“Strategic Depth”

Posted by lex, on December 7, 2008

Pakistan’s support for the Taliban was always rooted in their desire to maintain a “strategic depth” against historical nemesis India – the world’s largest democracy has fought three major wars against the world’s most dangerous country.

With Islamabad only 200 good highway miles from the Indian border and ethno-sectarian tensions ever at a boil, the risk of some punitive expedition by the larger and better equipped Indian military is a threat that Pakistan takes seriously. If push came to shove – and a nuclear exchange was somehow avoided – the Hindu Kush would be a formidable redoubt from whence to rest, re-arm and re-sortie.

Caught on the back foot by the atrocities committed by the ISI-sponsored Lashkar-e-Toiba in Mumbai, Pakistan has hurried to assure the world in general that the terrorist action this time was not supported by the government in Islamabad. Having offered that olive branch, someone – it’s never easy to know who – has now shown the stick:

Pakistani militants attacked a parked convoy of trucks carrying military vehicles for Western forces in Afghanistan near Peshawar early on Sunday, destroying 96 trucks, police said.

Security guards said they were overpowered by more than 200 militants who attacked two terminals on the ring road round the northwestern city of Peshawar, where the trucks carrying Humvees and other military vehicles were parked.

“It happened at around 2.30 a.m. They fired rockets, hurled hand grenades and then set ablaze 96 trucks,” senior police officer Azeem Khan told Reuters.

Most of the fuel and other supplies for U.S. and NATO forces in landlocked Afghanistan are trucked through Pakistan, much of it through the mountainous Khyber Pass between Peshawar, capital of North-West Frontier Province and the border town of Torkham.

The story of the defeat of local security forces by militants who “stole their guns” and torched the supplies they guarded while sparing their lives is a polite fiction. The underlying message is clear: Call off your dogs, or we cut the lifeline to ISAF and US forces in the Pashtun backyard.

Sixty years of warfare and enmity whipped by wild fantasies of “reclaiming” Kashmir have left Pakistan impoverished, its vast human resources either underemployed, or employed to no good whatsoever. It must be tempting to blame the Hindus, the West, the Jews for all their sufferings.

Tempting, but inutile: The barbarians Pakistan faces are not at the gate – they are within. Pakistan will never have strategic depth in another country until the state owns the monopoly on violence at home.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, GWOT

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