I am glad that my note was of interest to many readers. Thank you to those who expressed appreciation. There is one important aspect which I did not explicitly deal with (it is such a given for Pakistanis that, for them, it isn’t worth mentioning, but I should have done that here). If the US mounts sustained attacks on the tribal areas, this will be regarded by all Pakistanis as an attack on their country. The upsurge of anti-US feeling will be such that neither the government nor the military could thereafter afford to show any sign of cooperation with the US. That will seriously compound US problems in Afghanistan and the region. Several commentators have mentioned the possibility of Pakistan unravelling. This is unlikely, but when things continue to spiral downwards, people tend to turn to saviours – and this is what religious fundamentalists claim to be, especially where corruption, lawlessness, and insecurity flourish. David Habbakuk First of all, this war was entirely winnable. As I wrote in my note Pakistan on the Brink (posted here by Col Lang in Oct 2007) : "Critics of the Bush administration point to the invasion of Iraq as its greatest blunder. History may well record that an even bigger blunder was its policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Knowing that al-Qaeda was the real enemy, that they were based in Taliban Afghanistan, and that the Taliban themselves had come to power out of their bases in Pakistan, it focussed its attention instead on invading Iraq. It let the al-Qaeda leadership get away; when the Northern Alliance routed the Taliban it did nothing to ensure that they found no sanctuary in Pakistan. At that time, a little prodding could have got a subdued Musharraf to neutralize the religious parties and take control of their madrassahs (which were the support networks of the Taliban) and deny the latter sanctuaries in the border cities and tribal areas. But the lure of Iraq and a reordered Middle East drew them away, leaving huge unfinished business". What can the West do now? All I can suggest are some pointers. For Afghanistan : remove the target ! The foreign military presence unites former foes in opposition to it. Set a near date for a pullout. The carpetbaggers (Karzai and his clan, et al) will hurriedly depart to enjoy their loot, the old tribes and clans will make their accommodations, as they have for centuries. Their mutual suspicions and hostility (judiciously fed) will ensure they remain inward-focussed rather than a danger abroad. Prevent meddling by regional players. For Pakistan : what it really needs is to hold free elections every two years for the next ten years (quite doable by the army under the supervision of an independent higher judiciary). This will durably empower the people and sweep away not only all the corrupt politicians but also the religious parties; it will also put to rest for good the temptation for a general to step in. The West needs to push in this direction rather than back military dictators and corrupt politicos. Parvati Roma I don’t think there is any chance of a conflict between Pakistan and India in the foreseeable future. Both countries seem to have decided that improved relations between them are good for them both. JT Cornpone The Northern Alliance fought the US war to win back their territories which the Taliban had conquered. The insurgency is in the Pakhtun lands to the south, it does not affect them.