A Two-Front Threat Emerging For Pakistan

January 21, 2010

Shireeen M Mazari

The moment of truth for those in Islamabad who continue to trust the Americans is nearing and might have already arrived. Pakistan needs to respond to the provocations by India and by those who are supporting India. Pakistan also needs to consider withdrawing from the coming London conference on Afghanistan if its legitimate security interests are further ignored by the United States and the United Kingdom. Additionally, Pakistani forces need to be positioned along the border with southern Afghanistan, where some elements within the US establishment seem to be planning limited incursions.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A nightmare security scenario for Pakistan seems to be emerging – that of a two-front military conflict. Pakistan is already facing an internal militancy aided and abetted from Afghanistan and is threatened with all manner of likely US boots actually coming into Pakistan.

Already, the drone attacks on Pakistani soil have increased. For all these reasons, Pakistan has moved a large chunk of its forces away from its Eastern border with India and along the LoC, and moved them to the Western front along the international border with Afghanistan as well as into FATA.

Now India has upped the military ante against Pakistan after meetings between Indian officials and America’s Holbrooke and Gates. Hence we are seeing the unprovoked Indian military firing at Pakistani forces across the international border, the working boundary and across the LoC, which has resulted in death and injury for Pakistani soldiers. What can possibly be the Indian intent at this time to undertake such military adventurism? Had it been given some go-ahead by the Americans?

This new military provocation comes when there seems to have been a decision made by the British and Americans to give India a major military role in Afghanistan. The two allies are all set to spring this nasty decision onto Pakistan at the international conference on Afghanistan in London at the end of this month when it will be proposed that India train the Afghan National Army – something it is already doing at a small level covertly and on that pretext already has its operatives in Afghanistan. It is these operatives who are conducting the aid and assistance to militants within Pakistan.

In view of these developments, what are the immediate options for Pakistan which will protect its interests as well as signal an effective message to both the US and India?

First and most immediate, Pakistan needs to move its troops back to its Eastern front and cease operations in FATA. We need to distinguish between our militancy problem, which is certainly threatening and very real, but has multiple dimensions, and the misguided US ‘War on Terror’. On the Western front, it needs to realign its forces along the Chaman border area with Afghanistan where it is expected US boots may enter Pakistan on the ground.

Second, it needs to tell the US in no uncertain terms that it will not tolerate these Indian military incitements and may well up the ante also choosing its own time, place and type of response.

Third, Pakistan needs to categorically refuse to participate in the London Conference if the plan to train the Afghan National Army by India is even discussed informally. In fact, under the circumstances, if India participates in the Conference, Pakistan should consider the option of boycotting it. Let us see how far the US and UK get in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s active cooperation!

Fourth, it is time to demand that Indian operatives move out of Afghanistan and Indian consulates in Afghanistan along the border area with Pakistan be closed.

The fact that the Indian aggression has come immediately in the aftermath of the discussions between the Indians and visiting Americans including Defense Secretary Gates, and following on the heels of the visit to Kabul by India’s DG MI, shows only too clearly the Indo-US nexus in terms of presenting Pakistan with a possible two-front threat.



  1. A very realistic analysis.It seems Army’s decision to dis-engage on the western border,is very timely and has the same cnnotations.

    Hope the Govt takes popular decisions on the diplomatic front too.

  2. The Taliban issue in Pakistan and Afghanistan is not “Black and White” [for Pakistan] as it is for the U.S. Surely, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates see any enemy of the U.S. as “black”, and any enemy of Pakistan as “white” – India, for example. And the continuous U.S. Predator drones attacks in Pakistan has turned its population into a boiling cauldron against the U.S./Pakistan cooperation. Pakistan doesn’t see a pro-U.S. regime surviving in Afghanistan, and it doesn’t want to turn the Pashtuns into its enemies to please the U.S.

    When the U.S. overthrew the Taliban regime in Kabul, the Pakistan president at the time, Pervez Musharraf, insisted that the U.S. appoint a Pashtun as president. Pashtun is the largest tribe in Afghanistan, and in a nation where tribal loyalties predominate, Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun, got the job – after another American-Pashtun who returned to Afghanistan to get the post was hanged by the Taliban. Karzai would have gotten the
    same fate, but he called the U.S. forces who arrived in helicopters and extracted him out of a hostile Taliban meeting before his demise – according to the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at that time.

    Karzai’s stock as a Pashtun who could bring in the 42% of Afghans on his side is now virtually bankrupt. He has become the target of the Pashtun, and he has survived with government positions and bribes to other warlords, while the Pashtun Taliban insurgency has become deadlier and more sophisticated. Does he have a future as an enemy of his own tribe and American puppet? If he tries to fight corruption, the tribal warlords that support him because they become rich with corruption would ditch him too! And if he loses their support, and with the Pashtun/Taliban support lost already, he won’t have any Afghan to count on. How, then, the U.S. will win the Afghan war in McChrystal’s plan, when the U.S. appointed president there
    represents only a small and corrupt clique of Afghans bend on becoming from the spoils of the U.S. occupation and war? The Taliban have made it clear that they won’t be bought -like the Sunnis in Iraq – even though the U.S. has removed the name of the Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar from its terrorist list to lure him into a possible pact with the U.S.

    Pakistan, therefore, is suspicious that the U.S. demand from them to attack and destroy the Taliban at the same time that the U.S. is trying to negotiate with them behind Pakistan’s back. The Taliban were created in Pakistan’s Madrassas, and trained and equipped by the Pakistani army, then unleashed to overthrow the corrup regime in Afghanistan. Why should Pakistan destroy them? To leave Afghanistan an open field to the U.S. and
    India? Pakistan has in force what they call “Strategic Depth” strategy, (Reuters, Jan. 21, 2009) which is: In case of war with India, Pakistan must not be sandwiched between two enemies, India in the East, and a pro- U.S./pro-India regime in Afghanistan in the West. And “strategic depth”, therefore, means that Pakistan want an Afghanistan under its control – not the U.S.’s- to have room to maneuver it forces if the is a war with India, and Indian forces manage to occupy the Eastern part of its territory.

    The U.S. Pakistani alliance on the war on terror is, therefore, an alliance of payouts [by the U.s.], and opportunity [by Pakistan], not an alliance of political and religious ideology, nor similar strategic interests. And that alliance seems to be edging closer to the open discord as their differences clash over the U.S. demand to have the final say on who will controls Central Asia when the war in Afghanistan is over. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

  3. Nice take on the concept of the elusive ‘strategic depth ‘for Pakistan by a Pakistani columnist.


    Frankly,Pakistan for reasons only known to itself always tries to play a game out of its league.

    The aims it professes of having in Afghanistan are not commensurate with its military and economic capabilities.

    Pakistan tends to forget that whatever success it had in Afghanistan against the Soviets was on the money and muscle of the CIA and regional players like the Saudis.

    Even the Taliban movement was funded by the Sauds and ‘siphoned’ off US funds/aid.

    If it tries to play a game,alone,not consistent with the aims of other powers,it will only come to grief.

    Sooner,rather than later.

  4. Pakistan is playing a great game, which will eventually result in the creation of “United States of Pakistan”.

    Its good for us that your jew masters keep you in a fools paradise. Your eyes will open when the its too late.

    If india has any guts (nuts) then why do they keep barking from their jew masters crouch. Come one and try to attack us…….we are so anxious for you to come on our side of the border…….

    • no more drones by the us on pakistani soil or its war
      nujat patriotic pakistani

    • The great game require a lot more than fanciful words and hot air.
      The afghans and pashtuns themselves have cery strong feeling of the pashto identity.

      They refuse to recognize the Durand Line on the Pak-afghan border in the west.

      Keep your eyes closed, and see how a pakhtun nation is being formed,while you dream of a united states of Pakistan.

      Unite whatever little there is presently!

      • Worry about the Naxalites and Moasts who are hellbent on breaking India and will certainly manage that!.Even your PM considers them as the greatest threat to your nation!

        More Pashtuns in Pak then Afghanistan besides i don’t mind a cofederation with Afghanistan!

        The Jews and American’s won’t save your ass forever!.It’s not hot air but FACT that you chickened out after the Mumbai false flag when even your military admitted it’s shortcomings.Remember how you suddently wanted peace after our jets were flying over our skies or how about your shitty pilots being shown the exit door from our airspace!?

        Don’t bark but bring it on!

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