I came across an interesting article by a former Afghan diplomat, Masood Aziz, in the Daily Beast over the weekend. As I am all for encouraging debate on Afghanistan and other issues, I urge readers to check out the entire article — as it is too long to cut here.
One point Aziz made that I thought was especially right on the money was this:
• We are not addressing the heart of the matter—which is attainable, contrary to some experts advocating against it: taking away the underlying reasons for the existence of institutionalized sanctuaries in Pakistan. Certain elements of the Pakistani army have justified the need to maintain an “asymmetric warfare” capability for “national security” reasons because they say that India may invade Pakistan any day. This tactic is used to defend the need to extend support to extremist groups like the Taliban or Panjabi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, the alleged perpetuators of the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Without removing the reasons for such a perceived need, the existence of the Taliban or other extremist groups will never end. The U.S. has neglected this core aspect of the conflict for far too long and is now attempting to catch up to decades of inattention and lack of action.
Although it is undoubtedly a long-term process, the US is doing little to really get the ball rolling on this issue. Increased diplomatic pressure and other tools must be employed in order to initiate a sustainable pacification of the India-Pakistan conflict. Of course, militant groups will resist and undermine these efforts. Even the Pakistani security apparatus will certainly obstruct measures that would inevitably diminish its power, influence, and resources. But these obstacles should not be complete barriers toward a lasting solution to the deeply ingrained underlying issues that are fomenting conflict across the region and beyond.