Eye on Pakistan

Zardari in Brussels

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on June 17, 2009

Well, Zardari is in Brussels meeting European Union and NATO leaders. There is significant coverage of this in the Pakistani press, including a rather odd wishlist of outcomes by three interested individuals. I would like to comment on two aspects of this coverage.

Firstly, there is little mention of the fact that Zardari will also be meeting NATO. See for example this article. NATO and Zardari will undoubtedly be discussing the miltiary operation in Waziristan and Swat, though what exactly Zardari will demand (or rather the military officials accompanying him will demand) from NATO I do not know. More reconnaissance assistance perhaps? Not drones as the people to speak to about that are the Americans. Other specialist equipment? Training? I also have no idea what NATO will demand of Pakistan. Perhaps their demand will be as simple and diffuse as  a request that the Pakistani army does a complete and thorough job (including the elimination of Taliban in Pakistan who have not necessarily been troublemsome to the Pakistanis but are or may be to NATO in Afghanistan) and not worry too much about disruption to civilians (a sort of a ‘we’ll pay to put the disruption right approach’).

Secondly, the press has not commented at all on what are likely to be the biggest demands made by the EU. In return for the pledged assistance (I have seen several numbers branded about, including EUR 60m), the EU will undoubtedly demand Pakistani government assistance in monitoring, apprehending and extraditing individuals suspected of terrorist activities in the EU. So, for example, countries such as Britain have built up sophisticated networks for monitoring foreign nationals and Brits of Pakistani origin  in Britain itself. They are keen to extend this capability (something only possible with Pakistani state support, though British funding) into Pakistan itself. EU demands will include an increased monitoring of movement of Pakistanis (and others) between Pakistan and the EU. The EU would probably also want Pakistani government cooperation in their own deportations of Pakistanis from the EU (such as the 10 Pakistani students recently detained in Britain; see this).

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