Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, obviously didn’t know that Barack Obama was about to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when he wrote his op-ed about Afghanistan in this morning’s Washington Post, but he sure sets out some Nobel-worthy goals in his piece. Here are two of his six bullets:
- Fix the Durand Line. As long as this border drawn by the British is not fixed, Pakistan and Afghanistan will be at loggerheads and always suspicious of one another. A joint development project for the border area, announced by both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and supported by the United States and the world community, will direct people’s eyes to the future rather than the past.
- Push India and Pakistan to fix Kashmir. That is doable, once both countries see a determined effort by the United States in that direction. Both countries are beholden to the United States — Pakistan for the military and financial support it receives and India for the nuclear energy agreement it has signed with Washington.
OK then! Just fix two problems that are among the oldest, most intractable border disputes on the planet. And then in his second term Obama will be freed up to negotiate that long-awaited peace treaty with Mars.
Snark aside, I guess it would be interesting to hear from some area experts on this. In the case of Kashmir, a treaty seems at least theoretically doable since the objective issues at stake are quite solvable. Sure, it’s politically impossible — and neither side seems to have the slightest interest in U.S. involvement — but at least it’s possible to conceive of solutions.
But the Durand Line? I don’t even know what a solution would look like in theory. Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan will ever agree to move the line substantially enough to unite the Pashtun areas in dispute, and without that there’s hardly any point. Obama would have to literally be a miracle worker to make any progress on this front.
On the bright side, by including these two bullets, al-Faisal makes his other four goals seem like cakewalks. Maybe that was the point?