A top counter-insurgency expert says Pakistan is not a "lost cause" but without wholesale change the country risks spiralling into lawlessness.
Australian David Kilcullen was the senior adviser to US General David Petraeus and helped engineer the surge strategy that resulted in a record drop in violence in Iraq.
"I don't think it's [Pakistan] lost. We still have enormous support in some ways in Pakistan ... the population is very much opposed to militancy in the main," he told ABC Radio's PM program.
"But I do think we do need to see a fairly wholesale change of heart coming from the Pakistani military before we're likely to see much difference on the ground."
Lieutenant Colonel Kilcullen, a former theorist of asymmetrical warfare in the Australian Army, says while the international focus has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan is central to security concerns within in the region.
"I think it's not an exaggeration to say that Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world today," he said.
"In certainly in terms of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency problems, it is the problem that most worries me and I think that should most worry Western policy makers."
He says the size of the country and its nuclear capabilities create a unique set of problems for Western countries.
"Pakistan is a very developed country, there's a Pakistani Diaspora across most other countries in Europe and North and South America and it has more than 100 nuclear weapons," he said.
"The government is progressively losing control of its own population and territory. And you've got Al Qaeda sitting right in the middle of the country so it's a very, very significant problem."
The counter-insurgency expert says the problems in Pakistan are compounded by a lack of direct access and diverging priorities within the Pakistani security agencies.
"We don't have a lot of ability to influence the situation in Pakistan and frankly there are elements in the Pakistani military and intelligence services who are on the other side," he said.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Agree or not, Kilcullen is always worth a ponder.