Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan

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Summary
Irrespective of how Afghanistan's coming security transition pans out, one country may be on a surprising course to a major strategic defeat: Pakistan.
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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.

End of document

About the South Asia Program

The Carnegie South Asia Program informs policy debates relating to the region’s security, economy, and political development. From the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan’s internal dynamics to U.S. engagement with India, the Program’s renowned team of experts offer in-depth analysis derived from their unique access to the people and places defining South Asia’s most critical challenges.

 

Comments (44)

 
 
  • John Doe
    2 Recommends
     
    The tragedy of this article is that the author didn't disclose he's an Indian. He never had a bad thing to say about India and never a good word for Pakistan.

    Nobody should take this pundit seriously
     
     
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  • M Junaid Khan - Pashtun in Pakistan
    1 Recommend 2 Conversation Recommends
     
    I think the author of this post has a deep disconnect with the ground realities of the region. I think he should write another article sharing the success of the 10 years of American efforts in the region keeping in mind the amount of money that has been spent on a lost war. If authors like him have not funded the initial strategy of the USA to invade the country, the region would have been in a much better position. The Generals and Think Tanks sitting in Pakistan had advised its US allies several times not to invade the country and to try to use diplomacy to resolve the conflict, however, they learned the lesson quiet late. Americans are now ready to negotiate with Taliban and even allowed them to open an office in Qatar but at that time they were not ready to hold discussions with them for the peaceful solution to the Al-Qaeda problem. The world would have been a much better place today if we understand that money cannot buy every nation and that force cannot bend all people. The author should pay a visit to Pakistan and i would like to introduce him to the local culture of Pashtuns so that he may well understand the ground realities. I am sure his perspective would be totally different unless he has some sinister agenda.
     
     
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    • Kamal replies...
      1 Recommend
       
      Dear Junaid, Don't you think it woiuld be better if Pakistanis mind their own affairs which sadly is in a complete mess! Institutions are battling against one another - army against judiciary, judiciary against govt, govt against army, govt against Bureaucracy etc. Pakistan is gradually sinking into an abyss of chaos and anarchy. It wasn't wise on the part of Pakistans successive dictators to put one leg in a minefield - Afghanistan and then another leg in another minefield - Kashmir & Khalistan , both of which has clearly boomeranged at it.
       
       
  • Russellmbaker
    1 Recommend
     
    Spin Doctor Spins. Sub-continental adversary Indiavilles are in anti-Pakistan rhetoric.
    It doesn't mean a thing? History proved, minus Pakistan there is no win in Afghanistan.
    Exit process in Afghanistan could only be successful if it involved Pakistan. In the past
    US looked at Afghanistan sitting in Islamabad, Pakistan (under President Reagan’s watch)
    is different than looking at Pakistan while sitting in Kabul (Bush-Obama watch).

    Stop whining, stop this blame Pakistan nonsense. If you don’t want to be stuck deep in
    Graveyard of empire, reorient the policy & get Pakistan involved --- wise-up. Opening the
    Northern corridor is a splendid idea. Afghanistan is now being integrated with its neighbors
    in east-west-north-south; politically-economically-culturally and it will bear fruit.

    Instead blaming Pakistan for any shortcomings on either side, going forward incentivize
    proactive synergistic Pakistan relationship and you would see nobody can beat America in
    global game.

     
     
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  • Hamid Karimi
    Interesting and insightful commentary. The missing piece is that Pakistan is torn by hatred between Punjabi / Sindhi dominated government and Pashto peoples, and in Afghanistan, the conflict between Tajik and Pashto and Sunni and Shiia continues, and will become much more extensive after NATO withdraws. Sectarian violence in Pakistan is increasing, while in Afghanistan, tribals have been united to oust foreign forces. Sunni - Shiia differences run first, then ethnic differences and only then does patriotic nationalism and loyalty to country start.
     
     
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  • Neraj
    2 Recommends
     
    Woa woa woa .... I thought it was american defeat that was more obvious ....where does Pakistan fit in this ...And if the Taliban would resusticate Pakhtoonistan ....then so be it... Tellis need not worry ....hey but did i tell you Mr Tellis did his BA and MA from the University of Bombay ...do i need to add anything more ....
     
     
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  • UnAsh
    Why..not true. Suppose,Afghanistan broken up,southern pushtun parts merge with pakistan,pak would be happy.Also,if taliban become more powerful,not an issue either.They could rule pak & many would want for them to do so.Can the author respond to this?
     
     
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  • GQ
    Interesting article.   The author leaves out one scenario. If there is a stable gov. In Kabul and Pakistan does it utmost to keep it happy by antagonizing its Pashtun population, will that be in Pakistan's interest? Also will India/Russia/china/iran leave Pakistan alone on its western borders, after Pakistan does it's part?
     
     
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  • TJM
    3 Recommends
     
    An incisive article clearly indicating the pitfalls facing Pakistan.
    Pakistan however surmounts such problems periodically and manages to stay afloat.
    Besides Pakistan facing serious problems in the future vis a vis the Afghan imbroglio it appears that the security situation and economic development   in neighbouring countries will also suffer.
     
     
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  • Mustafa
    1 Recommend
     
    This article is foresighted and predicting as if the rationale presented is destined to happen. Let us see and let the history be witness to the events that will follow. Pakistan never discriminated based on any other reason but the ruling elites and war lords choice to side wtth Delhi and Kremlin. Pakistan may have made mistakes in its foreign policy but they were not blunders, the deep state for the first time maybe is on the right track and it is time that they should start dictating the foreign policy rather than implementing its hegemony through other means.. There should be no deal classified as under the table, our policy papers should be put forth on the the table top.. no matter how be they, it would help in decreasing the trust deficit between the poppulace of Afghanistan against Pakistan in general.
     
     
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  • an average Indian
    3 Recommends
     
    The American involvement in afghanistan will reduce after 2014. However, there will still be stakes of the American army in afghanistan, and a permanent stationment of troops like in South Korea or Japan is expected.
    The Indian army will reap the benefits of the alliances with the Afghan national Army and America, and will be able to keep Kashmir in peace, largely.

    The Pakistani army has its hands full for the next 20 years. It has to manage the Afghan taliban, the Americans, the ANA, apart from its own restive areas of Karachi, Quetta, and FATA.

    As an Indian, I welcome the peace. I hope this burden cures the Pakistan army of its rabid obsession with India, and the remainder of Pakistan is able to earn their daily bread in peace.

    cheers
     
     
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  • marshal panda
    2 Recommends
     
    Too much strategic depth sucks you down.
     
     
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  • zia
    1 Recommend
     
    It seems the writer is not aware of the ground realities and has based his column on western media reports. The time of Pashtunistan is a past phenomenon because pashtuns have a bigger share than their due in Pakistan. The writer is mistaken that options / outcomes for are not good for Pakistan rather it will be US who is the major loser.
     
     
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  • Abra cadabra
    And pray who is arming the thousands of TTP (tehrik-e-taliban) fighters(vagabonds). isnt that state sponsored terrorism. with the transition date(polls) looming closer, everyone is trying his best to figure fudge and splatter peace in Afghanistan. This ploy is so old and beaten, nobody buys it now.
     
     
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  • A Peace Lover
    The author has ignored the potentially dangerous impact of northern alliance dominated Afghan army on the future of Afghanistan.
     
     
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  • zia
    writer seems biased and frustrated due to defaet of American and Indian agenda in Afghanistan
     
     
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  • mirwais khan
    2 Recommends
     
    Pakistan, as we know it, was never a historic unity. It took the Pashtun land as legacy of Ranjit Singh's occupation of Peshawar valley, the winter capital of of Afghanistan as well as the land from the subsequent colonization of the remaining present day Pashtun land by the British with a total land area of around 150,000 sq km . Pakistan then militarily occupied the Baloch historic land, the State of Qalat and its three Khanates in 1948. These territories had never been historically Indian territories, rather the British had converted a part of the Pashtun land into British India (not india proper). The Punjab dominated Pakistan never recognized the inherent national rights of other nations merged in Pakistani Federation. To avoid internal conflicts, Pakistan instead resorted to externalizing problems. To resolve the Pashtun issue by giving them due rights Pakistan rather resorted to colonizing the rest of Afghanistan. This is and was in fact the whole motive of Pakistan's involvement in Afghanistan. To gain strategic depth viz a viz more powerful india was just a deception to lend a sort of justification to its invoolement in Afghanistan. But Pakistan (in fact Punjab dominated Army establishment) haven't learnt anything yet from its successive failures internally as well as externally and stil there is no indicatin of it being behave rationally.
     
     
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  • Jan Khan
    1 Recommend
     
    I think the author just complicated a very simple phenomenon and that is Pakistan and Afghanistan are just reciprocal to each others; An unstable and poor Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan, a stable, prosperous and developed Afghanistan is even a biger threat to the integrity of Pakistan. However the viable solution is also not the disintegration of Afghanistan; as its never going to happen. I think the viable solution is that Pakistan shuld concentrate more on it internal issues than on regional or global; Pakistan should integrate and unite itself on basis of eual development and equal opportunity instead of oppression and suppression of minority ethnic groups. I think the Pakistan foreign policy is not dictated by some foreign factors like India; instead it is drwn from its inherent internal weaknesses and fears. So the world should focus on Pakistan's internal dynamics instead of its external role!
     
     
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  • Pir Rokhan
    1 Recommend
     
    All the major opinion holders in Pakistan both in electronic and print media maintain that the strategic depth policy of Pakistan has not only been unfruitful for her own interests but has fired back and has made the country a security state. Due to the liberalization of media now it is becoming evident that there are severe internal threats [not external threats from for example so called unfriendly non Pashtun govt in Kabul] to the integrity of Pakistan and the main cause is the official facilitation and harboring of extremist groups and parties by the military elite of Pakistan. The same elite get the bigger chunk of every budget leaving meager amounts for development etc. Hence, the article serves as an indirect warning to the authorities of Pakistan that they should sort out their internal matters and stop interfering in neighboring countries like Afghanistan, which is moving slowly but surely to progress with the help of world community. Pakistan by not cooperating with the int'l community is isolating herself with every passing day and focus on energy crises, education, health in addition to the ethnic divide and clash of interests inside her own territory.
     
     
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  • Nicholo Machiavelli
    I disagree with Tellis for several reasons. One, Pakistan would be defeated in Afghanistan only if it was fighting there - it is the NATO and ISAF fighting there, not Pakistan. Two, if Pakistan continues to block the supply route through its territory, it is likely that NATO would lose and Pakistan, being "ally" would lose too. Three, if defeat implies that the future government in Kabul would not be pro-Pakistan, then it would not be a government that truly represents Afghans. Pashtun are in majority (more than 50% - not like the fudged census figures that have appeared lately), they have the right to form the government - not otherwise. Hence, failure to bring a truly representative government would not be Pakistan's defeat, it would be a loss in common sense.
    Pakistan’s projected disintegration merits only two lines. Many have passed away carrying such wish in their hearts. Pakistan shall survive and come up despite its friends.
    Disintegration of Pakistan will be in no one’s benefit as its fate is intertwined with the billions of South Asians. Instead of preparing for its failure, it will be good to reconsider policies of political and technological apartheid against it. Pakistan has always reiterated its right to work as an equal partner in a UN system where all states are equal. However, in an anarchic world, some states are more equal than others. The consequences of emerging trends of selectivity, exceptionalism and discrimination against Pakistan may not be limited to South Asia and will undermine the credibility of the international norms.
     
     
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  • James
    This article isn't worth the time it took to hit enter and publish it online! It panders to the western belief that what we do is correct and anything else is wrong be default. It lacks reality, analysis (unless being a fan of Fox News and State Dept speeches, and recounting their thoughts counts as analysis). How very sad indeed!!!
     
     
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  • geele.mitti
    @an average Indian
    Rabid obsession with indian army?? look whos talking, for Pakistan, india is same as china for india. There is no justification what so ever of spending billions of dollars in warfare machinery , buy jets and such for India since China is no threat to indian stability but this is not the case in an an average Indian mind. Point is, mentality is same just targets are different.
     
     
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  • PeacenikJohnson
    4 Recommends
     
    Well written and analyzed by Tellis. But, as the comments below show, Pakistanis do not want to learn from their mistakes. Disintegration is on the horizon and is the only other option left.
     
     
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  • AsalBaat
    Writer is suggesting that Pakistan should embrace an Afghanistan dominated by minority pro India forces. As per writer, it will be hell otherwise. No Sir, please do not underestimate Afghans as they are very much capable to form a Govt. which will take care of balance in representation once Nato leaves. Nobody wants a war, all wants to gain peace and bounties attached including Afghan Taliban. Instead of bashing Pakistan for all US failures, Pakistan should be taken on-board to setup a broad base Govt. in Afg after 2014.
     
     
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  • Baloch
    5 Recommends
     
    The only way to stabilize Afghanistan and ensure peace in south Asia is to dismantle this terror structure called Pakistan. As long as this terrorist state exist, it will not let Afghanistan to be a stable democratic country. The balkanization of Pakistan on ethnic line and creation of an interdependent secular free Balochistan out of Pakistan and Iran to serve as a counter weight and wedge between Iran and Pakistan is the answer of all problems the US and the world community is facing in the region.

    If US wants peace in the region then Balochistan is the way to go. This will reduce Pakistan to size where she will not be able to export terrorism or poke her nose into its neighbors business. It is time to do the right thing instead of wasting time and billions of US tax payers dollars on failed and unpredictable policies.
     
     
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  • Watty
    1 Recommend
     
    The day-to-day ground realities based on news from Pakistan tends to confirm the evolution of all three negative outcomes Mr. Ashley J Tellis suggests. India more than the US or the rest of the civilized world needs to take proactive measures to prevent and protect itself from a repeat of another Mumbai 26/11 type of tragedy. Pakistan's military oligarchy that actually rules Pakistan from behind this bogus facade of a sham democracy tends to create such major diversions when pushed into tight corners.
     
     
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  • Qaisar
    Seems to be a highly biased article...Not recommended for serious readers
     
     
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  • Vish
    Mr Tellis atellis@ceip.org
    I am writing this article as a response to your write-up which suggests that Pakistan loses- whatever the outcome be in Afghanistan.
    Let’s please just go back to a time before 9/11, more specifically, let’s go back to the era between ’94 – 2001. Taliban progressively gained control over the region, fueled by religious zeal and violence. Starting with the southern fringes of Afghanistan, emanating from its cities, the Taliban slowly pushed its foes namely the northern alliance and others away and further into the mountains. The aim was to create one unified command, one government and eliminate infighting, what better way to do it than implementing injustice under the pretext of strictest implementations of Islam!!?   At this time the Northern areas of Pakistan as well as the FATA were as desolate and unlawful as they are now. Pakistan was well aware of this fact, they would not venture out to implement the constitution of Pakistan in these areas because it would result in their resources being wasted and religious tempers inflamed which would in turn cause the support for Taliban rise in the more prosperous part of Pakistan. Therefore, they played safe; shook hands with the Taliban; let ISI supply material, logistic and at times humanitarian help to the Taliban enhance its control. In doing so, the entire demarcation of FATA, Northern areas and Afghanistan which was just on paper anyways became even hazier. One could easily move from one place to another because no was there to prevent it. Pakistan wanted Peace with Afghanistan because a peaceful Afghanistan would have meant that the FATA and northern areas are peaceful and the infighting won’t spill in Afghanistan wont spillover into pak territory. It was a seemingly Perfect symbiosis between neighbors   who wanted stability and peace at the expense of human rights. Such was the apathy and myopic attitude of the entire world that it even kept mum at the decision of Pakistan and Saudi legitimizing the Taliban regime. No one cared then, we all watched as Taliban took control of Kandahar, Kabul, gradually progressing to Mazar-e-sharif and Kunduz.
     
     
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  • Anjaan288
    2 Recommends
     
    What the author is saying is that Paki army's high stake gamble of poker is destined to fail. The ball is in Pakistan's court, for it to decide its own fortunes down the road ...... which in its current shape looks bleak, because this time around Pakistan will face the music with out the financial and military support of the Americans ......... !
     
     
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  • Vish
    (...CONT...)
    Towards the end of 2011 came the assassination of Ahmed shah masood and about a couple of days hence the biggest excuse for the USA to ally the Nato and UK to launch an offensive to disband the Taliban control.
    The symbiosis of Taliban and Pakistan goes beyond words, even though they make it seem to the western counterparts that they have turned their back to their friend , how could they jeopardize their national interests? How and why will they destroy the Taliban? Who else can be trusted more than them to control vast swathes of land and people?
    Therefore, it is my view that once the USA leaves, the Taliban will come back to power, aided and abetted by Pakistan, only this time it will be stronger and in the garb of a more west amiable manner if you choose. Mr. Tellis, you see, this isn’t Iraq where you can replace the entire cabinet with Shias and win over factions.

    You scratch my back I scratch yours kind of relationship will be maintained between Taliban and Pakistan; The Northern areas and FATA will see a dramatic troop reduction, all this expeditions to drive out militants from these areas will cease-would they have been conducted if Pakistan had not turned its back towards its friend? And the whole area plunges into the serene lawlessness that prevailed before 9/11. Pakistani troops will move back to the eastern front and focus to crush the Balochs with increased vigor.
     
     
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  • Vish
    1 Recommend
     
    (.....CONT....)
    Right now is an interesting time for Pakistan, it’s like that of a bear that’s got its head into a pot of honey that it can’t get its head out of, its hard but its reaping the benefits which are dwindling of late, but the endgame is near as the USA’s exit is imminent. It will have its head out and then there won’t be anyone stopping it from profusely apologizing for its actions against Taliban and offering assistance by way of economic, diplomatic, religious, moral humanitarian and of course military to control Afghanistan. Mull this for a minute, Mr. Tellis, imagine a situation- there is no military might of the coalition in Afghanistan and the Taliban need control, where will they go? To Pakistan? That’s Highly unlikely!!! Neither will they just disappear, nor will their ideologies change; What they will do instead is invite themselves to fill in the vacuum. Do you think that Pakistan will stop them and restrain them? No country would.
    Therefore, Mr. Tellis, How could you possibly foresee a losing endgame for the Pakistanis? There are so many aspects that I disagree with in the write –up of yours. But I may discuss that with you at a later time.

    Thanks for your time,
     
     
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  • Watty
    2 Recommends
     
    US rapprochement with Iran is the utmost crucial need of the hour. At this critical stage when US confronts so many problems it is time to revisit Iran policy. Iran in its post revolutionary era has had the courage and fortitude to stand firmly behind its principled stand dictated by its national interests with dignity and self respect, unlike duplicitous Pakistan. US however continues to blunder by favoring a double crossing nuclear armed and nuclear proliferating Pakistan, the "real" State sponsor of world terror and blackmailer of the region. The net result is that a pathetic Obama has now been reduced to bow to Pakistan's perfidy even to make a honorable exit from AFPAK. For your information, the shortest exit from landlocked Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean is via the Iranian Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad route in which India plans a major role to lay 1300 km of rail line reaching Afghan border town of Zaranj. India has already constructed and delivered to Afghanistan the road link connecting Zaranj and Delaram to Afghanistan's famous ring road. It is high time that Obama and his team demonstrate courage and bold initiative rather than the timid repetition of a failed strategy. Incredibly even today there are many in the US State Department who are anxious to bow to Pakistan's wishes ignoring the sacrifices of thousands of US and ISAF forces lost due to Pakistani perfidy and wasted billions of US tax payer treasure. It is high time to make peace with Iran and sincerely involve major regional players in pursuit of peace rather than grovel in the company of failed terrorist states such as Pakistan.
     
     
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    • Irfan. replies...
       
      The so 'famous' Zaranj Delarum Highway, built with so much fanfare, remained under the Taliban control for a better part of those 'surge', years of the Obama administration. What guarantee is there that it will remain unmolested after US withdraws from Afghanistan and the Talib sway is on the rise?. The entire Indian police in Afghanistan was, and continues to be Pakistan centric, I'm sure the brass buttons will relish the idea of the Indians negotiating with the Talibs to leave the Indian supplies out of Afghanistan unmolested!, those Talibs, who eat out of the very hands of those brass buttons!, what a funny scene?, straight out of a comic strip?!!!
       
       
  • Tim Upham
    That means that India will get an influence there, and it could heat up tension in the subcontinent.
     
     
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  • rayriaz
    The U.S. and Indian wishes can easily be fulfilled on Afghanistan,India could be imbraced in Afghanistan by pakistan,i f Indian and Pakistani dispute over Kashmire could be resolved with coincide of U.S. and Nato forces withdrawel   of Afghanistan.Indian has to show great deal of goodwill toward Pakistan by resolving Kashmire self determination struggle which has taken about .2 millions lifes of Kasmiri freedom cause since 1989.Pakistan shares 2600 km border with land locked Afghanistan which benefits it`s International Trade thru Pakistani ports .India does not share any border with Afghanistan.So if India wants to play any role in Afghanistan,India needed goodwill over Kasmire dispute,Pakistan very dependent on Kasmire because all major rivers of Pakistan flow thru from Indian held Kashmire.India Involved building Dams over those rivers and dinying water access to Pakistan.Besides, Pakistan was dismembered in 1971 with the help of India.So india has the card for the success of U.S . polices in energy filled Central Asian Republics ,Iran,China and Russia.
     
     
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  • nrmr44
    1 Recommend
     
    The last time the US was in Afghanistan it was to embarrass the Russians. That done, what possible reason would keep them interested in that country?
    This time around, they came in after an attack launched on their mainland - an attack that was conceived , planned and orchestrated from Afghanistan. Would they leave behind a vacuum for Al Qaida to regroup and rebuild in?
    Take a close look - with their current ambitions, Pakistan is the only element that stands between the US and its goal of leaving behind a sterilized Afghanistan!
    If Pakistan had the capacity, economic and military, to control Afghanistan the US would not have needed to do all the heavy lifting they have been doing. They would have installed Pakistan in the chair a long time ago. But economically Pakistan is itself a basket-case, let alone having the capacity to hold up itself and Afghanistan: in fact, they don't have the capacity to even administer themselves and Afghanistan even if the West took on the financial burden.
    And, militarily, Pakistan hasn't even managed to hold on to the territory they had in 1947. They yielded East Pakistan faster than Guderian overran France! And their very concept of using Afghanistan as 'strategic space' shows mental preparation for which way they plan to go when the Indians come looking for them.
    There is only one role Pakistan can play successfully in Afghanistan viz to keep the pot boiling. If the Taliban lose to an elected government, Pakistan loses. If the Taliban prevails, Pakistan, in fact, will be their next objective! Whichever way it goes, a settled Afghanistan holds poor prospects for Pakistan.
    Can Pakistan keep Afghanistan on the boil? At hazard to US security interests there? They'll find good company in Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, and probably Assad and Khamanei, too, shortly.
    With its present delusions, Pakistan is staring at subservience or sanctions, with no third alternative. They had better opt for the first. If it becomes sanctions, unlike their predecessors, they don't start with much reserve fat on them.
     
     
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  • nrmr44
    3 Recommends
     
    @rayriaz
    What else, apart from Kashmir, buddy? Now's your chance: add Sir Creek, Siachen, Kargil, Junagadh and Hyderabad! Or else what? Pakistan will bring down Afghanistan even if goes down itself? Maybe Pakistan will go down first - have you thought of that?
    Get real man! Currently, Pakistan is on no one's list for an intelligent discussion! Get an organized nation-state going and then come back. The world will still be around - and progressing happily, to boot!
     
     
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  • Doug
    Ou la la. No more comments ?
     
     
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  • Ravi Inder Singh
    Pakistan has no one to blame but itself for the mess it finds itself in..... The Rawalpindi generals subverted democracy, thus throttling the peoples voice, and Pakistan so very happily fell into the American embrace.... and the Americans squeezed the life out of them.... now reap as you have sown Pakistan.
     
     
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  • Shahzad Mehr
    Apart from outsiders' debate, being an Insider (Pakistan), I'd just point towards a single prominent thing that Rawalpindi, irrespective of all the consequences, will still stick to the policy they have adopted mainly because of two things. First, they feel insecure that Army won't be able to safeguard its interests (Which they call National interest) and secondly, they have gone too far away and they falsely think that there is no point of return for Rawalpindi from its long adopted policy (which is again falsely deemed to be successful till now). Last but not the least all this goes in favor of the Rawalpindi, as they can now name two enemies Afghanistan and India for making public and common masses again compromise their bread in favor of Army and again letting it prosper at the cost of a common man's bread.
     
     
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  • Muhammad Naeem
    1 Recommend
     
    The best analyst throws light on both sides of a picture. Describing pros and cons of topic is sine qua non of a learned fellow. My friend Ashley J Tellis could not make justice with an ostensible and vast topic. This is an attempt to tarnish the good will of an institute like Carnegie Endowment. I watched the credentials of the learned writer which revealed his alignment with the country of his origin. A war against terrorism which was started by the world under the leadership of US ,is being termed by him a tricky matter of Pakistan Government. While talking about Afghanistan , one must always consider the history of this country which tells us the USSR aggression and aftermath in which about 1.2 million of people died in war as a result of Soviet intervention and approximately 400,000 people died in coalition forces activity . Pakistan is the biggest sufferer of this war which has lost more than 80 billion dollars economy and 40,000 casualties of civil and military persons. The war was not started by Pakistan alone. If the world backs out from its pledges with Pakistan , the vicious cycle of anarchy and civil war will spread more. It is regrettable to favour one side only . This is not the path of an intellectual. The intellectuals are always beyond cast ,creed and colour.


     
     
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    • lailanaeem replies...
       
      very nice analysis on this article muhammad naeem
       
       
  • BarbaraBananas
    We might want to consider the conomic interest in minerals that has changed the future of Afghanistan. China, Inda, Iran -- all interested in investing in those minerals. Indian has steadly increased itst raining and diplomatic interest in Afghanistan, completed a road to Iran, and the Russians have been involved in providing geophysical and geological maps and R&D from their occupation revealing the 1 trillion in minerals in Afghanistan. Money and profit is a huge arm twister in diplomacy. The Taliban may gear up to take parts of Aghanistan but as a consequence, China and India are already in the country. They have large military influence. I don't believe Russia is uniterested iin a New Afghanistan for Profit nor do I believe that the U. S. geologists and investment that was contributed to the exploration of those minerals was a hobby.
     
     
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  • Irfan
    A lop sided assessment of ground realities in Afghanistan, after the Soviet withdrawal, Pakistan didn't end up supporting the Taliban, they ended up supporting the Pashtun, in Afghanistan, so euphemistically referred by western addle heads, this author included, as 'Talban'. These rag tag Pashtuns have so far made Uncle Sam realize the beaten track out of Afghanistan. In any post 2014 scenario, the latter will have to sign a face saving deal with these 'Pashtuns'/'Talbans', for which US is already so desperate. In the end, if the so called Taliban or Pashtun emerge stronger on both sides of the Durand line, which seems imminent, I wonder what makes the author see them turning on their mentors and supporters in Islamabad?!!. Which is the most absurd thing to suggest, all in all, this is what armchair journos can conjure up wehn supported by the Carnegie Endowment!!.
     
     
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Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/06/22/pakistan-s-impending-defeat-in-afghanistan/c6sn

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