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WMU expert says Pakistan was always key to finding bin Laden

by Cheryl Roland

May 3, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Dr. Lawrence Ziring.
Dr. Lawrence Ziring, professor emeritus of political science
KALAMAZOO--Within days of 9/11, Dr. Lawrence Ziring predicted that finding Osama bin Laden was going to be "all about Pakistan."

Ziring is one of the world's leading authorities on South Asia geopolitics, U.S. foreign policy for that region and NATO. He is also Western Michigan University professor emeritus of political science and the Arnold E. Schneider, professor emeritus of international relations.

The day following bin Laden's death, Ziring was interviewed by WMUK's Andy Robins on the impact of the al-Qaeda leader's death on Pakistani-U.S. relations.

"It was a foregone conclusion that once the Taliban/al-Qaeda elements were forced to relinquish power in Afghanistan, they would regroup in Pakistan," says Ziring. "Indeed the key issue in the region has always been the Taliban not al-Qaeda, in major part because the Pashtuns comprise the bulk of the Taliban, and they are generally equally divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a consequence of a British colonial decision made in 1893. Osama bin Laden had come to know the demography as well as the geography of the Afghanistan/Pakistan frontier during the Soviet Union's incursion in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989, and al-Qaeda--the base--that he spawned and nurtured inevitably spilled over from Afghanistan into Pakistan."

Ziring is the author of more than 20 books on geopolitical issues, including the 2004 work "Pakistan: At the Crosscurrent of History." The book has been hailed by those in and outside of that nation as a concise, perceptive and lucid history of the young nation that walks a historical tightrope between the fundamentalist Islamic forces that hold great internal power and the demands of a Western world determined to stamp out the roots of terrorism.