All together now: against the ISI

Can we assemble a coalition of the Indian government, the Pakistani civilian politicians, Afghanistan, and the U.S. to smash the Pakistani KGB?

The United States, the current Indian government, the current Afghan government, and the civilian leadership in Pakistan have a common enemy: Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – the Pakistani KGB – with its strong links to Islamist terrorist groups, including the group that carried out the Mumbai outrage.

Can we get ourselves organized to proclaim that enmity, and act on it? That looks to me like the Obama Administration’s first foreign-policy challenge.

The hard part will be getting India to rein in its security forces in Kashmir, and to offer the Kashmiri Muslims at least a decent bit of local autonomy. Of course the Hindu Nationalist opposition (the BJP), which actively supports anti-Muslim terrorism in India proper and is constantly pounding the drums for war with Pakistan, represents a formidable barrier, and, in the usual logic of extremism, the Muslim fanatics who carried out the Mumbai attack have strengthened the hands of the Hindu fanatics whom they hate and who hate them.

The U.S. government, for reasons that no doubt seemed good at the time, has been more or less in bed with the ISI since the Carter Administration. Time for a decisive move. If we have to use textile-trade policy (something that matters enormously to Indians and Pakistanis alike) as an instrument, I’m all for that on other grounds, and it might be harder for U.S. textile interests to resist a policy change in the context of the counter-terror strategy.

Update The good news is that Indian Muslims seem to be repudiating fundamentalist terror.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: