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Richard Holbrooke's Burden

Among students of nationalism in the sixties and seventies there was a not so subtle argument between those who thought India would collapse earlier than Pakistan and those who thought Pakistan would collapse earlier than India.  Pakistan was a more or less reliable ally of the United States and also a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), founded by Dwight Eisenhower's secretary of state John Foster Dulles as the "oriental" parallel to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  India was in the forefront of the non-aligned countries, which actually was allied with the Soviet Union. Pandit Nehru may have been its president but V.K. Krishna Menon was its foreign policy demigod. Or, rather, demagogue. I actually thought India would collapse first. After all, the lingua france of the country with a hundred languages was English. That's what its president, C. Rajagopalachari, spoke to be understood.

Well, that's how wrong I can be. A real nation-state, India is more intact that any country in the neighborhood. Pakistan, on the other hand, is not a nation-state and probably never was. I am sorry my friend Richard Holbrooke has to deal with it. But, of course, he has the toughest assignment in the whole State Department: Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rougher, for sure, than George Mitchell who can stop going to the Middle East simply because nothing will happen that will change the world. But Pakistan, my, oh, my. It might actually lose its government everywhere the Paki flag (used to) fly.  Afghanistan, the president's favorite war, is a cinch compared to Pakistan.  

So here is a dispatch from Nazeer Naji, a distinguished Pakistani journalist, writing in a Urdu language newspaper and prophesying the utter collapse of the country.  One province has already been ceded to the Taliban and rigid Islamic law, poor people.  Another is on its way to this happy state.  And the Taliba, as Naji writes, is poised to take over every big city in the country.

The report was translated by MEMRI, another of its good works in the enterprise of making us know our friends and enemies.