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India vs Pakistan in Afghanistan
June 26, 2013 7:38 AM   Subscribe

A Deadly Triangle - the proxy war in Afghanistan
posted by Gyan (8 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fantastic article. Dalrymple is an amazing writer and historian. Now I have a much better understanding of the situation in Afghanistan/Pakistan/India and why Pakistan (ISI) supports Taliban terrorists .. all makes sense once you see it from Pakistan's paranoia about India - they want friendly Afghanistan territory to retreat into in case of war with India. Historically Afghanistan has been friendly with India, squeezing Pakistan between two enemies - so Pakistan supports Taliban radicals to keep (parts of) Afghanistan friendly to Pakistan. But of course, "If you grow vipers in your back yard, you’re going to get bitten," sums it up, blowback since the Taliban are not easily controlled. Also now plainly obvious the ISI was harboring Bin Laden, given the strategic interest to do so, and did so for Taliban leaders, and location of the safe-house.
posted by stbalbach at 10:14 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fantastic article. Dalrymple is an amazing writer and historian.

Except that somehow he managed to completely fail to mention the role of Nixon/Kissinger in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 around the creation of Bangladesh:
Triggered by East Pakistan's (now Bangladesh) quest for independence, the 1971 crisis quickly raised human rights issues because of what White House officials characterized as a "reign of terror" (Note 3) orchestrated by Pakistani forces. While consular officials in Dacca, East Pakistan privately criticized the U.S. government's "failure to denounce atrocities," (Note 4) Nixon and Kissinger did not want "to get [the] West Pakistanis turned against us," in part because President Yahya was providing a secret communication link for their quest for rapprochement with China. (Note 5) The close China-Pakistan relationship was central to Nixon's wish to "tilt" U.S. policy toward Pakistan in part to show Beijing that Washington would support its allies. (Note 6) With Pakistani refugees fleeing into India, the crisis quickly turned into a clash between India and Pakistan. Quickly defining and dramatizing a regional national/ethnic crisis in geo-political terms, Nixon and Kissinger saw India as a Soviet client state that was determined to weaken Pakistan fatally. China, however, had a close relationship with Pakistan and Nixon wanted to "tilt" U.S. policy toward Pakistan to show Beijing that Washington would support its allies.

As the crisis turned to war, Nixon and Kissinger saw the event as a Cold War confrontation which could involve a China-Soviet conflict and U.S. confrontation with the Soviet Union. "
Nixon probably encouraged the 1971 war, as part of "going to China." And, of course, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al were dead-enders from the Nixon administration. Reading this article you would think that despite being central to both the Islamic resistance to the Soviets and the defeat of the ISI/Taliban in Afhganistan after 9/11, the conflict proceeds according to local ethno-religious political rivalries rather than "pounding the rubble" in the continuing story of "Western" geopoltical games stretching back over a century. I mean, who vetted and installed India-loving Karzai in Afghanistan?

The whole essay is almost counter-factual in the way it leaves out US policy wrt India and Pakistan.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:13 AM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading this article you would think that despite being central to both the Islamic resistance to the Soviets and the defeat of the ISI/Taliban in Afhganistan after 9/11, the conflict proceeds according to local ethno-religious political rivalries rather than "pounding the rubble" in the continuing story of "Western" geopoltical games stretching back over a century.

Actually he says this (emphasis added):
Most observers in the West view the Afghanistan conflict as a battle between the U.S. and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on one hand, and al-Qaida and the Taliban on the other. In reality this has long since ceased to be the case. Instead our troops are now caught up in a complex war shaped by two pre-existing and overlapping conflicts: one local and internal, the other regional.
Note the use of time to suggest the situation has (now) changed. Two pre-existing and overlapping conflicts are what is driving events (now). They are local tribal and Pakistan vs India.

> I mean, who vetted and installed India-loving Karzai in Afghanistan?

"India-loving Karzai" is presently negotiating with India-hating Taliban, to the exclusion of India and the ISAF. This underscores the point. What is motivating Karzai? Local and regional conflict. IMO it's a much more useful and accurate way to understand the conflict (now) than the old colonialist narrative in light of ISAF pulling out, Karzai stepping down and new players stepping up.
posted by stbalbach at 2:57 PM on June 26, 2013


This is great. Thanks for posting it.
posted by The World Famous at 3:37 PM on June 26, 2013


Excellent piece. And Brookings looks like they've upped their game on their website.
posted by gen at 7:17 PM on June 26, 2013


ennui.biz, I'm not sure I understand your point beyond a sort of "but for" formulation where every event in the region is dependent on what folks in Washington want at any given moment. Conventional wisdom has long held, for instance, that the West and East Pakistan division at independence was unstable and an inevitable conflict, and certainly India had its own realpolitik motivations for supporting it when it occurred, and Yahya certainly had his own territorial integrity motivation to prevent secession. If anything, this shows how Washington only saw things in a Cold War light irrespective of long-term regional interests, but it doesn't suggest that the conflict was sparked by strategy sessions in D.C. war rooms.
posted by dhartung at 9:01 PM on June 26, 2013


Great find. Thanks for posting.
posted by putzface_dickman at 2:56 AM on June 27, 2013


Karzai = Genius.
posted by Renoroc at 4:32 AM on June 28, 2013


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