Wednesday, January 3, 2018

General Petraeus Rejects Trump's Charges of "Lies and Deceit" Against Pakistan

General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander and US Forces in Afghanistan, has rejected  President Donald Trump's charges of "lies and deceit" against Pakistan.  He did so back in late 2016. Here's a brief excerpt of what he said:

"I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Here's a short video clip of it:

https://youtu.be/01ghm5V3Wn4





Here's a longer blog post I wrote about it back in November, 2016 after Petraeus spoke at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London:


General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan. Petraeus' remarks are now particularly significant given the fact that he is on a short list of President-Elect Donald Trump's nominees for Secretary of State.  He was answering a question posed to him at a presentation at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank based in London.

Is Pakistan Duplicitous?

The question was asked by a female Afghan Ph.D. student at the end of remarks by the general on "Security Challenges Facing the Next US Administration". Here's the question:

"General you have stated that democracies can not win long wars (General Petraeus interrupted and said he did not say that and added "in fact I take issue with that" as the student continued). Afghanistan is now US's longest war. What stops the US to win the long war..whether Pakistan intelligence is the cause of the long war? Why does the US not take action against the Pakistan ISI which continues killing and supporting terrorists?"

General David H. Petraeus's response:

Here's part of Gen Petraeus' response: "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that "there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service." He added that "there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces."

US-Pakistan Ties:

On the question of the nature of US-Pakistan relations and Washington's influence in Islamabad, General Petraeus said:

"Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy...it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it's even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue.  There was a period when we cut off all assistance and ties (to Pakistan) and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It's a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria".

General Petraeus acknowledged Pakistan's cooperation and sacrifices in fighting terror in the following words:

“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”.

Summary:

General David H. Petraeus has thoroughly debunked intense and ongoing media propaganda campaign of allegations of duplicity against Pakistan Army and ISI. He has also ruled out cutting ties with Pakistan as an option. His recommendations have now assumed added significance because he is now on a short list of President-Elect Trump's nominees for secretary of state.

Here's the video of General Petraeus at RUSI. His remarks on Pakistan are in the last 8 minutes of the video:

Brief 1-minute clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01ghm5V3Wn4




Complete Video of  Presentation by Gen Petraeus:

https://youtu.be/4vxSwUrY1E0




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan

Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan

Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan's "Lies and Deceit"

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

20 comments:

waqar khan said...

Haq sahib..as usual u are on the dot.Thanks for projecting positive image of Pak.Can I get in touch withvu through email.

Riaz Haq said...

waqar khan: "Thanks for projecting positive image of Pak.Can I get in touch withvu through email."

Thank you for your feedback.

Please send me a facebook request to get in touch.

Riaz Haq said...

There is little that is, or ever will be, new in #Trump’s #Pakistan policy. Why? Because #Pakistan has all the leverage over #Trump. #TrumpDumpsPak #Afghanistan

http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/03/pakistan-has-all-the-leverage-over-trump/

Even as the tweet continued to titillate Trump enthusiasts in India and at home, however, the responsible members of Trump’s government were strategizing how to roll it back. Later that same day, a White House National Security Council spokesperson explained what, specifically, to expect: “The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time.” This is not the sweeping cutoff that Trump implied in his braggadocios tweet.

In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy.In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy. That’s true for two simple reasons: the logistics of staying the course in Afghanistan and the night terrors triggered by imagining how terrifying Pakistan could be without American money.


---------------

Without an alternative port, the United States will have no choice but to continue working with Pakistan if it wants to remain engaged in Afghanistan, as Trump intends to do. (The proposed troop surge is now complete with about 14,000 U.S. troops in the country.) While Trump can tweet whatever he wants about Pakistan or Iran, the professionals on his staff know the truth: U.S. policy in Afghanistan requires a port with road or rail access to Afghanistan. This administration — like each one before — has cast its lot with Pakistan. And this administration will confront the same failures as its predecessors. Logistics will beat strategy every time.

Ahmad F. said...

“Amateurs discuss strategy; professionals discuss logistics.” General Omar Bradley. “Armies march on their stomach.” Napoleon.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: “Amateurs discuss strategy; professionals discuss logistics.” General Omar Bradley. “Armies march on their stomach.” Napoleon."


Will Rogers was once asked for a strategy to deal with the menace of German U boats in WWII. He said “Boil the ocean”. When asked how, he said “I’m a strategist, not a logistics guy”

Riaz Haq said...

Declining #US payments (from $2.6 billion in 2012 to $526m now) to #Pakistan translate into declining leverage over it. Pakistan with its #NATO supply lines now has more leverage over #Trump than vice versa.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/the-decline-and-change-in-us-aid-to-pakistan/articleshow/62360594.cms …

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/948790284346843137

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump's unfair attack on #Pakistan.. Actual disbursed #US funds to #Pakistan since 2001 are significantly less than the $33 Billion allocated and claimed by Trump. #TrumpDumpsPak #Afghanistan @CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/04/opinions/trump-pakistan-danger-opinion-jawaid/index.html

Facts matter. As does math. Trump's claim of "33 billion dollars in aid" is based on a number provided by the Congressional Research Service, which documents allocated aid -- but not actual dispersed funds. This figure is a sum of $19 billion in security and economic aid and an additional $14.59 billion from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which reimburses US allies for logistical and military support.

However, since 2001, according to USAID, the US has only given Pakistan $14.79 billion in civilian and military aid, and funds from the CSF have periodically been revised, delayed or blocked. Not all of the allocated funds have been disbursed, due to concerns regarding Pakistan's efforts to target Islamist militant groups, such as the Haqqani network, aligned with the Afghan Taliban and responsible for launching attacks in Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

FYI,

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21733978-reformers-are-trying-make-up-generations-neglect-pakistan-home-most-frenetic

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

G.Ali: " https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21733978-reformers-are-trying-make-up-generations-neglect-pakistan-home-most-frenetic"

Here's another recent piece from The Economist on education in Pakistan


Pakistan’s lessons in school reform

What the world’s sixth most populous state can teach other developing countries


https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21734000-what-worlds-sixth-most-populous-state-can-teach-other-developing-countries-pakistans-lessons

Pakistan has long been home to a flourishing market of low-cost private schools, as parents have given up on a dysfunctional state sector and opted instead to pay for a better alternative. In the province of Punjab alone the number of these schools has risen from 32,000 in 1990 to 60,000 by 2016. (England has just 24,000 schools, albeit much bigger ones.)

More recently, Pakistani policymakers have begun to use these private schools to provide state education. Today Pakistan has one of the largest school-voucher schemes in the world. It has outsourced the running of more government-funded schools than any other developing country. By the end of this year Punjab aims to have placed 10,000 public schools—about the number in all of California—in the hands of entrepreneurs or charities. Although other provinces cannot match the scope and pace of reforms in Punjab, which is home to 53% of Pakistanis, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are implementing some similar changes on a smaller scale.

The results are promising—and they hold lessons for reformers in other countries. One is that “public-private partnerships” can improve children’s results while costing the state less than running schools itself. A paper published in August by the World Bank found that a scheme to subsidise local entrepreneurs to open schools in 199 villages increased enrolment of six- to ten-year-olds by 30 percentage points and boosted test scores. Better schools also led parents to encourage their sons to become doctors not security guards, and their daughters to become teachers rather than housewives.

Other new research suggests that policymakers can also take simple steps to fix failures in the market for low-cost private schools. For example, providing better information for parents through standardised report cards, and making it easier for entrepreneurs to obtain loans to expand schools, have both been found to lead to a higher quality of education.

Another, related lesson is that simply spending more public money is not going to transform classrooms in poor countries. The bulk of spending on public education goes on teachers’ salaries, and if they cannot teach, the money is wasted. A revealing recent study looked at what happened between 2003 and 2007, when Punjab hired teachers on temporary contracts at 35% less pay. It found that the lower wages had no discernible impact on how well teachers taught.

Such results reflect what happens when teachers are hired corruptly, rather than for their teaching skills. Yet the final and most important lesson from Pakistan is that politicians can break the link between political patronage and the classroom. Under Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab’s chief minister, the province has hired new teachers on merit, not an official’s say-so. It uses data on enrolment and test scores to hold local officials to account at regular high-stakes meetings.

Shifting from “the politics of patronage” to “the politics of performance”, in the words of Sir Michael Barber, a former adviser to the British government who now works with the Punjabis, would transform public services in poor countries. Pakistan’s reforms have a long way to go. But they already have many lessons to teach the world.

Riaz Haq said...

First #Djibouti ... now #Pakistan's #Gwadar tipped to have #China's naval base. #India #Iran #Chabahar #Navy #Military #Hormuz #RedSea https://sc.mp/2CINAJb via @SCMP_News

Beijing plans to build its second offshore naval base near a strategically important Pakistani port following the opening of its first facility in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa last year.

Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said the base near the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea would be used to dock and maintain naval vessels, as well as provide other logistical support services.

“China needs to set up another base in Gwadar for its warships because Gwadar is now a civilian port,” Zhou said.

“It’s a common practice to have separate facilities for warships and merchant vessels because of their different operations. Merchant ships need a bigger port with a lot of space for warehouses and containers, but warships need a full range of maintenance and logistical support services.”

Another source close to the People’s Liberation Army confirmed that the navy would set up a base near Gwadar similar to the one already up and running in Djibouti.

“Gwadar port can’t provide specific services for warships ... Public order there is in a mess. It is not a good place to carry out military logistical support,” the source said.

The confirmation follows a report this week on Washington-based website The Daily Caller in which retired US Army Reserve colonel Lawrence Sellin said meetings between high-ranking Chinese and Pakistani military officers indicated Beijing would build a military base on the Jiwani peninsula near Gwadar and close to the Iranian border.

Sellin said the plan would include a naval base and an expansion of the existing airport on the peninsula, both requiring the establishment of a security zone and the forced relocation of long-time residents.


Gwadar port is a key part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a centrepiece of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s broader “Belt and Road Initiative” to link China through trade and infrastructure to Africa and Europe and beyond. The corridor is a multibillion-dollar set of infrastructure projects linking China and Pakistan, and includes a series of road and transport links.

Sellin also said the Jiwani base could be “signs of Chinese militarisation of Pakistan, in particular, and in the Indian Ocean”.

Chinese military observers said Gwadar had great geostrategic and military importance to China but China was not about to “militarise” Pakistan.

Zhou said China wanted better access to the Indian Ocean, which was now largely limited to the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia. The Gwadar port could be a transit hub for sea and land routes once the corridor’s railway was up and running, helping improve and cut the cost of logistics for China.

“The Chinese naval flotilla patrolling in the Gulf of Aden and other warships escorting Chinese oil tankers in the Indian Ocean need a naval base for maintenance as well as logistical supplies because they can’t buy much of what they need in Pakistan,” Zhou said.

Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, a research associate at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, said India was well aware of China’s plans in Pakistan.

“China finds it very useful to use Pakistan against India and ignore India’s concerns, particularly on terrorism issues. That has created a lot of stress in the relationship between Beijing and Delhi,” he said.

“[But] Indian naval capabilities and experience in the Indian Ocean region are fairly good. Much better than Pakistan and China.”

Riaz Haq said...

The C.I.A.’s Maddening Relationship with Pakistan

By Nicholas Schmidle3:56 P.M.


https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-cias-maddening-relationship-with-pakistan

“Here’s the truth,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official told me. Pakistan has been “in many ways” America’s best counterterrorism partner, the official said. “Nobody had taken more bad guys off the battlefield than the Pakistanis.”

And, in general, Pakistani co√∂peration with America’s counterterrorism campaign has been strong: their government permitted the C.I.A. to fly armed drones over Pakistan’s remote tribal areas, where many militants hid. Initially, the agency even based its drones on Pakistani soil, working off a list jointly drawn up with its I.S.I. counterparts. As those on the “target deck” were killed, new names—most of them foreign Al Qaeda leaders—were added.

Riaz Haq said...

CIA's Ex Officer Michael Scheuer Talks About Pakistan's ISI



There continues to be a concerted effort by some western and Indian governments and the mainstream media to demonize the ISI, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan. Some Pakistanis, particularly Pakistani liberals, are also part of this anti-ISI campaign.

To put unrelenting attacks on the ISI in perspective, let's read some excerpts from an interview of ex CIA officer and chief Bin Laden hunter Michael Scheuer on ISI, and watch the following video:

1. ISI is like all other intelligence services--like the Australian service or the American service.

2. ISI works for the interest of their country, not to help other countries.

3. The idea that ISI is a rogue organization is very popular--and even the Pakistanis promote it---but having worked with ISI for the better part of 20 years, I know the ISI is very disciplined and very able intelligence agency.

4. Pakistanis can not leave the area (AfPak) when we (Americans) do. They have to try and stabilize Afghanistan with a favorable Islamic government so they can move their 100,000 troops from their western border to the eastern border with India which---whether we like it or not, they see as a bigger threat.

5. We (US) have created the mess in South Asia and the Pakistanis have to sort it out. Our (US) problems in Afghanistan are of our own making.

6. Al Qaeda has grown from just one platform (Afghanistan in 2001) to six platforms now.

https://youtu.be/-ncg9ks-MQE

http://www.riazhaq.com/2015/03/cias-ex-officer-michael-scheuer-talks.html

Riaz Haq said...

Q&A with Steve Coll on ‘America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan’


https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/qa-with-steve-coll-on-americas-secret-wars-in-afghanistan-and-pakistan/

Q: What is India’s role in Afghanistan?

A: It’s nowhere near as significant as Pakistan thinks it is. It has had a long relationship with the Afghan government, and supported Afghanistan when the government was reconstituted in 2001. It’s soft power — roads, hospitals, some military training. They don’t want to … further provoke the paranoia of ISI. As long as we (the United States) are in there fighting the terrorists, they can free-ride on our military commitment.

Q: Your book shows how officers within the ISI have continued to support the Taliban in Afghanistan, despite numerous deadly attacks within Pakistan and on Pakistanis by branches of the Taliban operating there. What is the motivation?

A: The Pakistani officer class — and they are ultimately the directors of the spy service as well — have a proud nationalistic tradition. There’s a conviction that India is under every pillow, that it’s out to destroy Pakistan. Over the years that (belief) has become a rationale for army influence in Pakistani politics … the whole country has moved to the right as the years have gone by.


The practical reason is that Pakistan feels vulnerable to Afghanistan. They share a long and open border, and the people along the border don’t even recognize its legitimacy. The fear is that without a buffer strategy of political influence, that India will use Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan.

Q: Islam is the state religion of Pakistan — how does religious faith affect the motives of the ISI?


A: It’s a very diverse officer corps. The junior officers are more pious; the senior officers are ardently nationalist, more nationalist than even 20 years ago, given the violence and pressure they have come under. When you talk nationalism you’re talking about a country that was founded on the basis of Islam. I think Americans have always struggled to figure out how personal faith among Pakistani officers may affect their political judgment. The lazy way is to take them out for a drink. That doesn’t work with these guys.

Q: How do you see Afghanistan’s future unfolding?

A: I’m not a great forecaster, but I don’t think anything is likely to change. The presence of the U.S. military makes it very difficult for the Taliban to win. They don’t have an air force, they don’t have anti-aircraft weapons. They don’t have the amazing technology of the opposition.

The Afghan government is stuck. In 40 percent or more of the country’s rural districts, the Taliban are embedded. They are present in other parts of the country where they don’t have ethnic or religious roots … It’s even more complicated, because now all this violence has created an ethnic polarization in the rest of the country, and there’s a constitutional crisis in Kabul that’s been going on for three-and-a-half years.

Riaz Haq said...

Can the U.S. End Pakistan's Double Game?
A Q&A with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steve Coll on America's forever war against the Taliban.
By Nisid Hajari
7 February 10, 2018, 6:00 AM PST


https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-10/author-steve-coll-on-america-s-forever-war-in-afghanistan


Steve Coll’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ghost Wars” laid out in gut-wrenching detail the chain of events that led from one modern war in Afghanistan -- against the Soviets -- to the Sept. 11 attacks and the brink of another conflict. When the book came out in 2004, the U.S.-led war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda seemed on the wane, at least compared to the then-raging insurgency in Iraq. Soon, however, with the aid of their longtime sponsors in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the Taliban would reconstitute their movement and seize control over great swathes of the Afghan countryside, dueling the U.S. and the Afghan Army to a stalemate. If current trends hold, the U.S. will in the not-too-distant future be sending soldiers to the “graveyard of empires” that hadn’t even been born on 9/11.

Coll’s new book, “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” tells the story of this new war in equally magisterial fashion. The narrative is punctuated by folly, frustration and hubris, with the U.S. striving unsuccessfully to convince the Pakistanis to abandon support for their Islamist proxies -- tools, generals in Rawalpindi believe, to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan -- and to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield. It comes out just as a series of horrific attacks in Kabul have reminded the world how ineradicable the Afghan insurgency remains. I spoke with Coll about where he thinks America’s longest war is headed and how it might, finally, end. The following is an edited and condensed version of our conversation:

NISID HAJARI: Now that the Trump Administration has released its “new strategy” for Afghanistan, including an increase in the number of airstrikes, you’re starting to hear U.S. commanders talk again about gaining momentum and reaching a “turning point” in the war. After retracing the first 15 years of this conflict, what do you think when you hear such comments?

STEVE COLL: Well, the history is dispiriting when you excavate it because it's so repetitive. And some of the reason is what you suggest, that new commanders come in, they don't stay for longer than two years in high military command, sometimes shorter. Not to be too cynical about it, but their career depends on a narrative of achievement. I remember Eliot Cohen, who was a counselor to [then-Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice during the Bush Administration, recounting how he discovered that the six-month command rotations had a common pattern: A new commander would come in and say, “This looks like it's going to be very, very difficult.” And then, six months later, he’d say, “We've irreversibly changed the momentum of the war.” As a writer, it was a narrative challenge, because at a certain point I would think, "Haven't I already told this story?"

Riaz Haq said...

Can the U.S. End Pakistan's Double Game?
A Q&A with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steve Coll on America's forever war against the Taliban.
By Nisid Hajari
7 February 10, 2018, 6:00 AM PST


https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-10/author-steve-coll-on-america-s-forever-war-in-afghanistan

----------

NH: The unofficial Pakistani defense for supporting the Taliban has always been that India is the one destabilizing the situation, by seeking to dominate the Afghan government and thus encircle Pakistan. Do such claims have any merit?

SC: Well, it’s a complicated picture. Let’s start with the hardcore Pakistani allegations -- for example that NDS [the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence agency] is an Indian project, or that the disposition of Indian consulates and the activities of Indian citizens in Afghanistan are really just a massive cover for destabilization operations inside Pakistan. That’s exaggerated if not entirely fanciful in my assessment. I mean, the NDS is a CIA operation. It has Iranian connections. It has Russian connections. It has a few Indian liaisons. But the idea that NDS is a proxy for RAW [India’s Research and Analysis Wing espionage service] is just incorrect.

You know, the Indians have been very careful about the kinds of things they do in Afghanistan -- building hospitals, roads, a little bit of military training. From time to time they get a little bolder. Does India sponsor or run sometimes in cooperation with Afghan clients, covert action against Pakistan? Yes, they do. They clearly have their fingerprints in Baluchistan [the site of a long-running separatist insurgency]. When the war got really nasty and there was NDS collaboration with elements of the Pakistani Taliban, as a tit-for-tat response to Pakistani collaboration with the Afghan Taliban, was India aware of that? Did it perhaps support it at some level? Maybe. But NDS was in this game for its own reasons.

India asserts, and I think any reasonable person would recognize, that it has a right to provide aid to support Afghanistan’s recovery. Does it take satisfaction that this annoys Pakistan? Yes. Is it the most important priority in Indian foreign policy? Not at all.

NH: Pakistan’s support for the Taliban, and the sanctuary it provides Taliban leaders, is obviously critical to prolonging the war. But there’s an endless list of other contributing factors as well, from government dysfunction in Kabul to corruption to the drug economy. How would you rank them in terms of their importance to ending the conflict?

SC: I think the most important one, and it may be as important as the Pakistani sanctuary and ISI support, is the political crisis in Afghanistan among the elites. It’s kind of a paradox because Afghan nationalism is very strong and has been strengthened by the experience of Pakistani interference. I mean, the main thing that ISI has accomplished in Afghanistan, apart from seizing some territory through the Taliban, is to rally Afghans around a national idea greater than ethnic identity.

But having said that, ethnic factionalism and the failure to create a unity government after the 2014 elections has left Afghanistan in a grave position. And the other thing that’s new is social media, which has really modernized the country and plugged in a new generation, but also exacerbated factionalism and ethnic polarization. It’s really a virus.

Riaz Haq said...

How the #UnitedStates Government Misleads the #American Public on #Afghanistan.....since 2017, the #Taliban have held more #Afghan territory than at any time since the #American invasion. #Trump #Pakistan https://nyti.ms/2NY0J2C


Seventeen years into the war in Afghanistan, American officials routinely issue inflated assessments of progress that contradict what is actually happening there.


More than 2,200 Americans have been killed in the Afghan conflict, and the United States has spent more than $840 billion fighting the Taliban insurgency and paying for relief and reconstruction. The war has become more expensive, in current dollars, than the Marshall Plan, which helped to rebuild Europe after World War II. That investment has created intense pressure for Americans to show the Taliban are losing and the country is improving.

But since 2017, the Taliban have held more Afghan territory than at any time since the American invasion. In just one week last month, the insurgents killed 200 Afghan police officers and soldiers, overrunning two major Afghan bases and the city of Ghazni.

The American military says the Afghan government effectively “controls or influences” 56 percent of the country. But that assessment relies on statistical sleight of hand. In many districts, the Afghan government controls only the district headquarters and military barracks, while the Taliban control the rest.

On paper, Afghan security forces outnumber the Taliban by 10 to 1, or even more. But some Afghan officials estimate that a third of their soldiers and police officers are “ghosts” who have left or deserted without being removed from payrolls. Many others are poorly trained and unqualified.

The Afghan government says it killed 13,600 insurgents and arrested 2,000 more last year — nearly half the estimated 25,000 to 35,000 Taliban fighters an official United States report said were active in the country in 2017. But in January, United States officials said insurgents numbered at least 60,000, and Afghan officials recently estimated the Taliban’s strength at more than 77,000.

With the status of the battlefield looking grim, American officials say that at least the coalition has improved Afghan living standards — although often they use exaggerated claims there, too.

The most blatant example may be maternal mortality, one of the most important indicators of a society’s health. In 2002, American officials reported that 1,600 Afghan mothers died for every 100,000 live births, a rate comparable to Europe during the Middle Ages. By 2010, the United States Agency for International Development said the rate had improved drastically, falling to 327.

Researchers noted that not since the world discovered antibiotics has any nation seen such a big improvement in maternal health. The long-running security and development challenges Afghanistan faces are factored into health researchers’ estimates of maternal mortality. The British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group cited a study indicating that 1,575 women died out of 100,000 births in 2010. Other estimates cited by the group put the figure at 885 to 1,600 of 100,000 — meaning that nearly one in a hundred Afghan women will die giving birth. The rate in the United States is 24 in 100,000.

USAID points to a similarly drastic improvement in life expectancy, to 63 years in 2010, up from 41 years in 2002. But the figures were adjusted to ignore a high death rate in early childhood, which skewed results.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, estimated in 2009 that Afghan life expectancy was 48 years. Even the C.I.A. does not agree with USAID’s number, estimating in 2017 that Afghans typically live to age 51.

Riaz Haq said...

Bob Woodward quotes Dr. Peter Lavoy, staffer in charge of South Asia for Obama's NSC, in his book "Fear" as follows:


"There are literally thousands of sub-tribes in Afghanistan. Each has a grievance. If the Taliban cease to exist you would still have an insurgency in Afghanistan".


https://books.google.com/books?id=wKRkDwAAQBAJ&q=subtribes#v=snippet&q=lavoy&f=false

Riaz Haq said...


#UnitedSates and #Taliban Edge Toward Deal to End #America’s Longest #War. Ex Ambassador Ryan Crocker to #Afghanistan and #Pakistan: “This isn’t anything other than a way out for us that we can style as something less than losing the war” #India #China https://nyti.ms/2HwQG5C

The United States and the Taliban are closing in on a deal to end America’s longest war after six days of some of the most serious Afghan peace negotiations to date wrapped up on Saturday.

The talks in Doha, Qatar, lasted much longer than planned and longer than any previous attempt to end the 17-year conflict, and both sides publicly reported progress — a rarity. The chief American negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Twitter that the talks were “more productive than they have been in the past” and he hoped they would resume shortly.

He also said he was flying to the Afghan capital, Kabul, for consultations with the government.

“We have a number of issues left to work out. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and ‘everything’ must include an intra-Afghan dialogue and comprehensive cease-fire,” he said.

Mr. Khalilzad’s comments suggested that the key sticking points were the terms of a Taliban cease-fire and getting the insurgents to give up their longstanding refusal to speak to the Afghan government, which they deride as an American puppet.

Still, this is the first time in nine years of intermittent peace efforts that all sides seem serious about reaching a deal that, in the first phase, would exchange a Taliban cease-fire for a phased withdrawal of American forces. The Taliban would also pledge not to allow international terror groups to use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks against the United States.

Then the Afghans and the Taliban would need to detail exactly what the peace will look like in terms of the Taliban sharing power in government and how that might affect an array of other issues, such as the status of women in the country.

“Since the United States started to engage the Taliban, this by far is the closest to a deal,” said Hekmat Khalil Karzai, a former Afghan deputy foreign minister who leads the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies and has been involved in the peace efforts for years.

“On both sides I sense there is seriousness, I sense there is commitment, and I feel there is resolve,” he said.


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The Americans would promise to withdraw their 14,000 troops, and the Taliban would agree to never again allow their territory to be used by extremists like Al Qaeda, the terrorist network that staged the 2001 attacks on the United States from Afghanistan and set off the start of the war.

That much seemed in agreement. But as always, the devil is in the details. How long would the cease-fire be, and would it start before, after or even during the American withdrawal? How long a time frame would the withdrawal cover?

All of these questions are potential deal-breakers.

Taliban sources remained optimistic, even as Western diplomats expressed concern that there would not be a deal from this round of Doha talks. On Saturday afternoon, Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban official who now lives in Kabul but keeps close contacts with insurgent leaders, said he had just spoken to them.

“I have been told that talks are going ahead very well and we are close to an agreement,” he said. Whatever the result this time, Mr. Agha said, “Afghanistan was never so close to peace in these past years. What is happening now has never happened before.”

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Ryan Crocker, a former American ambassador to Afghanistan, said it was a rush for the exits.

“I can’t see this as anything more than an effort to put lipstick on what will be a U.S. withdrawal,” he said. Mr. Crocker said it reminded him of the Paris peace talks on Vietnam.

“By going to the table, we basically were telling the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, ‘We surrender. We’re here just to work out the terms.’ I just cannot see this getting to any better place. We don’t have a whole lot of leverage here.”

Riaz Haq said...

Late General Hameed Gil: “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.” #Biden’s #Afghan Pullout Is a Victory for #Pakistan . But at What Cost? #US #CIA #ISI #Taliban - The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/15/world/asia/pakistan-afghanistan-withdrawal.html

Near the peak of the American war in Afghanistan, a former chief of neighboring Pakistan’s military intelligence — an institution allied both to the U.S. military and to its Taliban adversaries — appeared on a talk show called “Joke Night” in 2014. He put a bold prediction on the record.

“When history is written,” declared Gen. Hamid Gul, who led the feared spy service known as the I.S.I. during the last stretch of the Cold War in the 1980s, “it will be stated that the I.S.I. defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America.”

“Then there will be another sentence,” General Gul added after a brief pause, delivering his punchline to loud applause. “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.”

In President Biden’s decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by September, Pakistan’s powerful military establishment finally gets its wish after decades of bloody intrigue: the exit of a disruptive superpower from a backyard where the I.S.I. had established strong influence through a friendly Taliban regime before the U.S. invaded in 2001.


A return of the Taliban to some form of power would dial the clock back to a time when Pakistan’s military played gatekeeper to Afghanistan, perpetually working to block the influence of its archenemy, India.

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If Afghanistan descends into chaos, Pakistanis are bound to feel the burden again just as they did after Afghanistan disintegrated in the 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal. Millions of Afghan refugees crossed the porous border to seek relative safety in Pakistan’s cities and towns.

And more: A Taliban return to power, either through a civil war or through a peace deal that gives them a share of power, would embolden the extremist movements in Pakistan that share the same source of ideological mentorship in the thousands of religious seminaries spread across Pakistan. Those groups have shown no hesitation in antagonizing the country’s government.

While Pakistan’s military played a dangerous game of supporting militants abroad and containing extremists at home, the country’s Islamist movements found a rallying cause in the presence of an invading foreign force next door, openly fund-raising for and cheering on their Afghan classmates. New extremist groups kept shrinking the civil society space in Pakistan — often targeting intellectuals and professionals for abuse or attack — and even found sympathizers in the ranks of Pakistan’s security forces.

Pakistani generals have resorted to a mix of force and appeasement in tackling the country’s own growing militancy problem, said Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. But a strategy for countering the spread of extremism has been elusive.

“It scares me, it scares me,” Dr. Siddiqa said. “Once the Taliban come back, that should trouble the Pakistani government, or any government. It will be inspiring for all the other groups.”

Said Nazir, a retired brigadier and defense analyst in Islamabad, said Pakistan had “learned some lessons” from the blowback of past support to jihadist groups. The country would need to tread more cautiously in the endgame of the Afghan war.

“Victory will not be claimed by Pakistan, but tacitly the Taliban will owe it to Pakistan,” Mr. Nazir said. “Pakistan does fear the replay of past events and fears a bloody civil war and violence if hasty withdrawal and no political solution occur simultaneously.”

Riaz Haq said...

Ambassador Ryan Crocker on #US exit from #Afghanistan:"We have again validated their (#Pakistanis) skepticism". Pakistanis "knew we (US) will go home but they aren’t going anywhere--this is where they live".They'd not "turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy" https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/21/opinion/us-afghanistan-pakistan-taliban.html


I recall the comment attributed to a captured Taliban fighter from a number of years ago: You Americans have the watches, but we have the time. Sadly that view proved accurate — the Taliban outlasted us and our impatience. After the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of U.S.-trained and armed mujahedeen in 1989, training that was facilitated by Pakistan, we decided we were done. We could see the Afghan civil war coming — the only thing holding the disparate Afghan groups together was a common enemy. But that was not our problem — we were leaving. On the way out, we stopped helping Pakistan in a key way: We ended security and economic assistance because of its nuclear weapons program, something we’d exempted before. So Pakistan, in its own narrative, went from being the most allied of allies to the most sanctioned of adversaries. That is why Pakistan threw its support to the Taliban when they started gaining ground in the 1990s: It could end a dangerous conflict along Pakistan’s own unstable borders.

And that is why a decade later after 9/11, Pakistan welcomed the return of the United States — and U.S. assistance. It would work with us against Al Qaeda. But we soon learned that the Taliban were a sticky matter. I was ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007. I pushed Pakistani officials repeatedly on the need to deny the Taliban safe havens. The answer I got back over time went like this: “We know you. We know you don’t have patience for the long fight. We know the day will come when you just get tired and go home — it’s what you do. But we aren’t going anywhere — this is where we live. So if you think we are going to turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy, you are completely crazy.”

We have again validated their skepticism.

The Washington Post notes that “as the Taliban swept across neighboring Afghanistan, some Pakistanis saw it as a reason to celebrate.” Yet I doubt there are many high fives being exchanged in Islamabad today. The American disaster in Afghanistan that Mr. Biden’s impatience brought about is not a disaster just for us. It has also been a huge boost for the Taliban, whose narrative now is that the believers, clad in the armor of the one true faith, have vanquished the infidels. That is resonating around the world, and certainly next door in Pakistan where the T.T.P. — the Pakistani Taliban, which seeks the overthrow of their government — has certainly been emboldened, as have Kashmiri militant groups created by Pakistan but that threaten Pakistan itself as well as India. Mr. Biden’s strategic impatience has given a huge boost to militant Islam everywhere.

We need to be engaged with Pakistan on ways to assess and deal with this enhanced threat. The prospect of violent destabilization of a country with about 210 million people and nuclear weapons is not a pretty one. The same is true in Iran. It’s always good to see the Great Satan take a kick in the face, and it’s worth a little gloating, but the Islamic Republic and the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate almost went to war in 1998. A region is worried, and it is right to be so.