Contributed by Compulsive Reader
By Tariq Ali
London Review of Books
".....The problem is that some elements in Pakistani military intelligence feel that they will be able to take Afghanistan back once Operation Enduring Freedom has come to an end. For this reason they refuse to give up their links with the guerrilla leaders. They even think that the US might one day favour such a policy. I doubt whether this could happen: Iranian influence is strong in Herat and western Afghanistan; the Northern Alliance receives weapons from Russia and India is the major regional power. A stable settlement will have to include a regional guarantee of Afghan stability and the formation of a national government after Nato withdrawal.
Even if Washington accepted a cleaned-up version of the Taliban, the other countries involved would not, and a new set of civil conflicts could only lead to disintegration. Were this to happen, the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line might opt to create their own state. It sounds far-fetched today, but what if the confederation of tribes that is Afghanistan were to split up into statelets, each under the protection of a larger power?......."