Staving Off Pakistan's Collapse, One Step At A Time

Staving Off Pakistan's Collapse, One Step At A Time
By Steve Hynd, Newshoggers, July 10, 2010

My friend Josh Mull, the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation, has a couple of excellent posts on what he sees as the coming Pakistani meltdown, here and here. I urge you to read both, they're fairly long but will repay close reading because Josh knows Pakistan and it's people at first hand and has the brights to be able to translate that experience into analysis without succumbing to cliche. For my mind, these two posts should be required reading for anyone thinking about Af/Pak and the wider ripples of geopolitics the war in Afghanistan creates.

Josh paints a bleak picture of the future:

Pakistan’s national security policy of supporting terrorist groups and militias as proxies against India, known as "strategic depth," is accelerating out of control, and they are either deliberately or inadvertently engineering a globalized religious war, a Clash of Civilizations. Both terrorist and insurgent elements are evolving, with the Taliban co-opting Al-Qa’eda’s idea of religious war to legitimize its fight against the Pakistani state, and Al-Qa’eda in turn co-opting the Taliban’s objective of confronting India to legitimize the sub-continent as the premier theater of global jihad. Hawkish India, for one, will not take these developments lightly.

If pressure on congress is not increased, if the US remains on the slow, ambiguous timetable it is on now, it will be caught right in the middle of this clash. The bloodbath of Iraq in 2006 was only a preview of what will happen if there is a civil war in Pakistan, or a (nuclear?) war between Pakistan and India. Or both. If the US does not expedite its withdrawal, as well as dramatically reform its policies toward the region as a whole, we will very quickly be sucked into that conflagration.

And writes that this increasingly likely possibility has been arrived at by many little steps.

Every ISAF soldier, every night raid, every civilian casualty, every fresh Taliban recruit, every drone strike, every Blackwater mercenary, every stolen election we overlook, every elected representative we sideline and marginalize, every "strategic summit" with tyrants like General Kayani and Musharraf before him, every unaccountable dollar we funnel to the corrupt criminals in Kabul, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi, every single, tiny action is a pin prick to the stability of the region, an almost unnoticeable chipping away at the integrity of Pakistan, as well as its neighbor Afghanistan.

Pakistan is equally liable, with their long history of supporting terrorists and militants, their capitulation to the worst extremist and de-stabilizing elements in their society, their willingness to betray democracy in favor of dictatorship, their negating long-term national goals for short-term gains from unhelpful foreign alliances, their hideous victimization of their own citizens (first in East Pakistan, now in Balochistan), and of course the inexplicably obsessive apatite, the fetish, Pakistan’s elite has for war with India.

These individual policies in turn feed our mistaken perceptions. We see them as isolated, not in their complete context. Sure the civilian casualties recruit militants, we say, but we’re fighting a war. Sure the war in Afghanistan is bad, but we’re pushing the extremists across the border. Sure the extremists in Pakistan are bad, but we support the western-educated Army. Sure the Army is unelected, but the civilian government is corrupt. And on and on it goes until there’s simply nothing left. Afghanistan destroyed, Pakistan inflamed, and our own country politically and economically ripping apart at the seams. It all adds up, whether we’re awake to it or not.

For complete article, click here

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