Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama's New Afghan-Pakistan Regional Strategy

Early details of the Obama administration's new plan and strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan reveal emphasis on peeling away up to three quarters of the Taliban’s rank and file in Afghanistan from their leadership, substantial additional funding of over $50 billion for military operations and reconstruction aid, imposition of strict new conditions and performance benchmarks on Afghans and Pakistanis, and 17,000 additional US troops and 4000 trainers on the ground in Afghanistan, according to media reports.

On Friday, March 27, President Obama plans to announce a "simple, clear, concise goal -- to disrupt, dismantle and eventually destroy al-Qaeda in Pakistan," said a US official, one of three authorized to anonymously discuss the strategy, according to Washington Post. It is noteworthy that there is no talk of destroying the Taliban in this statement. Mr. Obama will describe his plan in a White House speech to a group of selected military, diplomatic and development officials and nongovernmental aid groups.

The 4000 advisers and trainers will help with an effort by American commanders to double the size of the Afghan military by 2011.

The president's plan also is expected to call for hundreds more civilian experts to help build Afghanistan's economy, infrastructure and civil society. The idea there is to combat the Taliban insurgency by showing Afghans that the government can offer them a better life, according to NPR radio.

The plan is expected to include a recommendation to triple the amount of American aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for at least five years. The aid would be contingent on Pakistan's willingness to cut ties with the Taliban and fight the insurgents on its own territory.

The goals that Mr. Obama has set may be elusive and, according to some critics, even naïve. Among other things, officials said he planned to recast the Afghan war as a regional issue involving not only Pakistan but also India, Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Central Asian states.

The Obama plan envisions persuading Pakistan to stop focusing military resources on its regional rival, India, so it can concentrate more on fighting insurgents in its FATA region. This goal may be especially hard to achieve given the longstanding Kashmir dispute, the history of three wars in South Asia in more than a half century — and a nuclear arms race — between Pakistan and India.

In terms of new conditions for Afghans and Pakistanis, it is expected that there will be demands on Afghanistan to make more progress in fighting corruption, curbing the drug trade and sharing power with the regions, while Pakistan will be asked to do more to cut ties between parts of its government and the Taliban. Mr. Obama telephoned President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan Thursday to share the main elements of the strategic review.

The demand on Pakistan to "cut ties between parts of its government and the Taliban" seems to be at odds with the desire to "peel away up to three quarters of the Taliban’s rank and file in Afghanistan from the Taliban’s leadership". Instead of engaging in the anti-ISI campaign, the US should see Pakistan's ISI's Taliban links as assets in America's efforts to reconcile with the vast majority of the Taliban. The British already see the value of the ISI-Taliban ties. According to the New York Times, the British government has sent several dispatches to Islamabad in recent months asking that the ISI use its strategy meetings with the Taliban to persuade its commanders to scale back violence in Afghanistan before the August presidential election there. There are reports that the Taliban leaders based in Pakistan have closed ranks with their Afghan comrades to prepare for a new offensive in Afghanistan as the United States sends more troops there this year.

As to the US demand on Pakistan to stop focusing military resources on its ongoing rivalry with India, the failure to help resolve the long-standing Kashmir dispute and the recent Indian war rhetoric in the aftermath of Mumbai make such a demand practically unacceptable by Pakistanis, even if they agree on paper.

Notwithstanding additional US aid to Pakistan, the unilateral and impractical demands on Pakistanis by the Obama administration while continuing Predator strikes and dismissing the strategic interests of Pakistan in its neighborhood, do not add up to a serious and workable strategy. Such a strategy may look good on paper but it will not lead to US success on the ground in Afghanistan.

Related Links:

US Escalating Covert War in Pakistan?

Can India "Do a Lebanon in Pakistan?

20th Anniversary of Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan

Taming the ISI: Implications for Pakistan’s Stability and the War on Terrorism

Growing Insurgency in Swat

Afghan War and Collapse of the Soviet Union

US, NATO Fighting to Stalemate in Afghanistan?

FATA Faceoff Fears

FATA Raid Charades


M.AKRAM KHAN said...

Union of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Only solution to present problem of Instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the Union of Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on the basics principles of Democracy in which Government should be composed of representatives of all sections of society and regions, No one will be dominant to each other, and that country will be easily governable by Government, In history Durani Empire was composed of all areas in which today Pakistan and Afghanistan are located, During Mughal Empire both Afghanistan and Pakistan were a single country, During initial period of British Empire they were also same country, During British Empire, some vested interest forces kept at distance to both these lands from each other , Due to which borders between these two countries have become hiding place for criminals of both countries and theft automobiles and others stolen assets are stored in this region, this large uncontrollable region is basis of many evils , Narcotics are grown in these areas ,and addiction of which is destroying youths and humanity and due to poverty and non development, people are going towards extremism and militancy, Union of both countries will make the single government of this region more responsible in stabilizing the region and in satisfying the nationalistic pride of people and people will be able to serve humanity as other large nations of world are serving the humanity, other wise this region will always remain as a nuisance for world, as this region already has destroyed Soviet Union it may also take down to western world which will be a great blow to development of Science and Technology specially Medical science.

Advantages to world.
Control of Terrorism:
Instability in this region is causing great damage to humanity, soldiers of USA and NATO are sacrificing their lives just to eliminate Terrorists from these countries, while by unification it will become sole responsibility of the people and government of unified nation to control terrorists and it will be more convenient for that government to administer as there will be unity in chain of command.

Control of Extremism:
As unified nation will be composed of multiethnic groups such as Punjabies,Sindhies,Baloachs, Pukhtoons,Urdu speakers,Tajiks, Persians and Hazaras and will be composed of multisectarian society such as Sunni and Shiites it will become impossible for any ethnic group or religious sect to find any future in extremism

Stabilization of Region:
Although now a days in this region there is problem of terrorism but infact from a long time (about 50 years) this region is suffering from instability, reason is that people of this region are finding no hope and future for themselves due to division of this region and interference of large nations such as Soviet Union, USA, China and India but when the people of this region were unified at the time of Durani Empire this region was stable and same was case during Mughal Empire..
As there are three main groups in Asia i.e. Chinese, Hindues and Muslims. Chinese and Hindues are satisfied with their Dominion states of China and India, but as there is no large state of Muslims in Asia while their numerical population is greater than Chinese and Hindues, therefore Muslims are suffering from distress which is causing instability and irritation in common Muslims, therefore by creation of a unified state of Pakistan and Afghanistan a sense of satisfaction and respect with the existence of a national state will be achieved

Solution to Economic Problems.
At present both countries are burden on other countries and in fact are a barrier in exploring the resources of Central Asia by world. After stabilization it will be useful for not only for Central Asia and World but also for the new unified nation itself

Advantages to Pakistan:
It was the vision of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam to unify region of West Pakistan with Afghanistan and East Pakistan with Malysia and Indonesia and that is still the need of time.
• By unification with Afghanistan, areas which are included in Pakistan will be stabilized, and migration of people from disturbed areas will be stopped,
• Law and order situation due to smuggling of weapons from Afghanistan will come to an end.
• Similarly illicit drug trade will be minimized.
• Whole areas of Pukhtoons speaking population will become unified and which will be helpful for development of culture and language of that group which is now divided in two nations.
• Security measures expenses on borders will be minimized which may be used for welfare of people.
• Interference of other nations in this region will be stopped.
• Due to historical and unique region and having importance for Buddhism and Hindues religion, tourism industry will be flourished and business activity in the region will be increased,

Advantages to Afghanistan:
• By unification status of Afghanistan as land lock country will come to an end, and Union will increase the freedom of people of Afghanistan for travel and economic activity,
• Extremism and terrorism will come to and end, as the people will become more engaged and involved in adjusting themselves in new union. it will increase the utilization of raw products of Afghanistan ,
• Security and military expenses will be minimized,
• Doors of job for people of Afghanistan in Pakistan will opened ,the desire of unification of people of Afghanistan with people of Pakistan will be fulfilled.
• Shortage of food products in Afghanistan will be decreased and it will increase the utilization of raw products of Afghanistan in the region.
• Due to linkage of central Asia via Afghanistan, will cause extraordinary development in the whole region.

From all above points it is clear that unification of Pakistan and Afghanistan will be fruitful for every one and for world at large by each and every angle.

Written By:
Baldia Town,Karachi.Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from the Obama speech today:

“The people of Pakistan want the same things that we want: an end to terror, access to basic services, the opportunity to live their dreams, and the security that can only come with the rule of law. The single greatest threat to that future comes from al Qaeda and their extremist allies, and that is why we must stand together.”

“A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone. Al Qaeda’s offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction. We stand for something different.”

“Security demands a new sense of shared responsibility. And that’s why we will launch a standing, trilateral dialogue among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Riaz Haq said...

In a CNN poll released yesterday, sixty-three percent of those questioned in the poll say they support Obama's plan to beef up U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with 36 percent opposing the move.

But only 47 percent favor the war in Afghanistan, with 51 percent opposed to the fighting that first began soon after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"Obama's plan for more troops wins twice as much support as the surge in troop levels in Iraq won when George W. Bush first unveiled that plan in 2007," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "The Afghanistan plan is more popular than the Iraq surge because the war in Afghanistan is more popular."

phew! said...

@Akram Khan ..err Imran Khan..
Its becoz of visionaries like u living in ur own world enlightened by smoking stuff u grow in ur backyard..that world is facing scourge of terror. First of all, u can't control ur own territory(Swat for starters) do u control Afghanistan hypothetically speaking? Pak need to shed its imperial mindset for subjugating neighbors and fellow citizens. Live and let live.Anyway, audacity to dream of imperial plans when ur country is sustained by foreign aid and at the brink of collapse is indeed commendable.

Riaz Haq said...

As a Pakistani-American, I have a stake in both nations and care for each. I would like to see an outcome that is good both US and Pakistan.

If we start with the premise that Pakistan and US can build a win-win relationship,, then it will become possible. If we seriously explore the objectives and what cards each side can play, then it will not only be possible but very likely to have win-win relationship with US.

To start with, we must agree it is in the interest of both sides to stop terror attacks that kill mostly Muslims but also threaten the Americans.

Then look at what each side wants to give and take to get to that objective.

For example, Pakistan is extremely critical to the US for it to get rid of Al Qaeda which is a global terrorist outfit headquartered in Afghan-Pak border areas. Over 80% of the supplies for US and NATO forces pass through Pak territory. The alternatives to Pakistan route are few and not as workable. In return for these supplies, Pakistan can and should demand that all attacks on Pak territory by US stop forthwith and the US provide Pak with the resources to deal with its internal conflict and economic crisis.

The US also wants Pakistan to stop focusing on India and pay more attention to the Western front. Pakistan should make it conditional upon the US and international community putting real serious pressure on India to resolve Kashmir and, if India doesn't respond positively, to threaten to pull out the US companies and investments from India. This will bring India to its knees in short order, as it did in 2002 when the US state dept and British foreign office issued a negative travel advisory and GE and other western companies started pulling out their people from India. The scenes of the foreigners flocking to the airports forced India/BJP to pull its troops back from the Pak border and start talks with Mush.

The US wants ISI to cut ties with Taliban. Instead of complying, Pakistan should persuade the US to see ISI-Taliban ties as assets that will be used to try and reconcile with the vast majority of the Taliban and stop the violence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These are just a few ideas that should be seriously explored for Pakistan to build an alliance with the US, rather than compliance as demanded by the US.

Riaz Haq said...

Obama's outward stance of avoiding Kashmir as part of the new regional strategy is obviously flawed, unless the US is stepping up efforts in the background to arm-twist Indians to make concessions on Kashmir.

As is often said, the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir is much more about Indus water than about a piece of land. The headwaters of the Indus River are located in Kashmir. Whomever controls the headwaters, controls the river. The Indus is vital. It brings green fertile life wherever it flows. The Indus begins in Kashmir, then flows through Pakistan, then flows into mainland India. If India chose, since Kashmir is controlled by it, they could dam the Indus and change the flow of the river, as they are apparently doing at Baglihar over Chenab. Without fertile land to grow crops, Pakistan would become a desert and its people would starve.

So the resolution of Kashmir dispute will remain a source of great tensions and possibly lead to a catastrophic war in the region devastating South Asia.

Anonymous said...

Solution to all issues always lies in introspection

Jadev said...

Give me a break! Why the hell would US put sanctions on India for a failing state clearly double-dealing with it.
We are a very important market for American investment.
The 2002 withdrawal was not becoz of some stupid advisory..its mainly coz Jan speech of Musharaf(due to US pressure) and assurance that jihadis will be wound down. Who like every paki dont keep their word and we are back to square one..
The importance of Pak as logistical route is overblown. The easiest and fastest is from Iran and is for the same reason why Obama is heads-over-heals for unclenching Iran's fist.

Anonymous said...

1. Obama = McCain plus Sugar Coating
2. When US says Pakistan's secret agencies must cut ties with the extremists, It actually points back at US and India on its face. Who started all these ties in the first place, historically and in the recent past. Who supported Mujaheedin, Who supported Northern Alliance?
3. Rick Buldozer - These people talk out of their cannons and not through rational. Yes, introspection is indeed missing here. The blame should not be just on Pakitsan, morally bankrupt US and India should get a much larger share of it for their size and for their phony claims of democracy.

Anonymous said...

Union of pakistan and afghanistan, that will be the end and disaster of pakistan, instead of modern city they will bring huge bunch of frustrated cavemen who will destroy the whole country into rubbles.Just one look at afghanistan you think of lot of rude men who have not changed clothes and no shower for months,uncivilized,haevy duty corruption, very very short tempered, western style cowboy towns with no sheriif, poor hygiene, women and young boys molested and abused in name of islam, no job, no desire to maintain a village or a town,forget about a town, lack basic toilet habits, specially islam which severly emphasizes on cleaniness, humanity and PEACE/reconciliations, just roaming around, eating lamb kebob, enjoying brutal sports and just roaming around more doing nothing, drug warlords in huge numbers, you will never see this kind of scenarios at the present modern times in any part of the world maybe some same kind of lazy mentality culture in some parts of africa.Always depending for food on the same countries they fight and hide, instead of coming out of hiden caves and fight and get it over with, nobody in Islamic history or any civilizations did that hide n seek for years, all of them if u see came out and fought till death for their cause, if really they have a cause, they think allah is on their side, how can that be, just growing a huge beared and praying 5 times is not enough and then break all human rights rules and ready to die for what, to preserve their male chavinism and abuse for another century, I dont think so.They have no agenda no protocol, and so sad that the weak,the women and children die every winter because of these hard headed mens stupid lazy decisions, only god can deal with them really.I pray that never no union at all happens.What they need first is to get educated at high school level, learn peaceful islam, become honorable Musalman example like huzoor sulhahualhewalisulum, sahabae kuraam,or personalities like Sulta salhauddin ayubee follow it, find a real job, need to start working in 9-5 job at Afghan walmart or Burger king at minimum wage with a strict supervisor, pay taxes, then I will see if they have balls of steel. Next need to arm their police with small baby nuclear pistols, so any rowdy short tempered jerk who breaks a law because of his animal behavior, evaporate them on the spot.Instead of just walking around the whole day doing practicaly nada,zit, zero, eating nuswar and enjoying the mountains they have so much land, they can raise cows, cultivate land and so atleast become self sufficient in food supplies, look at chinas villages, look villages in punjab, and sindh, the very poor people in these villages are cultivating land with all their will and hard work which is tremendously benefitting their countries. its such a BS idea this union, the guy above just has a lousy dream to create a bigger size afghanistan.Look what they did to Karachi since 1979 when they migrated, made it a weapons and drug zone, before it was the most sweet quite city.Inshallah it will never happen by the grace of almighty allahtallah.Ameen, suma ameen.

Anonymous said...

what kind of Islamic ideology is this behavior, its very hard for me to understand this theme, please read below:

Taliban Leader's Washington Threat Is Credible, Analysts Say
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller
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Baitullah Mehsud
The United States has put a $5 million bounty on his head, and he says militants under his control are planning a terrorist attack in Washington that "will amaze everyone in the world."
And he isn't Usama bin Laden.
Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the Taliban in Pakistan, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that his group was responsible for Monday's attack on a police academy in his country that killed seven police officers and injured more than 90 others.
He also said, chillingly:
"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world."
In an interview with local Dewa Radio, which was obtained by The Associated Press, Mehsud identified the White House as one of the targets.
Terrorism experts call Mehsud a "rising young star" who is linked both to the December, 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the bombing last September that killed 54 people in the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. They say his threat to carry out an attack in Washington is credible.
"It should be taken seriously because [Mehsud] has ordered the deaths of many Pakistanis and Afghans and has a close alliance with Al Qaeda," said James Phillips, a terrorism expert and senior research fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Heritage Foundation.
"It's not too much of a stretch to think he might be involved in an attack on the U.S. if he's able to get his followers inside the United States. He's a militant extremist whose threats cannot be ignored."
Mehsud, 35, is the senior leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, and is a key Al Qaeda facilitator in the tribal areas of South Waziristan in Pakistan, according to the U.S. State Department. A $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction was announced just last week.
"He has conducted cross-border attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and poses a clear threat to American persons and interests in the region," the State Department wrote in a March 25 release.
Phillips said Mehsud is less of a direct threat to the U.S. than bin Laden in an ideological sense, but his influence in Pakistan could allow him to tap into existing networks within Al Qaeda or among Afghan Taliban militants to achieve his goals.
"The U.S. government and other allied governments cannot afford to ignore this threat because [Mehsud] has acted on targets in the past," Phillips said. "Because he has a relatively secure base of operations in South Waziristan, he has been able to extend his influence throughout the border region and even into Pakistani cities."
Steve Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, said that of the many terrorists who have issued "blustery threats" in recent years, Meshud is considered a "rising young star" among militants.
"He's a dangerous guy," Emerson told "It just reaffirms the fact that Washington is a major target.
"He seems to be a pretty bloody, bold guy who is not afraid to have a marker on himself and knows how to exact publicity ... The real issue is what U.S. intelligence knows."
Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said Mehsud's attacks have "significantly altered" the political dynamics in Pakistan and provide a major test for President Asif Ali Zardari. But any direct threat Mehsud poses to the United States will be through his link with Al Qaeda, she said.
"If he did have the reach, it would be because of Al Qaeda," she said. "This is more posturing on his behalf."
Mehsud, who denies involvement in Bhutto's assassination and the Marriott Hotel bombing, is a diabetic who was reportedly called a "good Taliban" in 2007, when the Pakistani army struck a peace agreement with him that was later aborted.
Mehsud has said he's not concerned with the bounty on his head, telling The Associated Press, "I wish to die and embrace martyrdom."
"That shows that he is adamantly committed to his extremist goals and is unlikely to be brought to justice by law enforcement actions," Phillips said. 'It will take a war to defeat him in South Waziristan, and I think that shows that the term War on Terrorism remains applicable there."
A State Department spokeswoman, Megan Mattson, declined to comment on Mehsud's threat.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a BBC report about Taliban's brazen Kabul attacks and how the Taliban deliberately avoided civilian casualties, unlike the Pakistani Taliban:

The Taliban, we learned later, having failed to storm the government buildings they had at first targeted, sought shelter elsewhere.

At least four went into a crowded shopping centre.

If their intention had been to kill as many people as possible, it would have been achievable there.

But they didn't. They ordered everyone - shoppers and shopkeepers alike - out. Soon the building was on fire.

The Taliban fighters died amid the flames, most of them in a volley of gunfire, while the last man alive blew himself up.

The number of civilians who died was - given the scale of what was happening - surprisingly low.

From Pakistan, we learned, a Taliban spokesman had called a news agency, while the attack was still under way, to announce that 20 of its militants were involved.

The public relations management was as vital to the perpetrators as the co-ordination of the attack itself.

This care, this determination to avoid civilian deaths is now part of the conflict in Afghanistan.

It is something the Taliban shares with its Nato enemies.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a BBC report about Taliban's brazen Kabul attacks and how the Afghan Taliban deliberately avoided civilian casualties, unlike the Pakistani Taliban:

The Taliban, we learned later, having failed to storm the government buildings they had at first targeted, sought shelter elsewhere.

At least four went into a crowded shopping centre.

If their intention had been to kill as many people as possible, it would have been achievable there.

But they didn't. They ordered everyone - shoppers and shopkeepers alike - out. Soon the building was on fire.

The Taliban fighters died amid the flames, most of them in a volley of gunfire, while the last man alive blew himself up.

The number of civilians who died was - given the scale of what was happening - surprisingly low.

From Pakistan, we learned, a Taliban spokesman had called a news agency, while the attack was still under way, to announce that 20 of its militants were involved.

The public relations management was as vital to the perpetrators as the co-ordination of the attack itself.

This care, this determination to avoid civilian deaths is now part of the conflict in Afghanistan.

It is something the Taliban shares with its Nato enemies.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a report about Gen McChrystal's latest admission that "No one is winning in Afghanistan":

"The US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who was boasting of military progress only three months ago, confessed last week that "nobody is winning". His only claim now is that the Taliban have lost momentum compared with last year."

"Pentagon officials increasingly agree with the Afghan villagers that the Marjah operation failed to end Taliban control and put the Afghan government in charge. This puts in doubt General McChrystal's whole strategy which also governs the way in which 10,000 British troops are deployed. He is being held to account for earlier optimism such as his claim at the height of Marjah offensive that "we've got a government in a box ready to roll in". Three months later, people in Marjah say they have yet to see much sign of the Afghan government."

"The one development over the past year which has hit the Taliban hardest happened not in Afghanistan but in Pakistan. Prodded by the US, the Pakistan army has been taking over the federally administered tribal areas along the border where the Afghan Taliban once had safe havens. Soon the army may assault North Waziristan, one of the last Afghan insurgent enclaves and one which is already under repeated attack by US Predator drones. These find their targets because Pakistani military intelligence provides detailed information.

But loss of these safe havens in Pakistan may not be such a blow to the Afghan Taliban as it would have been three years ago when they controlled less of Afghanistan. It is impossible to seal the 2,600km frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan, supposing the Pakistan army wants to do so.

The semi-official Pakistani view is that the US, Britain and Nato forces have become entangled in a civil war in Afghanistan between the Pashtun community, represented by the Taliban, and their Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara opponents who dominate the Kabul government. They expect the Pashtun to go on fighting until they get a real share in power. One Pashtun, a former colonel in the Pakistani army, said: "It will be difficult for the Americans and British to win the hearts and minds of the people in southern Afghanistan since at the centre of Pashtun culture is a hatred of all foreigners."

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an analysis by Ahmad Quraishi on the eve of Pak-US strategic dialog:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There is a very simple question that every Pakistani government official needs to ask the Americans: If you fail to pacify the Pashtun in Afghanistan, is it Pakistan’s responsibility to sever historical ties and wage war against them?

This is the mother of all questions because it deals with the issue of some, not all, of the Afghan Taliban using Pakistani territory to attack occupation armies in their country. Apparently this is the excuse the United States is using to expand its failed Afghan war into Pakistan. US officials say Pakistanis are unable to exercise sovereignty over their own territory. US proxies inside Pakistan – in politics and media – then use this argument to ask another question: Isn’t Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban violating Pakistani sovereignty by using our border pockets as hideouts away from action inside Afghanistan? This argument is used to justify US violations of the Pak-Afghan international border. If Afghan Taliban can violate Pakistan’s border, why not the US military? So the justification goes.

Pakistan still has time to come out strongly with two arguments at policy level. One, there is no way of completely stopping Pakistani Pashtuns – who are an integral part of the Pakistani nation – from sympathizing with the Pashtuns in Afghanistan. And Two, US must solve the ‘Pashtun problem’ inside Afghanistan. The solution is not by starting a war between the Pakistani military – manned in substantial part by the Pashtuns – and between Pakistani or Afghan Pashtuns, like the so-called Haqqani network. This will not fix the toy the Americans broke in Afghanistan.

In other words: What is it the US is doing wrong in Afghanistan to spur Pashtun and Taliban resistance, including pushing some of them into Pakistan? And should Pakistan respond by killing the Pashtun because the US says so?

There are two more strong arguments that can strengthen a Pakistani policy review, which is overdue nine years into a failed war.

One is the fact that Pashtun and Taliban resistance against occupation in Afghanistan is not a function of Pakistani tribal areas. The US military dare not claim that Pakistan’s devastated tribal belt is alone responsible for the rout facing US, NATO and ISAF forces across Afghanistan. But this is what the Americans imply when they shift the world focus to Pakistan without anyone from the Pakistani side disputing this twisted American logic.

And the second argument has to do with al Qaeda. Pakistan needs to dispute the American claims about the quality and strength of Al Qaeda presence in the Pakistani tribal belt. London’s International Institute of Strategic Studies is not exactly a den of antiwar activism. In a report last month, the think tank questioned the US policy line that al Qaeda is strong enough to threaten anyone beyond Afghanistan or Pakistan.

If anything, we are seeing a US-occupied Afghanistan becoming a magnet for unknown terrorists from multiple backgrounds and questionable loyalties using Afghan soil to enter our tribal belt, as in the case of the Germans involved in the alleged Mumbai-style Europe terror plot. Washington is conveniently using these conspiracy theories to expand its war inside Pakistani territory without any credible evidence.

Pakistan does not have a quarrel with Afghan Pashtuns or the Afghan Taliban. The latest US reports and assertions that Pakistan or its spy agencies maintain contacts with either are ridiculous. Islamabad must maintain those contacts. In fact, we must expand contacts with the Afghan Taliban in view of the double game the United States played with us in Afghanistan over the last eight years, where it turned Kabul into Anti-Pakistan Central and deliberately expanded and continues to encourage Indian presence on our western borders...."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed by a retired Indian diplomat KH Bhadrakumar published in The Hindu:

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. has been holding direct talks with the Taliban. It has been able to do this largely because of the extensive intelligence network it has created in Pakistan — which became possible because Islamabad allowed it to happen. That, ironically, enables Washington to dispense with the good offices of the Pakistani military and the ISI, and opt for direct interaction with the insurgent groups. The U.S. intelligence network within Pakistan has penetrated the range of insurgent groups — the Afghan Taliban, the “Pakistan Taliban,” and non-Taliban (Afghan and Pakistani) militant groups. Evidently, if the drone attacks are becoming more “result-oriented,” it is due to real-time intelligence inputs. During the six weeks of gruelling interrogation of U.S. intelligence operative Raymond Davis, the Pakistani military caught on to a host of home truths. By now, the Pakistani military would have a fair idea of the extent of the American intelligence network and its potential to play merry havoc by splintering insurgent groups, pitting one group against another, manipulating factionalism within groups, monitoring the terror network and, conceivably, even turning some of the insurgent groups into instruments of U.S. regional policies. (Tehran insists that the U.S. is indulging in covert operations in Pakistan and Iran.)

Suffice it to say the Pakistani military leadership wishes to draw a redline for the U.S.' covert operations so that Washington will be compelled to deal with militant Afghan groups through the single window of the ISI — within the parameters set by what old-timers call the “[Ronald] Reagan rules” during the Afghan jihad of the 1980s. There is hardly any leeway for Pakistan to compromise on this demand, which aims at revising the ground rules of the U.S.-Pakistan strategic partnership in the conduct of the Afghan war (based hitherto on unspoken, unwritten, ever-deniable and flexible templates of collaboration).
Of course, Pakistan is justified in wondering what is there for it in this scenario. This wasn't how the war was supposed to end. Obviously, Washington's priorities will change once the intensity of the fighting declines. For one thing, the U.S. aid flow will decline. Once the U.S. strengthens its direct line to the insurgents, its dependence on the Pakistani military can only decline. But Pakistan's objective of gaining “strategic depth” in Afghanistan remains elusive. Equally, Pakistan will be left grappling with an assortment of militant groups along its long, disputed border with Afghanistan that have been highly radicalised by the U.S.-led war. These include some groups which have been alienated one way or the other by Pakistan's role as the U.S.' “key non-NATO ally.”

Pakistan faces an existential crisis in its Pashtun tribal tract that has borne the brunt of the U.S.-led war. As last Saturday's London Times report shows, there will be all sorts of attempts to muddy the waters. It suits the U.S. strategy to give the Afghan endgame the exaggerated overtones of an India-Pakistan turf war. The Indian establishment acted wisely to open dialogue with Pakistan in Mohali.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal report saying Pakistan wants Karzai to dump US:

Pakistan is lobbying Afghanistan's president against building a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S., urging him instead to look to Pakistan—and its Chinese ally—for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the economy, Afghan officials say.
Pakistan enjoys particular leverage in Afghanistan because of its historic role in fostering the Taliban movement and its continuing support for the Afghan Taliban insurgency. Washington's relations with Pakistan, ostensibly an ally, have reached their lowest point in years following a series of missteps on both sides.

Pakistani officials say they no longer have an incentive to follow the American lead in their own backyard. "Pakistan is sole guarantor of its own interest," said a senior Pakistani official. "We're not looking for anyone else to protect us, especially the U.S. If they're leaving, they're leaving and they should go."
The leaks about what went on at the April 16 meeting officials appear to be part of that effort. Afghans in the pro-U.S. camp who shared details of the meeting with The Wall Street Journal said they did so to prompt the U.S. to move faster toward securing the strategic partnership agreement, which is intended to spell out the relationship between the two countries after 2014. "The longer they wait…the more time Pakistan has to secure its interests," said one of the pro-U.S. Afghan officials.

Yet in a reflection of U.S. concerns about Pakistan's overtures, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Gen. David Petraeus, has met Mr. Karzai three times since April 16, in part to reassure the Afghan leader that he has America's support, and to nudge forward progress on the partnership deal, said Afghan and U.S. officials.
Formal negotiations on the so-called Strategic Partnership Declaration began in March. Details of talks between U.S. and Afghan negotiators so far remain sketchy. The most hotly contested issue is the possibility of long-term U.S. military bases remaining in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to buttress and continue training Afghan forces and carry on the fight against al Qaeda.
The opening of talks in March was enough to raise alarms among Afghanistan's neighbors. Senior Iranian and Russian officials quickly made treks to Kabul to express their displeasure at the possibility of a U.S. military presence after 2014, Afghan officials said. The Taliban have always said they wouldn't sign on to any peace process as long as foreign forces remain.
Mr. Gilani repeatedly referred to America's "imperial designs," playing to a theme that Mr. Karzai has himself often embraced in speeches. He also said that, to end the war, Afghanistan and Pakistan needed to take "ownership" of the peace process, according to Afghans familiar with what was said at the meeting. Mr. Gilani added that America's economic problems meant it couldn't be expected to support long-term regional development. A better partner would be China, which Pakistanis call their "all-weather" friend, he said, according to participants in the meeting. He said the strategic partnership deal was ultimately an Afghan decision. But, he added, neither Pakistan nor other neighbors were likely to accept such a pact.
Although a U.S. ally, Pakistan has its own interests in Afghanistan, believing it needs a pliant government in Kabul to protect its rear flank from India. Pakistani officials regularly complain of how India's influence over Afghanistan has grown in the past decade. Some Pakistani officials say the presence of U.S. and allied forces is the true problem in the region, not the Taliban.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wired magazine story on CIA drone strikes in FATA, Pakistan:

The sixth U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2013 has killed at least eight people, as if to announce the impending arrival at the CIA of the drone campaign’s chief advocate.

About 19 miles east of Mirin Shah, the main city in the tribal province of North Waziristan, at least one missile fired by a U.S. Predator or Reaper hit a compound Monday night, killing an alleged, unnamed “foreign tactical trainer” for al-Qaida, according to Pakistani intelligence sources talking to Reuters. Another strike hit the nearby village of Eissu Khel, the Long War Journal reports. In addition to the alleged al-Qaida member, at least seven others were killed and three more were injured.

While the statistical sample is small, it’s starting to sound like the drone campaign over Pakistan is ticking back up after a recent decline. A trio of drone-fired missile strikes between Wednesday and Thursday killed a Pakistani Taliban commander and at least 19 others. Another on Sunday reportedly killed another 17 people, bringing the estimated death toll in this young year to 35.

The U.S. launched 43 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2012, according to the tally kept by the New America Foundation, reflecting a two-year downward trend from 2010′s high of 122 strikes. The average time in between strikes last year was 7.7 days. But eight days into 2013, there have already been six deadly drone strikes, for reasons that remain unclear. It’s worth noting that senior Obama administration officials recently reversed their earlier rhetoric that the U.S. was on the verge of defeating al-Qaida and have returned to describing a protracted shadow campaign.

The drone strikes are likely to play a central role in the Senate confirmation hearing of John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism official whom President Obama nominated Monday to lead the CIA. Brennan, a CIA veteran, has been at the center of the drone campaign in Obama’s first term, even providing Obama with the names of suspected militants marked for a robotic death.

But even if the White House doesn’t know a target’s name, he can still be marked for death. Obama has provided the CIA with authority to kill not only suspected militants, but unknown individuals it believes follow a pattern of militant activity, in what it terms “signature strikes.” The drone program has killed an undisclosed number of civilians. A recent study conducted by Center for Civilians in Conflict and Columbia Law School’s human-rights branch explored how they’ve torn the broader social fabric in tribal Pakistan, creating paranoia that neighbors are informing on each other and traumatizing those who live under the buzz of Predator and Reaper engines. Those traumas are raising alarm bells from some of the U.S.’ most experienced counterterrorists.

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former chief of the Joint Special Operations Command and the NATO war in Afghanistan, has been publicly ambivalent on the drones for months. In July, he told an elite audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival about how a drone spotted an Afghan man “digging in the ground” at night, leading his forces to order a deadly helicopter attack on the presumption the man was burying a bomb. McChrystal later learned that tilling soil at night is a tradition among Afghan farmers, and the dead man posed no threat.

The retired general went further in a Monday interview with Reuters’ David Alexander. “The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates,” McChrystal said. “They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”

Brennan’s nomination is renewing the national discussion about drone strikes. ....

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Stratfor's analyst Robert Kaplan on India-China and India-Pakistan rivalry:

The best way to gauge the relatively restrained atmosphere of the India-China rivalry is to compare it to the rivalry between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan abut one another. India's highly populated Ganges River Valley is within 480 kilometers (300 miles) of Pakistan's highly populated Indus River Valley. There is an intimacy to India-Pakistan tensions that simply does not apply to those between India and China. That intimacy is inflamed by a religious element: Pakistan is the modern incarnation of all of the Muslim invasions that have assaulted Hindu northern India throughout history. And then there is the tangled story of the partition of the Asian subcontinent itself to consider -- India and Pakistan were both born in blood together.

Partly because the India-China rivalry carries nothing like this degree of long-standing passion, it serves the interests of the elite policy community in New Delhi very well. A rivalry with China in and of itself raises the stature of India because China is a great power with which India can now be compared. Indian elites hate when India is hyphenated with Pakistan, a poor and semi-chaotic state; they much prefer to be hyphenated with China. Indian elites can be obsessed with China, even as Chinese elites think much less about India. This is normal. In an unequal rivalry, it is the lesser power that always demonstrates the greater degree of obsession. For instance, Greeks have always been more worried about Turks than Turks have been about Greeks.

China's inherent strength in relation to India is more than just a matter of its greater economic capacity, or its more efficient governmental authority. It is also a matter of its geography. True, ethnic-Han Chinese are virtually surrounded by non-Han minorities -- Inner Mongolians, Uighur Turks and Tibetans -- in China's drier uplands. Nevertheless, Beijing has incorporated these minorities into the Chinese state so that internal security is manageable, even as China has in recent years been resolving its frontier disputes with neighboring countries, few of which present a threat to China.

India, on the other hand, is bedeviled by long and insecure borders not only with troubled Pakistan, but also with Nepal and Bangladesh, both of which are weak states that create refugee problems for India. Then there is the Maoist Naxalite insurgency in eastern and central India. The result is that while the Indian navy can contemplate the projection of power in the Indian Ocean -- and thus hedge against China -- the Indian army is constrained with problems inside the subcontinent itself.

India and China do play a great game of sorts, competing for economic and military influence in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. But these places are generally within the Greater Indian subcontinent, so that China is taking the struggle to India's backyard.

Just as a crucial test for India remains the future of Afghanistan, a crucial test for China remains the fate of North Korea. Both Afghanistan and North Korea have the capacity to drain energy and resources away from India and China, though here India may have the upper hand because India has no land border with Afghanistan, whereas China has a land border with North Korea. Thus, a chaotic, post-American Afghanistan is less troublesome for India than an unraveling regime in North Korea would be for China, which faces the possibility of millions of refugees streaming into Chinese Manchuria.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan launches $500 million aid projects for #Afghanistan in #Health #Education and #Infrastructure sectors …

Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal announced that Pakistan has launched $500 million worth of projects for Afghanistan's education, health and infrastructure sectors, the media reported on Friday.

Iqbal on Thursday said that 3,000 scholarships had been offered to Afghan students in different universities of Pakistan and 100 Afghan students would study in the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Dawn online reported.

Talking to an Afghan delegation comprising academicians, lawmakers, students and civil society members here, the minister said that Pakistan had desired to forge friendly relations with all its neighbours, including Afghanistan.

He underlined the need for greater exchanges of scholars, artists, businessmen and others to boost cooperation and friendly and brotherly relations between the two countries.

"We have to start a new chapter in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations by focussing on social and economic dimensions of the friendship," Iqbal said, adding that two countries shared hundreds of years of history.

He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would play an important role in bringing people of the region closer besides improving economy of the entire region.

"If an untoward incident happens in Afghanistan, Pakistan will be the first country to feel its heat and it will affect the rest of the world later on," he added.