Soft Power
on Hard

Game Changers
Going Local to Defeat Violent Extremists

Completed Research Paper

The Pakistan-Afghan Borderland: Pashtun Tribes Descending into Extremism [Kindle Edition]

Completed Research Index

The Private Journal of
Henry Francis Brooke

External Reference Material

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BY:Ty L. Groh, Major, USAF
June 2006
152 PAGES - 1.63MB

This thesis addresses the efforts of different regimes to establish their authority over the Pashtun ethnic group. The Pashtun are at the heart of the conflict in Afghanistan, which also reaches into northwestern Pakistan. They provide both an important and current example of why “ungoverned spaces”—geographic regions beyond the reach of central authority—have become such important topic among many of the world’s countries. People that exist within a sovereign state’s borders and outside the state’s authority present a potentially dangerous problem to both the state itself and the international community.

To address the challenges facing a state attempting to establish its authority over the Pashtun, this thesis identifies normative and organizational structures associated with rural Pashtun tribes and discusses how these factors impede the creation of central state authority. These factors are applied to three cases—concerning Britain, Pakistan, and the Soviet Union—which involved a modern government’s efforts to establish its authority over the Pashtun. In almost every case, the state failed when it either misunderstood the importance of these structural factors or willfully ignored them to pursue other interests. The most successful case occurred when the government of Pakistan focused on integrating the Pashtun through providing education, transportation and health services. The intent was to bring the Pashtun into Pakistan’s mainstream society. Unfortunately, this effort was short-lived due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Looking beyond the Pashtun case, the research in this thesis suggests that policies focused purely on suppression, isolation, or accommodation are destined to fail in establishing state authority. The common failing of these three policies occurs when the state fails to understand the difference between establishing order and establishing authority. Most often, a policy focused on a give and take relationship with a tribe, leaning slightly towards more giving than taking, appeared to work best. Finally, the state must seriously consider its capacity to expand its authority—the lower the capacity, the longer it will take and the more accommodating (but not purely accommodating) the
state must act.


BY: Shahid A. Afsar, Major, Pakistan Army and Christopher A. Samples, Major, USA
June 2008
202 PAGES - 4.95MB

The Taliban organization has undergone a major transformation since its ouster from power in Afghanistan and continues to wage an effective defensive insurgency or “war of the flea.” The study uses results of a survey of knowledgeable participants in the Afghan-Pakistan arena, conducted by the authors, to analyze the current situation and prospects for success. The thesis explains the Taliban's survival and growth in the face of significant odds by analyzing the organizations' strengths, weaknesses, and how it adapts in response to Coalition Forces' counterinsurgency efforts. The Taliban are deeply rooted in the cultural, religious, and ethnic linkages of the Pashtun population. The thesis emphasizes that a conventional counterinsurgency strategy using large-scale military operations and a fundamentally alien system of governance out of harmony with local traditions cannot penetrate the Pashtun tribal, religious, and cultural web in which the Taliban operate. The thesis concludes with recommendations for designing and implementing a broader Coalition strategy to target identified Taliban critical linkages.



BY: Khawar Hussain
Wing Commander, Pakistan Air Force
June 2005
102 PAGES - 832KB

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have remained estranged mainly due to Afghanistan’s revanchist claim made about Pakistan’s western province and its non-recognition of the Durand Line as the international border. With a hostile India to the East, Pakistan can ill-afford another irredentist neighbor. Since 1947 both countries have interfered in each other’s domestic affairs. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan forced Pakistan to wage a proxy war in Afghanistan, garnering the support of Western and Arab allies. Since the end of Cold war, Pakistan continued its forward policy in Afghanistan through support of Taliban. Its prime security interest in Afghanistan remains having a friendly government in Kabul.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Pakistan abandoned support of Taliban and joined the U.S.-led coalition to destroy the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Once again, Pakistan encountered a deep-seated hostility, this time from the Northern Alliance, which dominates the new power structure in Kabul. Skepticism and fear remain as both countries move cautiously to revitalize bilateral ties. This thesis analyzes Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy from 1947 to 2001. It recommends Pakistan’s effective engagement with Afghanistan. While Pakistan protects its legitimate security interests, it must refrain from actively interfering in Afghanistan’s political future. The thesis will also recommends that the United States should substantively remain engaged in Afghanistan to stabilize the region, assist with the reconstruction of Afghanistan, ensure non interference of regional actors, and finally and most importantly help settle the Durand Line issue once and for all.



BY:Matthew C. DuPée
Naval Postgraduate School
December 2010
143 PAGES -955KB

The production of illicit narcotics in low-intensity conflict environments remains a serious concern for U.S. policymakers. Afghanistan is a solid example where the intersection of crime, narcotics production and insurgency has successfully thwarted U.S. stabilization and security efforts despite a 10-year military engagement there. This study seeks to examine the role of crime better, particularly narcotics related criminal enterprise, and its effect on the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan. This study explores political, economic and conflict related factors that facilitate the narcotics industry and forges cooperation between drug trafficking organizations and insurgent movements. A key argument of this study is that nontraditional participants in narcotics production, such as insurgent groups or state representatives and institutions, acquire more than just profit and resources. Participants stand to gain political leverage, the social and political legitimacy derived from "protecting" the livelihoods of rural farmers, as well as "freedom of action;" the ability to operate unimpeded within a given territory or space because of public support. This study also suggests that one additional factor, social control, is a key motivator for an actor's participation in the narcotics industry.

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