Trying to Untangle the Mystery of Afghanistan & Pakistan

taliban_fighterBy Isaac Kfir

(A review of The Afghan Way of War (Johnson) and The Pakistan-US Conundrum (Samad), re-published from Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 42:2.)

Robert Johnson’s The Afghan Way of War: How and Why They Fight is a book that should be particularly read by military and civilian personnel deploying to Afghanistan, even though it is not designed to be a policy guide (p. 4). Although Johnson’s analysis of the Taliban period and the post-2001 US-led invasion is weak, overall the book delivers a thoughtful analysis of how and why Afghans fight, making it clear that conceptions of ‘friends and enemies’ carry different implications for Afghans than for westerners, as Afghans are highly conscious of prevailing circumstances. The appeal of the book is that it examines whether an Afghan ‘way of war’ exists and if so what motivates and drives it. To Johnson, the ‘Afghan way of war’ is based on topography, culture, opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, financial inducement and religion.

Although taking an historical approach, Johnson is careful about drawing lessons from history, arguing that historical assessments ‘…convey values that have been discredited in the West,’ (p. 301). An added benefit of the book is Johnson’s willingness to investigate Afghan domestic wars and not restrict the study to how the Afghans engaged foreigners, allowing him to declare ‘…there was no single Afghan way of war in the country’s history. Every response has been dependent on the situation that confronted the Afghans,’ (p. 36). This may explain why Johnson seems to reject the perception that when it comes to Afghanistan guerrillas do not have an added advantage on conventional forces as these forces, whether Taliban or Mujahedeen, have to contend with a chaotic command and control system, disloyalty, rivalry, poor discipline, assassination threats and weak logistics (p. 303). Johnson’s meticulous research allows him to highlight that whether during the First Anglo-Afghan War or the Afghan wars of the mid-nineteenth century, which occurred mainly between the Durrani tribes, Afghans have had to deal with extreme internal divisions that led some Afghans to work with external forces. In other words, political expediency and survivability is what governs the Afghan way of war.

Johnson’s book also provides a look at the way Afghans negotiate. This could be of immense value to policymakers engaged or seeking to engage with the Taliban. Johnson’s historical approach allows him to identify five stages in the Afghan ‘way of negotiation’: 1. The decision to negotiate; 2. The conditions that lead to the decision to negotiate (threat of defeat or victory); 3. The terms that are offered and the process of negotiation; 4. The implementation of the negotiated terms; 5. The perceived or desired outcome (p. 18). Thus, Johnson argues that when approaching negotiation with Afghans, strength and one’s perception of it is central to the process, as Afghans ‘are more likely to initiate negotiations when there is a stalemate or an impasse, perhaps of some duration,’ (p. 19).

Furthermore, Afghan history indicates that violence is often a form of negotiation, as actors use violence to send a message to their rivals. In the context of the current situation in Afghanistan, this fits with the Taliban’s policy of political assassinations and the overall insurgency as, through their assassination campaign, the Taliban are able to show that no powerbroker is ultimately safe; that they are far from defeated; and, that they remove important leaders which help weaken the Afghan state.1 Finally, Johnson shows that negotiations are a tool used by Afghans to avoid defeat, which may also fit with the Taliban’s current policy, as their sketchy engagement with the Afghan government and the international community could be a tool in helping to end the foreign presence in Afghanistan. That is, by showing that they are willing to negotiate and that they have abandoned their rigid theocratic agenda,2 they can play a role in Afghanistan post-2014. Thus, for example, during the First Anglo-Afghan war, Dost Mohammed was willing to surrender to the British because ‘In conflicts in Afghanistan, rulers expected to be able to surrender and gamble on the chance of returning to power at some later stage… Dost Mohammed was also following a long tradition of seeking exile in a neutral neighbouring state as a base for future operations, just as Shah Shuja had done,’ (p. 55). This is why Johnson is able to declare ‘Dost Mohammed saw his defeat as a temporary setback, not a permanent condition,’ (p. 39) …

Fore the complete article, click here.

Iran-Pakistan Border a Major Concern in Bilateral Relationship

pakistan_iranWorld Politics Review interview with Isaac Kfir, Visiting Professor of Law and International Relations, Syracuse University

This month, four Iranian border guards were freed two months after being kidnapped and allegedly taken into Pakistan by an Iran-based Sunni militant group. In an email interview, Isaac Kfir, a senior researcher at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and a visiting assistant professor of law and international relations, explained the state of Iran-Pakistan relations.

WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of the Iran-Pakistan security relationship, particularly regarding their shared border?

Isaac Kfir: Iran and Pakistan work together on some issues and compete on others. The two countries have good cooperation on drug interdiction, as both seek to stem drug smuggling and consumption, which have a disastrous impact on both of them. Iran alone has 2 million heroin addicts, the highest in the world. Pakistan has become a key transit country for drugs; between 1996 and 2011, Pakistani authorities seized an average of 7,200 kilograms of opium per year, making Pakistan one of the top countries for drug interception in the world, along with Iran.

Tension in the bilateral relationship, on the other hand, comes from the inability of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to reverse the sectarian violence in Pakistan, which affects Shiites disproportionatey, causing many to leave. Another issue complicating Iran-Pakistan relations is Afghanistan, where both countries compete for influence, with the Iranians financially supporting the Karzai government while the Pakistanis are seen—particularly by the Americans—as key actors in addressing the Taliban threat, a movement they helped create …

To read the full interview, click here.

Review of “Political Survival in Pakistan” (Anas Malik)

Political_Survival_in-PakistanBy Isaac Kfir

(Re-Published from Contemporary South Asia, 21:4) Anas Malik’s Political Survival in Pakistan: Beyond Ideology is a useful addition to the burgeoning literature on political survival specifically in relation to weak states. Drawing on the 2003 volume edited by Bueno de Mesquita et al. (The Logic of Political Survival. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press)), Malik’s approach is to infuse macro forces into a micro-level analysis, as a means of understanding strategic calculation by key agents among the military, civil bureaucracy, landlords and business. In doing so, Malik offers a unique interpretation of Pakistan’s political culture, leading him to argue that “interest,” as opposed to ideology, is what drives Pakistan’s political leaders and their challengers.

When interest is applied to political survival, what becomes clear is that in “certain cases, one policy option may help ensure an incumbent leader’s political survival yet be suboptimal for most citizens, while another option may provide more benefits to more citizens yet be risky for the incumbent’s political survival. In such cases, the incumbent’s policy choice is usually the latter” (p. 3).

Malik’s thesis recognizes the existence of a three-sided relationship: poor extraction keeps the state weak and governance poor; this leads to the persistence of a quasi-state where legal oversight is limited and which in turn ensures that extraction policies remain poor and governance weak. Principally, Malik’s prescription is that to help Pakistan move from weak to strong state status, it must engage in tax reform, land reform, and provincial devolution.

Focusing on leadership decisions vis-à-vis extraction and how these are affected by international shocks, such as the outbreak of war or the loss of international credit, Malik argues that leaders and challengers in Pakistan were and are able “to manipulate key rules for political survival” (p. 29). Malik in Chapter 2 explains why Pakistan is a weak state, though one with a fractured and yet “strong society” following Migdal, who concentrated on social control and the subordination of people. In the next two chapters, Malik examines extraction strategies before moving to an analysis of key political choices by challengers.

In looking at extraction policies, Malik primarily focuses on taxation. He asserts that political leaders do not seek a robust tax system because they are apprehensive about the political risks that would come should they try to implement such a system …

To access the full text, click here.

The Consequences of Killing Hakimullah Mehsud

Hakimullah_MehsudBy Isaac Kfir

On Nov. 1, 2013, a CIA-operated drone fired three missiles that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban, TTP). The missiles also killed a number of other militants, including Abdullah Bahar Mehsud and Tariq Mehsud, senior members of the TTP. The militants were returning from a meeting at a mosque in the Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan.[1]

This latest drone attack seems to exacerbate the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the US and Pakistan, with senior Pakistani politicians accusing the US of undermining a potential peace council between the government and the TTP designed to end the cycle of violence, which has claimed a countless number of lives.[2] Additionally, the timing of the attack is also important, as coming soon after Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington, it raises the question as to whether the Pakistani government and military actually permit the Americans to employ drones. This question, in addition to a recent report by the Pakistani government minimizing the number of civilian causalities in drone attacks, helps to undermine stability in Pakistan.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan declared that not only has the US ambushed the Pakistani government but also that the attack amounted to an “attack on the peace process.”[3] Principally, the targeting of Mehsud was more to do with the US than with Pakistani national interests, as the Pakistani government was on the brink of holding a peace negotiation meeting with the TTP. However, because the US is committed to a “war” not only against al-Qaeda—and nations, organizations, or persons connected with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks[4]—but also against affiliates, then this broad category of entities deemed by the US a threat to its national security[5] means little regard is given to the consequences of its actions on local populations.

There is no denying that Hakimullah Mehsud was a vicious, ruthless leader, responsible for thousands of deaths. From a US perspective Hakimullah Mehsud was a legitimate target due to his alleged involvement in a 2009 plot at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province, in which Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian triple agent, blew himself up killing seven CIA officers.[6] There are questions as to Mehsud’s involvement, though on Jan. 8, 2010, a video was aired on Pakistani television of Mehsud sitting next to al-Balawi. Notably, six days later, Mehsud escaped a CIA drone attack.[7] Mehsud was under a US indictment on charges of conspiracy to murder US citizens abroad and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against US citizens abroad.[8]

Since taking over from Baitullah Mehsud, Hakimullah Mehsud has reoriented the TTP. The organization has become less preoccupied with Afghanistan and the US[9] —although it continues to attack NATO supply conveys—and much more with the domestic situation in Pakistan. The poorly educated Mehsud rose to prominence in 2007 for his role in helping capture 300 Pakistani soldiers, leading him to assume a command position in Khyber, Orakzai, and Kurram, enabling him to orchestrate countless attacks on NATO’s supply lines. He became leader of the TTP in 2009 after a CIA-drone attack killed Baitullah Mehsud, the TTP’s first leader, while he was receiving treatment on the roof of his father-in-law’s house.[10]

During the 2013 elections, the TTP was highly active in carrying out numerous attacks primarily against the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Between Jan. 1 and May 15, 2013, 148 acts of terrorism were recorded, with the ANP bearing many attacks.[11] About one third of the attacks took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,[12] a traditionally strong area for the ANP,[13] suggesting that the TTP sought to limit the ability of the ANP to hold rallies and to underline the TTP’s commitment to attack those that do not place Islam at the epicenter of their agenda.[14]

Pakistanis know that the killing of such a high profile person means an ensuing period of great violence. The violence stems from endogenous and exogenous reasons. First—even though according to TTP spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, the TTP shura (council) appointed an interim leader—Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, the shura’s own supreme leader[15]—an ensuing power struggle is likely to occur.[16] There are reports that Khan Said has been elected leader, [17] and Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani has also led attacks on Pakistan security forces, such as a 2011 attack in Tank, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[18]

A third possible leader is Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, TNSM), the son-in-law of Sufi Muhammad. Fazlullah’s stronghold is the strategically important Swat Valley, where in 2008, with the tacit consent of the Pakistani military, he established a parallel government.[19] Such conflicting reports are understandable because the area and the individuals involved exist in a world of intrigue, turmoil, and deception. Khan has limited education, although he did study in a madrassa in Karachi. His real value is his tremendous military experience and a fierce reputation: he masterminded the 2012 Bannu jailbreak and the Karachi Naval attack.[20] A senior Taliban commander has said that the Orakzai-born Khan “is well regarded in the eyes of the TTP leadership and common fighters. He is an experienced fighter known for making better war plans. He led over 1,000 armed fighters in the fight against rival commander Ustad Mehboob in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency and captured the valley …”[21] Ultimately, all three have a long history of hostility towards the Pakistani security services, and it is possible for other contenders to emerge, which would only exacerbate the tense situation in the tribal area.

On the exogenous front, an intensely violent campaign tends to follow such killings. Groups such as the TTP must prove that after such devastating blows they are still active, valuable, powerful, and important. The 2004 Shakai Agreement between the Pakistani government and Nek Muhammad, a local South Waziri Taliban commander who was killed in a drone strike in 2004, underlined to many militants that once they sufficiently threaten the Pakistani state, and specifically the army, they will be offered a ceasefire, allowing them to cement their authority in the region they wish to control. Accordingly, since 2004, the Pakistani government had signed numerous agreements with tribal leaders once they became too dangerous and powerful.[22]

Pakistan is bracing itself for a wave of terror attacks as the TTP seeks to underline the fact that despite the loss of Mehsud, it has the power and the will to destabilize Pakistan. The concern, however, is the potential targets, beginning with the military, which since 2009 has seen several devastating suicide attacks on its forces. The army, the backbone of the Pakistani military establishment, is bracing itself for a major change with the retirement of General Ashfaq Kayani, who has been at the helm for five years, which is why a slew of attacks could create great upheaval. A second key target is Pakistan’s minority groups, who face increased attacks,[23] penetrating areas where such things had not previously existed.[24] An increase in violence empowers social group identity in Pakistan as only through such affiliation do individuals receive basic security.

Security and stability in Pakistan is dissipating, as violence is omnipresent. The government is showing itself to be unable to stem the violence, hence the reason for the proposed peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. It is crucial for Washington to recognize that its policies—specifically its short-term policy goals that lie at the center of the drone campaign—are undermining Pakistani stability, which in turn affects regional and international security. It is time for the Obama administration to begin to properly review its drone policy and appreciate that what Pakistan needs most is stability, development, and growth, and although the removal of people such as Hakimullah Mehsud may make perfect sense in the short-term, the long-run the damage could be much worse.

[1] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud killed in drone attack,” Nov. 1, 2013. <>

[2] Jon Boone, “Divided Pakistan fears violent revenge as Taliban react to Mehsud killing,” Guardian, Nov. 2, 2013, <>

[3] Tim Craig, “Pakistani officials rebuke U.S. for drone strike,” The Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2013 <>

[4] Authorization for Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224 (2001).

[5] National Strategy for Counterterrorism, White House, June 2011.

[6] Daniel Nasaw, “Bomber who killed CIA operatives in Afghanistan was triple agent,” Guardian, Jan. 4, 2010. <>

[7] Jon Boone, “Divided Pakistan fears violent revenge as Taliban react to Mehsud killing,” Guardian, Nov. 2, 2013, <>

[8] “Hakimullah Mehsud,” National Counterterrorism Center, <>

[9] Hakimullah Mehsud was associated with Faisal Shahzad, the New York Times Square bomber, leading the Obama administration to revise its assessment that Shagzad was a lone-wolf, accepting that he was in fact working for the Taliban. Bill Roggio, “Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad seen on video with Pakistani Taliban commander Hakeemullah Mehsud,” The Long War Journal, July 23, 2010. <>

[10] “Profile: Hakimullah Mehsud,”, Nov. 2, 2013. <>

[11] “Election 2013: Violence against Political Parties, Candidates and Voters,” Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, May 2013.

[12] “Election 2013: Violence against Political Parties, Candidates and Voters,” Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, May 2013.

[14] Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice) did exceedingly well in the election, managing to secure Khyber Pakhtunkhwa forming an alliance with the conservative Islamic group Jamaat-e-Islami.

[15] AFP, “Pakistan Taliban appoint interim leader: spokesman,”, Nov. 2, 2013. <>

[16] In 2009, after the killing of Baitullah Mehsud, a meeting between two potential successors, Wasli-ur-Rehman Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud occurred. It was reported that it involved a shooting incident, suggesting a power struggle. Joshua Partlow and Haq Nawaz Khan, “Power struggle ensues after Taliban chief’s apparent death,” The Washington Post, Aug. 9, 2009 <>

[17] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Pakistan Taliban meeting chooses Khan Said  ‘Sajna’ as a new chief,” Nov. 2, 2013. <>

[18] Bill Roggio, “Taliban avenge death of commander killed in October drone attack,” The Long War Journal, Dec. 23, 2011, <>

[19] Zulfiqar Ali and Laura King, “Pakistani officials allow Sharia in volatile region,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 17, 2009. <>

[20] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Pakistan Taliban meeting chooses Khan Said ‘Sajna’ as a new chief,” Nov. 2, 2013. <>

[21] Mushtaq Yusufzai, “Hakimullah buried secretly,” The International News, Nov. 3, 2013. <>

[22] Other key agreements were the Srarogha Peace Agreement (2005), between the Pakistani government and Baitullah Mehsud,and the 2008 Swat Agreement between the Pakistani government and Maulana Fazlullah.

[23] In 1989, there were 67 sectarian incidents, which left 18 people dead and injured 102. In 2013, there were 74 incidents, in which 421 people died and more than were 551 injured. “Sectarian Violence in Pakistan,” South Asian Terrorism Portal. [Last visited Sept. 2, 2013] A fact sheet by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom held that in an 18-month period there were 203 incidents of sectarian violence in Pakistan resulted in 1,800 casualties, including 717 deaths, of which 635 were Shia. “203 Incidents of Sectarian Violence in 18 Months,” Daily Times, Jul. 19, 2013. <\07\19\story_19-7-2013_pg12_1>

[24] Nosheen Ali notes that in the Gilgit region in Northern Pakistan, sectarian tensions are appearing, despite decades of Shia-Sunni communities living in harmony. Nosheen Ali, “Sectarian Imaginaries: The Micropolitics of Sectarianism and State-making in Northern Pakistan,” Current Sociology, Vol. 58, No. 5 (2010), pp. 738-54.

Should India Change its Afghan Strategy?

By Farhad Peikar

India_Pakistan_map(First published in Afghanistan Today) The decades-old Indo-Pak rivalry is entering a new phase as the US-led NATO military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 approaches. The recent attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, renewed skirmishes in Kashmir, and murky reports about Afghan Taliban possibly deploying to the Indian Line of Control are all indications that the post-NATO era can force the archrivals to finally settle their regional disputes.

Or, alternately, they may be increasingly moving towards more aggressive containment of each other on the Afghan battlefield.

Karzai in Islamabad

On Monday President Hamid Karzai was in Islamabad on a trip where he hoped to persuade Pakistani authorities to help bring the Taliban leaders to the negotiating table with the Afghan government. The trip came less than a week after Karzai’s vice president, Karim Khalili, traveled to New Delhi to discuss Indian government support for post-2014 Afghanistan.

India has provided nearly 2 billion US dollars in aid to Afghanistan in the last decade.
For more than a decade, Kabul has sought to keep a balance with both India and Pakistan, albeit to no avail. In the first years following the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, both India and Pakistan competed in Afghanistan for influence by building roads and bridges and donating public service items, like buses that appeared in droves in Afghan cities. While the emerging global economic power – India – continued to provide some 2 billion dollars in the past decade.

Pakistan quickly lagged behind. At the same time, Islamabad’s relations with Kabul deteriorated, mainly because of Afghanistan’s accusations that elements within the Pakistani government and security establishment have been covertly supporting the Taliban’s almost 12-year insurgency. The border the two countries share, known as the Durand Line, also remains a cause of endless dispute over its delineations …

Read the full article here.

Farhad Peikar is a 2013 graduate of INSCT’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Security Studies program.

Muslim State Armed Conflict & Compliance (MSACC) Dataset: 1947-2014

Most of the world’s humanitarian aid goes to Muslim-majority communities, whether in the form of security support, development aid, or NGO assistance. But policymakers and the public at large do not fully understand conflict dynamics in the Muslim world.

Experts, likewise, have little knowledge about how Muslim governments use international legal norms to navigate conflict and postconflict challenges. To better inform and help shape US security and foreign policy, this project uses social science methods to analyze modern Muslim-majority state conflict behavior, to examine these states’ compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL), and to quantify the frequency of IHL language versus Shari’a versus in their constitutions.

List of OIC Countries

MSACC Datasets

Conflict Behavior

This extensive dataset details all conflicts in which a Muslim state—defined by its membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)—was a party, from 1947-2014. It includes parties to the conflict, years of the conflict. The dataset is broken down by region and time period to allow for more detailed analysis.

View Conflict Behavior

Compliance with International Humanitarian Law

This dataset is a variation of the above MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior. It details all conflicts OIC Muslim states have been involved in between 1947 and 2014 and includes all violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) committed by each state party, if applicable. The purpose of this dataset is so that analysis based on compliance with IHL can accurately reflect each states’ participation in conflicts.

This analysis is based on the number of times a state was involved in a conflict, whereas the MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior is based on the number of conflicts that actually occurred. For example, while the conflict between Algeria and Morocco between 1963 and 1964 only occurred once—and is counted once for MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior—for the Compliance with IHL dataset, the conflict is counted once under Algeria (to account for Algeria’s compliance with IHL in the conflict) and once under Morocco (to account for Morocco’s compliance with IHL in the conflict).

View Compliance with IHL

Muslim Constitutions & Sharia Density

In order to test possible explanations for OIC Muslim states’ conflict behaviors and compliance with IHL, this dataset gathers the constitutions-in-force of all the states and identified language consistent with Sharia law and International Human Rights Law, as exemplified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).  The Sharia language in the constitutions was divided into six overarching categories, while the IHRL language followed the 30 articles of the UDHR.

View Muslim Constitutions & Sharia Density

Conflict Chart

This chart serves as the source of data for MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior and MSACC Dataset: Compliance with IHL. Included in the chart are the conflicts in which OIC states were belligerents, the party or non-state group OIC states fought against, a brief description of the conflict, and the violations of IHL that each state committed in the conflict, if applicable.

View the Conflict Chart


The Codebook accompanies the MSACC Dataset in its entirety, including MSACC Dataset: Conflict Behavior; MSACC Dataset: Compliance with IHL; MSACC Dataset: Muslim Constitutions and Sharia Density; and the MSACC Conflict Chart.  It seeks to explain the methodological and analytical choices made by the research team in compiling the datasets.

Read the Codebook

Findings & Research Questions

The MSACC Overview provides a brief summary of the main findings of all three datasets. The Research Questions describe the main orienting questions with which our dataset research has proceeded.


Pakistan, Drones, & US National Security

predator armedBy Isaac Kfir

Professor Michael Lewis of Ohio Northern University, in an interesting post in Opinio Juris[1], argues that the US could invoke a “Caroline test[2]” to justify drone strikes against targets located within Pakistan. I take issue with Lewis’ conclusion that “[a]ny prevarication on this issue is tantamount to being unwilling to deal with it. If Pakistan is insisting on its sovereign right to deny others access to its territory, it will need to be ready to live up to its sovereign obligation of preventing the Taliban using its territory as a base of operations.”

Lewis’ view is in many ways indicative of the current psychology of the US national security establishment, which is unwilling to entertain the notion that their world conception of taking the right of self-defense globally serves as a cause for further terrorist activity. In other words, this expansive self-defense paradigm, under which the US may attack the sovereign territory of another state, is problematic and dangerous. This paradigm is especially clear to anyone specializing in Pakistan and drone attacks.[3] I submit that what lies beneath this conception of self-defense and sovereign responsibility is a psychological predisposition toward the notion that “the more the national security establishment knows, the more it does not know,” leading it to pursue policies whose legality[4] and effectiveness[5] are greatly challenged.[6] However, when looking at the militants that Lewis refers to, much—though not all—of the threat that they pose is directed toward the Pakistani state and not the US,[7] which explains why there is such general opposition to the program.[8]

Pakistan’s tribal belt is an area where historically the Pakistani government has had little control or authority. The area is geographically difficult to access, but due to decades of under-investment—coupled with cultural and tribal practices that were infused with a heavy dose of Islamization, supported in part by the US—it has become a breeding ground for radicalism. Much of the radicalism is directed not at the US mainland but at the Pakistani government, which many see as corrupt and ineffective. The hostility that the inhabitants of the tribal belt have against the US stems from their objection to the US occupying Afghanistan. Moreover, the area is still inhabited by almost 3 million Afghan refugees that Pakistan has sheltered over three decades.[9]

Thus to expect the Pakistani government, which has battled tribal insurgents and Taliban fighters in the tribal belt for almost a decade with heavy losses,[10] to impose its writ is unrealistic, as no government has managed such a thing. Pakistan is a weak state, with deep structural problems. It is only by addressing those structural issues—such as a weak infrastructure and a military-industrial complex that operates with little if any civilian oversight—will it be possible to challenge Islamism in the tribal belt.

A disturbing aspect of Lewis’ blog post is its failure to appreciate that the drone campaign often lies at the root of radicalism; it serves as an inspiration for anti-American terrorist activity. Faisal Shahzah, the Times Square bomber, declared that he was motivated by revenge. Shahzah, who refused to express remorse when he pleaded guilty, drew a link between US drones that kill children in Afghanistan and Iraq and his willingness to kill children in the US .[11]Thus, Lewis follows the typical US national security establishment raison d’etre that anti-Americanism is a product of a twisted mind, and not a reaction to US wrongdoings.

If we are to embrace Lewis’ view of sovereignty and state obligations, international peace and security dissipates. Under such a conception any state that has information suggesting an imminent threat to its security is perfectly within its right to take action to remove the threat, consequences be damned. Does that mean that Israel has the right to launch attacks against any Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, as Hezbollah poses an eminent threat to Israel?[12] What about Saudi Arabia and its attacks against the Houthis of Northern Yemen, which some accept because of the alleged connection between the Houthis and Al Qaeda?[13]

At a time when the world is slowly appreciating the expansive nature of the US national security establishment,[14]which has little if any oversight or transparency,[15] a willingness to engage any potential threat creates major worries. Taking Lewis’ sovereign responsibility—or lack of it—to its extreme, could it mean that if the NSA had acquired information that the Tsarnaev brothers were receiving training in Dagestan, the US would have been within its sovereign rights to attack the training camp because the Russians were opting not to? Conversely, would Mexico be within its right to launch a drone strike against a US target, if it found out through its security establishment that weapons were being smuggled from the US into Mexico and US federal officials were unwilling to stop it?

What has become abundantly clear since 9/11 and the launch of the “Global War on Terror” is that instead of defeating terrorism, we have permitted the creation of a powerful national security establishment whose world view and ability to assess threats and their consequences is severely challenged. Instead of advocating for unregulated sovereign authority, we must demand greater limitation on what institutions of the state can and should do.

[1] Michael W. Lewis, “Guest Post: Pakistan’s official withdrawal of consent for drone strikes,” Opinio Juris, June 10, 2013. <>

[2] Named after an 1837 attack on the steamboat Caroline by British forces operating in the US, this customary law of war determines that preemptive self-defense by a nation can only be undertaken when the situation that requires it is “instant, overwhelming, and [leaves] no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”

[3] On the issue of drone attacks, the Obama administration has followed a policy of signature and personality strikes. Signature strikes target groups of men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren’t always known.” Personality strikes refers to situations in which the target is a known terrorist. Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman, and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Tightens Drone Rules,” The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2011. <>

[4] See for example, Mary Ellen O’Connell, “Adhering To Law And Values Against Terrorism,” Notre Dame Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2012), pp. 289-304.

[5] A Wall Street Journal story on US drone use in Pakistan points out that a number of US state and defense department officials argue against the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-led drone campaign, seeing it as counter productive. According to the Wall Street Journal on at least two separate occasions CIA Director Leon Panetta ignored Cameron Munter, the US ambassador to Pakistan objections to planned strike. According to a senior official, the position of the CIA is that “Whenever they got a shot [for a drone attack], they just took it, regardless of what else was happening in the world.” Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Tightens Drone Rules,” The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2011. <>

[6] Richard Norton-Taylor, former security editor of The Guardian, noted in 2009 that “MI5 and MI6 officers argue that in the fight against global terrorism, they have no choice but to deal with foreign security and intelligence agencies that have different standards …” Richard Norton-Taylor, “The secret servants,” The Guardian, July 10, 2009. <>

[7] The evidence suggests that many have left the region. Pir Zubair Shah, “My Drone War,” Foreign Policy, No.192, (2012), pp. 56-63.

[8] See for example, Michael J. Boyle, “The Costs and Consequences of Drone Warfare,” International Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 1 (2013), pp. 1-29.

[9] Saeed Shah, “Pakistan plans to revoke Afghans’ refugee status could displace 3 million,” The Guardian, July 20, 2012. <>

[10] The Pakistani government has claimed that more than 40,000 Pakistanis have died since Sept. 11, 2001. Since 2008, the armed forces have suffered more than 15,000 casualties. Mudassir Raja, “Pakistani victims: War on terror toll put at 49,000,” The Express Tribune, March 27, 2013. <>

[11] Scott Shifrel, Alison Gendar and Jose Martinez, ‘Remorseless Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad warns “We will be attacking the US”’, New York Daily News, 22 June, 2010, <>

[12] SC Res. 1701 (2006) building on SC. 425 (1978) requires the Lebanese government to assume control over all Lebanese territory and the disarming of Hezbollah, which poses a threat to Israel.

[13] Mai Yamani, “Saudi Arabia goes to war?” The Guardian, Nov. 29, 2009. <>

[14] Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, “Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data,” The Guardian, June 9, 2013. <>

[15] Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, has for example described the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which oversees surveillance against suspected foreign intelligence agents within the US, as “a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp …” Spencer Ackerman, “FISA chief judge defends integrity of court over Verizon records collection,” The Guardian, June 6, 2013. <>

After the 2013 Election, Where Next for Pakistan?

Nawaz-Sharif1154By Isaac Kfir

On May 11, 2013, Pakistanis overwhelming voted for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The PML-N is led by Nawaz Sharif, who in the 1990s held the office of prime minister on two separate occasions (1990 to 1993 and 1997 to 1999).

The 2013 election, although tainted by enormous bloodletting and allegations of corruption, could represent a new dawn for Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is arguably a different candidate from his PPP predecessors in terms of his background and outlook as to what Pakistan needs.[1] What however sets Sharif apart is that he knows all too well the limitation that a civilian Pakistani faces in terms of what the military will permit.[2] Sharif inherits a deeply divided country that has many problems, ranging from energy shortages, sectarian violence, a US drone campaign, and a troublesome international neighborhood, to name but a few.

In many ways, Sharif’s main challenge, just like that of his predecessor, will be dealing with legal challenges and the Pakistani Supreme Court. Sharif is not that different from Asif Ali Zardari, the current Pakistani president, as he too faces accusation of corruption and malfeasance.[3]

In fact, since the restoration of civilian government in 2008, legal controversies have shaped much of the Pakistani political landscape, due in part to an activist Supreme Court determined to impose the rule of law on Pakistan and its conception of what type of state Pakistan should be.[4] In the past five years, the Pakistani Supreme Court under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has played a key role in shaping the political system by challenging the National Reconciliation Ordinance,[5] examining the activities of the military and allegations of abuses,[6] and dismissing Yusuf Raza Gilani, former PPP prime minister, following his conviction for contempt of court.

The fact that the court was so active during the Zardari administration makes it probable that Chaudhry will continue on the same path, as he has a clear agenda: place the rule of law at the epicenter of Pakistani society and in doing so challenge the elites.[7] At the same time, it is also probable that those wishing to undermine the Sharif government will use the court, just as Sharif and his supporters have done, to undermine the civilian polity. Should this happen, it would make it exceedingly hard for the government to promote its policies.

A second issue Sharif will need to address is how to deal with the military, without interfering in what is deemed “military issues.” The first big challenge is the expected retirement in November of General Kayani and a number of other senior officers.[8] Kayani has played an important role restoring the army’s moral after the turbulent Musharraf era and brokering between the PPP and the PML-N. One wonders whether the new army chief of staff will be as politically savvy as Kayani.

The second key issue is the US drone campaign in Pakistan, sectarian violence, and the Pakistani Taliban. All three issues are high on the security agenda. While in opposition, Sharif was highly critical of the drone program.[9] Yet Sharif will find it difficult to challenge the program because not only does the Pakistani military see great value in it, it is the linchpin in President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism program. Getting the US to revise this program might prove exceedingly difficult, especially once the US withdraws its conventional forces from Afghanistan, which will only increase Washington’s view of the Pakistan-Afghan border area as being of vital importance to US national security.

The Pakistani military, though publically critical of the US, is conscious of its dependency on the superpower and its military hardware. This dependency may explain why the military allows the US to continue with the drone program within Pakistan.[10] The commitment is also part of the seven demands that US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain placed before Prevez Musharraf on Sept. 13, 2001.[11] Therefore, Sharif will probably face opposition from the military should he try to take a stand that the forces deem too anti-American.

There are, one suspects, serious concerns within the upper echelons of the Pakistani military regarding US-Afghan relations. One thing that the military does not want to see is the US turning Afghanistan into its main security ally in the region, something that could be on the cards if the US creates bases in Afghanistan.[12] Pakistani senior officers know all too well that when it comes to South Asia, the US is an unreliable ally; far too often the US has abandoned Pakistan.[13] What would also complicate the situation is that Sharif will need to have the support of populist Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), currently the second largest political party in the National Assembly—a key campaign issue for the PTI was the need to end the US drone program.

In terms of foreign policy, Sharif needs to find a way to improve Pakistan’s relations with its neighbors, primarily Afghanistan and India. Pakistan-Afghan relations are turbulent for historical and strategic reasons. The tensions between the two are likely to remain not only because they have been on a downward spiral for years but also because of the impending US withdrawal from Afghanistan and because Afghanistan is gearing up to a presidential election that should bring the end of the Karzai era. Historically, Pakistan has always sought a pro-Islamabad candidate in Kabul as part of the Pakistani military need for strategic depth and because of concerns over Pashtun irredentism. However, it is becoming difficult to find anyone in Afghanistan who has a positive thing to say about Pakistan because its southerly neighbor, and specifically the ISI, are seen as entities that meddle in Afghan affairs to the detriment of Afghanistan.[14] Arguably, this suspicion is one reason why Afghanistan is increasingly looking to India[15] and Iran[16] for support. It is therefore no surprise that one of the first acts that Sharif performed after his swearing-in was a call for granting India a “most favored nation” status as a way to stimulate trade between the two countries.[17]

So, as Sharif enjoys the usual honeymoon period accorded to new leaders, the veteran Pakistani politician faces a Herculean task in respect to governance of his nation, as there is much that needs to be done in order to help repair it. This repair work will not only require support from the military and the judiciary but also the opposition, which at the moment is in total disarray and which may decide to focus on Sharif’s legal problems as a way to unite against him. Moreover, Pakistan’s reconstruction will not succeed without the support of the international community, yet the US, India, Afghanistan, and others have historically failed the nation.

[1] The 63-year old Sharif is an experienced Pakistani politician who began his career under Zia-ul-Haq, serving as the Punjab province’s finance and then chief minister from 1985-1990. He comes from a prominent Punjabi family. “Profile: Nawaz Sharif,” BBC News Online, May 13, 2013. <>

[2] In his two periods as prime ministers, Sharif grossly underestimated the power of the military. His attempt to install General Ziauddin, with whom he was close, instead of Pervez Musharraf, as chief of the army staff led to the October 12, 1999 military coup. Iftikhar H. Malik, “Pakistan in 2000 Starting Anew or Stalemate?” Asian Survey, Vol. 41, No. 1 (2001), pp. 104-115

[3] Andrew Buncombe, “Pakistan suffers again from old rivalry,” The Independent, March 16, 2009; “Reopening of Cases against Shariffs: Court Adjourns Hearing To Sept 15,” Financial Post, August 7, 2012.

[4] In a recent decision for example, Chief Justice Chaudhry declared that the ownership of land is an Islamic concept as part of a campaign for land reform in Pakistan where thousands of acres are uncultivated due to absentee landlords.

[5] The NRO provided amnesty to more than 8,000 politicians accused of corruption. The NRO must be understood within Article 62 of the Constitution, which requires all politicians to be of “good character.” David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, “Judicial Coup in Pakistan,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2010. <>

[6] Peter Goodspeed, “Judge’s suspension sparks political storm in Pakistan,” National Post, March 10, 2007, p. A.14.

[7] In a recent decision, Karachi’s anti-terrorism court sentenced Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur to death for the killing of Shahzeb Khan. The two come from two of the most powerful families in Karachi. Jon Boone, “Pakistani men sentenced to death for policeman son’s murder,” The Guardian, June 7, 2013. <>

[8] The officers that are slated to retired, beside General Kayani, are General Khalid Shamim Wynne, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC); Lt. General Khalid Nawaz Khan commander X Corps Rawalpindi; Lt. General Muhammad Alam Khattak commander XII Corps Quetta; and, Lt. General Waheed Arshad CGS GHQ. “New Chief of the General Staff to be named next week,” The International News, December 23, 2012. <>

[9] “Pakistan’s Sharif condemns US drone strike on Taliban,” BBC News Online, May 31 2013. <>

[10] In 2009, the US military agreed to give its Pakistani counterpart more control over targets, flight routes, and decision-making. Julian Barnes and Greg Miller, “Pakistan Is Given Key Controls Over Military Drones,” Pittsburg Post, May 17, 2009, p. A.3.

[11] The demands covered such issues as stopping Al Qaeda from operating on Pakistani territory, including the interception of arms shipment through Pakistan and an end to Pakistan providing logistical support to bin Laden; provide the US with a blanket overflight and land rights in respect to all necessary military and intelligence operations; and provide the US and allied military intelligence with territorial access in conducting operations against terrorists and suspected terrorists and those that harbor them, including the use of Pakistan’s naval ports, air bases, and strategic locations. Pervez Musharraf, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir (London: Simon & Schuster, 2006), pp. 204-205.

[12] “Afghanistan/United States: Karzai Agrees to US Request for Bases,” Asia News Monitor, May 13, 2013.

[13] Pakistanis remember that in 1965 the US not only opted not to help Pakistan in its war against India, it imposed a military embargo. In the 1990s, as a reaction to the Pakistani nuclear test, which came as a response to the Indian nuclear test, the Glenn-Symington amendments were imposed, which meant that Pakistan could not receive aid from the US. In 1999, following Musharraf’s military coup, the US once again stopped providing aid to Pakistan, under section 508 of the 1999 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. Mariam Mufti, “The Influence of Domestic Politics on the Making of US-Pakistan Foreign Policy,” in Usama Butt and Julian Schofield (ed.), Pakistan: The US, Geopolitics and Grand Strategies, (London: Pluto Press, 2012), pp. 67-69.

[14] Interestingly, the ISI has claimed that the Karzai government has provided Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan with support. Fakhar Rehman, “Pakistan intelligence agency claims Afghanistan supports Taliban splinter groups,” NBC World News, March 27, 2013. <>

[15] In 2012, India’s foreign minister and his Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rassoul co-chaired the first meeting of the India-Afghanistan Partnership Council, which is an important feature in developing a strategic partnership between the two countries. India, since Sept. 11, 2001, has provided billions of dollars in humanitarian aid in addition to playing an important role in training the Afghan army officer. “India/Afghanistan: India, Afghanistan Boost Strategic Ties,” Asia News Monitor, May 3, 2012.

[16] In 2013, Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani and his Afghan counterpart Abdul Salam Azimi met in Tehran to discuss improved cooperation in the judicial realm. Larijani highlighted the historical, cultural, and religious connection between the two countries. The meeting also emphasized Iranian commitment to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which has included providing $50 million annually since 2005 to support Afghan anti-narcotics efforts. “Iran/Afghanistan: Iran, Afghanistan Underline Expansion of Judicial Ties,” Asia News Monitor, May 21, 2012.

[17] The move has won support from Haroon Agar, the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (KCCI) and Abdul Waheed, chairman, All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA). “Enhancing trade ties: Hopes pinned on new govt. to grant MFN status to India,” Daily Times, May 19, 2013.

Afghan-Pakistan Relations Slowly Spinning Out of Control, but Can China Help?

By Isaac Kfir

Durand LineOn May 1, 2013 Afghan and Pakistani security forces engaged in heavy clashes,[1] during which an Afghan Border Police officer was killed and three injured.[2] It is unclear if there were any injuries on the Pakistani side. This latest border clash[3] serves as a reminder of the turbulent relations between the two nations and that any hope for a stable Afghanistan depends on the two working together, because much of Afghanistan’s future depends on Pakistan, especially with the US reducing its commitments in to the country.

The clashes occurred on the Afghan side of the border within Nangarhar Province, a Pashtun-majority, densely populated province that is rich in natural resources, from high-quality marble to water to forests that share a border with Pakistan (from the border to Peshawar it’s just 60 miles).

The clashes between the Afghan and Pakistani forces came after weeks of rising tensions, during which Afghan President Hamid Karzai insisted that Pakistan dismantle a new border gate, erected, according to Afghans, without consultation and on Afghan territory.[4] For several years, Pakistan has sought better border control: in 2006, for example, the Pakistani army was ordered to explore the possibility of constructing a fence between the two countries,[5] a position that former Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also had raised with then-US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in 2009.[6] The Pakistanis are concerned because tens of thousands of people traverse across the border daily, many without proper documents.[7]

The latest border dispute is one of a number of issues that are increasingly exacerbating Afghan-Pakistan relations, the deterioration of which should be of major concern: tense relations between Islamabad and Kabul will have enormous implications for regional security and Afghanistan’s development, not to mention Pakistani stability. It should be remembered that Pakistan has a larger population than Afghanistan and is militarily stronger. It not only has nuclear capabilities, it has the world’s sixth largest military. In addition—due to decades of involvement in Afghanistan—Pakistan has the ability to undermine any government in Kabul by simply continuing to work with spoilers, many of whom it had help create. Finally, Pakistan serves as a key outlet for Afghan goods and services and therefore without Pakistan’s help, landlocked Afghanistan will have a tougher time exporting and importing goods, hindering the development of the war-torn country.

Colonial history is one reason for the poor relations between the two countries. Afghanistan rejects the Durand Line, the border that the British created in 1890.[8] Afghans, in challenging the Durand Line, point out that Pashtuns—the largest minority in Afghanistan—reside along both sides of a border that Sir Mortimer Durand paid scant attention to while drawing his line because he was more interested in providing security for British India and more concerned with Czarist Russia’s expansionist tendencies.

The history of ill-feeling began almost as soon as Pakistan was created in 1947. Jingoistic sentiments by Prince Daoud—the Afghan prime minister in the 1950s—led to the burning of the Pakistani embassy in Kabul and Pakistan and a closed border, severely hampering the Afghan economy. These tensions remained, especially after the war against the Soviets, when millions of Afghans crossed the long, porous border and sought refuge in Pakistan.

This exodus in turn allowed the Pakistani security services to direct mujahedeen activities, establishing bases in Pakistan that were out of Soviet reach. Many of the Afghans who crossed the border to Pakistan in search for safety in the hastily constructed refugee camps have remained to this day. Pakistanis increasingly see these individuals as a threat to Pakistan’s stability, leading to demands to repatriate many of the refugees.[9] This request is accompanied by demands for greater border security, as Pakistanis claim that the Afghans are not doing their part to prevent infiltration into Pakistan, which is also suffering from heavy Taliban activity.[10]

A second issue is the nature of the Karzai regime, which is fickle, unstable, and unreliable. Hamid Karzai’s key concerns are his own power and survival.[11] Karzai, who at times is described as the “mayor of Kabul” and not the president of Afghanistan, is aware of the weakness of his government and that there are serious questions as to the ability of the Afghan National Army to resist the Taliban and other insurgents.[12] One therefore wonders whether the border violence is part of Hamid Karzai’s attempt to seize on nationalist sentiment as a means to deflect attention, following a New York Times exposé of his willingness to accept US Central Intelligence Agency money.[13]

Sarah Chayes—a senior associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment and former special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—correctly points out that the aid from the CIA allows Karzai to manipulate the US government, supporting one department over another.[14] This tactic has been typical of Karzai throughout his tenure, when he has resorted to nationalist, jingoistic statements to shore up support for his fledging administration.[15]

A third issue affecting Afghan-Pakistani relations is the presence of spoilers on both sides of the border and the willingness of elements within the Pakistani security services to support these actors. Historically, the Pakistani military looked to Afghanistan to serve as strategic depth in case of an Indian military attack, which is why they have nurtured and supported networks and groups that would help them make Pakistan secure.

Rising Indian and Iranian involvement in Afghanistan, often done with the encouragement of the Afghan government, affects Pakistan, and it especially troubles those members of the security services that see threats everywhere and are hostile to India.[16] For them, a strong Afghan-Indian relationship means encirclement. The issue of Iranian presence in Afghanistan also is a concern because of rising sectarian tensions in Pakistan mainly between Sunnis and Shi’a. These tensions, which also have historical roots,[17] have reached unparalleled levels in Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and only serves to increase Pakistani paranoia of being encircled by its enemies.

With both Indian and Iranian presence in Afghanistan, the role of the Taliban becomes central, because, firstly, both Afghanistan and Pakistan have Taliban groups that clearly share an ideology that calls for the toppling of the Islamabad and Kabul governments. Concomitantly, both governments are apprehensive of the rising influence and presence of the Taliban and consistently attempt to pacify the demands through various agreements. Rising Taliban activity in Pakistan and Afghanistan therefore requires that the two governments cooperate to defeat a common enemy.

Therefore, growing animosity between Kabul and Islamabad is a worrying development, especially as international presence in Afghanistan comes to an end. The Afghan government is clearly concerned about its ability to withstand growing Taliban activity, pushing it to seek supporters and allies.[18] Conversely, Islamabad is clearly unhappy with the increased Indian and Iranian presence in the country, which is supported by the Afghan government and others.[19]

As we head toward 2014, there is real danger that Afghanistan will once again descend into intra-state conflict fueled by endogenous and exogenous factors and in doing so exacerbate regional stability, with dire implications for international peace and security. This threat is why it is increasingly important that Afghans and Pakistanis resolve their issues by recognizing that the security and stability of their respective states is dependent on cooperation.

In order to achieve this collaboration, they must receive support from external actors. One way to accomplish this is to encourage China to serve as a broker, a role that Beijing is well-suited for because it has relations with both nations and because of its commitment to realpolitik and quiet diplomacy. China has the tools to persuade Kabul and Islamabad to cooperate and in doing so reduce tensions in South Asia.


[1] Sayed Jawad, “Heavy clashes between Afghan and Pakistani troops in Goshta,” Khaama Press, May 2, 2013. <>

[2] Yaroslav, Trofimov, Afghan, Pakistani Forces Clash,” Wall Street journal, May 3, 2013, p. A.8

[3] It seems that the clashes have continued; according to Gul Nabi Ahmadzai, commander of the Afghan border protection police forces, Pakistani forces crossed over to Afghanistan, seeking to repair the damaged gate, leading to new violence. Sayed Jawed, “Pak-Afghan border clashes resumed in Goshta district,” Khaama Press, May 6, 2013. <>

[4] Nathan Hodge and Habib Khan Totakhl, “Afghanistan Protests New Border Gate,” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2013. <>

[5] According to Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, the need for a fence stems from the need to stop militants from using territory in Pakistan to attack Afghan targets and vice versa. Imtiaz Gul, “Pakistan army told to plan fence and mines along Afghan border,” The Guardian, December26, 2006. <>

[6] Maliha Safri, “The Transformation of the Afghan Refugee: 1979–2009,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 65, No. 4, (2011), p. 587.

[7] In January this year, Pakistani security authorities introduced measures that require those traveling to Afghanistan to have valid travel documents, such as passports. “Documents mandatory to cross Torkham border,” Pakistan Observer, January 3, 2013.

[8] The writer and broadcaster Bijan Omrani has noted that some blame the Durand Line, “for all of Afghanistan’s current problems. And there are those who go so far as to blame it for the problems in Pakistan. Indeed, there are those who blame the Durand line not just for terrorism and other problems of instability in Pakistan, but even for the terrorist attacks we suffered in London in July 2005, tracing their origins all the way back to the tribal agencies of North-West Pakistan. Some people have even been so bold as to say that everything in Afghanistan would be sorted out if only the United States could cross over the frontier and ‘do its thing’ there.” Bijan Omrani, “The Durand Line: History and Problems of the Afghan-Pakistan Border,” Asian Affairs, Vol. 40, No. 2, (2009), p. 177.

[9] What has complicated the discussion about the refugees is the fact that Pakistan is neither a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees nor the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that the status of Afghan refugees is unclear. Marjoleine Zieck, “The Legal Status of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, a Story of Eight Agreements and Two Suppressed Premises,” International Journal of Refugee Law, Vol. 20, No. 2 (2008), p. 254.

[10] In March 2013, the ISI provided the Pakistani Supreme Court, which is addressing the issue of detention in Pakistan, with a report claiming that the Afghan government was working with groups linked to the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Talban) in providing them money, logistics, and training. The purpose of the report was to defend the internment and military operations against insurgents. Fakhar Rehman, “Pakistan intelligence agency claims Afghanistan supports Taliban splinter groups,” NBC News, March 27, 2013. <>

[11] Yaroslav Trofimov, “Our Man in Kabul?” Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2012. <>

[12] There is a high rate of desertion, while the rate of re-enlistment is low. In 2012, for example, one third of the Afghan Army was composed of first-year recruits who had completed the 10-to-12 week basic training course. Concomitantly, thousands of Afghan men who had received military training were outside of the military. Rod Nordland, “Afghan Army’s Turnover Threatens U.S. Strategy,” New York Times, October 15, 2012. < >

[13] Matthew Rosenberg, “With bags of cash, C.I.A. seeks influence in Afghanistan,” New York Times, April 29, 2013. < >

[14] Chayes refers to Karzai’s public humiliation of US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, while at the same time showing enormous support toward US Secretary of State John Kerry. Sarah Chayes, “CIA buys trouble in Afghanistan,” Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2013. <>; Mirwais Harooni and Phil Stewart, “Karzai accuses U.S. and Taliban of conspiring to keep troops in Afghanistan.” NBC News, March 10, 2013. <>

[15] In 2010, for example, in a meeting in Kandahar between President Karzai and elders, in which American commanders had expected President Karzai to announce a military offensive against the Taliban, the Afghan president opted to describe the Taliban as his brothers. When the elders said, after he had asked them about the offensive, that they opposed the military offensive, Karzai scrapped it. Yaroslav Trofimov, “Our Man in Kabul?” Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2012. <>

[16] In 2011, India and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement that calls on New Delhi to enhance its role in its training the Afghan army and other security personnel, in addition to India providing Afghanistan with over $1 billion in aid. Tom Wright and Margherita Stancati, “Karzai sets closer ties with India on visit,” Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2011. <>

[17] See, Seyyed V. R. Nasr, “The Rise of Sunni Militancy in Pakistan: The Changing Role of Islamism and the Ulama in Society and Politics,” Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1 (2000), pp. 139-180

[18] Most recently, President Karzai, acknowledging CIA financial assistance, called on the agency to continue to provide his administration with such aid, claiming that it was really needed. Karzai also said that he would sign a long-term security agreement with the United States to help Afghanistan address security threats from “neighboring countries.” Kevin Sieff, “Karzai acknowledges CIA payments,” The Washington Post, May 4, 2013. <>

[19] The Northern Alliance, for example, has a strong history of receiving support from India, whereas some of the Afghan Shi’a have good relations with Tehran.