Monday, August 02, 2010

Partition Afghanistan

Robert Blackwill, a former American deputy national security advisor and ambassador to India, has called for a partitioning of Afghanistan along ethnic lines (Something I had argued for just three years ago).

In an editorial for, Mr. Blackwill suggested that American forces should create a de facto partition between the more populated and western-friendly Northwest region of the country and the hostile Taliban dominated Pashtun region in the south-east.

"The Obama administration’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan seems headed for failure. Given the alternatives, de facto partition of Afghanistan is the best policy option available to the United States and its allies."
Though Robert Blackwill admits partitioning Afghanistan is not ideal, he argues given the current circumstances in the country, it is the best realistic plan available to American forces.
"De facto partition is clearly not the best outcome one can imagine for the United States in Afghanistan. But it is now the best outcome that Washington can achieve consistent with vital national interests and U.S. domestic politics."
There are many reasons Blackwill gives to support a de facto partition, most of them resting on the fact that any stability in Afghanistan will first come from its more moderate Northwestern region. Blackwill argues that in partitioning that more western-friendly region from the hostile Southeastern tribal areas, American forces can more efficiently stabilize it. The Northwestern area can then eventually go on to secure or stabilize it's more hostile southwestern neighbour.

I believe the United States and other countries have not considered this alternative partition strategy for many reasons, one being the complications arising from Pakistani and Indian interests in Afghanistan. There are other reasons of course, Blackwill described the American fear of abandoning the southwest to extremists. But no matter the reasons against attempting a de facto partition of Afghanistan, the country will not be stable under the current strategy as enunciated at the Kabul Conference.

Afghanistan is not stable after nine years of counterinsurgency and it will not be stable after thirteen. What is needed, is not time, but a redrawing of the rules of the game, what is needed is the partitioning of Afghanistan.


Below is an excerpt from a series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) I wrote just three years ago. I go a step beyond Robert Blackwill and call for a more permenant partition:
"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."


Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Good post

The Mound of Sound said...

A Pashtun homeland would entail a partitioning of Pakistan also. That, in turn, would lead to a Baloch homeland in keeping with the Baloch separatist insurgency that's been simmering along for years. Islamabad won't have that because the Baloch territory has vast mineral riches.

For all its considerable merits, pashtun independence could rapidly destabilize Pakistan, something the West could never tolerate. said...


The pashtuns in Afghanistan differ from those in Pakistan. Those in Pakistan are more moderate and a part of Pakistan politically. I don't think partioning Afghanistan either de facto or real would necessitate partitioning Pakistan as well.

There are other options if you still dissent, such as a de facto partition as Blackmill opined or succeeding that southwestern region of Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The latter option having potential by the fact that Pakistan already has pashtuns in its political system which would give former-Afghan pashtuns a better opportunity to become politically integrated.

Patrick Ross said...

You may want to run this idea past your party leader.

I can tell you from personal experience that he isn't in favour of this.