No sign until the burst of fire: understanding the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier
Johnson, Thomas H.
Mason, M. Chris
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This article explores the reasons why religious and political extremism in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region ends neatly at the borders of the Pashtun lands. It begins with a brief overview of the geography and typography of the border, followed by a condensed study of the key ethnographic and cultural factors. An understanding of the tribal and social framework of the border, particularly its alternative forms of governance, is critical to the subsequent discussion of the current instability and radicalization. In addition to religion, tribal mores that predate Islam shape insurgent behavior and should inform all aspects of engagement on both sides of the border. The article concludes with an examination of the history and the unintended consequences of border politics, and offers policy recommendations to begin to reverse the ongoing slide into Talibanization.
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