Pakistani Unconventional Warfare Against Afghanistan

Pakistani Unconventional Warfare Against Afghanistan: A Case Study of the Taliban as an Unconventional Warfare Proxy Force

Douglas A. Livermore

As the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan transitions full responsibility for operations to local forces and prepares to withdrawal the bulk of its forces by the end of 2014, it is important to look to the future of the conflict.  The Taliban is far from defeated, and they will definitely remain a formidable foe to the Afghan government in 2015 and beyond.  The world will witness a protracted and extremely violent struggle for dominance between the legitimate Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) and the fundamentalist Taliban insurgency vying to reinstitute the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which was overthrown by the US-led effort in late 2001.  On one side, the Afghan government will do everything in its power to remain firmly entrenched as the central national authority governing from Kabul, the capital city.  Opposing them, the Taliban will continue to strike out from safe havens in Western and Southern Pakistan, attempting to undermine the Afghan government and reemerge as the dominant power in Afghanistan.  The Taliban seeks to reclaim the central national authority currently held by the Afghan government and once again exercise near-complete political and spiritual control over the entire population of Afghanistan.

What is not entirely clear to casual outside observers is the “hidden hand” that directs and ultimately benefits from the Taliban’s efforts to destabilize Afghanistan.  Pakistan, and specifically its Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), has been engaged in an incredibly long-term unconventional warfare campaign that provides an illuminating view into how such a strategy can be used to indirectly achieve a state’s national objectives.  By employing the Taliban as a proxy force, Pakistan has achieved key regional objectives without the bulk of its conventional forces becoming decisively engaged in Afghanistan.  While the ISI originally launched an Unconventional Warfare (UW) campaign to destabilize Afghanistan at the direction and with the full backing of then-President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq after he took power in a bloody coup in 1979, it is unclear if that support continues today under the democratically elected President Asif Ali Zadari.  Regardless, evidence that the ISI continues to support and direct the Taliban is voluminous, indicating a continuation of the UW campaign, with or without the direct permission of Pakistan’s elected leaders.  When viewed with a critical eye, the Pakistani UW campaign against Afghanistan, with the Taliban acting as an indigenous proxy force, exhibits all of the characteristics and phases codified in the UW model used by the United States Government (USG).  By analyzing the campaign through this lens, one can better understand the situation on the ground today as well as predict future Pakistani and Taliban strategies designed to undermine and potentially overthrow the legitimate government of Afghanistan.  Perhaps the most important question that should be asked is this: Why would Pakistan want to conduct UW against Afghanistan? 

 “Pashtunistan.”  This word has struck fear into the hearts of Pakistani leaders for generations.  Meaning “Land of the Pashtuns”, it is a concept deeply rooted in the psyche of the Pashtun tribes which straddle the Afghan-Pakistani border and poses a potential existential threat to modern-day Pakistan.  The modern border, known as the “Durand Line”, is poorly defined and regularly contested.  In 1893, the British, represented by Mortimer Durand, forced the Afghan Emir Abdur Rahman Khan to accept a dictated boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan (then “British India”).  This border was intentionally designed by the British to divide the Pashtuns, thereby keeping Afghanistan weak and a perfect “buffer zone” between the encroaching Russian Empire and British India (on which the Russians had designs).[1]  Afghan rulers since Abdur Rahman have almost universally rejected the “Durand Line” and the current government of President Hamid Karzai, himself a Pashtun, refuses to recognize this border as legitimate.[2]  There are regular skirmishes between Afghan and Pakistani troops all along their shared border as each side jockeys for every slight advantage.  The most recent major flare-up occurred in September of 2011, when Pakistan launched more than 340 artillery rockets into Afghanistan, damaging several towns and forcing the evacuation of thousands of terrified Afghans.  [3]

Generally speaking, there is little common understanding among the population of Afghanistan who exactly qualifies as an “Afghan”.  In antiquity, the ethnic term “Afghan” was accepted as synonymous with only the Pashtuns.[4]  Against this historic framework, and with few exceptions, loyalty in Afghanistan rarely extends beyond the tribal or ethnic level, as Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and other non-Pashtun ethnic groups in Afghanistan cautiously eye the Pashtun majority.  Given their druthers, the Pashtun majority of Afghanistan would undoubtedly seek reunification with the Pashtun tribes in Western Pakistan under the banner of a “Greater Afghanistan”.  Doing so would strip nearly half of Pakistan’s land area as well as its vital Indian Ocean ports of Jiwani, Gwadar, and Pasni.  These ports give Pakistan access to the mouth of the Arabian/Persian Gulf and provide further strategic strength.  Obviously, the loss of Pashtun lands is unacceptable to Islamabad, which is why the Pakistanis have consistently sought to undermine Afghan unity and maintain a weakened Afghanistan in order to secure their northwest border.Despite its concern about Afghanistan, it is India, not Afghanistan, which Pakistan sees as the greatest regional threat. India and Pakistan have officially fought wars in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999, in addition to numerous undeclared skirmishes along their shared borders, particularly near the contested Kashmir province.[5]  Because of this constant threat, Pakistan maintains the vast majority of its conventional forces along the Kashmir and Indian borders, poised to blunt Indian aggression or to potentially take advantage of any real or perceived vulnerabilities in India’s defenses.  Aside from the direct threat posed by the emergence of “Pashtunistan”, the Karzai administration has also greatly improved relations with India, much to the discomfort of Pakistan.  Immediately after the fall of the Taliban and the installation of Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan, India, which previously supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban and Pakistan, opened consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif.[6]  Both Iran and India have become heavily invested in both the Afghan private and government sectors, thereby raising for the Pakistanis the specter of regional envelopment by hostile powers.[7]  As a result, Pakistan chose to employ the Taliban and other insurgent groups as proxies against Afghanistan as an “economy of force” effort.  Without having to commit the bulk of its conventional force to dealing with Afghanistan, which would have left the Kashmiri and shared borders with India weakened, the Pakistanis instead “outsourced” the bulk of its efforts vis-à-vis Afghanistan to the Taliban.  The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch reported in 2000:

“Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the ongoing fighting [in Afghanistan], Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives and the scale of its efforts, which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and ... directly providing combat support.”[8]

In the course of this case study, it will become evident that the ISI has conducted and continues to wage unconventional warfare (UW)—defined by USG as “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area.”[9] —against Afghanistan in order to achieve its own national objectives.  This UW campaign, employing the Taliban and other insurgent entities, has alternately been designed to “coerce, disrupt, and overthrow” first the government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan and now the GIRoA.  Beginning with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the ISI has manipulated and used various insurgent factions in Afghanistan to ensure instability and pursue Pakistan’s own regional ambitions.  These efforts came to a head in the post-Soviet era, when the ISI expedited the formation of the Taliban and provided equipment, training, and direction aimed to overthrow the fledgling “Islamic State of Afghanistan” created after the ouster of the Soviet puppet government of Mohammed Najibullah.  The Taliban, with considerable Pakistani support, successfully conquered most of Afghanistan by 1996, claiming Kabul and driving the remaining elements of the transitional government, then called “The Northern Alliance” into the far northeastern corner of the country.  Al-Qaeda (“The Base”), a terrorist group that also traced its origins to the anti-Soviet mujahedeen movement and which received safe haven under Taliban protection in Afghanistan, conducted a series of coordinated attack on the US in September of 2001.  This action nearly undid all of Pakistan’s efforts when the US-led assault quickly overthrew the Taliban and forced the majority of its leadership to take refuge in their original safe havens in Pakistan.  For the last eleven years, the Taliban and its associated insurgent groups have waged guerrilla warfare from these Pakistani safe havens, supported by the ISI.

Careful analysis of the Pakistani UW campaign, using the Taliban as an indigenous proxy force, readily reveals the organizational elements and phasing outlined in USG UW doctrine.  The definitive work on this subject is Training Circular 18-01 “Special Forces Unconventional Warfare”, published by Headquarters, Department of the Army.  This document outlines seven distinct phases within the USG model for UW, though it goes to great lengths to point out that not all phases are necessary or must proceed in a linear fashion to ensure success in UW.  Given specific conditions, successful UW can be waged without conducting all phases.  The USG doctrinal phases of UW consist of:

  1. Psychological Preparation –The aggressor state conducts assessments of and employs information operations (formerly psychological/propaganda operations) designed to influence the population of a target country.  These steps are necessary to determine the suitability for and set the initial conditions to initiate an insurgency.
  2. Initial Contact – Intelligence agents or special operations forces from the aggressor state meet with key leaders of the insurgency to begin cooperation and arrange for follow-on support from the aggressor state to the insurgents.
  3. Infiltration – Agents of the aggressor state and/or indigenous insurgent forces enter, either covertly or clandestinely, into the operational area in order to begin efforts to undermine, coerce, or overthrow the established authority (either a government or occupying power).
  4. Organization – Agents from the aggressor state assess the composition and capabilities of the insurgency and then advise the insurgent leadership on changes designed to maximize effectiveness of the insurgency.  Organizational design is intended to achieve optimal balance between leadership (underground), support personnel (auxiliary), and fighters (guerrillas). 
  5. Buildup – Agents train and advise insurgents while generally avoiding contact with forces from the targeted authority (government or occupying power).  This phase is designed to develop insurgent forces and increase the capabilities of the insurgency before undertaking full-scale combat operations.  Some limited guerrilla operations can be conducted against lightly-defended targets (“confidence targets”) to build the morale of the guerrilla force and validate training previously given by the agents to the guerrillas.
  6. Combat Utilization – Insurgent forces conduct guerrilla warfare under the advisement of aggressor state agents.  The goal is to gradually increase the frequency and intensity of guerrilla attacks in order to achieve operational objectives while preventing a massive retaliation from the targeted authorities (government or occupying power).  These guerrilla operations are designed to achieve insurgent objectives but can also be coordinated with objectives of the aggressor state.  Guerrilla operations can facilitate the introduction of conventional forces from the aggressor state or continue without assistance to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow the government or occupying power.
  7. Transition/Demobilization – Upon the achievement of the aggressor state’s national objectives, the indigenous insurgent forces can either be transformed into the new legitimate authority (in the event of an overthrow of the previous regime) or demobilized (as might be the case if the objective was simply to coerce or disrupt a targeted regime or occupying power).  Members of the insurgency can transition into legitimate government, military, or law enforcement entities thereby ensuring the continuation of control within the targeted country.

The Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, normally referred to as simply the ISI, is an entirely separate entity of the Pakistani government, independent from the Pakistani military and any meaningful civilian oversight.  However, the ISI does draw the bulk of its force from the military, estimated by some experts to be around 10,000 personnel.[10]  Within the ISI, there exists a “Covert Action Division” (CAD), very much akin in design and purpose to the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “Special Activities Division” (SAD).  The CAD/ISI conducts paramilitary and other covert special operations in support of Pakistani national interests, responsibilities into which UW fits perfectly.  Within both the CAD/ISI and SAD/CIA reside the expertise and authorities to execute UW campaigns using indigenous forces to pursue objectives of national importance.  Previously, the CAD/ISI received training from and cooperated with the SAD/CIA, most visibly during their joint UW campaign, Operation CYCLONE, against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.[11]  SAD/CIA and CAD/ISI worked together to train, equip, and direct Afghan resistance forces, known colloquially as the “mujahedeen” (“those who pursue jihad [holy war]”), to undermine and ultimately overthrow the communist, pro-Soviet Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) and expel the Soviet invaders.  The CIA and ISI celebrated the latter outcome when the last Soviet forces withdrew across the so-called “Friendship Bridge” in Balkh Province, Afghanistan in February of 1989.[12]  After the Soviets withdrew, the UW campaign against Afghanistan became a purely Pakistani/mujahedeen affair, as the CIA withdrew the vast majority of its support.  The fall of the DRA, took a bit longer, finally succumbing to the mujahedeen in 1992.  Despite past cooperation with the CIA, the years since 1989 have seen a rapid emergence of radical Islamist sympathies within the ISI, suggesting that, if ISI support of the Taliban is unsanctioned at the Pakistani parliamentary level, it is clearly tolerated within the ranks of the secretive ISI given the ethnic and ideological ties shared between its members and the Taliban.[13]  Since the fall of Pakistan’s strongman dictator-turned-president, Pervez Musharraf, the civilian government’s efforts to exert increased control and oversight of the ISI, such as the abortive July 2008 attempt to legislatively place the ISI under the supervision of the interior ministry, have proved futile.[14]

Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979, the Pakistanis found themselves in a unique position to influence events in Afghanistan in a manner that would ensure continued instability.  By providing safe haven for and a conduit for US/CIA aid to the Afghan resistance, the Pakistanis, specifically the ISI, were placed perfectly to control the “endgame” in Afghanistan.  During the Soviet occupation, the ISI carefully managed the relationships between the major mujahedeen groups and funneled CIA aid in order to ensure Afghan disunity in perpetuity.   While the Soviet’s occupied Afghanistan, the ISI held a legitimate fear that more drastic efforts, such as direct military intervention, would incite a massive Soviet retaliation against Pakistan.[15]  At the same time, the ISI was engaged in Phase 1 (Psychological Preparation) of UW, an intense effort to shape Afghan perceptions and set the conditions for the post-Soviet insurgency planned to install an Afghan government amenable to Pakistani interests.  Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and with the CIA no longer providing or directing the disposition of aid, the ISI shifted the preponderance of military support to the hardline Islamist mujahedeen, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, in an effort to keep Afghanistan in an extended state of civil war and ensure the emergence of a mujahedeen faction leader loyal to Pakistan.  Hekmatyar, as the head of Hezb-e-Islami, was a Pashtun warlord, fully committed to the pursuit of personal power.  So ambitious was Hekmatyar, that he was often accused of spending "more time fighting other Mujahideen than killing Soviets".[16]  For his part, Haqqani spent part of the war against the Soviets as a member of Hezb-e-Islami before breaking away to form his own network.  During this period, the CIA used Haqqani’s network as an “independent asset” in Afghanistan and US congressman Charlie Wilson, made famous for his own instrumental advocacy of US support to the mujahedeen, referred to Haqqani as “goodness personified”.[17]  Conversely, the chief of staff for the Pakistani army reportedly called Haqqani and his network, “a strategic asset”.[18]  While Haqqani was always considered a hardline Islamic radical, he fortuitously switched his allegiance to the Taliban just before their eventual victory in 1996.  Despite the rise of the Taliban in 1992, Hezb-e-Islami and the Haqqani Network have remained largely independent from the larger group, though they often cooperate on specific goals and the ISI has maintained very active relations with each group for the purposes of waging its UW campaign in Afghanistan.    

As the civil war ground on, living conditions for the average Afghan continued to deteriorate as the warlords squabbled bloodily amongst each other.  Basic necessities became increasingly scarce as inflation soared.  Those who could not flee to Pakistan fell deeper and deeper into squalor.  Particularly in the south, amongst the civilian populace around Kandahar, there was a groundswell of demand for stability and an end to the seemingly ceaseless violence.  Most importantly, the Pakistani Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (“Assembly of Islamic Clergy”), a religiously conservative political group that advocated for imposition of Sharia law in Pakistan, established schools in the Afghan refugee camps that dotted southern and western Pakistan.  These schools, or madrassas, were largely funded by the ISI beginning in the early 1980s, using both Pakistani funds and those provided from private donors in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Middle Eastern states friendly to the cause of radical Islam.  In these schools, radical clerics preached the virtues of jihad and the establishment of a Sharia-based Caliphate.  The first seeds were sown from which the core of the Taliban would eventually spring.  UW  Phase 1 (Psychological Preparation) was intensified through the radicalization of Afghan refugee youth in the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam madrassas, and the Afghan general population’s desperation caused by the Pakistani-sustained civil war, ensuring that Afghanistan would be ripe for the taking in Pakistan’s larger UW campaign.  By 1991, an initial cadre of Taliban, led by a charismatic radical cleric, Mullah Mohammed Omar, moved out of southern Pakistan to set up operations around Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.  Omar was a veteran of the mujahedeen campaign against the Soviets, having received considerable training directly from the ISI on multiple occasions during the 1980s.[19]  Not even the emergence of a weak transitional government in Kabul, called the Islamic State of Afghanistan, in April of 1992 was enough to dissuade the ISI from its intentions to set loose the Taliban in Afghanistan.  The psychological conditions were set for the birth of an insurgency that would, however briefly, achieve Pakistan’s regional goals.      

While the Taliban continued to percolate in southern Pakistan and Afghanistan, the ISI amplified its effort to overthrow the newly-formed Islamic State under interim-President Burhanuddin Rabbani through use of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s hardline Islamist militia, Hezb-e-Islami (“Islamic Party”), by providing massive amounts of military aid and other assistance.[20]  Amin Saikal, an expert on Afghan affairs, wrote of these efforts:

“Islamabad [Pakistan] could not possibly expect the new Islamic government leaders [the Afghan transitional government]... to subordinate their own nationalist objectives in order to help Pakistan realize its regional ambitions.  Had it not been for the ISI's logistic support and supply of a large number of rockets, Hekmatyar's forces would not have been able to target and destroy half of Kabul.”[21]

Hekmatyar was the clear favorite of the Pakistanis to fulfill its purposes as a puppet leader for the Afghans, but his forces proved unable to capture Kabul and were repeatedly defeated by the other warlords now serving the Islamic State, notably Ahmad Shah Massoud.  Known as the “Lion of Panjshir” for his defeat of nine separate Soviet assaults into the Panjshir Valley, Massoud was a legendary figure who served as the Minister of Defense for the Islamic State before and during the Taliban/Pakistani invasion.[22]  Specifically, Massoud expertly led a counterattack that broke and routed Hekmatyar’s forces besieging Kabul.  Massoud, gracious in victory and desiring to end the civil war that ravaged Afghanistan, asked Hekmatyar to accept the post of minister of the interior for the Islamic State, place aside personal ambitions of total power, and bring his Hezb-e-Islami militia into the fold.  Blinded by ambition, Hekmatyar vehemently refused and began rebuilding his forces in preparation for another attempt at overthrowing the Islamic State. 

Meanwhile to the dismay of Pakistan, the new Afghan government was receiving military and economic backing from both Iran and India, two of Pakistan’s greatest regional rivals.[23]  Every day that the government of the Islamic State remained in power was another day with which it could solidify its hold on power.  With frustration mounting, the ISI decided in 1992 to change course and withdrew much of its support of Hekmatyar redirecting it to the Taliban[24]   Fearing that a unified and powerful Afghanistan would eventually seek resolution of the Pashtunistan “question” through force of arms, the ISI provided funding and training to create the first Taliban formations in late 1992 to serve as a proxy force for the destabilization and conquest of Afghanistan. Consistent with Phase 2 (Initial Contact) of the doctrinal UW model, the ISI approached Mullah Omar sometime in 1991 or early 1992 to offer its services for the achievement of the Taliban’s goals in Afghanistan.  Making initial contact with the Taliban was easy for the CAD/ISI, since thousands of adherents remained in Pakistan around Quetta where they continued to receive radical Islamist instruction at the ISI-funded Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam madrassas.  Mullah Omar maintained his rear headquarters in Quetta from which he regularly traveled back and forth to Kandahar and where he allegedly met with the ISI several times.[25]  As the Taliban was essentially a CAD/ISI creation, it did not take long to coordinate agreements between the ISI and the Taliban to achieve the Pakistani objective of toppling the troublesome Afghan transitional government through a UW campaign using the Taliban as a proxy force.  The ISI offered the Taliban the training and equipment it desperately needed to achieve its goal of establishing an Islamist Caliphate in Afghanistan, and all that the ISI asked in return were friendly relations and support of Pakistani regional objectives once the Taliban was in power.  UW Phase 2 (Initial Contact) was essentially a foregone conclusion given the extremely close relationship that the ISI had with the Taliban throughout its formative years. 

Given the lawless nature of southern Afghanistan between 1992 and 1994, Taliban and CAD/ISI forces were able to freely move between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Because of this, Phase 3 (Infiltration) of the UW model was similarly easy for the ISI to accomplish.  The porous border has historically been incredibly difficult to control, as numerous unmapped paths crisscross the mountainous regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  During the mujahedeen conflict against the Soviets, the ISI had used these trails to push tens of thousands of fighters across the very same routes that it would now use to infiltrate Taliban proxy forces as well as their CAD/ISI advisors.  Previously, hardened DRA and Soviet troops had been unable to stem the flow of fighters coming out of Pakistan, even with full control of Kandahar and all of the major routes throughout the country.  Now, in 1992, with Kandahar Province in the throes of a local power struggle between competing warlords, the resulting anarchy allowed the Taliban to come and go as they pleased.  Though starting with very small numbers, the ISI would eventually direct the infiltration of massive formations of Taliban fighters directly into Kandahar Province after which they spread throughout Afghanistan.

As the ISI had been intimately involved in the initial stages of the Taliban’s formation within the madrassas, the Taliban was easily reorganized from a simple student religious group to a functional military formation, ready to conduct guerrilla operations to undermine and ultimately supplant the Rabbanni government of the Islamic State.  Phase 4 (Organization) of the doctrinal UW model, as it was executed by the Pakistani ISI, went through several revisions over the course of the UW campaign.  Often, the religious leader, or mullah, of each madrassa would serve as the military commander for the students under his care, a system that lent itself well to paramilitary organization necessary for training/equipping and guerrilla operations.  The ISI simply adopted and adapted this organizational structure, providing as much training as possible to overcome the lack of military experience from which many of the mullahs suffered.  Of course, in some cases, such as that of Omar, these mullahs were also experienced veterans of the previous insurgency against the Soviets.  As part of this phase, the ISI established routes by which it would be able to sustain the Taliban after infiltration during the UW campaign against the Islamic State government.  Of particular utility were the opium smuggling routes operated by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islam faction, over which Hekmatyar had transported hundreds of thousands of tons of opium by 1992.[26]  The ISI made use of these historic smuggling routes through the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the same ones used during the Soviet occupation to provide military aid to the mujahedeen.   These paths offered ready-made resupply routes over which the Pakistanis would push massive amounts of critical supplies into Afghanistan in order to sustain the Taliban insurgency.    

Starting in 1992, the ISI began an intensive training regimen for the Taliban in Pakistani camps designed to build up and prepare them for battle against the Afghan transitional government, a clear indication of the ISI engagement in UW Phase 5 (Build-Up).  Using recruits from the massive Afghan refugee populations amassed in Pakistan as a result of the Soviet invasion and subsequent Afghan civil war, the ISI established recruitment and training camps while continuing to cultivate leadership elements of the Taliban around the town of Quetta, which today remains the spiritual root of the Taliban.  The masses of young, idealistic students in the madrassas, their heads previously filled by radical clerics with utopian visions of jihad, received practical training in the employment of deadly weapons, small unit tactics, and other necessary skills to create an effective guerrilla.  In camps scattered throughout southern and western Pakistan, specifically in Quetta and the Federally Administered Tribal Area, Pakistani Army and CAD/ISI forces trained and equipped Taliban units for deployment to Kandahar.  The Taliban conducted its first “confidence target” operation in the spring of 1994, in the village of Sangesar, located near Kandahar.  Taliban fighters, led by Mullah Omar in a daring raid, captured a local governor whom villagers accused of kidnapping and raping two young girls.  Without trial, the Mullah Omar ordered the governor hung from the barrel of a tank. [27]   Mullah Omar initially had only about 50 Taliban adherents in the Kandahar area, but reinforcements would soon arrive.  Each raid or ambush on Afghan government troops or other militias built up the Taliban’s confidence in and the ISIs validation of the training completed, while also attracting additional recruits to the cause.  With Phase 5 (Build-Up) complete, the ISI was ready to release the Taliban wholesale into Afghanistan for the purposes of achieving Pakistan’s national objectives during Phase 6 (Combat Employment). 

When Mullah Omar ordered the Taliban to undertake large-scale offensive operations against the government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan in the spring of 1994, it did not take long to swell his ranks with recent Taliban graduates from the Pakistani training camps.  The ISI rapidly pushed large numbers of Taliban across the border and into Kandahar to reinforce Omar, thereby indicating a distinct shift into Phase 6 (Combat Employment) of the UW campaign construct.  By the summer, Mullah Omar could count at least 15,000 fighters within his ranks, making him a serious contender to the Afghan transitional government, which was still struggling to form functional ministries and fend off Hekmatyar’s offenses that were again threatening Kabul.[28]  Taliban formations advanced northward toward Kandahar City from their intermediate staging bases in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province.  Many victories brought additional fighters and heavy weapons into the Taliban fold as the majority of local warlords, with their much smaller militias, chose to join the Taliban rather than futilely resist them.[29]  One province after another fell to the Taliban, with many of their inhabitants welcoming them as liberators and hoping for the stability promised by the Taliban’s Sharia law as an alternative to the horrific chaos of the last fifteen years.  The psychological preparation that the Pakistanis had established as part of their Afghan conflict-extending measures clearly smoothed the way for their Taliban proxies to conquer large swaths of the countryside.  However, there were major setbacks, and the Taliban suffered a number of significant defeats in late 1994 and early 1995.  The Taliban attempt to capture Herat in southwestern Afghanistan was thwarted by government forces and the Taliban suffered extremely heavy casualties.  By late September of 1995, the Taliban had advanced to the outskirts of Kabul, besieging the city and showering rockets onto military and civilian targets, alike.  Once again, Massoud sallied forth leading the armed forces of the transitional government and achieved a miraculous victory over the Taliban, routing them.  Ahmed Rashid, a noted Afghanistan scholar, wrote about the impact of these Taliban defeats:

"The Taliban had now been decisively pushed back on two fronts by the government and their political and military leadership was in disarray. Their image as potential peacemakers was badly dented, for in the eyes of many Afghans they had become nothing more than just another warlord party."[30]

Fearing a possible failure of the mission, the ISI pulled the Taliban forces back and undertook a massive effort to reinforce and reequip them.  Reinforcements came in the form of a massive new “batch” of Taliban recruits from Pakistan, nearly 25,000, as well as several units from the Pakistani Army intended to steel the resolve of the Taliban.[31]  Much of the funding for the new equipment and training came from Saudi Arabia, and the commitment of Pakistani military units signaled the importance which the ISI placed on Taliban success.  In 1996, the Taliban went back on the offensive.  The US Defense Intelligence Agency reported in 1996 that:

"These Frontier Corps elements [of the Pakistani Army] are utilized in command and control; training; and when necessary - combat. Elements of Pakistan's regular army force are not used because the army is predominantly Punjabi, who have different features as compared to the Pashtun and other Afghan tribes."[32]     

The Taliban, now aided directly by Pakistani CAD/ISI and military forces, captured Herat in a surprise attack in September 1995.  The siege of Kabul was renewed that same month, though Massoud continued to hold out and was even able to continue the consolidation of power under the transitional government.  In addition to Taliban rockets, the Pakistanis added indiscriminate artillery bombardment and even used its ground attack aircraft to pound Kabul and its outskirts.  Massoud’s effort to negotiate an inclusive government with Taliban participation was rejected outright.  Regardless, Massoud held out for a year before finally withdrawing his forces from the city, still in good order, to prevent more needless death and destruction.[33]  The Taliban entered Kabul on 26 September 1996, having successfully overthrown Rabbani and seized power.   The capture of Kabul marked the end of Phase 6 (Combat Employment) as the ISI UW campaign entered into the last and possibly most critical phase, Phase 7 (Transition).  The remnants of the transitional forces, led by Massoud, conducted a fighting withdrawal to the north after rebranding themselves the “United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan”.  This group was factional, at best, with ethnic groups operating under their own commanders but owing some grudging allegiance to Massoud.  Massoud’s forces, more commonly known to the West as the “Northern Alliance”, managed to hold onto a small number of Northern provinces despite the best efforts of the Taliban and Pakistanis to crush them.  India and Iran provided massive amounts of aid to the Northern Alliance in order to resist the Taliban and their Pakistani masters, estimated at approximately $70 million (and at least five Mi-17 helicopters) between 1996 and 2001.[34]  Conservative estimates place the total number of Pakistani military troops who served in Afghanistan between 1994 and 1999, fighting alongside the Taliban at between 80,000 and 100,000.[35]    Human Rights Watch reported, "Pakistani aircraft assisted with troop rotations of Taliban forces during combat operations in late 2000 and... senior members of Pakistan's intelligence agency and army were involved in planning military operations.”[36]  Clearly, Afghanistan, as a whole, served as an extended proxy battlefield between the major regional powers, much to the detriment of the average Afghan civilian and regional stability.

The Taliban and Pakistanis moved swiftly to consolidate the transition of power during Phase 7 (Transition) at the successful conclusion of the UW campaign.  Pakistan, followed only by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, quickly recognized the Taliban movement, their own creation and UW proxy force, as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.[37]  Ultimately, the Taliban would extend its influence deep into the lives of nearly every Afghan, banning smoking, dancing, music, alcohol, and a whole litany of other “vices”.  Women and girls were banned from working or attending school, and required to wear the traditional “burqa” full-body dress.[38]  To enforce these rules, the Taliban established “religious police” who employed draconian measures to punish perceived offenses.  Sharia law replaced the existing justice system and Afghanistan witnessed a complete reversal of the democratic processes started under President Rabbanni.

Once in power, the Taliban executed a number of moves intended to solidify their power and support Pakistan’s regional interests.  For instance, in 1998, an Iranian consulate in a Northern Alliance area was seized by the Taliban and the Iranian diplomats murdered.  Though the Taliban claimed the murders were the work of “rogue elements”.[39]  Iran alleges to this day that it collected radio intercepts during the attack proving that Mullah Omar personally approved the execution of its diplomats.[40]  Regardless, the attack weakened Iran’s influence and ability to aid the Northern Alliance, benefitting both the Taliban and Pakistan’s efforts in Afghanistan.  Despite such “gains”, the Taliban’s success in Afghanistan was ultimately undone because of its relationship with a small but deadly terrorist faction, al-Qaeda.  The founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin-Laden, had been a low-level financier and facilitator for a small group of Arab mujahedeen during the 1980s.  During that time he formed important and lasting relationships, in particular with the head of the Pakistani ISI, Hamid Gul.[41]  After the Soviet withdrawal, bin-Laden had returned to Saudi Arabia, only to be infuriated by the US presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War against Iraq.  Al-Qaeda evolved slowly, but its headquarters moved repeatedly during the 1990s, being expelled from Sudan before finally finding a home in Afghanistan under the Taliban.[42]  Assassins from al-Qaeda, posing as a media crew, detonated explosives hidden in a camera during an interview and killed Massoud at his Northern Alliance headquarters just two days before al-Qaeda’s brazen series of coordinated attacks on the US on 11 September 2011.[43]  In response, the US demanded that the Taliban surrender bin-Laden and the leadership of al-Qaeda.  The Taliban refused, instead offering to hand al-Qaeda over to a “neutral” third party, such as Pakistan, for trial and eventual punishment.  Unsatisfied, the US led an invasion, itself a UW campaign, spearheaded by special operations forces and paramilitary operatives from the CIA who, together with the Northern Alliance, succeeded in toppling the Taliban by November.

Pakistan claims that it severed all ties of support with the Taliban after the September 2001 attacks, though that has not prevented the Taliban from reoccupying the safe havens in Western Pakistan from which it originally sprang in 1992.  Taliban and al-Qaeda forces fleeing Afghanistan in November of 2001 allegedly received assistance from ISI, and some were even evacuated on Pakistani Air Force cargo aircraft out of Kunduz to refuge in Pakistan.[44]  In 2006, the chief of staff for UK forces in southern Afghanistan, Colonel Chris Vernon, stated, "The thinking piece of the Taliban is out of Quetta in Pakistan. It's the major headquarters."[45]  This headquarters, known as the “Quetta Shura”, is located in southern Pakistan while sizeable formations of Taliban train and launch operations into Afghanistan from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) and the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan.  Islamabad granted Waziristan virtual autonomy and has exercised very limited control in the FATA since 2006, allowing the Taliban near-immunity to impose Sharia law and regroup for their continuing operations to undermine the legitimate government of Afghanistan.[46]

The Taliban, allegedly acting on intelligence and with support provided by the ISI, have repeatedly attacked Indian targets in Afghanistan.[47]  The Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked by suicide bombers in July 2008, killing 58 and wounding 141, and again in October 2009, this time killing 40 and injuring more than 100.  In both cases, the Afghans, Indians, and US either insinuated or outright accused the ISI of being behind the attacks, though the Taliban claimed responsibility.  The US president, George W. Bush, presented evidence of ISI involvement in the 2008 attack to the Pakistani Prime Minister and threatened “serious action”.[48]  The Indian national security advisor was much more direct, stating, "We have no doubt that the ISI is behind this [referring to the 2008 suicide bombing]."[49]  Rather than refrain from attacking diplomatic targets, the ISI allegedly employed the Taliban to attack the US embassy in Kabul in September of 2011, killing at least seven people and wounding another 19.[50]  In response, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullins, stated before the US Senate Armed Services Committee that:

"The fact remains that the Quetta Shura [Taliban] and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity.  [They are] Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan [that] are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as US soldiers.  For example, we believe the Haqqani Network, which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul."[51]

Most recently, the Taliban launched a massive assault on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on 3 August 2013.  The attack resulted in several deaths and injuries, though the majority occurred at nearby mosque damaged by a suicide truck bomb.[52]  Attacks of this nature are well within the modus operandi of the ISI, as demonstrated by the alleged involvement of the ISI in directing and supporting members of the Pakistani hardline Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (“Army of the Righteous”) during the bloody coordinated attacks in Mumbai, India, in November of 2008.  Lashkar-e-Taiba conducts operations from bases in the Pakistani-Kashmir region and has sought since 1990 to achieve the “liberation” of Muslims in Indian-Kashmir by way of violence.  While Pakistan officially declared Lashkar-e-Taiba a terrorist organization, a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2011 found significant evidence that the ISI employs the group to conduct terrorist attacks in Kashmir and India as part of a larger UW campaign to weaken India’s hold on the contested area.[53]  In the 2008 Mumbai attack, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists conducted numerous small-arms and bomb attacks against a number of popular Mumbai hotels and shopping centers, killed 166 people and injured at least 308.  One of the terrorists was captured alive by Indian security forces and later admitted to receiving direction and support from the ISI.[54]  Repeatedly, the ISI employs proxy forces to conduct long-term, low-cost UW against Pakistan’s regional rivals because this strategy presents an irresistible “win-win” outcome.  At worst, the Pakistanis can support an indefinite UW campaign that keeps its neighbors destabilized, which in the case of Afghanistan renders it unable to pursue its intentions with regard to Pashtunistan or closer Indian relations.  At best, with ISI support the Taliban might regain control in Kabul and be repositioned as a puppet government malleable to Pakistani interests.  This outcome would provide Pakistan considerable “strategic depth” on its Western flank, allowing them to focus all of their attention on India without fear of “Pashtunistan”. 

The Taliban conquest of Afghanistan provides a fascinating and complete doctrinal example of modern unconventional warfare.  The Pakistanis employed a predominantly indigenous force, the Taliban, to overthrow the legitimate transitional government and install a pro-Pakistani regime.  Armed with Pakistani weapons, trained by Pakistani advisers, sympathetic to Pakistani interests, and eventually with Pakistani soldiers fighting directly alongside them, the Taliban conquered Afghanistan.[55]  Today, with more than thirty years of investment in the destabilization of Afghanistan, it is improbable that Pakistan will abandon these efforts and risk the emergence of a strong, independent Afghan government pursuing reunification with the Pashtun tribes of Western Pakistan.  Pakistan’s efforts to undermine Afghanistan and prevent any pursuit of a “Greater Pashtunistan” state by means of a UW campaign is consistent with their world view, in which they are beset on all sides by neighbors laying claim to significant chunks of Pakistan’s sovereign territory.  Once Pakistani interests are understood, their continued support to the Taliban becomes understandable, if not acceptable to the international pursuit of regional stability.

End Notes

[1] The Oriental Review. "When Will the Great Game End?" November 15, 2010.

[2] The Atlantic Magazine. "The Durand Line: Afghanistan's Controversial, Colonial-Era Border." October 25, 2012.

[3] Express Tribune. "Afghanistan claims Pakistan Army shelling Afghan border areas ." September 26, 2011.

[4] Tanner, Stephen. Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War Against the Taliban. De Capo Press, 2009.

[5] Talbot, Ian. The Armed Forces of Pakistan. Macmillan Publishers, 1999.

[6] Hindustan Times. "Why Indians were targeted?" July 8, 2008.

[7] Bajoria, Jayshree. "India-Afghanistan Relations." Council on Foreign Relations, July 22, 2009.

[8]  Pakistan's support of the Taliban . Human Rights Watch, 2000.

[9] Training Circular 18-01 “Special Forces Unconventional Warfare”. Headquarters, Department of the Army, January 2011.

[10] Pike, John. "Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence." Journal of the Federation of American Scientists, July 25, 2002.

[11] Raman, B. Intelligence: Past, Present & Future. New Delhi: Lancer Publishers & Distributors, 2002.

[12] Grau, Lester. "Breaking Contact Without Leaving Chaos: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan." Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 20 (Foreign Military Studies Office Publications), November 2, 2007.

[13] Kaplan, Eben, and Jayshree Bajoria. "The ISI and Terrorism: Behind the Accusations." Journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, May 4, 2012.

[14] Khan, M. Ilyas. Spy agency confusion in Pakistan. British Broadcasting Corporation, July 28, 2008.

[15] Bearden, Milt, and James Risen. The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB. Random House Publishing, 2003.

[16] Bergen, Peter L. Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. Free Press, 2001.

[17] Carlstrom, Gregg. Who Are the Taliban. Al-Jazeera News Service, June 9, 2010.

[18] Philp, Catherine. "Pervez Musharraf was playing 'double game' with US." The Times (London), February 17, 2009.

[19] Price, Colin. "Pakistan: A Plethora of Problems ." Global Security Studies, Volume 3, Issue 1. Northfield, VT: School of Graduate and Continuing Studies in Diplomacy, Norwich University, Winter 2012.

[20] Nojumi, Neamatollah. The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War, and the Future of the Region. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

[21] Saikal, Amin. Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co., 2002.

[22] Tomsen, Peter. "Wars of Afghanistan." Public Affairs. 2011.

[23] Saikal, Amin. Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival.

[24] The September 11th Sourcebooks Volume VII: The Taliban File. George Washington University, 2003.

[25] Matinuddin, Kamal. The Taliban Phenomenon, Afghanistan 1994–1997. Oxford University Press, 1999.

[26] Chossudovsky, Michel. "Pakistan and the Global War on Terrorism." January 8, 2008.

[27] Matinuddin, Kamal. The Taliban Phenomenon, Afghanistan 1994–1997.

[28] Felbab-Brow, Vanda. Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs. Brookings Institution Press, 2010.

[29] Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia. I.B.Tauris, 2002.

[30] ‘’

[31] ‘’

[32] "Pakistan Involvement in Afghanistan." Defense Intelligence Agency, November 7, 1996.

[33] Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin Press HC, 2004

[34] Mcleod, Duncan. India and Pakistan. n.d. (accessed September 2, 2012).

[35] Maley, William. "The Afghanistan Wars." Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

[36] "Crisis of Impunity." Human Rights Watch. July 2001.

[37] Guelke, Adrian. Terrorism and Global Disorder. International Library of War Studies, 2006.

[38] Dupree Hatch, Nancy. "Afghan Women under the Taliban." In Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban. , by William Maley. Hurst and Company, 2001.

[39] Gutman, Roy. How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan. Institute of Peace Press, 2008.

[40] Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

[41] Hussain, Zahid.  Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam. Columbia University Press, 2007.

[42] Kronstadt, K. Allen, and Kenneth Katzman. Islamist Militancy in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Region and U.S. Policy. U.S. Congressional Research Service, November 2008.

[43] The New York Times. "Taliban Foe Hurt and Aide Killed by Bomb." September 9, 2001.

[44] Hersh, Seymour M. "The Getaway." The New Yorker, January 28, 2008.

[45] The Guardian (UK). "Pakistan sheltering Taliban, says British officer." May 18, 2006.

[46] Crews, Robert D., and Amin Tarzi. The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan. Harvard University Press, 2008.

[47] New York Times. "Pakistanis Aided Attack in Kabul, U.S. Officials Say." August 1, 2008.

[48] The Times (London). "Rogue Pakistan spies aid Taliban in Afghanistan." July 8, 2008.

[49] The Gulf News. "India blames Pakistan for Kabul embassy attack." July 13, 2013.

[50] The New York Times. "U.S. Embassy and NATO Headquarters Attacked in Kabul." September 13, 2011.

[51] Joscelyn, Thomas. "Admiral Mullen: Pakistani ISI sponsoring Haqqani attacks." The Long War Journal, September 22, 2011.

[52] The British Broadcasting Corporation News. "Afghan attack targets Indian mission." August 3, 2013.

[53] Cordesman, Anthony H., Arleigh A. Burke, and Varun Vira. Pakistan: Violence vs. Stability. Washington, DC: Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 25, 2011.

[54] The Globe and Mail. "Accused in India massacre claims ties to Pakistani secret service." April 11, 2011.

[55] "Documents Detail Years of Pakistani Support for Taliban, Extremists." George Washington University, 2007.



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The NYT article on Raphael reminds me of the following (what is with the State Department?):

GIRALDI: So the FBI was monitoring people from the Israeli Embassy and the Turkish Embassy and one, might presume, the Pakistani Embassy as well?

EDMONDS: They were the secondary target. They got leftovers from the Turks and Israelis. The FBI would intercept communications to try to identify who the diplomatic target’s intelligence chief was, but then, in addition to that, there are individuals there, maybe the military attaché, who had their own contacts who were operating independently of others in the embassy.

GIRALDI: So the network starts with a person like Grossman in the State Department providing information that enables Turkish and Israeli intelligence officers to have access to people in Congress, who then provide classified information that winds up in the foreign embassies?

It may be time, long past time, to move beyond Afghanistan, but don't lose interest in this sort of article and the processes it mines, these are the very forces you are still dealing with, the processes of influence and misinformation (from vested DC interests, and the lack of general honesty that permeates defense discussions) that pollute so much of discussion about NATO, the MidEast, everything really.

From the NYT link below:

— American investigators intercepted a conversation this year in which a Pakistani official suggested that his government was receiving American secrets from a prominent former State Department diplomat, officials said, setting off an espionage investigation that has stunned diplomatic circles here.

That conversation led to months of secret surveillance on the former diplomat, Robin L. Raphel, and an F.B.I. raid last month at her home, where agents discovered classified information, the officials said.

The investigation is an unexpected turn in a distinguished career that has spanned four decades. Ms. Raphel (pronounced RAY-full) rose to become one of the highest-ranking female diplomats and a fixture in foreign policy circles, serving as ambassador to Tunisia and as assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs in the Clinton administration.

It's interesting, isn't it? The way our public conversation goes versus facts-on-the-ground, whatever they are? The internet didn't open up a new age of American civic knowledge, it seems.

It's good of Prince Turki to have been so interested:

The Kingdom is ready to play a role in resolving other conflicts, in Kashmir and elsewhere, and to share intelligence and expertise to prevent terrorism. King Abdullah is working to promote inter-religious dialogue and encourage the middle ground in order to fight extremism in the world. “Centrifugal forces suck other nations into conflicts,” Prince Turki concluded. The Middle East is hoping for the best when President Obama takes office.

Reading the papers from 1994 is interesting, the papers that were supposedly briefed about the human rights situation in South Asia. Took the bait, the lot of you. How'd that work out for humans in that area, again?

I wonder if Mazetti and crew will find a way to examine the whole Kabul vs. Islamabad intelligence thing, or if they will stick to one or two narratives about the region?

American investigators intercepted a conversation this year in which a Pakistani official suggested that his government was receiving American secrets from a prominent former State Department diplomat, officials said, setting off an espionage investigation that has stunned diplomatic circles here.

Lot more money and budgets to be made on the east-of-durand drone side? Get Iran or Get Russia lobbies? Atlanticist lobbies? The old, but 'that is our American strategic fulcrum in Asia' policy Einsteins? Who can say?

On connections, parallels, comparisons and creativity:

Kanerva's remarks come amid mounting Ukrainian frustration with the OSCE, the main international body tasked with fostering peace in eastern Ukraine, where government forces are battling pro-Russian separatists. Despite the checkpoint mission and a larger special mission launched on the Ukrainian side of the border in March, the OSCE has been unable to prevent separatists from receiving massive amounts of heavy weaponry.

Most of the camps are located near major military establishments (within 1-15km), which Indian intelligence maintains provide the bulk of military-related resources, including light weapons (assault rifles, carbines, pistols, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades/boosters), ammunition, explosives, binoculars and night vision devices, communications equipment and uniforms.

Sept. 2001! RAND link from Jane's.

Okay, don't make fun of me for the very basic questions I am about to ask. Hey, if you were to ask me what a lymphocyte was, I wouldn't make fun of you for not having medical knowledge, would I? It's not that South Asia and narratives are so all important, it's just that I am not qualified to talk about anything else around here.

Here's the question: What about tactics? Early on, this blog used to argue a lot about tactics (and I know some things can't be discussed publicly) and the COIN conversation did argue tactics, that clear-hold-build wasn't the only way to think about tactics. And I know there was unhappiness with the idea of an inviolable border and the fact that drones were the only gig. How do you think about tactics for inside your border when you think about insurgencies and proxies?

Sorry if this is embarrassingly basic but it always worries me how easy it is to make a fool out of a civilian on these topics. It's just too easy to make a fool out of us, even if you don't mean it, and, unfortunately, some in the NatSec community DO mean to do that....

This site really hates embedding links today :)

Anyway, the The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs that I linked earlier (a 1994 article on how American reporters were briefed on human rights on the Indian occupied side of Kashmir) is an interesting site. It has a very American Arabist Chas Freeman-y "isn't Prince Turki swell?" vibe to it but that might be me projecting.

When the Clinton State Departent went all "South Asian Desk!" in 1994, there was also a change in some ways in how that conflict was depicted in the US. Previously, human rights on the Indian side in Kashmir were subject to criticism because of their relationship with the Soviet Union (they deserved criticism on their own merits but in the case of the US there is always some foreign policy punishing twist to these things), so the pro-West Pakistan side of the conflict was underplayed.

After the fall of the Soviet Union this same pattern remained but for varied reasons, Kashmir was not a whole entity to be examined for its own people, but as one argument to be made to advance an interest as need be.

Same with Ukraine today and the various outside parties using the conflict to further agendas while the actual people on the ground suffer.

(The Los Angeles Times in 1994 dutifully wrote an article after being briefed as stated in the WRMEA link that I posted earlier. Oh, I have no doubt it was sincere but it was very much in keeping with journalism as passing of an activists press release rather than an entire careful study). PME is only going to work if the intellectual fashions of academics are understood as just that, an intellectual fashion belonging to an intellectual time and place).

The Hudson Institute has a nice interview of T.V. Paul by Hussain Haqqani on Paul's book The Warrior State: Pakistan In the Contemporary World:

From the book:

If economic growth is rapid enough, it can to some extent provide an alternative to democracy as a source of legitimacy. Fast growth has taken place in "developmental" state," a category that includes non-democracies and democracies alike. Thus formerly authoritarian Korea and Taiwan and democratic Israel may have become strong states in the war-making context, but they are states that offer many public goods to the citizenry such as education, healthcare, near-universal employment, and a high standard of living.

The traditionally strong DC support for aid to Pakistan (military or civilian, even Kerry-Lugar-Berman with its good intentions) in DC likely taps into this history, that an authoritarian state can be made democratic and thus less threatening via development. Yet the history in this particular case has shown that the very internal reforms needed to move Pakistan forward won't happen because of the ratification of certain narratives by outsiders, a ratification that takes place via aid and the murmuring intellectual assent toward the very narratives that retard development.

So one of the great tragedies of South Asia is that the very best well-wishers of Pakistan-particularly American military-have only reinforced a rigid set of intellectual doctrines and internal reforms are not made. If you follow the same ideological security tenets decade after decade, regardless the changing outside situation, then you cannot make adjustments as needed.

William Easterly once made similar comments to Nancy Birdsall regarding the phenomenon of development aid preventing good governance in the comments section at the Guardian!

This matters for the situation in the Ukraine too because the West--and many of the most hawkish supporters of Ukraine--is now in the process of hurting Ukrainian economic development because it is caught in a security competition with Putin and that is hurting the developmental state to install a militarist strategy.

One of the best part of this interview is the defense Hussain Haqqani gives the Pakistan military, in that he says, some would like to change but simply don't know how.

In this space, the tradition of empathy that is at the corner stone of a certain idea of Special Forces eliteness is in one sense counterproductive, because the empathy only extends toward the security narrative and fails to take into account the larger societal picture. Mirroring, in short, mirroring that is one factor among many in preventing the needed reforms and rethinking that needs to take place.

All right, last comment for a bit:

Interesting timing on the Robin Raphel story. Again, this is probably over interpreting, but with the Washington "State Department" Post and the New York "administration du jour/intelligence" Times, you can't help but wonder.

An article appears, an investigation is publicized, causes a brief stir, happiness and unhappiness in equal measure, and then....nothing much.

Was the story timed for something?

See? Too much commenting is not good for the soul.

Hospitality, including lavish meals and booze, English language skills and the liberal facade of the Islamabad-based coterie of analysts and the spooks who prop them up, has duped many a US diplomat. Even former CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote that he was impressed with then Director General Inter-Services Intelligence General Ahmad Shuja Pasha’s “moderation, sense of history and worldliness”. Mr Panetta writes in his recent book that General Pasha “inveighed against the number of madrassas (seminaries) in which poor Pakistani youth were being molded, and yearned to draw his country into the future. Yet for all of Pasha’s charm and sincerity [sic], what I did not know was how much he was willing to take on the militants within his own country.”

Well, the Pakistanis have their own country and issues to worry about, I just never understand why we Americans think we are so clever at machinating when the evidence shows we are not so good at it....

Going back to this actual article:

When the author writes

Why would Pakistan want to conduct UW against Afghanistan?

I thought I was discussing motivation in this thread (as well as American understandings of motivation), beyond even Pashtunistan. Robert made the good observation that one should use FOR as a well as AGAINST when thinking about narratives.

Anyway, here are the categories that I thought I was mining, but maybe it wasn't clear:

Haqqani depicted Musharraf as truly “on the American side,” in terms of resisting Islamic extremism, but, he said, “he doesn’t know how to be on the American side. The same guys in the I.S.I. who have done this in the last twenty years he expects to be his partners. These are people who’ve done nothing but covert operations: One, screw India. Two, deceive America. Three, expand Pakistan’s influence in the Islamic community. And, four, continue to spread nuclear technology.” He paused. “Musharraf is trying to put out the fire with the help of the people who started the fire,” he said.

Not just Musharraf, the CIA too. The American military has been publicly flogged for its COIN doctrine, yet the CIA through the NSA has been rewarded, likely because the drone debate has been framed in a way that doesn't get at the CIA's traditional failings in this region. As with Kashmir, the debate focuses on human rights when structural factors relating to conflict are important too.

Even if you take the Pakistani security establishment side in all this, the general categories of motivation are sound, although put differently, such as "we need parity with India because of their conventional strength." So, India is one category, but scholarship looks at other categories of motivation for the security state, including money, desire for power, wanting to be a religious leader, national cohesion, modernization, etc. A multifactorial study of theorized causation. Within the Pakistani community, then, these different categories are viewed, well, differently. It is too narrow a way study, to look at one category only, that of the security narratives that have developed via the long-term mil-mil relationships.

I thought this thread was standard academic jaw-boning and "research". Perhaps my comment style made that unclear. I certainly took that from the other commenters in this thread who have all made good points.

When I wrote this about Robert Kagan in a comment below:

Well, I am not a particularly nice person in this space, so I'll just say what everyone else is thinking: This is what happens when a man types words on paper for a living and doesn't have any sense of what it takes to actually to accomplish something not on paper.

Was I making the kind of remark that can be viewed in a negative way in terms of civilian and military relations? But I wasn't talking about civilian versus military, I just meant the difference between a person that lives in a world of ideas, and the person that has to take some idea and make it a reality. I took out a sentence in my comment about small businesses, scientists, artists, all the way up to American Presidents having to balance many, many factors when carrying out any action, any task.

Anyway, Robert Kagan is strange because he makes the case in that Washington Post article from some years ago that it ought to be easy with American aid to just pick another General that will do our bidding. This reflects on him in many ways:

1. He is clearly unaware of the complicated history of American policy in that region (I'm talking the stuff that standard DC analysts always get wrong) and how it backfires. Every time. Every single time. Go back even to Nimitz and a failed bid to mediate between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, and it is the same pattern OVER AND OVER.

2. He is clearly unaware of the voluminous research into the behavior of various communities and institutions in that region, and therefore is unaware that human motivation is complex (didn't Bhuttto come to regret putting Zia in charge? Human nature and future behavior is hard to judge).

3. He contradicts his own writing and scholarship in serious and under-cutting ways. He says often that American leadership is hard and that we frequently get things wrong. It's never been easy and we pretend the Cold War was clearer than it really was. Then he says it should be easy to run Pakistan from the top via our aid.

Which is it? Hard or easy? I suspect when he gets something wrong, like how easy Iraq would be, well, the world is a hard place, it's always tough, don't judge me losers, yet when he wants the US to do something muscular, it's all good, it's so easy, man, just go ahead and take my advice.

Such odd people within the DC Consensus. No one really challenges them within their own environments because of careerist sycophancy or the way in which debates are constructed, I think, so their intellectual muscles atrophy. A theory anyway, and we all know the importance of theory.

On the nature of an idea, diasporas, communication, and journalism (and all other manner of idea-generating):

The moment of truth for Kashmir is nearing. Unless the international community, led by the United States, convinces India to end its brutal occupation of Kashmir, another war between Pakistan and India is inevitable, according to Sardar Qayyum Khan, prime minister of Azad (liberated) Kashmir. The 70-year-old leader of the Pakistani-occupied portion of Kashmir warned during a recent visit to California that a military solution to this problem that has festered for almost half a century could lead to a nuclear holocaust. Sardar Qayyum's visit was organized by the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), a grassroots national organization with chapters in 17 states, dedicated to increasing Muslim political participation in the American political system and to enhancing awareness among Americans of critical issues threatening world peace in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

The prime minister visited nine California cities including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Berkeley, Union City and Sunnyvale, all of which have large Muslim communities. He met with concerned citizens and editorial boards of major newspapers and, in Los Angeles, he inaugurated a photo exhibition by free-lance journalist/photographer Martin Sugarman that provided wrenching evidence of the suffering of Kashmiri men, women and children.

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September/October 1994, Pages 49, 77-78

You know my standard line: this goes on for everything, all the time, causes, movements, countries, legit, non-legit, a whole circling, whirling, mirrored world of, "what is so, and what is not so?"

DC is going to have you fight Assad and ISIS at the same time, and will want to remove Assad, and maybe will get themselves caught like Chalabi and others caught us, and then it's all, "Tell me how this ends?"

What are you all going to do? Will it be the WWII-era stabilization books this time? But it's not Europe and it's not Japan.

I suppose if Saudi is in a civil war, it's good to have the Pakistani army fight for the Saudi leadership, is that one reason the DC consensus Borg wants to keep the Pakistani army in its back pocket for a rainy day? Well, good for them maybe, heart break for us and others.

Didn't General Mattis want to build some kind of sea platform in the Gulf or whatever, a way to potentially project force without actually having stationed troops? Am I making that up?

I note that the article I linked is from 1994, when the Clintons came into power--it always was the ClintonS, wasn't it?--and the era when Robin Raphel began her work on many things. All of this was the fashion of the day, and fashions are not always random, designers and publicists and marketers work hard to shape fashion. Like that speech in the movie The Devil Wears Prada:

'This... stuff'? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

A lot of fashion people complained about this speech because designers steal street fashion and two years later it's on the runway. But it's how it gets to the masses that is interesting.

Don't make fun of chick lit. A curious mind finds lessons anywhere and everywhere....



the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

investigate systematically.

Ah, the Kagans and "research":

Today, Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf is playing the old game, as is Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and it appears to be working. Substitute radical Islamists for communists, and the pitch is the same: Apr¿s moi, le d¿luge. If you force me out, the radical Islamists will win. And Musharraf is busily trying to ensure that this is the only option. He cracks down on moderates with good democratic credentials, and with far greater zeal than he has cracked down on al-Qaeda.
There are other generals. With all the billions of dollars in aid the United States provides to Pakistan, it ought to be possible to discuss with the Pakistani military alternatives to the man who so poorly serves their interests. Musharraf may be willing to lose American aid in order to remain in power, but that is unlikely to seem attractive to the men who work for him. It ought to be possible to find a general who is willing to let Pakistan return to a democratic path and meanwhile do a better job of fighting Pakistan's real enemies.

It's just as easy as that, is it (never mind the spectacular immorality of the "but WE alone are the great exemplars of what is moral and true" brigade - the use of neoconservative is now considered rude, I suppose. It's okay. Actual names and actual quotes work much better to dissect intellectualisms)?

Well, I am not a particularly nice person in this space, so I'll just say what everyone else is thinking: This is what happens when a man types words on paper for a living and doesn't have any sense of what it takes to actually to accomplish something not on paper.

Yes, it's just as easy as that, get rid of one leader, Assad, Hussain, Putin, whatever, install your guy, and, there you go, ALL problems solved.

How is it that these people are listened to, and listened to so eagerly?

Being middle aged, I often spend time in book stores with paper books, 90s places like the still-standing Barnes and Noble. The military section is quite robust--it must sell well--and there are always middle-aged men (relax, that's not why I'm there) buying up every book, usually about WWII but often anything to do with the SEALS. Anything with Special in the title sells well, it appears. I buy many of those books too, so who am I to complain?

It reminds me of the 90s female fashion, or passion, for chick lit: escapism and fantasy, fantasy and escapism. At least chick lit markets itself honestly.

Fred Kagan has this YouTube interview where he talks about how it was the end of the Cold War and he had this BA in something like Russian history or Russian studies, and, like, the academy doesn't want some right winger interested in war, so he had to go the policy/DC route.

Yet Niall Ferguson made an academic career out of the good aspects of Empire....

Anyway, I thought it such an interesting interview, you know, I don't usually watch these things, I just listen while doing some other task, but I thought I heard his voice light up (can voices do that? I am such a terrible writer) when he talked about how regionalists should look to the study of the Western tradition and how much they miss.

Yet research is very much a part of the Western tradition, indeed, many other traditions too....

*People here might not care much, but this comment is such a nerd BURN. Nerds really are competitive freaks.

Pakistanis of all kinds are human beings, after all, and take national pride in many things, the way in which Afghans or Americans or British or Canadians or Indians do. Perhaps being a life-long novel reader with an interest in human nature isn't such a bad thing when examining military doctrine or theory:

On 28 May 1998, I was at the site of an under-construction Electrical Substation in Khafji, a small town in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

One Pakistani Pathan driver, who was out to bring some construction material returned to site with a red hot face and sparkling eyes. He was near to burst out of his skin. I asked him what extra had happened. With a glittering pride, he broke the news of Pakistan's nuclear explosions, which spread in no time within all Pakistani workers, present on that site.

Their immense joy and cheer could not be well described in words. I too shared the magic moment with them. The common point of that pleasure and pride was that Pakistan retaliated India, in a spright tone and tune.

Traditionally, Americans look only at the "Pakistan retaliated India" part and forget the pride part of it....perhaps not scholars of the subcontinent. Human beings are complex. What part is pride and what part is retaliation, and what is retaliation if not pride, at least, in some measure? And this is a British site, so the other motivating factors are a bit buried in various reports. No desis, it's not prejudice, it's just habit, I think.

Another from that BBC link:

It was time Pakistan threw off the garments of dependence and assert itself as a power to be reckoned with. We had spoken with a loud clear voice and stopped Advani from "teaching Pakistan a lesson", whatever lesson that may have been.

What does it mean to be fighting FOR something in Afghanistan, again?

The Chinese respond to we Americans, the Indians respond to the Chinese, and then the Pakistanis think it is about them because there is both pleasure and pain in contemplating that the Indians are not really thinking about them at all....

Robert Jones wrote, further down in the thread, "I suspect that Pakistan conducts UW FOR Pakistan, rather than AGAINST Afghanistan.

This is a good point in terms of different narrative framing, although it represents only one frame-of-mind among many. I disagree with Robert about many, many things, but I think that much of his writing in this forum is downright brilliant. I come to a different conclusion on certain matters but he challenges me intellectually and forces me to think about things that I don't want to consider. This is good for me, whether I like it or not.

What does it mean to do something FOR, as opposed to against? John J. Mearsheimer (I am just starting this book) in The Tragedy of Great Power Politicswrites:

Great powers are determined largely on the basis of their relative military capability. To qualify as a great power, a state must have sufficient military assets to put up a serious fight in an all-out conventional war against the most powerful state in the world. The candidate need not have the capability to defeat the leading state, but it must have have some reasonable prospect of turning the conflict into a war of attrition that leaves the dominant state seriously weakened, even if that dominant state ultimately wins the war.

, page 5.

Historically, the US and the UK have viewed actions by Pakistan in Afghanistan as those of a fearful, security-seeking state. Recent work by Dr. C. Christine Fair and others have come up with a different theory, that the state is not security seeking. I too think we are dealing in the realm of power, of the desire to be a great power, and to show that the Pakistani military is powerful and a force to be dealt with regionally, and internationally. To fight FOR something can also mean the desire to be a great power.

This is very human and doesn't make the Pakistanis outliers compared to other states. States crave power. Humans often crave power. To follow this line of logic is to humanize the Pakistanis, not patronize them. To patronize them is to see them as weak when they have many strengths.

Of course, if a state is perceived as security seeking, then selling them weapons makes sense and those are good manufacturing jobs for the Department of Foreign Military Sales, I mean Defense.

They are good jobs. I don't mean to make fun entirely, manufacturing jobs are important.

Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail (!) is it?, says that if the UK wants to sell weapons to Saudia Arabia, fine, those are good British jobs, but the the UK makes enemies as it tries to play the liberal interventionist human rights and regime-change card too. He says, better to make the weapons and be less "regime-changy" and hypocritical but I suppose we in America are having the same problem. Want to have our cake and eat it too.

Well, there is no one so Anglophilic as a suspicious 'British-bashing' 'South-Asian' American. Oh, it makes sense, believe me, it's one of those human contradictions that just IS....

This book is very interesting and has application to many topics discussed at this site, especially given our latest Iraq campaigns:

The Greater Middle East and the Cold War: Us Foreign Policy under Eisenhower by Roby C. Barrett:

London also worried that all the historical good will between Pakistan and Britain was potentially at risk due to instability and lack of progress on Kashmir. In April 1958, the CRO official in Karachi, Sir Alexander Symon, stated that the perceived lack of clear-cut Anglo-American support for Pakistan with regard to Kashmir undermined relations. He worried that faltering economic development would combine with estrangement from the Muslim world and further aggravate these problems.

page 98

Somewhere in this book, I think it says that they wanted the Americans to pay for all of this, too. We pay to keep people in our camp, and the military eagerly parrots this thinking. Mil-mil relationships are fine, but only if viewed reasonably. Peter J. Munson had a nice article on this at War on the Rocks some time back.

Blogger Pundita once said on her blog that Americans often forget where their foreign policy shibboleths come from, the forget how something is established and then it becomes for of like a foreign policy "law," as if foreign policy is the same as the mathematical laws of gravity.

And the Indians are always sure the British are trying to use the American relationship to screw with them for their own minorities and internal diaspora politics.

While some of this is true, and there are Indian-American lobbies too, and quite different from British Asian in terms of demographics (I mean British-Indian, this matters), I think Americans and British are stuck. We and the British are mentally stuck in the paradigms of our "year zero" of 1945 and so on.

We are having trouble making transitions. This quote is also quite good at examining when looking at our larger Middle East policies and military attitudes, "the Muslim world" is perceived as one, a monolith, and that we must placate this world for larger objectives. This attitude has long emotional and institutional roots, and much of this placation has only hurt us both. Yet it remains a bedrock of Western thinking.

"....under Eisenhower and Kennedy."

One of the American military journals-and I can't find it now--talked about how Pakistan had an identity that could be, essentially, untied from its subcontinental identity and folded into a larger Middle Eastern identity. It is not just the Saudis that pushed this process, Americans once viewed this as a good thing and encouraged it. When Modi talks about Indian Muslims being willing to die for India as Indian patriots, he is doing what Arab nationalists once did. For American South Asian analysts, Arab nationalism isn't so bad, but Indian nationalism always is....

An intellectual project on narratives.

1. Write down one sentence that you think represents Afghan, Pakistani or Indian narratives toward Afghanistan. Overly simplistic because all nations are complicated collections of people, but this is simply an intellectual exercises as are most of my comments here.

As I once told Grant Martin in comments here, there is a culture clash between the likes of me and the likes of you, and we frequently misunderstand one another.

2. Go to the USIP website, or the website of any American military journal. Plug in Afghanistan or Pakistan or India into the search engine.

3. Write down the titles--merely the titles--of the articles that come up. As you scan the titles, what do you see? Which narratives match foreign narratives?

USIP almost consistently focuses on normalization of relationships between Indians and Pakistanis and on Kashmir. The normalization is presented in an equivalent way (both parties should follow the American lead, and there is an equivalence between the two in terms of establishing contacts between societies). Which narrative does this parallel more closely? It's quite striking.

From Sandy Gall's War Against the Taliban: Why it all went wrong in Afghanistan, page 11 (I personally don't think it ALL went wrong, but that is a different conversation):

We met colonel Faison (a codename) and his three NCOs when we left Islamalbad two days later. Faison told me he had been trained at the American Special Forces headquarters at Fort Bragg, although the idea of the four-man team--one officer and three NCOs--is based on the SAS model.

The point of the quote is to underscore how closely related our (US, Australia, UK, Pakistan) various systems have been, the common intellectual, doctrinal and training roots, and that for all that is written about Special Forces these days--the public fascination is vast, you sell books and movies and games, you just SELL well all around--there remain areas that are not as well studied as others.

And now we add training or relationships with the Indians--and of course so many others. What happens emotionally when you work a long time with other groups, how do your professional and personal friendships affect your understanding of conflict, what is the good, and what is the bad of it all? A complicated topic.

From a recent article in the Washington Free Beacon on the investigation into Pakistan expert Robin Raphel:

“I would be flabbergasted beyond belief if she did anything deliberately and knowingly that is illegal,” said C. Christine Fair, an assistant professor at Georgetown University and a South Asia policy expert. “I’m appalled by the allegations that have been flung at her without evidence.

Understood, Dr. Fair, but nothing that the investigation turns up will make the following look good, innocent or no:

Cassidy & Associates waited barely one month after Raphel left the firm before lobbying their former employee on Pakistan issues, meeting with her on Sept. 2, Sept. 26 and Sept. 27 of 2009, as well as several times in November.

According to disclosure records, Cassidy & Associates lobbyists had conversations with Raphel about the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act and “aid priorities and funding mechanisms for development in Pakistan.”

Raphel supposedly moved in glittering circles in Islamabad, and must have met many people with an interest in big aid contracts, the sort of big contracts DC insiders tend to favor in that part of the world over the smaller projects that internal Pakistani aid consultants prefer. Nancy Birdsall comes to mind, and didn't she brief the Pentagon during Mullen's tenure?

Those big aid contracts, for things like dams and the like, are good for both DC contractors and certain Pakistani elite, military or civilian.

No matter how sincere and honest Raphel may have been in the best scenarios, this sort of revolving door isn't good. It happens for everything in DC but somehow the "South Asian Analyst" community and its habits has tended to fly under the radar for years because bigger lobbies are more likely to be in the news.

As for being a supposed "Pak lover?" What I have been trying to show here, often unsuccessfully given how other commenters don't seem to follow, is that Pakistani narratives have until recently been the dominant DC narrative and that this is a complicated process that goes back to our very early dealings with Pakistan, and also to the early nature of the Anglo-American relationship in the Middle East and South or West Asia.

It takes little intellectual work to showcase American narratives over the years and show they tend to be closer to Pakistani narratives than Indian narratives regarding disorder emanating from the region. The prominence of Kashmir in almost all DC policy and fashionable South Asian scholarship is a glaring example.

While I'm at it, Alana Goodman of Washington Free Beacon and Commentary, is it?, no one comes out looking good on the subject of lobbying and "South Asia,". After all, Charlie Wilson lobbied for the Pakistanis big time.

And why does Max Boot's big guerrilla book show such little interest in Indian insurgencies, at least, outside of the context of his fascination with the British Raj? Will you please tell him that it is 2014, almost 2015, and we've been in Afghanistan a long time. Too long to excuse this lack of intellectual interest in the complicated nature of the internationalization of internal conflicts, a process which should be of interest to Eastern Europeans. Remember, some of your NATO friends are more interested in punishing Russia than helping you, and flooding you with weapons and turning you into Afghanistan isn't exactly the best way to make life better for ordinary Ukrainians.

I wonder if certain racial or ethnic attitudes prevent such countries from looking at other examples outside of a Western perspective?

Younger military members, those that have a main experience in Afghanistan, are too young to remember how much members of the American military once hated the Indians--and the Indians hated them back--and how much got into our system that was incorrect intellectually because of those old Cold War hatreds. They are no longer active, but their must have been some mirroring between Americans and Pakistanis of a certain age and generation very early on in the Afghan campaign, a mirroring either side may not entirely be aware of on a conscious level.

Why do so many contemporary foreign policy problems have first term Clinton marks all over them? Of course, it' s not fair to blame any one group, we really have made unforced error after unforced error post Cold war, from the 90's on, and Iraq post 9-11 was the biggest. But none of our political parties or Presidents have done well. But from Sandy Berger "China" issues, to NATO expansion, to involvement with various opposition political parties here, there and everywhere, it's as if their particular brand of naivety, provincialism and hardball moneymaking is still infecting the political establishment. And where they go, the fashions of the military intellectual world seem to fall in line, too, time and time again. So strange. But the neoconservatives and their ilk are no better, whether it's Chalabi or the Syrian opposition or Kashmiri opposition groups or trying to finesse some moderate Taliban diplomatic maneuvering, it just turns to intellectual mush. I suppose you can't really get a job at the top, military or civilian, if you don't either buy into it or pretend to do so.

Oh, for heaven's sake. This is just silly and naive, but the media in India is as hyperventilating as the media in the US:

Raphel’s pathological anti-India moves continued through her career right till last week when her State department privileges were taken away pending results of the espionage enquiry. Raphel is the Godmother of the Hurriyat Conference. To provide a political face to Kashmiri militancy, she got the Hurriyat together and gave them international ‘legitimacy’. She gave birth to the term ‘disputed territory’ for Kashmir and harmed India’s interest like no other US official has ever done. Every Indian diplomat or civil servant who has worked on the Americas, UN, Kashmir, or internal security desk in the New Delhi has a Robin Raphel story to tell – of how she vitiated India-US relations, how she added fuel to fire in Kashmir in the 1990s, and how she played the Pakistan card openly, even when she was posted in India as a US representative. Was it just loyalty and love for Pakistan or something more? As per reports, the ongoing US investigation will ascertain if she was on a foreign government payroll when serving her country in official capacity. Who turned her in? There is a lot of speculation with a number of theories being floated around. Whoever did, a huge Thank You from India!

So, something political that helps the Americans and Indians with their electorates back home, all while sending other signals abroad. Or just nothing that is being over interpreted.

What a silly column and article. The point is that we Americans (and not just us, lots of other outsiders) like to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations, telling ourselves it is democracy promotion or that we will move forward some policy goal, and then it blows up in our faces because we get ourselves trapped in silly political positions, allow unsavory characters to game us, tell ourselves that military aid will solve the problem, whatever.

It's American silliness and skulking and thinking we are going to manipulate things to our advantage when others usually get the better of it, or we make people angry.

The Indians are buying this stuff? Why? And the Pakistanis think Indians have something to do with this, but on reading the Pakistani papers all I could think was, "but you made lots of enemies in the past decades. And the Chinese have their access to central asia now, why do they need you so much?" Good strategy, jeez, can anyone anywhere do strategy at all?

Forget Clausewitz and doctrine, start reading all the diaspora papers you can for every part of the world, and start becoming familiar with narrative and counter narrative....actually, that is pretty Clausewitzian, but theory takes practice to implement, I guess.

Come on Mid-Day, this is standard "democracy promotion" USIP-type stuff, filtering itself out into the 21st century world, I think, Cold Warrior attitudes unsuited to this particular age, an age where we Americans are so easily manipulated even as we try and manipulate others, that it's scary.

The Indian and Pakistani media need to stop paying attention to this stuff and start understanding how the DC muddle works, how the Washington Consensus views itself, as manipulators of the highest order, as supermen and women capable of running the world through their enlightened management. It's none of the stuff in your article, whatever happens to Raphel.

I've been thinking where should this comment go, and I think it goes here along with the other things I've posted below about Robin Raphel and the Clinton era policy of engaging political opposition figures in Kashmir in order to broker some outcome for the US (paralleled with what happened with Victoria Nuland and Ukraine . The Ukranians should look at what happened to the Kashmiris and be very careful of what outsiders will do to their country, Russians, Poles, Americans, et al, yet they seem not to have seen the warning signs. Why? Why not? Why don't they see them? Missiles in urban areas and training a guerrilla force when you didn't protect your borders or have a healthy political process for all parties? And now everyone is interested in walls and border controls, what changed? ):

Anyway, forget the ramble, here is the real comment:

I went to a talk about Afghanistan, an author presenting a book, and in the question and answer session, a nice young PhD, South Asian looking, all in a nice suit, young, gets up and asks, "Is the key to Afghanistan India and Pakistan or Kashmir?)

All I did was shake my head sitting in the back of the room and yet everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in the room turned their heads sharply and looked at me. I looked down, shy, I didn't say anything, didn't raise my hand, just forgot about it, you know? I go to lots of talks for everything, usually the arts. No big deal.The guys that looked like they had been to Afghanistan, young American military veterans, wanted to talk counterinsurgency and religion, no one much paid attention, everyone went back to political science and religion and all the rest of it.

This might be crazy on my part but I still think this latest incident with Raphel has to do with internal DC politics somehow, but it's just an intuition.

I found this when the story about Raphel was first reported:

No. 25 December 1995

You can find these for any ethnic or diaspora group in the US, small groups, legit, well-meaning, interesting in some cause "back home" and, as you would expect for any political group, they connect with politicals or officials when and how they are able. Yet I am always suspicious of this because the American mind often wants to believe wholeheartedly in one group over the other, and tends to discount groups that don't fit a preexisting bias toward a region:


When Omar Farooq and Muzafar Jan Pandit, along with G.N. Fai, visited Ms. Robin Raphel at the U.S. Department of State in early October, they expected an easy time. After all. Ms. Raphel is known for her pro-Pakistan leanings, and even in earlier meetings with us clearly came out in support of "the third option". So why were the visitors visibly shaken up when they came out of the meeting? Indeed, the fall out from the meeting was a flurry of phone calls to their associates in the U.S. and elsewhere and a visible change in their strategy.
As narrated to me by an official of the State Department who participated in the talks, Ms. Raphel was very critical of the Hurriyat, not for their misguided goals, but for their lack of political finesse. She called them politically naive because they lacked a proactive agenda. She told them that by only cursing India and engaging in India bashing, Hurriyat leaders were coming across as rabble rousers and not as reasoned politicians. She told them that the West, and particularly the U.S., does not take rabble rousers seriously. She advised them to improve their image, act as reasoned politicians, create a proactive agenda, and finally engage in a meaningful dialogue with India.

Hurriyat is in the same predicament that all Kashmiri's, including the KPs, are in. That is every Kashmiri finds it more convenient to bash India or Pakistan or other sections of the Kashmiri people than engaging in policies for constructive change. A pro-bashing agenda allows the speaker to maintain a purist approach and exhibit a holier - than - thou attitude. It is a win - win situation for the speaker - he gets to clear his chest while not saying anything that will that will harm his standing in his community. But does it help his community? Hurriyat, it seems, got its wake up call in their meeting with Ms. Raphel.

For Hurriyat to engage in a meaningful dialogue with anyone, much less India, is a painful exercise. After all what can a Mullah-packed fanatic bunch have in common with Indian goals and ideals? But they have made a start and opened an office in Delhi (besides offices in Leh and Jammu), and are indeed finding that political engagement does not mean political compromise.

Where do my comments go? Is it a glitch in the system? Things disappear, not here I mean, but on the internet. When the Raphel story first broke I searched for things and found some obscure diaspora articles on Kashmir and meetings between Raphel and American diaspora groups--small articles, the kind of immigrant news magazines you always find for everyone, advice she have Kashmiri groups to make them more professional, political--and now those stories are gone, at least, they don't show up on searches at the top of search engines anymore. And I don't always save things because this isn't my job.

As for Raphel, the theories I've gleaned:

1. This is nothing. Bureaucratic silliness.
2. Fai made a deal.
3. A sop to the Indians who don't like Raphel.
4. A signal to the Indians, we Americans are changing.
5. A signal to the Pakistanis.
6. A way to get rid of an embarrassing colleague.
7. Clintonistas walling themselves off, and protecting themselves.
8. State/DOD or factions within feuding.
9. Business as usual.


On Raphel:

But the most interesting story isn't about Raphel, she may be completely innocent, she may be caught up in something much larger, how can outsiders know?

The most interesting thing is the way in which policy and intelligence matters were conceived regarding South Asia during the 90's. Did the same thing happen as happened with Ukraine, we told ourselves we were meeting with opposition figures to channel a political deal that we thought would work for us, and it blew up in our faces? None of this means other countries are off the hook, it's just the nature of DC.

For the third time, without the link. Let's see if this works:

For Rant:


Published: January 17, 1988

WHAT the longbow was to English yeomen and the V-2 rocket was to the Germans in World War II, the Stinger antiaircraft missile is to today's American-backed guerrilla fighters.

As Soviet leaders talk publicly about withdrawing their army from Afghanistan, military analysts increasingly cite the role of the Stinger weapon, provided covertly by the United States to Afghan guerillas, in influencing the Russians' decision to seek a way out of their eight-year-old war in Afghanistan.

When you read the NYT archives on this subject, and you try and look at through the lens of American or Western propaganda (what was the relationship between journalists and intelligence agencies and White House officials, as is the question today?) you start to see different patterns.

For Military Review, I have read all the articles on so called South Asia from the 60s period. There isn't much, it doesn't take long. The language used is identical to much of the language used in this period coming out of the American military. Almost word for word, at least from certain periods in our Afghan campaign. It's striking.

A good project, young students lurking and reading....

I suspect that Pakistan conducts UW FOR Pakistan, rather than AGAINST Afghanistan. Perhaps a subtle distinction, but I think an important one having much more to do with concerns over India than with Afghanistan.

Why suspect?

Why not study and use appropriate materials to underscore the intuition?

Concerns over India is not the only postulated motivator of behavior, and this has been richly explored by a wide variety of academics, including Pakistanis.

Pakistani civilians and civil society exist, and they are robust and strong. Stronger than they are given credit for. I have not often appreciated that enough around here.

This is simply an academic discussion, no more, no less. The world is complicated and no society is a monolith, there are many competing sources of power with often contradictory impulses that guide actions.

Anyway, it seems Dr. Fair (I don't actually pay that much attention to twitter but sometime check in with Omar Ali and Dr. Fair, they are entertaining) is being harassed on this subject. That happens a lot with some areas of study, not just this subject. American academics have had books banned in India and faced harassment, if you study Iran or Israel, Russia, whatever, good luck.

Actually, this might be the perfect time for me to STFU on these subjects. I've been looking for an off-ramp that my intellectual OCD will allow, this is getting ridiculous and over the top on my part. Move Forward had a point.

On the NYT article that everyone is talking about:

That covert war was successful without C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan, the report found, largely because there were Pakistani intelligence officers working with the rebels in Afghanistan.

Whenever an article appears in the Washington Post or NYT about any of these subjects, you have to ask yourself, who are the someone or someone's wanting certain information out, and who are the target audiences?

I remain skeptical about the success of the CIA and its campaign in the 80s in Afghanistan, I still think it is a more complicated story than simply "success or no", and I'm not talking about blowback.

Does someone in DC want to work explicitly through someone else's intelligence agency or other parties in Syria and is setting the stage for that, or is the usual DC crew uncomfortable with a closer examination of what happened in Afghanistan during the 80s, or is this about the CIA versus military institutionally and Right vs. Left American proxies, and what each wants to do in AfPak versus the Mid East?

What is going on, and what message is intended?

Or am I completely off-base on all of this, and going semi-nuts again? People make fun of conspiracy theorists in that part of the world, but I half understand it. You go down this rabbit hole in any way your own 'kink' demands, and it does not engender trust in institutions.


Essentially the Soviets lost for the simple reason that the nature of the war that the Red Army was told they were embarking upon – i.e. preventing the CIA allied counter-revolutionary fascists destroying the Afghan workers revolution - was a sham. Even the most naive Soviet conscript soon realized the absurdity of the entire fiasco.

Measured against the ramifications of this profound Soviet mistake the presence of Pakistani personnel was as irrelevant as the presence of CIA personnel. I would remind you that the CIA is not the only organization that conducts covert ops.

Some folks argue that the Soviet Politburo was motivated by the threat posed by Khomeini’s Iran and the possibility that an Iranian victory in the Iran-Iraq War could be countered by the threat of a second front on Iran’s extensive Afghan border. Certainly the dates correlate with the announcement of the Soviet withdrawal and the Iranian surrender. It is one of the few suggestions that make some sense to many Soviet veterans.

This possible explanation throws up interesting questions as to a meeting of Soviet-Western minds. If you remember Iraq was the great stalwart for the West during this period. Even to the extent that Iraqi/Kuwaiti oil tankers were re-flagged as US registered ships. But that is something only a few surviving politburo members could provide a meaningful answer.

However I seriously doubt any soundly reasoned strategic Realpolitik could have reconciled the dysfunctional premise under which the Soviet’s had propagated the invasion.

Some technology obsessives like to cite the introduction of the Stinger as a key element in ending the war. This is something I have always found astounding and is contradicted by the USAF. USAF personnel were at pains to point out you couldn't use the FIM-92 at night and its sensors could not differentiate between the signature of ground clutter and a helicopter’s heat signature if you launched from above. After a pregnant silence some of the trainees pointed out they had never experienced a Spetnaz raid that wasn't at night and they had never heard of a defensible position in Afghanistan that didn't occupy a mountain-top at least 500 meters above that occupied by the enemy – in fact the better ones were few kilometers above the enemy position.

General Dynamics had salesmen running around Peshawar handing out colored brochures to rectify these and any other unfortunate facts pointed out by the US military. When the rate of Soviet aircraft losses began to decline and Stinger-laden supply caravans were aggressively attacked in Spetnaz raids it became obvious that the book wasn't worth the candle.

Much to General Dynamic’s displeasure it was suggested the somewhat perilous donkey-powered logistics chain might be better employed transporting rice, sturdy boots and heavy machine-gun ammo rather than their new-fangled, clumsy, fragile and very heavy ‘fire-sticks’.

Regardless, as history shows the Stinger proved to be a roaring success……...for General Dynamics.


I have a lot more to add, but what I want to say for now is that the American Army and military needs to rediscover its China-India-Burma theater. So much of what we did in AfPak--and continue to do--is based on this CENTCOM sweeping up of Pakistan into the Mideast to protect Western interests (Iran, what have you), or to thwart Russia, something we inherited from the British and expanded on during the Cold War. That pattern remained until fairly recently when our interest is beginning to be divided between those that think the US should continue in the old post-colonial interest in shoring up the soft underbelly of Europe (the MidEast) or its Eastern neighbor (Russia), and those that wish us to be a Pacific nation again.

You don't have to agree with a militarized pivot to see that it is time to go back to a period of our own history that has traditionally been neglected compared to others, and that we have within our own system a way to create more narratives, narratives that expand upon the status quo, yet remain faithful to our own sense of ourselves and respectful to others.

That's kind of where I am at now. Also, reading through old papers and comparing those attitudes toward current American attitudes and policy making or doctrine building is quite fascinating.

Not a novel observation, but the American system has often mirrored various radical groups by perceived a homogenous Muslim world which must be understood or molded or formed by the West:


by Devin T. Hagerty (Fletcher Forum, 1986):

This was a backdrop for the "Pentagon Talks" of 1947, a series of discussions between the British and the Americans regarding, among other subjects, the defense of former British possessions."' Although Britain had insisted, prior to the talks, that "in the East they consider that the discussions should cover countries up to and including Afghanistan, but not India or Pakistan," it was inevitable that one could not speak of Afghanistan in this context without mentioning at least Pakistan, which had inherited Britain's concerns regarding the Durand Line:

Recognizing the strategic importance of Pakistan, the British Government entertains hopes of arriving at a common defense agreement with the Dominion of Pakistan as well as with the Dominion of India. The apparently favorable disposition of the people of Pakistan holds the prospect not only of a close understanding between the United Kingdom and Pakistan but also an effective contribution by Pakistan to the stability of the Muslim world.

Is it Justin Logan of CATO or Barry Posen of MIT that makes the point that we often talk about oil as the overriding policy concern in the Middle East, but we don't really talk about what exactly is is about oil that we need, what is the minimum? So much of our interest in the region becomes mixed up in attitudes which our DC Foreign Policy consensus doesn't examine. While academics do know this, somehow, when some South Asian academics become policy pronents, the attitude of jollying along an entire "world" remains, and that the Muslim world is a monolith and that it is our duty to tend it. I can't say I find the Left to be much better than the Right because the desires are often to mold regions via civilian versus military aid.

The US and British often competed for influence in this period, and this was paralleled in AfPak by the British trying to push the idea that they could perhaps deliver moderate Taliban. At least, I think that is one aspect of what happened but I could be wrong. The British are not an American vassal state so that I can't be angry if they did do this although I tend to think that sort of thing doesn't work, not everything is Northern Ireland.

The following review of Carlotta Gall's book in Open Letters Monthly by Greg Waldmann is so much of a piece of very firmly embedded American attitudes toward Pakistan, versus India or Afghanistan or Iran, that it bears highlighting.

Again, I am not interested in making any nation an enemy and agree firmly with the author on that point, but it's a very common pattern in American and British discourse that the Indians and others are generally responsible and so should be responsible for everything (be the bigger guy on Kashmir, Modi is responsible for Gujurat, Karzai for Afghanistan) but that the Pakistanis are not really responsible for anything that happens in their own nation. Elites mirror one another on this.

This attitude is even different than toward Saudi Arabia because then it becomes sort of resigned, we have no choice because of oil, and so on. But the emotional roots for the other attitude seem to me to be within an unexamined American "place."
Both American right and left, interventionist and non-interventionist (less so) do this, and there is more than one Pakistani commentator that perceives this as condescending and racist, (although why different opinions to different West or South Asian nations if racist? But condescending I understand), the idea that little brown people can't have agency, they certainly can't really have any responsibility over what has happened in their own nation, and so should have no part in any solution:

In a sense, these ‘rogue’ elements in the military and the ISI are more firmly rooted in Pakistan’s historic geopolitical aims than their more moderate adversaries. They seem to be engaged in a quiet war against everyone, including their own civilian government, which in turn is trying desperately to placate everyone, including the rogue elements. It is a horribly complex and seemingly intractable situation. That is why it is so difficult to speak with any confidence about the “right” and “wrong” enemies.

But these things didn't just happen in a passive sense, choices were made. For the situation to be improved, this must be understood and we don't help by encouraging an attitude of helplessness. This is not about enemies or the making of them, I agree, but this is a common attitude of Americans, and the British before us, toward any region or factions that has historically been a client.

Focus on the Americans and the West and various Western attitudes of a kind of paternalism, or is it simply sympathy? The more you are deserving of sympathy, the more the Western mind must find a way to be understanding and a savior?

(I posted this comment under the review to Leon Panetta's book, Worthy Fights, and then thought it belonged here too:)

How do they do it? The long-term DC insider survivors? Whether intentional or not, the misdirection is always there , isn't it? And so the conversation continues, on drones, on torture, on COIN, etc., all very important conversations, but not the only conversations of importance.

The Army gets all the attention (well, some within asked for it quite explicitly, and so institutional fortunes rise and fall with the attention) but the CIA always gets more money, and officials keep official-ing....

Former CIA officials said in the rush to close the secret prisons, the U.S. was looking for ways to get rid of some of the remaining two dozen or so detainees in the agency's now-defunct interrogation and detention program. With Pakistan offering to take Ghul, U.S. officials figured they could also build some good will by giving him back, and the CIA had the ISI's pledge that he wouldn't go free.
Forget any one specific country and think about the CIA, its institutional habits, and what is rewarded monetarily:

I’m betting that as soon as we get the first account of a Haqqani network figure killed by Pakistan’s armed forces, the US will open the floodgates and Pakistan will find itself awash in counterterrorism funds. And a cute little clone of Brennan’s National Counterterrorism Center will be fully funded in Islamabad.
That part of the world has always been very good for various DC institutions, military or non-military, civilian aid and military aid, retired lobbyists, and both American right and left are so busy with their own preferred narratives that anything that skips between the two is down-played. I remain fascinated by what must have happened between the Kabul side and the Islamabad side for our own western intelligence agencies. The bigger institutional fish--and the long-time connections, for better or for worse--is always on one side versus the other?

I remain a skeptic of drones, but not for the reasons most give to be skeptical, it's too close to the patterns of our support for the Mujahideen in the 80's, the play and counter play of poorly understood factors, the working at odds within the soup of various intelligence agencies, the different American factions grand-standing for and against for many personal reasons (it's good funding for lots of people, both pro and anti drone), the press for enlarging the program in order to remain relevant and funded, the neglect of the Afghan side in order to pursue the Pakistan side in "AfPak." All the same patterns, again and again.

What happened in those early years on the Kabul side and how did the CIA itself view that institutional "fish" versus the traditionally more lucrative one on the other side of the border? I always get the idea that there was tremendous frustration on the Kabul side, but my imagination is a vivid one and I don't really know what it is that I am looking for:

The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service By Henry A. Crumpton

Perhaps I am looking for a novel way to look at the roots of insurgency and options in counterinsurgency, on the nature of building state institutions, or the emotional and intellectual support (and, well, clientelism) that comes from being attached to a particular country or capital.
Panetta had his earliest roots in the Nixon administration, and I've noticed that all former Nixon officials carry a certain reflexive attitude toward South Asia, one in which the only options to work through are almost always the same old-same old from the period, and even if there is an interest to expand those options, the patterns remain weirdly the same.

From Ralph Peters 1996 article in PARAMETERS that apparently led to this site eventually :)

Consider just a few of the potential trouble spots where US military intervention or assistance could prove necessary in the next century: Mexico, Egypt, the sub-continent with an expansionist India, the Arabian Peninsula, Brazil, or the urbanizing Pacific Rim.“the-mout-homepage”-which-became-the-“urban-opera

This language, as far as I can tell, of Indian expansionism, is all over the American Cold War literature, and it retained its pull in 90s era literature too, and in some of the books that are on American military lists relating to the very early period of our campaign in Afghanistan. Well, it's a theory of mine. Don't know if it would pan out.

The language, as far as I can tell, has its roots in different narratives:

1. American Cold War attitudes toward India. It was India that was expansionist.
2. The Indian left that felt the state was imperialist and therefore expansionist.
3. Chinese attitudes toward India; both accuse the other of expansionism.
4. Local regional attitudes by many neighbors toward Indian regional power and perceived hegemony.

Interesting to read 90s era writing on the region, and compare to what eventually panned out. Also, expansionism may be used toward Afghanistan, depending on your DC kink, if you are mostly concerned with Russia or Iran, China or trade, etc.

I was looking for something else in the archives of the NYT and accidentally discovered this:

"Re ''Redefining Pakistan'' (editorial, Jan. 15):

President Pervez Musharraf is engaged in removing terrorist groups from Pakistan because they are a threat to the security and stability of Pakistan and all of South Asia. India must also play its role in making South Asia a terrorist-free zone by ridding these groups of their rallying cause: the denial of self-determination for the people of Kashmir.

For more than 50 years, the Indian government has refused to deliver on its promise to enable Kashmiris to choose by plebiscite whether they want to join India or Pakistan or become an independent nation.

India's continued occupation of Kashmir and its brutal human rights record serves as a stain on the record of the world's largest democracy.

India must now work with Pakistan to bring Kashmir back to continuity with its history of being an abode of peace and religious tolerance.


Is this the same Arif Rafiq from the John Batchelor show? I enjoy listening to him. Nothing special in that letter, fairly standard narrative from a Pakistani point of view, and of course, the usual Indian (or Kashmiri, depending) retort is that Pakistan occupies Kashmir too:

On 24 May 2007, Baroness Emma Nicholson's amended "Report on Kashmir: Present Situation and Future Prospects" was passed by an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Report criticizes Pakistan for human rights violation in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and, while appreciating India's position on Jammu and Kashmir, urges it to prevent custodial killings and fake encounters in the state. Why has Pakistan's response to the Report been negative? Is it because the Report weakens its image, or because it seems pro-Indian or pro-Kashmiri?

The EU Report highlights comprehensive differences on political, economic and human rights issues between the two parts of Kashmir and recommends that India and Pakistan deepen their dialogue. It is an unbiased survey. Hence, to categorize it as Pakistan or India bashing is excessive. First, it notes that India is the world's largest secular democracy (though with irregularities in practice), but is skeptical about democracy in PoK, saying that democratic structures do not exist in Gilgit and Baltistan. This view accords with the judgment of the Pakistan Supreme Court that, on 28 May 1999, asked the Government to ensure fundamental rights and provide access to justice to people in Gilgit and Baltistan. After the EU Report was passed, Sardar Attiq Khan, Prime Minister of 'Azad Kashmir,' repudiated its finding of democracy being absent in the region. However, the ongoing judicial crisis in Pakistan that has turned into a campaign for restoring democratic rule validates the Report's assertion.

From an American point of view, I have never understood how it became, until fairly recently, a consensus that the US could serve as an "honest" broker when we underwrite the security of one state, and are eagerly selling weapons to another in this dance.

Well, I know how it came about because of the Cold War and our relationships with NATO and Saudi Arabia, and so forth, I just never understood how little maneuver room there was on this in terms of American scholarship.

Didn't Baroness Nicholson complain that she was harassed?

How is it that the American South Asian analyst community allowed Kashmir to become synonymous with only one side of the occupation or administration?

In the June 1969 volume of Military Review, there is an article that is fascinating to examine in both historical terms, and how it reflects on the steadiness of American attitudes toward the region.

The Pakistan Army and Nationbuilding, Raymond A. Moore, Jr. (page 35)

From the 1969 article from the American military journal, I find the following (the article views all of the Army programs as excellent, and the Pakistani Army as a model modernizing force):

Certainly, it is the largest and probably one of the three most important of the modernizing elite groups--the others are the civil service and the planning commission.

Back to modernization, and western attempts to modernize other nations.

Note that while the Bush administration continued the tradition of viewing the Army as a modernizing force, the Obama administration (and advisors such as Hussain Haqqani and Vali Nasr, and the Clinton and Kerry State Depts.) continued to push the idea of modernizing Pakistan through its civilian institutions, so that neither administration advanced much beyond a 1950s/1960s understanding of the region.

Every line in this 1969 article raises important questions about the American military and the American South Asian analyst, pundit and scholarly community, at least, its most "politically" and policy-active sections. It is an extraordinary document when examined in that way.

Points made in the article and worth reflection on in terms of how the American Army has viewed the region, and how those institutional "feelings" may have arisen:

1. The Pakistani Army was not a revolutionary army and had it roots in the British Army.

Given the Cold War context, the Pakistani Army's origins are contrasted to revolutionary communist armies. Did some of this attitude remain in the American Army as cultural mythology outside of the Coindinista fascination with the British Army, as an almost unexplored or unexamined attitude? Did the British roots mean that for the American Army, it was always a redeemable and Western institution. Did American military officers over the years feel sympathy for the Pakistan Army due to its strong position in society, given the sometimes unhappiness of American military with the American civilian public?

2. The Pakistan Army used national funds (some funds with institutional roots in the old British Indian Army) to grant former Army officers land, especially in Sind and the border with India.

Did desire for land contribute to some of the expansionary attitudes of the Pakistan Army toward Indian-occupied or administered Kashmir, namely, that if Indian-administered Kashmir was to become Pakistani, would the land go preferentially to Army officers and their retired officers? Same too with attitudes toward Afghanistan and strategic depth. Weak neighbors allows a stronger hand in business dealings.

3. Did American investment begin to outshine British investment at this point, and did this contribute to close relationships between the American Army, the DC consensus, and the Pakistan Army?

We know of many studies reviewing the business relationships of the Pakistan Army and its retired officers, but what about American, British, Australian, Canadian, Saudi, Gulf, etc., business relationships with Pakistan's intelligence services and Army?

The paper is unabashed in its admiration for modernization and the modernizing attitudes of the Army. Yet those that wish simply to trade one modernizing institution for another (as outside aid-givers) make the same errors today, in my opinion.

It's one thing to read about this stuff second hand, it's quite another on an intellectual level to read it all first hand for yourself:

Milbus justifies its commercial empire by disparaging civilians as incompetent and corrupt and insisting that the military alone promote national development. Just such a developmental apology for Pakistan’s military rule was echoed in American academic and policy circles throughout the cold war.

I am more interested in how "echoes" develop within American circles. Same too with the situation in Ukraine and the US Eastern European (and Russian) diaspora. We cannot blame others for this.

Apologies, 1 and 2 are explicitly points made in the paper, three is an off-shoot of my own reading.

Another paper I would like to read:

Military Nation-Building in Pakistan and India by the same author (1969). I'd like to do very close line by line readings with comparison to today's public policy pronouncements, so I don't know when I can get to all of this.

Looking over the comments, I can't quite think of any "concluding remarks" on this thread :)

Sorry, I know that's annoying.

The only thing I can think is that there must be many people within the system (military and civilian) that feel cheated by many analysts and by DC consensus opinion. As you reflect on your experiences, many must sense a gap between what you were asked to study or follow, and what you saw, and that too outside the COIN discussion.

I don't know how an institution deals with this except to develop its own think tanks which you seem to have in your Army strategists and the like. And yet, as my examples have shown, you get infiltrated too, intellectually and otherwise.

Maybe the best thing about reading this paper and this thread is for people to learn "how" to read critically? Especially in this area, I'd question anything put forth. How was the information collected? Why is THIS person highlighting THIS area? How did it come about that X is viewed as critical? Who agrees? Who disagrees?

Some of the papers written by your own students and analysts linked here are top notch.

But then, as one goes up the food chain of rank, it all becomes mixed up with what the larger political world is saying and retired military analysts with outmoded or dated thinking seem to predominate in the larger public discussion.

For a time, I tried to look up Fort Bragg and the various American and British military connections to the Pakistani military but it all became a bit repetitive. We train people and they return and then our retired officials and military have a variety of consulting gigs based on the connections, and, well, it just got repetitive.

Did you think that you'd face the very tactics you'd trained people on? But you must have. See, this is where I need help. It is above my head to understand. It is very hard for civilians to understand tactical discussions. I once went to a talk by a physician in the military and it was a blaze of power point and acronyms and he sounded so confident, he looked so confident in his uniform, it was an amazing talk.

But when it was over, I wondered what I had learned and felt embarrassed that I hadn't followed it, really.

One thing I did learn from that military physician is that we in the US who have never been in a war zone can't understand what it is like viscerally, some of the things show on battlefield injuries, and, in particular, the setting, were so otherworldly, so awful, so like the gates of hell being opened up, that it made our civilian keyboard experience of the world with YouTube videos seem like an insult to anyone that has been at war.

That's what that talk felt like, afterwards the military medical students stayed to talk to the physician but I went back to my office. "Aren't you going to stay for lunch," he said, but I couldn't wait to get back to the office. I felt like an intruder even if they were welcoming. So many civilian advisors, so very delusional, so very undereducated and ambitious.

I finally started that thread that I promised which will be about more than this topic:

I will try and move as many of the references mentioned in the comments section here to that thread as I find the time to do so.

In my previous comment, I forgot to highlight the following:

8.It is difficult to present a representative Kashmiri view with any degree of certainty since the Indian government has not published any open polls on either accession or independence conducted in Jammu and Kashmir. The authors thank Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of the Kashmiri American Council and other Kashmiris for sharing their scholarship and views.

Of interest:

WASHINGTON—Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, a U.S. citizen and resident of Fairfax, Va., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and tax violations in connection with a decades-long scheme to conceal the transfer of at least $3.5 million from the government of Pakistan to fund his lobbying efforts in America related to Kashmir.

Not to be too hard on the author of that Military Review paper, but it has historically been difficult to get at Pakistan-administered Kashmir, even harder than Indian-administered Kashmir, for scholars, so that, over the years, somehow the issue of Kashmir and its autonomy of freedom because synonymous with Indian-administered Kashmir as opposed to focusing on the entire state equally.


An important implication for human rights activists is that in order to try and remain neutral, it's better to be as holistic in one's approach as possible.

I don't like the way Narendra Modi responded to what happened in Gujurat (it happened under your watch, Mr. Administrator. No remorse, no "what could have been done better"?).

But I understand that the Indian Congress party and outsiders played politics with the thing and lots of misinformation made its way into the public via all camps, Modi's camp and its critics.

The denial of his visa by the US seems not only to be a way to show the US cared about Muslims, even as we occupied Muslim countries, but had its start by well-meaning people wanting to highlight minority religious oppression in various countries, including the oppression of Christians.That became too difficult politically so oppression by Hindus was picked as a relatively "easier" sell and a "no-name" official singled out, a no-name that turned out to be the future Prime Minister. That says more about the disorganized nature of DC and its strange interest groups than anything else.

This process hurts Human Rights activists because by not being neutral and highlighting as much oppression as equally as one can, you inadvertently become a tool of outside interests.

The temptation for activists is always to become involved with power to move one's interests, but that very process then taints the activists. It's not that they weren't correct to question what happened in Gujurat, but the way in which it happened tainted their activism.

Activists must strive to remain neutral and that is what happened to the Kashmir movement over the years, its highjacking by various groups for various reasons left the Kashmiri people as a pawn. To be fair, many mistakes were made by Kashmiri politicians and diaspora themselves.

Something to be careful about when looking at the glowing coverage of Modi. He is the leader of a state and a very popular one, he is not the unchallenged leader of some ethnic group or diaspora, and shouldn't be presented as a community leader but as a popular politician. Western press tends to do this. It is the same process with Indian Americans today that they once did with Sikhs in Canada or Pakistanis in the UK.

The US made a huge error with Modi because basically it doesn't operate on principle but would like, at times, to pretend that it does. This never works. Human Rights activism must be neutral to be effective in the long term. With India and Gujurat and Kashmir, too many well-meaning western Human Rights activists inadvertently mixed themselves up with things they didn't understand.

So too with Ukraine or democracy activism in Russia. Too many in the West ally themselves with one faction within rather than try and serve as fair outside observers. There is more to understanding the world than retweeting Gary Kasparov.

Pro and anti-NATO camps in particular seem, well, let's just say that going down that route and their connections to the DC consensus is like looking in a sewer of influence peddling.

This from the late 90s Military Review by Lester Grau is interesting in terms of its insight into certain American attitudes from the time which view the region through:

1. The equating of Indian and Pakistani action.
2. The "nuclear flashpoint" as the main lens through which to view the region.
3. The belief that outsiders are critical to solving the crisis.
4. The centrality of Kashmir.

All those 90's based ideas-in-the-air contributed to first the Bush campaign, then the Obama campaign in AfPak until most recently when the US South Asian analyst community has been undergoing an intellectual change, although the basic attitudes remain the same. The US desires its client states and that its money making for officials (and power relationships) remain the same, regardless.

RantCorp asked further down in the thread about spying.

The Congressional Task Force testimony I mentioned further down in the thread also talks about KGB-KhAD deception efforts in fracturing the resistance efforts on the ground in Afghanistan, while the CIA took its cue from the ISI, and this flawed interaction fed Washington incorrect information because the ISI wanted money for both personal and institutional reasons. The flawed past interaction has then been exacerbated by the creation of success mythologies by retired intelligence and military officials, or, its opposite in theories of blow back. But the manipulation of information and the difference between what happened on the ground and what was reported seems interesting to me given our most recent efforts in so-called AfPak and with the Syrian opposition. I don't believe a word of this vetting nonsense.

(Unheeded Warnings: The Lost Reports of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare (Crossbow books).)

The other stuff I mentioned, the Sibel Edmonds stuff? I hate reading about it because it just makes me even more, well, depressed isn't the right word because I believe ultimately in our nation, but it does make me less and less interested in anything coming out of official Washington or its neutered press or the sort of military themed intellectual that doesn't like digging deep and prefers staying on the glittering surface.

Again, for me personally, reading congressional testimony about South Asia from the 90s has been more illuminating that almost anything I've come across. The same names, the same politicians, the same officials- soon to be lobbyists for foreign nations, the entire spectrum of the past 13 odd years is right there there. I also have no doubt no one will be interested aside from people like the author of this piece.

Also illuminating is to read American South Asian analysts from, say, the 2003 period and compare their writing to today. Almost a complete 180 but without any explanation of the change, why promote one policy one year, then change almost overnight.

Even I know when to raise the white flag, intellectually speaking. You have won within the Army, classic counterinsurgency types. Completely and utterly, the Army is transformed, and its future budgets secured with its focus on the Mid East. You have cracked the code: keep it small, keep it AVF, keep it contractors, start slow so that politicians feel the need to escalate, slowly but surely, and, always, always avoid the lessons that might really illuminate because that would throw everything we think and do into confusion. Witness the lack of interesting in the missing 28 pages about Saudi Arabia in the 9-11 report versus interest in Benghazi.

I vacillate on starting the South Asia and American council thread because maybe the better part of valor is to read books like the following:

I don't know. Like all good South Asia 'analysts', even rotten comment section types like me, I write one thing one day, and its opposite the next. Must be something in the water. And Kenneth Pollack thinks we should nation build in Syria. It's awfully convenient that all that urban warfare stuff you've been asked to read will need to be contracted out in some fashion to the same intellectuals pushing the stuff. If the British vote to follow us, they are very foolish creatures indeed.

Machiavellian wouldn't begin to describe it. Too bad the same attitude is never applied to enemies, only maneuvering within the Beltway.