Saturday, April 5, 2014

Election 2014: Death Knell of Strategic Depth?

Afghanistan has voted. And wow, what a lot of voting there was! Millions of Afghans turned out and voted in an election where a vote for anyone was a vote against Mullah Umar and his backers. Now it may be that the results will not be accepted, that the winners will fight each other or that the good feeling will evaporate as some future Taliban offensive shakes the state. But if the results are credible and are accepted, then it may well be (to quote journalist Tahir Mehdi) that April 5th 2014 will be to strategic depth what December 16th 1971 was to the two-nation theory.
Of course, one may then point out that the Two Nation theory has had a very healthy Zombie existence since 1971. But even the healthiest Zombie is still a Zombie. Dying is forever.
One can always hope.
This question came up on twitter: was this election a success because Afghan security forces and ISAF did a fantastic job and the Afghan people rejected Mullah Umar? or because Pakistan was paid (and paid well) and agreed to permit a peaceful election? I suspect a bit of both. But either way, it does not alter the significance of the event. Whether Pakistan's Taliban allies are just not strong enough to disrupt elections or whether Pakistan has sold them out for money. its all the same as far as strategic depth is concerned. Its over.

PS: I have already heard from people on twitter that this will not lead to milk and honey and a civil war is coming. But please note, I said nothing about those things. All that may be true. But strategic depth was a different story. The story was that Afghanistan is waiting for Americans to leave and then our boys walk in and eject the "mayor of Kabul". That doesnt seem to be the story at all. "Our boys" didnt look as strong as advertised. And unless they are the dominant and strongest party, strategic depth is dead and strategic nightmare awaits.


  1. Just to point out, Pakistan being payed off to keep the peace would translate to less Taliban violence not necessarily to high voting turnout.

    That Afghans did turn out in large percentages was solely their own choice and on their own agency. The turnout is what strikes against strategic depth rhetoric. Pakistan can't claim henceforth that Afghans reject democracy and Taliban fighting an elected Afghan government represents Afghan will.

  2. Well this is merely an 'ethical' argument. By this logic, in 1947 NWFP shouldn't have been made a part of the "Pakistan" project, etc. But history is witness that Pakistaniat is "thrust fully formed" in a top-down process onto a populace - especially one that is scared, angry and already softened to the basic tenets of the ideology. Pakistaniat (and its ideological predecessors down the centuries) is not about common sense, popular consensus and self-determined spiritual well-being. It is a schizophrenic combination of very ambitious local material interests working with powerful external forces, whipping up a psycho-spiritual need to be 'chosen' after creating a tense 'end of history' scenario, working opportunistically to expand its control of resources. Insha'Allah, it is only a matter of all Afghans succumbing to it, due to a sense of inevitability or seduction. Clearly, it is what Allah Insha's that matters, not the will of mere earthlings in an election.

    "Violence and Kshātra: War, Religion & Philosophy" -
    "The Dasyu-Dāsa dynamic vs. "class struggle" theory" -