Obama’s quest for a Pakistan policy

Mushahid Hussain in The News International:

Mushahid Hillary Clinton's visit with a difference was probably the most significant event in Pakistan-American relations since the advent of President Barack Hussein Obama. She came, she saw, but while she did not quite conquer the “hearts and minds” of Pakistanis, Hillary at least earned their grudging admiration. She showed more guts than the bunkered-up Pakistan rulers, who refuse to leave the comfort and safety of their “5-star prisons” in Islamabad. Unlike the aloof and abrasive Holbrooke, Hillary reached out to the “real” Pakistan. She got a peep into the emerging Pakistani society — dynamic, vibrant, outspoken and self-confident. She seemed taken aback, used as visiting high-level Americans are to a sanitised Islamabad, where the officially-certified truth of the fawning ruling elite links sycophancy and servility to their self-perpetuation.
A profile of this “new” Pakistan is instructive, with three key ingredients. First, while the “old” Pakistan was politically a “one-window operation” — monolithic and centrally-guided — today's multiple power centres go beyond the military-security Establishment or the traditional political elite, and these now include the fiercely-independent media, an assertive civil society, confident young men and women with faith in their country's future, and a free judiciary that for the first time is truly an autonomous player.

Second, in contrast to the “old” Pakistan where the political elite was united in its belief that the road to Islamabad lies through Washington, the “new” Pakistan has little time for 'business-as-usual' political shenanigans, an absence of fear of power and authority, and no “Holy Cows.”

Third, there is a broad popular consensus woven around a rejection of the mediaeval mindset and terrorism of the extremists, the corruption and capitulation of the ruling elite, and the hubris and diktat emanating from Washington.

More here.