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Afghan Balkanisation: creating more Kashmirs

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By Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat

Normally, when a person faces a serious problem and odds are heavily stacked against him, he takes desperate measures. Some of these measures could be so shocking and scandalous, which instead of helping him out of quagmire land him in another sticky situation, much more serious than the first one. On a grander scale, the same applies to organisations, governments and institutions as well. Consider the idea put up by Robert Blackwell, former US ambassador to India. He recently admitted that the Obama administration’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan seems headed for failure. Blackwell, who was the US deputy national security adviser for strategic planning and presidential envoy to Iraq in the administration of President George Bush, proposed: “Given the alternatives, de facto partition of Afghanistan is the best policy option available to the United States and its allies.” One may assume what he really meant was: “The great US of A can’t win the war. So, let us divide Afghanistan into Pashtun, Uzbek and Tajik areas. Create ethnic and sectarian strife on a large scale. Pit the Afghans against one another. Abandon the Pashtun areas and let’s settle the US forces in safer Tajik or Uzbek enclaves.”

The proposal is outrageous to say the least. This brings certain questions to one’s mind. How in the 21st Century could a foreign country, after invading another sovereign country and then finding it unable to conquer it, decide to divide it? Is this not against what the American founding fathers preached, the UN’s charter and human rights of individuals to name a few.
Would any such proposal not strongly opposed by the Afghans themselves, who have been living together for centuries? Most Afghan provinces have mixed populations and there are hundreds of thousands of mixed marriages among different ethnic groups. What would happen to them? While their country has been ravaged by a civil war, would the Afghans remain silent spectators to their country’s division?

Will it not be a stark admission of failure of mighty American forces? What respect would they have been left with if they implement the idea? Would it be economically, socially and militarily feasible to form new states in Afghanistan? Would the newly formed Afghan states survive in the long term?

Wouldn’t the step further inflame the regional situation? What would be the reaction of Russia, the Central Asian States, China and Iran to the proposal? Most importantly, what would be the impact on Pakistan? Would not all Jihadis and Al-qaeda shift from Fata to the Pakhtun areas in Afghanistan and launch attacks on Pashtun and Tajik entities? Wouldn’t the proposed unnatural Tajik and Uzbek states fall to the Pashtun majority in the long term? How long will the US continue to fund them? The Blackwell proposal has extremely serious implications for the region.

One hopes that sanity would prevail and President Obama, despite his falling popularity and deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, does not adopt such a radical strategy after Afghanistan review in December 2010.