacts European security, what the guiding principles for EU foreign policy should be, and how that policy could complement US activities. 

Twenty-nine of the thirty specialists call for much stronger EU initiatives than those promised at the EU-Pakistan summit. The European Union is identified by most survey participants as best poised for a sustainable engagement in promoting robust state institutions and civil society. This would ideally complement the more short-term and security focused US strategy. Some experts identified the US as neither interested nor best prepared for long-term involvement.

The EU has according to a majority of the experts both the capabilities and the goodwill of the Pakistani people for a sustainable engagement, and must step up its efforts in order to respond to the rising risks of terrorism and the proliferation of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. 

How does Pakistan's instability impact EU security concerns?

There is a large consensus between the surveyed experts that instability in Pakistan has a number of ramifications on European Union security issues. The main concerns include terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the success of state-building efforts in Afghanistan.

The majority of the specialists agree that the most serious concern for the EU is the increasing risk of terrorist attacks within European territory.  Dr. Robert L Canfield (Washington University of St Louis) warned that Pakistan's political instability leads to the emergence of safe havens for terrorist groups where it would be possible to conduct terrorist training camps and plan terrorist attacks without interference from state authorities. This has a direct consequence on the security of European countries because, as Dr. Christian Wagner (German Institute for International and Security Affairs) states, "terrorists from Pakistan/Europe/other countries are getting training in terror camps on Pakistani territory for attacks in their home countries." Bradford University's Dr. Yunas Samad said that already "a number of terrorist attacks in EU countries have a link to Pakistan and instability in the country would make the danger of these developments increase."

With regard to the proliferation issue, experts emphasize that Pakistan's nuclear warheads might fall into the hands of Pakistani terrorists and insurgents leading to a security nightmare for Europe and the US. Terrorism and South Asia expert Dr. Peter Lehr (Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence) points out that "the idea of an Islamic bomb still has currency in certain Islamist circles." At the same time, he stresses the possibility of nuclear bombs andwarheads being smuggled into European countries or the US. Experts like Chris Mason (Naval Postgraduate School) pointed out the "compromised integrity of Pakistan's nuclear wapons program," which exposes the possible risk of nuclear weapons know-how or nuclear weapons components being transferred from the Pakistani state to terrorist or subnational groups (Dr. Sayed Wiqar Ali Shah, Quaid-i-Azam University).

Finally, most of the experts agree that a successful outcome of the state-building mission in Afghanistan is not possible without a stable and secure Pakistan. Without the presence of Pakistani authorities, the Taliban can retreat, regroup and re-equip in Pakistan and the border regions, which subsequently allows them to put severe pressure on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Likewise, as Bruce Riedel (Brookings Institution) notes, "Pakistan is the key supply line for NATO in Afghanistan. Stability in Afghanistan is impossible without Pakistan's help."

What should be the guiding principles of the European Union's foreign policy in the region?

The priority for the European Union should be to "strengthen Pakistan's will and capability to counter terrorism," according to EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. The experts identify the need for a long-term strategy aiming towards stability in Pakistan as the guiding principle of EU involvement in the region. Dr. Shaun Gregory (Head of Pakistan Security Research Unit, Bradford University) calls for the European Union's objective to be the "enfranchisement, empowerment and economic and social well-being" of the Pakistani people.  

The respondents place an overwhelming emphasis on the importance of fostering democratic governance in Pakistan.  In strong agreement, they call for the European Union to work on strengthening Pakistan's civil society and help its government to reform state institutions and services, including its tax and education systems, and to create a more egalitarian society. Furthermore, multiple experts recommend that the European Union should aid Pakistan in reforming and strengthening its civilian security institutions and its justice sector. Fabrice Pothier, (Carnegie Endowment for Peace Europe), says that this could take the form of funding, mentoring, and training. The recommended strategy would preempt the destabilizing discontent of the dominant young, disenfranchised generation.  Dr. Rodney Jones (United States Institute of Peace), points out that the rule of law combined with democratic institutions and processes may be "necessary pre-requisites for the public to grasp its own interests in countering extremism and terrorism." 

However, there is also disagreement regarding this point: Dr. Lehr argues that the currently civilian, democratically elected government appears to be "utterly incompetent and unable to effectively deal with the challenge of radical Islam." Europe, he contends, needs to be prepared for the option of a military take-over, which might even provide better stability than the democratic path. 

Moreover, the majority of participants call for a European Union strategy to improve Pakistani economic development, including, as Fabrice Pothier suggests "supporting Pakistan's trade integration in the region as well as in the global economy" and, as Dr. Wagner specifies, "promoting investment and economic cooperation." 

Dr. Gregory's words summarized the dominant concern: "A state which fails to deliver security, education, economic opportunity, basic needs, political and human rights [...] is creating the context for ever greater extremism and violence," a development the European Union must work to counter.

How could/should the EU's policy vis-à-vis Pakistan complement US policy in the region?

While the analysts agree that the US is the dominant external actor in Pakistan, especially regarding security, they express the need for strong European Union involvement, and even "support of the US strategy" (Dr. Nazif Shahrani, Indiana University). Alok Rashmi Mukhopadhyay (Institute for Defense Studies & Analyses) asserts that Europe has an important role in the Pakistan region, and indeed its interests are more directly affected by any instability there than those of the US.  

The majority of specialists argue that Europe is better poised to perform crucial non-military tasks, such as institution building, trade cooperation, post-conflict reconstruction and aid. The dominant conclusion was that the US was neither interested nor best prepared for long-term involvement in nation-building, fostering democratic institutions, economic development, and civil society (Jari Lindholm). The experts concluded that Europe should use its experience in applying "soft power" (Dr. Lehr) and establishing long-term, positive Western engagement in the region. As EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove states: "the EU's biggest area of comparative advantage is in state building and the reform of state institutions. In the domain of counter terrorism, our experience with law enforcement and judicial reform is of particular value." This should be done within close cooperation with the US (Bruce Riedel) as well as other regional players, namely China and Saudi Arabia, in a "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" Consortium (Christian Wagner).  

In the short term, the European Union can provide the crucial "response to the immediate humanitarian and security emergency," specifically the Internally Displaced People (IDP) uprooted by the fighting in the Swat Valley (Fabrice Pothier).

The survey participants agree that the European Union's perceived neutrality and its comparatively positive image among Pakistan's population were its strength. Its neutrality, Dr. Yunas Samad, Gregor Enste (Heinrich Böll Stiftung) and Dr. Matteo Tondini (Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca) highlight, would be an asset in working towards a peace process between India and Pakistan. Dr. Rodney Jones pointed out that it was paramount to recognize Pakistan's legitimate security concerns regarding this neighbor. Until these are addressed and alleviated, Pakistan's security establishment will neither be able nor willing to direct the necessary resources to the fight against the insurgents (Dr. Yunas Samad). The European Union has a role to play in promoting greater regional cooperation and trade integration - an area many experts identified as another strength.

Overwhelmingly, the specialists hope that the European Union will define a strong vision for its strategic involvement in Pakistan.

This expert survey was conducted and evaluated by Natalie Cathérine Chwalisz, with the research advice from Urs Schrade, M.A. 

We would like to thank the Experts, who participated

Thomas Bärthlein, Expert for Pakistan, Deutsche Welle, DE

Gilles Boquerat, Institut Français des Relations Internationales, FR

Robert L Canfield, Professor, Washington University of St Louis, US & Atlantic Community member

David Edwards, Williams College, US

Marie Elseroad, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, US/AF

Gregor Enste, Resident Director,  Heinrich Böll Stiftung Pakistan, PK

Shaun Gregory,  Head of Pakistan Security Research Unit, University of Bradford. UK

Abudlhadi Hairan, Reporter based in Afghanistan, Ground Report, AF

Malou Innocent, Foreign Policy Analyst, Cato Institute, US

Thomas H. Johnson, Research Professor, CCS Director, Naval Postgraduate School, US

Rodney Jones, Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace, US

Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Council of the European Union, BE

Rashid Ahmad Khan, Senior Research Fellow, Islamabad Policy Research Institute, PK

Peter Lehr, Terrorism and South Asia Expert, Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, DE

Jari Lindholm, Helsinki-based reporter for the Finnish newsweekly Suomen Kuvalehti, FI

Chris Mason, Senior Research Fellow with the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies, Naval Postgraduate School, US

Péter Marton, Corvinus University of Budapest and Atlantic Community Member

Margaret Mills, Professor, Ohio State University, US

Alok Rashmi Mukhopadhyay, Associate Fellow, Institute for Defense Studies & Analyses, IN

Vinod Patney,  Indian Pugwash Society, IN

Fabrice Pothier, Director of Carnegie Europe, BE

Aziz Rafiee, Managing Director, Afghan Civil Society Forum, AF

Helmut Reifeld, Head of Team "Planning and Concepts," Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, DE

Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution, US

Yunas Samad, University of Bradford, UK

Sima Samar, Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, AF

Sayed Wiqar Ali Shah, Professor, Quaid-i-Azam University. Islamabad, PK

M. Nazif Shahrani,  Professor of Central Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Indiana University, US

Matteo Tondini, Researcher & Legal Advisor, Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, IT

Christian Wagner, Research Director, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, DE

We would also like to thank the Atlantic Community members based in Pakistan for their input

Amarjyoti Acharya, Kraftnetz, PK

Malik Tanwir Amjad, The Helping Hands Pakistan, PK

Ilyas khan Baloch, Islamic Democratic Party, PK

Hitesh Bhatt, PK

Rajeev Kumar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences,IN

Ilyas M. Mohsin, PPP, PK

Faheem Shah, University Of Peshawar, PK

Muhammad Islam Shah, University of Karachi, PK

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