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After US Leaves Afghanistan, India Takes Center Stage

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Pakistan-India: Last week the Amir of the Jammat ud Dawah (JuD),Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, said in his end of Ramadan, Eid al Fitr message that was posted on Facebook that India will not be able to hold onto Kashmir any longer than America is present in Afghanistan.

He did not explain his meaning, but the threat to India is plain. The JuD is the front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is one of the most extreme and dangerous Islamic terror groups.

Comment: The US has placed a $10 million bounty on Saeed for his role in masterminding the 26 November 2008 terrorist attacks and bombings in Mumbai, India. The UN considers him a terrorist, but Pakistan does not.

While the implied threat against India after US forces leave Afghanistan probably is bravado, it is a threat that must be taken seriously in light of the Mumbai attacks. This is the first statement by a terrorist leader that linked the US fight in Afghanistan with the security of India.

Through all the turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001, India has been steady. It is the only continuous democracy east of Israel and west of South Korea since its independence. It has reduced the Kashmir insurgency to a police problem and has not taken advantage of Pakistani internal troubles to cause even worse stress.

Nevertheless, India's leaders also are extraordinarily difficult for Americans to deal with. The Indians actually practice their variation of George Washington's advice to avoid foreign entanglements in that they are rigorously non-aligned. Just ask the Russians.

Nevertheless, the ripple effects of the US intervention in Afghanistan is that India, not Pakistan, could become the next, primary target of intensified South Asian Islamic terrorist attacks.

With luck, someone in the Pentagon, at least, is thinking about how the ripple effects of a US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan might affect the security of India. .

As for Pakistan, it is only a small exaggeration to suggest that the Pakistani Taliban would have attempted to take over the government in Islamabad long before now, but for the presence of a US and Western field army in Afghanistan.

After US and allied forces leave Afghanistan, Pakistan will become fair game for the Islamists. Most Pakistan Army soldiers and officers below the rank of brigadier already are Islamists, so the Army is unreliable.

The message is that the US combat forces in Afghanistan have helped protect, indirectly, the elected governments of Pakistan and India, but that protection is coming to an end. That matches what happened in Southeast more than a generation ago. The US fight in Vietnam gave the other countries of Southeast Asia a chance to defend themselves and to develop their economic and political strength.

Pakistan has not taken advantage of the opportunity the US has afforded Pakistan's elite, secular political forces to make Pakistan more stable and safer. As a result, after the US forces leave Afghanistan, India becomes a frontline state in the fight against Islamic extremism. That is how the law of unforseen consequences works.

Afghanistan-Australia: Three Australian troops were killed while relaxing at their base in Uruzgan Province by an Afghan soldier, in the latest green-on-blue murder.

Comment: Every loss is a tragedy. This incident reinforces the NightWatch contention that the insider attacks are part of a larger Taliban strategy, vice the result of localized, personal grievances.

Note to the BBC: Australia is not a member of NATO, as stated in the BBC report on this incident.

Correction: In its 24 August edition, NightWatch erroneously identified Sangin as a province of Afghanistan. That was a late night editorial lapse. Sangin is a district of Helmand Province. .

Iran-Non-Aligned Movement: Comment: Just when the summit was progressing well, Egyptian President Mursi confounded everyone, possibly including himself be denouncing the Syrian government. Mursi criticized the Syrian government for being oppressive and having lost its legitimacy. He urged support for the Syrian opposition.

Equally surprising was UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's statement rebuking Iran for denying the holocaust and denying Israel's right to exist. "I strongly reject any threat by any [UN] member state to destroy another, or outrageous comments to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust," he said.

The Syrian delegation left the room during Mursi's speech. The Syrian government later said Mursi's speech would incite violence in Syria.

Ban and Mursi took the luster off the Iranian summit. Mursi blew a chance to stake out an independent and balanced foreign policy. He sided with the Sunni Arabs against the Shiites and the Alawites for no apparent gain.

His was a self-inflicted breach of protocol after having sent signals to Iran that Egypt wanted better ties. This act against Egyptian apparent self-interest is perplexing, unless Mursi got paid off by the Saudis to disrupt the Iranian summit.

Mali: The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, a Tuareg militant group in northern Mali, has reached a truce with the Malian government, whereby the two sides will cooperate to push al Qaida militants out of northern Mali. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad formed in October 2011 and is presently one of the two largest militias in the country, along with Ansar Dine.

Comment: The Tuareg's made a deal with al Qaida to drive out the Malian Army forces. It backfired against them and now they are looking for a way out. Al Qaida, it seems, is far worse than living with the non-Tuareg Malians.

That sentiment might be reinforced by the growing prospect of an international, modern military force to take back the north, including the Tuareg areas. That is incentive enough to agree to a truce, but it will not save the Tuaregs.

End of NightWatch ###

NightWatch is brought to readers of Townhall Finance by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.


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