– Lawrence Solomon: Pakistan would work better in pieces
by: Lawrence Solomon
Pakistan would be a more stable and peaceful place if its four component nations were unstitched from one another
Since Osama bin Laden was found living unmolested in a Pakistani military town, debate has raged over how to deal with this duplicitous, faction-ridden country. Should the United States and others in the West continue to provide Pakistan with billions in foreign aid, in the hopes of currying at least some influence among elements of the Pakistani leadership? Or should we get tough, and declare it to be the state sponsor of terrorism that it is, knowing this course of action could cripple our efforts to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and drive Pakistan further into the Chinese sphere of influence?
Neither course would be satisfactory and neither should be adopted. Instead, the West should recognize that the muddle it faces stems from Pakistan’s internal contradictions. This is not one cohesive country but four entirely distinct nations, having little in common save their animosity toward one another, a predominantly Muslim faith and Britain’s decision to confine them within the same borders in partitioning the Indian subcontinent more than a half century ago. The West’s only sensible course of action today is to unstitch the British patchwork, let the major nations within Pakistan choose their future, and negotiate coherently with new national administrations that don’t have impossibly conflicted mandates.