Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Play the Great Game

As expected Obama wants to vote 'Present' on the AfPak war. By questioning the strategy of celebrated US generals, including Gen. David Petraeus, he is pitting the liberal anti-war democrats against his Generals. This is what happens when you put a community organizer (aka a radical) as commander in chief. A C-in-C is not supposed to publicly question the strategy of his own Generals.

Some Republicans have openly wished for Gen. Petraeus to be the Conservative candidate against Obama in 2012. It looked very unlikely a few weeks ago. But if Obama tries to betray his Generals in public, Petraeus may well take the plunge.

But this post is not about American political games. Its about the Great Game. Played as always in Central Asia, Iran and now in AfPak. What is India's strategy in the Great Game?

As I suggested few years ago, a nuclear armed Iran is in India's best interests and will stabilize the region. In anycase nobody can argue against Iran's inherent right to protect itself against Israeli and US aggression. The only problem is that Iran hasn't yet opted out of NPT, signed by its pre-revolutionary Shah government.

On the AfPak war, we need a bold long term strategy. The goal is to balkanize Pakistan and take parts east of Indus for ourselves. As I wrote here, we want Kashmir, Punjab, Sind and Gandhara to return to the Indian Union and Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Balawaristan to become Independent.

Manmohan Singh's sellout on Baluchistan in Shram-al Shek and his silence on the recent Pakistani moves in Gilgit-Baltistan are well documented. So I don't expect him to do anything in Pakhtunkhwa. Anyway here's my plan.

India should propose a SAARC peace keeping force for Afghanistan. Europeans want a way out of Afghanistan and we shall provide one. SAARC countries should deploy not less than 3,00,000 troops in Afghanistan. Remember, Afghanistan is also a member of SAARC.

Just as NATO forces have divided duties across Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Lanka and Nepal shall take responsibilities in the non-Pashtun areas of Afghanistan. And guess what, we should let Pakistan takeover the Pashtun areas. Let US and Pakistani forces continue to operate in Pakhtunkhwa. If US pulls back and lets Pakistan to install a Talibani regime out of Kandahar, so be it.

Its a win-win situation for all. 1. Europe gets out. 2. US either plays and wins or gets an alibi to cut and run. Namely blaming Pakistan. 3. Pakistan gets to talibanize atleast half of Afghanistan and get its strategic depth back.

Now what do we get? We get a hold in Afghanistan proper. Afghani is a persian word which doesn't necessarily include Pathans. Lets try to protect the non-Pashtun areas from the Taliban. Afterall, we supported the erstwhile Northern Alliance.

But more importantly, Pashtun nationalism is the surest way to unravel the Pakistani non-state. Remember we once 'threw Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Khudai Kidmadgars and the Pathans in general to the Pakistani wolves'. Now let us help Pathans on either side of the Durand line to come together. In anycase, Baluchis have proved ineffective and Balawaristan seems a long shot.

Ofcourse its a gamble. Will the unified Pashtuns eventually turn against Pakistanis and demand separation or continue the vegetative state in which they live now? But whats wrong in trying. After all, this is the Great Game and we ought to gamble.

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