Mathematical Logic, Ambassador Robert Blackwill & Macro Viewpoints on Afghanistan

The most elementary rule of Mathematical Logic states that [Clause A implies Clause B] is logically equivalent to [negative Clause B implies negative Clause A]. In syntax, this reads as (A  → B ) is logically equivalent to ( B → A). 

Our framework for the Afghan problem has been simple and historical. Afghanistan was partitioned into North Afghanistan (today’s Afghanistan) and South Afghanistan (occupied by today’s Pakistan) by the 1893 treaty between Afghanistan and British-administered India, the handiwork of Mortimer Durand, the then Foreign Secretary of British-administered India.

This treaty established the Durand line as the border between today’s Afghanistan and British-administered India. Pakistan has maintained that it is the successor of British-administered India while Afghanistan maintains to this day that the Durand Treaty is invalid and ex-parte because British India does not exist. The part of Afghanistan occupied by Pakistan is predominantly Pashtun and so it is called Pashtunistan, or the land of the Pashtuns. Pakistan has acceded to this basic reality and recently renamed it Khyber-Pakhtunhawa.

Our core axiom is what we laid out on August 9, 2008 – The War on Terror in Afghanistan cannot be won without reunification of Pashtunistan with Afghanistan . In other words, [(Ending The Partition of Afghanistan) implies (Winning the War in Afghanistan)]. 

In Mathematical Logic, this is equivalent to [Not (Winning the war in Afghanistan) implies Not (Ending the Partition of Afghanistan)]. This is what Ambassador Robert Blackwill argues in his opinion in the Financial Times titled America must give the south to the Taliban . (Note – Not winning the war is essentially containment and very different from losing the war).

This is an important article because it spells out facts that have never been printed in mainstream media in America. Sort of facts you should have known about Af-Pak but were never told. The opening paragraph of Ambassador Blackwill’s opinion states:

  • In spite of the commitments made at Tuesday’s conference on the future of Afghanistan in Kabul, the current US counter-insurgency strategy (Coin) is likely to fail. The Taliban cannot be sufficiently weakened in Pashtun Afghanistan to coerce it to the negotiating table. America cannot win over sufficient numbers of the Afghan Pashtun on whom Coin depends. President Hamid Karzai’s deeply corrupt government shows no signs of improvement. The Afghanistan army cannot stand up to the Taliban for many years, if ever. Pakistan’s military continues to support its Afghan Taliban proxies. And the long-term Coin strategy and the far shorter US political timeline are incompatible.

These are self-evident statements. He then discusses the tactic of containment of the Taleban to South Afghanistan. In his words, “After this review the US should stop talking about exit strategies, and accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south“. Frankly, we do not understand the future tense in his statement. Today’s ground reality is that the Taleban already control the Pashtun south or South Afghanistan. 


           (Green area is the Pashtun South – src Wikipedia)

In his penultimate paragraph, Ambassador Blackwill looks at the broader implications:

  • Wider threats to the region should be taken seriously. An irredentist “Pashtunistan”, and perhaps the fracturing of Pakistan, could happen. Ironically, the Pakistan military is making such a development more likely through its support for the Afghan Taliban. But why should the US be more concerned about the territorial integrity of Pakistan than the country’s General Ashfaq Kayani and his colleagues? (emphasis ours) Indeed, the spectre of de facto partition in Afghanistan might even produce the change of heart in the Pakistani military’s attitude to the Afghan Taliban that successive US administration have failed to achieve.

This is what we argued in the section Danger to Pakistan – What kills you is the danger you don’t see in our August 2008 article titled Afghanistan-Pakistan – Will the Sins of England be visited Upon America? The Panjabi-Pakistani Army is still focused on fighting its dream war against India. According to the New York Times, General Kayani, the virtual dictator of Pakistan’s policy, stated this unequivocally to foreign journalists earlier this year. But the history of the past 1,000 years tells all of us that the Pashtuns have always marched south into the plains of Panjab and the Pashtuns have almost always won. 

But the Pakistani Panjabi Army and its arm chair generals led by Kayani are the MIP* (most important player) of the Af-Pak theater. This MIP status has made the Panjabi-Pakistani Generals the most powerful and the richest clan in Pakistan. Losing this MIP status is an existential* threat to them. If they do go, they will go the traditional Pakhtun way by getting killed by soldiers they consider their own. 

But as Ambassador Blackwill contends, why should the US be more concerned or spend US lives, money and political will to protect the territorial integrity of Pakistan? Let the Panjabi-Pakistanis and Pakhtuns fight their own battles the way they have for the past 1,000 years. 

Ambassador Blackwill concludes “With its many flaws, de facto partition is hardly a utopian outcome in Afghanistan. The overriding virtue of this concept is only that it is better than all available alternatives.”

* Read the section An Existential Danger for the Pakistani Army in our December 2009 article The Ignatius Opinion – A Virtual Blueprint of Convenient, Myopic & Wrong Analysis about Af-Pak.

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