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Pakistan army still calls the shots

June 1, 2009 23:21 IST
Pakistan President Zardari is unable to change the power equations in his country
Former diplomat M K Bhadrakumar recently presented a paper on Pakistan and Terrorism at the Asia Centre, a Bangalore-based think-tank.

'ISI will keep backing militants'

June 1, 2009 23:21 IST
The Taliban are a strategic asset for the Pakistani military

What is America's priority?

June 1, 2009 23:21 IST
President Obama is encouraging other relevant States to get engaged in stabilising Pakistan

The Afghan factor

June 1, 2009 23:21 IST
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
  • There is a stalemate. The Taliban cannot capture power but the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, cannot defeat the Taliban. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the Taliban have the upper hand at present and that the timeline is short for reversing the tide as US opinion may turn against the war. Clearly, the 12 to 18 month period ahead becomes extremely critical. Barack Obama's re-election campaign by end-2010 or early-2011 is bound to introduce new compulsions.
  • There is very little interest on the part of major NATO powers to increase their troop commitments. Thus, the bulk of fighting will need to be borne by US forces.
  • The surge strategy essentially involves stepping up of pressure on Taliban fighters within southern Afghanistan and pushing them toward the Pakistan border region so that the Pakistan military would squeeze the militants from their side simultaneously. Alongside, a political track will involve hammering the irreconcilables hard and segregating the reconcilables. A so-called bottoms-up approach is envisaged province-by-province on the pattern of the Awakening in Iraq.
  • An altogether separate track is running, unacknowledged by the US, in terms of negotiations with the hardcore Taliban leadership and Afghan rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai also pursues his contacts with the Taliban. Unclear where, when or how the various tracks will meet, if at all. The Saudis are certainly in it and the ISI plus the ubiquitous British intelligence.
  • Obama has spoken of regional initiatives. But geopolitics remain muddled question marks linger over re-setting US-Russia relations; Russia and China oppose NATO expansion into Central Asia; a US-Iran standoff is in a state of animated suspension; India-Pakistan tensions spill over into the Hindu Kush; energy rivalry.

What does it mean for India

June 1, 2009 23:21 IST
India should be highly wary of developments in Pakistan
For India, there are pluses and minuses.

India's drawbacks are:

What is India's advantage?

June 1, 2009 23:21 IST
The Mumbai attacks have changed the world's perception of Pakistan
However, India has many advantages. They are: