Robert Blackwill, the former US ambassador to India and former presidential envoy to Iraq in the George W. Bush administration, proposes the de facto partition of Afghanistan into North and South as the best policy option in an article published on the Politico website and reposted by the UK Afghanistan Study Group.
Blackwill says that with President Obama's counterinsurgency policy failing, the US has six options: stick with the policy; find other ways to entice the Taliban to enter a coalition government; try to save parts of Pashtun Afghanistan in an 'ink-blot' strategy'; give up the countryside and defend Kabul and Kandahar; rapidly withdraw all US forces; or accept a de facto partition, enforced by US/NATO air power and Special Forces, along with the Afghan National Army.
While not the best outcome, Partition means that the North, which holds about 60 per cent of the population, could be defended with around 50,000 international troops, says Blackwill. Of course, it would also mean the de facto creation of a kind of Pashtunistan - the long-held dream of many of Afghanistan and Pakistan's Pashtuns. How long before Pakistan then crumbled?