Achieve Counter-insurgency Cooperation in Afghanistan by Resolving the Indo-Pakistani Rivalry
Abdulkader H. Sinno
This essay examines post–September 11 Afghanistan-Pakistan relations in the context of the ongoing militant threat faced by each country.
The outlook for improved Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, particularly in terms of dealing with the counter-insurgency, is not good. Both the Afghan and Pakistani states are not capable of engaging in effective counter-insurgency in the Pashtun areas, let alone of coordinating a counter-insurgency campaign. Many key players in Pakistan, including those within state institutions, see no reason to engage in counter-insurgency because of complex and intertwined interests, sympathy with insurgents, differing priorities, concern over India, dislike of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and the likelihood that the Taliban will outlast both the U.S. presence and the Karzai government in Afghanistan.
- The U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and inside of Pakistan is so unpopular in both countries that the U.S. cannot play a high-profile role in bringing Afghan and Pakistani leaders together without discrediting these leaders within their own constituencies.
- Though the U.S. and the Karzai government cannot hope to defeat challengers with bases of support across the border in Pakistan, attacking the safe havens of the Taliban and al Qaeda across the border will produce a worst-case scenario for the U.S. because the jihad in Pakistan would be even more intense than in Afghanistan. Jihad in Pakistan would attract the support, one way or another, of hundreds of millions of South Asian Muslims. It could also lead to the breakup of Pakistan, the possible collapse of the Pakistani military, and the risk of losing sight of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
- The only reasonable course for the U.S. to gain the support of Pakistanis is to reduce Indian involvement in Afghanistan in order to assuage Pakistani fears, actively push for a comprehensive and final agreement on Kashmir, provide guarantees that a strong Afghan state will not woo Pashtun support across the Durand Line, and commit to a large, long-term program of economic and military aid in Pakistan, consisting of $2–3 billion per year over ten to fifteen years.