Sunday tremors

Attacks in Afghanistan and Pak point to a deepening disorder India must insulate itself from

Written by The Indian Express | Published: April 17, 2012 1:28 am

Attacks in Afghanistan and Pak point to a deepening disorder India must insulate itself from

A series of spectacular terror attacks in Kabul and other Afghan cities and an assault on a prison house in Pakistan’s western borderlands on Sunday are a reminder to India and the world that the situation in the northwestern subcontinent is rapidly deteriorating. The well-coordinated suicide bombings in the high security zones of Kabul and Jalalabad were claimed by the Afghan Taliban. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) owned responsibility for the move against the heavily guarded Bannu prison in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. On the face of it,there is no link between the two sets of events. Together,though,they underline the emerging chaos on India’s northwestern frontiers as American and international forces prepare to end their combat role in Afghanistan by 2014.

The Taliban staged similar attacks last September against the US embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul. The real purpose of the Taliban and its allies appears to be political rather than military. In bursting Kabul’s security bubble,the insurgents have successfully undermined local and international confidence in the viability of the current political structures in Kabul amidst the withdrawal of American and western forces from Afghanistan. While the Taliban spokesmen have claimed responsibility for the attacks,captured militants have apparently pointed to the Haqqani network that is widely seen as a sword arm of the Pakistan army.

That Rawalpindi plans to dominate Afghanistan through its proxies,the Taliban and the Haqqani network,is not in doubt. But the Bannu attack points to the Pakistan army’s failure to secure its territory against the TTP and other groups. Nearly 400 prisoners,many considered extremely dangerous,were set free. Sunday’s attacks underline a complex dynamic involving multiple militancies — some fighting Kabul with Rawalpindi’s support and others targeting the Pakistani state. As the gap between Pakistan’s strategic aspiration to control the internal politics of Afghanistan and its patent inability to pacify the TTP widens,India must expect that anarchy will intensify in the northwestern subcontinent. Insulating India from this deepening disorder must be the main strategic objective of Delhi’s policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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