[...] Pakistan is far less resilient than it was a few years ago. Even as Pakistani officials bluntly criticize Holbrooke for linking Afghanistan and Pakistan in his ‘AfPak’ strategy, some Pakistanis already see a chronic ‘Afghanization’ of their nation. Current realities include a collapse of law and order in parts of the country, state institutions riddled with corruption and ineffectiveness, a justice system that cannot deliver, a crashing economy with severe joblessness, increasing ethnic tensions and a strong separatist movement in Baluchistan province.
However, the real fear is that under such enormous external and internal pressures, there are no guarantees that the army will stay committed to a democratic system. More so, the military may not remain as united as it has been for the past six decades. What many Pakistanis fear and constantly talk about is not a traditional generals’ coup that may end democracy, but a colonels’ coup that could bring in a pro-Islamist and anti-Western coterie of officers linked to Islamic groups that would then negotiate a compromise with the Pakistan Taliban. That could put Pakistan’s nuclear weapons into the wrong hands. Neither a partial U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan nor a strategy of only using drones to target al-Qaeda could hope to handle such a regional catastrophe.
And a complete American departure would seal the region’s fate.
There it is. I have yet to hear of anyone with more than superficial knowledge of Central and South Asia who doesn’t have the same nightmares. A change of course is urgently needed, yet so bad — so meaningless and nasty — has the debate over Afghanistan become that I’m seriously considering shutting off comments for this post simply because the mere thought of the inevitable, ill-informed and America-centric blather about COIN this and CT that and the safe haven myth and yadda yadda yadda makes my stomach turn.
Then again, fuck it — fire away, what do I care.