Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 01:53 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 01:53 | SYDNEY

Australia role in Pakistan


Rory Medcalf


8 January 2008 08:20

I argue in today's Sydney Morning Herald that Australia can and should do considerably more than it is accustomed to in supporting a more democratic and secure order in Pakistan.  The Bhutto assassination confirms that allowing an increasingly unstable Musharraf-managed status quo to continue is a deeply risky option. Some will say this isn't really Australia's business; that Australia is already too deeply involved in the security mess of faraway South Asia, what with a substantial military role in Afghanistan. But if Islamist terrorism really is a large concern for Australia — not necessarily our greatest strategic problem in the long run, but certainly a threat to Australian nationals and interests in the medium term — and if its hub is at least as much in Pakistan as it is in Afghanistan, then passively barracking for others' efforts to repair Pakistan is not enough. 

This is not about Australia's being a 'me-too' third wheel in some supposed Anglosphere, but rather about developing some degree of independent profile to encourage by example a wider international effort to address one of the world's most pressing security challenges. The new Australian Government's rhetoric on Pakistan is right. But does Canberra really mean it?