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07 January 2013


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There's a category of middle-class Pakistani expatriates who constantly rave about Imran Khan. I notice that you don't mention him once. Does it mean that he's not a real contender, and his apparent importance seen through Western eyes is largely over-inflated?

FB Ali

The impression I get is that his party will obtain a fairly respectable number of seats in most of the assemblies but not a majority anywhere (there is a chance that, with support from others his party may be able to form the provincial government in KPK, the north-west province).

This is under present conditions. However, if Qadri's move succeeds and only "honest" persons are permitted to contest the elections, his party's fortunes are likely to soar. Not having ever been in power, its bigwigs are mostly untainted by corruption.


"Foreign Minister went to Riyadh to settle what the Saudis would provide in return.

Another notable policy change is that the Pakistan army has now officially adopted the position in its operational doctrine that the greatest threat to the country's security is the internal one."

Thank you for the informative writeup;

how does the Pakistani establishment reconcile close ties to the Saudi's ( main sponsors of terror) and the greatest treat being internal, which for the most part seems to have been the result of the saudi/wahabi influence?

Also, how would the engagement of the Indian NSC with his Iranian counterpart may influence any decision making in Pakistani army?


Many thanks for you highly informative posts!

William R. Cumming

A brilliant post and I defer to you knowledge of Pakistan.

But one sentence sticks out: "Pakistan has come to terms with the fact that, even though the US will have a small military presence in Afghanistan in the future, it will not permit the insurgency to take over the country!"

I believe this misjudges where the US is going in this arena. I believe the US will pull out entirely and simply focus on the Pakistani nuclear arsenal and proliferation. I think the US has concluded that Afghanistan will undergo de facto partition and that Pakistan turn to internal security as its primary threat is largely driven by Pakistan fears that it also when undergo partition and who ends up with the nuclear arsenal will determine what part of the current Pakistan remains on the world stage. Nuclear proliferation and nuclear surety and safeguards are about to have the almost total focus of US attention in this part of the world. Even up to war with Iran.


FB Ali, I hadn't heard of Allama Qadri before your posting. Thanks. Very informative.

Charles I

Thanks FB, sounds like a shame about the Iranian energy deal - I bet more energy would reach the populace than "what the Saudis would provide in return.

FB Ali

The Saudi regime doesn't like jihadis (aka "terrorists") except when it can use them for its purposes, as in Syria currently. However, many rich Saudis and religious leaders provide funding and support to these groups. Pakistan can do nothing about the latter, but it does not have that worry about the regime.

Iran is quite actively trying to gather support in the region. Initially, when India appeared to be under US influence it began to court Pakistan. Now that the Saudis have put a spoke in that wheel it is exploring ties with India. The latter is trying to exploit the break with Pakistan, but I doubt that the US will let them get too close to Iran. However, clandestine relations may well increase.

FB Ali

I agree with you about the US's concern re nuclear weapons, but I am quite certain that, as far as Afghanistan is concerned, they will never let the Taliban take over the country. Can you imagine a President 'losing' Afghanistan after the US has fought there for over 10 years?

As I've said here several times before, Pakistan will neither split up nor lose control of its nuclear arsenal so long as the army remains intact. There are no signs of that happening any time in the foreseeable future.

FB Ali

I agree, Charles. The Iranian deal would have provided solid gains to the people of Pakistan. The Saudis are long on promises but short on performance. However, they carry a lot of clout with Pakistan's politicians, due to their liberality in dispensing cash and because they are the last refuge for pols on the run (which, unfortunately, these guys seem to need fairly often).

William R. Cumming

Thanks General Ali for your comment on my comment!

Babak Makkinejad

I also seriously doubt any meaningful cooperation between Iran and India at the strategic level.

Iran does not need India, in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

Saudis will provide what they have provided for the Muslim world for the last 40 years - neo-Salafism and all that it entails.

It did not work very well then and it will not work now.

Some people never seem to learn.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree with you; I have gathered that Pakistan is playing teh same game she did in Afghanistan that she was doing in 1990s - blessed by US and Saudi Arabia.

The "Good Taliban" will be running the Pashtun areas; it is up in the air how much Russia and Iran will do to prevent the extension of that power into non-Pashtun area.

I also agree that Afghanistan as a unitary state ended in 1992; I do not think that it can be so revived.

I cannot credit a partition of Pakistan - no matter how bad the situation is, it will never be as bad 1947 and immediately after the Partition.

After all, where would Sindh go, to India?

Or Baluchistan?

Or Punjab?

And what about the Muhajirs?

The Beaver

Brigadier Ali,

Info on the Allama is edifying:

However, I don't know about this CIFIA organization

Dan Gackle

F.B. Ali,

Thank you for this informative post, which contains much that is new to me. Pakistan is an enigma to most Western analysts, who appear to have given up on understanding it and merely repeat cliches.

The scenario you depict for Afghanistan struck me as relatively optimistic (with emphasis on "relatively"). If Pakistan is able to broker a power-sharing deal between insurgents, the Taliban, *and* the Northern Alliance, with implicit US support, that suggests some chance of stability. Many other scenarios for Afghanistan amount to a return to civil war along ethnic lines once the US withdraws.

Am I reading your post correctly? If so, how do you estimate the odds of such a (relatively) stable outcome? Does Pakistan have enough influence with non-Pashtuns to play such a role? And would the US be comfortable supporting it implicitly?

FB Ali

Pakistan appears to have decided that it is in its own security interests for there to be a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. Accordingly, it is facilitating negotiations between the Taliban and non-Pashtun representatives; it is not in a position to "broker" anything or push anyone into a settlement.

I have no idea what the chances of success of such negotiations are; I doubt if anyone does. What I do deduce is that all the factions seem to want a peaceful settlement (probably because they realise that neither side can defeat the other).

William R. Cumming

In 1990 a long deceased friend [a section chief at the CIA] predicted to me that by 2030 there would be 30 ballistic missile capable nations with nuclear capabilities!

What exactly is the CIA and DNI doing about proliferation and nuclear surety and safety issues in Pakistan and elsewhere!

An American citizen friend living in Japan keeps predicting to me that if N. Korea is one of the 30 than S. Korea and Japan will be also.

From open sources exactly what does the US and world known about the holders of the Islamic bomb?

Charles I

Japan is currently making noises about amending its defense-only Constitution. What do you think the "pivot" will do to Japanese foreign policy once the real squabbling over off-shore resources and attendant military buildups gets going? And how would South Korea feel about a nuclear armed Japan and N. Korea? etc, etc, etc

Alba Etie

General Ali
Thank you for all of your post . I was always learn from your writings. Where does the PRC figure into the 'great game ' that is being played out in Pakistan ? I know the PRC built that brand new naval base and port on the Arabian Sea - I have read that the PRC seems to be having some of the same concerns with radical Islamist Wahabees as the Pakistanis - are there any signs that the PLA might step us its presence to counter weight the " bad Taliban " as we withdraw from AfPak ? Its just seems to me that if the PRC was getting the lions share of the hard minerals coming out of Pakistan & Afghanistan via the new railroads they are building then the PLA could be employed to keep down the bad actors in the neighborhood. Or would that upset the Indians too much ? Finally how big of force will America /Nato leave in place for Afghanistan ?


Brigadier Ali,

Thank you for the informative post. The State and the Army will always be needed to guard the nuclear weapons in Pakistan, USA and elsewhere. The rest of warfare will be privatized and secularized. Colonel Lang’s small footprint unconventional force will be contracted out to SF Retirees and the mountain tribes. Consolidation of an Afghan State will be prevented. There still is money to be made in the Hindu Kush Mountains.

The long term problem for the remaining American Contractors is two fold. The USA is broke and funding a war on the other side of the world is unproductive and does not help the dearth of jobs here. Second, force projection, from drones to B2 bombers, depends on secure airfields. One cannot depend on contractors and tribal forces to secure the air bases. LBJ’s dilemma arises. You can only depend on the 173rd Airborne to defend the air fields and once there they go into the field after the enemy. The Herd will not return to the Korengal Valley or Kabul. Ultimately, contractors will be getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan anyway they can.


"What exactly is the CIA and DNI doing about proliferation and nuclear surety and safety issues in Pakistan and elsewhere!"

They can't solve this problem. This requires true adult leadership and the interventionalists on the right and left are not providing it. Maybe someone more mature than BHO and company will be in office after the election in 2016.

FB Ali

I presume you are referring to the port of Gwadar. It is not a naval base. The Chinese played a large part in its construction, and have recently taken over its management (from a Singapore company). It hasn't really got going, and for the time being the Chinese seem to have put it on ice. The rail link hasn't advanced much, either.

The Chinese are concerned about their Muslim Uighurs, but few among their exiles seem to have joined the jihadis. So far, the Chinese presence in Afghanistan is purely commercial (mining minerals etc); it is possible they may become more active after 2014, or earlier if there is a peace settlement.

I have no idea how many troops the US will keep there post-2014. The SOFA has not been signed yet.

William R, Cumming

According to MSM the so-called ZERO OPTION of No US troops in Afghanistan is now on the table after 2014!

Alba Etie

Thank you for your reply Gen Ali
. It is being reported that we will have no SOFA in Afghanistan . President Karzai ducked the SOFA question from a lurking MSM when visiting the Senate yesterday . I wonder if we will be able to continue the counter terrorism goal of no more AQ training camps being re-established if we have no residual force on the ground in Afghanistan ?

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