06 December, 2006

Global terrorism: the Pakistani problem.

Two recent articles on Afghanistan, which reach similar conclusions: that they key to the security situation in Afghanistan is Pakistan's support or toleration of the Taliban's safe havens within its borders.

Writing in the Baltimore Sun, Dennis Kux, a former US diplomat, and Karl Inderfurth, an American academic, argue that, despite its military superiority, NATO will be unable to defeat the Taliban because,

As long as the Taliban have a haven in Pakistan, they can continue their insurgency indefinitely, making it virtually impossible for Afghanistan to become a country at peace with itself and its neighbors.
The authors see the key to Taliban problem as improving relations between Kabul and Islamabad and offer a series of possible measure to this effect.

Dawn highlights a suggestion by Kux and Inderfurth that Afhganistan should be urged to officially recognise the Durand Line.

In a paper in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2007, Barnet R. Rubin sees the presence of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan as the crux of the Afghanistan problem.
Contrary to the claims of the Bush administration, whose attention after the September 11 attacks quickly wandered off to Iraq and grand visions of transforming the Middle East, the main center of terrorism "of global reach" is in Pakistan. Al Qaeda has succeeded in reestablishing its base by skillfully exploiting the weakness of the state in the Pashtun tribal belt, along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. In the words of one Western military commander in Afghanistan, "Until we transform the tribal belt, the U.S. is at risk."
Barnett argues the US and NATO need to adopt a dual approach. One the one hand, they need to address endemic corruption in the Afghan political, judicial and police systems; on the other, they need to pressurise Pakistan to start disrupting the Taliban's command and control system

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