Pakistan’s Phantom Border
June 22, 2008 4:55 PM   Subscribe

Pakistan’s Phantom Border. "Pakistan is often called the most dangerous country on earth. Increasingly, its people would agree. Despite nearly $6 billion in U.S. military aid for the border region since 9/11, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and homegrown terrorist groups have eroded the border with Afghanistan, inflicting a steady toll of suicide bombings. Going where few Westerners dare—from Taliban strongholds to undercover-police headquarters—the author sees what’s tearing the country apart."
posted by homunculus (24 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

The journalist, like many people inside and outside Pakistan, sees the roots of the conflict in the Cold War, when the U.S. aided the Afghan mujahideen in fighting the Soviets. “People blame America for bringing their war to our land,” he says vehemently. “Tribal people had no idea about jihad before that.”

Thanks, Ronnie.
posted by telstar at 5:32 PM on June 22, 2008

Pakistan has had it's fingers in Afghanistan's pie for ages. It is interesting to wonder, though, how things would've turned out differently if the U.S. had not interfered.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:08 PM on June 22, 2008

People blame America for bringing their war to our land,” he says vehemently

I thought the Russians did that.
posted by mattoxic at 8:09 PM on June 22, 2008

Military aid fails to impose peace, news at 11.
posted by mek at 9:09 PM on June 22, 2008

People blame America for bringing their war to our land,” he says vehemently

I thought the Russians did that.

As I understand it, the Soviets brought war to Afghanistan while we Americans brought Stinger missiles and free Korans to Pakistan in order to fight the Soviets next door. Then we left.
posted by homunculus at 11:19 PM on June 22, 2008

Pakistan Troops 'aid Taliban'.
posted by adamvasco at 11:24 PM on June 22, 2008

Since 9/11, America has pumped in nearly $6 billion to aid the country’s military in catching terrorists who operate out of the Tribal Areas and other border regions, but so far, at least from Washington’s vantage point, there hasn’t been much return on the investment. A scathing report by the Government Accountability Office, released in April, noted that there is still “no comprehensive plan for meeting U.S. national-security goals” in the Tribal Areas.

That GAO report was the subject of this related post, btw.
posted by homunculus at 12:18 AM on June 23, 2008

"the Soviets brought war to Afghanistan while we Americans brought Stinger missiles"

The Afghans brought war on themselves. The Saur Revolution was a purely Afghan revolution, sparked by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan and deposing Daoud Khan. The Soviets only came in a year after, in 1979, having seen their communist brethren getting a spontaneous and entirely predictable kicking as they attempted to destroy the tribal elites, get rid of Islam and the mullahs, (one estimate puts 10000 village elders, killed in this period), bring in schools for girls and redistribute land. The elites religious and secular, faced with this threat to their traditional source of cash and influence, looked to their guns. But it was not directly Soviet or US - although there is a strong argument for saying that the modernisation agenda of the 60s and 70s which split educated middle class from the rural areas and gave the urban elites delusions of power was foreigner driven, and caused the war. The US and the Soviets no doubt perpetuated the war, but then, the Afghans did a good job of that on their own, seeing that the war continued until 2001 and US funded stopped in '87 with the withdrawal of the Russian troops, Soviet in '92 with the collapse of the USSR. It's nonsense to say that this was 'our' fault, or the Soviet's fault: the fault-lines were in the Afghan political situation, we only made it worse when it came.
posted by YouRebelScum at 1:27 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Settle down, everyone, there's enough war-mongering and finger-pointing to go around.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:18 AM on June 23, 2008

The one thing that floored me in the article:

I ask if this area has been Talibanized, and Syed’s uncle, a former banker named Sayed Bashir Ahmad, replies that his family has lived here for 600 years and he has certainly seen the changes of the past decade.

I bet he has seen some changes. People around my parts are pretty proud if their ancestors were in this state before the American Revolution.
posted by marxchivist at 10:55 AM on June 23, 2008

Firing blanks in Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 10:57 AM on June 26, 2008

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