Global Trends 2025: National Intelligence Council
November 21, 2008
Excerpts:Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq: Local Trajectories and Outside Interests
Developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq will critically affect regional stability, if not the global order. By 2025, the trajectories of these three states probably will have diverged sharply.
In 2025, Afghanistan may still evince significant patterns of tribal interaction and conflict. With the exception of the Taliban interlude, Afghanistan has not experienced strong central authority; centrifugal forces are likely to remain strong even if Kabul increases its sway.
Western-driven infrastructure, economic assistance, and construction are likely to provide new stakes for local rivalries rather than the basis for a cohesive Western-style economic and social unity.
Globalization has made opium Afghanistan’s major cash crop; the country will have difficulty developing alternatives, particularly as long as economic links for trade with Central Asia, Pakistan, and India are not further developed. Tribal and sectarian disputes probably will continue to arise, be fought out, and shift constantly in Afghanistan as the various players realign themselves. Outsiders will choose between making temporary alliances to destroy terrorist enemies, gain access to local resources, and advance other immediate interests or more ambitious—and costly—goals.
The future of Pakistan is a wildcard in considering the trajectory of neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and tribal areas probably will continue to be poorly governed and the source or supporter of cross-border instability. If Pakistan is unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line,8 maximizing Pashtun space at the expense of Punjabis in Pakistan and Tajiks and others in Afghanistan. Alternatively, the Taliban and other Islamist activists might prove able to overawe at least some tribal politics.
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