Murder on the Khyber Pass express
President Joe Biden, India, China and Iran. They are all terrified of facing a failed state with nuclear weapons, and prefer a functioning but treacherous one.
The released papers - described as one of the biggest leaks in US military history - detail military operations between 2004 and 2009.
The "everybody" involved in this case seems to exclude whomever actually leaked the documents, presumably some element of the US military, which has to absorb the effect of Pakistan's double game in the region in the form of body bags for enlisted men and shattered reputations for commanders. Like the Rolling Stone magazine interviews that led to the firing of General Stanley McChrystal, the America commander in Afghanistan, the WikiLeaks documents suggest a degree of disaffection of the American military with civilian leaders deeper than anything in living memory.
To exit the Afghan quagmire in a less than humiliating fashion, the United States requires Pakistani help to persuade the Taliban not to take immediate advantage of the American departure and evoke Vietnam-era scenes of helicopters on the American Embassy roof. The politicians in Washington know they have lost and have conceded to the Taliban a role in a post-American Afghanistan. They can only hope that once the country plunges into chaos, the public will have moved onto other themes, much as it did after the Bill Clinton administration put Kosovo into the hands of a gang of dubious Albanians in 1998.
India does not want America to call Pakistan to account. In the worst case, Pakistan might choose to support the Taliban and other terrorist organizations - including Kashmiri irredentists - openly rather than covertly. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, of whom the Economist on July 25 wrote "the strength of his coalition depends largely on how weak he is as Prime Minister", does not want to confront Pakistan. If Pakistan's support for anti-Indian terrorism became undeniable, India would have to act, and action is the last thing the Congress party-led coalition in New Delhi wants to consider.
China has no interest in destabilization in Pakistan; on the contrary, Beijing lives in fear that radical Islamists in Pakistan might infect its own restive Uyghurs. And Iran, which shares the fractious Balochis with Pakistan on their common border, lives in terror that a destabilized Pakistan would free the Balochis to make trouble.
Balochis comprise little over 2% of Iran's population, but they have demonstrated their talent at bomb-making on several recent occasions, including the bombing this month of a Shi'ite mosque in southeastern Iran in which 28 people were killed and hundreds wounded. Iran has accused Pakistan of sponsoring Balochi terror attacks, but intelligence community sources in Washington insist that the Pakistanis would never be so reckless as to put bombs into Balochi hands.
With 170 million people - more than Russia - and a nuclear arsenal, Pakistan is too big to fail, that is, too big to fail without traumatic consequences for its neighbors. Whether it can be kept from failure is questionable. Half its people live on less than a dollar day, and half are illiterate. It is riven by religious differences - a seventh of Pakistanis are Shi'ite - as well as ethnic ones.
Murder on the Khyber Pass express: courtesy Asia Times Online
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