Forget AfPak, Resolve AfKash To Win In Afghanistan
Forget AfPak. It’s more about AfKash, Afghanistan and Kashmir. That is the key if President Obama wants to turn Afghanistan into a victory. Pakistan cannot press a button to stop the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan from resisting America-Karzai-warlords who sidelined them and kept them out of power in Kabul. The anti-India actions in Kashmir are also not a Pakistani creation. They will continue, fester and invite reaction from Kashmiris and Pakistanis on Pakistani soil unless resolved. Desperate US policymakers shouldn’t listen to smugly Indians who claim they know the region better than anyone else and have come up with this bogus anti-Pashtun policy in Afghanistan. They misled the Soviets in the 1970s and now they are misleading the Americans.
AHMED QURAISHI | Thursday | 23 July 2009
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Three things have never happened before. Afghanistan has conceded over the weekend that anti-Pakistan terrorists and separatists have safe havens on its soil. India accepted last week it was feeding terror in Balochistan. And CIA drones have begun targeting the area of Baitullah Mehsud. The new CIA move is a result of Pakistani officials accusing some lobbies in Washington of protecting Mehsud for the past four years.
What we are seeing now is not everyone coming clean. What we are seeing is the result of nearly one year of quiet pressure from Pakistan on its allies in Washington. It started in a secret meeting in Rawalpindi in July 2008 where Adm. Mike Mullen and CIA number two Stephen Kappes where told that some CIA activities inside Pakistan contradicted stated US government policy. There is credible information that the Pakistani military handled this matter with the Americans through military channels after reluctance shown by President Zardari in confronting Washington, Kabul and New Delhi. In this sense, Prime Minister Gilani’s bold talk with his Indian counterpart on Balochistan last week was a break from his party line.
The strength of Pakistan’s position can be gauged from the fact that not a single Indian official chose to contradict US top diplomat William Burns’ call to India to reduce the activities of its consulates in Afghanistan. Mr. Burns reportedly shared some evidence Pakistan provided confirming that the Indian ‘consulates’ were little more than intelligence outposts for exporting terror to Pakistan’s tribal belt. [NOTE: Surprisingly, India's free media exercised joint censorship on this aspect of Mr. Burns' visit. The result is that a large number of Indians are ignorant about an embarrassing aspect of their spy outfits' involvement in terrorism outside the country. Please read How William Burns Was Unanimously Censored By India’s Free Media ].
The credit for these new developments also goes to the new policy rethink within the Obama administration which apparently is questioning the entrenched lobbies in Washington responsible for some of the failed US military and intelligence adventures in the region.
This is the time for Pakistan to keep the pressure on one more activity that CIA appears to be pursuing.
Over the weekend, Iran’s state-run media has shown a televised confession by the brother of Abdulmalik Rigi, the leader of the Jundullah group that claims to be based in Pakistan. Islamabad helped Iran arrest the brother.
“Abdulmalek and his group,” says the brother, “had a purpose to sow discord among Shia and Sunni on the orders received from the US.” Abdulmalek “had held several confidential meetings with CIA agents in Karachi and Islamabad,” according to Iran’s PRESSTV.
During one of the meetings, two female US agents had offered “weapons, safe bases in Afghanistan and professional trainers” and had attempted to recruit volunteers.
This should help us understand who has turned the Afghan soil into a base for exporting terror to neighboring countries, including China’s Xinjiang. The other thing this shows is that foreign governments or at least their spy agencies have created Pakistan-specific terror groups over the past five years as leverage against the perceived Pakistani support for Afghan Taliban. In other words, the fake Pakistani Taliban and the various terror groups in Balochistan were a payback for us for our alleged support for Afghan Taliban.
Pakistan needs to come clean on this for good. Pakistan cannot press a button to stop the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan from resisting America-Karzai-warlords who sidelined them and kept them out of power in Kabul. Some Afghan officials have been telling their Pakistani counterparts off the record for some time now that this anti-Pashtun policy has heavy input from New Delhi. Since these are desperate times, American policymakers are prone to listen to smugly Indians boast about how well they know the region and can provide good policy ideas. The undeclared anti-Pashtun policy that the Indians and the Northern Alliance warlords sold to Bush and Cheney is the reason Afghanistan is a mess. This issue has to be resolved inside Afghanistan. Islamabad needs to make public protestations on this because this failed anti-Pashtun policy is hurting Pakistan and we cannot be party to it. If Afghanistan is stabilized first, ending any al-Qaeda safe havens inside Pakistan’s tribal belt will become easier.
Ending the anti-Pashtun policy through tangible actions will help isolate al-Qaeda. The tangible signs of aborting anti-Pashtunism can include recognizing that Hekmetyar, Haqqani, the Afghan Taliban and other resistance groups fighting the occupation are legitimate Afghan actors. They should be recognized and invited to join the government in Kabul. Mr. Karzai and his warlord allies will resist this and will have to be prevented from putting a spanner in the works.
US needs to rethink its support to Kabul’s warlords and failed individuals who have failed the American project in Afghanistan. Instead of trying to eliminate legitimate Afghan parties like the Taliban and Hekmetyar, it is better to bring them aboard. The other is Kashmir.
It is better for the United States and India to resolve Afghanistan and Kashmir than to create proxies against Pakistan.
This column must be read with this report How William Burns Was Unanimously Censored By India’s Free Media
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