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Pakistan's Domestic Terror Response

Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008

The terrorist attacks in Pakistan are striking closer and closer to home, this time the highly secure police headquarters in Islamabad. There's lots of speculation about what impact the domestic attacks will have on the Pakistani leadership's approach to the extremist elements they've been otherwise cultivating for many years. My hunch is that it will be a lot like the American approach in Iraq, and what's increasingly being proposed for Afghanistan and the FATA: buy out the ones who have a price, and fight the ones who don't.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to figure out who's who and what that will mean for American interests in Afghanistan. But it's safe to assume that the Pakistani response will be based on Pakistan's interests, not ours. Because notwithstanding the logic used to justify our presence in Afghanistan, we stand to lose a war, but Pakistan stands to lose quite a bit more than that. They had a perfectly stable modus operandi before the invasion, and they need to consider the possibility that the Afghanistan status quo might very well return to its pre-war dimensions in the medium-term future. If it does, we'll be long gone. They'll be right next door. So it's wishful thinking to think that just because we're being targeted by the same people, our interests necessarily overlap. That doesn't mean they necessarily won't, either. They might, but it's not a sure thing.