Monday, June 13, 2011

How Pakistan Negotiates with the US

( How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States - Riding the Roller Coaster by Howard B. Schaffer and Teresita C. Schaffer)

Q&A with the authors.
....negotiators cultivate what one might call “the art of the guilt trip.” Important negotiations usually involve a major effort to create a sense of obligation on the part of the United States or to nurture and intensify the fear that failure to honor Pakistan’s requests will lead to disastrous consequences for U.S. interests.

Excerpt in The Hindu.

Excerpt from The Hindu:

Pakistani negotiators often try to impress on their U.S. counterparts that Americans and others who have not had to deal with India from a position of weakness do not understand Indian ambitions and guile. As they argue it, Americans are taken in by the Indians and fail to recognise the overbearing, bullying policies and practices India inflicts on Pakistan and the other smaller countries of South Asia. Most Pakistanis believe that Americans are not aware of India's longstanding hegemonic goals and the dangers to Pakistani and U.S. interests that they entail.

Pakistani tactics to correct these “misimpressions” and instil a “more realistic” understanding of what the Indians are up to will vary, of course, with individual Pakistanis, their American interlocutors, the nature of the negotiations under way, and current circumstances. Americans familiar with subcontinental history and politics may receive a more nuanced presentation than newcomers to South Asia. The highly one-sided interpretations Pakistanis provide stress India's unwillingness to accept Pakistan and its other regional neighbours as fully independent states entitled to pursue their own policies and go their own ways. In its crudest form, this approach focuses on dire Indian plots to undo Pakistan by breaking it up into smaller units, or making it a vassal state, or both. This fear is fed by one of the most traumatic events in Pakistan's history, India's support for the breaking away of East Pakistan in 1971. The memory of this time is still vivid.

Aware that Americans are impressed by Indian democracy and contrast it favourably with the congenital weakness of Pakistani civilian political institutions, Pakistanis will at times point to defects in the way India is governed, especially the way its Muslim minority is treated. Pakistanis are well versed in their version of the truth and will have facts and figures ready to support their accounts. They contrast the hierarchical character of the Hindu caste system with the more egalitarian ethos of Islam. Stereotypes frequently found among Pakistanis hold that Indians are more duplicitous, less honest, and less courageous than Pakistanis. Some military officers in years past were fond of saying that vegetarian Indian troops could never hold their own against their carnivorous Pakistani counterparts. Pakistani negotiators and briefers will call attention to India's overwhelming strength, especially its military capabilities, and argue that the bellicose way India has used this superiority in the past indicates that it would be prepared to do so again if the opportunity arose.

The approach Pakistanis use with Americans knowledgeable about South Asia includes these and other points critical of India in a more nuanced form. But even those Pakistanis who do not accept the cruder versions of these stereotypes are eager to persuade the American side that Indians (unlike Pakistanis) are not to be trusted, and that India's claims that they prefer a stable and secure Pakistan as their neighbour are false.

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