Pakistan could collapse in six months: Kilcullen

pakistan-federal-assemblyCourtesy and Thanks: The News,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Centcom adviser warns Pakistan in danger; says Pak security services a rogue state within a state
News Desk
WASHINGTON: The Pakistani state could collapse within six months if immediate steps are not taken to remedy the situation, warned a top adviser to the US Central Command.
David Kilcullen, who advises CENTCOM commander Gen. David H. Petraeus on the war on terror, urged US policymakers to focus their attention on Pakistan as a failure there could have devastating consequences for the entire international community.
In an interview with The Washington Post (Sunday Edition), Kilcullen, who is credited with the success of the US troop surge strategy in Iraq, warned that if Pakistan went out of control, it would ‘dwarf’ all the crises in the world today. “Pakistan hands down. No doubt,” he said when asked to name the central front in the war against terror.

Asked to explain why he thought Pakistan was so important, Kilcullen said: “Pakistan has 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the US Army, and al-Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesnít control.”

He claimed that the Pakistani military and police and intelligence service did not follow the civilian government; they were essentially a rogue state within a state. “Were now reaching the point where within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state, also because of the global financial crisis, which just exacerbates all these problems,” he said. “The collapse of Pakistan, al-Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover – that would dwarf everything we’ve seen in the war on terror today.”

Kilcullen, an Australian anthropologist who advises governments on Muslim militancy throughout the West, disagreed with the suggestion that it was important to kill or capture Osama bin laden. He discussed two possible scenarios for catching the al-Qaeda leader. Scenario one is, American commandos shoot their way into some valley in Pakistan and kill bin Laden. This, Kilcullen said, would not end the war on terror and would make bin Laden a martyr.

The second scenario: a tribal raiding party captures bin Laden, puts him on television and says, “You are a traitor to Islam and you have killed more Muslims than you have killed infidels, and we’re now going to deal with you.” They could either then try and execute the guy in accordance with their own laws or hand him over to the International Criminal Court. “If that happened, that would be the end of the al-Qaeda myth,” said Kilcullen. He said that three lessons learned in Iraq could also apply to Afghanistan. The first one is to protect the population. “Unless people feel safe, they won’t be willing to engage in unarmed politics,” he argued.

The second lesson is to focus on getting the population on America’s side and making them self-defending. And then a third lesson is to make a long-term commitment. Kilcullen said that the Obama administration’s policy of reaching out to moderate elements of the Taliban also had several pitfalls. “If the Taliban see that we’re negotiating for a stay of execution or to stave off defeat, that’s going to harden their resolve,” he warns. “I’m all for negotiating, but I think the chances of achieving a mass wave of people turning against the Taliban are somewhat lower in Afghanistan than they were in Iraq.”
Courtesy and Thanks: The News

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