There are many causes behind Pakistan's current situation, but none are as great as the drawing of it's borders by the British, most notably, the Durand line of 1893. As the situation exists now, apolitical tribal units are forced under a political state, and as such when the state enforces its laws on those groups that do not recognize the authority, form, and legality of them, friction naturally occurs. I postulate that if instead of dividing the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a country of Pashtunistan should have been created. If it had, Pakistan and Afghanistan would be entities completely composed of populations that resorted to democratic institutions rather then militancy.
(Below is a re-post of the fifth part of a series of posts I did relating to Afghanistan. It is relavent considering the current situation in Pakistan. The other parts can be found here: First, Second, Third, Fourth)
I started writing about Afghanistan with the intent of informing people about the hazard of remaining in that country. In doing research I have found that Pashtuns, a tribe that spans the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, are a major source of fighters and resources for Taliban and other insurgent fighters in the regions.
The Pashtun people are so populous that for close to a century Afghanistan and Pakistan have tried negotiating a territory for the tribe, and in the mean time practically giving the territory of east Afghanistan and north-east Pakistan autonomy. The very border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, drawn up by the British was an attempt to disperse the tribe in order to divide and conquer; however the people ignored the border and still today has little effect. If one is to ignore the Pashtuns, one would ignore a significant and powerful force in the Middle East; In Afghanistan and Pakistan Pashtuns number over 41 million, compared to Afghanistan which has a population of 32 million, and Pakistan which has a population of 165 million. Pashtuns make up over a third of Afghanistan's population and close to 16% of all Pakistans.
In Pakistan, the Pashtuns are increasingly making their presence felt. In today's The Globe and Mail Ovais Subhani reports cleric Mufti Muhammad Naeem warns of a "civil war if President Pervez Musharraf escalates his fight against militancy in Pakistan's northwest."
Many people in Pakistan see President Musharraf's campaign at the growing militancy of the Pashtuns in the North as growing insecurity within the country. The article goes on to report:
"Things are not going the way Musharraf had anticipated," Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a member of parliament and a senior leader of a relatively moderate religious party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, told Reuters. "I will not be surprised if similar attacks follow in big cities like Karachi and Lahore."This story comes on the heels of various incidents of armed conflicts with Pakistan between the state and the noticable Pashtun presence.
Pakistan's recently new policy of going on the offensive against the Pashtuns is a direct result from increased pressure on Musharraf by the United States, as quoted in the United Emirates Newspaper The Khaleej Times today:
"More violence looked certain after Musharraf — under intense US pressure to destroy Al Qaeda “safe havens’ — Wednesday declared a ”direct confrontation” with the Islamic radicals, pledging to deploy 30,000 more security personnel."This more aggresive stance seems unlikely to deter the increased militancy of Pashtuns in Pakistan, indeeed the article cites Rahimullah Yousafzai, an expert on Pashtun affairs: "Military operations will have a temporary impact, but they won’t win hearts and minds." Adding "“It didn’t work in the past, and the military sued for peace. There is no military solution. They will not surrender. It’s their terrain, it’s their home, and they will fight until the end." (emphasis added)
In the Asian Times a nice summary of recent events in Pakistan and how they relate to US pressure and the Pashtun tribal areas is as follows:
"The Bush administration has long prodded the government of Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf to attack suspected al-Qaeda bases in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan, and its army did so with some success between late 2001 and 2004, when it captured or killed a number of high-ranking al-Qaeda operatives, sometimes with the help of US intelligence and its Predator missiles.
But after a series of clashes with local Taliban and foreign forces, the army over the past 18 months withdrew from North and South Waziristan and other parts of the mostly Pashtun Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in exchange for pledges by tribal leaders there to expel foreign fighters and prevent infiltration of Taliban forces into Afghanistan.
In fact, the army's departure left the region in the control of the Pakistani Taliban, which provided al-Qaeda the kind of safe haven it needed not only to rebuild its capabilities, but also to begin to exert its influence aggressively over neighboring territories and even into Islamabad.
Indeed, it was last week's bloody denouement to the protracted army siege of the capital's Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) that resulted in the breakdown of the Waziristan peace accords and a series of attacks and suicide bombings, including in Islamabad. Musharraf, who was encouraged by Washington to confront the militants who controlled the Red Mosque, has responded by deploying troops into tribal areas."
However the degradation of the peace accords between Pakistan and the Pashtun tribe in the North are not completely hopeless. In another article in today's Globe and Mail it's reported "President Gen. Pervez Musharraf insists the [The peace] accord — under which the military scaled back its operations in the U.S.-led war on terror in return for pledges from tribal leaders to contain militancy — offers the best long-term hope of pacifying the region."
It can be seen that General Musharraf is being torn between external and internal pressures. The tribal North of Pakistan is supplying Pashtun fighters and supplies to Afghanistan as well as arguable training grounds for other terrorists, as the US alledges, thus the US has been pressing Musharraf hard to crack down on the North. Yet the Pashtuns hold considerable influence and power, as they exist almost in an independent territory of Afghanistan already, they also comprise a large part of the population, and not to mention are quite unified. If Musharraf, who already has a weak hold on his country being an unelected official, sides with the US, it will most likely cause a civil war; if he allows the Pashtuns immunity, Afghanistan will continue to be a quagmire with NATO troops constantly on the defensive.
It is evident the Pashtun presence needs to be addressed, however I am on the side of Rahimullah Yousafzai, the Pashtun expert, who believes military action will not be effective. I propose the implementation of an old solution, first presented by Prince Daud of Afghanistan, the creation of a new state, Pashtunistan. This solution would prevent civil war in Pakistan and solidify the government's authority and in Afghanistan the loss of the eastern part of the nation would allow for real reconstruction to begin. Indeed it is in the North and west that no fighting even occurs. The only road block is the new nation Pashtunistan would have an unusual form of government perhaps incompatible with the current international government structures.