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Issue No.: 572 | February 2015
 

The Peshawar Attack on School Kids: Implications for NATO’s Strategy in South Asia

Ashish Punthambekar
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If they choose the second option to stop supporting terrorist groups after much soul searching, it could lead to a very bloody civil war, resulting in Sind and Baloch breaking away from the Union.

The Taliban have for the first time totally lost the support of the people of Pakistan. The West / NATO have thus been presented with an incredible opportunity to solve a global security problem by recognising Balochistan and Sind as Independent nation States.

What happens now will be very interesting. 

In February 2012, a Bill calling for the Independence of Balochistan was tabled in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Such a process can now be expected to accelerate.

The map on the left shows how the present day Pakistan may look like in 2020. India needs to be extremely careful over the next few months as the militants attempt to regain the confidence of the Pakistani people by launching a huge terrorist strike in India. 
Big Picture on South Asia Post the Peshawar Attack

The attack in Peshawar was similar to the Beslan school attack in Russia in September 2004 in which 385 hostages, including 186 children were killed. The Belsan attack caused very serious damage to the Chechen freedom movement as it resulted in loss of mass support for their cause.
 
The Peshawar attack will most certainly make ordinary Pakistani citizens, opinion makers and even the army re-think their strategy of using Militant groups as a strategic tool. Such a re-think, if it results in a loss of support for terrorist groups, has huge implications for Pakistan’s stability.
 
Pakistan is too far down this road to exercise a "Safe Binary Option”. On the one hand they could just keep going and fail eventually, or on the other hand they could try to dis-engage with their strategy to support terrorist groups. If they choose the second option to stop supporting terrorist groups after much soul searching, it could lead to a very bloody civil war, resulting in Sind and Baloch breaking away from the Union.

Given the potential cost of exercising the second option, Pakistan has no choice but to continue on its current path to perdition and eventually fail. The Peshawar incident however may well have moved the issue of the future of Pakistan out of the hands of the Pakistani generals in Rawalpindi and the politicians in Islamabad to NATO in Brussels and we can possibly expect a "failure oriented strategy” to be driven and executed by forces outside of South Asia. 

It will not be very long before the US and Europe realises that they have no real interest or strategic rationale any more for keeping Pakistan together. They will then let it fail as it will then allow them to independently target the militants in the various breakaway States. The huge human cost of precipitating this situation is not going to bother western thinkers, trained as they are in the Clausewitz school wherein the Political and Military objectives of war are closely aligned.
 
The choice Pakistan faces has been called a false "Binary” choice (above) because whichever way you look at it, the country is headed for an unravelling. Henry Kissinger has said, "In crises the most daring course is often safest." 
 
Conventional thinking would suggest that considering Pakistan’s "Nuclear Weapon State” status, the west will not let it fail. But this thinking is rooted in a mind-set / negotiating strategy that allows for only an "At the Table approach”. It completely ignores the possibilities offered by strategic "Deal Setup” and the immense power of an "away from the table” deal strategy within a developing scenario wherein each ethnic group (Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi, Pakhtun etc.) is wondering whether they in fact want to be partners on a road to perdition.  
 
An "Away from the Table” approach could yield very different results and a more peaceful South Asia and a time is approaching where an entirely different approach could realistically be attempted.

ASHISH PUNTHAMBEKAR  designed the Vivekanand Education Mega Project, 
 ashishpunthambekar@gmail.com

 
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