Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mazdak - December 6

Read the whole thing, here is the beginning (emphasis added):
OFTEN, a gambler who is down to his last pile of chips will bet them all on a worthless hand in a bluff to recover his losses.

Pakistan looked a bit like this desperate poker player when the government announced that it would pull its troops out of the tribal area, where they are engaging Taliban insurgents, in case India moved elements of its army close to the border.

Our soldiers are fighting a dangerous enemy because of an existential threat Pakistan faces in this area, and not because we are doing anybody any favours. But by raising the spectre of an open, undefended border, Pakistan is effectively posing an indirect threat to American and Nato forces in Afghanistan. This implied threat, the government hopes, will cause Washington to bring pressure to bear on New Delhi to stop any escalation of the situation. But the United States has little leverage in India, and currently there is a lot of sympathy for the loss of innocent lives India has suffered during the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

Years ago, a western diplomat wrote that Pakistan was the only country in the world that negotiates with a gun to its own head. Our argument, long familiar to aid donors, goes something like this: If you don’t give us what we need, the government will collapse and this might result in anarchy, and a takeover by Islamic militants. Left unstated here is the global risk these elements would pose as they would have access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

We have been getting away with this argument for a long time, mainly because a failed, fragmented Pakistan is everybody’s worst nightmare.