The moment is reminiscent of events in Central Africa in 1996. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda ended with the defeat of the Hutu-power regime, whose remnants and constituents fled into Eastern Zaire. This regional crisis in a distant border region unexpectedly linked up with the national political process of Zaire when the advent of elections made the citizenship of ethnic Rwandans (Kinyarwanda speakers) an issue that the Rwandan regime used as a vehicle for launching the war that overthrew the Mobutu regime. A "humanitarian" crisis on the frontier sparked a regional civil war than ultimately involved much of the African continent. Will the crisis of leadership and political integration among Pashtuns have similar ramifying consequences?
Paddy Ashdown, former EU Special Representative in Bosnia-Herzogovina, warns of just such an outcome in an interview with Reuters:
"I think we are losing in Afghanistan now, we have lost I think and success is now unlikely," he told Reuters in an interview.Those who tried to kill Benazir Bhutto clearly perceive that a democratic Pakistan is the greatest threat their movement has faced in the region. Public opinion polls indicate that the Islamist parties that have sheltered them in the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan are set to be wiped off the electoral map in any fair vote. The takeover by the frontier provinces by coalitions that support the international effort in Afghanistan could lead to serious effort to integrate the tribal agencies where al-Qaida and the transnational Taliban have their bases.
"I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq. It will mean that Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite, Sunni regional war on a grand scale."
"Some people refer to the First and Second World Wars as European civil wars and I think a similar regional civil war could be initiated by this (failure) to match this magnitude," Ashdown added.
Paddy Ashdown correctly warns that this situation is more dangerous than Iraq. Is anyone listening?