Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

4  Pakistan's strategic importance and role in relation to Afghanistan

Pakistan's border areas

146.  Bordering Afghanistan to its south and east, Pakistan is perceived by both the British Government and the US administration to be crucial to success in Afghanistan. The border between the two countries, the so-called Durand Line, stretches some 1,640 miles through "difficult, widely differentiated terrain, from the Southern deserts of Baluchistan to the northern mountain peaks of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)".[244]

147.  In the wake of 9/11, and following the US-led intervention in 2001, the semi-autonomous tribal-dominated areas of western Pakistan, which are home to a sizeable Pashtun population, became the new base for Al-Qaeda as well as the displaced Afghan Taliban's centre of gravity.[245] The territories in question are firstly, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, which includes seven 'Agencies' that border Afghanistan namely Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand, Orakzai, as well as North and South Waziristan (see attached map of Pakistan/Afghanistan Border Area ). The author and journalist Ahmed Rashid describes the Federally Administered Territories (FATA), as a "multi-layered terrorist cake" containing Pakistani Taliban, Afghan Taliban, militants from Central Asia, Chechnya, Africa, China and Kashmir and "Arabs who forged a protective ring around bin Laden".[246] It is from North Waziristan, that the Afghan militant group Jalaluddin Haqqani commands support for Taliban resistance to Western forces in Afghanistan, and it was to South Waziristan that many Al Qaeda and foreign fighters fled following their displacement from Afghanistan in 2001.

148.  The second area of strategic importance in the context of Afghanistan, and in relation to Pakistan's own internal security, is Baluchistan which borders Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Quetta, Baluchistan's capital has a large Pashtun majority—unlike the rest of Baluchistan—and is the largest and poorest of Pakistan's provinces. Crucially, it is home to the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar and is considered to be a "sanctuary of the Taliban leadership".[247] Baluchistan is also an area of concern for the Pakistani government. For years, Baluch nationalists have campaigned for greater autonomy and control of local resources, while rebels have also fought the Pakistani army for full independence.

149.  The third area of importance is the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) where the full impact of the Pakistani Taliban has been felt, particularly in the northern districts of Swat and Malakand. Professor Shaun Gregory states that in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2011, the Taliban was tolerated in the NWFP and "has been de facto permitted—through a series of 'peace deals' with Pakistan—to attack Afghan and NATO forces across the border provided they did not threaten Pakistan itself".[248] Once a popular tourist destination, Dr Gohel notes that "the entire Swat valley has now been devastated by the spread of radicalism".[249]

150.  The Pakistani government has little authority in FATA and only limited control in NWFP and Baluchistan. The FATA is also the poorest and least developed part of Pakistan. Literacy rates stand at 17%, compared to the national average of 40%. Among women this drops to 3%, compared to the national average of 32%, and nearly 66% of households live beneath the poverty line. The FATA's inhospitable terrain helps to ensure that Pashtun tribal communities are excluded from markets, health and education.[250] A report by the Asia Society's Afghanistan-Pakistan Taskforce states that Al Qaeda has "exploited the problems in Pashtun lands to establish a safe haven among people who do not support its ideology but whose poverty, isolation, and weak governance leave them vulnerable".[251]

151.  In recent years, the security situation in the tribal areas has become increasingly volatile. By 2008 violence had reached a peak with some 2,000 terrorist, insurgent and sectarian attacks occurring in FATA.[252] The strategic importance of Pakistan's border areas is multi-faceted. From a military perspective, NATO and US commanders have repeatedly voiced worries about the "unremitting flow of militants across the Durand Line",[253] the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan which is not recognised in any meaningful way by the people who live adjacent to it and trade across it on a daily basis. Professor Shaun Gregory told us that it is from Pakistan's northern Baluchistan (which lies to the south of the tribal lands) and the FATA that the Afghan Taliban planned and conducted their comeback in Afghanistan,[254] while the FCO refers to the "intimate connections between the insurgency in Helmand and that in Waziristan, and between the criminals, spoilers and terrorists who operate in Kandahar and Quetta, Peshawar and Nangahar".[255] Sean Langan told us that "for every successful insurgency, you need a safe haven, a sanctuary, and that is what the tribal areas provide".[256] Reflecting the views of all of our witnesses, Mr Langan also stated that "the symptoms may be in Afghanistan, in Helmand, but the causes are in the tribal areas, and without dealing with that [...] the counter-insurgency strategy [in Afghanistan] will not succeed".[257]

152.  The strategic importance of the tribal areas and northern Baluchistan also derive from the fact that they serve as the main arteries for the supply of NATO forces in Afghanistan. NATO's main logistics chain which starts in Karachi and runs through Pakistan, provides about 80% of materiel and 40% of fuel to forces in Afghanistan.[258] In the last year, insurgents have launched a significant number of attacks on fuel tankers entering Afghanistan from Pakistan, and a major depot containing NATO military vehicles in Peshawar was attacked in December 2008 resulting in significant damage.[259] In February 2009 supplies intended for NATO forces in Afghanistan were suspended after militants blew up a bridge in the Khyber Pass region.[260]

153.  Alongside the insurgent groups that are targeting Afghanistan, there exists a range of groups more focused on attacking the Pakistani state. Professor Gregory pointed to two main Pakistan Taliban related groups. The first is Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which came into existence towards the end of 2007, is led by Baitullah Mehsud, and is, in Professor Gregory's view, an "umbrella for a variety of tribal and non-tribal Pakistani radicals".[261] It considers the Pakistani state to be too pro-Western and demands a much more radical, fundamental state.[262] The second is Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) which has led an insurgency since 2007 in Swat, part of the 'the settled areas' adjacent to the tribal areas. Although these are primarily targeted at the Pakistani state the FCO argues that deteriorating stability in Pakistan could pose a threat to Afghanistan.[263]

154.  Notwithstanding the recent increase in violence and the expanding influence of Taliban and other militant groups in these areas of north-western Pakistan, the consensus of our interlocutors during our visit to Pakistan was that there was no real sense that the civilian government was in danger of collapsing.

The connection to international terrorism

155.  It was from the tribal areas in Pakistan that the bomb plots in London, Madrid, Bali, Islamabad, and later Germany and Denmark were planned. The Lashkar e Toiba (LeT) group, which was responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks which targeted Westerners, in particular US and UK nationals, also operates from these tribal areas. The former head of the CIA, Michael Hayden, claimed earlier this year that LeT had reached a "merge point" with Al-Qaeda.[264]

156.  On 14 December, 2008, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated that 75% of the most serious terrorist plots being investigated by UK authorities had links to Pakistan.[265] In April 2007, four British men of Pakistani origin were convicted of planning attacks on British targets. All had established links to Al Qaeda in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border where some had gone for terrorist training. On 8 August 2008, at the end of one of the biggest ever terrorist trials in the UK—that relating to the so-called "Liquid Bomb/Operation Overt Plot"—three men were convicted of conspiring to commit mass murder. The cell's ringleader, Abdulla Ahmed Ali, travelled frequently to Pakistan, staying for long periods between 2003 and 2006.[266] The bomb-maker Assad Sarwar, and his co-conspirator Tanvir Hussain, also travelled to Pakistan. Dr Gohel told us that the places where these British individuals were recruited and trained (Kohat, Malakand and South Waziristan) were the same places that the Taliban and their affiliates were operating. Dr Gohel argues that "there is a clear nexus that exists which in addition to being a base of operations for the Taliban is also a recruiting ground for Britons. This has obvious security concerns and challenges."[267] However, Dr Gohel cautioned against supposing that the terrorist threat to the West from elements in Pakistan emanates exclusively from the border areas. He commented that, "though the tribal areas represent a significant security concern, other major terrorist plots in Britain have emanated from areas of Pakistan that extend beyond the Afghan-Pakistan border like the 7 July 2005 suicide attacks and the follow up failed plot (21/7) two weeks later".[268]

157.  Pakistan's status as a nuclear weapons state also generates significant strategic concern. As Professor Shaun Gregory states, "many analysts believe that if there is a nuclear 9/11 carried out in the West, it will have its origins in Pakistan".[269] A recent US Council on Foreign Relations report warned that organisations like the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed or Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which operate from within Pakistan, are "well resourced and globally interconnected", and that "some appear to retain significant influence within state institutions and enjoy public sympathy, in certain cases because of the social services they provide". The report warned that "if present trends persist, the next generation of the world's most sophisticated terrorists will be born, indoctrinated, and trained in a nuclear-armed Pakistan".[270]

158.  We conclude that Pakistan's strategic importance derives not only from the sanctuary that its semi-autonomous border areas provide to extremists who seek to cause instability in Afghanistan, but also because of connections between the border areas and those involved in international terrorism. We further conclude that it is difficult to overestimate the importance of tackling not just the symptoms but the root causes that enable this situation to persist.

159.  Professor Gregory discussed with us the issue of whether there is direct collusion between terrorists and Islamists within the Pakistan military and intelligence services who have access to nuclear weapons or nuclear components. Professor Gregory stated: "Do I think that the Pakistanis have completely secured their nuclear weapons against the terrorist threat or nuclear-related technologies? The answer to that is a firm no".[271] He referred to a number of issues of concern. The first was that a substantial proportion of Pakistan's nuclear weapons-related infrastructure is to the north and west of Islamabad, close to the unstable tribal areas. In his view, a direct physical attack could not be ruled out, given that in 2008 suicide bombers succeeded in attacking a weapons production facility where parts of nuclear weapons are thought to be assembled.[272] Both Professor Gregory and Mr Langan also pointed to evidence of direct contact between some of those who have nuclear weapons-related experience and Al Qaeda, and to possible collusion between militants and those with extremist, Islamist sympathies in Pakistan's army and intelligence agency. Professor Gregory told us that "the Pakistanis have put a huge amount of effort into trying to mitigate that problem. But they recognise, as we all do, that you cannot have 100% assurance that the people who have day-to-day control over nuclear weapons are wholly reliable in that way".[273]

160.  We conclude that allegations raised during our inquiry about the safety of nuclear technology and claims of possible collusion between Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, and Al Qaeda are a matter of deep concern. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government sets out its assessment of these allegations and the extent of the threat that this poses.

Recent Pakistani responses to militancy

161.  Pakistan's civilian government, which has been in power since early 2008, has repeatedly pledged to do everything in its power to bring the tribal areas back under state control.[274] Following a surge in insurgent activity, there was a flurry of military action against militants in Bajaur and Swat in October 2008. However, with few signs of strategic progress, and after a two-week debate in secret session, the Pakistani Parliament passed a resolution in October 2008 endorsing, amongst other initiatives, negotiation with extremist groups.[275] The resolution stated that regions on the Afghan border where militants flourish should be developed; and force used as a last resort. It opposed the cross-border strikes by US forces in Pakistan (for which, see Paragraph 194 below), but at the same time indicated a degree of support for US policy. It called for dialogue with extremist groups operating in the country, and hinted at a fundamental change in Pakistan's approach to the problem: "We need an urgent review of our national security strategy and revisiting the methodology of combating terrorism in order to restore peace and stability".[276]

162.  In February 2009, the ruling Awami National Party in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which is a coalition partner of the governing Pakistan Peoples Party at the Federal level, agreed to a truce with the insurgent group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) which led to the implementation of Sharia in the districts of Swat, Chitral, Dir, Buner and Shangla. The hope was that by agreeing to a truce, the leader of the TNSM, Sufi Mohammad, could be persuaded to rein in his son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, who leads the TNSM faction in Swat.[277] On 14 April, the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari signed the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009 paving the way for Sharia law to be implemented in the north-western provinces of Pakistan. However, punishments inflicted by the Pakistani Taliban in Swat, including the widely broadcast flogging of a young woman, led to a groundswell of public revulsion against the Taliban and calls for military action to be taken against the militants. By late April, the peace deal had effectively collapsed and fighting intensified as the Pakistani military launched a series of offensives to control the security situation and limit the influence of the TTP. At the time of writing, this new approach appears to have inflicted significant military defeats upon the Taliban, but at the expense of creating a large-scale humanitarian problem, with up to two million people being displaced by the fighting. Lord Malloch-Brown told us that:

there are some real concerns about how the Pakistanis have gone about the matter, as so often is the case: largely aerial attacks or long distance attacks, which are a lot harder to manage in terms of limiting civilian displacement and casualties. Ultimately, they are a lot less effective than using ground troops against these kinds of elements. The Government, the army and others have got their work cut out. We support wholly what they are doing, with this one big caveat of the need to try to look after civilians and protect them from displacement.[278]


163.  The role of religious schools—madrassahs—and the Pakistani responses to calls for tighter controls over them, were raised by a number of witnesses. Sean Langan told us that "the thousands of madrassahs that still exist, funded in part by Saudi donors, are churning out cannon fodder for the Taliban",[279] while Professor Gregory told us "there is a big throughput of fighters for the Afghan Taliban from the Pakistani madrassahs […] and that includes many Afghan refugees, as well as Afghans whose families send them for all sorts of reasons to madrassahs on the Pakistan side of the border".[280] Although a number of radical madrassahs were identified during President's Musharraf's era, controls were not forthcoming,[281] prompting Christina Lamb to comment that "again and again, there has been talk that Pakistan will regulate the madrassahs and crack down on them, but nothing happens in practice".[282]

164.  We conclude that there is a pressing need for the Pakistani government to address the role that some madrassahs play in the recruitment and radicalisation process in Pakistan. We recommend that the British Government sets out in its response to this Report what discussions it has had with the Pakistani Government about this issue, and whether it has raised allegations of Saudi Arabian funding of radical madrassahs with the Saudi authorities.

The role of the military and ISI

165.   In spite of the return of a civilian government in 2008 and its commitment to tackling militancy in the tribal areas, much depends on the commitment and ability of Pakistan's military to deal with the insurgents. Witnesses told us that the military continues to play a pivotal role in the areas of defence, foreign, nuclear and internal security policy.[283] In Sean Langan's opinion, "clearly, [civilian] politicians are in office, but not in power".[284]

166.  We were told that for most of its history, Pakistan has sought to assert control in Afghanistan by fostering friendly regimes in Kabul and supporting insurgencies, including that led by the Afghan Taliban, in a bid to prevent Afghanistan falling under Indian influence.[285] Overt support in the form of diplomatic recognition to the former Taliban government was combined with more clandestine backing for proxy terrorist groups in Afghanistan, in many instances created and shored up by the ISI, Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Historically, the approach of Pakistani governments has been to support the Afghan Taliban but to crack down on the home-grown Pakistani Taliban. However, as Dr Gohel points out, by encouraging and supporting extremists, like the Taliban, as a tool to retain and hold influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan has inadvertently introduced changes that have undermined its ability to maintain its own writ within its borders and which have resulted in wider domestic instability.[286]

167.  Our witnesses were unanimous in their view that the military and ISI, rather than civilian politicians, control and determine foreign and security policy in Pakistan. Many analysts, including Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, have noted that "while the Pakistani military does not control the insurgency, it can affect its intensity".[287] In recent years, military action against insurgents in Pakistan has tended to focus on groups which threaten Pakistan's internal security and not, according to Professor Gregory, on the Afghan Taliban or its former proxies in Afghanistan including the Jallaludin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmayar militants, or Kashmiri separatist groups such as the Lashkar e Toiba which have relocated to the FATA.

168.  Many of our witnesses told us that Pakistan's military and the ISI remain broadly supportive of the Afghan Taliban's desire to control Afghanistan. Professor Gregory attributes this to the fact that the army and ISI regard the Karzai government as "unacceptably permissive of Indian influence", and are concerned about the presence of NATO and US forces which "complicate Pakistan's own calculus and prop up Karzai and Indian influence".[288] Dr Goodhand told us that in order to comprehend the current situation, it is necessary to understand that "this is part of a long-term strategy and a long-term project of the Pakistani state". Like many other analysts, he argued that "unless the existential and security concerns of Pakistan are addressed somehow in relation to India and Kashmir, I do not think there will be a fundamental rethink. While Pakistan sees it as in its interests to pursue a policy based on asymmetrical warfare, it will continue to do so".[289]

169.  Recent reports suggest that elements of the ISI continue to help the Afghan Taliban with money, military supplies and strategic planning.[290] Those who subscribe to this view argue that this partly explains why the Pakistani military have been ambivalent about targeting groups in the FATA that are involved in supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan. Dr Gohel told us the Pakistani military do not view Afghanistan in the same manner as the West, and that they are "waiting for the West to get fed up with Afghanistan and the mounting casualties, the cost, the endless problems of corruption, and just withdraw". He stated that:

We are looking at what is happening tomorrow, next week, perhaps until the end of the year. They have a much longer term strategy. One of the most interesting things I heard in Afghanistan was that 'the west keeps looking at their watch, but the Taliban keeps the time'. Sooner or later, many within Pakistan feel that they will be able to reassert the Taliban into Afghanistan, and that of course is a big concern.[291]

170.  We were told during our visit to Pakistan that for domestic reasons, political support from the main parties for mounting large-scale military action in areas such as North and South Waziristan and Baluchistan had hitherto not existed. In Baluchistan, the Taliban and Islamist groups have previously played an important role in suppressing Baluchi nationalism,[292] and therefore Baluchistan was left largely untouched. As a consequence of this legacy, we were told that in recent times the military had been reluctant to act unilaterally in these areas without political cover. However, a number of interlocutors stated that there was an increasing recognition at senior army levels that the policy of supporting militant groups was a problematic and self-defeating strategy. Professor Gregory and several other witnesses qualified this by noting that this sentiment was not necessarily shared at other levels in the army and ISI where "extremist, Islamist sympathies" prevailed.[293] Lord Malloch-Brown offered a similar view:

We are convinced that [the ISI] is on board institutionally, and that the leaderships of both the army and the ISI are supportive of the president and his strategy, which is reflected through the meetings that we have had with [Chief of Army Staff] General Kayani. There is a difficulty, that within the ISI, there may remain individuals who have some sympathy with these groups.

Adam Thomson, the FCO's then Director of South Asia and Afghanistan, added:

It is the case that, historically—at our behest, in part—the ISI developed relations with Islamic groups [in Afghanistan]. It has not proved that easy for it, as an institution, to turn that off and to turn it around quickly, but I think that it is working on it. To address the Lashkar e Toiba that you referred to, the fact that the Pakistani Government have been able to put a number of individuals on trial for responsibility for aspects of the Mumbai attacks suggests that the Government have support across the Pakistani establishment.[294]

171.  However, other witnesses, such as Dr Gordon, noted that quite apart from the issue of willingness, the Pakistan military has not been not equipped or trained to deal with a counter-insurgency. On the contrary, it has been configured for conventional warfare and for "dealing with what they perceive as an Indian threat".[295] We discuss the role that the UK has played in helping to address this problem below at Paragraph 281.

172.  In what has been seen by some commentators as a significant shift at the highest level, Pakistan's President stated in June 2009 that India was no longer to be regarded as a threat to Pakistan, and that he wished to transfer resources to fighting the real threat which was terrorism. Speaking in Brussels to EU officials, President Zardari said that:

I do not consider India a military threat; the question is that India has the capability. Capability is what matters. [With regard to] intention I think we both have our good intentions. India is a reality, Pakistan is a reality, but Taliban are a threat, an international threat to our way of life. And at the moment, I'm focused on the Taliban. It's something that has been going on for a long time and of course went unchecked under the dictatorial rule of the last president.[296]

173.  President Zardari's comments were interpreted in the press as "represent[ing] a victory for British and American diplomats who have been attempting to persuade Mr Zardari and his army chiefs to concentrate their efforts on confronting the Taliban rather than India".[297]

174.  We were told during our visit that there was widespread frustration that Pakistan's efforts against the insurgency and the military sacrifices that have been made have not been more consistently and publicly acknowledged by the West. There has also been considerable disquiet in Pakistan about civilians' deaths caused by attacks by unmanned US aircraft which have targeted alleged terrorists in Pakistan. We consider this issue in more detail below at Paragraph 194.

175.  In Dr Gohel's view, "more needs to be done to support the civilian Government in Pakistan. They are not perfect. They have shown their weaknesses, especially with the Swat valley deal. There are divisions within the civilian Government. But supporting the military, as has been done in the past, is not a solution".[298] Mr Korski concurred with the view that support for the civilian government must be a priority[299] as did a number of interlocutors during our visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

176.  We conclude that Pakistan's civilian government has recently taken some important steps to counter insurgency at a considerable cost in terms of military lives lost. We welcome the increasing recognition at senior levels within the Pakistani military of the need for a recalibrated approach to militancy but we remain concerned that this may not necessarily be replicated elsewhere within the army and ISI. We conclude that President Zardari's recent remarks that he regards the real threat to his country as being terrorism rather than India are to be welcomed. However, we further conclude that doubts remain as to whether the underlying fundamentals of Pakistani security policy have changed sufficiently to realise the goals of long-term security and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's relationship with Afghanistan

177.  The FCO written submission states that Pakistan is key to Afghanistan's future, "as its largest trading partner, as a country that faces many of the same challenges and whose own security concerns impact directly on those of Afghanistan".[300] It adds that "we are encouraging the Governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to build on recent improvements".[301] The recent improvements referred to by the FCO are partly a result of improved political and personal relations between President Hamid Karzai and President Asif Ali Zardari, which are said to be far more cordial than those that existed between Mr Karzai and Pakistan's previous military ruler, President Pervez Musharraf. Apart from the personal animosity that existed between Presidents Karzai and Musharraf, Dr Goodhand notes that Pakistan's problematic relationship with Afghanistan was not helped by the content of the Bonn Agreement. He told us that Pakistan felt that its concerns were not reflected in that agreement and that "it was essentially an elite pact between members of the Northern Alliance and international actors, which left out parts of the Pashtun south and the concerns of Pakistan".[302]

178.  It was apparent to us during our visit that in spite of better Presidential relations, there has yet to be sustained and substantive improvements between Afghanistan and Pakistan in intelligence co-operation, border control and counter-narcotics, and that both parties continue to have a tendency to blame the other for a failure to take action on a range of issues. The FCO warns that "the bilateral relationship, without further broadening, remains susceptible to internal and external shocks".[303] Dr Sajjan Gohel, giving evidence to us in April 2009, argued that neither Afghanistan, nor its stability, was high on Pakistan's agenda:

At the moment, Pakistan's priority is its own domestic problem […] and the fact that the Taliban is proliferating, growing and expanding its activities. The Swat valley is only a few hours away from Islamabad, and there is talk about the fact that militant activity is being seen in southern Punjab in Multan, and even in the northern part of Sindh. If that problem continues to expand, that will be the biggest challenge Pakistan faces, rather than looking eastward or westward to Afghanistan or India.[304]

179.  Another issue which was raised by a number of witnesses as a source of political friction between Afghanistan and Pakistan is Afghanistan's refusal to recognise the border between the two countries, the "Durand Line", and the fact that it retains a territorial claim over parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Durand line was established in 1893 as a boundary between Afghanistan and British India, named after the British colonial official Sir Mortimer Durand. It continues to exist as an international boundary today. In his written submission Dr Gohel explains that the Durand Line followed the contours of convenient geographical features, as well as the limits of British authority at the time, rather than tribal borders. It divided the homeland of the Pashtun tribes nearly equally between Afghanistan and Pakistan, effectively cutting the Pashtun nation in half. Dr Gohel argues, "this largely imaginary boundary has been viewed since its inception with contempt and resentment by Pashtuns on both sides of the line. As a practical matter the border is unenforceable. In some places the position of the line is disputed; in others it is inaccessible to all but trained mountain climbers".[305]

180.  Dr Gohel told us that an amicable resolution of the Durand Line dispute and the Pashtunistan issue would go a "long way to improve border co-operation because it would help to allay Pakistani fears that a strong Afghanistan would revitalise past claims on the Pashtun regions of Pakistan".[306] He explained that "the majority of the Pashtun tribes and clans that control the frontier zones of eastern and southern Afghanistan along the Durand line have never accepted the legitimacy of what they believe to be an arbitrary and capricious boundary".[307] A recent report by the Afghanistan-Pakistan Taskforce concurred that it is imperative to address "long-standing issues surrounding the status of Pashtuns in both Afghanistan, where they are the largest ethnic group, and Pakistan, where twice as many live as a minority". It added:

Resolving these problems will require working with both governments and their people to reform the status of FATA, improve governance and security throughout the North-West Frontier Province, enable Afghanistan to recognize the Durand Line as an official open border, guarantee Afghanistan's access to the port of Karachi, assure free land transit of Afghan products across Pakistan to India, and eliminate suspicions of support for separatism or subversion from either side.[308]

181.  However, Daniel Korski questioned whether "we as outsiders have the wit, the ability, [or] the flexibility […] to make a serious go at this. […] We have not been able to do many simpler things in that region, so trying to create a kind of counter narrative would be a real struggle for us".[309]

182.  We conclude that addressing long-standing concerns of the Pashtun populace on either side of the Durand Line and the respective governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in relation to the Durand Line itself, could, in the long term, help to increase bilateral co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, reduce sources of political friction and help tackle the causes, and not just the symptoms, of poverty and weak governance which Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups have exploited so effectively in recent years. Given the UK's close relationship with both Afghanistan and Pakistan and its historical ties to the region (which include the imposition of the Durand Line by British colonial administrators), we further conclude that the UK has a moral imperative to provide whatever diplomatic or practical support might be deemed appropriate by the relevant parties to assist them in finding ways of addressing the many problematic issues that are the Durand Line's legacy.

244   Daniel Markey, "Securing Pakistan's Tribal Belt", Council on Foreign Relations, Special Report No. 36, August 2008, Back

245   Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos (2008), p 4 Back

246   Ibid, p6 Back

247   Ev 138 Back

248   Ev 164 Back

249   Ev 138 Back

250   Daniel Markey, "Securing Pakistan's Tribal Belt", Council on Foreign Relations, Special Report No. 36, August 2008 p 5 Back

251   "Back from the Brink: A Strategy for Stabilizing Afghanistan-Pakistan", Asia Society Taskforce, April 2009,  Back

252   HC Deb, 5 February 2009, col 1034 Back

253   "Pakistan on the brink", IISS Strategic Comments, Vol. 14, Issue 9, November 2008, Back

254   Ev 162 Back

255   HC Deb, 5 February 2009, col 1032 Back

256   Q 38 [Sean Langan] Back

257   Q 38 [Sean Langan] Back

258   Ev 162  Back

259   Ev 177 Back

260   "Bridge Attack Halts NATO Supplies to Afghanistan", New York Times, 3 February 2009 Back

261   Q 35 Back

262   Q 39 Back

263   Ev 101 Back

264   "LeT a global security risk, accepts CIA", Economic Times, 4 February 2009 Back

265   Transcript of a press conference given by the Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, and Mr Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan, in Islamabad, 14 December 2008, Back

266   Ev 139 Back

267   Ev 139 Back

268   Ev 139 Back

269   Ev 165 Back

270   Daniel Markey, "From AfPak to PakAf: a Response to the New U.S. Strategy for South Asia", Council on Foreign Relations, April 2009, p 5, Back

271   Q 44 Back

272   Q 44 Back

273   Q 45 Back

274   See for example, "Militancy to be eradicated, Zaradari tell lawmakers", Dawn, 3 February 2009 Back

275   "Pakistan rejects America's War on Extremists", The Guardian, 24 October 2008.  Back

276   Robert Birsel, "Pakistan Parliament Seen United against Militancy", Reuters, 23 October 2008, quoted at Ev 131 Back

277   "Will Sharia Save Swat?", Jane's Foreign Report, 26 February 2009 Back

278   Q 222 Back

279   Q 38 Back

280   Q 39 Back

281   Q 159 Back

282   Q 144 Back

283   Ev 167  Back

284   Q 48 Back

285   Ev 136, 163  Back

286   Ev 136 Back

287   Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, "From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan", Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008, Back

288   Q 39 [Professor Shaun Gregory] Back

289   Q 69 Back

290   "Taliban fighters 'supported by Pakistan intelligence agency'", Daily Telegraph, 27 March 2009 Back

291   Q 154 Back

292   Ev 163 Back

293   Q 45 Back

294   Q 223-224 Back

295   Q 155  Back

296   "Pakistan: India no longer a military threat", Daily Telegraph, 24 June 2009 Back

297   Ibid. Back

298   Q 159 Back

299   Q 173 Back

300   Ev 74 Back

301   Ev 74 Back

302   Q 69 Back

303   Ev 101 Back

304   Q 163 Back

305   Ev 133 Back

306   Ev 135 Back

307   Ev 133 Back

308   "Back from the Brink: A Strategy for Stabilizing Afghanistan-Pakistan", Asia Society Taskforce, April 2009 Back

309   Q 162 Back

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Prepared 2 August 2009