July 19, 2007


How to squeeze jihadi culture out of Pakistan: Putting faith in President Musharraf hasn't worked. But here's what the US can do (Vali Nasr, 7/20/07, CS Monitor)

Afghanistan has always been a strategic concern for Islamabad. Pashtuns make up 40 percent of Afghanistan, but there are more Pashtuns in Pakistan, where they constitute 15 percent of the population. Afghanistan has never recognized the border (Durand line) between the two countries, and for most of Pakistan's existence, Pashtuns in control of an independent Afghan state have been allied with India and laid irredentist claims to Pakistan's Pashtun Northwest Province.

It was only when Pakistani-backed Afghan mujahideen or the Taliban ruled Kabul that Pakistan felt secure in its relations with Afghanistan. Pakistani generals counted on the "strategic depth" that their neighbor to the northwest would provide in a war against India.

These days, they see Afghanistan as an adversary. They are irked by Afghan President Hamid Karzai's strong ties to Delhi and the mushrooming of Indian consulates across Afghanistan. The territory that they "owned" until 9/11, thanks to the Taliban, is now at best neutral and at worst the playground of their arch rival, India. Pakistan does not view Afghanistan through the prism of the war on terror, but in the context of its own vulnerabilities in the competition for power and influence with India. That's why Islamabad has everything to gain by playing the Taliban card, giving its fighters and their Al Qaeda allies a lair in Pakistan's border region, to keep Kabul weak and southern Afghanistan free of Indian influence.

They can have more normal relations with a coherent Pashtunistan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 19, 2007 5:24 PM
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