What I like about this piece in Foreign Policy is that it’s looking at the problem, more or less, from the Pakistani perspective–not the what Washington Needs to Do To Save Pakistan lens.
“It is now the Pakistani government that must actively, but constructively, agitate in restive provinces to regain the upper hand — or risk losing even its nominal sovereignty over Pashtun-dominated areas forever. On the political level, the National Assembly must pass a constitutional amendment to integrate the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and mandate a fresh round of provincial elections. Only in this way can the government offer an alternative to the hands-off Frontier Crimes Regulation that has abetted the Taliban’s rise in authority in the tribal regions. Zardari must also finally sign the Political Parties Act to enable the formation and campaigning of political groups. Together, these steps would constitute an assertion rather than a surrender of sovereignty — and they would justify a strengthened presence of the Frontier Corps and police to monitor elections in the FATA while forcing the Taliban to consider secular options.
Part of the solution, according to the authors, involves modeling the Pakistani strategy after the U.S./NATO counterinsurgency plan. (Yes, COIN again.)
“Pakistan should launch its own, indigenous version of the NATO-led provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) that have had some success in maintaining local order, building relationships with district-level authorities, and stimulating small-scale economic activity in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
It was reported elsewhere this week that Pakistani troops would be getting COIN training from the U.S. in Kuwait, too. My only caution would be that one should be very careful before looking at Iraq/Afghanistan as any kind of model for success, or something one wants to emulate. (To paraphrase one historian: The history of counterinsurgencies are always written by the losers.) That being said, because it would be an entirely indigenous effort, the Pakistanis already have a leg up on the kind of COIN operations that the U.S./NATO have had to fight as an occupying power.