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Balkanising Pakistan

August 6, 2010 by  
Filed under war on terror

It is time to Balkanise Pakistan, says Michael Hughes.In his article titled Balkanising Pakistan: A collective National Security Strategy the author has articulated the “Why” of his suggestion through a compelling argument. This has serious ramifications for the region, especially for India.

The basic proposal of fragmentation is to break off and allow Afghanistan to absorb Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP or Khyber Pashtunwala) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which would unite the Pashtun tribes. In addition, the provinces of Balochistan and Sindh would become independent sovereign states, leaving Punjab as a standalone entity.

Then there is this brilliant piece on Balkanisation in Daily Times of Pakistan. Again there are a host of articles on “America at War” which point towards the real and live possibility of Pakistan standing on the verge of Balkanisation. As per analyst, Yugoslavia would be a tame history when compared to this violent process of fragmentation of Pakistan.

Opinions in Pakistan, including that of Imran Khan, accuse USA, Israel and India colluding to give shape to this policy of breaking Pakistan to make it more governable. There are voices both for and against the motion for reversing the defective world order put in place while partitioning the region. Maybe, Pakistan and Afghanistan are working their way towards redrawing these boundaries.

Then there is the reality of a Baloch struggle and a Sindhi subjugation playing at the centre of the existence of Pakistan. As per Hughes it has become important to Break Pakistan to Fix It:

The argument for Balkanizing Pakistan or, more specifically, fragmenting the Islamic Republic so it’s easier to police and economically develop, has been on the table since Pakistan’s birth in 1947 when the country was spit out of a British laboratory. And lately, the concept is looking more appealing by the day, because as a result of flawed boundaries combined with the nexus between military rule and Islamic extremism, Pakistan now finds itself on a rapid descent toward certain collapse and the country’s leaders stubbornly refuse to do the things required to change course. But before allowing Pakistan to commit state suicide, self-disintegrate and further destabilize the region, the international community can beat them to the punch and deconstruct the country less violently.

It is common knowledge that Pakistan is a fast failing state. The Foreign Policy magazine has placed it at number ten and the dysfunctions imbued in a Jihadi mindset are plunging it deeper into darkness. The inherent instability borne out of its history, geography and a fast radicalising society under direct or indirect military dictatorships is accentuated by the Islamic state aspiration. A combination of these factors makes Pakistan extremely fragile.

Far from being a “Land of the Pure,” Pakistan is one of the clearest demonstrations of the futility of defining a nation by religion, and one of the textbook failures of a state and a society. Pakistan deteriorated throughout the decades because of its focus on building the military and developing Islamic extremist groups to use as weapons in their eternal obsessive struggle against India. It’s true the U.S. helped Pakistan build these groups since the beginning of the Cold War, but America learned on 9/11 they had created a Frankenstein monster that now needed to be slain.

At the heart of Michaels argument is the theory that when seen in light of its above fault lines, Pakistan’s close links with the al Qaeda are the basic recipe for disaster. He argues that Pakistan which hasnurtured the Haqqani group for nearly three decades, and which Kayani is projecting as part of the solution to Afghanistan, is in effect the al Qaeda. Discerning readers need little convincing on that account. This would put Obama back to the starting block of this war –  to root out al Qaeda. Obama may have pre judged the situation in announcing a time-table for withdrawal. This has accelerated the machinations of Pakistan Army and ISI in hedging their bets in projecting Haqqani, which in Michael’s words IS the al Qaeda.

So in this game Kayani is playing, he would be able to put al Qaeda at the centre of Islamic radicalisation in Af Pak region. A situation  worse than when Bush led America to war on terror in the region. The ripples of this demonisation of the region would be felt world-wide. Pakistan, the “Islamic State” would be in the eye of the storm. By then, whether the internal discord and the warring militant groups permit Pakistan to remain a country, would be a tough ask.

Pakistan has had a close relationship with the Haqqanis for over 30 years, who are still seen as a crucial anti-Indian asset. So, for nine years the Pakistanis protected the Haqqanis and claimed ignorance as to the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden and the Quetta Shura. Nine years, nearly $300 billion dollars and 1900 dead coalition soldiers later, the U.S. has officially verified that the entire war effort has been focused on the wrong side of the mountains.

Then there is the deep involvement of Pakistan in spreading terror and Intifada in India. This has been a work in progress for the last three decades ever since East Pakistan revolted to de link itself from Pakistan, with Indian help. What was started by Zia Ul Haq as Operation Topac has today radicalised Pakistan to a point of no return. The mullah – military – militant nexus has speeded up the process of Balkanisation of Pakistan. The military’s India Centric mindset has forced it to nurture a range of terror groups which over the years have gradually merged into the concept of al Qaeda. That Kayani has any real hold over these diverse groups,each with its own agenda, is a moot point. But what appears certain is the capacity of these groups to ferment trouble between India and Pakistan. An aspect deliberated in the previous post, The Larger Game.

Pakistan today is on the self destruct mode. Its stability is what most would want especially the countries in the region. However, it appears that the current masters of Pakistan’s destiny are hell-bent upon proving their Islamic State status to the Islamic world. Armed with nuclear weapons, they may become the face of Political Islam but if this continues, they may be wiped off the face of the subcontinent as a country.

This post has a clear narrative – Pakistan needs to prevent destabilisation of Afghanistan to prevent its own balkanisation. If it fails to do so, the world community will have to do so.

If this is not done,India stands to lose heavily in such a division. Knowing the wounded streak of the Punjabi Muslims, a dominant force in the Army, this would radicalise the region and result in an inferno difficult to control. America, or for that matter the West, would beat a hasty retreat where South Asia would become the world’s most dangerous place to live in – ie if it isn’t  already.

Amongst all this America, which is desperately trying to prevent the collapse of Pakistan, has launched a major PR exercise to win hearts and minds in Pakistan - something which successive regimes in Pakistan have failed to achieve. However, it would be appropriate to sign off with this thought

The U.S. cannot save Pakistan; only Pakistanis can do that.
Unless they accept responsibility for their own future, Pakistan will have no future.:



26 Responses to “Balkanising Pakistan”
  1. Chanakya says:

    Pakistan’s obsession with India is the main reason behind Pakistan’s policy or rather th Pakistan army’s policy of radicalising the country via Political Islam, They think this can act as the glue that binds them. As events indicate this has been the biggest bane of Pakistan’ policy leading to it’s ultimate balkanisation.

    This is bad and must be stopped at all costs as per Obama. Therefore the Americans are paying in blood and dollars to prevent the slide, a major reason why the slide is getting accentuated.

    Aman Ki Asha anyone?

  2. jolly says:

    random thoughts
    I dont see any ‘ wounded streak in the punjabis’ , all that is history . And in anycase even if there was ,what would that have to do with a balkanised pakistan ? If anything it will strengthen their bond and resolve to stay with a productive India . The punjabi is a practical industrious man who knows the gurudwara is a place you go to on sundays dressed in your sunday best …the rest of the week is spent on getting on in life . We leave that insane obsession with religion to the gullible islamic masses and their half baked clerics .
    Yes , where it will have an impact is in Kashmir . I hope our Neros , who dont care to see beyond their noses are evaluating and planning for this posibility .

    If Kayani is the man charting this self destructive course for pakistan, one wonders why Zardari gave him that 2 year extension ? …But then , maybe nobody asked him . Why did the Americans allow it …

    Im sure India would like to see a united Pakistan go into the future .

    • nannikapoor says:

      I meant Pakistani Punjab, basically those following the muslim faith. Balkanised, they would be at war with the Baloch, Sindhis, Pashtuns and the Indians.

      • jolly says:

        OK , I misunderstood since you used it in the context of India .The impact wrt to India would be in Kashmir as well as stepped up terror attacks .
        More thoughts – did America hold its peace on Kayanis extension because they felt that army rule would be more effective in pakistan than their neither -here- nor- there brand of democracy ? The situation as it stands is that Kayani has the authority while the brickbats are felt by the govt .I think we are looking at President Kayani in the near future …

  3. Sultan Geelani says:

    Michael Hughes has waded rather belatedly into Pakistan Balkanization speculation, by advancing the argument that Pakistan has to be broken to be ‘fixed.’ Surprisingly enough, Hughes does not know that Pakistan Balkanization was only vaguely concievable until about a year ago, when the West had a semblance of power to effect it. Since then the strategic picture has become so radically altered that the West now is bribing(!!) Taliban with millions of dollars to keep its soldiers supplied with food in Afghanistan. The report in the very responsible British newspaper “The Guardian,” is produced below to demonstrate the West’s impotent dependence on Pakistan and even ON TALIBAN, for the survival of its soldiers.

    “How the US army protects its trucks – by paying the Taliban”

    • by Aram Roston
    • The Guardian Friday 13 November 2009

    “Insurance, security or extortion? The US is spending millions of dollars in Afghanistan to ensure its supply convoys get through – and it’s the Taliban who profit……. It’s a big part of their income, one of the top Afghan government security officials admits. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10% of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts – hundreds of millions of dollars – consists of payments to insurgents.”END OF REPORT


    Sultan Geelani

  4. nannikapoor says:


    At stake is the future of Pakistan and the region. We are not debating America. The need of the hour is to generate positive thought to prevent balkanisation or destabilisation in the region.

    As I have argued in the parting thought, only Pakistan can prevent this descent into chaos which will burn the region for all times to come. The key word is rational thought and not justification of a flawed premise. There is a lot Pakistan needs to do to obviate a suicidal path. It may have short term gains but will be strategically disastrous for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the region. Americans have precious little to lose here.

  5. Ishfaq Mirza says:

    Wilson John has suddenly woken up to the reality of radicalisation of Pakistan Military based on the Quadrennial report of the US. He feels this poses a grave danger and agrees to US view that this might create an Iran like situation in Pakistan.


    Pakistan has over its existence been managed and manipulated by the radical “Islam is in Danger” theory. Post General Haq, the army was totally radicalised and follows the principle of owning the state. It is with this motto that they raised a cadre of extremists to be used as a strategic hedge against the non believers. Their existence was based on the anti India – US – Israel bogey. Since the first Afghan War success in booting out communist Soviets, Pakistan has nurtured the Taliban and have attempted to control Afghanistan through their Taliban friendly policies. General Gul is known to have matured the concept of Political Islam.

    Take away the army and there is no fundamentalism in Pakistan. It is this radicalised army which will spell doom for Pakistan and result in its Balkanisation once the NATO leaves. Currently the army holds all the aces in Afghanistan as far as USA is concerned but this equation will change drastically once Pakistan has to deal with Taliban and the various other tribal warlords. The Afghanistani interests in Pakhtunwala may be the first signal of disintegration of Pakistan. Soon the Baloch and the Sindhis will follow suit.

    However smart the Pakistan Army’s tactics might be, they are heralding the collapse of the state.

  6. jolly says:

    Musharraf was the one person who seemed to have some vision for pakistan and a hold over the army , I am sure he has had enough time to introspect on his past mistakes , Pakistan needs to bring him back in a new avataar . The survival of Pakistan is more important than anything else at the moment .

    All right thinking people would wish for a stable Pakistan …the last thing India needs is a burst appendix in its vicinity .

  7. Ganesh Joshi says:

    The process is already underway at the hands of the islamic militants or Jihadis of all hues and ethnic orientation. That al Qaeda is being strengthened by Pakistan to its own detriment and that of the region is of little consequence to the military ans ISI. They are ready to rule even a balkanised Pakistan.

  8. Sultan Geelani says:

    The balkanization of Pakistan thesis appeals only to the naive and the gullible. Let me explain in terms of POINT-1 and POINT-2 .

    Over fifty percent Islamic Pushtoon Taliban in Afghanistan AND their Islamic allies of other ethnicities have annihilated the ethnicity and regionalist mentality of the remaining minority of Afghans. When this development of ethnic elimination from Afghan politics was finally confirmed then than THE PRESIDENT OF USA, NO LESS, made an astonishingly unscheduled dash into Kabul. Thereafter we had the spectacle of Karazai, no friend of Pakistan, flying into Islamabad to solemnly affirm the “conjoined twins” reality of AFpak. Karzai then flew to Beijing to personally confirm what he said in Islamabad.



    Now people of even lesser wisdom know that NATO has decided to quit without caveat. IT IS A DONE DEAL. THE NEXT point is a tussle between Afghan Taliban and USA backed Pak Army for supermacy in Afpak. USA knows that A DESTABILIZED PAKISTAN WILL BE EATEN UP BY TALIBAN AND JAMIET UDDAWA AND NOT BY THE PIDDLING LITTLE SINDHI BALUCHI ETHNICS. The little Sindhi, Baluch ethnics will not last a week as was the case with Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras etc. etc in the first phase of Taliban power consolidation in Afghanistan that brought Obama to Kabul post haste.



  9. nannikapoor says:

    This article in Dawn of 24 August spells out the doom of Pakistan’s existence matrix. Largely Pakistan is a victim of its own machinations ie creating an Islamic State and Army’s India centric focus to keep it (the Army) relevant in Pakistan. That the masses are suffering result of these two policies is of little concern to the powers that be in Pakistan. Balkanisation, borne out of people’s wrath, is the natural outcome.

  10. Omar Pashtun says:


    I agree with the contention of the post. Balkanisation is very much on the cards.

    Taliban do not represent the Pashtuns. It is mostly Pashtuns that are killed by Taliban and/or whose death is caused by the Taliban.

    If we were to describe an Army as dominated by one ethnic group or another, then one cannot forget it was the Pashtun-led Afghanistan that has opposed Pakistan since its creation. Pakistan should never forget that it was only Afghanistan that cast the vote against admitting Pakistan to the United Nations. Until the Communists, Pashtun-led Afghanistan continued to support subversive activities, including Pashtun-nationalist and Baluch insurgency against Pakistan.

    In conclusion, in the future an independent Afghanistan will continue to be ill disposed towards Pakistan, to the point of Pakistan’s disintegeration. Afghanistan has and shall covet the Afghan territory it lost to the British and which were later incorporated into Pakistan. Although, it is premature to define future national interests and policies of an independent Afghanistan; one can surmise that Afghanistan will pursue policies that will lead to the breakup of Pakistan in its current form and will pursue a policy that will lead to the creation of independent ethnic states such Republic of Punjab, Republic of Sindh, and Republic of Kashmir.

  11. Sultan Geelani says:

    Inclusive of Afghanistan, the whole South Asian region is up for Balkanization and RECONFIGURATION (REPEAT RECONFIGURATION). AND MUCH OF THE PROCESSES APPEAR TO BE MYSTERIOUS AND THEREFORE SECRET. Consider the mysteries that surround major events:

    Let me begin with the hard news first. The HARD NEWS is that the American head of US-AID in Pakistan visited, yes visited in person, the office of Jamat Uddawa in Pakistan. Now Jamat Uddawa is officially listed in the American State Department as a TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. Not only that Jamat Uddawa is also listed as TERRORIST outfit by the UNO, no less. HOW STRANGE THAT THE HEAD OF US-AID IN PAKISTAN SHOULD GO AND SEE THEM!!

    JAMAT UDDAWA is the leading organization that is currently giving all help in keeping KASMIRI INTIFADA in full swing NOW.

    JAMAT UDDAWA and LET were ALLEGED BY INDIA TO BE hand in glove in perpetrating 26/11 on India. That “operation” was mostly supervised, the Indian media loudly reported, by an American CIA operative called David Headley. When Indians had found this out and wanted to interrogate Headly, the CIA went to great lengths to prevent Indians from interrogating him. Finally a legal contrivance OF PLEA BARGAIN was used to finally bar India from subjecting Headley to question him IN THE MANNER THAT ELICITS TRUTH. INDIANS HAVE BEEN FOBBED OFF BY TELLING THEM THEY CAN ASK QUESTIONS —-NOT FORENSICALLY BUT IN A “GENTLEMANLY” FASHION!

    Further comments broke the house rules and hence blocked – Southasianidea.

    • Sultan Geelani says:

      Can you make these ‘house rules’ known so that everyone wishing to comment is enabled to observe them. The only that was said was (in summary) that India was being ignored by all and sundry in respect of the regional settlement of the Afghan question. And that the breakup of Pakistan is now (repeat NOW) intended to merge it into the Afpak region with Iran, China and Turkey overseeing the transition. THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT KARZAI MEANT BY CALLING AFPAK “‘CONJOIND TWINS.”!


      Sultan Geelani

  12. nannikapoor says:

    Your comment was a personal attack.

    You might like to consider this from Satyabrata Pal:

    To India,the threat comes from the Pakistan Army, which straddles its country like an incubus. A few liberals might jib, but most Pakistanis seem happy to be ridden. Perhaps this is because the Punjab dominates Pakistan, the army is mostly Punjabi, proud that they formed the bulk of the regiments with which the British ruled India, and steeped in the belief that Pakistani civilians, like “Hindu India”, are untermensch, over whom soldiers have a divine right to rule. The Punjab finds it hard to rebel against its boys, because it also buys the argument that the army is the dyke that holds back the Hindu tide, which would flood over them first. Better, in this view, to be hostages of the army than handmaidens of the Indians.

    “The Pakistan Army claims to run Pakistan because it is the only institution there that runs. The cynical view in India might be that experience in three wars confirms that the Pakistan Army does run, quickly and backward, which is where it has taken Pakistan. But if Pakistanis let these uniformed sprinters run over them, there is nothing we can do about it, or about the complexes – over manhood, identity and inferiority – for which their Army tries to compensate. As in the confessional comicality of its buying North Korean missiles called No Dong and giving them Afghan names – Ghori, Ghazni and Abdali – to cover a purely Pakistani inadequacy.

    Assuming that this Army will not want to risk war, the threat we will face is from terrorism, as it has been for many years. But though terrorism from Pakistan has been a constant, its motives have changed over the years. In the 90s, the aim was to get India to cede Kashmir or negotiate on it, and terrorism was confined to J&K. That is the primary motive now only for groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammed and their backers in the ISI. It is a subsidiary motive for groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, which command more mainstream support in the Army.

    For the Pakistan Army now, Kashmir is a secondary objective. The primary objective is to arrest India’s growth, for two reasons, both to do with Pakistan’s forlorn quest for parity. Firstly, our success when Pakistan is going down the tubes shatters the myth, spun by the Army, that Pakistan can always best India. And, more practically, the more we grow, the harder it is for Pakistan to match our military expenditure, or our influence in the world.

    This is surely a path down the lane to self destruct and Pakistan Army does not mind this price for holding on to power.

    The US National Intelligence Council 2008 report on “Global Trends 2025” is a trifle apocalyptic, but sums it up well:

    “The future of Pakistan is a wildcard in considering the trajectory of neighbouring Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and tribal areas probably will continue to be poorly governed and the source or supporter of cross-border instability. If Pakistan is unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line, maximising Pashtun space at the expense of the Punjabis in Pakistan and the Tajiks and others in Afghanistan.”

    • Sultan Geelani says:

      The future of Pakistan is a wild card NO MORE. All member countries of NATO have finally agreed to rely on Pakistan to stabilize the Afpak region. All decision making International conferences have demonstrated this as an ABUNDANTLY CLEAR FACT.

      The “Larger Game” has been won by Pakistan thanks to the acceptance by NATO to rely on General Kayani for interceding between Mulla Omer and NATO for the final settlement of matters in AFPAK REGION. Only the blind and the ignorant dispute this truth.

      And the floods have been tragic but have politically made the Pak Army far more acceptable to ordinary Baluchis and Sindhis as the flag bearers of ethnicity have been shown up as mere dabblers
      in sloganizing but poverty stricken where action was needed.

      The most amazing point of it all is that Americans are channeling their aid through Jamat Uddawa and Lashkar e Toiba in addition to their independent efforts.


      Sultan Geelani

  13. jolly says:

    The Pakistani army is burning itself up with its all cosuming hatred of India and taking Pakistan along with it . I wonder how many of us know that every friday an oath is taken in that army that it will take revenge for Bangladesh .
    With the floods having left 14 million in need of succour that country refuses the support of the one country that can provide the helicopters ( and more ) its people desperately need to remain alive…and it declares India persona non grata ! Does it fear that we will photograph their floods for future use ? There is only one reason for this sad decision , that it does not want its people to see India helping them , it wants to keep that hatred for India alive .
    Hindu India wants to destroy Pakistan …hilarious ! Our people can barely govern the country, they cant even organise the commonwealth games properly. But Pakistan already knows this so the only reason they keep this bogey alive is to keep the India hatred burning amongst its simple people . The friday masjid and madrassas are programmed to do this .
    The Pakistan army is like the biblical gadara swine hurtling headlong over the cliff sadly taking Pakistan with it .
    Lastly , Kashmir is still Pakistans first priority , the destruction of India will come later when the Afghan / AFPAK issue is settled and it can turn its full attention on India .

  14. jolly says:

    BUT ! Why are we bogged down with the question of the balkanisation of Pakistan and who is going to do what to whom in the AFPAK region ?! Hopefully allah will drive some sense into these guys and things settle down .
    Lets move on to what India should be doing to protect itself from the fallout of that disaster …

  15. jolly says:

    so what do we see ? The Pashtuns taking over upto the Indus , the Baluch going their own way ( though I dont see how 4 % of the population will take away 42 % Pakistan ). Punjab – Sind (?) forming the third entity …

    I think we have solved the Kashmir problem … atleast those poor sods in POK will have a better quality of life .

  16. jolly says:



    Pakistan is the Afghan war’s real aggressor

    The writer is national security adviser of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He served previously as foreign minister.

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