December 5th, 2009
05:27 PM ET

India, Pakistan and the battle for Afghanistan

The road to success for President Obama's Afghanistan strategy runs through India, goes an increasingly familiar refrain. That's because reversing the Taliban's momentum requires getting rid of the movement's sanctuary in Pakistan, where the insurgent leadership is known to be based in and around the city of Quetta. But while Pakistan is aggressively tackling its domestic Taliban, it has consistently declined to act against Afghan Taliban groups based on its soil — because it sees the Afghan Taliban as a useful counterweight to what it believes is the dominant influence in today's Afghanistan of Pakistan's arch-enemy, India. Unless India can be persuaded to take steps to ease tensions with Pakistan, some suggest, Pakistan will not be willing to shut down the Afghan Taliban.

Read more from Ishaan Tharoor at

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Filed under: Pakistan
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. A. Sued

    The article seems interesting to the least that it defines that there are two types of Taliban's.... Afghan and Pakistani, ... separate entities similar names with the later seems to be involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan.

    What I fail to understand is how the road to President Obama's strategy for Afghanistan runs through India ...... why not China, Iran, Uzbekistan etc more immediate neighbors with linguistic and cultural ties?

    I recall reading somewhere that the Afghan Taliban's are opposing the so called Pakistani Taliban's activities.

    Interestingly the Afghan Taliban's government was recognized and supported by a few governments prior to 9/11 including Pakistan and when support was pulled in 2001 they dropped like a house of cards, ... with resistance still going in Afghanistan against the NATO forces.

    The so called Pakistani Taliban's seems to be creating a much stronger destabilizing factor in Pakistan, a country with infra-structure and established institutions than the Afghan Taliban's in Afghanistan, a state which has no infra-structure since a long time

    I fail to understand how this can be possible without some support being provided to the so called Pakistani Taliban's.

    Let's not try to create a convoluted layers of deceptive analysis superimposed by biased comments as some made above.

    It is a fact that India and Pakistan are cut throat enemies and both are involved into each others internal affairs, .. I will not be surprised if the current situation in Pakistan to certain extent has Indian support behind the scene.

    If so than the region is in for a long period of devastation and war.

    December 8, 2009 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. David P. Vernon

    The analyses of Afghanistan are mostly wrong, because they are based on a nationalist view and a military view, when Afghanistan is something else. As a high desert basin entirely surrounded by high mountain ranges, there has never been any question about where it is or where its borders lie. Although entry and exit is only through narrow mountain passes, The Old Silk Road goes through on its way from China to Uzbekistan, so it is not an "outpost" of civilization. It is an old place, set in its ways, a single sovereignty since 1757, long before any of its current neighbors. It has never had an army – it is defended solely and wholly by the militia – every adult Afghan has a gun and a horse, if he can afford them, and will fight for freedom for free and for money otherwise under the leadership of his tribe. Invaders have always found it easy to walk into undefended Afghanistan and a bloody death march to get out. Every attempt for the central government to command the regions has resulted in civil war, so the convention of a weak central government to handle international relations and strong regional tribal governments to provide civil order and justice is of long standing there. They resent anything else, and they resented the Taliban, and they do not want them back. The situation of Al Qaeda there closely resembles that of Che Guevara's Communists in Bolivia.

    If the US Army drive into every regional capital in the country under a white flag, parleys with the regional tribal leaders, pays them, and pays for local public works, the Taliban will be driven out and the /ll Qaeda will be killed or captured, by the r4gionla militia men. The key is to not give all the money to the government in Kabul, but to use the customary system of gratuity to get things done. Forget Kabul. Forget fighting corruption and graft. Forget drugs, Forget forging an army, Forget creating local civil police. Support traditional popular institutions, pay money, and we win. Period. Then we can come home without having to fight our way out.

    December 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. M.M.Khajooria

    Some Think Tanks n the USA have constructed a somewhat perverse logic which runs as fallows. The US cannot win the war in Afghanistan without the total commitment and support from Pakistan. Pakistan is neither willing nor able o do so unless the tension with India are resolved to iher satisfaction. Kashmir is at the core of these Indo-Pak animosirty. So India must be "peusuadeed "to accomodate" Pakistan on Kashmir to enable US to win the war in Afgfhanisa.. .This is sheer blackmail. The truth is that the victory of US and its allies is not percieved by the ruling elite in Pakistan as favouring its long term interests. The policy of strategic depth still drives its politico-stratagiic aims. And the combine that calls the shot in Pakistan is linked to Pan Islamic fundamentalists and is rabiddly anti- American. Straining excelent relationd between the two great democracies of the world for dubious short term gains would not be in the interesrs on either USA or vIndia or in th interests of the world peace.

    December 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nate

    You guys should not be discussing our military strategies publicly like you have been. They are capable of receiving CNN over there, you know. All they need is to hear you talk about our troops and what moves they are making and they can begin to better understand how we work and they will be better prepared. That is very irresponsible on your part.

    December 6, 2009 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Neel123

    Pakistani Army has been using terrorists as instrument of Foreign Policy against India since 1989, which is an act of war, and India treats them as such .

    The Americans need to strike hard at the heart of this misguided policy of a rogue nation, instead of seeking concession from a democratic nation that has been a target of state sponsored terror from across the border since 1989 ..... !

    Those in the US, suggesting Indian concessions to Pakistan, as a means to success in the war on terror, may need to re-examine their own moral standards and may forget India fulfilling their wet dreams ..........

    December 5, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |