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Pakistani Peace Deal: A Public Relations Ploy

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    Pakistani Peace Deal: A Public Relations Ploy

    Pakistani Peace Deal: A Public Relations Ploy

    On the eve of Pakistani chief executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s visit to Iran, the Pakistani government announced Dec. 7 that it wants to work with Iran in resolving the war in Afghanistan. Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar expressed a desire to promote a government “that is broad-based, representative and multi-ethnic,” according to the Iranian News Agency. Viewed in light of several incidents of Taliban cooperation with the West, Pakistan’s announcement could prompt hopes of a resolution of the Afghan war. However, the endemic obstacles impeding peace suggest that the peace proposal is meant as a public relations tool for the Pakistanis.

    Although Pakistan has traditionally supported the Taliban, while Iran has supported the opposition Northern Alliance, the two have recently shown signs of cooperating in order to contain the effects of the war in Afghanistan. The two control a majority of the border around Afghanistan, and have made it clear they can dictate the flow of supplies to the Taliban. In response, the Taliban has become increasingly cooperative with the West, perhaps hoping for support. Such cooperation includes allowing U.N. humanitarian aid in opposition-held territory and allowing the Red Cross to open a clinic near the front lines.

    However, a host of obstacles stands in the way of a negotiated resolution of the war. The Taliban justifies its rule, and the violence and repression it carries out to maintain that rule, on the ideology that it is the guardian of a pure, uncorrupted version of Islam. The protector of an incorruptible ideology would cast itself as a hypocrite if it made deals and concessions with the enemies of the faith.

    Two more practical reasons exist for keeping the war alive. First, the Taliban is in a militarily strong position. It will be able to preserve that dominance until the spring, since winter weather prevents fighting on both sides. Second, peace in Afghanistan would pressure the Taliban to end its support of Osama bin Laden in order for its government to be accepted internationally. Both bin Laden’s popularity and his influence with the Taliban discourage such a deal.

    On the opposite side, the Northern Alliance is also unlikely to jump at the chance for a peace settlement. The group receives a great deal of support and guidance from Russia and Iran, both of whom use the Alliance to defend their interests. For Russia they provide an armed buffer zone between Russia and Islamic fundamentalists in South Asia. Shiite-majority Iran uses the group to repress the radical Sunni Taliban, and to maintain a neutral, if not friendly, buffer to Pakistan. Neither Russia nor Iran would be served by a disarmed Northern Alliance.

    Even Pakistan has interests in prolonging the conflict. By continuing to support the Taliban, though perhaps at a lower level, Musharraf can satisfy the radical Islamists within Pakistan. These radicals support the Taliban, and they have a history of destabilizing Pakistani governments that they dislike. Gen. Musharraf likely has greater control over Pakistan than his predecessors but no doubt wishes to avoid using the army to put down an insurrection if at all possible.

    In terms of external relations, Pakistan currently has a great deal of influence over the Taliban, and thus, Afghanistan. Pakistan has historically attempted to use Afghanistan as a buffer to Iran and as a conduit for Central Asian trade. Any peace settlement will likely decrease Taliban and Pakistani influence and allow a greater voice for the Northern Alliance. Pakistan and Iran appear to be convenient allies for the moment, but neither is likely to relinquish any comparative advantage.

    Pakistan’s plan seems doomed to fail, which may be just the point. A Pakistan-sponsored peace plan is great public relations for the regime, which wants to be accepted by the international community. Right now the Afghan winter has postponed the fighting until spring. It doesn’t hurt any party to consider peace plans, no matter how fanciful. If peace discussions are enough to shake loose a bit of humanitarian aid from the West, then so much the better. But the point remains that the parties involved in the conflict have too many vested interests to allow a resolution.


    #2
    Oh the obsession of some Indians with anything which has the name Pakistan in it.

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      #3
      Oh for god sake please don't argue, Pakistan is a failed state.

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        #4
        and a fellow indian just cant hold it any more to announce that Pakistan is a failed state....bravo!!!

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          #5
          This is a published report by Strategic Study of Foeriegn Affairs.
          Check out http://www.stratfor.com.
          Don't blame anything and everything on Indians, RAW agents and Hindus.

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