Pakistani Power Play

If the United States wants to curb terrorism and nuclear proliferation, it needs to fundamentally rethink its relationship with Pakistan.

C. Christine Fair in Foreign Policy:

ScreenHunter_16 Nov. 06 14.50Long after the last U.S. or NATO soldier leaves Afghanistan — and no matter who wins on Tuesday — Pakistan will continue to present fundamental challenges to U.S. regional interests and international security.

The self-proclaimed “land of the pure” has used Islamist militants as tools of foreign policy since its earliest days of independence. In the fall of 1947, tribal marauders from Pakistan's Pashtun areas, benefiting from extensive government support, rushed into the princely state of Kashmir in hopes of seizing it for Pakistan. Leaders of the newborn Pakistani state feared that the king of the Muslim-dominant state of Kashmir would seek independence or agree to join India. The strategy triggered the very event Islamabad was trying to prevent: The king, watching with apprehension as his own security forces failed to stave off the attackers, sought India's help. India agreed to come to his aid, provided that the maharaja join India's dominion. Indian troops thus joined the fight to defend its newly acquired territory. The eventual ceasefire left the princely state divided between the dominions of India and Pakistan.

To wrest all of Kashmir from India, Pakistan has since then raised and nurtured numerous Islamist militant groups. In 1989, an indigenous insurgency erupted in Kashmir in response to gross Indian malfeasance. Pakistan swiftly took advantage of the surge of so-called mujahideen who had trained in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets. Pakistan's “foreign” militants overtook the Kashmiri insurgency. By the mid-1990s, the violence in the valley was mostly conducted by Pakistani terrorists — predominantly ethnic Punjabis — ostensibly on behalf of Kashmiris.

More here.