Najam Sethi: The AfPak Theatre

Najam Sethi is the editor in chief of the Friday Times and Dunya TV in Lahore Pakistan.  He has written a prescient essay articulating how the United States ought to develop a grand strategy in dealing with both Pakistan and Afghanistan via India.

Simply put, the road to Kabul runs through Islamabad!

Pakistan has always thought of India as a mortal threat, to give itself strategic depth against India it has always tried to develop ideologically favorable interests in Afghanistan.  This is the origin of the Taliban.  Although India is expanding its military capability and regional influence it ought not to be considered as Pakistan has conceived it.  The key to this bilateral reality is in the Northern Baluchistan province along the Durand Line.  This is the line that creates the Punjab region that separates Pakistan from India.  The Durand Line was developed artificially by British colonial interests as it created the partition creating Muslim Pakistan in 1947.  Mr. Karzai possesses Indian interests which threaten Pakistan.  My own belief is that the United States ought to call the bluff on Pakistan and overtly favor Indian interests in the AfPak theatre.  This is very dangerous for it would open a front in Pakistan to be thwarted by Russian or Chinese interests, complicating a very messy ideologically driven battle of international interests.  Nevertheless, someone or thing must spook Islamabad to fly straight.

General Petraeus is correct in assessing that Pakistan must be part of any long term solution to Afghanistan.  This may mean bringing parts of the Taliban back into Afghan governance isolating al Qaeda and allowing Pakistan to help train Afghani intelligence and security personnel to assist in state building efforts.  American’s must understand that nothing less than a pro-Pakistani Kabul will please Islamabad.

What’s becoming clearer by the minute is Pakistan’s double dealing the U.S., a totally nonexistent political culture to govern Afghanistan and a wayward U.S. public skeptical to a military solution to ‘the long war.’

Stay tuned, this one’s not over for a long while.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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