Shuja Nawaz, director of the Council’s South Asia Center, has an interesting post at Foreign Policy‘s new The Argument blog, entitled “Panic Stations in Kabul. Is Islamabad next?”
The coordinated attacks by the Taliban in Kabul on the eve of U.S. Amb. Richard Holbrooke’s arrival were no coincidence. Apart from ratcheting up fear among the citizens of Kabul, these attacks may well reflect a sense of desperation on the part of the Taliban. They fear that the impending arrival of additional troops in Afghanistan and simultaneous attempts to begin a dialogue with elements of the Afghan insurgency could leave them isolated. Hence the need to show their strength and ability to penetrate and attack the government in Kabul at will. Apart from showing off their military prowess, the Taliban wish to highlight President Hamid Karzai’s inability to control even his own capital. There may be a regional strategy behind this approach.
The complex interrelationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in the fluid border regions, is something with which the West has become suddenly and painfully familiar with in recent years. Shuja’s essay focuses on a Comparative Politics 101 issue that we International Relations types often overlook: the key role that good governance plays. It’s something in short supply in South Asia and, indeed, most of the developing world. And it would be worth more than all the Predator drones and provincial reconstruction teams in the world in ridding the region of extremists.
James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.