What will India do?
The Taliban is within 60 miles of Islamabad. A coup is becoming more and more of a possibility, but we have only bad options, as has been the case for so many years. The government in Pakistan is unreliable. We have been trying to convince Pakistan to take the Taliban seriously for the past seven years but it refuses to do so. We’ve been providing aid and support to a tune of nearly $10 billion dollars over the course of the last eight years and have nothing to show for it. We can’t push too hard on them or we may worsen the situation. The ISI is sympathetic or in league with the Taliban. And has probably compromised all efforts of the Pakistani to date and any they may do in the future. Russia and China would be all too glad for Pakistan to have a coup or civil war as that will complicate America’s efforts in Afghanistan and thus reduce America’s influence in the region. The onus is on the Pakistani Government to take the Taliban seriously and crush them, however, by the time they do it will likely be too late.
So within the year we may see a coup. Pakistan’s nukes will be loose and the blood could very easily spill over into Afghanistan and India. There’s not much we can do to prevent it. Such a situation is much to our detriment, but there’s one factor that I haven’t heard discussed yet.
What will India do in the event of a coup?
This is an interesting question and I wish I knew more about India and it’s internal dynamics. As concerned as we may be about loose Pakistani nukes India is undoubtedly more concerned. India’s military would be remiss if it did not have plans on the shelf for a preemptive strike on known or suspected nuclear sites, stockpiles, etc. Whether they strike first or wait and see if a nuke goes off in their county is anyone’s guess.
But however it happens, if India winds up in a war with a Taliban controlled Pakistan there are certain priorities they should have. For peace of mind about the security of their people they would want to neutralize pakistani nuclear stockpiles and ability to replenish them. Air strikes alone may or may not achieve everything they would hope for. It would be very difficult for them, but to be absolutely certain they would need to commit ground troops. India would also want to catch as many of Pakistan’s nuclear scientists as possible because their knowledge is just as dangerous in the long run. Looking at a possible Balkanization of Pakistan it would be in India’s interests to downgrade the Pakistani military capability to the point where it would take any Pakistani government decades to build it back up again. They may also take Kashmir while they’re at it.
What should the United State’s position be in such a scenario?
It is current US policy to maintain the peace between India and Pakistan, but if the Taliban effect a coup then what interest do we really have in continuing to maintain a strained neutrality between them? What reason, also, would the US have to prevent a natural ally from attending to legitimate security concerns? What reason would we have to prevent them from settling the Kashmir question on their terms? In acting on their own security interests they would also be acting in our security interests. Simply put, we do not have the manpower necessary to do what would need to be done in Pakistan. India does. If India were to take all of Kashmir then we would have an allied nation bordering Afghanistan who could thereby give our military undisputed air and land access to the country.
If all that were to occur then our interests and influence in region outside of Pakistan would potentially not be much changed. Also, the reason our armed forces have not been more forceful in cross border operations is because of the fear of destabilizing the existing Pakistani government. A Taliban coup would eliminate this concern.
I don’t like the idea of Indian military action in Pakistan. As much as it might work out well, it might also work out badly. It depends on who gets to the nukes first. Otherwise India should prevail given it’s 12 million strong army compared to Pakistan’s 4 million, but you never know. If only the Pakistani government had dealt with the Taliban years ago this wouldn’t be an issue. But they didn’t and now we are faced with the reality that Pakistan could destabilize, nukes would be loose, our sphere of influence in the region would be diminished, and all our efforts in Afghanistan would be jeopardized.
If a coup were to occur we should let India know that we’ll not tie their hands and that we would support any action they feel is necessary for their own security with regards to Pakistan. It would be really messy, but I think that would be the best of all bad options in the event of a Taliban coup.
[edited first paragraph: $10 billion spent over the past eight years, not the last year.]