In my last piece in these pages (Trump’s War, March 2, 2018), I had endeavoured to show how the present war in Afghanistan, beginning in 1978 as Zia’s War and morphing through various forms until today it can be seen as Trump’s War, has already lasted nearly 40 years. The piece further suggested that the US-Saudi-Pakistani-Mujahiddeen invasion of Afghanistan in early 1978, which triggered the Soviet counter-invasion on December 24 of that year, was itself the setting of an American trap to pay back the USSR for US humiliation in Vietnam — the Vietnam war itself going back, through the French defeat at Dien Bib Phu in 1954, to the Viet Minh’s successful 1940s resistance against the Japanese invasion of their country. Wars, it should be clear, do not end. They perpetuate themselves and spread in a kind of domino effect across the globe and through the decades. So long as there are armies, there will be wars. And, so long as there are states, there will be armies. Because all states so far, whether yesterday or today, are essentially military entities. In former times, states were congruent with the military conquests of monarchs or dynasties. Such monarchic states were amoeboid entities, which shrank, expanded or coalesced according to the relative military and political skills of particular rulers. Thus, the Timurid ruler Zaheeruddin — better known as Babur — expanded his kingdom southwards from its origin in Ferghana, to incorporate, successively, the regions of Samarkand, Kabul and Peshawar before crossing the Jamuna into the Gangetic plain in 1526. Babur’s Mughal Empire was to expand under his successors (with a relatively brief setback during the reign of Humayun) until it reached its greatest extent under Aurangzeb and Bahadur Shah I, respectively sixth and seventh in succession, during the 18th century. But, during the reign of Mohammed Shah, the Empire began to come apart, with its ruins eventually being fought over by scavenging Afghan and Maratha gangs, while the erstwhile all-powerful Mughal Emperor, reduced to little more than a local king of Delhi, cowered in his courtroom. But a somewhat different kind of state had been emerging in Western Europe, one which was not necessarily congruent with monarchic power. In England in the 17th Century, the people cut off the head of their king in the interest of the British state. In the 18th century, the French people also beheaded their king, along with much of the titled aristocracy. Thus, painfully and violently, the specifically modern institution of the nation-state began to emerge. The stability of a state is not affected by its ethnic or linguistic homogeneity. The Germans have been the most nationalistic people in Europe; yet the German nation is quite happily and unquestioningly divided among the three state entities of Germany, Austria and Switzerland Now, the point of the nation-state — whether its justification lies in ethnic homogeneity, linguistic unity, religious differentiation, ideological commitment. or any other motivation — is that it is a more or less unified geographical area that commands the continuous institutionalised loyalty and commitment of its citizens over and above their fealty to a particular monarch or dynasty. It has therefore a considerably greater degree of continuity than old-fashioned monarchic states, and this in turn permitted superior political and economic evolution. The stability or otherwise of a state is not really affected by its ethnic or linguistic homogeneity. The Germans have arguably been among the most intensely nationalistic people in Europe; yet the German nation is quite happily and unquestioningly divided among the three state entities of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Pakistan’s northern and eastern neighbours, China and India, despite their enormous vertical and horizontal diversities and competing consciousnesses, are certainly not unstable. They are there as facts of geography, as durable as other features of our planet. And that is precisely the point. A nation-state, whatever narrative is chosen to justify its existence, is a piece of geography — a militarily defensible and economically unified portion of the planet. This is as true for Pakistan as for any other nation-state. It also follows that a nation state needs to be strong in order to maintain the defence and economic well-being of its citizens. Philip Bobbitt’s outstanding work The Shield of Achilles sees the state as primarily a military construct (I did not say ‘militarily ruled’, please note). Bobbitt’s work describes the interplay, over the last six centuries, of war, jurisprudence and the reshaping of states. He posits that certain wars should be deemed epochal — that is, seen as composed of many smaller wars. Military conflicts and subsequent peace agreements have caused, each in their own way, revolutionary reconstructions of the idea and actuality of statehood and of relationships between the various new entities. These reconstructions successively include the princely state, the kingly state, and the nation-state, Bobbitt is also interested in what lies beyond the nation-state. This new entity, he calls the ‘market-state’. The world is at a pivotal point, argues Bobbitt, as the nation-state, developed over six centuries as the optimal institution for waging war and organising peace, becomes an anachronism in today’s globalising world. The themes today are complementary economies and free trade, growing freer still as initiatives like the Chinese Belt and Road dilute the monopoly of sea-going trade routes. And these developments are incompatible with the rigid borders and military preoccupations of the nation state. Thus, Bobbitt feels, the age demands that the nation state must give way to the market-state. Nation-states derived legitimacy from promising to improve the material welfare of their citizens, specifically by providing security and order. They used military force and the rule of law to bring about desired results. On the other hand, market-states use various forms of market relationships, offering to maximise the opportunities of their people. More economic entities than political or military, the borders of market states are hazy at best (certainly compared to earlier territorial markers) and their citizens and enemies roam across cyberspace rather than plains and valleys. On the one hand is the process of economic globalisation that is predicated on social modernisation and economic reorientation. On the other hand are amorphous entities, like Al Qaeda, Daesh, and the Taliban, who use nativist militancy and armed force in reacting against the forces of globalisation and modernisation. No less importantly, the other ‘enemies’ of globalisation and the development of the market state is the militant racism and belligerent chauvinism represented by the likes of Donald Trump in America, Marine le Pen in France, Nigel Farrage in Britain, and Narendra Modi in India. Before these two political phenomena, militant Jehadism and institutionalised racism, the processes of globalisation and the evolution of benign market states are under serious threat. In the meantime, the Afghanistan War shows no sign of ending, since it is vividly apparent that, while military pacification of the region may yet be only a distant likelihood, any ‘negotiations’ with the insurrectionists will only strengthen their resolve and deepen the anarchy in our north-west. The writer is a poet, author and columnist Published in Daily Times, March 16th 2018.