Trouble for Pakistan?
November 16, 2001 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Trouble for Pakistan? It looks like the Pakistanis have really managed to piss of their Afghan neighbors with their imperialist ambitions. The foreigners who so eagerly rushed to help the Taliban are getting shot for their troubles, some have wised up and are refusing to surrender. Should we be trying to stop such behavior, or is this a case of If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen?
posted by jaek (2 comments total)
Hm, well, as Rumsfeld noted in his Q&A today, in wartime refusing to surrender is putting yourself up for a death sentence. Whether or not they get taken as POWs seems to have some relation to the presence of Western advisors in the midst of the NA forces. Similar kinds of ugly things were done to the Russians, up to and including beheading or dismemberment.

Pakistan was fighting the good fight when they were supporting the Afghans against the Soviet expansion, but after that war ended it became a mission of supporting the Pashtuns against minority ethnic groups (the Pashtun, themselves, being only a plurality). They were nominally part of the Six Plus Two group working for a post-war solution for the country, but they were also playing a dangerous regional game to check the power of Iran, India, and (still) Russia, bidding for economic influence in Central Asia. They got this geopolitical bug from us, possibly, but especially now that they've got nukes, they see themselves as a mature, responsible regional power. The truth is that the Afghan adventure, mixed in with uncontrolled fundamentalism along the border -- the Taliban's origins -- has dangerously destabilized the country at a time when they need rock-solid stability and sure navigation.

I really suspect that they have that in Musharraf, so all is not lost. He seems to have a clearer sense of diplomatic opportunities and risks than his neighbors, including the incumbent Indian president, and a deep sense of responsibility for his people. The latter makes his choices in the former much more predictable and supportable.

They have little choice but to find a new relationship with Afghanistan, but there are elements in that country who will take a long, long time to return their trust.
posted by dhartung at 5:15 PM on November 16, 2001

now they know how we feel.
posted by delmoi at 7:10 AM on November 17, 2001

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