Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Global Solution - Peace in Afghanistan Runs Through India

The War on Terror Part one: The key to cutting off support for the Taliban

The US has ignored the UN and the international community since getting the resolution in 2002 to put inspectors back into Iraq, in the lead up to America's new quagmire.
This is a global problem. We are in a global struggle. We need the cooperation and assistance of the world to win on a global scale, just like in WW II and during the Cold War. And we need a global solution.

This is includes significant action on the four main drivers of conflict across the middle east: Israel, Iraq, the Pashtun areas of Southern Afghanistan and the Tribal areas of Pakistan, and Kashmir. The Israel and Iraq problems need to be addressed by all their neighbors (including Syria and Iran). But Pakistan is the key to the other two. First and foremost, there must be true peace in Kashmir and between the countries that were once brothers, Pakistan and India.

Let me explain. The two have fought three major wars since the British Raj on the subcontinent split in two. They are both nuclear powers. They have almost gone to war several times in the last 1o years. And while Pakistan turns a blind eye to militant infiltration into Kashmiri India, Pakistan has basically lost all three of the major conventional wars. So once the US sort of abandoned the Pakistani government after the Soviets left Afghanistan in the 80s and began making nice with India, they planned for the worst. The Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, began to support a group called the Taliban. If India invaded Pakistan and took the capital (located very close to the Indian border), the Pakistani military could fall back into the mountains of the tribal areas and into Afghanistan, with their allies, the Taliban. Since India is majority Hindu, Pakistan supported a very religious sect so they could count on a jihadi sentiment (like we are experiencing in Iraq) to help them resist the outsiders. After the US gave an ultimatum after 9-11, Pakistan has mad some effort to change, but 20 years of investment in the Taliban creates a very close bond between many in the ISI, Pakistani religious parties, and the Taliban. So we must bring a true and lasting peace to the Eastern Indian border to change the dynamic on the Afghani Western border.

This will not be easy. But we must break the log-jam that is stifling the relationship between India and Pakistan. We must find a way to neutralize their stiff-necked pride and bitter, recent past. And once this sort of existential threat is lifted from the East, support for the Taliban from inside the Pakistani government will plumet. It will lose any strategic value, and will instead become a source of trouble. There will be no more strong Pakistani ISI and military support

We must neutralize this threat to stability, and prevent a resurgence of violence and strife in Afghanistan. But we cannot declare war on Pakistan, and the pride of the people in that region would never stand American invasion. We must show Pakistanis, Pushtuns, and Afghanis that America wants peace for the region, not war. But this requires action on the periphery as well in the center.

As Winston Churchill said, "it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war." We cannot pretend we can bomb everyone in that part of the world away, since right now, the madrases are a veritable factory of Taliban production. The Pashtun tribesman on both sides of the border are bound by language, pride, and blood, and years of constant warfare and resistance from outsiders. They have lived through decades of conflict and war, first funded by Americans against the Soviets, then by the Pakistani ISI, which led to Taliban control of Afghanistan. And the motives and perceived needs of Pakistan that led to this alliance still exist. The instability in Kashmir. It is the key to the region.

This covers Kashmir and some of Afghanistan. I will discuss the rest of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel in future posts in the "Global Solution" series.

Update, 11-14-06:

The New York times just published a story about the recent rash of suicide bombers infiltrating into Afghanistan. It notes:

The would-be suicide bombers arrested recently, the Afghan intelligence official
said, emerge from two clear strands.
Some are linked to extremist groups that have long been set up and run by Pakistani intelligence as an arm of foreign policy toward rival governments in Afghanistan and India. They are technically illegal and the government now says it has cracked down on them.
Others are allied with Afghan groups like the Taliban and the renegade
militia commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also a longtime protégé of Pakistani
intelligence, who has now allied himself with the Taliban, Afghan and NATO
officials say.

There are too many in Pakistan right now that either view the Taliban as either heroes or strategic assets. We have to change the dynamic in the region so that they are viewed as counter-productive and troublesome. The first step is to defuse the problem with India. Only then can the Pakistani government begin to take on the Madraseshat lionize the Taliban.

Update II:

For a smash up gathering of information on the tribal borderlands of Pakistan, go to this Frontline site. Movie clips, interviews, background stories and more. Only go if you want to know what we are fighting in southern Afghanistan though. And if you don't hate the troops. You don't hate the troops, do you?

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