September 30, 2008Afghanistanal-qaedaFATAFATWATForeign Affairsinternational relationsjihadisPakistanTalibanUnited States

Sovereignty vovereignty

..and violations thereof

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Over at Five Rupees, Ahsan has an excellent take on the goings-on between the United States and Pakistan along the Durand line.

I should also stipulate for the record that the violation by the U.S. of Pakistan’s sovereignty—the notion that a state practices exclusive control of territory within its borders—in FATA is a red herring, for three reasons.

First, the Pakistani state’s sovereignty in the region since independence has been tenuous at best; the area has largely been left to its own devices under the stewardship of local- and district-level tribal governments.

Second, even if the preceding sentence was not true, Pakistan’s sovereignty in the region was chronologically and historically first violated by the Taliban, and not American drones and soldiers. Like virginity, sovereignty can logically only be violated once; once the Taliban established a quasi-parallel administration in the region, it became a political and legal reality that Pakistan does not lay claim to controlling the area.

Third, the uproar about sovereignty (concerning) American actions in the reigon in the last few weeks ignores the fact that the Americans have been doing this for well over two years now; it is only the fact that (a) it has become more overt, and (b) it is being done more frequently that seems to be the root of Pakistani anger. Neither (a) nor (b) have anything to do with the violation of sovereignty per se and have everything to do with the way the violation of sovereignty is conducted.

Irrespective of polito-legal questions of sovereignty, the fact remains that the status quo represents an extremely dangerous situation for the Pakistani state. Squeezed by the Americans to do more, by the Pakistani population to do less, and by the Taliban to do nothing, this high-wire balancing act is doomed to fail. The question, however, remains: on which side of the wire is Pakistan going to fall?[Five Rupees]



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