Monday, May 4, 2009

The Taliban Will Not Take Over Pakistan

I know I've addressed this before, but a lot has been happening in Pakistan, and a lot of people are scared, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Various prognosticators are predicting that Pakistan will "collapse" or that or that the country's "60-100" nuclear weapons will fall into terrorist hands. I firmly believe that neither one will happen. Yes, things are bad, but the Taliban will not control Islamabad, and are extremely unlikely to gain control of any of the nuclear weapons.

Why remain calm?

1) Ethnic disagreement. The Taliban are Pashtun. Most of the population around Islamabad are Punjabi. The two groups do not get along. Even though when they controlled the Buner district "only 60 miles from Islamabad" the Taliban were still well within the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), not being welcomed by Punjabis.

2) Geography. The nuclear weapons are in the Punjabi areas, and are well protected. General Kidwai toured the United States in 2006 describing some of the security measures being put in place. Since then the United States has helped provide money and expertise to continue beefing up nuclear security in Pakistan. (Admiral Mullen apparently now agrees the nuclear weapons are secure.)

3) The army is fighting back... and winning. Pakistan has a 620,000 person army, many times the size of the Taliban. Yes, many are on the border with India, but not all. The Pakistani army has driven the Taliban from Buner and is moving on other districts. Perhaps it is like the sleeping dragon, slow to wake but then (eventually? hopefully?) overwhelming. (more on this in a later post)

4) Pakistan will not "collapse." The current leadership may change, as President Zardari is barely holding on to power, but the institutions within Pakistan will remain functional (or as functional as they currently are). The Pakistani people want stability and an end to the violence. They embraced a peace deal in the Swat valley because they believed it would stop the violence, not because they wanted sharia. Zardari is not a strong leader holding the country together. The government and the country can easily go along without him.

No comments:

Post a Comment