Programme Paper

Project: Asia Programme

Ayesha R Khan
  • The AfPak strategy has created the opportunity to recalibrate US engagement with Afghanistan and Pakistan to reverse the Taliban momentum and 'disrupt and dismantle' the terrorist threat from the border region. However, the strategy lacks implementation mechanisms and analysis of the border region to manage the insurgency and quell the violence. Its contradictions, anomalies and structural flaws risk further destabilizing the borderland region.
  • AfPak remains a 'work in progress', under constant review and revision by the Obama administration. But to succeed it will need to articulate and implement a political and development plan for the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region outside the military paradigm. The 'civilian surge' is an important aspect of this, but will only be effective following a revamp of civil-military relations.
  • By amalgamating the insurgency in Afghanistan and militancy in Pakistan into one geopolitical unit, the AfPak strategy oversimplifies the nature of the insurgency on both sides of the Durand Line, and fails to appreciate the differences in security trajectories and capabilities of the two states. The strategy is likely to create friction between the two neighbours, rather than the cooperation necessary to defeat the Taliban insurgency.