A Partnership for Peace in the Hindu Kush

Only an effective Afghan-Pakistan partnership can begin to control the insurgency in the border area. Indeed, the war in Afghanistan, and destabilization in Pakistan, will not end without it.

Khyber Pass, Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai never had a shared border strategy. But, standing at Michni Post, the highest point of the Khyber Pass, staring down at the thousands of trucks and buses buzzing through Afghanistan into Pakistan under the shadows of the Hindu Kush, the answer is obvious: controlling the Afghan-Pakistan border requires a counterinsurgency policy that looks at Afghanistan and Pakistan together.
Pakistan’s new government has a great opportunity to make this change. In order to cut off the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s recruitment and supplies, both countries should fight the militants in tandem.
That means, first, improving security training for the border forces, starting with Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, the 50,000-man combat force along the 1,600-mile Afghan border. These “sons of the soil” are in bad shape. They receive no more than two dollars a day to patrol the area, which ranges from 25,000-foot-high mountains to barren deserts.

They also fight with old weapons. As one senior commander told me, “the Taliban are better equipped and have more fire power.” They have no air mobility, and worse, no rapid reaction force to support them. Two Frontier battalions have been under siege at Ladha Fort in South Waziristan for the past few months.
Security along the border can run on parallel tracks. Major General Muhammad Alam Khattak, the Frontier Corps’ Inspector General, made a suggestion to me: “Take our Frontier Corps. Train them somewhere and bring them back.” Afghanistan should do just that. Through NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Afghan National Army training program, it should rotate the Frontier Corps battalions with their Pashtun brothers one at a time. Additional resources provided by Pakistan for proper equipment and force buildup – including the creation of a Frontier Corps Rapid Reaction Force – should be committed so that Frontier Corps soldiers become the counterinsurgency partners in Pakistan that Afghanistan needs.
Second, reconciliation with the insurgents should begin by inducing defections. This was recommended by a senior US military commander, who said that “60% of insurgent activity could be curbed by reconciliation.” Despite overwhelming support for this process, methods to do so are absent.

In Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, 2,000 Taliban fighters were rounded up and vetted by ISAF forces, only to be abandoned after the initiative was not supported by Afghanistan’s central government. In Khost, dozens of former Taliban members from the Tribal Areas defected, promising to lay down their arms in exchange for – only to be given nothing.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. Television sets showing a news report on Xi Jinping's speech Anthony Wallace/Getty Images

    Empowering China’s New Miracle Workers

    China’s success in the next five years will depend largely on how well the government manages the tensions underlying its complex agenda. In particular, China’s leaders will need to balance a muscular Communist Party, setting standards and protecting the public interest, with an empowered market, driving the economy into the future.

  2. United States Supreme Court Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images

    The Sovereignty that Really Matters

    The preference of some countries to isolate themselves within their borders is anachronistic and self-defeating, but it would be a serious mistake for others, fearing contagion, to respond by imposing strict isolation. Even in states that have succumbed to reductionist discourses, much of the population has not.

  3.  The price of Euro and US dollars Daniel Leal Olivas/Getty Images

    Resurrecting Creditor Adjustment

    When the Bretton Woods Agreement was hashed out in 1944, it was agreed that countries with current-account deficits should be able to limit temporarily purchases of goods from countries running surpluses. In the ensuing 73 years, the so-called "scarce-currency clause" has been largely forgotten; but it may be time to bring it back.

  4. Leaders of the Russian Revolution in Red Square Keystone France/Getty Images

    Trump’s Republican Collaborators

    Republican leaders have a choice: they can either continue to collaborate with President Donald Trump, thereby courting disaster, or they can renounce him, finally putting their country’s democracy ahead of loyalty to their party tribe. They are hardly the first politicians to face such a decision.

  5. Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron John Thys/Getty Images

    How Money Could Unblock the Brexit Talks

    With talks on the UK's withdrawal from the EU stalled, negotiators should shift to the temporary “transition” Prime Minister Theresa May officially requested last month. Above all, the negotiators should focus immediately on the British budget contributions that will be required to make an orderly transition possible.

  6. Ksenia Sobchak Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    Is Vladimir Putin Losing His Grip?

    In recent decades, as President Vladimir Putin has entrenched his authority, Russia has seemed to be moving backward socially and economically. But while the Kremlin knows that it must reverse this trajectory, genuine reform would be incompatible with the kleptocratic character of Putin’s regime.

  7. Right-wing parties hold conference Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

    Rage Against the Elites

    • With the advantage of hindsight, four recent books bring to bear diverse perspectives on the West’s current populist moment. 
    • Taken together, they help us to understand what that moment is and how it arrived, while reminding us that history is contingent, not inevitable

    Global Bookmark

    Distinguished thinkers review the world’s most important new books on politics, economics, and international affairs.

  8. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Bill Clark/Getty Images

    Don’t Bank on Bankruptcy for Banks

    As a part of their efforts to roll back the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, congressional Republicans have approved a measure that would have courts, rather than regulators, oversee megabank bankruptcies. It is now up to the Trump administration to decide if it wants to set the stage for a repeat of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008.