PAKISTAN BETWEEN CENTRAL AND SOUTH ASIA RSC
Alberto Priego, Ph.D., has been a researcher for the International Studies Department in the Complutense University of Madrid; currently a Visiting Scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), The University of London (London, U.K.)
The strategic gap between India and Pakistan compels Islamabad to pay attention to its northern dimension, namely Afghanistan and Central Asia. For this reason, in order to avoid being threatened from the North and the South at the same time, Pakistan has always tried to get a friendly government in Afghanistan. During the 1980s and the 1990s a series of events, such as the invasion of Afghanistan, the involvement of Pakistan in the conflict and then the emergence of War on Terror, have changed dramatically the regional situation. At the end of the 1990s there were two separate Regional Security Complexes, the Central and the South Asian ones, divided by Afghanistan, an insulator state. At present, we see how these two Regional Security Complexes have converged in a common point—Afghanistan—which is the hub of a new Regional Security Complex (South-Central Asian RSC) involving these two regions.
The current situation of this huge RSC is well illustrated by the following sentence: “For this purpose, an inquiry is suggested into the nature of the <Muslim identity> of the Central Asian states, the <Russian string> attached to them, <the American fears> about the Islamic identity, <Pakistan’s hopes> to cooperate with them and the <Indian> threat to this cooperation.”
There are hardly any discussions on how the end of the Cold War meant a far-reaching change in the structure of the International Order. If we look specifically at Central Asia we can affirm that it is one of the regions most affected by the end of the Cold War. The demise of the Soviet Union, its 1989 withdrawal from Afghanistan and, overall, the emergence of War (so called) on Terror, have changed dramatically the situation in Central Asia. From the 1970s Afghanistan grew into a complete chaos passing from a communist state toward an Islamic regimen provoking devastation through the region.
Afghanistan was founded in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani (Pearl of Pearls). He was elected by an Assembly of Pakhtun, unifying all the tribes under its kingdom. Then he changed his title from khan (chief) to shah (king in Persian). The history of Afghanistan has been a succession of revolts, plots and continuous bloodsheds aimed at controlling this strategic enclave in Central Asia. Afghanistan was conceived as a buffer state between the two powers which collide in this region: the Russian and British ones. Both powers tried to dominate this fierce and courageous people but the Britons and Russians only faced disgrace and defeat.
1. Nevertheless it is not our task here to go into the history of Afghanistan. Our purpose is to show how Afghanistan has turned its position in Central Asia passing from an insulator to be the core of an emerging Regional Security Complex. The reason for this supposed change is, following a Waltz’s approach, a re-distribution of capabilities in this area provoked by the dramatic situation experienced in Afghanistan during the 1980s and the 1990s. Afghanistan, was once created as a buffer state, as an insulator entity, suddenly became the hub of……………….