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  • Pashtunistan: the way to save both Afghanistan and Pakistan


    by Rumbold
    19th September, 2007 at 5:31 pm    

    However much we try and dress it up, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the midst of civil wars.

    In Afghanistan, the situation is serious enough to warrant thousands of foreign troops assisting the Afghan army to hunt down the remnants of the Taliban and their allies. In Pakistan, tens of thousands of Pakistani troops, demoralised and under constant attack, are attempting to fight Al-Qaeda, local tribes and fugitive Taliban.

    Both countries’ governments are fighting against the same people: the Pashtuns. Most Pashtuns live in Afghanistan and in the part of Pakistan known as the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). My proposal (albeit not a novel one), is to create a Pashtun homeland based in the NWFP and a sizeable section of Afghanistan.

    Partition in South Asia has had a chequered history, but it should be pointed out that the reason why the Pashtuns do not have their own country is because the British and Russians carved it up during the Great Game so that a buffer state could be created between British and Russian territory.

    A Pashtun state would not, as many fear, be a Taliban-Bin Laden style utopia. Many Pashtuns are opposed to the Taliban, with the Afghan President being foremost amongst them. The main reason why the extremist Pashtuns are in the ascendancy at the moment is the presence of Pakistani and Western forces in their ancestral lands, which the Pashtuns view as an invasion. If Pashtunistan were to be realised then the pro-war Pashtuns would fall from grace, as there would be little reason to keep fighting if there were no foreign troops on their soil. Most Pashtuns, like other peoples, are peaceful, and just want to be allowed to live as they see fit.

    There are plenty of objections to this proposal: the Afghan and Pak governments do not want to lose more people and land, a fate suffered by the latter country in 1971; the proposed area of Pashtunistan has natural resources and valuable trade routes; America has yet to catch Osama Bin Laden and other top terrorists, and if they were hiding in Pashtunistan the Americans would never be able to capture or kill them; too many Pashtuns are living outside the proposed area, so there would be tensions between them and the non-Pashtuns. All these points are sensible, but each can be countered effectively:

    The Afghan and Pak governments would have to give up land, but they would both be left with a more coherent country and borders that are actually defensible, rather than continuing with an interminable civil war.

    The Pashtuns would recognise that some of their income derived from these trade routes, so would be anxious to keep them open.

    If the price of peace in this region is to let a few guilty men escape, then so be it. At least they would not be in other countries causing trouble.

    Pashtuns would have a choice whether or not to move to Pashtunistan. Those who stayed would just carry on as normal, and we would be very unlikely to see the sort of scenes witnessed when India and Pakistan were partitioned, as that largely arose from religious tension, and all the Pashtuns are Muslims. There might be a bit of tension, but no upheaval on this scale would ever be perfect. There is likely to be more tension anyway if Pashtuns keep fighting the Pakistani army.

    Pashtunistan would allow the British and the Americans to help consolidate the rest of Afghanistan. More importantly it would substantially reduce the chances of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hand of disgruntled Islamists. This should be the clincher for Britain and America. Pashtuns would be happy because they would have their own homeland, while those who chose to stay in other countries would have made a conscious effort to renew their loyalty to said country.

    Civil war is the most debilitating of any type of war, as it divides people of the same nation. Pashtunistan could put a stop to it.

    Update: Jai points out an excellent article on the Pashtuns.


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    1. Caged Monkey Redux :: Pashtunistan: The way to save both Afghanistan and Pakistan :: September :: 2007

      [...] Pickled Politics, Rumbold sets forth a proposal that would solve all the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan (and then [...]




    1. fugstar — on 19th September, 2007 at 5:45 pm  

      drawing lines on a map do suit your own vain ideas of the region.

      how very british indeed.

      maybe you should work in international development?

    2. Don — on 19th September, 2007 at 6:34 pm  

      Interesting fantasy.

    3. Jai — on 19th September, 2007 at 7:13 pm  

      Most Pashtuns, like other peoples, are peaceful, and just want to be allowed to live as they see fit.

      They undoubtedly do want to be allowed to live as they see fit, but I would certainly not regard them as being from a “peaceful” culture. Many individuals may be, but as a group they are not, and have not been for a very long time indeed. All those warlords and fortresses didn’t just spring up when the British and the Russians respectively turned up on their doorstep. And that’s before we even get started on the Pashtuns’ historical interaction with India itself.

      Even the first Wikipedia link supplied in the main article makes this clear, as does the connecting link to the Wiki article on “Pashtunwali”, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashtunwali

      There was also an absolutely superb article from The Economist last December which talks about Pashtuns and their culture, and I strongly recommend everyone here reads it: http://economist.com/world/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8345531

      However, I do think Rumbold’s article was extremely well-written and obviously driven by great idealism and good intentions. Imaginative, carefully thought-out in advance, and enjoyable to read.

    4. Rumbold — on 19th September, 2007 at 8:24 pm  

      Fugstar:

      “drawing lines on a map do suit your own vain ideas of the region.

      how very british indeed.”

      Indeed.

      Jai:

      “They undoubtedly do want to be allowed to live as they see fit, but I would certainly not regard them as being from a “peaceful” culture.”

      They have always been good fighters, but that does not mean that they want to be involved in a permanent war. Take the Swiss for example; can anybody remember the last time they fought a war? Yet in the early modern period many Swiss would hire themselves out as mercenaries (a few still guard the Vatican), and if you had asked people in 1600 what they thought of the Swiss they would have described them as a warrior race.

      “However, I do think Rumbold’s article was extremely well-written and obviously driven by great idealism and good intentions. Imaginative, carefully thought-out in advance, and enjoyable to read.”

      Thank you.

    5. Derius — on 19th September, 2007 at 8:30 pm  

      “If Pashtunistan were to be realised then the pro-war Pashtuns would fall from grace.”

      I fear the reverse would be true. The pro war Pashtuns would claim that it was their war efforts that made the international community form Pashtunistan (and they would be right). They would be seen by many as national heros, and the effect would be the opposite of what you have predicted. It would in effect create another Taliban State.

      I also believe that it is not for the West to decide Islamic borders in Islamic lands, just as it is not for Islamic States to decide Western borders in Western lands. Until that lesson is learned by us, I fear that international relations will continue to decline.

    6. Rumbold — on 19th September, 2007 at 8:35 pm  

      Derius:

      “The pro war Pashtuns would claim that it was their war efforts that made the international community form Pashtunistan (and they would be right). They would be seen by many as national heros, and the effect would be the opposite of what you have predicted. It would in effect create another Taliban State.”

      It would rob the pro-war Pashtuns of their reason for fighting. Not all Pashtuns that are fighting think like the Taliban, as they are fighting because somebody has invaded their ancestoral lands.

      “I also believe that it is not for the West to decide Islamic borders in Islamic lands, just as it is not for Islamic States to decide Western borders in Western lands.”

      It would be Afghanistan and Pakistan who would divide it up, with the West giving it their tact backing.

    7. Derius — on 19th September, 2007 at 9:08 pm  

      “It would be Afghanistan and Pakistan who would divide it up, with the West giving it their tact backing.”

      That would be seen by many in the Middle East as the Afghanistan and Pakistani government merely doing the bidding of the West.

      “It would rob the pro-war Pashtuns of their reason for fighting”

      From a Western perspective, yes. However, the Pashtun Jihadists will not see it that way. They also believe they have a religious duty to protect the Islamic Ummah. From their view, neighbouring Afghanistan would still be Islamic lands occupied by Christian armies. They would still feel obliged to fight the Allied forces, and they would have the backing of many people in the state you propose to create. Why do you think so many foreign fighters turn up in Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban?

      I don’t mean to come across as a negtive troll here, by the way, Rumbold. You have clearly researched the topic and your article is well written. I merely disagree with the conclusions you have drawn!

    8. douglas clark — on 20th September, 2007 at 12:50 am  

      Rumbold,

      Would all of this come about through peaceful means? What split of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal would go to this new state? Which minorities might feel obliged to move over borders. Who would the new state ally with?

      Have you really thought this through?

    9. bananabrain — on 20th September, 2007 at 9:06 am  

      i think this is a really interesting idea, actually - although i don’t like the idea of them getting *any* of pak’s nukes - they ought to be happy with their own country if you ask me. the buggers have been knocking seven kinds of crap out of everyone since alexander the great got saddled with a wife who wasn’t prepared to put up with his boyfriends. not that you would expect pashtuns to mind that sort of thing with their famous folk song and all.

      as for the pashtun jihadis, there’s nothing that will make them happy short of the talebanisation of the world, so i don’t really see any point in trying to appease such obvious lunatics. screw ‘em.

      and, derius, it may not be for “western states” to decide borders in “islamic lands”, but it may be for the “international community” to do so to correct the historical injustices created by imperialism - it’s a matter of how it is perceived.

      and, by the way, we should do the same in iraq - it’s no good trying to keep the place together any more and serves no useful purpose. split it in three, give the kurds an independent kurdistan like we should have done in 1990, let the shi’as secede to iran, after all it’s what they want, plus it may be an indigestible pill for them to swallow and so much the better. and if the sunni get stuck with the rest then frankly let them rely on their baathist buddies in syria or their oily friends down in saudi.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    10. Jake — on 20th September, 2007 at 9:15 am  

      South Asia is already a fragile region. There is a lot of rivalry and tension between countries. Further division of the region into smaller countries will only increase tension and not make it safer. Will Pashtunistan be economically viable? If not it could become a failed state.

    11. Rumbold — on 20th September, 2007 at 9:48 am  

      Derius:

      “The Pashtun Jihadists will not see it that way. They also believe they have a religious duty to protect the Islamic Ummah. From their view, neighbouring Afghanistan would still be Islamic lands occupied by Christian armies.”

      But if Pashtunistan went ahead the foreign troops would not have to stay for very long. Also, most of the Pashtuns are still pretty secular, so do not necessarily feel a binding connection to the Ummah.

      “I don’t mean to come across as a negtive troll here, by the way, Rumbold. You have clearly researched the topic and your article is well written. I merely disagree with the conclusions you have drawn!”

      You are about as far from a troll as there can be Derius. You read my article and came up with coherant and well-argued points to contest my argument. It is, as you say, a disagreement of views, and I would hate to think that people could not disagree on Pickled Politics without being thought of as trolls. Thank you for your kind words.

      Douglas Clark:

      “Would all of this come about through peaceful means? What split of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal would go to this new state? Which minorities might feel obliged to move over borders. Who would the new state ally with?”

      I do not see why it should not be a peaceful transition of power. As Bananabrain says, the nuclear arsenal should stay with the present Pak government. Pashtunistan would be a homeland for the Pashtuns, so everybody who chose to move there would know what they were getting themselves into.

      Bananabrain:

      “i think this is a really interesting idea, actually - although i don’t like the idea of them getting *any* of pak’s nukes - they ought to be happy with their own country if you ask me.”

      Exactly.

      Jake:

      “Further division of the region into smaller countries will only increase tension and not make it safer. Will Pashtunistan be economically viable? If not it could become a failed state.”

      I think it would actually reduce tension. Peace in the region would also lead to much more investment (being in the middle of the Middle East, Central Asia, India and China), so Pashtunistan would have a much better chance of thriving. I do take your point about economic prosperity mind.

    12. Sid — on 20th September, 2007 at 10:31 am  

      they ought to be happy with their own country if you ask me.

      Pakistan and Afghanistan were carved up in the Great Game along an arbitrary boundary along the North West Frontier Province. Filial loyalties, tribal kinship and Western busy-bodying ensures that these boundaries are clear-cut on SatNavs and Imperial maps but very arbitary and ambigiuous to the people on the ground.

      And even if we go down the route of the Rumbold Map, interesting though it is, it will also suffer from ambiguous local loyalties and porous boundaries that trump national borders. Unless of course you build an Israeili-stylee wall along the perimeter with armed sentries aat regular intervals to take pot shots at over-enthusiastic ‘tourists’.

    13. justforfun — on 20th September, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

      Rumbold - While a Pushtoon entity MIGHT have been possible before the creation of Pakistan in 47, to create one now would be the death knell of Pakistan as we know it. The thin sliver of land that is Pakistan Punjab is not as you say a more coherent country and borders that are actually defensible - but rather the opposite because the releasing of one province will lead to demands from others who want out from under the Punjab dominated military, plus the geographical layout of the Pakistani Punjab would not support any realist military defence visa vi Indian forces when it came to a hot war.

      About a year ago there was swerling around the ether General Musharraf promoting his book and appearing on the Jon Stewart show etc , and also kite flying articles in the US press that the US was getting fed up with the Pakistani Government, and Mush in particular - that they and were looking at alternatives including letting Pakistan disintergrate. We even on PP ( or to be honest I ) had a discussion/comment on a thread that rather got out of hand.

      http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/799
      Post 24 and beyond
      PS Terry Thomas - aka Zia Ul Haq.

      Re -reading it now I laugh, but at the time I was forced into rudeness which I apologise, but the reading of the runes I still stand by.

      Now its a year on , the kite flying seems to be about America deciding that the disintergration of Pakistan is the worst option and that a good dose of “Benazir Bhutto” is the medicine that Pakistan will be forced to swallow in the short term.

      So while the tribes in the north and west of Afghanistan might be able and willing, and even be glad to form a new Afghanistan without the Pushtoons, Pakistan would certainly be put on life support by a creation of Pushtunistan. And it is Pakistan that is the key , because of its sheer population size and more advanced metroploitan society/economy. (The nukes are a red herring because I beleive the Americans have cladestinely neutralized the hardware long ago) - That is why I commented on another thread recently - the Western world is playing a waiting game in Afghanistan, doing just enough to combat the Taliban and keep Afghanistan together , but not enough to precipitate a collapse of the Taliban/Pustoon society leading to chaos in Pakistan. While the ring is held there, and India accepts the USA’s assurances about the situation, Pakistan has the oppotunity to seize the chance to save itself from itself. But the ring cannot be held for ever - say a further 5 years, and if the Pakistan cannot somehow pull itself back from the brink, it will be a case of the world building concrete walls around it and sealing it in. I leave it to Pakistanis to decide how best to save their country, but they should not leave it too long or events may overtake them. Perhaps even Mush has seen the writing on the wall and is slowly getting his mind around getting the Pakistani military back into barracks. Good luck in the elections and lets hope they come soon and you get a few new uncorrupted leaders that can stabilize the society?

      Justforfun

    14. Keepin' it real — on 20th September, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

      With all due respect….You’ve obviously never spoken to a Pashtun, I have been living and working in Afghanistan for the last three years and i have yet to come across a pashtun who advocates carving up his/her own country yet again!

      During the civil war of the 1990′s the then UN Special Representative toured the country seeking peace between the different factions, his most surprising finding was the lack of appetite for separate states for the different ethnic groups.

      Be they Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara or Uzbek - they are all Afghans and want one thing - an end to the external inteference, effective Government institutions and for the country’s infrastructure to be re-built.

    15. Rumbold — on 20th September, 2007 at 2:47 pm  

      Sid:

      “And even if we go down the route of the Rumbold Map, interesting though it is, it will also suffer from ambiguous local loyalties and porous boundaries that trump national borders. Unless of course you build an Israeili-stylee wall along the perimeter with armed sentries aat regular intervals to take pot shots at over-enthusiastic ‘tourists’.”

      ‘Rumbold Map’- like it. It would not be perfect, but it would surely be better than the current situation where people in the same country are fighting one another.

      Justforfun:

      “While a Pushtoon entity MIGHT have been possible before the creation of Pakistan in 47, to create one now would be the death knell of Pakistan as we know it … the geographical layout of the Pakistani Punjab would not support any realist military defence visa vi Indian forces when it came to a hot war.”

      Pakistan would still have the Punjab, Sind and most of Balochistan. As for defence, for all the postering India would never launch a full-scale invasion of Pakistan, because of the nuclear weapons that the Pakistanis would use if they felt they were being overrun. Also, how does the NWFP help Pakistan defend itself against India? Surely it actually draws troops (some 80,000) away from the Indian border?

      Keepin’ it real:

      “During the civil war of the 1990’s the then UN Special Representative toured the country seeking peace between the different factions, his most surprising finding was the lack of appetite for separate states for the different ethnic groups.

      Be they Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara or Uzbek - they are all Afghans and want one thing - an end to the external inteference, effective Government institutions and for the country’s infrastructure to be re-built.”

      But I believe that the best way to achieve this would be Pashtunistan, and I suspect that support for a Pashtun homeland is growing as a result of the Pakistani army going into their tribal lands. I agree that what most people want is stability, though I suspect that tribal loyalties are more pronounced than may always appear.

    16. mirwais — on 20th September, 2007 at 5:03 pm  

      Not Pashtunistan but a complete reintegration of N.W.F.P into Afghanistan and a return to the borders of 1893 is the only natural, wise and just solution.

      What happens to the rest of Pakistan is an open question, but reintegration of Punjab and Sindh provinces into India would be the ideal solution for a permanent peace in South Asia, because the inhabitants of these areas are very closely linked to each other by race, language, culutre, religion, history etc.
      Why should India and Pakistan spend their much needed resources on weapons of massdestruction instead of using them to eliminate homelessness, poverty and illiteracy on the subcontinent? Indians and Pakistanis should hug each other as brothers and sisters and work for a better tommorow in South Asia, which has enormous resources, know how and expertise… How long are we going to have conflicts on the South Asian subcontinent (Durand Line [Pashtunistan], Kashmir, Nepal, Sri Lanka etc.)?

      We can never have stability in South and Central Asia as long as we don’t solve the Pashtunistan (Durand Line) conflict first, once and for all. Afghanistan is a victim and has been destabilised from the first day of Pakistan’s creation after the bloody partition of India by the end of the World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. Afghanistan has paid for it very heavily as we all know.

      To keep it short, here is my recepie for peace, stability and prosperity in South and Central Asia:

      1. Reintegrate NWFP into Afghanistan and the restore borders of 1893.
      2. Reintegrate Punjab and Sindh provinces into India.
      3. Creation of independent Baluchistan and Kashmir.

      Anyone interested in further details and discussions in this regard, I would be there.

      Mirwais Kabuli

    17. justforfun — on 20th September, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

      Rumbold - Pakistan lacks what is called stategic depth - this is just geography. It is a long thin country nestling up a against a wide fat country.

      What you are proposing will make it an even thinner country, less able to marshall, store, manouver etc its military assets away at any distance from the border, so it is hampered once hostilities have begun. On the other hand because of this it is quicker off the blocks than India , who has in the past taken much longer to mobilize and bring its forces up from the rear. In this time Pakistan would hope to gain ground and then hope for international pressure to call a stale mate and then negotate back this ground.

      However due to nukes on the table , India has recently altered its game plan to a ‘Cold Start’ to diminsh this Pakistani tactic and exploit Pakistans lack of depth. It will station offensive forces on the border and so hope for a quick conventional victory.

      If you want further reading on the madness of the current thinking and the jockeying going on, Google ‘Cold Start’ & India and go from there.

      Anyway I give you a Pakistani Generals desire for tactical nukes because stategic nukes appear not good enough.

      http://www.defencejournal.com/2000/mar/doctrine.htm

      Anyway enough of this talk - its a madness which although off topic from “Pastunistan” it still is still all in the web.

      There is no military solution to Pakistan’s problems which spill over into being Afghanistan’s problems.

      India will not acheive anything in the long run by military victory, as it cannot cope with the aftermath of a collapsing and chaotic Pakistan, so it will be well advised to just maintain containment and getting on with life.

      Of course on the Pakistani side, its military at current rates will bleed it population dry, so its military is no long term solution either.

      Lets prey for civilian rule in Pakistan and a harking back to a politics free Indian Army that does not pander to mad machismo from the Indian middle class.

      Justforfun

    18. KSingh — on 21st September, 2007 at 7:30 am  

      This is the same logic used by the supporters of Khalistan to create a safety buffer between India and Pakistan and prevent nuclear war.

    19. Rumbold — on 21st September, 2007 at 9:38 am  

      Mirwais:

      “To keep it short, here is my recepie for peace, stability and prosperity in South and Central Asia:

      1. Reintegrate NWFP into Afghanistan and the restore borders of 1893.
      2. Reintegrate Punjab and Sindh provinces into India.
      3. Creation of independent Baluchistan and Kashmir.”

      The problem with this is that it requires the destruction of Pakistan, so I am not sure that the Pakistani government would agree to it.

      Justforfun:

      “However due to nukes on the table , India has recently altered its game plan to a ‘Cold Start’ to diminsh this Pakistani tactic and exploit Pakistans lack of depth. It will station offensive forces on the border and so hope for a quick conventional victory.”

      The point is that India has no reason to invade Pakistan, and, now that Pakistan does have nuclear weapons, India would only invade if it felt it had no choice, and the Pakistanis would surely be ready by then.

      “Lets prey for civilian rule in Pakistan and a harking back to a politics free Indian Army that does not pander to mad machismo from the Indian middle class.”

      I agree, especially about the first bit.

      Caged Monkey Redux:

      I read your criticisms, and will answer them, but can you post them here first? Thanks.

      Also, it was nice to see that I have a whole category, ‘Things that irritate me’, to myself.

      K Singh:

      “This is the same logic used by the supporters of Khalistan to create a safety buffer between India and Pakistan and prevent nuclear war.”

      That would not have been a bad idea either, considering the number of Indo-Pak conflicts, and the nuclear race.

    20. justforfun — on 21st September, 2007 at 12:37 pm  

      Rumbold - Sorry I did not give a lengthy explanation, but you are getting there.

      The point is that India has no reason to invade Pakistan, and, now that Pakistan does have nuclear weapons, India would only invade if it felt it had no choice, and the Pakistanis would surely be ready by then.

      Background - The India Army has tended to configure itself on a defensive position and has looked at ‘war’ as a means of preserving and gaining territory. Hence it is slow to react and then tends to regain what is lost. Then finally the international community (in the Cold War) would bring it all to a halt ( 1971 - Bangladesh is an example where the timing shows how long it took the Indian Army to re-act - but in this case it had the time and chose to take its time to get it right - see Sam Manekshaw’s explanation).

      Kargil was a classic case of Pakistan being nimbler and off the mark quick - and then the Indian slow slog of regaining the few yards of territory. 2002 standoff - it took 30 days for the Indian Army to deploy onto the frontier in three groups and Pakistan was ready and waiting - but and the USA had time to diffuse the situation.

      Now the doctrine has changed - it is recognized that territory in not the issue anymore and that problems with Pakistan stem from its “military” and how the military uses interferance in India to play politics and remain in power. The conclusion is that for any long term co-habitation on the sub-continent, the Pakistan Military is the actor that has to be defeated, because once gone, secular Pakistan might stand a chance to regrow. Hence the ‘invasion’ will not be an invasion for territory but for regime change. Rumbold - once you have understood that you understand that some Indians could argue they have a reason for a regime change.

      Hence the new ‘Cold Start’ posture of 8 offensive groups, rather than 3, that will be on the border, primed to strike and to strike at explicitly the Pakistani Army, with no real long term territorial objective to hold till the ceasefire. A post war scenario would be a quick pull back and then let the civilians in Pakistan try and re-start the country. I am sure India is at this moment probably lining up and making plans with Muslim states to provide the security once the Pakistan Army is no more. Of course suitable inducements will be given visa vi trade etc etc.

      The idea is to strike so quickly that nukes will not have time to be sanctioned by America and China, as a fate accompli will exist and there will be no time to broker a ceasefire and every pressure will be put on the Pakistan Army to capitulate and disband. (Hence the desire by the Pakistan military to have tactical nukes that can be quickly used and preserve the regime, as strategic nukes are pointless)

      This stategy for India is expensive as it requires alot of training and equipement to get right. But India now has the cash to spend, or so many voters believe. In the past the slowness of the Indian mobilisation allowed time for political control. However now there will be no time once the order is given. This is very dangerous as there will be no safety net of international mediation or proper analysis of a ‘spark event’, like the attack on the Parliment. The Pakistan Army know this doctrine is aimed at them personally and will be nervous on the trigger. The tension is higher and consequently they tread more carefully.

      In addition this links back to the Pushtunistan angle and your comment
      and the Pakistanis would surely be ready by then

      Once the Indian Army is always on the border primed to go, the Pakistan Army will have to be always alert to the possibilty and be in position. Once in position and if the country is thinner due to Pushtunistan, they have to be nearer the border - hence quicker to get at when a strike comes. Hence the Pakistan military can never give up space that makes Pakistan wider and gives then a place away from the border.

      The plus side is that the world (ie USA and China) has seen this re-configuring of the Indian Army and is probably using alot of diplomatic arm twisting to prevent any further Pakistani interferance in India that might be the ‘spark event’.

      So is this a doctrine for real or just a bluff? Who knows , but for a deterrance to be credible, it has to be seen to be credible.

      Anyway I thought people ought to be aware things are not all hunky-dory in the world of “nukes promote peace” , rather the opposite because they create the adoption more dangerous but still very very devastating conventional tactics.

      Justforfun

    21. Rumbold — on 21st September, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

      Justforfun:

      You are right about the Indian army’s previous slow response time (and thank you for going into so much detail- I suppose that I never understood the mentality before), and their subsequent reforms. However, I do disagree on some other points:

      “Hence the ‘invasion’ will not be an invasion for territory but for regime change. Rumbold - once you have understood that you understand that some Indians could argue they have a reason for a regime change.”

      If one considers that the last time India and Pakistan were ready to go to war there was a civilian government in Pakistan, I think you are overestimating the trust placed in Pakistani civilian administration by the Indians. The Indians will work any Pakistani leader if they are ‘moderate’ enough, and I doubt that Indians are clamouring for the return to power of Sharif.

      “The idea is to strike so quickly that nukes will not have time to be sanctioned by America and China, as a fate accompli will exist and there will be no time to broker a ceasefire and every pressure will be put on the Pakistan Army to capitulate and disband. (Hence the desire by the Pakistan military to have tactical nukes that can be quickly used and preserve the regime, as strategic nukes are pointless).”

      But doesn’t that presume that Pakistan would look to America and China for permission- why would a nationalistic general whose country was being overrun think like that?

      “Once the Indian Army is always on the border primed to go, the Pakistan Army will have to be always alert to the possibilty and be in position. Once in position and if the country is thinner due to Pushtunistan, they have to be nearer the border - hence quicker to get at when a strike comes. Hence the Pakistan military can never give up space that makes Pakistan wider and gives then a place away from the border.”

      Pashtunistan would allow the withdrawal of troops from the NWFP, who could then be deployed along the Indo-Pak border. I take your point about room to manoeuvre though.

      Thank you Justforfun for a comprehensive, interesting and informative answer. I learned a fair amount from it.

    22. sonia — on 21st September, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

      All good in theory. I of course - as with any plan, ask about implementation

      “Civil war is the most debilitating of any type of war, as it divides people of the same nation. Pashtunistan could put a stop to it.”

      would we expect the kinds of massacres/deaths in the transfer of people going into Pashtunistan, and the people coming out? ( and we could call that ‘civil’ war, depends on how we define ‘nation’)

      because that was the really bloody bit of the Partition - not the political business, not the abstract idea of nations - not the drawing of boundaries, but the reality of picking up, going somewhere else, and vice versa. Not having what you had, when you got to the ‘new place.

      it’s the reality of implementing such plans. people who make plans like this are always far removed from the effect of implementation and as such, violate the ‘stakeholder principle’.

      What i would query - in the theoretical realm- is i thought the pashtuns were the dominant ethnic group in afghanistan anyway? and seeing as the NWFP is practically independent from pakistan, well they self-administer anyway -and you say that’s where the Pashtuns are, so my question then is: the tribal clans that administer the NWFP - are they Pathans or not? And what would they have to say about it?

    23. sonia — on 21st September, 2007 at 2:13 pm  

      How about we make some plans to partition London from the rest of the UK or something? Or ask Peruvians what they think about that and ask them for a 3-pronged proposal.

      Something that we at least would be stakeholders in..perhaps..

      Seems like none of us ever learnt anything about colonialism. (oh but wait, it was simply that they didn’t do it right. We of course will. Never mind the fact that in situations like this there ain’t never going to be one right and one wrong.

      and on that note, i wish everyone a happy weekend and that your home will be your home on Monday morning. you never know, there might be some stray Peruvians in it saying its theirs and you need to go to the Andes mate, cos it’s all been decided, didn’t ya know? What’s that - you own the house outright? Sorry its mine now, you can have my hut in the Andes.

    24. justforfun — on 21st September, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

      Sonia - While Pashtunistan might be populated by a moderately homogeneous bunch of buggers, the whole of that Himalaya range is covered in a quilt of tribes - each in their own valley - perfoming blaspheamous religious and tribal rites. Unspeakable things :-) . If you ever get the chance read this light hearted and short book of travels amongst the unbelievers. You’ll like it - A bygone age but still possible to get a sense of it in the deepest valleys in HP and Ladahk.

      http://www.amazon.com/Short-Walk-Hindu-Kush/dp/0864426046

      Rumbold - this whole area is fraught with uncertainty so there are no simple strategies.

      However 2002 was the last standoff and Mush was in power. A destroyed Pakistan Military is the goal, as it is seen as the origin of all the problems to a stable region. A civilian government - with no prospect of a military return is the goal or the threat that India is trying to hold above the Pakistan Military in order to contain it.

      You ask about how a nationalistic leader thinks - The use of the nukes is the issue - I give you a few things to ponder.

      The Pakistan Military is a society within a society in Pakistan, and its billions of dollar money is squirreled away outside the country - and it is to the outside the top commanders will flee with their families - for their own health if nothing else, if there is nuclear fallout. So they have an eye on world opinion in the post conflict world - they have books to sell! - and will need to justify to the world their use of nukes. The plan is for the strikes to be numerous and not stategic in themselves so never crossing the nuke threshold. What is the threshold? The threshold is where the Pakistani Military think it should be and still allow a safe life for themselves after a war. We are not talking about Nationalists, but a military that exists off the back of a country by keeping the country in a perpetual state of war.

      Perhaps there will be undisclosed intelligence from the US about these nukes, as they cannot afford to deal with a post nuclear detonated sub-continent.

      Personnally - I think India has other worries and more pressing needs within itself and all I can hope is this is doctrine is just a new method of containing the Pakistani Militry mind and not an actual goal - just the threat, and so to create peace in India so it can concentrate its efforts on its own needs due to its huge demographic footprint. Pakistan is a distraction it can do without.

      Back to Pushtunistan -
      This doctrine calls for the Pakistani troops along the border - in place and standing still, not hundreds of miles back from it , where they can be moved to counter which ever number of the Cold Start units strike.

      Justforfun

    25. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2007 at 12:12 pm  

      Sonia:

      “Would we expect the kinds of massacres/deaths in the transfer of people going into Pashtunistan, and the people coming out? ( and we could call that ‘civil’ war, depends on how we define ‘nation’)

      because that was the really bloody bit of the Partition - not the political business, not the abstract idea of nations - not the drawing of boundaries, but the reality of picking up, going somewhere else, and vice versa. Not having what you had, when you got to the ‘new place.”

      The problem with the Indo-Pak partition was that large numbers of people going to Pakistan were nowhere near Pakistan, and vice versa. Pashtunistan would merely formalise what is already the Pashtun heartland. Any movement would be minimal, and I believe that the disruption would be worth it. I do not think that the scenes in the 1940s would be repeated.

      “What i would query - in the theoretical realm- is i thought the pashtuns were the dominant ethnic group in afghanistan anyway? and seeing as the NWFP is practically independent from pakistan, well they self-administer anyway -and you say that’s where the Pashtuns are, so my question then is: the tribal clans that administer the NWFP - are they Pathans or not? And what would they have to say about it?”

      The Pashtuns in Afghanistan make up around 45% of the population, and the Pashtuns in Pakistan are around 15-20% of the population (the numbers of refugees makes it difficult to count precisely). The tribes in the NWFP province used to largely self-administer, with an agent of the Pakistani government watching over them. However, the Pakistani government has torn that agreement up by invading. The NWFP is dominated by Pashtuns, and given their historical status as virtually separate from Pakistan, it would not be too much of a leap for them to break away completely.

      “How about we make some plans to partition London from the rest of the UK or something? Or ask Peruvians what they think about that and ask them for a 3-pronged proposal.

      Something that we at least would be stakeholders in..perhaps..”

      But there is no need to separate London from the UK. In the Pashtun heartland there are two incredibly devastating wars going on, which is destabilising the region and could lead to Islamists gaining control of nuclear weapons. That is the difference.

      “Seems like none of us ever learnt anything about colonialism. (oh but wait, it was simply that they didn’t do it right. We of course will. Never mind the fact that in situations like this there ain’t never going to be one right and one wrong.”

      So because somebody got it wrong in the 19th century, no Englishman should ever try and propose any solutions to the problem. I may well be wrong, but I think that I should have the right to voice my opinion on it.

    26. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

      Justforfun:

      “However 2002 was the last standoff and Mush was in power. A destroyed Pakistan Military is the goal, as it is seen as the origin of all the problems to a stable region. A civilian government - with no prospect of a military return is the goal or the threat that India is trying to hold above the Pakistan Military in order to contain it.”

      Sorry- I meant the Kargil conflict that brought Musharraf to power, when there was a civilian administration.

      “The Pakistan Military is a society within a society in Pakistan, and its billions of dollar money is squirreled away outside the country - and it is to the outside the top commanders will flee with their families - for their own health if nothing else, if there is nuclear fallout. So they have an eye on world opinion in the post conflict world - they have books to sell! - and will need to justify to the world their use of nukes.”

      Good point, but if they feel that they have lost, or are going to lose, everything, then they might press the button in a fit of pique. Or they may well feel that they can justify themselves to the world, since it would have been the Indians who invaded them.

      “Personnally - I think India has other worries and more pressing needs within itself and all I can hope is this is doctrine is just a new method of containing the Pakistani Militry mind and not an actual goal - just the threat, and so to create peace in India so it can concentrate its efforts on its own needs due to its huge demographic footprint. Pakistan is a distraction it can do without.”

      I hope so too, and I do think that the Indian government has begun to realise that.

      “Back to Pushtunistan -
      This doctrine calls for the Pakistani troops along the border - in place and standing still, not hundreds of miles back from it , where they can be moved to counter which ever number of the Cold Start units strike.”

      I still think that you are underestimating the ability of the army to manoeuvre. If the Cold Start units struck an undefended area, then it would be a temporary set-back in the war, but the Pakistani military would be able to fight back, it just might take a bit longer.

    27. Jai — on 22nd September, 2007 at 12:42 pm  

      The problem with the Indo-Pak partition was that large numbers of people going to Pakistan were nowhere near Pakistan, and vice versa.

      Er, yes they were. Undivided Punjab ?

      Any movement would be minimal,

      What about all the Pashtuns currently living elsewhere in Pakistan and Afghanistan ?

      I do not think that the scenes in the 1940s would be repeated.

      Given the precedent of 1947, that may be wishful thinking.

    28. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2007 at 1:03 pm  

      Jai:

      “Er, yes they were. Undivided Punjab ?”

      But even in the Punjab, there was still plenty of movement from side to side.

      “What about all the Pashtuns currently living elsewhere in Pakistan and Afghanistan ?”

      They have a choice, of whether to stay or go. In 1947, many Muslims thought that the Hindus would kill them in they stayed, so they abandoned everything and left. It would extremely unlikely that there would be some mass slaughter of the remaining Pashtuns.

      ” Given the precedent of 1947, that may be wishful thinking.”

      I hope not.

    29. Sid — on 22nd September, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

      Given the precedent of 1947, that may be wishful thinking.

      Not to mention stupidly ahistorical and excessively arrogant. The only people who haven’t learnt from the last 60 years are those who were not scarred by the events.

    30. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2007 at 1:14 pm  

      Sid:

      “Not to mention stupidly ahistorical and excessively arrogant. The only people who haven’t learnt from the last 60 years are those who were not scarred by the events.”

      Actually, if history teaches us anything it is that human nature and other factors ensure that two situations that might turn out very similar turn out very differently. Or the other way around. Therefore, just because partition happened a certain way in 1947 does not mean it would happen the same way.

      Take the French example:

      In 1589, the French king had been assassinated by one of his subjects, and all the major towns had revolted against him and his successor. Six years later, the monarchy had regained control and was on its way to absolutism.

      In 1789, the situation was much more promising for the king. His subjects were digrunted but nobody was talking about overthrowing him, let alone killing him. Six years later, he was dead, having been executed by his own people.

      No two situtations are the same.

    31. Sid — on 22nd September, 2007 at 1:39 pm  

      Rumbold:

      Can you name one instance where nation building by enforced migration along counterfeit borders has *not* resulted in anything other than misery, genocide and intra-generational grudge-bearing between the victim states? Just one.

    32. Jai — on 22nd September, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

      They have a choice, of whether to stay or go.

      Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in northern India, especially Punjab, also theoretically had a “choice”. We all know what actually happened. You may be underestimating the notions of collective guilt and collective responsibility which (unfortunately) are still prevalent in that part of the world.

      In 1947, many Muslims thought that the Hindus would kill them in they stayed, so they abandoned everything and left.

      And simultaneously, huge numbers of Hindus and Sikhs had the same fears regarding violence from the Muslim side. As it turned out, the concerns of all parties involved were fully justified.

      It would extremely unlikely that there would be some mass slaughter of the remaining Pashtuns.

      Why would it be “extremely unlikely”, given the fact that having the same religious affiliation has never stopped people from killing each other if a suitable pretext arises, particularly if they belong to “different” groups in other ways ?

      Actually, if history teaches us anything it is that human nature and other factors ensure that two situations that might turn out very similar turn out very differently.

      Those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them, as the hoary old cliche goes. Particularly if the proposed scenario involves many of the same groups, and the precedent occurred within living memory.

    33. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2007 at 7:37 pm  

      Sid:

      “Can you name one instance where nation building by enforced migration along counterfeit borders has *not* resulted in anything other than misery, genocide and intra-generational grudge-bearing between the victim states? Just one.”

      I am not quite sure why the borders would be counterfit, as it would just be formalising an ethnic group’s homeland. It is hardly artifical like the partition of the sub-continent. There is bound to be a bit of tension whatever the resulting settlement (as these people have been fighting one another). Most partions, like you say, were based on political/strategic decisions, and this one would be based on a tribal/ethnic one, so would be on much firmer ground. Would many Pakistanis really miss the NWFP anyway, as tens of thousands of their troops are fighting there against hard to track enemies? Pakistanis are dying and the financial costs are probably enormous as well.

      Jai:

      “Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in northern India, especially Punjab, also theoretically had a “choice”. We all know what actually happened. You may be underestimating the notions of collective guilt and collective responsibility which (unfortunately) are still prevalent in that part of the world.”

      Perhaps I am underestimating it, but the proposed area for Pashtunistan is heavily Pashtun, so I do not see the same scale of chaos that gripped the sub-continent in the 1940s.

      “Why would it be “extremely unlikely”, given the fact that having the same religious affiliation has never stopped people from killing each other if a suitable pretext arises, particularly if they belong to “different” groups in other ways?”

      Because there is not the same level of resentment against the Pashtuns that was directed against the Muslims in 1947. There may be some day, if the present trends continue, but for the moment there have been no real clashes.

      “Those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them, as the hoary old cliche goes. Particularly if the proposed scenario involves many of the same groups, and the precedent occurred within living memory.”

      In fact, the Pashtuns were hardly touched by partition. Those in the NWFP carried on as federally-adminstered tribal areas, while those in Afghanistan were never part of the British empire anyways.

    34. Arif — on 22nd September, 2007 at 9:19 pm  

      I don’t agree with Jai’s characterisation of Pashtun people - the ANP was the main party supported by the Pashtun areas in Pakistan, and it is an inheritor of the pacifist tradition of Abdul Khan Ghaffar Khan (among other currents) and probably the party I would be most inclined to vote for there, despite not being Pashtun.

      But I wouldn’t support it in a drive for independence, as I think the direction for the subcontinent should be in a different direction - reconciliation and co-operation, tolerance and appreciation of diversity…

      I can see that the ANP could be compared to the Scottish Nationnal Party in combining nationalism with all those good things as well, but I’m not Scottish, any more than I am Pashtun, and I would like to be able to join with them in promoting social justice and opposing political violence. Not be split away as being part of their colonial oppression. But I guess people like me need to do our bit in some way.

    35. Jagdeep — on 22nd September, 2007 at 9:37 pm  

      Rumbold, don’t take this personally. If I’m wrong, I apologise, but you’re white aren’t you? Because no South Asian could ever make a fatuous comment like this:

      Partition in South Asia has had a chequered history

      Along with your comments on Jehangir your commentary on South Asia is breathtaking in its iignorance and lack of understanding. Sid hits the right notes. This is an unbelievable article.

    36. Jagdeep — on 22nd September, 2007 at 9:42 pm  

      Englishmen sitting in the warmth of their homes, planning and talking about partitioning lands thousands of miles away. Not much has changed.

      ++++

      Partition by WH Auden

      Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission,
      Having never set eyes on the land he was called to partition
      Between two peoples fanatically at odds,
      With their different diets and incompatible gods.
      “Time,” they had briefed him in London, “is short. It’s too late
      For mutual reconciliation or rational debate:
      The only solution now lies in separation.
      The Viceroy thinks, as you will see from his letter,
      That the less you are seen in his company the better,
      So we’ve arranged to provide you with other accommodation.
      We can give you four judges, two Moslem and two Hindu,
      To consult with, but the final decision must rest with you.”

      Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day
      Patrolling the gardens to keep the assassins away,
      He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate
      Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date
      And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect,
      But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect
      Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,
      And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
      But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,
      A continent for better or worse divided.

      The next day he sailed for England, where he could quickly forget
      The case, as a good lawyer must. Return he would not,
      Afraid, as he told his Club, that he might get shot.

    37. Jai — on 23rd September, 2007 at 11:16 am  

      Rumbold,

      Because there is not the same level of resentment against the Pashtuns that was directed against the Muslims in 1947.

      You are aware that the “resentment” was a two-way street, correct ? It wasn’t just a case of “those nasty Hindus and Sikhs” deciding to victimise Muslims and driving them out of “their” territories on the newly-formed Indian side of the border ?

      With regards to Pashtuns currently domiciled in Pakistan outside the NWFP, I think you severely underestimate the level of resentment and retribution that would be triggered against them within the rest of the Pakistani population if the NWFP broke away from the rest of the country. Furthermore, Pakistanis will not want to see their nation dismembered, especially as the loss of the NWFP would quite possibly escalate the secession of Sind and Baluchistan.

      In fact, the Pashtuns were hardly touched by partition. Those in the NWFP carried on as federally-adminstered tribal areas,

      Those in the NWFP most certainly were impacted by Partition. For an introductory primer, I recommend you read the Wiki biography of the individual Arif mentioned, namely Abdul Khan Ghaffar Khan, aka “Frontier Gandhi”:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badshah_Khan

      Along with your comments on Jehangir your commentary on South Asia is breathtaking in its iignorance and lack of understanding.

      I would perhaps not choose words as strong as Jagdeep has, but with all due respect I do think your perspective on Muslim history, culture and psychology in that part of the world is rose-tinted and somewhat one-sided.

      Having said that, there would be chaos and violence regardless of the religious grouping involved in any regional re-carving over there, so this is certainly not an attempt to single out Muslims as being inherently more prone to hot-headedness and agression in such circumstances. There have been enough incidents during the past 60 years to make it clear that numerous other groups are quite capable of descending into brutality towards people from other backgrounds if they think the situation warrants it.

    38. Jai — on 23rd September, 2007 at 11:22 am  

      In fact, the Pashtuns were hardly touched by partition.

      Further to my previous comment, let me re-emphasise that by “many of the same groups”, I was also specifically referring to the inhabitants of the rest of modern-day Pakistan. Partition was a very, very big deal for them and huge numbers were impacted by it.

    39. Rumbold — on 23rd September, 2007 at 11:43 am  

      Jagdeep:

      “Rumbold, don’t take this personally. If I’m wrong, I apologise, but you’re white aren’t you?”

      Yes. Or pinkish/beige, to be more accurate.

      “Along with your comments on Jehangir your commentary on South Asia is breathtaking in its iignorance and lack of understanding.”

      I see now that I have grossly underestimated the psychological impact of partition on South Asians and for that I apologise. However, I refuse to accept that simply because I come from another country I cannot offer any solutions. The solutions may be wrong, but to pretend that the current situation is acceptable is just wrong. Who is ‘allowed’ to offer suggestions then?

      As for Jahangir, I suspect that I have approached him from a more rational and historical position than you. I mean no disrespect to Sikhs, but if you spend your life being told that Guru Arjan was martyred for his beliefs and then someone argues for a different historical interpretation, you are not going to be too receptive to it.

      Jai:

      “You are aware that the “resentment” was a two-way street, correct ? It wasn’t just a case of “those nasty Hindus and Sikhs” deciding to victimise Muslims and driving them out of “their” territories on the newly-formed Indian side of the border?”

      Yes, but I see why you said that. Re-reading my comments I might have (unintentionally) given the impression that oppression of Muslims was the only game in town. Sorry.

      “With regards to Pashtuns currently domiciled in Pakistan outside the NWFP, I think you severely underestimate the level of resentment and retribution that would be triggered against them within the rest of the Pakistani population if the NWFP broke away from the rest of the country. Furthermore, Pakistanis will not want to see their nation dismembered, especially as the loss of the NWFP would quite possibly escalate the secession of Sind and Baluchistan.”

      Is Sind really likely to secede? I probably have underestimated the strength of Pakistani nationalism mind.

      “I would perhaps not choose words as strong as Jagdeep has, but with all due respect I do think your perspective on Muslim history, culture and psychology in that part of the world is rose-tinted and somewhat one-sided.”

      I do not think so. I know that many Muslim rulers were just as, if not more, vicious, corrupt and intolerant and the average non-Muslim ruler in the sub-continent. I also do not think that the transplanted Persian culture was superior to the indigenous one. However, I will continue to argue that Jahangir was an enlightened ruler, and that Guru Arjan was executed for helping Khusrau rebel against his father.

      As I said to Jagdeep, I have seriously underestimated the strength of feeling about partition. Sorry.

    40. Jagdeep — on 23rd September, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

      Rumbold, you’re pretty clueless to be honest on this issue, and everything else when it comes to South Asia that you’ve posted on. You probably do mean well, and that’s what is so sad. It’s not a question of ‘strength of feeling’, it’s incredulity that you can have so little understanding of history or the societies of which you speak, and can look at the whole thing with the ‘rationality’ that produces lines like, ‘partition has had a chequered history’ in South Asia.

    41. Anas — on 23rd September, 2007 at 3:10 pm  

      I have to agree with the people who think this is an awful idea. And you only have to look a bit closer at the politics and history of the region to see that.

      Firstly the Pakistani govt has very little control over many of the tribal areas in NWFP so why would the tribes who live there relinquish their current high level of autonomy and sacrifice that to become part of a state — especially given that Pashtun culture is very much tribally based with tribal affiliations being stronger than ethnic ones?

      Secondly if NWFP broke away then this would undoubtedly catalyse secessionist movements in other parts of Pakistan, especially Balouchistan, and for that simple reason the Pakistani govt would never allow it, i.e., what’s to stop it becoming an EVEN more coherent country.

      Thirdly the point Jai made about Pashtuns living in other parts of Pakistan is correct too. Last time I went to Rawalpindi I saw Pashtun/Afghan refugees living out on practically every street and a lot of them work as domestic servants. Given the state of Karachi where there’s been brutal violence for decades between the “natives” and Muslim refugees from the partition of India, I’m sure if Pashtunistan were to happen then regardless of the fact that it’s Muslim v. Muslim, the South Asian propensity to communal savagery wouldn’t take to raise its head (remember also the bloody anti-Shia violence that is commmon in Pakistan). The founding of Pashtunistan may well mean the forced removal, i.e., ethnic cleansing, of many Pashtuns from other areas of Pakistan as retribution.

      Actually the Wikipedia article on Pashtunistan is worth quoting:

      Considering the fact that Pashtuns live in every province of Pakistan, and that the Pakistan Army - the most influential body in Pakistan - is made up of 30% Pashtuns, many Pashtuns feel they have considerable influence in Pakistan and see it as their homeland. These pro-Pakistan Pashtuns claim to be the majority and point to democratic elections in Northwest Frontier Province as proof of this. They are highly sensitive to the idea of Pashtun separatism or Pashtunistan…

      Furthermore, Pashtuns have one of the highest birth rates in Pakistan, and their representation in the country is expected to increase considerably over the next few decades further increasing their representation in the country. Pashtuns in Pakistan have also migrated heavily to other provinces within Pakistan with the city of Karachi in the province of Sindh now having the largest urban population of Pashtuns in the world (estimated at four million). There are also sizeable pashtun populations in Lahore (one to two million) and in Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Pashtuns virtually dominate the transport industry in Pakistan and are actively involved in business and trade throughout the country but particularly in areas outside of the traditional Pukhtunkwa areas

      At the end of the day you have to ask, how many of the people concerned, the Pashtuns in Pakistan/Afghanistan, actually want this, or does that not matter, if Pashtunistan is strategically convenient for the West? The point being what if most Pakistani Pashtuns do not want it and Rumbold doesn’t even consider that possibility. It reminds me of bb’s comment above about the separation of Iraq, again, I would ask what percentage of Iraqis actually want it?

      Finally the line about “letting a few guilty men escape”. I’m sorry, but isn’t the presence of these men the reason Afghanistan, a sovereign nation, was INVADED IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?

    42. Anas — on 23rd September, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

      This is slightly off topic, but one of the funniest, but most accurate, descriptions, I’ve read, of Hamid Karzai is Mayor of Kabul.

    43. Anas — on 23rd September, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

      You know the Pashtuns are supposed to be descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel?

      Strangely enough, even if the Pashtuns don’t count, there is still one one Jew (probably the only one) living in Afghanistan, the tenacious Zablon Simintov:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zablon_Simintov

    44. Rumbold — on 23rd September, 2007 at 4:13 pm  

      Jagdeep:

      “Rumbold, you’re pretty clueless to be honest on this issue, and everything else when it comes to South Asia that you’ve posted on. You probably do mean well, and that’s what is so sad.”

      I would consider that (nice but dim) a highly patronising statement if I did not know that you were trying to be kind, so I appreciate it. Wrong on everything else to do with South Asia? Quite a broad statement there. Care to provide any examples? Bare in mind that disagreeing with the party line on Guru Arjan does not count, because that is a perfectly legitmitate historical argument.

      In hindsight I think that my proposal for Pashtunistan was wrong- this is what is so great about Pickled Politics, you get a wide range of informed views. And you critiqued my argument very well Jagdeep. However, I am not sorry that I proposed it, as it provoked an interesting discussion.

      Anas:

      “Firstly the Pakistani govt has very little control over many of the tribal areas in NWFP so why would the tribes who live there relinquish their current high level of autonomy and sacrifice that to become part of a state — especially given that Pashtun culture is very much tribally based with tribal affiliations being stronger than ethnic ones?”

      They used to have a high level of autonomy until the Pakistani military moved in. That is the point. The tribes are based around ethnic lines though, are they not? So to a certain extent ethniticy and tribe are one and the same.

      “Last time I went to Rawalpindi I saw Pashtun/Afghan refugees living out on practically every street and a lot of them work as domestic servants. Given the state of Karachi where there’s been brutal violence for decades between the “natives” and Muslim refugees from the partition of India, I’m sure if Pashtunistan were to happen then regardless of the fact that it’s Muslim v. Muslim, the South Asian propensity to communal savagery wouldn’t take to raise its head (remember also the bloody anti-Shia violence that is commmon in Pakistan). The founding of Pashtunistan may well mean the forced removal, i.e., ethnic cleansing, of many Pashtuns from other areas of Pakistan as retribution.”

      You may be right on that. As I said before, I underestimated the strength of feeling.

      “At the end of the day you have to ask, how many of the people concerned, the Pashtuns in Pakistan/Afghanistan, actually want this, or does that not matter, if Pashtunistan is strategically convenient for the West? The point being what if most Pakistani Pashtuns do not want it and Rumbold doesn’t even consider that possibility. It reminds me of bb’s comment above about the separation of Iraq, again, I would ask what percentage of Iraqis actually want it?”

      Obviously I would not propose the creation of Pashtunistan if I thought that the Pashtuns were against it. My whole article was about the problems created by them not having their own homeland. If it transpired that few Pashtuns wanted a homeland, then I would never support it.

      “Finally the line about “letting a few guilty men escape”. I’m sorry, but isn’t the presence of these men the reason Afghanistan, a sovereign nation, was INVADED IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?”

      Yes, and my argument was that America might have give up chasing them if it wants peace in the region.

    45. Jai — on 23rd September, 2007 at 6:49 pm  

      Rumbold,

      Is Sind really likely to secede? I probably have underestimated the strength of Pakistani nationalism mind.

      Another link from Wikipedia for you to read, regarding the “Jeay Sind” movement:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeay_Sindh_Qaumi_Mahaz

      Quote: “The movement, which demands the creation of an independent Sindhu Desh has a strong base among student and the emerging middle class.”

      I know that many Muslim rulers were just as, if not more, vicious, corrupt and intolerant and the average non-Muslim ruler in the sub-continent.

      You see, this is part of the problem. I’m not claiming India was a paradise with regards to territories not under Muslim rule, but the very fact that you think that the average non-Muslim ruler in the subcontinent was by default “vicious, corrupt and intolerant” speaks volumes about your perspective and the associated assumptions. I have to wonder exactly what sources of reference & information you are basing these ideas on.

      However, I will continue to argue that Jahangir was an enlightened ruler, and that Guru Arjan was executed for helping Khusrau rebel against his father.

      I mean no disrespect to Sikhs, but if you spend your life being told that Guru Arjan was martyred for his beliefs and then someone argues for a different historical interpretation, you are not going to be too receptive to it.

      Bare in mind that disagreeing with the party line on Guru Arjan does not count, because that is a perfectly legitmitate historical argument.

      Have you done some thorough background reading on the biographies of the Sikh Gurus yet, as suggested several weeks ago ? If not, then you may want to hold-fire on attempting to second-guess the motivations behind Guru Arjan’s actions until you have a thorough understanding of everything the Gurus stood for and preached, and their own behaviour as a consequence.

      I recommend you read through the following link for a detailed overview of the events leading up to Guru Arjan’s execution, including his dialogue with Jahangir. Whether you view this as a historically legitimate description of what happened is of course entirely up to you. At the very least, I hope it starts to give you some insight into the moral calibre of the Gurus and the ideals they embodied.

      http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-gurus/sri-guru-arjan-dev-ji-4.html#1

      If Jahangir really was “enlightened” in the true sense of the word, he would not have executed Guru Arjan (or anyone else) for “rebellion” regardless of the standards of his time. And bear in mind that for many Sikhs, the Gurus set the bar for ideal kingship, considering that from Guru Hargobind onwards they were literally temporal monarchs as well as spiritual leaders for their followers.

      You may be right on that. As I said before, I underestimated the strength of feeling.

      Somewhat suprising, considering that the greater proportion of British South Asians (namely Indian and Pakistani Punjabis) belong to groups which were directly impacted by Partition. There are plenty of people around from the grandparents’ generation who are survivors of those events, or at least individuals from the South Asian-born “parents’ generation” whose families were affected. Hell, even Sanjeev Bhaskar talked about the impact of Partition on his own family at length in his recent BBC2 series. However, I hope all this is proving to be an educational experience for you.

      Yes, and my argument was that America might have give up chasing them if it wants peace in the region.

      I don’t think giving Bin Laden and his friends a “safe haven” from which to continue their so-called jihad against the rest of us is a very good idea.

    46. Jai — on 23rd September, 2007 at 6:53 pm  

      You probably do mean well,

      Just for the record I do agree completely with Jagdeep on the above. I do not think Rumbold’s ideas and viewpoint are remotely motivated by anything malicious, arrogant or underhanded.

    47. Rumbold — on 23rd September, 2007 at 9:41 pm  

      Jai:

      “Another link from Wikipedia for you to read, regarding the “Jeay Sind” movement.”

      Thanks. I had never heard of them, though I knew that there was anti-Punjab feeling throughout the rest of Pakistan. The article read like a press release though, so I suspect that their support is overstated.

      “You see, this is part of the problem. I’m not claiming India was a paradise with regards to territories not under Muslim rule, but the very fact that you think that the average non-Muslim ruler in the subcontinent was by default “vicious, corrupt and intolerant” speaks volumes about your perspective and the associated assumptions. I have to wonder exactly what sources of reference & information you are basing these ideas on.”

      I was just trying to explain that I did not regard Muslim rulers as any better than non-Muslim rulers. Most rulers were to some extent vicious, corrupt and intolerant, whatever their religion or location. Corrupt because they misspent money, and vicious and intolerant because of the restrictions that they put on their people.

      “Have you done some thorough background reading on the biographies of the Sikh Gurus yet, as suggested several weeks ago ? If not, then you may want to hold-fire on attempting to second-guess the motivations behind Guru Arjan’s actions until you have a thorough understanding of everything the Gurus stood for and preached, and their own behaviour as a consequence … At the very least, I hope it starts to give you some insight into the moral calibre of the Gurus and the ideals they embodied.”

      I am a great admirer of the Sikh gurus and Sikhism itself, especially Guru Nanak, who founded a religion dedicated to ending the violence between various religious groups by pointing out that there is not one right path to God. Saying that Guru Arjan was executed for rebellion is not meant as an insult to the man, rather an interpretation of a contentious historical event.

      “If Jahangir really was “enlightened” in the true sense of the word, he would not have executed Guru Arjan (or anyone else) for “rebellion” regardless of the standards of his time.”

      Rulers who cracked down on those they saw as a threat to the state could still be enlightened. In this country today, if someone gave shelter and money to one of its foremost enemies they would be jailed for a long time. My point is, and always has been, that Guru Arjan gave material aid to Khusrau, who was attempting to overthrow his father. Thus, by the standards of the time, this was an act for which execution was justified. I am not agreeing with the decision to execute the Guru, but explaining it.

      “However, I hope all this is proving to be an educational experience for you.”

      It is, and I am glad that there are informed commentators here.

      “I don’t think giving Bin Laden and his friends a “safe haven” from which to continue their so-called jihad against the rest of us is a very good idea.”

      But at the moment they are able to run wild. A defined border could at least be patrolled more effectively.

      “I do not think Rumbold’s ideas and viewpoint are remotely motivated by anything malicious, arrogant or underhanded.”

      I do appreciate that Jai. I love arguing with people, but would hate them to think that my arguments were based on malice.

    48. Anas — on 23rd September, 2007 at 10:34 pm  

      They used to have a high level of autonomy until the Pakistani military moved in. That is the point. The tribes are based around ethnic lines though, are they not? So to a certain extent ethniticy and tribe are one and the same.

      No, areas like Waziristan and other border areas are currently completely outwith the rule of Pakistani law and beyond the reach of the army too. As regards the tribes, erm, well they are based around tribal lines, which are strong enough in many cases to overrule any ethnic affiliations they may have as Pashtuns.

      Obviously I would not propose the creation of Pashtunistan if I thought that the Pashtuns were against it. My whole article was about the problems created by them not having their own homeland. If it transpired that few Pashtuns wanted a homeland, then I would never support it.

      It’s an obvious statement to make: but shouldn’t you have investigated questions relating to how popular the sentiment for a separate Pashtunistan state was among Pashtuns, how many non-Pashtuns live in the area you’ve earmarked for the state and to which extent they would agree to being part of a state ethnically defined as belonging to the Pashtuns, how integrated, how Pakistani Pashtuns in Pakistan regard themselves, etc,…, before you made the case for the state? Or are these considerations only secondary, much less important than the geo-political strategic issues you’ve outlined in your article?

      Personally if I were to try and make the case for a separate Pashtun homeland, or at least the incorporation of a big chunk of what is now Pakistan into Afghanistan I would have started off with these “secondary” issues, showing the popular support the Pashtunistan concept had rather than saying oh but this is really convenient for the rest of us- tho you didn’t even really make that argument well.

    49. sonia — on 24th September, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

      yes of course you have the right to pronounce your Opinion on it Rumbold ! :-) i don’t know why you might think that I thought otherwise. you can write away to your heart’s content, and i didn’t think you were about to rush over there tomorrow ( well i don’t actually know where you are..) and put your plan into action. but if you are going to talk about plans and theories on a public forum, presumably you were looking for some opinions back! ( and I was supplying mine)

      that said, however, it is very important at the start of any plan ( if it is a real plan, and not just some theorising for the heck of it), everyone needs to keep implementation in sight. No business planner would do otherwise, i fail to see why social planning should be any different. ( or military planning!) I was merely pointing that out, which I’m sure you realise too. :-)

      jff - “he whole of that Himalaya range is covered in a quilt of tribes - each in their own valley - perfoming blaspheamous religious and tribal rites” - yep, a quilt is a good description.

    50. sonia — on 24th September, 2007 at 1:18 pm  

      well rumbold, i think if you asked a lot of londoners, you might find some think the north of the river/south of the river divide is enough to warrant their own territory! londoners can be deeply parochial.

    51. sonia — on 24th September, 2007 at 1:22 pm  

      anyway, kudos to old Niall Ferguson for the ‘well empire was good for them, so what’s the problem’ thesis.

      like i said on the other thread, you can justify any ‘intervention’ as being ‘good’ and ‘going to make things better, stop civil wars’ therefore we ought to go for it.

      heck dropping a nuclear bomb was justified that way so there we go

    52. Rumbold — on 24th September, 2007 at 4:56 pm  

      Anas:

      “No, areas like Waziristan and other border areas are currently completely outwith the rule of Pakistani law and beyond the reach of the army too.”

      They used to be, but those are the areas that the Pakistani army are operating in or near now.

      “Personally if I were to try and make the case for a separate Pashtun homeland, or at least the incorporation of a big chunk of what is now Pakistan into Afghanistan I would have started off with these “secondary” issues, showing the popular support the Pashtunistan concept had rather than saying oh but this is really convenient for the rest of us– tho you didn’t even really make that argument well.”

      Plenty of ethnic groups want their own homeland (Basques, Kurds and so forth). My article was about the geo-political/strategic factors, and why it would be a good idea for other nations to support this proposal.

      Sonia:

      “I didn’t think you were about to rush over there tomorrow ( well i don’t actually know where you are..) and put your plan into action.”

      Heh. Perhaps I am already over there now, using my tape measure to carefully mark the new borders while Pashtuns shoot at me.

      “if you are going to talk about plans and theories on a public forum, presumably you were looking for some opinions back! ( and I was supplying mine)”

      Of course- it would be incredibly boring otherwise. I did not mean in the slightest to imply that nobody should criticise it.

      “That said, however, it is very important at the start of any plan ( if it is a real plan, and not just some theorising for the heck of it), everyone needs to keep implementation in sight.”

      I have come to realise more of the shortcomings, but it was meant to be a practical plan (or at least not an impractical one).

      “I think if you asked a lot of londoners, you might find some think the north of the river/south of the river divide is enough to warrant their own territory! londoners can be deeply parochial.”

      I reckon that it is a bit more of an North-South-East-West divide now.

      “Like i said on the other thread, you can justify any ‘intervention’ as being ‘good’ and ‘going to make things better, stop civil wars’ therefore we ought to go for it.

      Heck dropping a nuclear bomb was justified that way so there we go.”

      I still think that intervention in some situations is justified.

    53. sonia — on 24th September, 2007 at 5:18 pm  

      well obviously, it would depend on the “intervention” ( who ever came up with that word, as if it is - again, always a simple binary ‘to intervene, or not’) and the situation, and the justification would have to be properly set out and thought through.

    54. Anas — on 24th September, 2007 at 10:25 pm  

      They used to be, but those are the areas that the Pakistani army are operating in or near now.

      Actually “trying” to operate in or near would be much more accurate. Those areas are still probably the “freest” in the world in terms of lack of state control. I mean don’t you wonder how the Taliban can so easily pop over the rather(amazing euphemism here) “porous” border whenever the fancy takes them?

      Plenty of ethnic groups want their own homeland (Basques, Kurds and so forth). My article was about the geo-political/strategic factors, and why it would be a good idea for other nations to support this proposal.

      No, no, no, no. I think this is the core reason why you’ve offended people in this thread with your attitude: you’re essentially viewing the Pashtuns as some pawns in some great strategic game without any consideration or even basic knowledge of the culture or the people. They can have a state because it’s to our benefit: we can allow the lines to be redrawn on the map again. Maybe from your lofty vantage point that’s all that matters, but things look different from the perspective of those you’re looking down upon who perhaps aren’t as greatful for your beneficience as you think.

    55. Rumbold — on 25th September, 2007 at 10:33 am  

      Anas:

      “I mean don’t you wonder how the Taliban can so easily pop over the rather(amazing euphemism here) “porous” border whenever the fancy takes them?”

      The Pakistani army are ineffective in that resepect, but are still seen as interfering- the worst of both possible worlds. A least a set border would reduce some of this coming and going.

      “you’re essentially viewing the Pashtuns as some pawns in some great strategic game without any consideration or even basic knowledge of the culture or the people. They can have a state because it’s to our benefit: we can allow the lines to be redrawn on the map again.”

      My point was that while many ethnic groups are calling for their own homeland, the Pashtuns’ desires are doubly important because of the civil wars and nuclear weapons in that region. There are British troops in Afghanistan, so we are involved in that region’s security too.

    56. douglas clark — on 25th September, 2007 at 11:03 am  

      Anas,

      As I recall from some old geography class or other, borders in the dim and distant past were largely defined by geographical features, mountains, rivers, that sort of stuff. Folk were happy back then. All this new fangled construction of borders on the basis of a good bottle of port in the Garrick club is, probably, where it all went wrong. If you look at the Canadian / American border for instance, and reading in time from right to left, you can see some understanding of geographical features, until the second bottle of port went down, when the border pursues a straight line for thousands of miles. Lazy, or drunk cartographers. Blame it all on the map makers. I used to like the phrase, “The map is not the country”, but I’ve come to believe, the map is the country.

      And we want Berwick on Tweed back.

    57. mirwais — on 25th September, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

      Rumbold:

      “The problem with this is that it requires the destruction of Pakistan, so I am not sure that the Pakistani government would agree to it.”

      You say the “Pakistani government”. What is that? I assume you mean the Military Inc in Pakistan, right? Let’s keep the facts straight. Those years of civilian rule in Pakistan’s “history” can be counted on ten fingers.

      Mirwais

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