'Pakistan's Failed For Over A Decade'

Northern Pakistan.

Image via Wikipedia

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. 



About michaelhastings

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Afghanistanimation, Iraqness, Pakistan????, World. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 'Pakistan's Failed For Over A Decade'

  1. Michael Peck says:

    I’m getting tired of this COIN stuff. Everyone knows what COIN needs to succeed: a local government that can win the support of the populace. Problem is, no one knows how to make that happen when the local politicians spend their time lining their pockets or squabbling among themselves.

    I don’t see what training the Pakistani Army in counterinsurgency will accomplish unless there is a strong and responsible government to fill the vacuum. Incidentally, I saw a report somewhere that Pakistani soldiers were deserting to the Taliban.

    • Michael Hastings says:

      I hear you on the COIN. But it’s been the koolaid of choice for liberal hawks the past couple years, and a bunch of the dudes who pushed COIN in Iraq are now heavily involved in the whole Af/Pak thing.

      What are the defense types you hang out with saying? Are they sick of COIN, too? Are you sensing any anti-COIN backlash?

      • Michael Peck says:

        Some people are concerned that COIN is becoming an end in itself, rather than a means toward an end. So we focus on killing insurgents, building roads or training Pakistani soldiers instead of asking what larger goal that accomplishes. Plus, the military still has to figure out how to do COIN and all the “Strategic Corporal” stuff, while still retaining the capability for straight-up conventional war with Iran, North Korea and China.

      • jocko says:

        I don’t think there should be too much concern about the military’s ability to transition back to big conventional war. Young officers’ military training is still founded in conventional warfare. Destruction is easy; building is tough, right?

        I think, as mentioned, COIN being an ends in itself is the real problem, because we will see “success” in Afghanistan with more troops, but that will only ingrain us more. Once our military focuses on Afghanistan we will see some form of measurable success. How that will make me safer living in Baltimore, though, I’m not quite sure.

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