Pakistan: Talibanistan With Nukes?

PAKISTAN could collapse within months, one of the more influential counter-insurgency voices in Washington says.

The warning comes as the US scrambles to redeploy its military forces and diplomats in an attempt to stem rising violence and anarchy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we’re calling the war on terror now,” said David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House.

“You just can’t say that you’re not going to worry about al-Qaeda taking control of Pakistan and its nukes,” he said.

pakistanm-200x0David Kilcullen… Pakistan keeps him awake at night. 

As the US implements a new strategy in Central Asia so comprehensive that some analysts now dub the cross-border conflict “Obama’s war”, Dr Kilcullen said time was running out for international efforts to pull both countries back from the brink.

When he unveiled his new “Afpak” policy in Washington last month, the US President, Barack Obama, warned that while al-Qaeda would fill the vacuum if Afghanistan collapsed, the terrorist group was already rooted in Pakistan, plotting more attacks on the US.

“The safety of people round the world is at stake,” he said.

Laying out the scale of the challenges facing the US in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dr Kilcullen put the two countries invaded by US-led forces after the September 11 attacks on the US on a par – each had a population of more than 30 million.

“But Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control,” he told the Herald .

Added to that, the Pakistani security establishment ignored direction from the elected Government in Islamabad as waves of extremist violence spread across the whole country – not only in the tribal wilds of the Afghan border region.

Cautioning against an excessive focus by Western governments on Afghanistan at the expense of Pakistan, Dr Kilcullen said that “the Kabul tail was wagging the dog”. Comparing the challenges in the two, he said Afghanistan was a campaign to defend a reconstruction program. “It’s not really about al-Qaeda. Afghanistan doesn’t worry me. Pakistan does.”

But he was hesitant about the level of resources for, and the likely impact of, Washington’s new drive to emulate an Iraq-style “surge” by sending an extra 21,000 troops to Afghanistan.

“In Iraq, five brigades went into the centre of Baghdad in five months. In Afghanistan, it will be two combat brigades [across the country] in 12 months. That will have much less of a punch effect than we had in Iraq.

“We can muddle through in Afghanistan. It is problematic and difficult but we know what to do. What we don’t know is if we have the time or if we can afford the cost of what needs to be done.”

Dr Kilcullen said a fault line had developed in the West’s grasp of circumstances on each side of the Durand Line, the disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“In Afghanistan, it’s easy to understand, difficult to execute. But in Pakistan, it is very difficult to understand and it’s extremely difficult for us to generate any leverage, because Pakistan does not want our help. (they just want our money, that’s right/ed)

“In a sense there is no Pakistan – no single set of opinion. Pakistan has a military and intelligence establishment that refuses to follow the directions of its civilian leadership. They have a tradition of using regional extremist groups as unconventional counterweights against India’s regional influence.”

In the absence of a regional diplomatic initiative to build economic and trade confidences before tackling the security issue, the implication, Dr Kilcullen said, was that India alone could not give Pakistan the security guarantees required by Islamabad.

The special US envoy Richard Holbrooke has been charged with brokering a regional compact by reaching out to Iran, Russia and China, and Dr Kilcullen said: “This is exactly what he’s good at and it could work.

“But will it? It requires regional architecture to give the Pakistani security establishment a sense of security which might make them stop supporting the Taliban,” he said.

“The best-case scenario is that the US can deal with Afghanistan, with President Obama giving leadership while the extra American troops succeed on the ground – at the same time as Mr Holbrooke seeks a regional security deal,” he said. The worst case was that Washington would fail to stabilise Afghanistan, Pakistan would collapse and al-Qaeda would end up running what he called ‘Talibanistan.’

“This is not acceptable. You can’t have al-Qaeda in control of Pakistan’s missiles,” he said. (Watch this space…)

“It’s too early to tell which way it will go. We’ll start to know about July. That’s the peak fighting season … and a month from the Afghan presidential election.”

Related Links:

  1. ISI Links With Baitullah Mehsud
  2. Pakistan’s ISI, Obama’s Big Problem
  3. The leader of the Pakistani Taliban vows to strike America
  4. The Next Failed State – Pakistan?
  5. Petraeus Adviser: Pakistan to Fail in 6 mos.

The Fate of the Kalasha  (Global Post)
A fascinating people who endured centuries of Muslim persecution may not survive the modern-day Taliban.

Turkey: EU’s Trojan Horse?  (Islamist Monitor)
Troubling signs that Turkey’s brief experiment with secularism appears to be winding down.

Afghanistan a headache. Pakistan a nightmare

Andrew Bolt – Monday, April 13, 09 

David Kilcullen, the Australian who was a specialist counter-insurgency adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House: 

You just can’t say that you’re not going to worry about al-Qaeda taking control of Pakistan and its nukes… Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control…

Misunderstanders of Islam in Pakistan say that pols who don’t back deal establishing Sharia in Swat are abandoning Islam

Honest Ibe Hooper, call your office. You’re needed to explain to the Taliban that Islam and democracy are completely compatible, and Muslims who prefer secular government to Sharia are not abandoning Islam. Can you get the next flight to Islamabad? “Taliban: Pakistani Politicians Not Backing Swat Deal Are Abandoning Islam,” from FoxNews, April 13 (thanks to JW):

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani lawmakers who do not support a peace deal with the Taliban that imposes Islamic law in a northwestern valley will be considered to have abandoned Islam, a spokesman for the extremists warned Monday.Muslim Khan did not say whether the Taliban would punish legislators opposing the deal other than to say a militant council would discuss the matter. The charge of apostasy, or abandoning Islam, carries the death penalty in some quarters.

The provincial government in northwestern Pakistan agreed in February to impose Islamic law in the Swat Valley and surrounding areas in exchange for a cease-fire with Taliban fighters who have terrorized the area for some 18 months, killing hundreds.

But amid criticism from human rights activists and Western allies worried that Swat will become a militant sanctuary, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has delayed signing the agreement. […]

The ANP says an Islamic legal system meets the demands of Swat residents for a more efficient legal system and is the best hope for ending the bloodshed in Swat.

“We are not against taking up the issue in Parliament, but this is not constitutionally needed,” Zahid Khan said. “The president has the power to do it on his own, and he must do it to avoid any worsening of situation in Swat.” […]

Muslim Khan, the Taliban spokesman, said the militants would not oppose a parliamentary debate as a way “to relieve the foreign external pressure,” but “if there is any opposition in the assembly to this regulation, then we will know who are the true Muslims and who are the apostates.”


He said it. It is up to those Muslims that he would consider to be apostates to explain why he is wrong. Ibe? Mr. Schwartz? Khaleel Mohammed? Sheikh Palazzi? Anyone? Anyone?

6 thoughts on “Pakistan: Talibanistan With Nukes?”

  1. * PAKISTAN could collapse within months

    Looks like no amount of fawning dhimmitude and jizyah will postpone
    the inevitable.

  2. Without stating the obvious I think people should think very hard about this – this situation is VERY SERIOUS and has GLOBAL implications. This is IMHO the first step to the conflict which some of us foresee.

  3. It has been coming for a long time. Pakistan (the military) has always been with the Taliban It is now in the open and yes it is is scary. The overtness lately is a little bit to do with seeing a Marxist Muslim running the USA. However, only a fool would have considered them anything but an ally of opportunity over the last eight years. Will we meet the challenge? Maybe, it is just that being really nice is not going to pay dividends?

  4. Depends which conflict you have in mind, kaw. Ezekiel 38 comes to
    mind, but if the USA / EU secures Pak’s nukes, maybe not. If the
    OIC claims the right to “stabilise” a failed muslim state, anything
    could happen.

  5. I am uncertain Mullah – there are too many degrees of freedom to this problem – all of which have consequence. It is extremely difficult to make accurate predictions. One fact which is important, and no one has really discussed, is how long the average Pakistani citizen will allow the fundamentalists and government to continue as they have. Based upon past history the outcome from this viewpoint is not good. The sixth month deadline to the collapse of the regime as given by some advisors may or may not be true – it depends on many factors and is complicated by the fact that the taliban also consist of factions (mostly tribally based) with different aspirations. More relevant I think is the possibility of parallel developments in Iran and Pakistan – this concerns me. I believe that Iran will shortly have nuclear weapons. I do not believe that they can develop the range of tactical nukes that Russia or America have without significant help, however Pakistan
    has possibly become familiar with some of this technology through Chinese help. When tactical nukes become part of the islamists arsenal then we are in a war – and in this war there is no political solution – there is only one course of action – well there are actually two but I hope the PC dimwits who would wave the white flag are silenced early on. However, whatever happens hinges on the stability of Pakistan in the short term. At present I don’t believe that direct military options would be feasible – but one needs to talk to the guys and gals in the field – they have excellent gen on local conditions and one need to analyse this all en-masse to get the overall gen on the situation. This is almost certainly being done, but I do not see this as a viable option at present. The problem is not defeating these islamic thugs in the military field – it is having the resources to stay for at least two generations until the threat has been removed. No one will pay for this despite its importance. Politically it is also almost impossible to achieve anything in Pakistan – and given that the islamist problem was created by the ISS to fight against local democratic parties the picture there is also bleak. So I see no path that would lead to regional stability within the required time frame of six months. I find it curious as a scientist that two major cultures have predicted major upheavals of unspecified nature in 2012 (Mayan calendar predicts that this is the 5th and last epoch). There also indications in Bible and other texts of unspecified momentous events. Okay, you can believe this or not – the point I am trying to make is that if Pakistan does fall to islamists this year, then 3-4 years is of the order required for a significant conflict to develop (taken from various events in our history). This makes the statement that something will happen about the year 2012 as something worth considering, and preventing if possible. Incidentally, for the muzzies reading, all these texts also say that we win – not you!! Sorry for the long answer.

  6. The long answer is fine, kaw, but mine will be brief as it is time
    to sleep, but the “wildcat” may tie in with the 2012 date – difficult
    to find any links, but over the years I have come across muslim
    mumblings that state that an Indo-Pak war is a necessary precursor
    to the (re)appearance of the Mahdi – I’m sure Ahmadinejad would
    be willing to give the Mahdi a helping hand, with some Pak nukes.

Comments are closed.