I found this remark particularly galling:
Briefly, Punjab is almost as "invented" as Pakistan is. It is not an historical polity, much less a nation. Punjab, as far as i have understood, is the name given to northwest India by its Moghal conquerors sometime during the 16th century. It is not an indigenously evolved polity, nation or identity (the very name is foreign to its peoples and was imposed on them by a foreign regime). It was just a Moghal administrative division of 'Hindustan'. It did not exist before the Moghals conquered India, and its boundaries as they are known today were drawn-up entirely by the British empire. Im not saying that the people of that region dont have their own distinctive language, culture and so on, but they certainly are not a 'polity' onto themselves (in historical terms, today they may well be) and certainly had no say in eventually becoming known as "Punjabis" since "Punjab" is a name imposed on them from above by their conquerors. Who were these people before the term "Punjabi" stuck? (that term only came into popular use during the British era). Did they even have or share a collective sense of regional identity? (They didnt). They are just an extension of the Indian race/civilization - a truth that upsets practically every Pakistani ive ever encountered.Let me provide the real meaning of AfPak, as defined by geography and history: It is a rump Islamic greater Punjab -- the tip of the demographic spear of the Indian subcontinent toward which all trade routes between southern Central Asia and the Indus Valley are drawn -- exerting its power over Pashtunistan and Baluchistan, just as Punjab has since time immemorial.
Not sure where Kaplan got his history lesson from, doubtless it came from a 'Punjabi' though. Any other account always has it that it was the Afghans which had historically plundered and dominated northern India for centuries.
Anyway, the real issue is why do Pakistanis (and Indians too for that matter) think that they are capable of 'dominating' or just strongly 'influencing' (influencing what? the culture, politics, economy?) of Afghanistan and Central Asia? And why do Pakistanis/Indians want to do so anyway? Do Central Asians even want (or need) their markets filled with Pakistani/Indian produce? Do Central Asians want their countries filled with Pakistani/Indian immigrants? I think for all their big dreams and ambitions for 'Central Asia', Pakistani and Indian people have in the process forgotten to ask if those 'Central Asians' even asked for their 'influence' or share the Indo/Pak 'vision' for their countries (that is a guaranteed "no"). Surely Pakistanis should first have a vision for addressing the chronic poverty, backwardness, injustices and so on in their own country than supporting and investing in proxies like the Taliban to influence events in Afghanistan/Central Asia - places that they can never control, only impede and irritate.