June 1, 2010


Can 'Pashtunistan' end the Af-Pak war?: U.S. involvement just a blip in long struggle of Pashtuns (Stanley A. Weiss, 6/01/10, Washington Times)

The problem is the so-called "Durand Line" ran straight through ancestral Pashtun territory, literally separating brother from brother. In 1947, the British handed the former Indian half over to Pakistan. Today, 23 million Pashtuns live on the Afghan side of the border, while 12 million live in Pakistan.

A local saying - "all Taliban are Pashtun, but not all Pashtuns are Taliban" - reflects the intense dislike many Pashtuns have for the Taliban. Public opinion polls suggest that east Afghan Pashtuns are more anti-Taliban than their southern Afghan brethren. Yet the war against the West has allowed Pashtun leaders to externalize resentment, rather than turning it inward.

The idea that any government will exert influence here is fantasy. Additional U.S. troops might temporarily wound the Taliban, at a cost of many lives, but it will do nothing to change the reality of the region, particularly as the Obama administration says it will begin to withdraw troops next year.

But imagine instead if, working through the United Nations and its NATO allies, America were to broker an agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan to carve out an independent Pashtunistan framed by the Indus River to the east and the Hindu Kush mountains to the west. The territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan would be reduced, but both would be made more secure, since Pashtun leaders would have little reason to continue their destabilization of either country. Taliban members would turn inward, focusing instead on building their own nation.

As the 193rd member of the U.N., Pashtunistan and its leaders would be held to the same rules that apply to all nations, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Islamic extremists and al Qaeda would no longer be able to "hide behind" the border of U.S. "ally" Pakistan, allowing America to bypass Islamabad altogether. International aid and development funds could be used to incentivize Pashtun leaders to observe U.N. treaties and agreements, help settle more than a million Pashtun refugees uprooted by war and develop the Pashtunistan economy.

Taken long enough to figure that out.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 1, 2010 8:04 PM
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