A dissolving state 28

The Taliban has rallied after its initial defeat by American forces under George W Bush, and now controls 70% of Afghanistan. It is gaining territory in Pakistan too. The Swat Valley, once a happy tourist destination, has been ceded by Pakistan to the Taliban after a year of fighting, and has become one of the Islamic hells on earth, where ‘beheadings are commonplace and schools for girls are regularly burned down’.   

An extract from Kathie Shaidle’s article in Front Page Magazine: 

[Salim] Mansur [an academic consultant with the Center for Security Policy in Wshington, D.C.] predicts that Pakistan as the world knows it will dissolve, sooner rather than later, depending in part upon when American and NATO forces pull out of Afghanistan. He believes that the North West Frontier Province, of which Swat is a part, “will likely detach itself from the existing arrangement within Pakistan and join Afghanistan.” This “nightmare,” he says, which has been envisioned and feared by Pakistan’s elite since 1947, “can no longer be postponed.”

Meanwhile, Mansur explains, the West must decide how to respond to the “reality of nuclear weaponry in the region.” Mansur also predicts “another Mumbai” terrorist assault and an ensuing “regional conflagration” as Pakistan “dissolves.” “The Pakistani elite made their own reckless choices of fraud, double-dealing and sheer mendacity,” says Mansur, “and the time is now close at hand for paying the price of these choices.”

This critical time has not brought out the best in Western leaders, who seem incapable of fully explaining to their war-weary constituents why they are still fighting in Afghanistan, especially during the present economic climate. If Pakistan can capitulate to the Taliban within its own territory after a year of pitched battles, what is to prevent America and its allies from abandoning a fight thousands of miles away? How the Obama administration answers that question will have a great impact on the state of security in Pakistan and beyond.

Extreme danger is brewing in the region which will affect the world, and all the US has to deal with it is an inexperienced Secretary of State who intends to use what she calls ‘smart power’ – of which we have not yet seen a sample – and an even less experienced President, who is perceived as weak by Islamic states, to judge by their reactions to his inauguration: the immediate release from prison of 170 terrorists by the Yemen government, and of Abdul Qadeer Khan, who sold the know-how of making nuclear weapons to whomever would buy it from him, by the Pakistan government.

Okay, President Obama is sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. But to what end? Has any aim been defined for the continuation of the war – other than to capture bin Laden? If that’s it, it looks pretty puny in the light of what’s happening there.

What might a desperate nuclear-armed Pakistan do? In simmering conflict with India, and losing to the Taliban, how much of an added danger does Pakistan pose to a Western world already threatened by Islamofascism and a nuclear-armed Iran?

Analysis of the danger and clarification of policy are urgently needed.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tagged with , , , ,

This post has 28 comments.