INAF-351 Post 1979 Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran
Spring for 2017-2018
No single year in modern history has had more significant impact on the Muslim world than 1979. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran were at the epicenter of the year’s history making events whose consequences continue to live among us all. These included the Islamic revolution in Iran in February 1979 and the start of three decades and a half of Iran US tensions, and the execution of an elected Prime Minister by a military dictator in Pakistan setting up the long army rule and process of Islamization. Then came the US hostages crisis in Tehran in November and the burning of the US Embassy in Islamabad, signaling the merger of Pakistani and Iranian anti Americanism that began feeding a broader sentiment against the US in the Muslim world. The year ended however with its most consequential event: the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
The US-led jihad against the Soviets, assisted by Pakistan, won but ended up as a bittersweet victory as it laid the foundation of a deadly extremist religious infrastructure that started beating to the rhythm of global Islamic revivalism unleashing uncontrollable forces of radicalism. They had a horrendous impact on the region and on the US and global security, the most tragic and visible sign of which was 9/11.
The course will look at all these dramatic and history changing developments and their complex intertwining with local, regional and global issues and challenges. It will examine how Pakistan’s national vision, embraced by years of authoritarian rule and troubled democracy, rise of religious orthodoxy, and strategic over extension by its ambitious army led to a weak institutional architecture that collided with its domestic tensions, opening up Pakistan to long years of instability and extremism, which only are beginning to be brought under control.
The course will study the attempts by Iran to export its revolution, the development of its nuclear program, the challenges Iran posed to the US power in the Middle East and its allies, and the looming strategic shadow of Iran over the region, especially following the forces of instability released by the unsuccessful Iraq war. And the course will also look at the more than three decades of strained relations between Iran and the US and the prospects of thaw following the nuclear deal—what it means for their bilateral relations and emergence of possible new strategic alignments in the region. The course may thus also be relevant to an extent for those interested in the Middle Eastern studies.
The course will study the unfinished war in Afghanistan and the ongoing fight of Al Qaeda the newly arrived terrorist outfit in Afghanistan-Pakistan border region—the IS and its interplay with the Taliban and what role can be played in these conflicts by Pakistan that has become both a critical partner and a potential target by opposing sides. It will also look at how Afghanistan has endured one of the most devastating conflicts of our time, while simultaneously struggling with the building of “political institutions, structures of governance, (and) vital state institutions” and what may lie in store for this country after the drawdown of international forces. Another relevant question that the class will analyze includes what roles could Pakistan and the US play in the stabilization of Afghanistan? And finally with the lengthening strategic shadow of China over the region it will be interesting to see what role China may play in the future of Afghanistan. Also interesting to watch will be India’s role and that of Iran in this strategic power play likened by some to the ancient Great Game, especially in the light of possible improvement in the US Iran relations.
The instructor will bring to bear on the course his own expertise and insights as a former Ambassador from Pakistan and Diplomatic Adviser to the Prime Minister where he was associated with full range of Pakistan’s foreign policy, including relations with Afghanistan. And as a senior diplomat posted in the post 1979 Iran, he had the opportunity of meeting regularly with the full spectrum of Iranian leadership including the current Supreme Leader.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: