Continued from "Why Khorasan is Crucial"
Analyzing the impact on the Af-Pak region of the movement led by the non-Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan to carve a new Khorasan State one concluded the first part of this article with the words: “History will compel a choice between Confederation and Balkanization.”
Thus far this scribe has consistently advocated a South Asian Confederation as the best and most peaceful option to stabilize the region. That is the politically correct approach. It is the humane approach. Federating Afghanistan through the creation of a Khorasan province could start the process of creating national federations within a South Asian confederation.
However it must be confessed that the prospects of this happening remain dim. For a South Asian Confederation to emerge it requires two hands to clap. But Pakistan’s hand alternately opens and clenches into a fist. The latest example of this is provided by Pakistan’s cricket captain Shahid Afridi. His gracious conduct while in India won many admirers. But on returning to Pakistan his tune not only changed. Uncharacteristically he ventured into politics. He said: "It is a very difficult thing for us to live with them (Indians) or to have long-term relationship with them. Nothing will come out of talks. See how many times in the past 60 years we have had friendship and then how many times things have gone bad.”
The reasons adduced for Afridi’s change of mind by Indian commentators may be conveniently discarded. It is obvious that his new script was dictated by the hardliners in the Pakistani establishment. That compels one to assess the hard option. The soft option was earlier described by this scribe as the attempt to tame Pakistan’s hardliners through nudging its establishment towards a confederation. The hard option was described as waiting for Pakistan to implode and get Balkanized.
Since the liberal elements in Pakistan’s civil society seem incapable of confronting the hardliners, let us consider Khorasan in the context of the hard option.
India will have to do little to hasten the disintegration of Pakistan. New Delhi will merely have to distance itself from Islamabad, drastically minimize all diplomatic and cultural contacts with Pakistan, and offer moral support to the separatist movements of Baluchistan, Pashtunistan and Khorasan. The rest will follow.
The Jasmine movement in the Middle East most likely will hit Pakistan in fatal fashion. The plans to disintegrate Pakistan have been on the Pentagon’s drawing board for some time. Unfolding events in the Middle East suggest that implementing those plans may have already started.
It is worth recalling that West Asia was always described as the Greater Middle East. But for the first time US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used the term “New Middle East” to the world in June 2006. She was speaking in, of all places, Tel Aviv. The timing of introducing the new term was highly significant. The June 2006 issue of the US Armed Forces, a journal closely reflective of the Pentagon’s views although not officially connected to it, carried an article by a retired US Army officer and military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters. The article was entitled “Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look”.
The article was explosive. It expressed what had been pointed out repeatedly in these columns. Namely, that the legacy of colonialism had left unnatural international borders by violating all accepted norms of nationhood. The author going by ethnic, religious and linguistic criteria drew the map of a New Middle East just before Condoleezza Rice borrowed that term for use in Israel. Let us ignore for the moment what Peters envisaged for West Asia and consider his views about Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“What Afghanistan would lose to Persia in the west, it would gain in the east, as Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren (the point of this exercise is not to draw maps as we would like them but as local populations would prefer them). Pakistan, another unnatural state, would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining “natural” Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi .”
The restructuring of the Af-Pak region is along the lines that were anticipated in these columns much earlier. Independent Pashtunistan, independent Baluchistan, while Punjab and Sind remain in truncated Pakistan. The possibility of this happening will increase manifold if the new movement for Khorasan gathers force. After the article appeared in the Armed Forces Journal there were letters questioning how the Pentagon could ever implement these ideas. Well, five years later the Jasmine revolutions erupted in the Middle East.
Is that mere coincidence?
Robert Blackwill’s suggestion of redeploying NATO troops in Afghanistan clearly intended encouraging Pashtun consolidation across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to lay the foundation for a Khorasan movement that is now emerging.
It is in this overall situation that one advocated the creation of a South Asian Union as a means for present day Pakistan to survive without altering its borders. There are signs that the Pakistan establishment is unwilling or unable to deliver results to that end. That leaves the hard option and possible Balkanization if Pakistan’s army and its hardliners do not change quickly enough. Balkanization will be messy.
The future of South Asia will become uncertain. But South Asia will survive the crisis.
Pakistan will cease to exist.