What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pakistan and Afghanistan - Border and skirmish

The MStFB Spillover Monitor Report Series No. 8
I'll just, quickly as I can, react to news here, originally from DailyIndia.com. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri today announced that Pakistan would at all cost go ahead with fencing some sections of its border with Afghanistan. This week there were reports of clashes between an Afghan border patrol and a Pakistani unit in the area. Both sides accuse the other of firing first - the Afghan version is more elaborate in claiming that the Afghan soldiers were removing parts of a 35 km long fence section that have already been put up by Pakistan, on the Waziristan border, in an area swarming with people infiltrating there and back between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The issue is a key cause for contention between the two countries. Any fencing of the border against insurgent movements by Pakistan is seen by Afghanistan as a confirmation of the Durand line, the border that it never held legitimate. That is an issue affecting the Pashtun question, or rather the question of Pashtuns divided between the two countries. One the one hand affirming the border might be a concession to Pakistan, which it very likely is deliberately seeking, even whilest claiming to act only against the negative spill-over effects from its territory to Afghanistan and back. On the other hand, Pashtuns, too, might be upset by any serious limitation on the movement across the traditionally porous Pakistani-Afghan border, and that actually neither of the two governments could altogether ignore.
Mining has already been ruled out. You can check my posts on the issue of mines in Tajikistan to see arguments why mines wouldn't be practical. If there'd be mines, information regarding where they lay would soon be known to all against whom they might be laid, while some unlucky nomads will be the ones not simply to end up as collateral damage but probably to end up as the only people that would see damage from this. If impracticality wouldn't be enough, though, many of Pakistan's Western backers wouldn't welcome mining, either, because of their ideological commitment to the need for the global application of the Ottawa Convention. So, since that doesn't sell, Pakistan is trying to carry on at least with the construction of the fence. And so Presidents Karzai and Musharraf will have some possibly angry words about the issue in Turkey at the end of this month.
I'll continue to monitor the situation and issue new posts on it. Meanwhile, for the sake of the fine-tuning of state failure theory, I again have to point to the significance of the artificiality of a large part of the post-colonial borders of our world. Calling for strengthening these borders to control for negative spill-over effects in an interdependent security order, the bulding blocks of which are states, is actually calling for strengthening those very states, many of them somewhat artificial in their shape, right in their current shape. That's likely to meet resistance, and that's why Pakistan cannot be left out of the Afghan equation.
To provide us with an interesting twist in the tale, though, resistance is not coming at the moment from the Waziristan tribes as much as it does from the Karzai government. A jirga of tribal leaders from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan (assembled in Wana, in South Waziristan) has actually given its backing to the idea of fencing (they haven't backed mining the border area, though).
To be continued.

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