Home Contact Us
Search :
   

Afghanistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3301, 23 December 2010
 
Af-Pak Diary: A Critique of the Blackwill Plan to Partition Afghanistan
D Suba Chandran
Deputy Director, IPCS
email: subachandran@gmail.com
 

In an article published in the Times of India, titled ‘Plan B in Afghanistan’, Ambassador Robert Blackwill concludes, “Accepting the de facto partition of Afghanistan is hardly an ideal outcome in Afghanistan. But it is better than the alternatives” and “de facto partition offers the Obama administration the best available alternative to strategic defeat.”

Blackwill’s suggestion is that although this may not be the ideal solution, it is the best available for the Obama administration. Perhaps for Obama, but is this the best available solution for Afghanistan and the region’s security? This suggestion is also based on the assumption that alternative strategies have become impossible to achieve.

An analysis of Blackwill’s assumptions will clearly highlight that his diagnosis is correct, but prescription wrong. He makes three significant diagnoses of the situation from an American perspective. First, the “US policy toward Afghanistan involves spending scores of billions of dollars and suffering several hundred allied deaths,” but the “United States and its allies will not defeat the Taliban militarily.” Second, he also diagnoses that “Karzai's corrupt government will not significantly improve,” and that the “Afghan National Army cannot take over combat missions from ISAF in southern and eastern Afghanistan in any realistic time frame.” Third, based on the above reasoning, he also concludes that “Washington should accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun South and East and that the price of forestalling that outcome is far too high for Americans to continue paying.”

Not many would disagree with Blackwill’s above diagnosis of the Afghan situation. But the problem is with his prescriptions. His first prescription is ‘de facto partition’ of Afghanistan as it “offers the Obama administration the best available alternative to strategic defeat.” Second, he also prescribes that Obama “should stop setting deadlines for withdrawal and instead commit the United States to a long-term combat role in Afghanistan of 35,000-50,000 troops for the next 7-10 years.”

Third and most importantly, he prescribes, that the “United States and its partners should stop fighting and dying in the Pashtun homeland and let the local correlation of forces take its course - while deploying US air power and Special Forces to ensure that the north and west of Afghanistan do not succumb to the Taliban. The United States would make clear that it would strike al Qaeda targets anywhere; Taliban encroachments across the de facto partition line, and sanctuaries along the Pakistani border using weapons systems that were unavailable before 9/11.”

In short, the Blackwill plan expects to withdraw troops from the ground but deploy air power and Special Forces to go after the al Qaeda, wherever they are, and partition Afghanistan into three regions - North, West and South, with an aim to protect the non-Pashtun North and South, while quarantining the Taliban-infested Pashtun South. Can this be a long-term solution, leading to stability in the region?

First and foremost, a quarantined Southern Afghanistan with a predominantly Pashtun population will be a greater recipe for disaster for regional and international security. Such an entity will not be acceptable to either the Pashtuns or the Pakistanis. Islamabad will be alarmed, for any Pashtun political entity on the west of Durand Line will have serious political repercussions for its own Pashtun region - the FATA and the Khyber Pakhtunkwa. Second, as Pakistan is doing now, it would prefer an Islamic (read Taliban-led) regime in such an entity, rather than a secular regime which may lead to the revival of any cross-Durand Pashtun demands. As a result, a quarantined Pashtun region in the South of Afghanistan will be a greater threat and source of Taliban radicalism.

A united Afghanistan not only provides the much needed space for different ethnic communities of Afghanistan to coexist, it also provides an opportunity for the regional countries to ensure a balance of power within Afghanistan. Iran’s support to the Shias of Afghanistan and Central Asian support to the Uzbeks and Tajiks are likely to have a greater influence on any future regime in Kabul (including the Taliban) to reach some kind of an agreement with other ethnic communities. Even if the Taliban overrun Afghanistan after the exit of American troops, Iran will never accept a strategic defeat in Kabul with the Taliban ruling and Islamabad calling the shots. If the US plans to go after the al Qaeda, wherever they are (even within Pakistan), one could expect lesser cooperation from Islamabad. Or perhaps, due to internal pressure, they may even stop cooperating!

The non-Pashtun North and West of Afghanistan in fact provides a space for all non-Taliban entities (including the non-Taliban Pashtun groups) to come together and form a coalition, as is happening under the present regime. This will also provide space for the non-Pakistan regional neighbours of Afghanistan to exercise influence over Kabul.

So what would a partition (of Afghanistan) achieve and lead to? Perhaps a completely monolithic 'Pashtunistan' under the total control of a radical Taliban, who in turn, would be under the complete patronage of Pakistan. Sounds familiar? This is what happened in the 1990s, leading to 9/11. So what Ambassador Blackwill prescribes as a solution, is in fact, the original problem!


Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis
Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the ?Eliminate or Extradite? Approach
Taliban after Afghan Elections: Spring Offensive or the Last Stand?
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Of Inquilab and the Inquilabis
Pakistan: Of Messiahs and Marches
Zarb-e-Azb: The Decisive Strike

Dateline Kabul
Mariam Safi
Can Afghanistan Become a "Perfect Place?"
Afghanistan: Political Crises After the Presidential Run-off
Taliban?s Spring Offensive: Are the ANSF Prepared?
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
Abe?s Successful Visit to Dhaka: Two Political Challenges
Girl Summit Diplomacy and Bangladesh-UK Relations
India-Bangladesh: After Sushma Swaraj's Visit

Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
Changing Global Balance of Power: Obama?s Response
Obama Administration: Re-engaging India
US in South Asia: Declining Influence
East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India in East Asia: Modi?s Three Summit Meets
Modi's Visit to Japan: Gauging Inter-State Relations in Asia
North Korea: Seeking New Friends?

Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
China in Nepal: Increasing Connectivity Via Railways
India-Nepal Hydroelectricity Deal: Making it Count
Federalism and Nepal: Internal Differences
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Maritime Terrorism: Karachi as a Staging Point
Maritime Silk Road: Can India Leverage It?
BRICS: The Oceanic Connections

Middle Kingdom
DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Musings on the Bomb
The Second Nuclear Age in the Asia Pacific

Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Six Thousand Plus Killed: The Naxal Ideology of Violence
Anti-Naxal Operations: Seeking Refuge in Symbolism
A 'New' Counter-Naxal Action Plan
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Obama?s New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India
Modi?s Tryst with Abe
Thinking the Unthinkable: Promoting Nuclear Disarmament

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
War against the Islamic State: Political and Military Responses from the Region
The Islamic State: No Country for the Old World Order
India and the Conflict in Gaza
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
Uranium and Nuclear Power: Three Indian Stories
A Strategic Review for India
Indian Ratification of the Additional Protocol: Mischievous Reports Miss its Significance

The Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability
The Indo Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
Myanmar's Political Transition: Challenges of the 2015 Election
South China Sea: Intransigence Over Troubled Waters
Indonesia: 2014 Presidential Election Explained

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
The Islamic State Caliphate: A Mirage of Resurrection
A Covenant Sans Sword
Strife on the Global Commons
Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Stronger Democratic Values for a Better Tomorrow
Sri Lanka and China: Towards Innovation Driven Economies
India-Sri Lanka: Strengthening Regional Cooperation
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
Pakistan: Why is Army against Nawaz Sharif?
Pakistan: Degraded Democracy
Domestic Politicking in Pakistan: It's Not Cricket, Stupid!
Voice from America
Amit Gupta
Modi?s US Visit: So Much Promise, Such Little Outcome
India and Australia: Beyond Curry, Cricket, and Commonwealth
And Then There is the Middle East: The Lack of an End-Game

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: From Ahmad Shah Massoud to Rabbani," 26 September 2011
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Will Mullah Omar Negotiate? What is Taliban's End Game?," 5 September 2011
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Should India Adapt to the Game, or Attempt to Change It?," 16 June 2011
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Obama’s Afghanistan Review," 21 December 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Will the Taliban Negotiate?," 20 October 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Now a Peace Council to Negotiate with the Taliban," 30 September 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: India’s Options after the Kabul Conference," 9 August 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Kabul Conference and the Countdown to another Disaster," 21 July 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Should India also talk to the Taliban?," 13 July 2010
D Suba Chandran,
"Af-Pak Diary: Is Karzai’s Endgame changing vis-à-vis Pakistan?," 9 July 2010

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping: Strong Leaders, Hard Issues

Pakistan: The Coup that didn’t take

Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis

Processes at the cost of peace?

Cost of Peace

Rise of Democratic Anarchists

Don’t steal the election now

Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the “Eliminate or Extradite” Approach

The Tahirul Qadri Affair

Dhaka as the Gateway to India’s Look East Policy

Modi, Sharif and the Cross-LoC Interactions

Region by Sub-regions

Civil-Military Equations in Pakistan: Que Sera Sera

End of the Road for Taliban?

Presidential Election: Thus spoke the Afghans

Importance of Jamat-e-Islami

Talks with the Taliban: Endgame for the TTP

And Now, They are Coming for Us

Honouring the Dead

The Demographic Dividend

Pivot, Rebalance and What Next?

Unraveling of FATA

Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?

TTP under Mullah Fazlullah: What Next for the Pakistani Taliban?

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998
 1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
Email:
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com