The Plan of the Book

The book proceeds as follows: Chapter 2 discusses the general logic of using nonstate actors as strategic tools. I show that the use of nonstate proxies enables relatively weak sponsor states to challenge stronger adversaries and shape the international strategic environment in ways that would be too expensive and risky to attempt with conventional military forces. It does so by lowering battlefield costs for the relatively weak state, which does not have to commit its own soldiers to the fight; creating operational advantages by impeding potential target-state military responses to weak-state provocations; and creating bargaining advantages for a weak sponsor state, enabling the sponsor to demand a higher price for ending its militant campaign than it would be able to extract if it were fighting alone.

Chapter 2’s next section explains that although a militant strategy offers weak sponsors a number of potential advantages, it also involves serious downside risks. Militant proxies can prove difficult for a weak sponsor to control. This can enable the militants to provoke the sponsor’s adversaries without authorization, triggering unwanted conflict; lead them to work directly against sponsors; and create a competitive security environment, forcing overinvestment in defense and hurting development. These problems with proxy strategies are likely to be particularly severe for weak states and can ultimately outweigh such strategies’ advantages.

Chapter 2’s final section illustrates militant proxy logic by briefly considering historical evidence from South Asia stretching from 1947 to the present day. It shows that, over the decades, Pakistan has consistently exploited the cost, operational, and bargaining advantages inherent in its militant strategy. With the passage of time, however, Pakistan’s strategy also has given rise to damaging control problems and developmental opportunity costs.

Chapter 3 traces the origins of Pakistan’s militant strategy, showing that it emerged in the wake of the partition of British India, out of the new Pakistani state’s acute political and material weakness. To ameliorate these problems, Pakistani leaders sought to seize the disputed territory of Kashmir from India, without facing India in a direct military confrontation. Pakistani leaders settled on a strategy using local militants to battle the Maharaja of Kashmir—and Indian forces sent to rescue him—for control of the territory. Although the Pakistanis’ militant strategy did not enable them to capture Kashmir in 1947-48, Pakistani leaders did not view it as a complete failure and believed that it could be successful in the future. The strategy thus became a central component of Pakistani security policy, its sophistication and importance increasing with each subsequent conflict.

Chapter 4 examines the evolution of Pakistan’s militant strategy from the aftermath of the first Kashmir war through the 1965 Kashmir war, the Bangladesh war, and the anti-Soviet-Afghan conflict of the 1980s. It shows that Pakistan’s use of Islamist militants became more extensive with each of these conflicts, progressing from the use of rag-t ag local militias following independence to the management of a complex international effort to support anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s. The Pakistanis were eventually able to employ the resources and expertise that they acquired over these years to support yet another round of jihad in Kashmir, which has lasted from the late 1980s to the present day.

Chapter 5 discusses Pakistan’s current use of its militant strategy in Kashmir and Afghanistan. It shows how the strategy helped Pakistan to trigger the Kashmir insurgency and to influence its subsequent character and trajectory. It also shows how, in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s strategy made possible the rise of the Taliban, affording the Pakistanis a friendly regime and increased strategic depth on their western border.

Chapter 6 evaluates the impact ofPakistan’s militant strategy on Pakistani security interests. It shows that although the strategy is generally derided as an unmitigated disaster, it has actually achieved important domestic and international successes that have allowed it to strengthen its political foundations and to continually challenge India and the South Asian status quo. Recently, however, the militant strategy has given rise to control and development problems that threaten to make Pakistan even less secure that it was originally. What was once a useful strategy has thus become extremely dangerous, threatening the very survival of the Pakistani state.

Chapter 7 discusses possible solutions to the problems associated with Pakistan’s militant strategy. The chapter argues that Pakistan will truly have to abandon militancy, ending support for all jihadist groups and taking concrete steps to crush those operating on its territory. This will be extremely difficult because of Pakistan’s founding narrative, which necessarily makes it an oppositional state, dedicated to combating India and revising territorial boundaries in South Asia. Therefore, Pakistan will be able to renounce militancy only if it fundamentally transforms its national purpose and identity, becoming a state that no longer defines itself in terms of opposition to India and the current territorial status quo. In the absence of such a transformation, there is little reason to expect that Pakistan will ever renounce its strategy of jihad.

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