Friday, April 24, 2009

Guest Blog: Pakistan: Time for Contingency Planning

From Neoavatara

Pakistan: Time for Contingency Planning

The time has come that the world must have contingency planning in case Pakistan falls to the Taliban.

I know, this is a worst case scenario. Maybe I am just playing scare tactics. But maybe the reality can only hit home if we talk about it.

Understand this simple fact: The Taliban now control cities within two hour driving distance of Islamabad. How bad is that? Well, Taliban don’t control any territory within 2 hour driving distance of Kabul in Afghanistan. I am not saying the Taliban have a reasonable chance of taking the Pakistani capital, but the risk is growing. Actually, on Friday there were reports that a cleric in the town of Bener convinced the Taliban to withdraw from the district. However, what this shows is that the government has little or no control. Government officials continue to state that the Taliban will be confronted if they challenge central authority…and yet, they did challennge the government, and we still have not seen significant military confrontation in the region. That speaks volumes.

Additionally, the Pakistani government has been impotent in controlling its major cities of Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore. There have been numerous large scale attacks on each of those cities in the past few months.

Hillary Clinton, in Congressional hearings this week, stated that Pakistan is now facing an ‘existential threat’ to its very existence. And the fact is, the Pakistani leadership doesn’t even realize it.

So what now?

1. Start planning now.

Mr. Obama, for good or bad, is a thoughful person. We saw that this month with the Somali pirate escapade. He took several days of deliberation to finally give the order to ‘eliminate’ the pirates if necessary. It was the right decision, and I lauded him for it.

But that same thoughtful process can be a hindrance in a situation like Pakistan. To many, it is surprising how fast countries can deteriorate and come apart at the seams. In 2001, it took just weeks for rebels to take over Afghanistan.

As far as I can tell, there are three legitimate scnearios if Pakistan falls:

1. The Worst Case Scenario

The Pakistani government falls. The Pakistani military is in disarray. The ISI, the Pakistani intelligence services, side with the Taliban. And the United States and India do not have an active plan in place to deal with the failed state.

This is not an unreasonable set of circumstances.

This would lead the subcontinent to ultimately be destabilized, and nuclearized. The Chinese would have difficult staying out of the conflict, because let us face facts: a nuclear war on the subcontinent would dramatically effect the entire Asian continent.

This is the apocalypse scenario; unlikely, but frighteningly possible.

2. A very, very bad scenario

India unilaterally decides that it cannot risk the safety of the nation to the United States and the United Nations. They perform air and land raids primarily on nuclear sites within Pakistan. This would likely lead to a full scale ground war in Kashmir and Punjab., that likely would cost hundreds of thousands of lives, assuming that it stayed a conventional war. The path of this scenario would ultimately depend on whether India could successfully take out Pakistani military sites; a highly questionable proposition. Thus, this scenario could also very likely lead to nuclear war.

3. The best case scenario, in a very bad situation.

The U.S., NATO, Israel and India all decide in a coordinated fashion that they cannot let Islamic extremist have ‘the bomb’. The Americans and the West send in bombers and strike fighters to take out nuclear military installations. American, NATO, and Indian paramilitary forces try to take out key military installations from the ground. Best case scenario, the Americans have a contingency plan with military leaders within Pakistan, to support their immediate takeover of all armed forces in the hopes that they can somehow restore order.

And that ugly scenario is the best case.

You can see why American and United Nations intervention is needed now. Obama can no longer sit on the sidelines and let surrogates handle this…he must dive in, head first. The Pakistani leadership must be forced to realize the extremely bad situation they are in. So far, they have been delusional, still feeling that India is a bigger threat than the Taliban. That is simply not the case. Pakistan will not exist in five years if the Taliban is not taken care of today. The situation is that dire. Hopefully, for Pakistan, Indian, and the rest of the world, they come to their senses.

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