Afghanistan & Pak nukes Expect Osama Bin Laden with WMDs after the US quits the region, says N.V.Subramanian. 13 September 2010: The United States' problem won't only be Al-Qaeda terrorism after it withdraws from Afghanistan sometime after July 2011. It will also be Pakistan. Pakistan will become the world's number one troublespot too as it has always been for India. After 9/11, the US realized the horror of spawning Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda in the name of fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties. On the other hand, Pakistan still believes it can control terror elements it employs against Afghanistan and India, although one of the lethal gennext byproducts of the Afghan "mujahedeen" war, the Pakistani Taliban, is gaining in strength to capture large parts of the country in the west. Once the United States leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban forces, backed by the Pakistan army and the ISI, and inspired by the Al-Qaeda in North Waziristan and Quetta, will make bloodthirsty attempts to regain the entire country. Eastern and southern Afghanistan will fall to the Taliban invaders but the west and the north will resist them. These are non-Pashtun areas that have traditionally opposed the Taliban and will likely do so again backed by Iran, the Central Asian states, Russia and likely India. The United States is also looking at these areas to establish bases once it withdraws substantially from Afghanistan. Given the past history when even without the US presence, the Taliban could not control Afghanistan entirely, that is likely to repeat again. Being evicted from state power once, the Taliban may indefinitely postpone a war to seize the west and north and instead turn against its present host, Pakistan. The Taliban bar perhaps the Haqqani faction loathes Pakistan and particularly the ISI and entirely understands their gameplan in Afghanistan against India. But more than any felt loathing, the Taliban will see an opportunity in its blocked advance to west and north Afghanistan by moving decisively to seize the Pashtun territories of Pakistan, which would mean all of NWFP and disputed portions of Baluchistan. The Durand Line will be buried for good. The allies for the Taliban in this enterprise will the Pakistani Taliban who are Pashtun. Since this part of the war will be waged in Pakistan, the Al-Qaeda will be more openly engaged. The Al-Qaeda will press the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban to go for the biggest prize, which are Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Since these weapons are in the custody of Pakistan's predominantly Punjabi army, it will become a clash between the Pashtuns and the Punjabis, which has been alluded to by other strategic writers. This is roughly how a post-US Afghanistan will become a world problem via Pakistan. What's the solution? Frankly, this writer does not know. The Pakistanis conned the Americans into droning the Pakistani Taliban while leaving the Afghan Taliban and the Al-Qaeda largely alone. It did not save the situation for the US in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis will probably plead with the US to go after the Pakistani Taliban some more, sending desperate SOSs about the vulnerability of their nukes. Perhaps, with their clouded strategic mindset, the Americans will comply. So the war in Afghanistan will morph into one about protecting Pakistan's nuclear assets. But the Afghanistan story will repeat again. After all, the US can only bomb the homeland of the Pakistani Taliban in FATA and elsewhere. But that won't contain the Taliban's fanatical quest for Pakistani nukes. The Taliban will do everything to gain them, including suicide bombing every square inch of Pakistani Punjab. How long will the Pakistan army be able to withstand this onslaught, not to speak of jehadized insiders leaking away the assets when security slacks and controls loosen everywhere? In the end, it boils down to Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Rather than being a deterrent against India, Pakistani nukes will bring Pakistan down. And the world should be well aware of the consequences of nukes falling into the wrong hands. So in addition to Al-Qaeda terrorism, the US probably will have to contend with Osama Bin Laden armed with Pakistani nukes sometime after president Barack Obama issues orders to quit Afghanistan. N.V.Subramanian is Editor, The Public Affairs Magazine- Newsinsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: [email protected].