C. Christine Fair

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C. Christine Fair is a senior political scientist for the RAND Corporation, specializing in South Asian military affairs. She has been senior research associate for the United States Institute of Peace and Political Affairs Officer, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. She speaks Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, and Farsi, and holds a Ph.D. in Asian studies and M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago.


Commenting on the security situation in Pakistan, she has said "Pakistan's army does not want to become a counterinsurgency force." The Pakistanis are wary of the U.S. training their Frontier Corps, a separate organization from the Pakistani Army.[1]

If there were no insurgents, counterinsurgency would not be needed. A major source of young insurgents, however, are radical Islamic schools generally known as madrassas (madaris in Pakistan). Not all madaris are not categorically tied to militancy, and their students are not necessarily poor. They are, as are mosques and public proselytizing events (tabligh) "“gathering” places where militant groups, religious ideologues, and potential recruits can interact." Some madari leaders issue fatwas authorizing violence and a small number of madaris actually conduct militant training. While it is more likely that a madari student will support violence, the 70% of Pakistani students in public schools also have a high approval for violence. Long-term solutions to reducing violence requires, therefore, educational reform. [2]

Returning to the issue of the state organization to have responsibility for counterinsurgency, she returns to the recommendation, also made by Hassan Abbas,[3] that it is far more appropriate for the police than the army. [4] This is not necessarily a criticism of the Army, as David Kilcullen has made of its overly large counterinsurgent operations.[5] It is more that the army has different priorities: "The Pakistani army believes India is its principal nemesis, not the insurgents who have occupied the Swat valley and destabilized Pakistan and the region." Combat with India requires large-unit conventional skills.


In March 2009, during a discussion sponsored by Foreign Affairs, "she was quoted as saying, 'Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity.' The Pakistani press repeatedly cites her remark to bolster Pakistan's accusations that India supports separatists in Balochistan. 'What I actually meant was something relatively innocuous that the Pakistanis picked up, took out of context and blew out of proportion, and that is that competent intelligence agencies cultivate assets. They have listening posts. They are there to gather information. '" [6]


After field studies, she and her colleagues came up with urgent recommendations for stabilization, most focused on the Afghan Ministry of the Interior[7] They also developed a functional and geographic model to describe Afghan problems.


Running through the recommendations is the theme "adopt a bottom-up strategy to complement top-down efforts." Some solutions must be appropriate to the local culture, such as day-to-day security, while others, such as coordinating international aid, are necessarily centralized. For the central issues, the key targets are the Afghan Ministry of the Interior and Afghan Ministry of Finance, as well as guiding the establishment of anti-corruption functions such as inspector generals.

With respect to security, there needs to be a balance between top-down and bottom-up approaches. International assistance has overemphasized the top-down, and the fundamentally local level of insurgency needs empowerment of the district-level, Afghan-led institutions that reflect local needs, yet have safeguards and oversight. A closely related area is to "Shift from direct action to mentoring Afghan security forces: "More U.S. forces in Afghanistan may be helpful, but only if they are used to build Afghan capacity and to protect the local population. One critical need is to address the international partnering gap that has plagued efforts to improve Afghanistan’s police and army. ... This requires a crash effort to identify, train, and support mentors. European governments, the United States, and the UN should also devote more resources to mentoring and professionalizing the Ministry of Interior."

Corruption is a problem that both reduces trust and diverts resources. (Robust anti-corruption was a key part of successful counterinsurgency, such as Ramon Magsaysay's program in the Philippines.) The government must prosecute and remove corrupt officials, as well as establishing structures to detect corruption. The U.S. and NATO need to mentor, for example, in forming inspector general functions. "Recent Afghan efforts, such as the Afghan High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, have failed to undermine corruption. The Ministry of Interior is a logical place to start since corruption in this ministry has undermined police reform, counter-narcotics efforts, and border security."

"Use the Afghan central budget: Enable the Afghan Ministry of Finance to coordinate international aid throughout the country." (This has been a campaign issue for Ashraf Ghani in the 2009 Afghanistan presidential election)

"Address relations with neighboring states and improve border security: Insurgents, illegal drugs and smuggled goods easily come across borders. "Too few programs focus resources on fortifying Afghanistan’s porous borders through which insurgents, narcotics, and other illicit goods travel with ease and often with the complicity of officials from Afghanistan and neighboring states. Greater programmatic attention should be devoted to improving Afghan-Pakistan relations and stabilizing the tribal belt. Admittedly, these efforts will not succeed without dedicated efforts to persuade Pakistan to fully engage in the effort to disable the Taliban and other militant groups.

Threat model

They recharacterized as composed of five types of groups:

  1. insurgent groups, intending to overthrow the Afghan government and coerce the withdrawal of international forces.
  2. criminal groups that are involved in a range of activities, such as the drug trade, and illicit timber and gem smuggling
  3. Local tribes, sub-tribes, and clans.
  4. Warlords and their militias
  5. Corrupt or subverted government officials and security forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other neighboring states

The groups are on three fronts:

Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States

She is the author of Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States, a compilation of country information including their annoyances as well as their cuisines. [8] The states are:


  1. Jayshree Bajoria (June 18, 2009), Realigning Pakistan's Security Forces, Council on Foreign Relations
  2. C. Christine Fair (July 2007), "Militant Recruitment in Pakistan: A New Look at the Militancy-Madrasah Connection", Asia Policy
  3. Hassan Abbas (April, 2009), ISPU: Police and Law Enforcement Reform in Pakistan, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
  4. C. Christine Fair (30 June 2009), "Policing Pakistan", Wall Street Journal Asia
  5. David Kilcullen (2009), The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195368345, pp. 241-244
  6. Ashish Kumar Sen (10 August 2009), "Interview: 'Pakistanis Have Blown My Comments Out Of Proportion'; The senior political scientist at RAND Corporation insists Pakistani press is taking her innocuous remarks out of context.", Outlook India
  7. C. Christine Fair and Seth G. Jones (January 23, 2009), Beth Ellen Cole, ed., Securing Afghanistan: Getting on Track, United States Institute of Peace
  8. C. Christine Fair (2008), Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations, The Lyons Press, ISBN 1599212862