COME TO TERMS WITH 'AFPAK' REALITIES
Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the privately funded Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, is the author, most recently, of "Asian Juggernaut: The Rise of China, India and Japan."
By Brahma Chellaney
Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media
NEW DELHI -- Even as U.S. special representative Richard Holbrooke has embarked on his mission to find an answer to the Afghanistan-Pakistan predicament ("the Afpak problem" in Washingtonese), there is continuing reluctance in the international policy discourse to face up to a central reality: The political border between these two countries has now ceased to exist in practice.
The so-called Durand Line, in any event, was an artificial, British-colonial invention that left the large Pashtun community divided into two. Set up in 1893 as the border between British-led India and Afghanistan, the Durand Line had long been despised and rejected by Afghanistan as a colonial imposition.
Today, that line exists only in maps. On the ground, it has little political, ethnic and economic relevance, even as the "Afpak" region has become a magnet for the world's jihadists. A de facto Pashtunistan, long sought by Pashtuns, now exists on the ruins of an ongoing Islamist militancy but without any political authority in charge.