India, Pakistan And Afghanistan

Patrick Cockburn, in a fascinating analysis as to what really is happening in Afghanistan connects several dots which explain why the new American “surge” will have limited impact, but, in the end, leave things very much as they are. Cockburn argues the surge will stabilize the erosion of Afghan government power and restore a bit more ability of ordinary citizens to go on with their lives, but, the “Taliban is never going to be defeated so long as it has its bases in the Pushtun swat inside north-western Pakistan.” American troops can attack, they can wipe out Taliban bases, they can harass and impede supplies, but this will not prevent the Taliban from hopping across the border to sanctuary inside Pakistan.

Cockburn argues the issues central to the problem of the Taliban have nothing to do with Afghanistan and much more to do with Pakistan military needs for allies in its confrontation with India. The Pakistan military regards India and the unresolved problem of Kashmir as the most important problem they must always consider in terms of their own survival. As long as there is fighting in Afghanistan, then America must pay attention to the needs of Pakistan. “This, in turn, gives Pakistan leverage over the US to prevent the Americans going too far in supporting India.”

The Cockburn thesis raises some interesting questions concerning priorities. The current American surge is designed to prop up the crumbling regime of President Karzai of Afghanistan, but the more support he receives from America, the less he is regarded as a force inside his own nation. If Cockburn is correct, the focus of American effort should be on assisting Pakistan and India from resolving their problems. If the threat of India is resolved, then Pakistan military leaders would be more inclined to focus on destroying the Taliban.

Anyone in the Obama administration reading about this thesis?