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Author Topic: Afghanistan - the fallacy - unworkable  (Read 5048 times)
Ahhangar
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« on: November 06, 2008, 09:25:10 PM »

A viewpoint from Pakistan - about Afghanistan.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\11\01\story_1-11-2008_pg3_4..

analysis: Our northwestern neighbour —Salman Tarik Kureshi

We have been ruinously harmed, first by Afghanistan’s meddling in our affairs and then by the multi-dimensional backlash of our own intervention in Afghanistan. The best policy would be to sort out our own problems and leave Afghanistan to its own destiny

“Good fences,” wrote the poet Robert Frost, “Make good neighbours,” meaning thereby that it is wise to stay off your neighbours’ property and out of their affairs. Alas, this has seldom been true of the dealings between Pakistan and our northwestern neighbour Afghanistan.

Right back in 1947, Pakistan’s appearance on the world map was first recognised by the countries of the world — beginning with Britain and India and then the Soviet Union, which, it may by the way interest readers to know, had earlier supported the Pakistan Movement as the ‘national self-determination’ movement of Indian Muslims.

However, Afghanistan was the significant holdout that initially refused to recognise Pakistan. The Durrani monarchy went to the extent of opposing Pakistan’s admission to the United Nations and raised irredentist claims to the Pashto speaking areas of NWFP and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan. A ‘Pakhtunistan’ flag was raised in Kabul, alongside the Afghan national flag, as early as September 2, 1947.

The particularly backward stretch of earth ruled by the Durrani kings — one of the two or three most backward countries in the world — was for a long time relatively unknown to the world outside the narcotic haze of the so-called ‘hippie trail’. Harry Truman’s notorious “Afghanistan — Bananistan!” comment exemplified the foreign affairs perceptiveness of many Americans at the time. The point is that our national neighbour seems no less an area of darkness in the minds of many of our countrymen today as in that of President Truman all those decades ago.

It is first necessary to appreciate that there are two quite distinct natural regions within Afghanistan, divided from one another by the great mountains of the Hindu Kush (“Indian Killer”) range and its spurs.

The Northern Plain, east of Iran and south of the Central Asian republics, is continuous with the Central Asian steppes; it has historically been known variously as Aryana (homeland of the ‘Aryans’ so important to Brahmin priests and European racists), Bactria to the Greeks and, as a province of Persia, Khorasan.

The Southern Plateau, mostly bordering Pakistan, is a semi-arid region of high plateaus, linked from the days of ancient Gandhara down to the end of the Moghul Empire with the history of what is now Pakistan.

The two regions of Afghanistan are ethnically differentiable, the south being predominantly Pashtun and the north having a Tajik majority; numerous smaller ethnic entities also exist in each region. The city of Kabul sits at a strategic location a little south of the passes that penetrate the Hindu Kush.

Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan has been not exclusively been some kind of wild frontier territory. It was a centre for the creative, artistic splendours of ancient Gandhara and of the more recent Persian, Ghaznavid, Ghaurid, Timurid and Moghul empires. It has gifted the Muslim world such outstanding intellectual figures as Jalaluddin Rumi, Firdowsi and Jamaluddin Afghani, among many others.

It has always been a politically unstable zone. Contrary to the myth of Afghan unconquerability, it was divided or conquered by first one empire, then the other, until the rise of Ahmed Shah Abdali, whose descendants are known as Durranis. Ahmed Shah was elected in 1747, by a Loya Jirga at Kandahar, to succeed the Turcoman conqueror Nadir Shah, who had pillaged the Moghul Empire and conquered Iran and what is now Afghanistan.

Under Abdali’s less able successors, this kingdom lost its southwestern provinces to the Kajar Shahs of Iran and portions of its northern regions to Czarist Russia, leaving approximately the Afghanistan of today. Through the nineteenth century’s Great Games, there was continual external meddling in Afghanistan, successfully by the Punjab of Ranjit Singh, less successfully by the Russian Czars and the British Raj. Despite external meddling, the state entity of Afghanistan remained remarkably intact. This is in sharp contrast to each and every one of its neighbouring states.

The state of Afghanistan, as it took shape under the Durrani kings, did not possess any of the features of a nation-state. Geographically and culturally divided, it was — right up until the overthrow of Zahir Shah in 1973 — a monarchic state, centring at Kabul.

It was, and remains, ethnically multiple and socially atomised into sub-ethnic tribal groups. Amir Abdur Rahman, who mounted the throne of Kabul in 1880, writes of his countrymen, “Every mullah and chief of every tribe and village considers himself an independent ruler...The tyranny and cruelty of these men were unbearable. One of their jokes was to cut off...heads and put them on red hot sheets of iron to see them jump about...So you can easily understand what a desperate struggle I had with these people...(It) took me fifteen long years and very harsh measures before they finally submitted to my rule.”

The nineteenth-century Great Game kept Afghanistan as a buffer status between the Raj and the Czarist Empire. Not permitted to evolve naturally towards two or more nation-states, Afghanistan survived as a land-locked, closed basin. In grand isolation for nearly two centuries, the kingdom became confirmed in its backward status. Attempts at modernisation in the 1920s by Amanullah Shah were considered radical and were resisted by the mullahs and the local chieftains. The call for Jihad raised by Mullah Shor Bazar, materially and militarily supported by the British Raj, resulted in the overthrow of the king by the bandit Habibullah Khan (more popularly called Bacha Saka) in 1929.

The Pakhtunistan issue, a massive interference in the affairs of Afghanistan’s southeastern neighbour Pakistan, was given state support by King Zahir Shah, Amanullah’s grandson. In 1953, the King’s cousin Sardar Daud Khan became Prime Minister and a serious Pakhtunistan activist. But this very issue was to precipitate Daud’s downfall.

Running out of patience with Afghan agitation, Pakistan closed the border in August 1961. Afghanistan was thereby obliged to depend more heavily on the Soviet Union for trade and transit facilities. After Daud Khan resigned as prime minister in March 1963, the border was reopened by Pakistan in May.

Pakistan’s repayment of Afghanistan’s bad neighbourly policies began ten years later, after Sardar Daud overthrew King Zahir Shah and ended the Durrani monarchy. One of the beneficiaries of an amnesty declared by President Daud was Gulbadin Hekmatyar. Previously a student of engineering at Kabul University who was believed to have sprayed sulphuric acid on the faces of unveiled girl students, Hekmatyar had been implicated in the murder of a leftist student. After his release, he moved to Pakistan, where in time he was to become the most controversial of the Mujahideen leaders, accused of spending “more time fighting other Mujahideen than killing Soviets” and wantonly killing civilians.

In 1973, Hekmatyar was welcomed as an ‘asset’ by the intelligence service of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was uneasy because of Daud’s closeness with the USSR. Other Islamist figures, including Ahmad Shah Massoud, Burhanuddin Rabbani and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, were also taken up as Pakistani intelligence ‘assets’ at about this time. Periodic Mujahideen raids into Afghanistan commenced.

President Daud was overthrown by the ‘Parcham’ faction of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, a cover-name for the Communist Party, in 1978. The Parchamis were later overthrown by the more extreme ‘Khalq’ faction, whose extreme leftist policies alienated the tribals and others. (Here I think he has missed the nuance that it was actullay the Khalqi wing of the temporary united PDPA of Afghansitan - led by Taraki and Amin - and then Amin himself killed the Khalqi Taraki to impose a more extreme Khalqi policy). These now began to support the Mujahideen. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979, ostensibly on the invitation and in support of the PDPA government.

Afghanistan has now been at war for nearly thirty years. The Mujahideen, with American and Pakistani assistance drove out the USSR. As different factions of the Mujahideen battled over the spoils, the Taliban, nurtured in Pakistani madrassas from among Afghan refugee youth, took the country over with the help of Pakistani forces, the latter seeking a bizarre ‘strategic depth’ outside the sovereign territory of Pakistan. The international terrorist organisation called Al Qaeda exploited the Taliban’s hospitality and mounted spectacular attacks against the US, drawing the superpower now directly into the Afghan fray.

Today, the pseudo-democratic government of Hamid Karzai wields no authority beyond the city of Kabul and very little within. It had been the authority of the Durrani monarch, ruling through local chieftains, which had held the heterogeneous Afghan entity. Remove this authority — as Daud Khan did in 1973 and the Communists Tarakai, Amin, Karmal and Najibullah further confirmed after 1978 — and the raison d’etre for the state had also been removed.

Today, the king is no more the ruler; the centre at Kabul has failed to hold together. In place of the former backward-but-stable condition, there is anarchy, despite the illusion of control at Kabul. The country is a kind of political black hole, distorting those within and sucking in those outside. Even if order is ultimately restored without pulling much more of the larger political world into its chaotic entropy, Afghanistan could split into its geographically predetermined northern and southern portions.

To speak here of a ‘broad-based’ government is meaningless. The wily Emir Abdur Rahman took all of fifteen years to consolidate his authority. And that was more than 120 years ago, before the CIA intervention, the Soviet invasion, the ISI meddling, the murderous blood-letting between the Mujahideen warlords, the exploits of Al Qaeda and the whole dreadful legacy of the past three decades.

And what should a neighbour like Pakistan do? Well, we have been ruinously harmed, first by Afghanistan’s meddling in our affairs and then by the multi-dimensional backlash of our own intervention in Afghanistan. The best policy would be to sort out our own problems — including the war we are in denial about being ‘our’ war — and follow Robert Frost regarding ‘good fences’. Leave Afghanistan to its own destiny. Seal the border, physically fencing it if need be, and studiously avoid the possibly fatal mistake of once again involving Pakistan in Afghanistan’s affairs.

The writer is a marketing consultant based in Karachi. He is also a poet.





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What a great article - such a great understanding of the nature of the 'AFGHAN' entity that is its neighbor.

It clearly sets out the reason why the country cannot function currently as it did before - namely that the local chieftain - and I would add - the Sayyed - and Khojas and other religious trash that kept the population under the nominal control of the King - have all lost power and are totally gone.  Only the Mujadidis and Gailanis are still operating again...but their role is exaggerated.

Some of the Pushtunists are under the thinking that  - they ought to restore the system of ulama and other Saado and the like the put the population under control and keep them ignorant and stupid.  


The idea of AFGHANISTAN - as a nation state is an ILLUSION - a political trick to take the steal the rights and property of the people and to control them - as part of the game setup by the Imperial powers.

As the article says - the Persian and Persianate northern half of the country and the Pashtun south - need to be seen as two separate entities - as they will eventually split.   My take on it is that the sooner the north is brought under the unified control of the Tajiks - the sooner they can move to secure the areas in the south west and south - and to ultimately gain almost the whole of what is Afghanistan in their hands and control - we can't leave Kabul - Ghazni - Gardez - Lashkar Gah and even Kandahar in the hands of the Pashtun south - for those towns and cities represent the true border of the Khorasan entity.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2008, 12:41:20 PM by Ahhangar » Logged
Ahhangar
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2008, 12:44:14 PM »

A view on the future developments in Afghanistan of the Tajik role in the military.

ANALYSIS:Obama’s Afghanistan strategy —Najmuddin A Shaikh

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C11%5C28%5Cstory_28-11-2008_pg3_5

Obama may fall further behind in the campaign to win “hearts and minds” because the security situation will not permit economic development in insurgency-affected areas. Turmoil in Afghanistan may continue for many years to come

Despite the conviction that the war against terror had to be won by defeating the Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, the impression in the United States is that there is no coherent strategy in place to achieve this. Various departments and agencies were engaged in the task of devising a workable strategy. None of the reviews — by the White House coordinator for Iraq and Afghanistan General Lute; CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus; Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff; and others by the State Department and the CIA — have been finalised yet.

It is clear, however, that the Americans think of Afghanistan and Pakistan together when they talk of the war against Al Qaeda, and they think of Pakistan as being as much a part of the problem as of the solution. President-elect Barack Obama said so not only while laying out his foreign policy priorities in an article in Foreign Affairs August last year, but also in his debates with Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the presidential race.

More recently, Admiral Mullen told Congress that he was planning to develop a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan that would for the first time focus on both countries, which he said were “inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them”.

The Americans view Pakistan as part of the problem because they do not think that Pakistan views the Talibanisation of its tribal areas and the spread of this influence into the Pakistani heartland as an existential threat to its own survival as a moderate Islamic state. They further think that Pakistan is intent on somehow harnessing the Taliban to maintain its influence in Afghanistan after the departure of foreign forces.

They also view Pakistan as part of the solution because without using transit facilities through Pakistan, logistic support for coalition forces in Afghanistan would become difficult if not impossible; and because without Pakistan’s support, the Taliban cannot be denied the logistic and other support they enjoy in the borderlands of Pakistan.

Some in America do believe that alternative supply routes can be found. The recent agreement reached by Germany with Russia to use its railway and road system to transport military as well as non-lethal equipment for its forces in Afghanistan is the first step towards a similar agreement being reached with other NATO countries, including the United States. Such alternative routes will not, however, address the problem faced in South and East Afghanistan, for which Pakistan is the only possible route until US-Iran relations improve to the point that Iran agrees to facilitate such transit.

Some also believe that direct military action against sanctuaries and Taliban supply points in Pakistan is a viable option a la the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail in Cambodia and Laos to stem the flow of supplies and recruits from North to South Vietnam. Many, however, recognise that such actions would add to the growth of extremism in Pakistan, fuel anti-American sentiment and create an untenable situation.

This latter group believes that the Pakistani establishment can be persuaded under the new government to be more cooperative, but also that in the meanwhile air power should continue to be used to eliminate such of the Al Qaeda leadership as can be located in Pakistan.

It is also clear that the establishment in America, particularly the new Obama administration, will not, despite the difficulties and the deteriorating situation within Afghanistan, withdraw from the region until there is reasonable assurance that the region will not serve as a sanctuary for terrorists intent on attacking the US. This will be politically even more important if Iraq remains stable and if the Americans can pull out in an orderly fashion according to the timetable provided in the Status of Forces agreement that has been approved by the Iraqi parliament. Iraq may then be termed a success by Obama opponents and he will be politically damned if he cannot point to a similar success in Afghanistan.

Obama will want to adopt a holistic approach. In his abovementioned article, he says, “We should pursue an integrated strategy that reinforces our troops in Afghanistan and works to remove the limitations placed by some NATO allies on their forces. Our strategy must also include sustained diplomacy to isolate the Taliban and more effective development programs that target aid to areas where the Taliban are making inroads”.

It is unlikely that he will be able to implement this.

Despite the welcome his election received in Europe and the goodwill he enjoys there, he will not get more troops from NATO allies (the UK excepted) and will not secure a removal of caveats on the employment of troops already present in Afghanistan. He will not be able, even after withdrawal from Iraq, to deploy the number of US troops his commanders will demand. It will be a high ask to achieve better governance in Afghanistan under the Karzai government and find a viable alternative leader.

Obama’s people may not be able to work out agreements with the “reconcilable Taliban”. His forces may antagonise the Pashtuns further with the indiscriminate use of air power and the consequent collateral damage. He may exacerbate problems further by rearming anti-Taliban but warlord-controlled local militias, thus negating whatever good the UN disarmament programmes had done.

Obama may fall further behind in the campaign to win “hearts and minds” because the security situation will not permit economic development in insurgency-affected areas. Turmoil in Afghanistan may continue for many years to come and may even outlast Obama’s second term.

Even so he will have to stay the course and look for a fall back strategy to achieve his objective. What can this be?

There are strong indications that Robert Gates is being retained as Defence Secretary. Obama is doing this not only to give his administration a bipartisan look but because he thinks Gates’ proposal of expending some $20 billion over the next five years to build the Afghan Army into an effective counter-insurgency force may be the fall back position and that Gates would be the best person to secure its implementation.

Obama will want to build the Afghan Army into a 134,000 strong force as has already been proposed. It will be provided with airlift capability and whatever else it needs. The US will try and ensure that recruitment reflects the ethnic balance in Afghanistan, but if this becomes impossible because of Pashtun reluctance to join, it will be officered largely with Tajiks.

This will become an exit strategy as the Afghan army increasingly takes the lead in anti-Taliban operations. It will also be a “stay in charge” strategy because only the US and some of its allies can provide an impoverished Afghanistan the $2.5 billion it would need annually to maintain such an army (and the $1 billion it would need for its police force) and to give it the wherewithal to fight and win against the Taliban. One can also anticipate that Obama and his people may decide for financial and strategic reasons to turn to regional allies to train and upgrade the Afghan army. In short, a Tajik-officered formidably well trained army with regional connections and loyalties!

It is not difficult to see that such a denouement would be detrimental to Pakistan’s interest. It would in fact be the realisation of Pakistan’s worst security fears.

The writer is a former foreign secretary.

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I really appreciate the smartness of the Pakistanis - and their supreme knowledge of the area - especially Afghanistan.

In the aboce article the author makes a very good case about the most likely outcome of Obama's policies on Afghanistan.

Combining the strong possibility that US-IRan relations will work out - and that India will redouble its efforts to fully back the anti Islamist elements - the continued rise in the national conciouness of the Tajiks of Afghanistan - thanks to the fascitic policies of Karzai - the strong desire for Iran to link upto Tajikistan via Afghanistan - and the growing capaibilty and capactiy of Tajik players within Afghanistan to - in the army and intelligence - the ground work potential for a significant change in the shape of the region could be on the cards within the current to the the next generation.

We all need to actively participate in the encouragment of this process.


Ahhangar
« Last Edit: November 28, 2008, 01:19:01 PM by Ahhangar » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2008, 04:26:56 PM »

Great article. As I mentioned it once, the modern army of Afghanistan is already fully in the hand of Tajiks. Additional to this fact, if Obama, the hero of Afghanistan´s future civilization, will pull the army with Tajiks and if they make all the officiers it will be the best benefite, not only for American economy and policy, but also for Afghanistan´s security and the Non-Aughans. My opinion is to increase the number to 250 000 strong men, with 50 or 70 strong tanks and air-supporters. That would give Afghanistan another name in the entire region. Tajiks would become powerfuller than ever. Obama should know if he cooperate with Pushtuns, they will again play a wrong game and establish again a base for terror-like Pashtunism and terrorist groups. We need to talk with him via phone or mail. Unfortunately, I don´t know anytjing of him. Btw., does anyone or your friends and relatives have mail-adress or phone number of Amreh Saleh, the chiefhead of the secret service? It is very important. I need it.
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Ahhangar
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2008, 04:45:57 PM »

Contacting Amrulah Saleh - well it should not be that hard.  Look around on the websites - but your best chance would probably through some of the Panjshiri members of parliamrnt whom were close to Massoud and Saleh during the fight against the Taliban and before. 

Having said this - I think it will not be enough to think that there are many Tajiks in the military that all power will be in our hands or that a real solution be brought about by the elimination of the illegitimate concept of Afghanistan.  There needs to be a political leadership that will take the lead to ensure that the army personal are of the mind that they are there to defend the interests of the orginal DEHGANS of that land falsely called AFGHANISTAN.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 04:02:26 AM by Ahhangar » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2008, 05:21:20 PM »

Do you really think the Americans will help make tajiks so strong that they will control the whole of Afghanistan and maybe influence its neighbours. I don't think Americans are that stupid to let the tajiks start a pan persian movment in region and make closer connections with Iran as long as the akhonds are in charge. Pan persian movment in the eyes of the Americans will destabalilze the entire central asia including Tajikistan and uzbekistan with whom Americans have close relations and many bases in uzbekistan. What Americans are most intrested in are their own intrests and not that of the tajiks or other groups. They will support one group over the other as long as it fits their schemes. Don't hold your breath that Americans will do anyone a favour.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 04:02:56 AM by Ahhangar » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2008, 05:51:59 PM »

Ofcourse the Americans are init for themselves.   I too do not think that it is the active policy of the US to single out Tajiks for positons in the army or anything else - - - - all indications are that they have plenty of Pashtuns for all sections of the government.

Having said that - sometimes the balance of forces and interests in that region can change dramatically.   The situation with Iran is very fluid - and there already many efforts underway for a big change in US policy towards it.   There is as much if not more indications that the US is getting ready for increasing the pressure on Pakistan and it is thought by some astute people that a plan for a bloody and chaotic breakup of Pakistan is already underway. 

And the simple fact that the army will be full of many Tajiks will not mean that they are a political force willing to topple the government - on the contrary they will be used to hold the Pashtun government in position - that is why I emphasize the political awakening of the Tajiks - with a proper politcal leadership to guide them out of these Britishcreations like AFGHANISTAN and the fight against the British created TALIBAN.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 04:03:22 AM by Ahhangar » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2008, 07:09:28 AM »

Do you really think the Americans will help make tajiks so strong that they will control the whole of Afghanistan and maybe influence its neighbours. I don't think Americans are that stupid to let the tajiks start a pan persian movment in region and make closer connections with Iran as long as the akhonds are in charge. Pan persian movment in the eyes of the Americans will destabalilze the entire central asia including Tajikistan and uzbekistan with whom Americans have close relations and many bases in uzbekistan. What Americans are most intrested in are their own intrests and not that of the tajiks or other groups. They will support one group over the other as long as it fits their schemes. Don't hold your breath that Americans will do anyone a favour.


 ;D ;D ;D what a comment from an Aughanmellati  ;D ;D
Shinno, Uzbekistan is already looking for Irans comradeship, same as Tajikistan. That´s the reason why they are working together with Iran, further with Afghanistan. The geo-political work of these three or four countries are very important in central asia, not only because of the modern situation caused by Pashtun and Arab terrorists, but also for their own sake. All countries have agreed to work closer witheachother than before and that is what they do at the moment (building pipes from Iran, over Afgh., Uzb., Taj to kasakh. etc.). Also Pakistan have very long and deep ties to Iran. Their relationship became more popular when Iran helped Pkaistan with it´s atom project and today, both countries are linked with eachother. And the Pakistanis are very aware of their Iranian heritage and thei historical relation to Persians. It´s only your wish to keep Aughanistan under Taliban and terrorist tribes of Pashtuns but forget it. These countries does share alot with eachother, not only geographical, but also lingual and cultural. The times have changed. People are now awaking and kicking in the ass of your heros, be it Sayaf, Bin Laden, Omar or another monkey. To start into a better future it is very important for the Americans to work allied with Non-Aughans who were loyal to their countries for centuries and who fought against your criminal Qaumiat for a long time. Of course they have also egoistic planes, but primarly their aim is to deal with terrorists and friends of you Pashtuns. Today, already important sits are under Tajik influence, including the secret service which is filled only with Tajiks, mostly from Herat, Mazar and Panjsher. The army is already made up by Tajiks and it is only a question of time when Tajiks will also replace Taliban and other wahabits from their sits, including Karzai and his more slave-like friends. Do you really think that Americans have nothing learned from their past? The last10 years showed them to change their policy toward Akhunds and Kafrs (Pashtuns, Arabs....). Can´t you see that now they are trying to erase their faults they did by hunting slaves like you in Tora Bora. But let´s wait for the future.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2008, 04:04:01 AM by Ahhangar » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2008, 08:55:03 AM »

D ;D ;D what a comment from an Aughanmellati  ;D ;D
Shinno, Uzbekistan is already looking for Irans comradeship, same as Tajikistan. That´s the reason why they are working together with Iran, further with Afghanistan. The geo-political work of these three or four countries are very important in central asia, not only because of the modern situation caused by Pashtun and Arab terrorists, but also for their own sake. All countries have agreed to work closer witheachother than before and that is what they do at the moment (building pipes from Iran, over Afgh., Uzb., Taj to kasakh. etc.).

After the collapse of the USSR Tajikistan was left alone with no support from Russia and had poor infrastructure. Tajikistan is a landlocked country so of course it needs to form close relations with Iran both for political and cultural reasons. Tajikistan's close ties with akhondi Iran can destabalize a secular Tajikistan in the eyes of the Americans.
 Its very funny you say "modern situation caused by pashtuns and arab". Can you tell me who created the taliban and where did they get their influence from? The source of the problem doesn't lie in Afghanistan as some think. It lies in the ISI (secret services) of pakistan. ISI has used these pashtuns and some other innocent fighters like arabs and chechens to do their dirty work in Afghanistan. The taliban though largely pashtuns did not originate within Afghanistan and I never heard of these so called terrorists before a few years ago. Many of the so called terrorists in the northern pakistan are just simple local people who are trying to defend their land and freedom from the central government of pakistan who promised when pakistan was created that the pakistan army will not enter its territory. Pakistan has broken this promise and people are just fighting for their freedom. The ISI and Americans have used these innocent people as condoms and thrown them away when they have been used. Do the Americans really want to finish these people off once and for all? The answer is NO simply because they will be used again and again in the future. Why can't the Americans find bin laden with their sophisticated technology in over 8 years?
 This whole so called war on terrorism if just a farce and a smoke screen. What this war is really about is to subdue the independent tribes on the Afghan-pakistani border so they can be used by the US  alone and not some mad deobandi mollah.   

Quote
Also Pakistan have very long and deep ties to Iran. Their relationship became more popular when Iran helped Pkaistan with it´s atom project and today, both countries are linked with eachother. And the Pakistanis are very aware of their Iranian heritage and thei historical relation to Persians. It´s only your wish to keep Aughanistan under Taliban and terrorist tribes of Pashtuns but forget it. These countries does share alot with eachother, not only geographical, but also lingual and cultural. The times have changed. People are now awaking and kicking in the ass of your heros, be it Sayaf, Bin Laden, Omar or another monkey. To start into a better future it is very important for the Americans to work allied with Non-Aughans who were loyal to their countries for centuries and who fought against your criminal Qaumiat for a long time. Of course they have also egoistic planes, but primarly their aim is to deal with terrorists and friends of you Pashtuns. Today, already important sits are under Tajik influence, including the secret service which is filled only with Tajiks, mostly from Herat, Mazar and Panjsher. The army is already made up by Tajiks and it is only a question of time when Tajiks will also replace Taliban and other wahabits from their sits, including Karzai and his more slave-like friends. Do you really think that Americans have nothing learned from their past? The last10 years showed them to change their policy toward Akhunds and Kafrs (Pashtuns, Arabs....). Can´t you see that now they are trying to erase their faults they did by hunting slaves like you in Tora Bora. But let´s wait for the future.

Lol pakistan was only created in 1947. The cultural ties before that were between Hindustan and persia and has nothing to do with Pakistan. I have met many pakistanis in the UK so want to associate themselves with persians to hide their indian past. There is nothing wrong to belong to the great culture of Indians and pakistanis should certaily embrace their past rather tan run away from it just because they are muslim now and indians are majority hindus. The language of pakistan URDU is not the mother tongue of the majority in fact it was brought into pakistan from hindustan after the partition by a people called "mohajir" who number something like 10 million and centred around the city of Karachi. Other wise each province has its own language with majority pakistanis speaking Punjabi which has nothing to do with persians. 
Pakistan is as much a superficial state as Afghanistan is. The things that keeps Pakistan together is their common threat from Hindus(indians) and the fact that Pakistan was created on the basis of an islamic state and not ethnic one. But that has failed miserably and pakistan is neither an islamic state nor a truly secular one. Another thing which keeps them together is one language URDU.
I agree that Afghanistan's name was chosen incorrectly but it wasn't the pashtuns, the tajiks or others who chose this name but it was imposed on the people and some people realize that they can control people with this name so they fight to keep it. But there are others who also want to take advantage of this fallacy and manipulate people for their own sake and their masters sake.
Once foreign forces leave I hope the people of Afghanistan can acheive self determination and call themselve what ever they want, be it Khorasani, or aryai.

P.s. Please don't associate me with people i don't even consider human like sayaf and others. As you requested that i call you tajik or Afghanistani, i also request that you don't associate me with these criminals.

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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2008, 01:18:33 PM »

After the collapse of the USSR Tajikistan was left alone with no support from Russia and had poor infrastructure. Tajikistan is a landlocked country so of course it needs to form close relations with Iran both for political and cultural reasons. Tajikistan's close ties with akhondi Iran can destabalize a secular Tajikistan in the eyes of the Americans.

It´s not only Tajikistan, it´s also Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and even Aughanistan and India. But whom you call as ''akhund''? If Iran is ''akhondi'' than what is your ''Aughanistan'', what are you Pashtuns and what is your father? Not akhunds? Come down to earth my flying-away friend. You and your brother-in-laws are the most and worsest Akhunds and Kfrs that the islamic and non-islamic world have ever seen. You sold Afghanistan 1000 times, destroyed it 1000 times, tryied to claim a country -where you are immigrants- as yours (isn´t it ironical that on the one side you claim a country for you but on the other side you serve foreigners and sell the entire country to them?), raped it and now you point other out for all miseries?? Unfortunately I am not allowed to insult you otherwise I would know how to call you and your entire nation.

Ps:the name is UDSSR, not USSR

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Its very funny you say "modern situation caused by pashtuns and arab". Can you tell me who created the taliban and where did they get their influence from? The source of the problem doesn't lie in Afghanistan as some think. It lies in the ISI (secret services) of pakistan. ISI has used these pashtuns and some other innocent fighters like arabs and chechens to do their dirty work in Afghanistan. The taliban though largely pashtuns did not originate within Afghanistan and I never heard of these so called terrorists before a few years ago. Many of the so called terrorists in the northern pakistan are just simple local people who are trying to defend their land and freedom from the central government of pakistan who promised when pakistan was created that the pakistan army will not enter its territory. Pakistan has broken this promise and people are just fighting for their freedom.

ROFL grow up build ties to politician and than come again here and discuss with me, Shinno. You are the dumbest Aughan after Ghorzang I have seen in this forum. Taliban=Pashtuns were created 1986 by Mullah Omar in Kandahar, as result of Amins actions against Aughu dogs who looted Kabul and other regions of Afghanistan, mostly Non-Awghan regions. They were made up mostly by Ghalzai tribes, later some ultra-fanatical and religious groups of the Durrani from Helmand and Kandahar joined them. Till 1992 the entire eastern region of Afghanistan were sympathizing with Talibans. But what has Pakistan to do with the Taliban? The tribal areas of Pakistan, mostly called Pakhtunistan, was always a region were barbars and kfrs resided. Since a majority of them were Pashtun Ghalzais they joined their brothers in Afghanistan. In 1992-1995 they recruted Pashtun refugees and ex-communists like Gulbuddin and Sayyaf. However, from the beginning the Taliban movement of Mullah Omar was a Pashtun movement, a nationalistic act against the Non-Aughan rulers in Kabul (Rabbani). Since you criminals claim Aughanistan as Land of akhund and kfr Pashtuns they were motivated to reduce every influence of Non-Aughans, establishing again a periode of tyranny and oppressing, colonizing Non-Aughan lands and take over. They even killed large Non-Aughan populations, only to clean Paktia, Gardez, Khost from Tajiks, Hazaras and Nuristanis. The genocides against the native people of Khurasanzameen are not forgotten till today. By establishing another state, ruled by Aughus, the high educated Pashtun caste of Pakistan became active, mostly under the name ISI (just go and look after the connections of Pashtuns and ISI Pathans, Yes, the Pakistani ISI were Pashtuns, same for Baluchistani troups, read the articles about them on Guardian.com). They supported Aughus as well as they good, delivered them with weapons and more nationalists. They again were supported by your hero Karzai and his family and Aughanmellat. The Arabs who stayed in Afghanistan since 1990 and who intermingled with Pashtuns (Mullah Omar sold all his 4 daughters to Arab Mujaheedins) were supporting them also. Since there is no difference between arabic thinking, tribal system and backwardness, they were all united. Of course, there were some innocent and blind european muslims who were manipulated by terrorists and aughan-like mullahs who told them to go to Afghanistan and make Jihad against the ''Kfrs''. Not only that AUghus were working together with another foreign country -Pakistan- they were also destryoing under their name Afghanistan, only to annex it someday to a Greater Aughanistan/Pashtunistan. European muslims did not know that they fought against Muslims by serving Jews and Aughan wahabits. If Pakistan is for every misery in Afghanistan the cause than answer me why dirty Awghan dogs were fighting in Chezchen against the local and peaceful muslim people and the Russians side by side with caucasian terrorists? Why Pashtun Kuchis were supporting Mullah Omar and his policy taking lands and homes from Non-Aughans and giving them to Aughans? Do you know that Taliban made slaves and sold them in Kandaahr and Peshawar, two main capital and the only capitals of Aughus (We will sure take revange for that)? From where are Mullah Omar, Gulbuddin, Sayyaf and their dirty Aughu fellows primarely? What are you trying to hide? All of them were mainly from Aughanistan, but supported economic from outside of Aughanistan. Accept the facts. You idiot still believe Pashtuns from Pakistan want to get ''Aughan'' citizen. Forget it, it´s only a small nationalistic portion of them. You exchange normal Pathans with wild Turkic Aughus. Pashtuns=Terrorists=Taliban that´s it. Every country map show that and every opium plantage is standing close to Pashtuns, every suicide bomber is a Pashtun, every Taliban is a Pashtun, every criminal in Afghanistan is just a Pashtun. The list is too long to count every point here. Btw., the central Pakistani government, all of Non-Pathan origine, have nothing to do with Pashtuns. They do not care about Aughans and their lands and homes in the Northwesternfrontier. You have too much illusions and dreams. We are not stupid. Pakistan has no influence in FATA or NWFP regions. You really think we are stupid as Pashtuns?


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The ISI and Americans have used these innocent people as condoms and thrown them away when they have been used. Do the Americans really want to finish these people off once and for all? The answer is NO simply because they will be used again and again in the future. Why can't the Americans find bin laden with their sophisticated technology in over 8 years?

Because you are too stupid, brainless terrorists. Your own educated caste use you like ''condoms'' for their own interests. I do not need to mention from where Zaher Shah and his family came from (India) or who Tarzi originally was (a Turk and a member of Turkish-Ottoman family). Because you are stupid that is why people have fun to use you. By getting used, you are in some cases succesful, but an independant thinking and working is not in for you. However, it is not really correct to say ''Americans'' helped or used you. They payed you for the pipe-line that had to go through Afghanistan. As I already mentioned, the Taliban were actively supported by ''Pakistan'' (Pathans and their own gun-market at Swat) http://kr.youtube.com/watch?v=QxLhlYYmbgM .The reason why American troups can´t find Bin Laden is the fact that Bin Laden can copy every Aughan face. He can hide himself or moving in the public in Kandahar and the Americans wouldn´t recognize him. He can also hide himself in Waziristan or Pakistan and automatically, Americans can´t do something if he is really in Pakistan. A further mission into Pakistan would only provocate more islamic countries and Pakistan´s fanatic population. Pakistan have also to deal with Pashtuns. At the moment, Pakistan is experiancing a strong talibanism, like Indiaßs muslims population experience a radicalization. To protect the country from people like Aughan terrorists they need to do every step that is in need and importance. Beside that, it is not easy to find Bin Laden in a region where not even a dog can live. The ground´s structure is too complicated  as you think. These and your people dig your own graves. Not the Americans or UK or other nationalities will do that but you and those who do not want to live more with you. It´s only a question of time when Aughans won´t have time for a breath. Just wait and see that I am not wrong.

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This whole so called war on terrorism if just a farce and a smoke screen. What this war is really about is to subdue the independent tribes on the Afghan-pakistani border so they can be used by the US  alone and not some mad deobandi mollah

LOL this war on ''terrorism'', Taliban and on Arabs, were lead by the NA even without the West. Unfortunately, Massud died 2 weeks earlier before the NA could
began his expansion and therefore everything was for a short time ended up in a disaster. However, Massud´s death did not changed the wishes and hopes of Non-Talibans for a freed country. Therefore, most foot-soldiers were Non-Americans who battled you Aughans. Hope, my dear people of Kabul, Panjsher, Parwan, Kapisa, Logar and Gardez will unite themself and build a strong defense-wall against you. Sooner or later we will do this step and add more Tajik countries, northern Kandahar, half of Helmand, Sistan, Farrah...
 
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Lol pakistan was only created in 1947. The cultural ties before that were between Hindustan and persia and has nothing to do with Pakistan. I have met many pakistanis in the UK so want to associate themselves with persians to hide their indian past.

Are you a child or just stupid and naive? What has Pakistan´s creation to do with it´s cultural and historical identity? When was created ''Aughanistan''? 1911 inofficially, officially 1919. Pakistanis know very well the Iranic influence on them. They also know that Persians have ruled over them (Sassanians, Achemenids, Parthians, Kushans, Samanids, Ghurids...). Their national heros are of Tajik/Persian origine, be it peots, warriors, kings, religious and mysthic personalities. Some of their greatest heros were Persians, some their greatest freedom-fighters were Persians, some of their greatest poets were Persians. That´w why they have a very large favour. They know the ties between Iran, Central Asia, India and their country. Therefore, their culture is called as 'Indo-Persian culture'. They know Urdu have mainly Persian roots, they know that most of Pakistan´s presidents had Persian ancestors. There is no difference between Pakistan and (Northern) India. Both share the same cultural heritage, same history, same national language, Urdu and Hindi/Hindustani, and ethnical they are from the same stock, only that India is not an islamic state but a democratice state, the largest one in the entire world. Pakistan=India=India=Pakistan. For 200 years ago, these region were called as Hindustan, neither as Pakistan nor as Baluchistan or Pashtunistan. But deviding nations and people by their religion, tough they are from the same stock and origine, was always a good tool for you bastards. Since when can confession tell you to which nation you belong or not? Again, I would insult you Aughanmellati but unfortunately I am not allowed to use any words against you.

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The language of pakistan URDU is not the mother tongue of the majority in fact it was brought into pakistan from hindustan after the partition by a people called "mohajir" who number something like 10 million and centred around the city of Karachi.

lol again a Pashtun version of histiry lol
                ;D         ;D          ;D

Urdu was first used in the ranks of Mughal army. It was the language of all soldiers, no matter which origine they shared. The first Urdu peot was Gardez Shah, a Tajik king and later sufi-master who moved to Lahor and Multan, modern Pakistan, not India! Later, other Tajiks like Kabul Shah who fled from Babur to Punjab was poeming in that language. He is considered as the main father of Urdu. Unlike Hindustani, Urdu was really developed in modern Pakistan, particularely in Punjab, to a small part also in the NWFP and Baluchistan, while it´s eastern dialect, Zaban e Hindustani (you can see, not ''zaban e hindu'' but ''hindustani'') was developed in Delhi. Just do us a favour and stop to theorize about history and other stuffs you have no idea about.

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Other wise each province has its own language with majority pakistanis speaking Punjabi which has nothing to do with persians. 

Actually, there is not really a great difference between Sindhi and Punjabi as it is between Pashtu and other Iranian languages. They share a lot together, same as Bukharian Persian and Iranian Persian. Also Punjabi (a new Indian language) is strongly Persian roots. But it´s not only the language that make us close, it´s also the culture we share together. Punjabis have the same celebraties as we have. It´s actually like that, that Persians, Punjabis, Sindhis, Hindustanis and other people have nothing to do with YOU.

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Pakistan is as much a superficial state as Afghanistan is. The things that keeps Pakistan together is their common threat from Hindus(indians) and the fact that Pakistan was created on the basis of an islamic state and not ethnic one.

Pakistan has the same problems as India has. Religious fanatics, be it fanatics from the Muslim part or the Indian, Sikh, Tamil or Bengali part. India has far more Muslims than Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan together. Radicalization is a big problem for modern 21th century India as talibaniszation is a big problem for Pakistan. Most of Indians intellectuals are Muslims, devote ones who always preach freedom and piece. The most influential people in the government of India are Muslims, followed by Parsees, than by Sikhs and Hindu-communities. Your bias claims do not make senses and does not represent India or Pakistan. You Pashtuns always think you know a lot, but the reality is that you do not know anything, except how to murder, to loot, to sell and so on.

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But that has failed miserably and pakistan is neither an islamic state nor a truly secular one.

Pakistan is of course an islamic state. Every step is clearly defined. From where do you take your stupid claims? Of course, as an islamic state, Pakistan was never a secular state.

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I agree that Afghanistan's name was chosen incorrectly but it wasn't the pashtuns, the tajiks or others who chose this name but it was imposed on the people and some people realize that they can control people with this name so they fight to keep it.

 ;D ;D ;D Of course it was by Pashtuns. It was mentioned by Non-Pashtuns but it was chosen by Aughans self. If Aughans are soooo open-minded and moderate, why don´t they want to change this dirty name -Aughan- into a pure and noble name like ''Khorasan''? Why are they fighting for this dirty name if it was not chosen by Aughans? Again, you prove that you have no idea of what you are talking. The only mistake a stupid Tajik, called Saber Shah Kabuli, made was, calling Ahmad Khan Abdali as ''King of Khurasan''. Wouldn´t he accept this homosexual ruler, maybe Aughanistan wouldn´t be in such a situation as it is today. An incompetente and uneducated Aughan could never claim the throne and Khorasan for himself and his nomadic and wild people. So long this dirty name exist, we will fight for our rights. You can take your dirty name to Israel or Turkia or Pakhtunwa where you can use it but not in Khurasan. While our Khurasan still exists cultural, lingual, historical under this dirty name and reaches now it´s 1800 birthday, your Aughanistan has not even reached his 110th birthday. By trying to fool us and saying that ''some people use us'' you show that you are an Aughanmellati akhund and that I was right. The only reason why you are here is because you want to spy us, specially those who have important contacts to Aughanistan.

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Once foreign forces leave I hope the people of Afghanistan can acheive self determination and call themselve what ever they want, be it Khorasani, or aryai.

Don´t worry. We will call us as Iranis, Aryayi and Khorasanians but what is with you? What is the term you will call yourself? 

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P.s. Please don't associate me with people i don't even consider human like sayaf and others. As you requested that i call you tajik or Afghanistani, i also request that you don't associate me with these criminals.

What are you? A child? Do you really think that Sayaf and the rest of the dogs are alone and act as singles?? They are supported by thousands and millions like YOU! Even if you are an Aughanmellati who does not use violante, the danger of your mind is not harmless. Beside that, your ancestors who came into our lands and took them away were not different than Sayyaf and your other heros. You know and I know that. And hiding yourself does not help you. There will be always smart people who can see through you.

Ps: do not only call me as ''Tajik'' or ''Afghanistani'', but also other Tajiks outside this forums. Be it Mozhdha as you called ''Aughan'' or other Tajiks. Today, your children vandalize in Wikipedia and change everything related to Tajiks into Aughan/Pashtun.

''[[Sunni]] Islam<ref>The History of Iran By Elton L. Daniel, pg. 74</ref> despite being from [[Zoroastrianism|Zoroastrian]] theocratic nobility.It was among the first native [[Afghan people|Afghan]] dynasties in [[Greater Khurasan]] and [[Central Asia]] after the [[Islamic conquest of Persia|Arab conquest]] and the collapse of the [[Sassanid Empire|Sassanid Persian empire]].''

''The Samanid period is considered the beginning of the [[Tajiks|Tajik]] nation (which was a part of [[Greater Khurasan (Afghanistan)]]).''

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Samanid_dynasty&diff=250717169&oldid=250639518
Check also how you dogs change ''Persians'' directly into ''Tajiks'' or ''Tajiks'' into cultureless ''Aughans/Pashtuns''

... The Ghurids came from the (Pashtun) Šansab?n? family. The name of the eponym Šansab?nasb probably derives from the Middle Persian name Wišnasp (Justi, Namenbuch, p. 282). [...] <u>Nor do we know anything about the ethnic stock of the Ghori's in general and the Sansabanis in particular; we can only assume that they were eastern Iranian Pashtuns</u> ... The sultans were generous patrons of the Persian literary traditions
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ghurids&diff=253705399&oldid=251275517

Compare these versions with the original ones and have a look on the article about Tajikistan. Even there, you bastards are vandalizing.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2008, 01:26:35 PM by Khurasanzad » Logged
Ahhangar
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 04:10:31 AM »

Afghanistan: The Gulf between Report and Reality

Thu, 01/01/2004 - 13:13 — haroon
 
Source:

Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
John Jennings

Earlier this month, Afghanistan's 502-delegate loya jirga approved the draft of a new constitution that concentrates power in the hands of a directly-elected president, with no prime minister as an alternate source of executive authority and only limited legislative oversight. In light of the country's multi-ethnic makeup and long history of tyranny, such weak checks on the presidency would appear to be utterly inappropriate. On January 20, however, the New York Times editorialized: "Debates about . . . the division of powers between the central and provincial governments seem secondary when people are afraid to sow their fields or transport their crops to market."[1]

That the New York Times editorial desk should so readily dismiss concerns about civil and political rights is odd. But even more striking, the sentence's final clause is demonstrably false. Afghanistan's largely agricultural economy could not have grown by 30% during the last year, as the IMF recently reported, if most farmers were afraid to sow their fields or transport their crops to market.[2]

The editorial is not an isolated case of poor fact checking. It reflects a broader trend in the Western media, which portrays the new Afghanistan as "sliding back into chaos, poverty and despair" two years after the ouster of the Taliban.[3] This view is said to reflect "a consensus" on a "deteriorating security situation" among "officials of the UN, the European Union, other US allies, aid agencies, US officials in the field, and Afghans loyal to Mr. Karzai."[4] The purported anarchy is blamed on misrule by regional "warlords," portrayed as savage robber barons who exploit their unholy alliance with the Pentagon to brutalize the helpless populace. Virtually every Western news report on Afghanistan, regardless of length or main topic, employs similar language to describe the general situation.

Such portrayals merit special scrutiny because they mirror official statements by one of the country's main political factions - interim President Hamid Karzai and other returned exiles in his government, who have exploited the notion that Afghans are suffering under the iron grip of evil "warlords" to enlist foreign support for creating a strong presidential system of government. The draft constitution Karzai presented in November - dubbed a "a murky blueprint for a repressive state" by Paul Marshall, senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom[5] - gave the president sweeping powers to rule by decree. Although some minor changes were made during the recent loya jirga, Karzai largely succeeded in getting his way.

Background

Hysteria about Afghanistan's "warlords" is rooted in enduring myths about the proximate causes of Afghanistan's last decade of warfare. According to this story, after defeating the Soviet Union's occupation army and ousting its communist puppet regime, Afghanistan's mujahideen turned on one other and created a "state of anarchy that gave rise to the Taliban and allowed al-Qaeda to base itself there."[6] In the mid-1990s, it is said, the Taliban conquered areas that were racked by lawlessness and anarchy and met little resistance during their march to Kabul, which they entered unopposed.

In fact, writes Anthony Davis of Time magazine and Jane's Defence Weekly, "services and schooling in [mujahideen-controlled] regions were far in advance of anything delivered by the Taliban . . . [whose] energies were focused almost exclusively on war." Contrary to the myth, the Taliban "fought their way into regions that were at peace and in many instances . . . recognized as being relatively well administered."[7] As for Kabul falling without a shot being fired, this too is a canard. Mujahideen commanders resisted the Taliban tooth and nail - Agence France Presse reported that hundreds died fighting on the day the Taliban finally seized the capital.[8]

This is not to say that the country wasn't divided prior to the Taliban conquest, or that factions of the mujahideen were not fighting among themselves. But it was not anarchy that enabled the Taliban's rise. They were the latest and most successful of a series of militias armed and trained by Pakistan's intelligence services in hopes of installing a "friendly" government in Afghanistan. To Pakistani officials, "friendly" implies Pashtun-dominated. Afghanistan's rulers have traditionally been Pashtun, who comprise nearly half the population (Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and smaller groups comprise the majority). Pashtuns are also substantial minority in Pakistan, with political influence disproportionate to their numbers. Despite their brutality and their reliance on Pakistani support, the Taliban were portrayed by the Western media as a popular movement; its apologists argued that engagement, not confrontation, would promote "moderates" among the militia's leadership.

Meanwhile, Taliban apologists pilloried the United Front (erroneously labeled the "Northern Alliance" in the Western media), a coalition of mujahideen who continued to resist the Taliban after the fall of Kabul, and its leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, a famed commander known as the "Lion of Panjsher" for his success in resisting Soviet efforts to seize the Panjsher valley in central Afghanistan. Some American observers raged at Massoud for accepting military aid from Russia and Iran to fight the Taliban,[9] but the United Front was unapologetic. "When you're dying of thirst," one mujahideen spokesman explained to me, "you don't ask who fills your glass. We even tried to buy munitions from the Israelis, but their price was too high."

Only weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks, American diplomats were still arguing that Afghanistan's anti-Taliban opposition was "part of the problem, not part of the solution." This attitude persisted even after 9/11, when a State Department official remarked that it was "a little premature to be hatching plots with the Northern Alliance."[10] With the war underway, State, CIA and Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence directorate tried to organize a revolt by Taliban military commanders in (misguided) hopes that the defectors would pre-empt a military takeover of the capital by the opposition. The plan fell apart when the proposed figurehead, Abdul Haq, was seized by Taliban authorities, tortured and murdered.

Concerns about the United Front's takeover of Kabul (which, unlike the Taliban's capture of the city five years earlier, met only a few hours' token resistance) proved unfounded. Rather than installing one of their own as president, in December 2001 Afghanistan's regional "warlords" agreed to the selection of Hamid Karzai, having judged him to be the candidate least likely to exploit the presidency to further his own ambitions or the agenda of meddlesome neighbors. United Front leader Qasem Faheem (who succeeded Massoud after he was assassinated by al-Qaeda just prior to 9/11) assumed the post of defense minister.

Since then, due to the slow pace of reconstituting the Afghan army (currently slated to reach a strength of just 9,000 by June 2004), security in most of the countryside has by necessity been maintained by regional leaders - mujahideen commanders in the north and west, and Pashtun tribal leaders loyal to Karzai in the south and east. Despite the pressing financial and manpower needs of reconstruction, Karzai has demanded that international donors accelerate the training and equipping of Kabul's fledgling army, regularly inveighing against the "warlords" who hold sway outside of Kabul. His allies claim the mujahideen do not maintain law and order, constantly feud with one another, and are heavily engaged in the opium trade.

Warlords Run Amok?

During a September 2003 visit to Afghanistan, I discovered that Western media portrayals of the Afghan countryside as a lawless Wild West were wildly off the mark. I visited three of the country's five largest cities - Kabul, Mazar-i Sharif and Jalalabad - and the countryside around each, with side trips to the Panjsher Valley and the Pakistan border. I traveled overland, on public transport, unarmed, unaccompanied, sandwiched between ordinary Afghans, querying them and my drivers about conditions near their homes and along the highways. I haunted bazaars and teahouses, chatting with fellow patrons and the staff at my lodgings.

With few and very localized exceptions, the countryside was safe and peaceful. The highways linking these regions were open, the cities themselves calm, food and fuel relatively cheap. These are sensitive indicators of excellent security and economic recovery. It's clear the "warlords" are not running amok: If they were, extortionate roadblocks on the main highways would be the first sign of it, because that's where the money is. Transit trade is a pillar of the economy.

Truck and bus drivers plying the road to Herat road say highway robberies, their main worry, remain relatively rare. Afghan visitors to the west and Herat residents alike give regional leader Ismail Khan rave reviews for maintaining security and protecting commerce. I met a Panjsheri driver for a transport cartel who recently traveled to Herat via Kandahar, then drove back a new vehicle his bosses had bought: a journey until recently unthinkable for a northerner. Today, the biggest health hazards on Afghan highways are drivers passing on blind curves and unprecedented clouds of dust and diesel fumes.

Everywhere I went, I saw signs of a private-sector construction boom and the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Pakistan and Iran. If lawlessness were truly widespread, if local warlords were truly the rapacious thugs they've been portrayed as, it is inconceivable that Afghans would be risking their safety and their private capital in this fashion. In short, that huge majority of ordinary Afghans living in areas not actively contested by Taliban remnants have it better today than at any time since 1978.

There are, of course, major security problems in Afghanistan, but they are mainly restricted to the former Taliban heartland bordering Pakistan, where 12 aid workers were killed in 2003. The media-amplified perception that humanitarians face danger everywhere they go appears to derive from sweeping and incautious language common in western charities' press releases.[11]

As for "warlord feuds," journalists have reported ad nauseam on a single rivalry - between followers of Balkh governor Atta Mohammad and ex-communist militia chief Abdurrasheed Dostum - and often misrepresent it as typical. Tensions between the two sides erupted into violence in October 2003, leaving as many as 50 dead. But Dostum is the only prominent "warlord" who fits the robber baron profile. During the Soviet occupation, his militiamen won infamy as Moscow's most brutal indigenous shock troops. Since 1992, he has repeatedly attacked his neighbors and betrayed his patrons and allies. No wonder there's trouble in Balkh.

Claims that United Front commanders are responsible for the rise in Afghan opium production are patently false. In light of the fact that trade routes to Russia (a major market for heroin) pass through the northeast province of Badakhshan, it is likely that some of their local leaders are turning a blind eye to transit of opium. However, according to the United Nations, the largest opium-producing provinces in 2003 were Nangarhar and Hilmand, former Taliban strongholds still contested by militia remnants.[12]

Axes to Grind

Few foreign observers have much time for ordinary Afghans. Western reporters tend to rely instead for insight on Afghans close to Karzai - Westernized scions of the antebellum feudal elite. Keen to discredit the battle-tested commoners who rose to power after they abandoned Afghanistan for exile in the West, the more vocal of these so-called "technocrats" popularized the "warlord" slur. After one of them became interim president, others returned in droves to troll for business opportunities and political appointments.

They appear to have imagined that authority is purely a matter of title and office. But they swiftly found that de facto power rests with the local leaders to whom most Afghans have turned through a generation of warfare. The "technocrats" despise this restriction: Under the antebellum Muhammadzai autocracy, the very concept of government by consent of the governed was alien. Provincial governors were appointed from Kabul, just as they were under the communists and the Taliban.

Accordingly, Karzai's entourage has enlisted unwary reporters, diplomats and do-gooders in a quest to restore a semblance of the bygone feudal pecking order: a highly centralized regime dominated, naturally, by themselves. It's their agenda - not "chaos, poverty and despair" - that explains the purported consensus. UN officials and Western aid workers have proven particularly susceptible, perhaps because the Utopian mindset that is virtually de rigeur among professional humanitarians predisposes them to address perceived problems with centrally imposed "solutions."

Western officials in southwest Asia generally lead very sheltered lives, spending far more time trading rumors at each other's soirees than meeting real Afghans. Former CIA agent Raoul Marc Gerecht made the same point during our last days of clueless innocence.[13] Furthermore, the "experts" often have axes to grind. For example, most journalists, do-gooders, academics and diplomats I have met despise soldiers generically, and reflexively oppose their deployment in any role except peacekeeping. It's understandable (if indefensible) that they would misrepresent conditions in Afghanistan today, in order to discredit a successful policy they had opposed from the outset.

The Kabul Propaganda Mill

With all these agendas at work, it's no surprise that the gulf between report and reality is so wide. Much of the political "analysis" published in the Western media since the overthrow of the Taliban is stridently partisan. The writers appear either unconcerned or unaware of their Afghan informants' political leanings. Almost invariably, their spin promotes the ambitious "technocrat" clique.

Cases in point are efforts to link United Front officials with the 2002 killings of a vice-president and a pro-Karzai minister. Like all good agitprop, the charges can't be fully verified or disproven, but they are exceedingly implausible, on grounds ignored by the pundits who have given them the most credence.

In February 2002, Civil Aviation Minister Abdurrahman tried to commandeer one of the Afghan national carrier's airliners to fly to India on holiday. The already much-delayed flight was scheduled to fly to Mecca; the minister's move would have stranded several hundred religious pilgrims at the spartan Kabul terminal, with no heat and no food, in bitter winter weather. The pilgrims got wind of this, rioted, stormed the aircraft and defenestrated Abdurrahman onto the tarmac, breaking his neck. Afterwards, Karzai publicly accused Northern Alliance commanders of orchestrating the killing - a puzzling claim that his own investigators subsequently dismissed.[14]

The assassination of Vice President Abdul Qadir in July 2002 was followed by a "technocrat" whisper campaign linking Faheem to the killing. In fact, Qadir was much closer to Faheem than to Karzai; and both Qadir's aides and Kabul authorities linked the killers to Zaman Khan, a rival Pashtun leader from Nangarhar. But a senior Afghan official said Karzai personally embargoed reports on the case via state-run media, apparently so Faheem would keep getting blamed.[15]

Western news reports routinely portray Karzai as a popular underdog challenging a cabal of gangster warlords.[16] This is the same Karzai who, after an early 2002 assassination attempt, decided he couldn't trust his Afghan bodyguards and began relying exclusively on US special forces. In fact, many Afghans resent the Westernized latecomers. On Kabul's streets they've been dubbed sag-shui (dog-washers) - a mocking rejoinder to the "technocrat" label and a gibe at the grubby jobs that some held in exile.

Most mujahideen commanders enjoy grassroots support. Many adult males in Afghanistan have, or can easily acquire, firearms. Most villages have, or can get anti-tank weapons and light artillery. A community consensus generally decides whether, and for whom, its men will bear arms. Consequently it's very difficult to maintain authority at any level without popular backing. Despite their immense foreign support, both the Taliban and the communists learned this the hard way. The "warlords," in other words, have far less leeway to flout the popular will than is commonly assumed.

The "technocrats" and their foreign acolytes have pilloried mujahideen leaders for spending customs receipts locally to bolster their power bases. When Herat's Ismail Khan finally agreed to surrender these revenues to Kabul in May 2002, Karzai admirers gushed praise at the president's "bold new move . . . to bring regional commanders under his control."[17]

In fact, there are excellent arguments for leaving some, or most of the revenues in the hands of regional leaders who collect them. Ismail Khan used part of his customs proceeds to administer a generous, personalized social welfare operation.[18] The "technocrats" and their western allies excoriated him for using the rest to finance his "private army." But the Western bureaucratic distinction between the public and private sector is alien to Afghanistan. And Heratis weren't complaining, because the governor's troops keep excellent order, which has in turn enabled an economic boom.

The "technocrats," unlike local leaders, are not accountable to a grassroots following for how they spend their revenues. Moreover, they are heirs, or former courtiers, of a feudal regime brought down as much by its own corruption as by the 1978 communist putsch.[19] Ismail Khan surely suspects that some of those receipts will wind up in "technocrat" bank accounts.

There are sound practical reasons for the often-denounced "Tajik monopoly" over the defense ministry and intelligence service. Faheem is successor to the late Massoud and his Panjsheri troops are Afghanistan's most experienced and effective anti-terrorist campaigners; they resisted waves of invaders and quislings long after everybody else sold out, fled or hid behind their skirts. Karzai's cronies appear determined to replace Faheem with a Pashtun - any Pashtun. Yet there is no Pashtun candidate both capable and trustworthy enough to run the security forces, for their mission is Afghanistan's most crucial: confronting terror and sabotage by meddlesome neighbors.

There is no evidence that Islamabad's politico-military establishment has renounced its quest for "strategic depth." Taliban remnants have regrouped in safe havens in Pakistan and have intensified their incursions across the border. Pakistani authorities have treated the international media to several high-profile round-ups of al-Qaeda men, but Taliban leaders appear to have little trouble avoiding capture, or even lining up occasional media interviews.

It has been widely reported that Pakistani Pashtuns in the frontier tribal preserves are harboring Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants.[20] It seems likely they enjoy official sanction and support; the Pakistani tribes, far from being fiercely independent, benefit from government subsidies that give Islamabad tremendous influence over their behavior. Although Pakistan has deployed small numbers of troops along the border, this is little more than window dressing. Some Afghans question why Pakistani troops could not as easily abet Taliban raids as deter them, given Pakistan's history of cross-border meddling.[21]

Astonishingly, the Karzai administration appears less concerned about countering the resurgent Taliban threat than it is about disarming and demobilizing the Taliban's indigenous grassroots opposition in the outlying northern and western areas of the country. The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, now under NATO command, has endorsed this initiative, and the foreign media have excoriated Defense Minister Faheem over his reluctance to cooperate.

Meanwhile, Karzai issued an edict banning "armed factions" (i.e. the mujahideen) from fielding political candidates in national elections this year. As if this were not enough to compromise Afghanistan's transition to democracy, UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has warned that "lawlessness" might make UN supervision of the elections impossible. UN oversight is crucial in order to get Afghans to accept the results as legitimate.

There has been virtually no critical analysis of the "technocrat" agenda and its wholesale adoption by the UN, the media, the international diplomatic corps, and now NATO. Western observers haven't bothered to ask key questions: Who gains most if the "warlords" - proven allies in the war on terror - are disarmed? Will not expanding ISAF's presence merely create a target-rich environment for terrorists? Who gains most from disenfranchising anti-Taliban "armed factions"?

Skeptical Afghans, however, are asking those questions, and others: Afghanistan is not in chaos, so why is Brahimi really backing away from overseeing elections? Might UN officials be scheming to hold UN oversight hostage, in return for American and NATO concessions to their "technocrat" proteges? Might their demands include NATO military action against regional leaders who refuse to disarm, in the face of elections rigged to enable a "technocrat" power grab? How would that differ from imposing a puppet regime backed by foreign occupiers - the third in as many decades? There is a profound danger of a general revolt against any Kabul government that appears imposed by outsiders. Would the ISAF be prepared to quell it?

Other Afghans worry that the West will simply forget Afghanistan, as in the past. Indeed, a few are counting on it. Where would a "technocrat" regime turn for foreign backing, when and if that happened? The obvious answer is, to Pakistan - the neighbor with the means, the motive and a stubborn recent history of seeking to extend its hegemony across the border.

Afghanistan was never a nation-state; the bureaucratic institutions of modern government were blighted by the grasp of quislings and invaders before they took root. Today, after 25 years of invasion and proxy war, the country is just a collection of estranged cantons, within which authority is based on personal and local loyalties. If this Afghanistan is to develop into a nation-state, it must be through consensual cooperation among the de facto regional authorities. This can't be imposed by NATO or Pentagon fiat, much less by UN or "technocrat" machinations. All these elements and institutions, however, may have legitimate facilitating roles to play - as long as their officials grasp their limitations.

Legitimate regional leaders, far more widely regarded as war heroes than as robber barons, have taken the first steps toward national unity by endorsing a weak and (so far) mutually acceptable central authority. For the most part, they are cooperating with each other, and with the US-led war on terror. If they get their way, the "technocrats" may benefit in the short term. But the real winners will be the Taliban - and the powerful anti-Western interests in Pakistan who keep them on military life support, against the day that the United States turns its back on the country.

Notes

[1] "The Taliban Creep Back," The New York Times, 20 January 2004.
[2] "An Afghan Constitution," The Washington Post, 24 December 2003.
[3] "Rumors of Bin Ladin's lair," Newsweek, 8 September 2003.
[4] Ahmed Rashid and Barnett Rubin, "SOS from Afghanistan," The Wall Street Journal, 1 June 2003.
[5] Paul Marshall, "'Taliban Lite': Afghanistan fast forwards," National Review Online, 7 November 2003.
[6] Rashid and Rubin, "SOS from Afghanistan," The Wall Street Journal, 1 June 2003.
[7] Anthony Davis, "How the Taliban became a military power" in William Maley, ed., Fundamentalism Reborn? (NYU Press, 1997).
[8] "Afghan civil war leaves tens of thousands dead," Agence France Presse, 27 September 1996.
[9] Fred Starr, "Afghanistan land mine," The Washington Post, 19 December 2000; Fred Starr and Marin Strmecki, "Time to ditch the Northern Alliance," The Wall Street Journal, 26 February 2002; Marin Strmecki, "Winning, truly, in Afghanistan," National Review, 20 May 2002.
[10] Julie Sirrs, "Has the war on terror been won?" in Afghanistan and 9/11: An Anthology [New Delhi: Roli Books, 2002].
[11] Afghanistan 'out of control', BBC World Service Online, 10 August 2003.
[12] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan Opium Survey 2003, October 2003. Available in pdf format at http://www.unodc.org/pdf/afg/afghanistan_opium_survey_2003_exec_summary.pdf
[13] Raoul Marc Gerecht, "The Counterterrorist Myth," The Atlantic Monthly, June/July 2003.
[14] "Afghan officials dispute official account," United Press International, 17 February 2002.
[15] Not by coincidence, anti-Taliban officials identified Zaman in late 2001 as Pakistan's new post-Taliban proxy in Nangarhar. US officials ignored the warning: Zaman later failed to press the attack at Tora Bora, letting top al-Qaeda officials, likely including Osama bin Ladin, escape to Pakistan [Personal conversations with senior United Front officials in Charikar, Jabal Seraj and Kabul, November 2001].
[16] "Defense minister denies reports of split with Karzai," The Washington Post, 7 October 2003. See also Patricia Gossman, "A government of warlords threatens Kabul," The International Herald Tribune, 16 October 2003, and CNN special report on Afghanistan by Christine Amanpour, 2 November 2003.
[17] Ahmed Rashid and Barnett Rubin, "SOS from Afghanistan," The Wall Street Journal, 1 June 2003.
[18] Barry Bearak, "Unreconstructed," The New York Times Magazine, 1 June 2003.
[19] Nasir Shansab, Soviet Expansion in the Third World: Afghanistan: A Case Study (Silver Spring, MD: Bartleby, 1986).
[20] Tim McGirk, "In these remote hills, a resurgent Al Qaeda," Time, 22 September 2003.
[21] Personal conversation, Nangarhar Province, September 2003.


About the author

John Jennings traveled widely with the mujahideen as a Peshawar-based freelance writer from 1987 to 1991, reported from Afghanistan for the Associated Press and the Economist from 1991 to 1994, and covered the rout of the Taliban for the Washington Times in November 2001. He visited Afghanistan again in September 2003.

About MEIB

Middle East Intelligence Bulletin (MEIB) is a monthly online publication focused on internal political developments in the Middle East, especially those that are thinly-covered in other English-language publications.
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Ahhangar
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 04:18:06 AM »

Propping up the Taliban

From John Jennings

Jason Burke (LRB, 22 March) ignores the principal cause of the fighting in Afghanistan since 1992: Pakistan's campaign to overthrow any Afghan authority unwilling to enforce its hegemony. Ever since the 'wrong' Afghans, led by Ahmad Shah Masood, toppled the Communist regime in 1992, Pakistan's military has fielded a motley series of opposition militias to get rid of them. The Taliban are merely the most recent and successful of these groups. They are opposed by many Afghans not just on account of their brutality and obscurantism, but because they are quislings.

Burke cites a discreditable, poorly researched 1994 Amnesty International report. 'For those who find it difficult to understand why there should be any sympathy for the Taliban the report makes challenging reading,' he says. I had been reporting from Kabul for AP and the Economist for over two years when the Amnesty report came out. It painted an unrecognisable picture of life in Kabul, taking obvious cues from Pakistani propaganda. It was researched almost entirely in refugee camps in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, where local authorities were known to be in league with Pakistani Intelligence. Amnesty glossed over profound distinctions between the brutal and unrepresentative factions besieging the capital on Pakistan's behalf, and its much better behaved defenders led by Masood.

Burke claims the Taliban have no interest in exporting their practices; he ignores the presence of Central Asian and Pakistani militants whom the Taliban arm and train on Afghan soil. He criticises US cruise-missile potshots and half-hearted UN sanctions, but for the wrong reasons. The missiles were launched on Monica Lewinsky's account, not Osama bin Laden's. As for the sanctions, they hurt ordinary Afghans exactly as much as the Taliban want them to. Afghans understand this; so the sanctions should stand, to encourage unrest. Uprisings will fail, however, without solid military backing.

Burke speaks of unrest in the Taliban heartland over the militia's press-gangs. But he ignores the factor that made volunteers scarce and press-gangs necessary: the battlefield reverses that Masood has inflicted on the Taliban. Independent reports suggest that one third of the Taliban's foot-soldiers are Pakistani or Arab militants. Even apolitical Afghans understand that it's not a civil war.

John Jennings
Flushing, New York
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« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2008, 10:32:48 AM »

Strange storm brews in South Asia
By M K Bhadrakumar

Dec 2  http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/JL02Df04.html

No sooner had the guns fallen silent and the terrorist carnage ended in Mumbai than a keen three-way diplomatic tussle began involving India, Pakistan and the United States. The two South Asian nuclear powers are locked in race to get the US on their respective side.

For the US, though, it is no longer a matter of acting as a fair-minded, neutral mediator. Today, Washington is a full-fledged participant with its own stakes in the South Asian strategic power equations, thanks to the war in Afghanistan, which is critically poised. Indeed, the South Asian brew couldn't be more strange.

   

As "The Old Man" in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth would say,
"Threescore and ten I can remember well:
Within the volume of which time I have seen
Hours dreadful and things strange: but this sore night
Hath trifled former knowings."

Washington seems to apprehend that the escalating tensions in South Asia may spin out of hand. According to the latest indications, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is arriving in New Delhi on Wednesday on a mediatory mission.

Again, Israeli intelligence Mossad is watching from the shade. The apparently Pakistani fidayeen (guerillas) who attacked Mumbai made it a point to target Jews, including Israeli citizens, for particularly gruesome violence. There were nine Jewish victims. Israeli experts have arrived in Mumbai. Israel's fury knows no bounds.

Meanwhile, China is gently wading into the eye of the storm. On Saturday, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi discussed by telephone the crisis with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. They surely condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. But then, Yang went on to express the hope that "Pakistan and India could continue to strengthen cooperation, maintain the Pakistan-India peace process, and to advance bilateral ties in a healthy and steady way", to quote Xinhua news agency.

Yang said, "These measures are in the fundamental interests of both Pakistan and India." Curiously, Yang and Qureshi also "pledged joint efforts to push forward bilateral ties". In essence, Yang has voiced solidarity with Pakistan and counseled restraint on the part of India. It is unclear whether Washington prompted Beijing to use its good offices to calm the troubled waters or Beijing wished to underscore its relevance to South Asian security.

One thing is clear, though. As the death toll in Mumbai continues to steadily climb and is about to cross 200 innocent lives, India is overwhelmed by waves of sorrow and anger. The government in Delhi has been shaken to its very foundations by the public outrage that has erupted at the colossal failure of political leadership. The ruling party, Congress, which is the grand old party that led India's freedom struggle, faces an existential threat to its future standing on the chessboard of India's national politics.
Senior politicians of all shades sat huddled in the prime minister's residence for hours altogether until midnight Sunday, figuring out how to face the daylight and a public which is fast losing faith in them and their shenanigans.

The interior minister has been forced by an irate Congress party leadership to resign, owning responsibility for the massive failure to prevent the fidayeen from storming India's financial capital with such impunity. Curiously, intelligence wasn't altogether lacking that precisely such an attack from the Arabian Sea needed to be anticipated.

But the public is not impressed that the dapper minister's head has rolled. The wounds on the Indian psyche cut deep. And there is a growing possibility that the public anger may result in a wild swing in the popular mood toward right-wing nationalist politics in the ongoing provincial assembly elections and the fast-approaching parliamentary elections.

The government is pointing its finger at Pakistan as the base from where the fidayeen staged their carefully planned attack. The popular perception in India is that there had to be some very substantial degree of involvement by elements within the Pakistani establishment for such a massive, meticulously choreographed operation with detailed logistical back-up to be staged.

The government is having a hard time maintaining its formal position, which distinguishes terrorist groups based in Pakistan that would have carried out the attack and the Pakistani government as such. The public opinion doesn't buy the subtle distinction, but the government has little choice in the matter.

Indeed, the Indian establishment seems to lack conviction in what it is saying by way of absolving the Pakistani security agencies of any hand in perpetrating the terrorist attack. The alternative for the government would be tantamount to calling the attack by its name - an act of war - on the part of the Pakistani establishment, given its massive scale. But that will oblige India to respond to the perceived aggression militarily, which of course is unthinkable as a nuclear flashpoint is reachable within no time.

The point is, the India-Pakistan adversarial relationship with its undercurrents of mutual suspicion and bristling with countless animosities bordering on hostility, is so delicately poised at any given moment that it doesn't need more than a few hours to degenerate into a conflict situation on account of a misstep or two on either side, even when it is camouflaged in veneers of cordiality as it has been during the past three to four years.

Islamabad, of course, stubbornly rejects all imputations of involvement in the terrorist attack. Under direct pressure from the United States, Islamabad hurriedly accepted the idea that Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, director general of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Pakistan's premier intelligence service, would visit India to discuss the issue. But this decision, emanating out of a telephone conversation between Rice and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, seemed to have been a shrewd attempt to finesse the mounting Indian anger. It has since been watered down by the Pakistani military. Evidently, Pakistani army chief General Pervez Kiani, who previously headed the ISI, concluded it might sap the morale for the military to be seen wobbling under Indian pressure.

Reflexes are hardening on both sides. In the domestic political environment in India with impending national elections, it is politically suicidal for the government to be seen helpless in even coaxing Islamabad into a meaningful exchange. While the Indian left parties have set aside their recent acrimonious differences with the government and called for "national unity", right-wing politicians do not feel the impetus to do so when they sense the chances of their being catapulted into power on a nationalistic wave of popular outrage.

Meanwhile, Delhi turns toward Washington for more help. And, anticipating further US pressure, the Pakistani military has begun holding out veiled threats that unless Washington and Delhi backed off, all bets are off on its participation in the "war on terror" in Afghanistan.. This may put Washington in some quandary - and explain Rice's hurried trip to the region.

The Pakistani military knows only too well that once the "Afghanistan factor" is brought into play, the calculus changes completely. With an estimated 32,000 US troops already on the field and a prospective force of more than 20,000 combat and support troops possibly on their way on the request of commanders in Afghanistan, it becomes a high stakes game for Washington.

From Washington's perspective, the crisis erupts at an awkward time, with various departments and agencies of the US administration engaged in devising a fresh strategy towards the war in Afghanistan - White House coordinator for Iraq and Afghanistan General Douglas Lute; CENTCOM commander General Petraeus; chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency are yet to complete their assignment.

The Afghan factor cuts into US interests in different ways. First, in the event of an escalation of India-Pakistan tensions in the coming days and weeks, the US should anticipate a Pakistani decision to divert its crack divisions from the Afghan border regions, roughly totaling 100,000 troops, to its western border with India. Almost immediately, the impact will be felt on the dynamics of the war in Afghanistan.

In a recent speech in Washington, General David McKiernen, supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan, had underscored how important it was that Pakistani military stayed the course in Afghanistan. He said Kiani was shortly expected in Kabul and "we've started from talking to each other to today we coordinate tactical-level cooperation along the border".

McKiernen added he saw a "shift in thinking at the senior levels in Pakistan that this insurgency is a problem that threatens the very existence of Pakistan, and that they have to deal with it perhaps in ways that they didn’t contemplate a few years ago on their side of the border. So I see a willingness and a capacity, although they have a long way to go to conduct counterinsurgency operations on the Pak side of the border".

He expressed "cautious optimism" about the war, taking into account the Pakistani military's willingness to cooperate. McKiernen's worst fear now will be that the Pakistani military leadership may be about to plead it has the will to fight the al-Qaeda and the Taliban but lacks the capacity and resources due to the urgent requirement of redeployment on the border with India.

A second factor working on the US will be the pressure that all this might put on the transit facilities for supplying the troops. Roughly 75% of the supplies for the US troops pass through Pakistan and there are no viable alternate routes except through Iran for supplying the units deployed in the insurgency-ridden southern and southeastern regions of Afghanistan. Third, without Pakistan's support, the Taliban will have a field day in the border regions. And the casualties for the NATO forces will mount, which will have serious political implications for the European capitals.

Therefore, Washington's prime task will be to cool tempers and avoid an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the two South Asian nuclear adversaries. It will be the last major foreign policy act for the departing George W Bush administration and a curious full-dress rehearsal for the incoming Barack Obama presidency.

The Pakistani interest lies in forcing a mediatory role on the US that "restrains" India. The Pakistani military feels nervous about the rapidly expanding US-India strategic partnership and would like Washington to be even-handed in its South Asia policies. Curiously, the fidayeen attack on Mumbai forcefully underscores the Pakistani plea that Washington cannot compartmentalize the Afghan war without addressing the core issues of India-Pakistan tensions.

But all this overlooks the possibility that the Pakistani military may well have a grand motive for ratcheting up tensions with India precisely at the present juncture so as to find an alibi to wriggle out of the commitments to the "war on terror" in Afghanistan. The point is, the Pakistani military harbors deep misgivings about the incoming Obama administration's Afghan policy. Obama has dropped enough hints that he will get tough with the Pakistani military for its twin-track policy of fighting the war and at the same time harnessing the Taliban as the charioteer of its geopolitical influence in Afghanistan.

The current US thinking leans towards equipping select Pashtun tribes to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It is a controversial move that worries the Pakistani military, as it might ignite violence in the Pashtun regions inside Pakistan and fuel the Pashtunistan demand. Besides, Obama has bluntly warned that he would get the US Special Forces to strike inside the Pakistani territory if the security situation warranted. Such moves will be seen by the Pakistani military as a humiliating slap on its face.

What is more disconcerting for the Pakistani military is the likelihood that Obama's "exit strategy" will emphasize the rapid build-up of a 134,000-strong Afghan national army. This has been a favorite idea of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and it may largely explain Obama's decision to keep him at his cabinet post.

However, the law of diminishing returns begins to work for the Pakistani military once an Afghan national army gains traction. Indeed, an Afghan army will, most certainly, be led by ethnic Tajik officers. At present, Tajiks constitute over three-quarters of the Afghan army's officer corps. But Tajiks have been entirely out of the pale of Pakistani influence - even during the Afghan jihad in the 1980s. Tajik nationalism challenges Pakistani aspirations to control Afghanistan. Summing up these dilemmas facing the Pakistani military, former Pakistani foreign secretary Najmuddin Sheikh recently pointed out, "It [Obama's Afghan policy] would in fact be the realization of Pakistan's worst security fears."


Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

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Another article by a knowledgable person expressing the opinion that the army in Afghanistan will be full of people Tajiks whom despise all the pawns of Pakistan - and that the new adminstration in the US has a policy of increasing the pressure on Pakistan.

Times have changes - the old order of state structures in south Asia are no longer useful to their original Anglo-Saxon creators.  Iran is being brought back into the fold. Containment of the Russians/USSR is no longer the issue - but a push into Central Asia is - so how will this play out for the interests of the Iranian/Tajik peoples ?

Karimov is currently being backed by the US just so that he is kept as far as possible from Russian influence.




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