In Foreign Policy, Parag Khanna makes some incredibly sensible points about how to solve the “Af-Pak problem”. Among them:
To clear and hold will require a Pakistani version of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that have been deployed to some effect in Afghanistan. Rather than spending the civilian portion of the $1.5 billion in promised annual assistance (as foreseen in the Pakistan Enhanced Partnership Act) on USAID’s usual roster of ‘beltway bandits,’ Pakistani-led PRTs should be provided with the cash and supplies to hire thousands of local Pashtun to build roads, hospitals, and schools, and install power generators. NWFP policemen, who earn two-thirds their Punjabi counterparts (despite working in the most dangerous circumstances in the world), should get more pay. This process can begin from the Khyber Agency outside Peshawar and spread north and west towards the Afghan border, turning unsettled lawless areas into settled integrated ones. Rather than spreading weapons in an area already armed to the teeth, PRTs can run gun-for-work programs.
[…] China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are also becoming increasingly important — not as neighbors of the chaos, like Pakistan, but meddlers in it. The United States is already failing to grasp not only the details of other powers’ maneuverings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the extent to which these dealings could eclipse even the most brilliant U.S. shuttle diplomacy by Holbrooke.
China’s long-term strategy is clear: It has become the largest investor in Afghanistan, developing highways to connect Iran and the giant Aynak copper mine south of Kabul. The Chinese have likewise financed the deep-water port at Gwadar on Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coast.
Exactly — and let’s not forget the U.S. will soon have a Mandarin-speaking general as ambassador to Kabul.