Gulf News reports, via AP...
British Defence Secretary John Hutton has appealed to Nato allies to help Pakistan fight extremist groups on its territory.
Hutton says the 26-nation alliance has to widen its role beyond its current military mission in Afghanistan to help secure democracy in Pakistan as well.
What is he thinking?
Hutton held talks with Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the 26 national envoys to the alliance on Wednesday.
And what are they thinking?
At its origins in 1949, NATO's concern was for the mutual defense of already democratic (though not uniformly capitalist in the way many are today) states bordering on, or very close to, the North Atlantic Ocean, specifically those western European countries living under a threat of a Soviet "Bloc" military invasion in the early Cold War years immediately following the end of World War II. Hence the name: North, Atlantic, Treaty, Organization. Germany entered the treaty in 1955, not because of any legendary commitment to democracy on the part of that nation but rather because its military manpower was deemed absolutely required to guard against the much feared invasion. NATO's headquarters are located in Belgium.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is hardly North (it is actually in the "South", according to some theories of International Relations), and it's a long way from the Atlantic Ocean.
Now that same defense guy in the UK thinks a new mission for NATO is bringing democracy to Pakistan:
"Hutton says the 26-nation alliance has to widen its role beyond its current military mission in Afghanistan to help secure democracy in Pakistan as well."
Now I'm all for democracy in Pakistan (wait, wasn't a much overdue election and transition held there recently?), but is it really NATO's responsibility to bring it?
Am I the only one who sees a potential for a repeat of the fiasco which shall forever be known as the Second Iraq War, wherein America and some European nations invade a Middle Eastern nation on false pretense of imminent-dangers-to-them, while appending to that mission a "back of the envelope" concept of regional democracy-bringing? It sounds like Hutton is proposing going through that same door in the other direction: while in his case an "effort" at democracy-bringing may actually result in imminent-dangers-to-them.
And why, one again wonders, does this odd proposal emanate from the United Kingdom? Is the UK seen as uniquely qualified to comment on techniques of intervention, and methods of governance in Pakistan? Did anyone ask Pakistan what they think about this idea?
Back to the question of missions and nomenclatures of North, and Atlantic, Organizations, would Pakistan not be better suited if these missions (mutual defense, democracy-bringing, protections against extremism) were provided by SATO, the yet to be organized but perhaps long overdue South, Asian, Treaty Organization?