Security and Environment in Pakistan (CRS)

Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which has displaced millions of persons over the last several weeks, submerged huge portions of the country, and crippled much of the nation’s infrastructure, is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis that requires an urgent international response.  But it also may have national, regional and global security implications.

“Environmental stresses, when combined with the other socio-economic and political stresses on Pakistan, have the potential to further weaken an already weak Pakistani state,” the Congressional Research Service observed in a new report (pdf) this month.  “Such a scenario would make it more difficult to achieve the U.S. goal of neutralizing anti-Western terrorists in Pakistan.  Some analysts argue that disagreements over water could also exacerbate tensions between India and Pakistan.”

The new CRS report “examines the potentially destabilizing effect that, when combined with Pakistan’s demographic trends and limited economic development, water scarcity, limited arable land, and food security may have on an already radicalized internal and destabilized international political-security environment.”

The CRS report does not come out and say so, but it points clearly to the conclusion that a U.S. foreign policy that gave greater emphasis to relief and reconstruction would have much to recommend it, even (or especially) from a national security point of view.  See “Security and the Environment in Pakistan,” August 3, 2010.

As is often pointed out, Congress does not permit CRS to make its publications directly available to the general public.

No Responses to “Security and Environment in Pakistan (CRS)”

  1. Philip Henika August 22, 2010 at 10:41 AM #

    I read the summary of the CRS report on security in the wake of the floods in Pakistan and its conclusion was that radical groups will benefit and the threat of terrorism will grow as a result of this natural disaster. The CRS report apparently did not treat the null hypothesis that the terrorism threat will not grow. So, how could radical groups not grow in this situation? The first indications are based on US, India and Pakistan emergency relief — i.e pro-American, pro-Pakistan, pro-India sentiment has a chance to evolve and, from what I gather from news reports, that is what is actually happening. Pakistan needs to listen to its community spokespersons and it can be predicted that they will request help with basic needs i.e. food/water, shelter, transportation and security. Pakistan is a blank page for a peacebuilding initiative. Pakistan might consider rebuilding in an innovative way e.g. energy-efficient schools (school garden projects have been on the rise in the US). Pakistan might consider Habitat for Humanity style homes or alternative energy sources for restoration of services. My hope is that Pakistan and the nations that help Pakistan will sustain peacebuilding initative beyond emergency relief. In a final note, during the tidal wave crisis in Indonesia, the Tamil Tigers actually had the gall to demand aid. Have we heard such a demand from the Taliban? I do not know. I have heard that they are “regrouping”. Well, if they regrouping then they might have been affected by the floods as well. Regrouping also implies movement and can’t movement be tracked?