Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by Yusuf, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/06/22/pakistan-s-impending-defeat-in-afghanistan/c6sn

    Irrespective of how the coming security transition in Afghanistan pans out, one country is on a surprising course to a major strategic defeat: Pakistan. Every foreseeable ending to the Afghan war today—continued conflict with the Taliban, restoration of Taliban control in the southern and eastern provinces, or a nationwide civil war—portends nothing but serious perils for Islamabad. But judging from Pakistan’s behavior, it appears as if this fact has eluded the generals in Rawalpindi.

    Pakistan’s Enduring Aim

    Ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has had one simple strategic goal on its western frontier: ensuring that Afghanistan remains a stable but subordinate entity deferential to Pakistan’s sensitivities on all matters of national security. Such deference was sought for a host of reasons. Islamabad wanted a guarantee that Kabul would not reignite the dispute over the countries’ common border (the Durand Line) and would not seek to mobilize the region’s Pashtun populations in support of either absorption into Afghanistan or the creation of a new nation. The Pakistani leadership also aimed to ensure that Afghanistan would not enter into close geopolitical affiliations with other, more powerful countries, such as the United States or India, in order to increase Kabul’s autonomy from Islamabad.

    Amid the chaos that emerged after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan settled on supporting the Afghan Taliban as its strategic instrument for securing Kabul’s compliance with its objectives. Although the Taliban were not always dependable surrogates on these matters, they appeared better than other Afghan rivals, and hence Islamabad—despite its denials—has stuck by them to this day.

    Whatever the intended benefits of this strategy, it has alienated both the broader Afghan populace and the government in Kabul, which now views Pakistan as a habitually hostile neighbor. It has also undermined the U.S.-led international stabilization effort in Afghanistan, as well as hopes for a peaceful security transition—not to mention infuriating Washington, which now views Pakistan as a perfidious partner. And it has provoked heightened regional rivalry involving Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Iran, India, the Central Asian republics, and Russia, all of whom are determined to prevent a Pakistani-supported Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

    Worst of all, Islamabad’s strategy promises to fundamentally undermine Pakistani security. Every one of the three possible outcomes of the Afghan security transition leaves Pakistan in a terrible place.

    Destined for Failure

    The most likely consequence of the security transition is a protracted conflict between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban that continues long after coalition forces have ceased active combat operations. These relatively low, but still significant, levels of violence would tax Afghan national security forces, distract the central and provincial governments, threaten the security of the average Afghan, and generally retard Afghan stabilization and reconstruction.

    While such problems would be serious—though perhaps manageable for Kabul—they would by no means be favorable to Pakistan. A continuing insurgency in Afghanistan will further inflame passions in Pakistan’s own tribal areas and, given the links between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, will intensify the threats to Pakistan’s own internal stability at a time when the country’s economic condition remains parlous and its relations with the West precarious. Most problematically, this outcome would deepen the estrangement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, induce Kabul to be even less accommodating of Islamabad’s concerns, and push Afghanistan into a tighter embrace of Pakistan’s rivals.

    The more serious, though still middling, outcome of the security transition could be a de facto partition of Afghanistan arising from a steady increase in Taliban control that is limited to the Pashtun-majority areas in the southern and eastern provinces. Beyond undermining Kabul’s effort to preserve a unified Afghan state, this consequence would put at risk the international community’s contributions toward reconstruction in Afghanistan.

    If Islamabad is satisfied by such a result, it should think again. Although the Taliban’s reoccupation of its heartland might appear to produce a barrier region controlled by Islamabad’s proxies, its worst consequences would not be limited to the inevitable meltdown in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. Rather, the chief concern is the chaos that would ensue from Kabul’s military efforts (almost certainly aided by Pakistan’s regional rivals) to regain control of these territories—a chaos that would inescapably bleed into Pakistan’s frontier regions.

    Even if Afghanistan were to eventually fail in these operations, the outcome would be deadly for Pakistan. Any Taliban control of southern and eastern Afghanistan would lay the geographic and demographic foundations for resuscitating the old Pashtun yearnings for a separate state, a “Pashtunistan” that would threaten the integrity of Pakistan. Given the current resentment of the Taliban leadership toward its Pakistani protectors, Rawalpindi should not to be consoled by the prospect of a Pashtun buffer along Pakistan’s western borders.

    The last and most dangerous potential outcome of the security transition in Afghanistan would be the progressive Taliban takeover of the south and east en route to a larger attempt to control all of Afghanistan. This would be a replay of the tragic events Afghans faced between 1994 and 2001, and would plunge the country into a Hobbesian civil war. All Afghan minorities as well as Pakistan’s larger neighbors would be implicated in a cauldron intended to prevent Islamabad from securing its desired “strategic depth” at their expense.

    A cataclysmic conflict of this sort would be the worst kind of disaster for Pakistan. It would not just provoke major refugee flows that would further undermine Pakistan’s difficult economic condition. It would also integrate the violence and instability currently persisting along Pakistan’s western frontier into a vast hinterland that opens up even greater opportunities for violent blowback into Pakistan itself. The disorder that such a scenario portends would not only put paid to any Pakistani dreams of “strategic depth”—assuming this concept was sensible to begin with—but it would end up embroiling Pakistan in an open-ended proxy war with every one of its neighbors.

    Time to Reconsider

    None of the plausible outcomes of the security transition advances Pakistan’s goal of creating a stable Afghanistan that would be sensitive to Islamabad’s core security concerns. Without doubt, Pakistan deserves secure borders and peaceful frontiers. Yet its own strategies—supporting insurgency and terrorism against its neighbors—have undermined its objectives. If Pakistan’s continuing behavior is any indication, it does not yet appear to have grasped this fact.

    An unhappy ending to the security transition is practically guaranteed by Islamabad’s unwillingness to press the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta Shura to pursue reconciliation with Kabul and its reluctance to even call publicly upon the Taliban leadership to seek peace. On top of that is Pakistan’s continued reticence to clarify its preferred outcomes from the reconciliation process and its unproductive haggling over transit compensation for NATO shipments into Afghanistan. None of this convinces Afghanistan and the wider region that Pakistan means well. It may be true that Kabul will suffer most of all from Pakistan’s actions. But the generals in Rawalpindi ought to remember that their country too is facing strategic defeat if the international community fails in Afghanistan.

    Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, South Asia Program
     
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  3. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    The generals in GHQ will not understand. They are probably stuck with the Soviet withdrawal form Astan which was a result of them helping the Afghan warriors.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It is Pakistan's intention to keep Afghanistan in a religious bind so that it is ignored and rejected by the international comity of nations and hence remains undeveloped and dependent on Pakistan.

    To this end and very purpose, Pakistan backs the Taliban, who are obsessed with religion and obscurantist ideology that is abhorrent to the modern world.

    Backing the Taliban also encourages and permits, if not even fosters, the tribal affinity and instincts of the NWFP (or Pakhtunkwa) wherein the area remains backward, reveling in their tribal feuds and thereby not taxing the Pakistani Govt towards improving their lot or developing infrastructure; for which in any case, Pakistan does not have the funds.

    Thus, many birds are killed with one stone.

    The flip side is that the free passage of Pashtuns across the Durand Line, given the new found feeling of a 'nation state' will reignite the call for a Pakhtun country and this will be disastrous for Pakistan. It will give a fillip to all other separatist movements, especially the call for an independent Baluchistan, independent Balwaristan (Northern Areas) and it will also encourage the separatist movements like the Jiyo Sindh and the Saraiki Nationalist Movement.

    In short, every entity and people less the Pakistani Punjabis.

    Pakistan, therefore, has to count its chicken, before they are hatched!
     
  5. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    All in all, what is being said that there will be fire in the backyard (strategic depth) of Pakistan and the heat may reach Rawalpindi.
    **
    Under all scenarios, Pakistan will invariably be sucked into Afghanistan vortex. One of the corps, the erstwhile Quetta Corps will get committed on Afghan border. That much less headache for India.

    The volatile Afghan border would require more troops to manage the border. The Frontier constabulary or FC will not be funded by the Americans as on today, thereby putting Pakistan economy on further stress.
    **
    British policy of management of Tribal areas by treaties, coercion, isolations. appeasement and autonomy in today's context when the tribal have developed a sense of unity of purpose will not work. Pakistan as a state will have to face a big onslaught from the combined Pashtoons.

    Internally, Pathan influence in Pakistani polity will rise and so would their demands for their share in the power and riches. This bodes ill for internal stability of Punjabi dominated Pakistan.

    British purpose of creation of Afghanistan seems to at the doors of failure as Pakistan may not be able to withstand Pathan onslaughts on its own. Pakjabies would have no place to run with Sindh, Balochistan anf POK under fire and burning.

    Ashley Tellis seems to be right.

    ##

    But this will also be dangerous for India as in order to save themselves. Pakjabies will push the lanky Talibans into J&K.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Ashley J. Tellis Maharaj its your adopted country which is getting battered daily and facing strategic defeat in afghanistan and is running like headless-chicken.Oh isnt it the same Ashley J. Tellis at Carnegie endowment who 3yrs back was great proponent of idea that india should pimp to usa and was greatly greatly disappointed when india rejected USA fighter planes for MMRCA.
     
  7. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    Attack ideas rather than the person. Above comments are not well thought out by you.
     
  8. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

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    What in nutshell, Ashley Maharaj is saying that Rulers in Rawalpindi may again be Abdalies, Durranies, Ghouries with no affinities with Mians, Ranas, Siddiqies and Khatiks etc etc which does not bode well for the elites of his adopted country !
     

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