Partition of Aoghanistan
Posted 20 May 2011 - 09:06 AM
Posted 12 June 2011 - 07:40 AM
Posted 12 June 2011 - 07:54 AM
Despite what President Obama tells the American people, it is evident that the British-hatched plan to institute a virtual partition of Afghanistan is progressing. A senior journalist from Pakistan reported in the Asia Times on April 2 that all major anti-Taliban operations have been suspended in the southwestern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand and Uruzgan, the Taliban's spiritual heartland. This was confirmed to Asia Times by multiple sources, including the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Taliban commanders in Kandahar.
A senior Afghan official confirmed to Asia Times on April 1, on the condition of anonymity, that plans were in place to hand over the security of Afghanistan to Afghan forces by the middle of this year, and that foreign troops would only operate in the six north and northeastern provinces, besides still using unmanned drones for strikes against insurgents.
It is evident that shifting of foreign troops to northern Afghanistan, which will help institutionalize virtual partition, needed a pretext. That pretext was presented today by unnamed U.S. and Afghan officials, who said al-Qaeda terrorists are setting up training centers and bases in northeastern Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US military forces from remote valleys and mountains.
The British plan to partition Afghanistan was articulated first by former British envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sherard Cowper-Coles, a former MI6 operative and a close associate of former British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, at a Foreign Policy Committee hearing of the British House of Commons last year. Later, neo-con Robert Blackwill, who worked with the Bush administration, laid that out in detail in an article in the CFR's Foreign Policy magazine last October. The plan calls for putting in southern Afghanistan, the Pushtun-majority areas of Afghanistan, warlords and a socalled good Taliban as Governors of those provinces, while moving the foreign troops to northern Afghanistan, where the locals are not in conflict with the foreign troops. This would form a barrier against the insurgents moving north, the argument goes.
It would, of course, leave the opium-producing south as a virtually separate nation, perhaps to be called Opiumistan.
Posted 12 June 2011 - 07:58 AM
Syed Iqbal Hasnain
Courtesy: KHALEEJ TIMES
America’s war effort in Afghanistan remains adrift, a fact accentuated recently following the firing of General Stanley McCrystal.
Yet the problems that America faces are in many ways intrinsic to the nation it is trying to change, and part and parcel of a nation that has not truly been a single, cohesive entity. It is a state divided into roughly three parts, with a complex history that must be understood.
For the US to fix Afghan problem it must appreciate the ethnic, cultural, and religious mix of present day Afghanistan. There are three distinct ethno-geographical regions: western Afghanistan dominated by Persian speaking Hazaras and Tajik groups, a majority of whom follow Shia Islam and speak the Dari language; northern Afghanistan dominated by Uzbek and Tajik of the Sufi Sunni strain of Islam who speak Turkic languages and Dari; and in the south and eastern part of the nation where the majority are Pashtun tribes who speak Pashto and follow the Wahabi Sunni school of Islam.
These divisions reflect Afghanistan’s complex history of invasion, colonisation, and incomplete efforts to create a unified, independent state. In 654 A.D Arab armies colonised and spread the message of Islam across the Hindu Kush mountains. They defeated the Buddhist rulers and established Yakub ibn Lias as first Muslim ruler of Afghanistan. The Ghaznavid dynasty lasted 200 years and consolidated Islamic rule further eastward into India. Genghis Khan captured Afghanistan in 1219 and the Mongol empire was later expanded by Taimur, who ruled from Samarkand, a city in modern-day Uzbekistan. Shah Rukh was a great connoisseur of art and culture and under his patronage, the region saw a unique blend of Persian and Central Asian culture. The Afghan Lodi dynasty ruled northern India from Delhi between 1451 and 1526. Babur, a descendent of Taimur, was driven out of the Fergana valley, an area shared by Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and the scene of recent ethnic violence. He first conquered Kabul in 1504 and later defeated the Pashtun Lodi dynasty and established Turkic Mogul rule in Delhi, which lasted until 1857 when the British Army ended it.
In the eighteenth century, the feuding tribes came together and established modern state of Afghanistan, driven by the power vacuum created by the decline of Persian Safavi dynasty in the west and the Turkic Moghul Empire in Delhi, and Uzbek Janid dynasty in north. Since then, the three distinct nationalities have never come together except briefly during the Soviet occupation when the warlords, tribal chiefs, and religious leaders fought together with funds and weapons supplied by the United States to bleed the occupiers.
Since Soviet forces withdrew, and the Soviet Union collapsed, Pakistan has played an increasingly important role in shaping the politics of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s trump card was to install Pashtuns as the new rulers and marginalise the northern and western ethnic groups. The interior minister of the Benazir Bhutto government, a Pashtun, conceptualised a strategy with the active cooperation of Pakistan’s Army and Intelligence service (ISI) to use both Afghani and Pakistani students (Taleban) studying in various Madrassas as mercenaries to capture southern Afghanistan and ensure Pakistan’s trade and sphere of influence with Central Asian Republics.
The Obama administration has to deal with many competing players in the 21st century Afghanistan. These players include: the Persian Turkic group north of the Hindu Kush mountains; Persian-speaking Hazaras and Tajiks in the western flank; the Pashtuns in the south and eastern regions and across the Durand Line. Another major outside player is Pakistan with its geopolitical, financial, and strategic interests in Afghanistan. The overarching aim of Iran is to support the government in Kabul and covertly provide aid to Taleban groups so as to bleed America. Iran also provides financial and material support to the Persian-speaking Hazara and Tajik populations.
India traditionally has supported the moderate leadership of the Northern Alliance, but has also been willing to support any dispensation in Kabul, which can keep the Jihadi elements under wraps and weaken Pakistan’s influence on Afghanistan.
Under such circumstances, the US cannot act as if it is fighting a conventional war, as it must constantly deal with such variegated interest groups. Pakistan has now positioned itself to fill the power vacuum it expects to open in July 2011 when US forces begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Sirjauddin Haqqani group (mentored by Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taleban leadership, and the Pakistani security apparatus) has been pushed, as an ally of President Hamid Karzai, by the Pakistani establishment on the pretext of rehabilitating Taleban groups. This might not bring peace to Afghanistan, which is inherently unstable, but would certainly destabilise Pakistan.
Nine years of an American effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan has not only cost billions of dollars, but is also in a state of disarray. America cannot expect to change the lifestyle and culture of Afghanistan. It is a nation in the loosest sense of the word, with little holding it together and much keeping it apart. Under the circumstances, it is prudent to concentrate on neutralising the terrorist activities of Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taleban with a limited presence rather than “winning” the war and wasting billions of additional dollars in the process.
Under a new calculus, America should encourage and mentor marginalised ethnic groups other than Pashtuns in order to facilitate power sharing. Ultimately, Afghanistan needs to be divided into three regions, with the aim of allowing the Dari and Turkic language-speaking groups to control the Pashtuns, and consequently allow for an American disengagement. America must prepare the country for a virtual federal structure with three autonomous regions, and keep Pakistan out of Afghanistan.
Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:54 AM
Pashtuns will be forced on their knees,
kissing our feets.
یادداشت تاجیک میدیا : در نظر داریم که پس از این گزیده ای از نوشتاری های تاجیکان را که در " فیس بوک " به نشر می رسند ، در تاجیک میدیا بازتاب دهیم . باید روشن سازیم که در فیس بوک ، نبشته ها ، بیشتر وقت ها ، به صورت پیام های مستقیم و در پاسخ به دوستان در گفتمان های مشخصی ، پیشکش می شوند که کسی توجه زیاد به ویرایش دقیق و درست نوشته ها نمی کند . برای آن که در اصل نوشتار ها و همان روحیه و حالت دوستانه و بسیار شخصی شان دگرگونی نیاید ، نبشته هایی را که برمی گزینیم بدون هیچگونه ویرایش به نشر می سپاریم . اینک ، نوشتاری را که اینجا می خوانید از جناب صبور رحیل دولتشاهی است که در صفحه فیس بوک " شورای شمالی " نشر شده بود . چون در این نبشته به نکته های مهمی اشاره شده است ، گمان می کنیم که برای شما عزیزان نیز جالب باشد . بخوانید و دیدگاه تان را با ما قسمت کنید . سپاس از شما . دبیران تاجیک میدیا .
دوستان عزیز در شورای شمالی را سلام و درود پیشکش حضور باد!
نخست از همه باید عزم شما برای ساختن شورای شمالی را ستود و برایتان تبریک گفت. خداوند پشتیبان و مددگار تان باشد.
بنده روز گذشته با آقای وهاب سایس- یکی از اعضای فیس بوکی شورای شمالی- در پیوند با شورای شمالی صحبت داشتم. صحبت های ما با آن که از یک انسجام لازم برخورد نبود اما حقایقی دران به میان آمد که نیاز به کنکاش و روشنی اندازی بیشتر دارد.
نخست این که باید روشن شود شورا چه اهدافی را دنبال می کند؟ برای بنده معلوم نیست که اهداف این شورا چیست و این اهداف را چگونه و برمبنای کدام معیار ها معین می سازد. اگر اهداف آن افغانستان شمول باشد، پس نام شورا نباید شورای شمالی باشد. اما اگر این شورا برای مردم شمالی و از مردم شمالی است پس اهداف آن باید بازتاب دهندهء منافع و نیاز های مشخص مردم شمالی باشد. دوستان می گویند که این اهداف باید در چوکات منافع کل افغانستان در نظر گرفته شود. اما پرسش اینجاست که ما "افغانستان" و منافع افغانستان را چگونه مشخص می سازیم. بسیاری بدین باور اند که افغاننستان کشوریست که نظام سیاسی اش برمبنای خواست، منافع، هویت و نیاز های کلیه مردم آن ساخته نشده و ما هنوز "کشور ملت" نیستیم. پس چگونه می توان منافع شمالی را در یک چوکات واهی و موهوم و نا مشخص معین کرد؟
و بنابر همین دلیل است که امروز کسانی را برای ساختن شورای شمالی واداشته. چرا که دولت مرکزی و نظام موجود توانایی تامین منافع مردم را ندارد. ورنه چه نیازی به شورای شمالیست- زمانیست که ما شورای ملی داریم؟
نتیجه گیری من از وضع، چنانچه در بالا توضیح گردید، اینست که نظام سیاسی ما بیمار است و توانایی جلب اعتماد مردم را ندارد و نه هم شایستگی اعتماد کردن است. بنا بران نیاز به تشکیل شورای شمالی و شورای جنوبی و غربی و مشرقی است. یعنی نظام موجود نهادهایی ندارد که مردم را از ساختن شورا هایی ازین دست در برون از نظام بی نیاز بسازد.
حالا که هرکس، هر قوم و باشندگان هر منطقه به فکر خود اند. معنی اش اینست که کتله های مختلف اجتماعی منافع خاص خود را در تشکلات جداگانه و مشخص خود شان دنبال می کنند. این کتله های اجتماعی می توانند روی محور های زبانی، قومی، مذهبی و یا هم منطقوی تشکیل شوند؛ چنانچه شده اند. حالا اگر رفتن به دنبال گروه های قومی و تکیه بر گروهگرایی های قومی بد است- که هست، پس باید برای اصلاح نظام عمل کرد و نظام یک نظام نماینده ساخت- نمایندهء همه اقشار و طبقات و اقوام مردم. نظامی که مورد اعتماد مردم باشد. اگر کسی به قومگرایی اعتقادی ندارد و آنرا مردود می شمارد باید برای ساختن یک تشکل بزرگ سرتاسری کار کند و ساختن شورا های منطقوی توجیهی ندارد. اما اگر تصور بران است که درین کشور و با همین دیدگاه های موجود و حاکم برجامعه امکان ساختن یک حزب و تشکل سیاسی همگانی موجود نیست، پس چه باید کرد؟ ایا باید گذاشت که تشکلات قومی ساخته شده برمقدرات ما حاکم شوند و حقوق ما را به تاراج ببرند؟ آیا لازم نیست تا زمانی که ذهنیت ها برای تن دادن به یک ساختار فکری سراسری و همگانی برای حفظ حقوق مردم خود کاری کنیم؟ از دید من باید تا رسیدن روز موعود و تارسیدن به زمانی که حق را بر مبنای حقوق شهروندی تقسیم کنیم، باید تشکلات قومی خود را داشته باشیم. هزاره تشکل خود را دارد، پشتون تشکل خود را و ازبک تشکل خود را. اینجا تنها تاجیکان اند که حضور مشخص و نیرومندی ندارند. همین حالا بازیگران اصلی قدرت افغان ملت، حزب وحدت و جنبش اند. آنچه به نام شورای نظار و جمعیت شناخته می شد و به تاجیکان پیوند داده می شد دیگر حضور و نقشی در نظام ندارد و تنها افرادی در نظام وجود دارند که برای خود شخص خود کار می کنند و هیچگونه برنامه، بینش و خواست ملی، قومی و سراسری ندارند. اینها بلی گویان دربار اند و بس. این درحالیست که حزب وحدت، چنبش و افغان ملت درای برنامه و خواستهای مشخص خود اند و این خواست ها را به خاطر نفوذ و حاکمیت شان در نظام روز به روز تطبیق کرده می روند.
وحالا درین جو سیاسی تب زده، آنچه ما می خواهیم روی آن صجبت کنیم، شورای شمالیست. یعنی یک کتلهء اجتماعی برمبنای منطقه. و این منطقه دارای یک هویت تاریخی مشخص است. تصور ما اینست که همهء شمالی را می توانیم، صرفنظر از پیوند های قومی و زبانی شان درین شورا گردهم بیاریم. این یک خواست شرافتمندانه است، اما آیا ممکن است؟
این شورای چگونه مردم و پیروان و یا آنها یا آن چیزی را که می خواهند از آنها نمایندگی کنند، معرفی بدارند؟ تا زمانی که خود را نشناسند، چگونه منافع خود را تعریف می توانند بکنند؟ گیرم که شورای شمالی یعنی شورای باشندگان شمالی. حالا منافع این مردم چیست؟ این منافع می تواند اینها باشند:
1- مکتب و دانشگاه
2- شفاخانه و کلینیک صحی
3- خدمات عامهء دیگر (برق، آب، تیلفون، انترنت، تلویزیون، اخبار)
4- کار در جهت حفظ هویت فرهنگی و تاریخی این منطقه
5- تامین کار برای مردم
6- بالا بردن سطح تولیدات زراعتی منطقه
7- دو سویه شدن سرک کابل جبل السراج به مثابهء یک نیاز مبرم روز
این لست می تواند درازتر ازین شود.
این خواست ها تنها برای پیروان یک مذهب و گویندگان یک قوم نیست. می تواند برای همگان باشد. در هر منطقۀ دیگری مردم می توانند خواست های مشابهی داشته باشند. در یک نظام دموکراتیک برآورده کردن این نیاز ها از طریق شورای ملی و حکومت میسر است. اما چه شده است که ما باید برای تامین نیاز های خود شورای دیگری بسازیم؟
اینجا حتماً مسایل هست. این مسایل کدام ها اند؟ ایا در برابر مردم شمالی تبعیض روا میدارند؟ چه کسی این تبعیض را روا میدارد و مبنای تبعیض چیست؟ آیا تبعیض گران در برابر همهء مردم شمالی برخورد یکسان دارند؟ اگر یکسان نیست، بازهم باید پرسید که فرق میان یک اهل شمالی با دیگرش از نظر تبعیض گران حکومتی چیست و مبنا کدام است؟؟؟؟
بنده در پیوند با همگرایی و همنوایی اقوام هیچ مخالفتی ندارم. اما حرف من اینست که باید تاجیکها چه در سطح شمالی و چه در سطح کشور گردهم بیایند و برای تامین و دفاع از منافع، هویت و خواست های خود به تشکیل حزب و سازمان و موسسات مشابه بپردازند. این تشکل هرگز، از نظر من، نباید در دشمنی، تحقیر ویا رویارویی با اقوام دیگر باشد. بلکه طرف این تشکل تنها و تنها نظام سیاسی حاکم باشد. ما با هزاره و پشتون و ازبک دعوی نداریم. ما با دولت دعوی داریم و خواهان تامین عدالت اجتماعی می باشیم.
ازینروست که بنده بر محور تاجکی شورا تاکید کردم. چرا که پشتون های منطقه با دولت قومگرا در پیوند اند. هرچند از نبود کمبوداتی که در سطح منطقه وجود دارد انها نیز رنج می برند اما این دوستان از حکومت امتیاز های دیگری می گیرند که تفصیل آن بحث دیگری را ایجاب می کند. هزاره ها و ازبیک ها نیز برای خود تشکلات خود را دارند که برایشان امتیاز می گیرد و حتی دولت با دادن امتیاز به ازبک و هزاره آنها را در برابر تاجیکها قرار می دهد. ما همه شاهد استیم که از 550 فارع التحصیل صنف دوازدهم ولایت دایکندی همه به موسسات تعلیمات عالی راه یافتند اما از 800 فارغ التحصیل پنجشیر تنها 200 نفر کامباب شدند- آنهم در دارالملمین ها....
به سخن دیگر محور قومگرایی در سطح کشور چنان نیرومند است که به مشکل می توان مردم را از گرایشها و پیوند های قومی و زبانی شان برون بیاوریم و در چوکات منطقوی (شمالی و جنوبی و مشرقی) گردشان بیاوریم....
حالا اگر مانند آنچه در قندهار و پکتیا و جلال آباد صورت می گیرد، ما هم نام شورا را شمالی بگذاریم و هویت یک قوم را بر همهء منطقه تحمیل کنیم، درانصورت در گام نخست این "چشم سفیدی و بیحیایی" را در مردم شمالی نمی بینم و در گام دوم این کار غیر عادلانه بوده و با این کار ما تلف شدن حقوق مردم فارسی زبان و تاجیکان ولایات شرقی، و حنوبی و غربی کشور را نادیده گرفته به سرنوشت و هویت آنها خیانت می کنیم. من نه حاضرم هویت قومی پشتون های شمالی را نادیده بگیرم و نه هم می توانم بپذیرم که هویت تاجیکان و فارسی زبانان ننگرهار، لغمان، لوگر، گردیز، ارگون و غیره نابود شود.
پس نقش و کاربرد شورای شمالی در جامعه و سیاست آینده و امروز کشور چیست و چه می تواند باشد؟
شورای شمالی در کجای این ماجراست و چه می خواهد، من نمیدانم. اگر کسی هست که توضیح کند بفرماید تا روشن شویم.
این هم یک بخش دیگر نظر آقای دولتشاهی که در همان صفحه به صورت جداگانه نشر شده بود :
از نظر من باید تاجک های شمالی (فارسی زبانان شمالی) باید در مرکز این شوری باشند. هم هزاره و هم پشتون شمالی در طول تاریخ دیده ایم که سرنوشت جدا از ما داشته اند. آنها به زاویهء قومیت خود در برهه های مختف تاریخ از ما برگشته اند و به گروه ها و کتله های بزرگ قومی خود پیوسته و دلبسته بودند. ما نه با آنها منافقت می کنیم و نه هم روی آنها حساب کرده و خام طمع می شویم. یک بار تشکل تاجکان شمالی را که ستم صدسالهء انگلیس و نوکران آنرا چشیده اند و در هیچ مقطعی از زمان هم به ما رحم نمی شود، ایجاد کنیم. پس ازان با همین هویت و درحالیکه خود از درون مضبوط استیم، با دیگران وارد گفتگو می شویم. تا هم دیگران بدانند که ما کی استیم و هم خودما در هرگذرگاه تاریخ منافع خود را تشخیص کرده و سازماندهی لازم برای برآورده ساختن اهداف ما دشته باشیم.
ازینروست که می گویم، باید هستهء مرکزی و اصلی باید برمبنای تاجکان باشد. حتی آنرا به جای شمالی باید تاجکان کابلزمین بسازید. چاردهی، پغمان، چارآسیاب، شیوه کی، ولایتی، بگرامی، بتخاک و ده سبزرا از یاد نباید برد. نباید این مناطق را به دیگران بگذاریم و خود عقب نشینی کنیم به سالنگ ها....
می شود شورای شمالی به شورای کابلزمین تبدیل شود... اما به هوش باید بود که کابلزمین یعنی تاجکزمین. اگر این هسته ساخته شد، شما باور کنید که تا لغمان و غزنی و گردیز و هرجای دیگر توسعه می یابیم. تاجکان را باید جمع کرد. از هرهیچگونه عاقبت و پیامدش هم نباید ترسید. باید طرح بزرگی ریخت و بازهم مرکزش باید شمالی باشد. وچرا می گویم "باید"؟ زیرا وظیفهء تاریخی اش است. چرا که اگر شمالی به راه نیفتد این قوم را هیچکس دیگر جمع کرده نمی تواند. تاریخ چنین بوده است.
We will not allow Paki dick sucking Pashatins or whatever making our country to a fifth province of Pakistan!
Posted 17 June 2011 - 01:55 PM
United Khorsan and Tajikistan! Greater Tajikistan/Parsistan is on rising... Taliban can pack their bags to move back/run cowardly back to their holes on the Sulaiman Mountains´ caves!
Posted 17 June 2011 - 10:20 PM
Shaheed Ahmad Shah Massoud´s son, Ahmad Massoud, is talking to the nation. Listen!
Posted 19 June 2011 - 11:40 AM
It was here that the Afghan mujahedeen fought the Soviets to a standstill during the 1980s before forcing them from the country, and here also that Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban resistance retreated when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996. Despite support from Pakistan and Osama bin Laden’s Arab Brigade, the Taliban never subdued the valley. For five years, they were held back here by Ahmad Shah Massoud, the military commander known as the Lion of Panjshir. Massoud rejected the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islam and the often-murderous ethnic Pashtun supremacism that went with it. He was assassinated by al-Qaeda agents posing as journalists days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and never lived to see his soldiers march back into the Afghan capital two months later.
Today, Massoud lies in a hilltop tomb visited daily by dozens of Afghans from all over the country. The Panjshir Valley remains an anti-Taliban heartland. Insurgents rarely penetrate it—though in some of the villages below its mouth they are said to have spotters who watch for kidnapping opportunities. But many Panjshiris, among other Afghans who opposed the Taliban during its time in power, are angered by developments elsewhere in the country that they see as a betrayal—namely President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to make peace with the Taliban, and concessions they fear he might offer to strike a deal.
The Afghan president has adopted “reintegration and reconciliation” as an official policy. Reintegration involves persuading low-level Taliban fighters to defect, while reconciliation refers to attempts to reach a formal settlement with insurgent leaders. Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, secretary of the High Peace Council, confirmed in April that talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are under way. “We’re in touch. We talk all the time. We’ve sent representatives to their side, and they’ve sent representatives to our side,” he said at a news conference.
Afghanistan’s international allies, including Canada, back the process. “We’re recognizing that a political settlement will be necessary. We’re supporting those efforts,” says Frédéric Maurette, a spokesperson for the Afghanistan Task Force at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs. The United States and European nations have pledged more than $200 million to support peace efforts, though little of this has actually been spent. American officials from the CIA and State Department have also met at least three times in recent months with Tayeb Agha, once a close aide to fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. The Americans are reportedly seeking to contact Mullah Omar directly.
Previous efforts at peace negotiations with the Taliban have floundered. Yet as the war grinds on and NATO member states seek to withdraw their troops, a negotiated political solution appears increasingly attractive. What’s often overlooked is whether Afghans themselves will agree to such a deal. “The Afghan people will never join with a group they fought for so long, that hosted terrorism and stomped on human rights in Afghanistan,” says Abdul Razzaq Malin, who once fought with Massoud and is now a judge in the western Afghan city of Herat. He spoke with Maclean’s at Massoud’s tomb, where he says he comes as often as he can “to remember and to pray for his soul.”
“Wars always end with negotiations,” he says. “There should be negotiations. We’re not opposed to them. But the Taliban are not ready to accept the constitution. They are not willing to accept human rights and Afghanistan as a democratic country.”
A few kilometres downriver, Faheem Dashty, an Afghan journalist and former member of Massoud’s Northern Alliance, sits in the garden of his brother’s home. Two relatives lie buried here. They died in a Soviet bombardment and it was too dangerous to take their bodies to a cemetery. The Russians and Massoud’s forces later signed a ceasefire in the same house. Dashty was with Massoud when al-Qaeda agents detonated a bomb hidden in their television camera. His hands are covered in scar tissue; he says his memory has been affected.
“There are two extremes coming together,” he says, referring to the reconciliation process. “On this side we believe in human rights, women’s rights, freedom, justice, democracy. From that side, they are fundamentally against these values. They believe in an Islamic system, which doesn’t actually have anything to do with the teachings of Islam. If we reconcile, one side has to sacrifice its values, either this side or their side. President Karzai may want to sacrifice his values, but the people of Afghanistan will not accept that. Their side will never sacrifice its values either.”
Dashty points out that while the Taliban may justify its current bloody campaign because of the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, “they were still committing mass killings and war crimes in the 1990s. Our options are either to defeat them, or lose the war. There is no third option.”
ONE THURSDAY last month, more than 10,000 people gathered under colourful tents in the parking lot of a Kabul wedding hall to protest peace talks with the Taliban.
The rally was organized by Amrullah Saleh, the former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, and once an aide to Massoud. Karzai forced his resignation last year, and since then Saleh has been building the National Movement, a loose political group opposed to deal-making with the Taliban, and to President Karzai himself. He, along with former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who ran against Karzai in the 2009 presidential election, are the organization’s most visible faces. Like many of the anti-regime political movements that have recently swept through the Middle East, this one has a large and active online presence.
Saleh is a slim man who looks as if he might be muscular beneath his well-cut suit. He has short, bristly hair and a clean-shaven face. He speaks forcefully and with easy confidence, slicing and stabbing at the air in front of him with his hands. At the rally he attacked Karzai because of the president’s habit of referring to the Taliban as “brothers.” “They are not my brothers. They are not your brothers. They are our enemies,” he told the crowd.
The throng, many waving green flags, shouted back: “Death to the Taliban. Death to suicide bombers. Death to the Punjabis”—a reference to Pakistanis they believe control the Taliban.
“I am not advocating for the continuation of war,” Saleh told Maclean’s a week after the rally. “I am advocating for a dignified end to the conflict, not a deal. We cannot slaughter justice for the sake of achieving a deceptive stability. I’m not saying don’t negotiate. I’m saying, for the sake of negotiations, don’t tear down your fortress. The enemy has besieged your fortress. Don’t tear down the walls to appease the enemy.”
A deal with the Taliban would not lead to real peace, says Saleh. Too many Afghans would reject it. “If I see my dignity no longer defended by the current order, we have to defend it by whatever means we have,” Saleh says. “Currently our only means is civil action. We demonstrated that we can organize civil action. So the government needs to respect this. Respect our voice. Don’t push us to the streets.”
The worst fear of many Afghans is a return to civil war, with the country dividing violently along ethnic lines. The Taliban are mostly Pashtuns from Afghanistan’s south, plus Pakistani recruits. The Northern Alliance drew largely from Afghanistan’s other ethnic groups, such as the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. Some opposed to Karzai’s reconciliation efforts say a deal will lead to Pashtun domination. “Pashtuns want this to be a Pashtun country. We are against this,” a National Movement organizer told Maclean’s.
But Saleh claims his movement is a broad one. “What I call the anti-Taliban constituency, it’s not ethnic. It’s not south, north. It’s a constituency that wants justice,” he says. “Without implementing justice, you bow to a group that only knows beheadings, intimidation, suicide bombings, marginalization of society, crushing of civil society. That will not bring stability.”
The result, says Saleh, will instead be a more powerful Taliban ready to do Pakistan’s bidding in Afghanistan. He compares such an outcome to the Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon. It functions as a state within a state that bends the central government to its will. Saleh believes the Taliban and Pakistan aspire to the same.
Saleh’s hard line against Pakistan contributed to his falling-out with Karzai. Although he had an excellent relationship with the United States while he was Afghanistan’s intelligence chief—and it’s safe to assume those ties remain—Saleh believes America also underestimates Pakistani ambitions in his country. Western support for the reconciliation process doesn’t deter him. “I’m not raising this voice in sync with the interests of some other country,” he says. “We were not fighting for America and we are not fighting for America. Yesterday we were fighting for protection and defence of our dignity, and today we have raised our voice for the same purpose. So if the Western narrative has become compromise at the cost of us, it doesn’t mean because a few countries have decided to sell us out that we should remain silent.”
AFGHANISTAN’S peace-making efforts have had little effect. Some Taliban foot soldiers have come to the government’s side, but few leaders have. Last year a man who claimed to be a top Taliban commander met three times with NATO and Afghan officials, including President Karzai. He turned out to be an imposter and a clever fraud artist.
There are good reasons to be skeptical about any sort of breakthrough happening now. If, as many Afghans believe, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency runs the Taliban, a deal won’t be possible without Islamabad’s approval. It also seems clear that Afghanistan’s various insurgent groups are not sufficiently united to make binding collective decisions. There are several networks, and striking a bargain with one leader won’t deliver the others.
Finally, there’s little evidence that the Taliban are serious about peace. None of the deals reached between the Pakistani government and Taliban insurgents in that country lasted. The Taliban simply used them to gather strength before resuming their holy war. Attempts to negotiate with Afghan Taliban over the last few years haven’t even resulted in a Pakistani-style pact they could temporarily pretend to support.
Waheed Mozhdah is an Afghan who worked in the Taliban’s foreign ministry during its years in power and who knew Osama bin Laden since he first came to Afghanistan during the 1980s. Mozhdah now lives quietly in his Kabul house, with at least one squawking parrot in the garden. He has left the movement but is in touch with insurgent leaders now fighting NATO and the Afghan government.
Mozhdah tells Maclean’s that he and those leaders argue back and forth, including about the reconciliation process. They say there’s no point negotiating away gains they have earned on the battlefield. They ask why jihad was right against the Soviets but not against America. Mozhdah counters that even beating the Russians didn’t do much good in the end. Eastern Europe got its freedom and all Afghanistan got was more war. None of these conversations end with the Taliban deciding to make peace.
Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan’s defence minister, remains optimistic. He too implies he is in touch with the insurgents battling his government. “I know them. Some of them were my friends when we were fighting the Soviets,” he says. “If I make contact, I won’t tell you.”
So far, says Wardak, about 1,000 Taliban fighters have defected, taking up the government’s offer of help and protection in exchange for putting down their guns. He says these men are not often ideological radicals. They’re mercenaries. They’re fighting because they are poor or because they have local grievances that can be dealt with. Insurgent leaders are harder fish to catch. “It will depend more on the countries or the powers that are giving them sanctuary and support,” says Wardak, meaning Pakistan and its spy agency. But at least depriving Taliban leaders of grunts and low-level commanders will weaken them, he says. He predicts this process will accelerate. “The other side is testing us. If we deal properly with the initial re-integrees, there will be more to come. And I do believe in the future we can make some jackpots.”
As for the National Movement and Afghans who rally against peace-making with the Taliban, it’s all “political games,” Wardak says dismissively. “You see, the source of all evil here was the Communist party, which brought all these miseries upon us,” he says, referring to a 1978 coup that was followed by a Soviet invasion and a long and brutal war. “They initiated everything. More than two million Afghans were killed, and there were hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans and handicaps, right now also. We were able to forgive them. So what do you think the chances are of forgiving these others?”
THE TALIBAN, however, are not asking for forgiveness. They’re fighting to regain their power. Undefeated, they would want something in exchange for ending the war. Afghan women, who have benefited from the increased freedom of the post-Taliban era, have the most to lose.
“I’m not only worried. We are all afraid,” says Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan member of parliament and frequent recipient of Taliban threats. She says she will run for president in 2014. “If President Karzai paved the way for Talibanization, the worst would be for us women and the young generation of this country. Things would go worse in terms of our rights violations but also our security. Because most of us are now public figures. We’ve taken so much risk just to make reforms.”
Kooﬁ believes Karzai is undermining Afghanistan’s democratic foundation by appointing a peace council to oversee negotiations with insurgents, rather than working through the elected parliament. And if the Taliban do regain their influence, she says, many Afghans will revolt. “Because these people will not be happy with Talibanization, they will go to civil war,” she says.
Others believe Afghanistan has come too far for fundamental rights to be bargained away. During the Taliban years, Shukria Barakzai, a parliamentary colleague of Koofi, was beaten in the streets of Kabul by regime enforcers. Uncowed, she established an underground school for girls. But talks with the Taliban don’t worry her. “Reconciliation is not an option. Reconciliation is a need,” she says, adding that those opposed to it, namely Saleh and Abdullah, are motivated by thirst for political power and a desire to move Afghanistan closer to India, which backed the Northern Alliance during the Taliban’s reign.
Barakzai was a member of the 2003 loya jirga that endorsed Afghanistan’s current constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression and the rights of women. She’s proud of that. She’s confident the constitution and the freedoms it promises will endure. “This is not something that will be in the hands of Hamid Karzai. The Afghan constitution is not a Karzai diary-book that he can change, write in, or remove pages from. This is the constitution that gives identity to Karzai and an elected president for five years, with specific duties.”
Barakzai says any attempts to make concessions on fundamental rights in the course of negotiations with the Taliban will be resisted. “I was the one who during the Taliban had my own girls’ school. I’m the one that wore a burka for five years by their order. I’m the one who ran a women’s organization under the Taliban when everything was closed and there was bad discrimination. Why? Because I’m a woman. I was the one that would not keep quiet at the time. How can you say that I would accept whatever they order of me? No way. Maybe in a dream.”
THE WEST’S BIGGEST mistake, according to members of Afghanistan’s political opposition, has been to back Hamid Karzai, rather than democracy and the country’s democratic institutions. This, they argue, has obscured from Western governments who their real friends in Afghanistan are.
“In the last 10 years we’ve seen a constant confrontation between forces of democracy and those who believe in tribalism, traditionalism, ethnicity and so on,” says Mahmoud Saikal, a former Afghan deputy foreign minister and long-time diplomat. He’s now part of the movement opposed to Karzai and a Taliban peace deal. “Naturally a person who believes in tribalism hates the ballot box, because the ballot box will unseat him.”
Karzai, says Saikal, knows he is losing the support of democratic Afghans, and so is pandering to Pashtun tribalism and to Taliban sympathizers. “Even though there is quiet among the people of Afghanistan, deep in their hearts, the closer Mr. Karzai gets to the Taliban, the bigger this distance will grow between the people of Afghanistan and Mr. Karzai,” he says.
Saikal warns that Afghanistan’s international allies risk finding themselves isolated along with the Afghan president. “This thing has become too personalized,” he says. “We should have supported processes. We should have supported systems. We should have supported the democratization of this country. We should have supported strengthening the rule of law and the institutionalization of Afghanistan, as opposed to looking for a figurehead and putting whatever we have behind this person and believing everything will be fine. It’s not.”
But allegations that support for Karzai and other friendly figureheads costs the West the goodwill of ordinary Afghans don’t always resonate with Afghanistan’s international partners. “I think it depends on which Afghans you’re hearing those criticisms from,” Alisa Stack, deputy chief of stability operations for ISAF Joint Command, told Maclean’s. “I tend to hear that from very well-educated Afghans in Kabul. If we go back to Kandahar or some of these areas, they’re much more focused on local government and building a resilient community.”
After 10 years of war, the West’s support for Karzai has taken on a momentum of its own. Now, with the prospect of a peace deal, Karzai offers the promise of an end to war and a chance for everyone to go home. It’s tempting. Saikal believes it’s an illusion, and chasing it is a mistake. The Taliban must still be defied, and democracy built.
“It’s going to be a rocky road, but it’s worth it,” he says. “At the end of the day, it will be a durable and sustainable solution for all, including the Canadian forces and the American forces who are looking for their own security in this part of the world. To me, a peace deal means absolutely nothing. What is needed is to make sure this country functions. It looks like we’ve put all our eggs in one basket now, looking for peace with the Taliban. And I can tell you one thing—that after a lot of effort and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars, you may reach that peace deal. But you will have lost the Afghan people.”
Barakzai is a whore. Till yesterday he was married to an Tajik NA member and today she barks while knowing clearly what she will face when her kinsmen come back. Even such Tajizied sluts are today anti-Tajiks.
Posted 24 June 2011 - 09:56 PM
Oppostion of former NA members and Mujaheddins reorganized against criminal Pashtun government.
By Our Correspondent
Kabul: Three Strong political parties decided to form a new opposition alliance. Jamiate-e Islami, People’s Unity Party of Afghanisatn (Wahdat) led by Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq and National Islamic Party of Afghanistan (Junbish) founded by Gen. Abdur Rashid Dostum decided to get around a new political alliance.
The meeting was hosted by Mohaqiq on Thursday June 23, 2011, attended by many popular politicians; Ahmad Zia Massoud, the former Senior Vice President and the brother of Afghan legend Ahmad Shah Massoud (late), Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, General Abdur Rashid Dostum, Sayyed Noorrullah Sadaat, Mohammad Natiqi and couple of MPs.
After a detailed discussion about the ongoing Afghan crisis and stalemate, they have decided that a new political alliance should be built up. Ahmad Zia Massoud said to the daily Outlook Afghanistan that Afghanistan needs a new opposition coalition which could properly address the current political deadlock of the country. “It is the time to put forward a new alternative to the nation otherwise the ongoing political downfall and growing distrust among the people will put the integrity of the country in serious danger,” he said.
Mohaqiq said that the absence of viable opposition which could logically criticize and lead the government is the necessity of time since the current administration fails to deliver to the nation. The Karzai led government is pushing the nation to a dangerous dead end.” Sayyed Noorullah Sadaat, the Chairman of the Northern based Junbish Party Said, “Karzai fails to adequately offer the response to the challanges posed to the nation. He almost lost his credibility nationally and internationally as a leader who could lead Afghanistan in this critical time period. That’s why we decided to initiate this new alliance.”
Responding to the question about the aims and the objectives of this new alliance, Ahmad Zia Massoud said, “We discussed in detail the flawed Reconciliation process, proposed traditional Loya Jirga, Current crisis of the parliament after the controversial verdict of the Special Electoral Tribunal’s disqualifying tens of sitting MPs, Afghanistan’s deteriorating relations with international community, Upcoming regional conference in Turkey and the second Bonn Conference to be held at the end of the year. Soon the detailed programs of the alliance will be issued to the media….” “We are waiting for the response of some of the leaders whom we have already invited to join us.” “The alliance won’t be based on ethnic and regional lines rather it will provide a comprehensive way out of the current stalemate” he added.
According to the information this was the third sitting of the mentioned leaders and by the next week they are planning to officially announce the name and the main objective of the alliance. The source with condition of anonymity said that the alliance is going to challenge the President Karzai’s ongoing peace talks with Taliban, demanding for Parliamentary Democracy and emphasize on Decentralization of Power before the withdrawal of International Coalition Forces from Afghanistan in 2014. It is not yet known the connection of this alliance with the already active opposition led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Amrullah Saleh. There are differences of view among the Experts whether the underway opposition alliance will invite Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Amrullah Saleh to join them.
Posted 01 July 2011 - 03:06 PM
Kharzai want to reestablish a Pashtun-led state. Will he be succesful?
Posted 06 August 2011 - 12:36 PM
South Asian News Agency (SANA) ⋅ July 24, 2011 ⋅
S Iftikhar Murshed
By 2014 the withdrawal of US and Nato forces will have been completed and, in the words of President Obama, “the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security”. This, however, will only be possible through genuine reconciliation among the various Afghan groups which, in turn, necessitates the creation of a mechanism to ensure that the composition of future governments will be in accordance with the ethnic map of the country. It is the quest for national cohesion in a heterogeneous population that defines the Afghanistan problem.
Afghanistan emerged as a loose confederation of Pushtun tribes under Ahmad Shah Abdali in 1747, and its identity became synonymous with Pushtun nationalism. Despite the presence of other ethnic groups, the country has unfortunately been run by and for the Pashtuns through most of its troubled history. The ethnic minorities notably the Tajiks, Uzbeks Turkmen and Hazaras have, with considerable justification, been described as “the victims of internal colonisation”. This needs to be revisited in order to understand the formidable obstacles that impede the establishment of sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The Tajiks lost their state with the fall of the Samanids, but continued to fight stubbornly to preserve their independence. It was only in the first half of the nineteenth century that the Pushtun feudal lords defeated the Tajik peasants of the Kabul, Kandahar and Ghazni regions. In the 1830s a bitter struggle between the Tajiks and the Pashtuns began, which culminated in the 1880s when Amir Abdur Rahman with the help of the British succeeded in finally breaking the Tajik resistance.
The establishment of Pushtun authority in the Tajik areas was accompanied by the confiscation of land from the local aristocracy, the forcible seizure of small holdings from the peasantry, and the transfer of unworked land to the state. The vast state holdings thus acquired were distributed among the Pushtun migrants who formed military colonies in these areas. The indigenous population was strangulated economically through the imposition of exorbitant taxes from which the Pashtuns were exempted.
The process was repeated with the Uzbeks and the Turkmen but it was the Hazaras who suffered the most because, as Shiias, they were detested by all Afghan groups. Jealousy and envy also played a role because, unlike the other ethnic minorities, the Hazaras had guarded their independence and did not submit for a prolonged period to any outside power.
The people of the Hazarajat accepted only their own leadership till the 1890s, when they were finally subjugated, after a long and fierce conflict lasting several decades, by Abdur Rahman. Not only did they lose a considerable portion of their land to the Pushtun feudal lords but also suffered persecution, the severity of which has few parallels even by Afghan standards. The heads of slaughtered Hazaras were placed on pillars along the highways as a warning to those contemplating rebellion.
The bazaars of Kandahar and other major towns were filled with Hazara prisoners who were sold at cheap prices as slaves. A foreigner who happened to be Kabul in the 1890s wrote: “A short while ago a Hazara baby was bought for half-a-crown, and the purchaser got the mother for fifteen shillings.” The possession of Hazara slaves became a status symbol for prosperous Pashtuns. Even after slavery was abolished by King Amanullah, the Hazaras continued to live as outcasts possessing neither wealth nor any rights.
In the 1960s, a second infiltration of the Hazara areas took place when about 60,000 Pashtuns from the plains were settled in the Harzarajat. The local population meekly accepted this as they were too weak to offer any resistance. In this period they also became the victims of wealthy Pashtuns who lent them money at interest rates that verged on extortion.
As was inevitable under the circumstances, the power base in Afghanistan has constantly remained extremely narrow. Its exercise has been the privilege of the Pashtuns, within the Pashtuns of the Durranis, and within the Durranis of the Barakzais. For almost half a century during which power rested with the Mohammadzai branch of the Barakzai clan (tribalism/ethnocentrism), Afghanistan was controlled by an inner cabinet consisting of important members of the royal family and a few of their trusted associates. Command positions in the army were invariably held by members of the royal family and, in some instances, by staunch supporters of the monarchy.
The successful coup by Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan in July 1973 against his cousin, King Zahir Shah, merely ended the monarchy but did not result in any diffusion of power. In effect, power was transferred from the former oligarchy to a single individual. Without exception, Afghan cabinets have been dominated by Pashtuns completely out of proportion to the population ratio. For instance, in a cabinet of sixteen, the number of non-Pashtuns hardly exceeded one and very rarely two. Even this meagre representation was not always ensured.
Against this backdrop it is intriguing that during their repressive rule over most of Afghanistan from 1996-2001, the Pushtun-dominated Taliban appointed eleven non-Pashtuns as governors, some of them in Pushtun provinces, and included four or five members of the minority groups in the cabinet. Despite this the fierce internal conflict that started after the capture of Kabul by the Taliban on Sept 27, 1996, was entirely ethnic in nature. Resistance to the Taliban onslaught was provided by the Northern Alliance, the dominant components of which were the Tajik Jamiat-e-Islami led by Burhanuddin Rabbani, Dostum’s Uzbek Jumbish-e-Milli, and the Shiia Hizb-e-Wahdat headed by Karim Khalili.
The ethnic factor has always been at the heart of the Afghan problem. For instance several years before the emergence of the Taliban, Rabbani was one of the four founding members of an organisation which styled itself as a movement against national oppression. This group consisted only of Tajiks and dedicated itself to redress the persecution which the ethnic minorities had suffered from centuries of Pushtun rule. Rabbani, however, left the movement because of differences between him and its leader, Tahir Badakshani, on tactics and strategy.
Similarly, the underlying impulse behind the creation of the Jamiat-e-Islami by Rabbani in 1970 was to replace more than two-and-a half centuries of Pushtun rule by that of the Tajiks who constitute the largest ethnic minority. When Rabbani succeeded Mujaddadi as the president of Afghanistan in accordance with the provisions of the Peshawar Accord in June 1992, he removed Pashtuns from key positions in the administration and the army and replaced them with Tajiks.
As a safeguard against Pushtun ''domination'', all other ethnic groups have persistently demanded maximum autonomy. Thus the Hizb-e-Wahdat, which was established when Iran merged the eight Shiia factions, sought: (i) semi-independent status for which the country would have to become a federation; (ii) the Jafferia school of thought as a principal religious doctrine alongside the Hanafi School; and (iii) one-third of all government posts.
The turmoil in Afghanistan today has its roots in the past. However it is much more complicated than in the earlier phases of Afghan history because of the nexus between the Taliban insurgency and Al-Qaeda. The Taliban have constructed the narrative that they alone represent the Pashtuns and towards this end have target-killed important Pashtuns in the government. Since January, five of the six top leaders who have been assassinated, including the president’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, were Pashtuns.
President Karzai’s reintegration programme announced on July 20, 2010, and the subsequent establishment of the High Peace Council headed by the controversial Burhanuddin Rabbani has achieved little. If the Taliban are prevailed upon to renounce terrorism, only an intra-Afghan dialogue, without external interference, will yield a permanent settlement based on proportionate representation of all ethnic groups in the government and the military.
The writer publishes the Criterion quarterly. Email: iftimurshed@gmail. Com
This filthy filths say always such a thing will never happen while we the educated Tajiks warn them always 10years, 50years and hundred years earlier. While they deny such realities in the meanwhile it happens. Pakistan will ruling Pashtuns. Pashtuns will become Pakis and Panjabi and Urdu speaking people, losing their own identity in the next 75yeas, except (maybe) for the population of FATA. But as dumb people they will kill themself and Pashtuns in general as uneducated and most backward people on this world will not realize it. They still believe in their fake nationalism and their fake history that was written in the mid of the 20s century to make them more savage and aggressive against ''invaders'' (they always brought by themself) while in the past always serving as slaves and servants. Forgery of history for nothing. The weakness will stay the same.
Posted 06 August 2011 - 12:37 PM
The U.S. wants a negotiated peace with the Taliban. Here are the issues we'll face, and how they might be resolved
The timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is now clear: 10,000 troops out by the end of this year and 23,000 more out by the end of next summer. That will leave 67,000 troops, who, if all goes according to plan, will be withdrawn before the end of 2014, with a possible residual assistance force of unspecified size thereafter. That solves the military equation. But what about the political formula? How will Afghanistan be governed after we leave? Will it remain under its current constitution? What role will there be for the Taliban? How will power be shared between Kabul and the provinces? How about the most troublesome neighbor, Pakistan? What will its role be? And what can the United States do to make the answers these questions come out in a direction that does as little harm to our interests as possible?
President Obama in his withdrawal announcement last month was remarkably silent on these issues. While clear as usual that our primary interest in Afghanistan is to defeat Al Qaeda, on governance in Afghanistan he said only that it won't be "perfect." That is not much guidance for our diplomats and aid workers, who are looking ahead to an end-of-year international conference in Bonn expected to set the course for our coalition partners as well as the Afghans for the three years then remaining before completion of the withdrawal process.
The governments of Europe and of other coalition partners want to see political reconciliation, which has become a popular notion in the U.S. as well. Retiring Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that the end of this year is a reasonable timeframe for negotiations with the Taliban to begin yielding results. What can we hope for by way of a political settlement? What are the options? President Obama, in his June announcement on Afghanistan, reiterated his goals for reconciliation negotiations with the Taliban: they must break with Al Qaeda, foreswear violence, and accept the Afghan constitution. The insurgent leaderships -- most importantly the Haqqani network and Mullah Omar's Taliban Quetta Shura -- show little sign of feeling compelled to comply. A few days after the speech, and presumably in response, Taliban members attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, targeting Afghan politicians gathered to discuss the impending turnover of security responsibility for Kabul and several provinces to the Afghan National Security Forces. It's clear that at least some of the Taliban will fight on for a long time, as insurgents in Iraq have done.
Some Taliban, however, may want a deal, and the German government has been hosting talks aimed at one. What might the Taliban hope to get in return for meeting something like the President's redlines? So far, the focus seems to have been on confidence-building measures like freeing prisoners and removing Taliban from terrorist lists. Washington does not like to discuss it, but an overall political settlement will only be possible if the Taliban get something more substantial in return for whatever we get.
The options are few (and not mutually exclusive): a share of political power in Kabul, control over territory, economic benefits, and guarantees of U.S. withdrawal.
Sharing political power in Kabul is not an easy fix. The Taliban fought a ferocious civil war against Northern Alliance and other politicians who today govern in Kabul, having thrown the Taliban out of Kabul with U.S. assistance in 2001. The Islamist Taliban would want to reintroduce their version of strict religious practices, a move many in Kabul would resist. Northern Alliance, many women, secularists, and others would not want to see the Taliban back in power in Kabul. Former presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh have become the leaders of this rejectionist front. It won't be enough for the U.S. to approve Taliban political involvement -- these Afghan groups would also need to go along.
Another option would be sharing power at the provincial level, especially in the more Pashtun provinces of the south and east. Afghanistan has only rarely been effectively ruled from Kabul. The Taliban could dominate politics in Helmand, Kandahar, and other provinces along the border with Pakistan, thus allowing the group its long-desired role in government without handing over all of Afghanistan. This could, however, lead to a virtual partition of the country, with the Taliban-dominated provinces becoming a de facto part of Pakistan. Some might even say this is good: it would give Pakistan the strategic depth it seeks in Afghanistan -- reducing its incentives to continue meddling and promoting militancy -- and prevent New Delhi from exploiting its relationship with Kabul to the detriment of Islamabad, at least in the border provinces.
There are only three economic assets of real value in Afghanistan: control over drug production and trade, control over mineral resources, and control of border crossings and transport. The Taliban already exercise a good deal of control over all three in parts of the countryside where they are dominant. We are not likely to gain enough control over drugs to interest the Taliban, who know we would not want to return any control we do gain to them. Mineral resources, to be effectively exploited, require a national mining and export framework and guarantees to foreign investors that only the government in Kabul can provide. If Afghanistan is to prosper, border crossings and transport will also need to be mainly under national control.
Finally, the Taliban have sought withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. This is a problem. President Karzai has made it clear that he would like one or more American bases to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, and talks have begun on a strategic framework that would enable American forces to stay, provided the Afghan government asks them to do so. Washington wants such bases so that it will have the capability to strike against Al Qaeda, either in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The Taliban will fear that the Americans will use any residual presence to strike them as well as to shore up Karzai's government.
Bottom line: the Taliban may well feel that they can get more by fighting on than by negotiating, but if they get serious about negotiations they will likely seek a share of power in the south and east, along with some representation in Kabul. Political power is likely to bring some economic benefits as well, in particular control over border crossings and transport. The Taliban would also continue to control at least some drug production and trade where they are politically dominant.
This is an unattractive proposition, especially to Afghan women and the Northern Alliance. It would most likely resemble Hizbollah's role in Lebanon, which has been a source of regional instability in the Middle East for many years. Is there anything that could be done that would amount to more than putting lipstick on this pig?
The answer is "yes," but it requires the United States to worry about something it has studiously ignored for many years: the Durand line, which is the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that Afghanistan accepts but Pakistan has not.
I don't know of any two countries without an agreed and demarcated border that live happily side by side. When I called on a national security advisor in Kabul years ago and asked why Afghanistan had not recognized the Durand line, he responded: "I wouldn't want to foreclose options for future generations." Pakistan is a country that lives with what it considers an "existential" threat from India to the south and east. It surely does not need another threat, however remote, on its western border. Ethnic Pashtun irredentism -- the Pashtuns live on both sides of the Durand line -- greatly complicates Islamabad's challenges.
Afghan recognition of the Durand line as part of a broader deal with the Taliban would provide Pakistan with an important benefit, without depriving it of "strategic depth" inside Afghanistan. This would have to be done in a way that allows a good deal of free movement across the border, since otherwise the Taliban and other locals, who have enjoyed relatively free movement for decades, would object. But agreeing to and demarcating the Durand line would markedly improve relations between Kabul and Islamabad, enabling them to collaborate on what really counts for the United States: ensuring that their border area does not become a haven for international terrorists.