Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan: is it time to ditch “AfPak”?

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One of the arguments frequently put forward for sending more western troops to Afghanistan is that western failure there will destabilise Pakistan.

Very roughly summarised, this 21st century version of the domino theory suggests that a victory for Islamist militants in Afghanistan would so embolden them that they might then overrun Pakistan – a far more dangerous proposition given its nuclear weapons.

A slightly different but related argument is that the United States needs to show resolve in Afghanistan to convince Pakistan of its commitment to the region and encourage the Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency to turn against Islamist militants it once cultivated as ”strategic assets” to be used against its much bigger neighbour India.

“Many in Pakistan have always believed the Americans are not really serious about Afghanistan. They recall that the U.S. supported Pakistan and the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s only to abandon both once the Soviets left,” writes Bruce Riedel at Brookings in a follow-up to this weekend’s attack on the Pakistan Army headquarters.

Attack in Rawalpindi: are Pakistan’s militant groups uniting?

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An attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in the city of Rawalpindi has highlighted the country’s vulnerability to a backlash from Islamist militants in the Pakistani Taliban as it prepares an offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan. It follows a suicide bombing in Peshawar which prompted Interior Minister Rehman Malik to say that ”all roads are leading to South Waziristan.”

But what is perhaps more troubling about the attack is not so much the backlash from the Pakistani Taliban (the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP)  holed up in the Waziristan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but rather suggestions of growing co-operation between al Qaeda-linked groups there and those based in Punjab, the heartland of Pakistan.

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