It’s probably unusual to link to a report by the RAND Corporation and an op-ed on Foxnews.com in the same blog, but since both address the same subject — tackling al Qaeda in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region — here goes.
Pakistan: Now or Never?
With both U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain calling for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, there have been a slew of articles arguing this will at best not work and, at worst, fuel the insurgency.
In a country facing the triple challenges of economic crisis, political instability and Islamist militancy, the impact on individuals can be easy to overlook. Amnesty International has tried to redress part of this by publishing a report about the hundreds of people it says have disappeared in Pakistan as a result of counter-terrorism measures.
Take two nuclear-armed countries which are not officially at war, yet whose armies shell each other on a near-daily basis. That is how it was between India and Pakistan before a November 2003 ceasefire ended their fighting over the divided former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir. With that ceasefire now showing signs of fraying at the edges and India saying that its peace process with Pakistan is under stress, it is worth remembering quite what a dramatic development it was for two countries which had come close to war in 2001/2002 to tell their armies to stand down.
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is a commentator on South Asian political and military affairs and author of “A History of the Pakistan Army”.
Speculation the United States is preparing to send commandos into Pakistan’s tribal areas to hunt down al Qaeda and Taliban militants is gathering momentum. Pakistani fears of a U.S. attack were reinforced by a surprise visit to Pakistan this weekend by the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, in which he was reported to have expressed U.S. frustration that Islamabad was not doing enough to tackle militants on its border with Afghanistan.