Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Is Talibanization of Pakistan in Indian Interests?

In last few months there is increased strategic-discourse on Af-Pak conundrum given Obama administration’s determination to roll-out all overt military presence from Afghanistan. Former US Ambassador’s article in Indian media called for partition of Afghanistan giving de facto control of Sothern-Afghanistan to Pakistani supported Haqquani (the good Taliban) group, while retaining the Northern-Afghanistan under current Karzai administration with western help. His strategy also calls for focused cross-border air campaign against Taliban/AQ networks in Sothern-Afghanistan extending into Pakistani NWFP. This strategy essentially recognizes the ideological and organizational integration of Afghani-Taliban with Pakistani intelligence and armed forces, given that the decision on who should run Southern-Afghanistan is entrusted with Pakistan Army and ISI.

A further extrapolation of this reality brings us to the subject of this article – Talibanization of Pakistan. Given the real or perceived victories against super powers, USSR in 1990s and now USA, by an Islamic Mercenary force under a Jihadi call, it is highly likely that “other” associated parties see this as a potent strategy to extend their vested interests. Given their ideological, organizational, and logistical integration with Taliban and AQ forces, the most-religious sections of Pakistani Armed Forces and ISI might like to adopt this strategy and emulate Taliban success within and without Pakistan. These sections of Pakistani establishment will find supporting space, structures, and logistics in Pashtunistan area blurring political and sovereign borders of erstwhile Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Once this initiative gains traction, it will not take more than 2-3 years for the entire Pakistan nation to come under Taliban control, given the social, religious and logistical support system created for these very elements in Pakistan for past three decades by various civil and military administrations. There might be sporadic, half-hearted, and non-military resistance from the RAPE (Rich Anglicized Pakistani Elite) to Taliban advancement into Pakistan heart lands but it might not change the direction or the timeline of Pakistan’s Talibanization program once key sections of Pakistan Army make their switch. The USA (and others) may resist transformation of Pakistani crown jewels (nuclear arsenal) into Wahhabi nuclear assets; but there is very little chance of Pakistan losing these assets as it is highly unlikely for USA or its allies to invade Pakistan (in search of WMD).

In summary a new Islamic Talibani state of Pakistan (Land of Pure) is expected to be created in Indian sub-continent sometime between 2012 and 2015, essentially due to the world’s sole super power’s (USA) failed strategic vision and corrupt military strategy. By virtue of being the civilizational, political, geographical pivot of this region, India has paid the highest price for this western-perfidy in the name of geopolitics. In the past sixty years, India paid dearly for this western (especially UK and USA) misadventure with millions of lives (partition of India), countless terrorist attacks, and suppressed economic prosperity (anywhere between 2-5% of GDP growth between 1960 and 2010).

So the big question for Indian strategic community is – Is Talibanization of Pakistan in Indian Interests? How these developments of geopolitical dimensions in its extended region influence its internal and external policy? Let us analyze -

Since its formulation, Pakistan relied heavily on external powers to sustain its [sic] identity, and achieve a psychological parity with its larger neighbor India. In its efforts Pakistan was supported politically, technologically, militarily, and economically by its 3.5 friends, namely USA, KSA, PRC as full partners and UK and JPN as partial partners. It is a well-known and well documented fact how each one of these patrons helped shape the Af-Pak region to achieve the current state of religious-fanaticism, social-militarization, disregard for human life and dignity, and mercenary-jihadism. These external powers have been sustaining Pakistan to undermine the other regional and global powers namely Russia, Iran, and India by funding it with more than US$10-20B a year on one or other account.

What would be the geopolitical value-proposition of Af-Pak region with the advent of Islamic Talibani state of Pakistan (ITP)? The new ITP will continue to offer its services to external players for monetary and military goodies but will lose its politico-ideological connection with certain patrons. Given USA’s continued presence and influence in Northern-Afghanistan and improved strategic-partnership with India, ITP may lose its geopolitical value to USA. ITP’s relationship with UK and JPN is highly correlated with its alignment with USA and thus will receive similar treatment. In such a scenario the financial support Pakistan received in the past two decades will not continue into the future. PRC might be tempted to support ITP to counter Indian raise in the short-term but any PRC-ITP relationship will lose its potential as Indo-PRC trade relationship dwarfs any geopolitical gains PRC might achieve thru ITP. In addition to that, ITP’s jihadi vigor might create new internal-dynamics in PRC’s Xinjiang province.

Thus the geopolitical value proposition of ITP will diminish as this region takes an overtly religious-mercenary dimension bringing half-century long shadow over Indian interests.

If Taliban rule of Afghanistan is any indicator, ITP will fail to nurture key policy and governance structures that are instrumental to achieve economic prosperity in modern sense. It is highly likely that the present feudal structures of Pakistan will evolve into warlord-like structures accumulating national wealth into very few pockets. Majority of the nation will remain poor and inefficient. ITP may be able to sell some of its services to potential geopolitical customers but will fail to become a reckoning force economically.

The present near-zero trade partnership between India and Pakistan turns out to be a blessing in disguise for India as there will be zero impact on Indian economy due to ITP’s transformation.

Nuclear War
This is a well debated issue. At present Pakistan possesses anywhere between 70-90 nuclear warheads and the means (missiles or aircraft) to deliver them. Pakistan’s stated nuclear policy is to use WMD in the event of a significant loss of territory or military capability; without defining what that significance level is.

Irrespective of its formulation, ITP will continue to have this capability as it will be near impossible to sweep of a nation of ITP’s size and population for WMD. A future ITP will also would maintain the same nuclear posture as Pakistan in order to maintain the ambiguity and keep the pressure on its foes, mainly India. Since the past and current administrations of Pakistan behaved no differently than a hypothetical Taliban nation; a fanatical religious world-view, terrorism as state-policy, and suppression of religious minorities, there will be little change in terms of the nuclear posture from a future ITP with regards to India.

As far as India is concerned, formation of ITP would remove the veil of non-state actors from the nuclear equation. Any nuclear attack (dirty or pure) will be viewed as an act of war and will invoke an existential response from India. In fact ITP would have lesser incentive to go nuclear against India than nuclear-blackmailing Iran, or Israel or West or even KSA to gain enhanced political and economic incentives and establish itself as the undisputed leader of Islamic-Ummah.

Refugee Issue
There is a very high probability of a refugee crisis developing in India’s western borders during late transformation phase of ITP (2014-15). It is highly probable that the refugee population is of two types – The RAPE class and religious minorities. Based on past behavioral patterns, the RAPE class will receive overwhelming support from Indian WKK-brigade (Wagha Kandle Kissers) wile the religious minorities will be seen as an economic and social burden on India by the Indian ruling class. Taking their history, behavior, and actions in Pakistan into consideration the motives and beliefs of RAPE class will be highly detrimental to Indian values, democracy, and pluralism. The RAPE class must be denied entry and access into India against the conventional wisdom of WKK-brigade.

Based on Bangladesh freedom movement and Talibanization of Afghanistan experiences, it is safe to assume that at least 15-20 million refugees will try to cross into India thru its western borders. These people will receive significant opposition and harassment from bordering Indian states Gujarat, Rajastan, Punjab, and Haryana, whereas there is fair chance that Kashmir valley separatists welcome some of these refuges on religious grounds for future maneuvers. India’s internal political fissures will be exploited by WKKs in all the border states to enhance their vested interests.

It is in the best interests of India to seal off Indian borders and contain any future refugee situation to af-pak region. One strategy is to support internal independence movements so the refugees see little need to move to India. Balochistan and Sindh regions offer great value in this regard, provided India offers generous financial and water resources under UN auspices. An alternative yet risky strategy would be for India to use UN to occupy a small area within ITP and declare it a demilitarized zone (DMZ) for refugees.

In all the possibility an impending refugee crisis will be a game changer vis-Ă -vis India. It is in India’s best interests that the Indian defense and political leadership prepares a well-rounded strategy to contain and support ITP refugee flow to serve its agenda.

The root of terrorism emanating from Pakistan lies in Pakistan’s identity crisis and jealousy. Pakistan created and supported various terror outfits within its borders to hurt India in the past two decades amounting to more than 50,000 Indian lives and more than $100B economic costs. This is no less than a nuclear attack. The advent of ITP will not change the ground situation in any way. ITP will become an overt terror state not only in Indian eyes but also for the international community. This will help India in removing the excuse of “non-state actors” and allow it to take suitable military action.

A possible side effect of the transformation of ITP might occur in Kashmir valley of Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir separatists might get emboldened by the perceived [sic] Islamic victory across the border and might demand either unification with ITP or implementation of Sharia in the valley. A logical approach to this issue would be to repeal Article 370, which gives special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, as the whole JK issue becomes meaningless with the formation of ITP.

At national level, talibanization of Pakistan will open new opportunities for India. Creation of ITP will convince the Indian public on the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism once and for all. This will enable the Government of India to develop suitable anti-terror laws and civic infrastructure such as special intelligence services, courts, and paramilitary forces. If done properly such an initiative will have many positive side effects such as lower crime rate, better international credit rating etc.,

Role of Religion
People born and die, whereas the religion lives on and evolves/transforms. At least two generations of Afghans lived thru current geopolitical game with no hope in the horizon. Similarly India has seen three generations of Pakistanis born and die in the past 60 years, but peaceful-coexistence is still a mirage in Indian subcontinent. Pakistani society’s hatred and jealousy for any/every Indian value has increased many fold in the same period. Indian Muslims must make note of this in evolving their faith to suite modern values of religious pluralism, respect for women’s-rights, and focus on scientific reasoning in life.

Indian Muslims received their faith from the desert lands of west-Asia. It is time for Indian Muslim community to return the favor to Islamic-Ummah by offering an alternative perspective on faith, life, and environment where Islamic-Ummah can be at peace with itself and others. Indiam Muslims should demand a seat at Ummah’s high-table where they can explain their brothers and sisters the difference between religion and one’s history, culture and heritage and that blind adherence to foreign culture, history and heritage removes the individual from their environment destroying the very spiritualism that religion claims to improve.

In summary the overall political, military, and terror posture of Pakistan will not change in the event of overt talibanization of Pakistani society. On the other hand it will open up new opportunities for Indian political leadership to get out of the geopolitical shackles of Pakistan and continue with its national resurgence. This development also provides a rare opportunity for Indian Muslims to lead the world Muslim community by balancing between religion and local culture/heritage.

Above table summarizes various influence factors, their weightages and threat probabilities with respect to current state of Pakistan and a possible ITP. As we can see the overall threat to Indian national interests is reduced by nearly 15%, which is equal to complete disappearance of Pakistani terrorism.

Now it is up to Indian political leadership to plan ahead and come up with suitable strategies to benefit from this once in a millennium opportunity. Such a vision would require clarity of national purpose, self-confidence, and efficient use of national resources. The world community is looking at India with great interest and hope.


  1. Good writeup

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  2. Great write up Ramayy Ji.Hope to see more gems from you.