If you’re of Pakistani origin, as I am, and if you long to see that embattled country right itself, the saga of Malala Yousafzai can drive you to tears. Not just tears of joy for the way she was a favorite for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Not just tears for how she captured the imagination of Westerners who want to believe the best about Pakistan’s hopes and prospects. More than anything, they are tears of frustration, caused by the manner in which many Pakistanis reject her.
Harsh international sanctions against Iran are pointless and even counterproductive, members of the Iran Project argued this week in a new report. The group, consisting of a number of leading experts and former diplomats, argued that sanctions “may be sowing the seeds of long-term alienation between the Iranian people and the United States," and advised Washington to think more creatively and realistically about the manner in which it seeks to dissuade Tehran from seeking a nuclear capacity. Recent history would seem to make clear that sanctions tend not to make rogues behave. By now it would seem clear that citizens…... Full Text
What does the plight of the brave and bright Malala Yousafzai say about the people of Pakistan, and the future of their relationship with the people of the United States and the West? The world has been feverishly discussing Pakistan’s 14-year old symbol of courage and integrity. I’ve been quiet, even though the area is within my CPD fellowship area of expertise as a Pakistani-American. I’ve been quiet for a few reasons. I believe most experts have a tendency to bray reflexively after major events, which makes for good theater but bad policy. It is an unfortunate sign of our…... Full Text
One of the most intriguing aspects of public diplomacy involves efforts by various emerging nations to portray themselves as the "next" world power. Just as intriguing is the willingness of American influencers to reinforce the notion that the United States will inevitably be passed by others as a global power. The usually understated Foreign Affairs magazine blared out the question “Is America Over?” on a recent cover. Writer Thomas Friedman hawks a book detailing “How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented.” Additionally, scores of others are chiming in on the end of the American era and the "rise of…... Full Text
Recently, I argued that Pakistan is not in a position to be either a friend or foe of the United States, due to the de facto civil war among Pakistani's pro-Western and anti-Western citizens. I stand by this statement, but more nervously in the wake of the NATO bombardment of 24 Pakistani soldiers. There is much that we don't know about the nature and details of the incident—but it seems fair to say the reaction of Pakistani officials is not one of a "friend" of the U.S. and NATO forces. As a Pakistani-American who longs for better ties between the two…... Full Text