Foreign Policy Blogs

Macabre But Good News

As I hinted at in my last post, the spate of violence in Pakistan can actually be seen as a good thing (the wanton death and destruction aside). This piece in today’s New York Times demonstrates that Pakistan is facing the prospect that “the Taliban, Al Qaeda and militant groups once nurtured by the government are tightening an alliance aimed at bringing down the Pakistani state, government officials and analysts said.” If Pakistan sees that the militant groups it fostered are now acting against its interests, it may now take a more serious effort at cracking down on these groups (and by necessity aligning itself more closely with the United States).

Embarrassment over these longstanding ties is no excuse to not finally severe them, however. “The senior personnel in the security forces seem to understand the gravity of the militants’ strength and the durability of their network, Mr. Saleem said. But they cannot bring themselves to say publicly that those whom they created are coming back to bite them, he said.” It seems Pakistan must make their decision—will they continue playing their double game, which has now resulted in its erstwhile ‘allies’ attacking its military facilities and bombing its markets, or will they finally realize that arming and supporting radical groups is not ever a good idea? The military has long dominated Pakistan, which has seemed to put the state in a situation where it can’t imagine anything other than eternal conflict with India. This belief leads to a whole set of policies harmful to Pakistan, the region at large, and the United States’ interests.

If Pakistan were to give up the game of using militias as proxies against India, it could promote more general goodwill between the two bitter rivals. Easing tensions between two nuclear-power neighbors is always a good thing. Lastly, if Pakistan were to stop giving sanctuary to groups engaged in cross-border raids into Afghanistan, it would make ISAF’s mission much easier.



Andrew Swift

Andrew Swift is a graduate of the University of Iowa, with a degree in History and Political Science. Long a student of international affairs, he is on an unending quest to understand the world better.