Back when the Obama administration took power, we were told that they had made a great intellectual breakthrough. They had realised that the problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan had to be treated as single issue – hence the ugly acronym, AfPak. And, of course, this is right. The Americans and their allies are not going to win the war in Afghanistan, while the Taliban enjoy safe havens in Pakistan. And it may not be worth “winning” in Afghanistan, if in the process you gravely destabilise Pakistan – a much bigger and more important country.
So much for the theory. But, in practice, we seem to have gone back to thinking about Afghanistan and Pakistan as two separate issues. So, on the one hand, there are the constant reports of the White House’s agonising over whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. And on the other, news of an upsurge in terrorism and fighting in Pakistan. But nobody seems to be connecting the dots. Read more