When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

03 August 2008

India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

Robert Kaplan, writing in The Atlantic:

The India-Pakistan rivalry is often misconstrued by Americans. For average Indians and Pakistanis, the hatred is far milder than that between Arabs and Jews. Pakistanis speak openly of their high regard for India's democracy and hope that they can emulate it. And especially now, with regular Pakistani troops moved away from the Indian frontier to deal with the terrorist-infested Afghanistan border, there is the false perception that the India-Pakistan rivalry belongs to the past. It doesn't—not because of the attitudes of the general public in each country, but because of the subculture of those manning the intelligence services in New Delhi and Islamabad.

In the mind of the ISI, India uses its new consulates in Afghanistan to back rebels in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan, whose capital, Quetta, is only a few hours' drive from Kandahar. When India talks of building dams in Kunar, the ISI thinks that India wants to help Afghanistan steal Pakistan's water. Karzai's open alliance with India is nearly a casus belli for the ISI. So elements of the ISI have responded in kind; they likely helped in the recent assassination attempt against the Afghan president.

In the midst of all this, both Bush and Barack Obama talk simplistically about sending more American troops to Afghanistan. The India-Pakistan rivalry is just one of several political problems in the region that negate the benefit of more troops. As in the past in both Afghanistan and Iraq, we are in danger of conceiving of war in narrow military terms alone, and thus getting the politics wrong.

Behind The Indian Embassy Bombing (The Atlantic, Dispatches, 1 August 2008)

(via Sepia Mutiny)

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