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The time for equivocating about a nuclear-armed, Taliban-friendly Pakistan is over

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06.09.2021

John R. Bolton served as national security adviser under President Donald Trump and is the author of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”

John R. Bolton discusses this piece in more detail on James Hohmann's podcast, "Please, Go On." Listen now.

Many profound ramifications of America’s exodus from Afghanistan are competing for attention. Among the top challenges, Pakistan’s future stands out. For decades, Islamabad has recklessly pursued nuclear weapons and aided Islamist terrorism — threats that U.S. policymakers have consistently underestimated or mishandled. With Kabul’s fall, the time for neglect or equivocation is over.

The Taliban’s takeover next door immediately poses the sharply higher risk that Pakistani extremists will increase their already sizable influence in Islamabad, threatening at some point to seize full control.

A description once applied to Prussia — where some states possess an army, the Prussian army possesses a state — is equally apt for Pakistan. Islamabad’s “steel skeleton” is the real government on national security issues, the civilian veneer notwithstanding. Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, has long been a hotbed of radicalism, which has spread throughout the military, to higher and higher ranks. Prime Minister Imran Khan, like many prior elected leaders, is essentially just another pretty face.

During the Soviet war in Afghanistan, ISI extensively........

© Washington Post


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