Pakistani Pandora’s Box

Villagers search amidst the rubble of houses destroyed by a suicide bomb attack  in the town of Lakki Marwat
The latest string of heinous terrorist attacks in Pakistan is a reminder that the ostrich policy of appeasing firebrand extremists has triggered a security climate change that could no longer be dismissed or tolerated.

Pakistani politics: powder keg paradox in paralysis

There’s no quick fix or a silver bullet to Pakistan’s inherently complicated heritage.

Pakistan is a paradox because its tribal & sectarian disunity undermines from within its own search for national identity, which hinges mostly upon irredentist belligerent claims to Kashmir & Pushtunistan.

Under dictator general Zia-ul Khaq, American democracy & Saudi theocracy – in a bizarre troika joint venture – the Islamization of Pakistan was meticulously promoted as a bridgehead for anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan.

Then, the United States, in a fatal attraction to military dictatorship in Pakistan, let it acquire a nuclear arsenal aimed at democratic India – hence the powder-keg component.

It’s an implosive paralysis, because Pakistani secular society is ruthlessly tormented by homegrown religious extremists in cahoots with international terrorists. There you have it:
The Talibanization of Pakistan & the Pakistanization of Afghanistan.

The Strategy of “managed chaos” is no longer manageable. Despite so many billions in so many years of “no strings attached, no questions asked” US land-lease to Pakistan, Washington has failed to alter behavior in a desirable direction in Islamabad, to redirect its focus from the mythical threat abroad to the imminent danger at home.

Barack Obama is acutely aware that it’s incumbent upon the US to defuse its Cold War legacy in the region – that’s why he established SRAP, the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan & Pakistan – an outfit unmatched by UN, EU or any other country.

However, the new diplomatic office is not a solution to the old smoldering security problems – in fact, its shuttle policy of appeasement towards drug lords & terrorists has only exacerbated the situation in Afghanistan & Pakistan.

The Islamization of Pakistan, a symbiosis of military & militants, has already collided with imported Western democratization, and no amount of international support or military & humanitarian aid could prevent jihadists from going nuclear.

It’s a wake-up call for the United States to realize that the AfPak challenge is a “united battle space” against a narco-terrorist nexus.

The new AfPak strategy should declare loudly & clearly that its mission focus is shifting from counter-insurgency to counter-narcotics in Afghanistan, and from remote-control bombing to full-scale counter-terrorism in Pakistan.

If the Special Office didn’t help, maybe the Special Forces will.

by Eugene Khrushchev

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