Day: February 28, 2007


Pakistan's Self Interest

Excellent article on the dynamics of Pakistan and the Taliban (H/T to 3QD)

Scapegoating Pakistan (

Other countries, as former senior CIA official Michael Scheuer reminded me, do not look at the world from the same point of view as the United States. “The first duty of any intelligence agency,” he said, “is to protect the national interest. Pakistan is not going to destroy the Taliban because at some point they would like to see the Taliban back in power. They cannot tolerate a pro-Indian, pro-American, pro-Russian, pro-Iranian government in Afghanistan. They already have an unstable Western border and have to worry about a country of one million Hindus that has nuclear bombs.”

That’s 1 billion Hindus, kind sir, not 1 million, there are one million Hindus in South Chennai alone, I would guess, your point is well taken, though. Self-interest ought to be the driving force of any country’s foreign policy. But this article oversimplifies the situation. Not all self-interest needs to be couched in, and carried out in purely adversarial terms. It has been in the self-interest of the military ruling class of Pakistan to carry out this hyper militarized foreign policy. It aids and abets the survival of this ruling class. But is it really in the long term self interest of the rest of Pakistan? Being Indian, I might tend to underestimate and undersell the threat that India is to Pakistan, but I don’t see the threat. Yes, India is a large country with hegemonical ambitions of being the local bully, but its threat to Pakistan is overrated. India has huge problems of its own anyway, and is probably not interested in territorial expansion at this point in time! I am guessing that a Pakistan that is a little more accommodating to its neighbors would find its neighbors a little more cooperative, no?

How does this play out in the real world? Very simply, Pakistan cooperates with the United States when it serves its interests and doesn’t cooperate when it feels that its interests aren’t served.

Well, I am completely and utterly on board with that. Pakistan should pay much more attention to its neighbors than to the “leader of the free world” thousands of miles away.

The Pakistan-Afghan border, aka the Durand line, was drawn by some Brit administrator and in a region with thousands of years of history, artificial borders drawn by foreigners means little to the people who live there. Most identities are tribal, and these stupid colonial lines don’t mean that one person living one mile east of the border will think “Pakistani” and the other, one mile west of the border, “Afghani”.

We’re unfortunately still suffering the consequences of colonial manipulations and divisions, and will continue to do so until regional borders reflect ethic identity more accurately, and are not a function of some ignorant British moron governor’s cartographic skills.

Rant over, nothing like an ethnic conflict in my neck of the woods to bring out the stream of consciousness rambling. Back to more science based blogging later!