Friday, August 13, 2021

Afghanistan: Pakistan's Friend or Foe?

The open hostility of successive Afghan governments toward Pakistan begs the following questions: Why do Afghan leaders scapegoat Pakistan for their own failures?  Is Afghanistan a friend or an enemy of Pakistan? 

Scapegoating Pakistan:

Carter Malkasian, former advisor to US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dunford, has recently talked about how Afghan governments have scapegoated Pakistan for their failures. He said: "Let’s take Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is a powerful factor here. But on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else". 

In another discussion,  Malkasian explained the rapid advance of the Taliban and the imminent collapse of the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. Here's what he said:

"Over time, aware of the government’s vulnerable position, Afghan leaders turned to an outside source to galvanize the population: Pakistan. Razziq, President Hamid Karzai and later President Ashraf Ghani used Pakistan as an outside threat to unite Afghans behind them. They refused to characterize the Taliban as anything but a creation of Islamabad. Razziq relentlessly claimed to be fighting a foreign Pakistani invasion. Yet Pakistan could never fully out-inspire occupation". 

Afghanistan has been governed by secular Pashtun Nationalists and their Tajik and Uzbek allies for much of the 20th century. These Afghan rulers and their secular Pashtun allies on the eastern side of the border have been hostile toward Pakistan since 1947 when it became independent. Afghanistan's was the lone vote against the admission of the newly independent state of Pakistan to the United Nations. Since then, the anti-Pakistan campaign by Pashtun Nationalists on both sides of the Durand Line has received support from New Delhi.

India's Partition:

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as the Frontier Gandhi, led the secular Pashtun Nationalists' opposition to the creation of Pakistan before 1947. Their efforts  to stay with India failed when they lost a referendum and the majority of the voters of then Frontier Province chose to join Pakistan.

After the humiliating loss in the referendum, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, his son Abdul Wali Khan and their supporters decided to seek an independent nation of Pakhtoonistan.  When Ghaffar Khan died, he was not buried in Pakistan. Instead, he was buried in the Afghan city of Jalalabad according to his will. His son Wali Khan then carried the movement forward.

Pakhtoonistan Movement:

After the creation of Pakistan, Ghaffar Khan and Wali Khan launched Pakhtoonistan movement that sought to create an independent state of Pakhtoonistan with the eventual goal of erasing the Durand Line to unify it with Afghanistan. Slogans such as  "Lar o Bar Yaw Afghan" (Afghans are one on both sides of the Durand Line)  and "Loya Afghanistan" (Grand Afghanistan) signify the aims of this movement. 

The central government in Pakistan has responded by assimilating Pakhtoons in civil and military services from the early 1950’s. By the end of 1960’s, the Pakhtoons were holding many top positions in the civil and military bureaucracy. At the time Pakistan was ruled by Ayub Khan, himself a non-Pashtu speaking Pakhtoon. Pakistan's current Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan is also a Pashtun. 

Both the Afghan and the Indian governments continued to back the Pakhtoonistan movement in the1960s and 70s.

In 1960, then Afghan Prime Minister Daoud Khan sent his troops across the Durand Line into the Bajaur Agency of Pakistan to press the Pashtunistan issue, but the Afghan forces were routed by Pakistani Tribals. During this period, the propaganda war from Afghanistan, carried on by radio, was relentless.

Daoud hosted Pakistani Pakhtoon Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Ajmal Khattak, Juma Khan Sufi. Daoud started training Pakhtun Zalmay and young Balochs and sent them across the border into Pakistan to start a militancy.

In 1961, Pakistan retaliated against Daoud's support to militias in areas along the Durand Line by closing its borders with Afghanistan, causing an economic crisis in Afghanistan.

On July 7, 1973, Daoud Khan toppled his cousin King Zahir Shah in a coup. This triggered a series of bloody coups ending in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. 

A former RAW officer RK Yadav has, in his book "Mission RAW", confirmed that Indian intelligence officers met Khan Wali Abdul Wali Khan in Europe on several occasions to provide support and funding for the Pakhtoonistan movement.

In 1975, then Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ordered Pakistan's intelligence agency to respond to Afghan provocations. Pakistan ISI trained Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as their Afghan proxies.

Soviet Invasion:

The Soviet troops rolled into Afghanistan in December, 1979 to assert control after several coups and counter-coups in the country. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States responded to it by recruiting, training and arming a resistance force referred to as "Mujahideen". India supported the Soviet invasion and occupation in a United Nations vote in January, 1980.

 Soviet troops were defeated and forced by the Mujahideen to withdraw after 9 years of occupation. The Americans also decided to leave the region with Afghanistan in complete chaos as various Mujahideen factions split along ethnic lines fought for control of Kabul.

Pakistan was the most affected as a result of the Afghan war and instability. Millions of Afghan refugees poured across the border in Pakistan. Many were radicalized, trained and armed to fight. The "Kalashnikov Culture" spread across Pakistan causing instability.

The Taliban:

In the1990s, Pakistan supported the Taliban led by Mullah Omar to try to stabilize the situation. The Taliban defeated all other factions and warlords and took control of most of Afghanistan. The only part of Afghanistan that remained beyond their control was the Panjshir valley in northern Afghanistan that was controlled by Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud.

The Taliban hosted Al Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. The United States accused Al Qaeda of carrying out the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001.  When the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden to Washington, President George W. Bush ordered the US military to invade Afghanistan to force the Taliban out of power.

US Invasion:

The US invasion of Afghanistan forced the Taliban out of power and drove them and Al Qaeda fighters across the border into Pakistan. Pakistani military arrested most of the Al Qaeda leadership and many of the Al Qaeda fighters and handed them over to the United States. Bin Laden was found and killed by the Americans in a raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan in 2011.

Indian intelligence agency RAW has established its presence in Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan since the US invasion and the installation of a Kabul government that includes pro-India members of the Tajik dominated Northern Alliance.

India's Covert War Against Pakistan:

Fomer US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said back in 2011 that "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan.  India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan". Secretary Hagel was speaking at Cameron University in Oklahoma. Direct and circumstantial evidence of India using Afghanistan to attack Pakistan has grown to the point that even Indian analysts and media are beginning to acknowledge it:

1. Bharat Karnad, a professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, recently acknowledged India's use of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group against Pakistan in an Op Ed he wrote for Hindustan Times.

2. Indian journalist Praveen Swami said in a piece published in "Frontline": "Since 2013, India has secretly built up a covert action program against Pakistan."

3. India's former RAW officers, including one ex chief, have blamed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested by Pakistan in 2016, for getting caught in Pakistan as a "result of unprofessionalism", according to a report in India's "The Quint" owned and operated by a joint venture of Bloomberg News and Quintillion Media. The report that appeared briefly on The Quint website has since been removed, apparently under pressure from the Indian government.

4. A story by Indian journalist Karan Thapar pointed out several flaws in the Indian narrative claiming that Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested in Pakistan while engaging in India's covert war in Balochistan, was an innocent Indian businessman kidnapped from Chabahar by Pakistani agents. Writing for the Indian Express, Thapar debunked the entire official story from New Delhi.

ISI Bogeyman:

British Afghan war veteran Major Robert Gallimore says he saw no presence of Pakistan's intelligence service ISI in Afghanistan. The Afghan Army saw the " imagined nefarious hand" and "bogeyman" of Pakistan everywhere but he never saw it. He "saw not one piece of evidence" of it. It was all in their minds.

During his three tours of duty in Afghanistan, he could hear all the radio conversations going on but never heard any Pakistani accent. He did, however, see "buckets and buckets of money" and rising Indian influence in Afghan Army that blamed Pakistan for all their problems. Pakistan is their bogeyman.

The Afghan Army says they'll feel good when they can "invade Pakistan". They do not blame the British but the Pakistanis for the Durand Line that they do not recognize.

Major Gallimore sees the emergence of an India-Pakistan 21st century "Great Game" similar to its British-Russian predecessor. Many Afghans support creation of Pashtunistan by annexing northern part of Pakistan into Afghanistan. They blame Pakistan for the Durand Line, not the British or their own leaders who agreed to it. As a result, Maj Gallimore warns that Afghanistan has become much more volatile and dangerous than ever before.


Recent scapegoating of Pakistan by the Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul has been criticized by Carter Malkasian, former advisor of US General Dunford.  Malkasian has said, "...on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else".  The animosity of secular Pashtun Nationalists and their Tajik and Uzbek allies against Pakistan is not new. It didn't start with Pakistan's support of the Taliban in the 1990s. Their hostility against Pakistan dates back to the creation of Pakistan.  Afghanistan's was the lone vote against the admission of the newly independent state of Pakistan to the United Nations in 1947. Since then, the anti-Pakistan campaign by Pashtun Nationalists on both sides of the Durand Line has received support from New Delhi. A former RAW officer RK Yadav has, in his book "Mission RAW", confirmed that Indian intelligence officers met Khan Wali Abdul Wali Khan in Europe on several occasions to provide support and funding for the Pakhtoonistan movement.

Here is a video discussion of spillover of Afghan instability into Pakistan:



Terry A. said...

Excellent Article Riaz Bhai on the progression of the beginning & continuing saga unfolding in Afghanistan -

Jay said...

If you look at the history of this region, Muslim rulers' biggest enemies were usually other invading Muslims. The Sikhs, Marathas, Rajputs and other native tribes were problematic to the Mughals, Turks, Afghans, Uzbeks and so on 1/3 of the time combined. The other 2/3 of the time, problems always arose due to incoming fellow Muslim invaders. Can you address your thoughts on whether you agree or disagree Mr. Riaz? I sincerely want to know your opinion in this regard even if you think my points are totally wrong.

Riaz Haq said...

Jay: "The other 2/3 of the time, problems always arose due to incoming fellow Muslim invaders"

These historic events were not seen in religious terms until the British colonized India and decided to pursue "divide and rule" policy to maintain control of the vast Indian population with a small number of British officers. Please read the following:

Also read "Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History" by Romila Thapar.

In 1026, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni raided the Hindu temple of Somanatha (Somnath in textbooks of the colonial period). The story of the raid has reverberated in Indian history, but largely during the raj. It was first depicted as a trauma for the Hindu population not in India, but in the House of Commons. The triumphalist accounts of the event in Turko-Persian chronicles became the main source for most eighteenth-century historians. It suited everyone and helped the British to divide and rule a multi-millioned subcontinent.

Jay said...


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir Riaz and the users of this blog

Asalam Aalaikum,

As far as I remember and know Afghanistan was one of the few countries in the world which even didn't accept or recognize the creation of Pakistan.

Durrani said...

After Ahmed Shah Durrani's grandsons were kicked out of power, a new family called the Barakzai/Mohammadzai were in. They ruled Afghanistan from 1820s to 1979.

During these 150 years these leaders included the likes of Abdul Rahman Khan and Amanullah Khan. Abdul Rahman Khan is responsible for the current ethnonationalist mindset of Afghanistan. He also sold land and ratified Durrand Line treaty.

Amanullah was a secularist, but was way too liberal for his own country. Tribes of Loy (Greater) Kandahar and Loy (Greater) Paktia rebelled, but was put down with great effort. Despite also beating the British in 1919 a civil war started in the country in the 1920s and he fled to Italy.

Moh said...

In the greater scheme of things all that matters is that the Taliban will soon resume full power. We will have a friendly Afghan government next door and reap the benefits.

Whatever US/NATO, India and Northern Alliance thinks or feels is truly irrelivant.

Pakistan needs to bring China to the forefront. Our focus should now be to arrange talks and meetings between regional powers and the Taliban. The Ghani government and the Northern Alliance entourage are past tense.

Ahmed said...

Dear Mr.Mohammad

Thanks for your post, yes I agree ,actually the Afghan taliban have soft corner in their heart for Pakistan and they are friendly towards Pakistan. Their hold and presence is very important in Afghanistan if we want to see peace and stability in Pakistan.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir Riaz,

I actually have some questions on this post, this is mashallah a very informative and interesting post about how RAW has been involved in Afghanistan and has caused problems for Pakistan.

This post says:
British Afghan war veteran Major Robert Gallimore says he saw no presence of Pakistan's intelligence service ISI in Afghanistan. The Afghan Army saw the " imagined nefarious hand" and "bogeyman" of Pakistan everywhere but he never saw it. He "saw not one piece of evidence" of it. It was all in their minds.

My comment:
Sir, lets suppose what ever this British Major says, if ISI didn't had any presence in Afghanistan, then don't you think it is the failure of Pakistan government to counter any Indian influence in Afghanistan? PTI government came into power just 2 years ago, but what were the previous governments doing in Pakistan? RAW agents must be their in Afghanistan since many years. So what were PPP and PMLN governments doing ? What kind of foreign policies did they make?

Don't you think Sir that previous governments of Pakistan have unfortunately given lot of room and space to Indian agents and RAW so that they could easily operate in Afghanistan and create problems for Pakistan?

I hope my question is clear Sir.


Riaz Haq said...

Regional powers #Russia, #China, #Iran, #Pakistan Extend Hands to #Taliban Now in Control of #Afghanistan. All 4 neighbors continue to maintain embassies in #Kabul

s the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan shakes the international community's commitment to the country, regional powers Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan continue to maintain their embassies in Kabul while expressing their willingness to work with its new leaders.

Just as the Taliban was getting settled in the capital, Russian ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov met with the group on Tuesday to discuss embassy security. Following his talks, he spoke highly of a group he said was conducting itself "in a responsible and civilized manner" since its largely peaceful capture of Kabul.

"They want to be sure there will be no provocations, to avoid shooting," Zhirnov said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 outlet. "Because practically everyone possesses weapons, even teenagers. It looks like they are afraid that should anything happen not through their fault it may cast a shadow on them as masters of the situation. They don't conceal it."

Speaking in Kaliningrad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also saw "a positive signal" from the Taliban, specifically in the infamously hardline group's public commitments to respecting the views of others.

"We are convinced and have known that for quite a long time that only, as they say now, an inclusive dialogue involving all key forces can serve as a step towards normalization of the situation in Afghanistan," Lavrov said, according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.

Russia's turn toward accepting the Taliban's legitimacy comes after its own difficult history in Afghanistan. In 1979, the Soviet Union entered into a decade-long war in hopes of saving a Kabul-based communist administration from a mujahideen resistance that was backed the U.S. and regional powers including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It was forced to withdraw in defeat a decade later, paving the way for the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s.

The group took control of most of the country and effectively held Afghanistan until 2001, when the 9/11 attacks conducted by Taliban ally Al-Qaeda drew a massive U.S.-led intervention. Moscow initially supported the Western effort in Afghanistan, but came to criticize its handling over the course of two decades.

With the Taliban now back in control of Kabul, Lavrov told reporters that Moscow was "not rushing a recognition" of an Afghan government led by the a group that Russia still considers a terrorist organization. The decision mirrors the hesitation of other nations including Russia's strategic partner, China, which borders Afghanistan directly.

"Just yesterday I spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi," Lavrov added. "Our positions are in line."

Beijing is seeking to portray an open mind as the new dynamic unfolds.

"China has all along maintained contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban on the basis of fully respecting Afghanistan's sovereignty and the will of all factions in the country, and played a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday.

There was an important caveat, however.

Riaz Haq said...

#Taliban says no one will use #Afghan territory to launch attacks against anybody or any country. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid asserted that #WomensRights will be protected within Islamic law. #China #Pakistan #Iran #Russia #US via @AJEnglish

The Taliban held its first official news conference in Kabul since the shock seizure of the city, declaring on Tuesday it wished for peaceful relations with other countries.

“We don’t want any internal or external enemies,” the movement’s main spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, said.

The spokesman asserted that the rights of women will be protected within the framework of Islam.

The group previously declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join its government, trying to calm nerves across a tense capital city that only the day before saw chaos as thousands mobbed the city’s international airport in a desperate attempt to flee.

Evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed as a Western security official told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that the Kabul airport’s tarmac and runway – which troops from the United States control – were now clear of crowds.

The official said military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan have started taking off.

At least seven people died in Monday’s chaos, including several people who clung to the sides of a jet as it took off.

The Taliban has meanwhile declared the war in Afghanistan over and a senior leader said the group would wait until foreign forces had left before creating a new governance structure.

China said it was ready for “friendly relations” with the Taliban, while Russia and Iran also made diplomatic overtures.

Riaz Haq said...

#Afghan #Taliban visit #Hazara Neighborhood in #Kabul, Attend #Shia Majlis

Riaz Haq said...

#Biden administration freezes ($9.4 billion) #Afghan reserves, depriving #Taliban of cash. “Any Central Bank assets the Afghan government have in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban". #Afghanistan #economy

The Biden administration on Sunday froze Afghan government reserves held in U.S. bank accounts, blocking the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars held in U.S. institutions, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The decision was made by Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and officials in the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the people said. The State Department was also involved in discussions over the weekend, with officials in the White House monitoring the developments. An administration official said in a statement, “Any Central Bank assets the Afghan government have in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban.” The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss government policy not yet made public.

Cutting off access to U.S.-based reserves represents among the first in what are expected to be several crucial decisions facing the Biden administration about the economic fate of that nation following the Taliban takeover. Afghanistan is already one of the poorest countries in the world and is highly dependent on American aid that is now in jeopardy. The Biden administration is also likely to face hard choices over how to manage existing sanctions on the Taliban, which may make it difficult to deliver international humanitarian assistance to a population facing ruin, experts say.

Asked Tuesday what leverage the United States would have over the Taliban going forward, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that “there are obviously issues related to sanctions” but declined to elaborate. He also said the administration would first communicate directly with the Taliban.

President Biden in his speech Monday appeared to commit to continuing to give aid to Afghanistan, saying: “We will continue to support the Afghan people. We will lead with our diplomacy, our international influence and our humanitarian aid.”

The Afghanistan central bank held $9.4 billion in reserve assets as of April, according to the International Monetary Fund. That amounts to roughly one-third of the country’s annual economic output. The vast majority of those reserves are not currently held in Afghanistan, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Among those, billions of dollars are kept in the United States, although the precise amount is unclear.

Spokespeople for the White House and Treasury Department declined to comment on the process for blocking the funds or the fate of U.S. economic assistance to Afghanistan. A spokeswoman for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where much of the money is presumed to be held, also declined to comment.

Riaz Haq said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ahmed said...

Dear Sir Riaz

Thanks for this useful and informative post, Sir I was watching a video on youtube and it showed that Shah Abdali and Mahmood Ghaznavi who were Muslim invaders and rulers have been portrayed by Indians as very cruel and ruthless. In the schools and colleges of India, students who study Indian history as compulsory subject are taught that Shah Abdali and Mahmood Ghaznavi were invaders and after invading Indian sub-continent, they killed many Hindus and even demolished many temples in India.

Sir, can you pls throw some light on this? How true are these claims of Indians?


Ahmed said...

Dear Sir Riaz

My Nani who actually expired in 2008 ,she use to tell me that when British were ruling over India, at that time their was law and order in India, streets were clean and no theif had courage to even steal anything from any shop or from anyone.

Muslims were free to practice their religion in India and were not stopped by British authorities from worshipping in Mosques and neither Hindus were prevented from worshipping in their temples when British ruled India.

Sir according to our senior age people, it was actually Hindus who created problems for Muslims, they use to throw dead bodies of swine in the mosques when Muslims use to pray inside their mosques.

My Nani was not pro-British ,she even supported the revolt of Indians against British but she atleast admited that not everything was bad under British.

Ahmed said...


You said:
If you look at the history of this region, Muslim rulers' biggest enemies were usually other invading Muslims. The Sikhs, Marathas, Rajputs and other native tribes were problematic to the Mughals, Turks, Afghans, Uzbeks and so on 1/3 of the time combined. The other 2/3 of the time, problems always arose due to incoming fellow Muslim invaders. Can you address your thoughts on whether you agree or disagree Mr. Riaz? I sincerely want to know your opinion in this regard even if you think my points are totally wrong.

My comment:
To some extent I think you are right, but you are actually talking about civil war which took place between Muslims outside Indian sub-continent, are you sure that Muslim rulers who ruled over India had to face opposition from other Muslim rulers and invaders?

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: "can you pls throw some light on this? How true are these claims of Indians?"

These historic events were not seen in religious terms until the British colonized India and decided to pursue "divide and rule" policy to maintain control of the vast Indian population with a small number of British officers. Please read the following:

Also read "Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History" by Romila Thapar.

In 1026, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni raided the Hindu temple of Somanatha (Somnath in textbooks of the colonial period). The story of the raid has reverberated in Indian history, but largely during the raj. It was first depicted as a trauma for the Hindu population not in India, but in the House of Commons. The triumphalist accounts of the event in Turko-Persian chronicles became the main source for most eighteenth-century historians. It suited everyone and helped the British to divide and rule a multi-millioned subcontinent.

Riaz Haq said...

How #America Failed in #Afghanistan
Steve Coll: “You can’t just create an army of 300,000. I remember talking to the Pakistani generals about this…And they all said, ‘You just can’t do that. It won’t work.’ They turned out to be right.” #Pakistan #Kabul

On Sunday, as the Taliban entered Kabul—the last remaining major Afghan city not under the group’s control—the President of the country, Ashraf Ghani, fled to Tajikistan, making clear that the U.S.-backed Afghan government had collapsed. Five months ago, in April, President Joe Biden announced that all U.S. and nato troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Critics have accused the Administration of conducting a rushed, poorly planned, and chaotic withdrawal since then. On Thursday, the U.S. government announced that it would be sending in marines and soldiers to help evacuate embassy personnel. But the speed of the Taliban advance has stunned American officials and left desperate Afghans trying to flee the country. Responding to criticism about his plan, Biden has sought to shift blame to the Afghan government and its people, saying, “They have got to fight for themselves.”

I spoke by phone with my colleague, the New Yorker staff writer Steve Coll, about the situation in Afghanistan. The dean of Columbia Journalism School, Coll is the author of “Ghost Wars” and “Directorate S,” which together chronicle much of the history of the past several decades in Afghanistan and Pakistan.........

Your books on the region suggest that the Taliban may not have initially come to power, nor survived this long, had it not been for the aid and comfort of the Pakistani security apparatus—its military and intelligence services. How is Pakistan feeling about what’s happening now? I sense maybe there’s a tiny bit more anxiety than usual about what this might mean for Pakistan.


It seems likely that it is partially a case of watching what you wish for. I am sure they did not forecast the speed with which events are unfolding this summer, and they may also have expected that the role of negotiations and the timetable by which political change would occur in Afghanistan would allow them to build a platform for greater international legitimacy and credibility for a potential Taliban government. One of the reasons that I would be anxious if I were them is that this is happening in a way that is already inducing governments such as Germany’s—not usually first out of the box on these things—to say that they won’t provide any aid to a government that imposes Sharia against the will of its people.

Zalmay Khalilzad, Biden’s negotiator, is trying to tell the Taliban that they won’t be recognized by anyone if they take power this way. Well, we’ll see. In the nineteen-nineties, there were only three governments in the world that recognized the Taliban: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. And this time around, too, Pakistan will be one of them, I expect. But things are different. The Saudis and the Emiratis have a new geopolitical outlook. But China is not the same country that it was in the nineties. How will China support Pakistan in trying to manage a second Taliban regime, especially one that may attract sanctions or other kinds of pressure from the United States and its allies? It isn’t the nineties, but Pakistan is still in the same awkward place that it was last time around. And to the extent that the Taliban return to a kind of internationalism of their interpretation of Islam and welcome Al Qaeda types or other forms of radicals, allow the Islamic State to incubate on Afghan soil, or don’t have the interest or the capacity to do something about it, you can be sure that, as it did the last time, all of that will blow back on Pakistan in one way or another, be that in the form of international pressure or instability.

Riaz Haq said...

The Taliban Have Claimed Afghanistan’s Real Economic Prize (vast informal economy)

The state’s bankruptcy has tempted some Western donors into thinking that financial pressure — in the form of threats to withhold humanitarian and development funding — could be brought to bear on the new rulers of Afghanistan. Germany already warned it would cut off financial support to the country if the Taliban “introduce Shariah law.”


One reason foreign donors inflate their own importance in Afghanistan is that they do not understand the informal economy, and the vast amounts of hidden money in the war zone. Trafficking in opium, hashish, methamphetamines and other narcotics is not the biggest kind of trade that happens off the books: The real money comes from the illegal movement of ordinary goods, like fuel and consumer imports. In size and sum, the informal economy dwarfs international aid.

For example, our study of the border province of Nimruz, published this month by the Overseas Development Institute, estimated that informal taxation — the collection of fees by armed personnel to allow safe passage of goods — raised about $235 million annually for the Taliban and pro-government figures. By contrast, the province received less than $20 million a year in foreign aid.

A southern province in the heartland of Taliban supporters, Nimruz is the sort of place that might serve as a basis for Taliban thinking about how the economy works. This summer, they set about taking it over. In June, they captured Ghorghory, the administrative center of Khashrud District, followed by the town of Delaram, on the main highway, in July. These two towns alone could be worth $18.6 million a year for the Taliban if they maintain the previous systems of informal taxation, including $5.4 million from the fuel trade and $13 million from transit goods.

A bigger prize was the customs house in Zaranj, a city bordering Iran and the first provincial capital to fall during the Taliban’s August offensive. Though the city officially provided the government with $43.2 million in annual duties — with an additional $50 million in direct taxes in 2020 — there was, we found, a significant amount of undeclared trade, particularly of fuel, taking the true total revenues from the border crossing to at least $176 million a year.

The Taliban’s advance forced a dilemma on neighboring countries: They could either continue to trade, giving the Taliban more power and legitimacy, or deny themselves trade revenues and accept the financial pain. Though they have sometimes opted for the latter, it’s unclear — as pressure mounts to officially recognize the Taliban government — how much longer that will last.

Take Iran, for example. We estimated that the Taliban earned $84 million last year by taxing Afghans who trade with Iran — and that was before the insurgents captured all three of Afghanistan’s major border crossings with Iran. Tehran, unwilling to legitimize the Taliban, halted all trade with Afghanistan in early August. But the economic imperative to reopen to commercial traffic is strong. More than $2 billion in trade passed through those crossings last year, according to official figures, and our research suggests that the actual numbers, once informal trade is included, could be twice as high. Early reports suggest the border crossings are open again, though trade remains slow and disrupted.


But the windfalls from cross-border commerce — a single border crossing to Pakistan, captured in July, brings in tens of millions of dollars a year in illegal revenues — are making the Taliban, now ruling the Afghan state, into major players in South Asia’s regional trade. That means, crucially, that the usual methods by which recalcitrant regimes are subjected to international pressure — sanctions, isolation — are less applicable to today’s Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump calls ex #Afghan President Ghani "total crook," says "he got away with murder". "I wanted [the Taliban] to get a deal done with the Afghan government," Trump continued. "Now, I never had a lot of confidence, frankly, in Ghani." #US #Taliban

Trump made his comments during a Tuesday night interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. Hannity asked Trump about his dealings with Taliban leaders and the Afghan government as Trump prepared to withdraw U.S. military troops from the region.

First, Trump said that he negotiated with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, the Taliban's co-founder. Trump said he told the Taliban leader that the U.S. troop withdrawal was a "conditions-based agreement." If the Taliban harmed any Americans or allies, Trump said, the U.S. would retaliate by bombing the leader's home village as well as other parts the country.

"I wanted [the Taliban] to get a deal done with the Afghan government," Trump continued. "Now, I never had a lot of confidence, frankly, in Ghani. I said that openly and plainly I thought he was a total crook."

Trump then said that Ghani "spent all his time wining and dining our senators." He added, "The senators were in his pocket. That was one of the problems that we had. But I never liked him... He got away with murder in many, many different ways."

Trump didn't explain in what ways Ghani "got away with murder."

Trump also said that he suspected that Ghani fled with cash when he secretly left Afghanistan last Sunday. Trump's suspicion was based on Ghani's "lifestyle", "his houses" and "where he lives," Trump said.

Trump's claim about Ghani escaping with money may have originated from Russia's embassy in Kabul. The embassy reported that Ghani and his entourage departed with "four cars were full of money," the Russian news agency RIA reported. The Russian government has since offered its "political support" to the country's new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said.

Ghani is currently hiding in an unknown location. He fled his country as the Taliban's Islamic extremist military forces overtook the capital city of Kabul. Ghani later said that he departed in order to avoid more violence and bloodshed by those who might've defended his rule.

However, Saad Mohseni, the owner of one of Afghanistan's most popular television stations, told The New York Times that Ghani will be remembered as a traitor by his countrymen.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan currently hosts 1.438 million #Afghan refugees, the largest number in the world. #US with all its massive 24X7 cable coverage of the events in #Afghanistan hosts only 2,000 Afghan refugees.

Riaz Haq said...

What the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan means for India and Pakistan | The Economist

Besides losing all its investment in a secular, democratic Afghanistan, India has also lost strategic leverage. There were never Indian troops in Afghanistan, but its aid projects and four consulates certainly spooked the generals running the show in Pakistan. India’s close ties with the Afghan government gave its own security establishment a whiff of “over-the-horizon” influence that felt appropriate to an emerging superpower. When Pakistan-backed Islamists mounted terrorist attacks on India and stirred violence in its restive region of Kashmir, India could threaten to use its Afghan assets to stir trouble in Pakistan’s restive region of Balochistan. Now, with Mr Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government having stirred its own troubles in Kashmir, by stripping the region of autonomy in 2019, it must face the prospect of a new generation of Muslim Kashmiris inspired by the Taliban’s fanaticism.

Perhaps because its spies read the writing on the wall, or perhaps because its teachers and engineers increasingly risked being kidnapped, India had wound down its Afghan presence in recent years. Yet it was only in June that Indian envoys took the first tentative steps to engage with the Taliban. The reckoning with what an abrupt American departure from its backyard means for India has also been slow to settle. The Times of India, the country’s biggest-circulation English daily, voiced one common perception in a sour editorial on August 16th: “At a time when India has strategically hitched its wagon to the us, the Afghan situation should make New Delhi think twice about putting all its eggs in Washington’s basket.”
This is a conclusion that Pakistan, as well as its “all-weather friend” China, will be happy for India to draw. With a stagnant economy and stymied politics, India’s nuclear-armed neighbour has not had much to cheer about of late. So it is that even if urban Pakistanis have little affinity with the Taliban, many are crowing at the Islamists’ success. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, went so far as to proclaim that Afghans had “broken the chains of slavery” with the West.
Mr Durrani says that Pakistan itself deserves no credit for the Taliban victory, except for having resisted pressure from America and its allies to crack down on the group. He is too modest. The original Taliban, or “students”, of the 1990s, were students in Pakistani madrassas. Certainly, after America’s invasion in 2001, the Taliban would never have survived their years in the wilderness without the haven provided by Pakistan.
That Pakistan has stood by the Taliban is especially striking, considering that an ideological affiliate based in Afghanistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (ttp), has terrorised Pakistan itself, for example by slaughtering more than 145 children and adults at an army-run school in 2014. Questioned about reports that the Taliban have released ttp leaders from the Afghan prisons, the Pakistani interior minister says airily that he hopes for an agreement between the two countries not to allow their soil to be used to attack the other. Luckily for Pakistan’s generals they are rarely held accountable for any violent “blowback” from the isi’s nastier associates. Aside from the occasional diversion of a television interview, Mr Durrani can continue to enjoy his retirement in peace.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir Riaz

Pls check the latest reports, their is one Pakistani news journalist by the name "SUMERA KHAN", she is now in Afghanistan and she is giving interview to a Pakistani host "ATHER KAZMI". SUMERA KHAN has said in the end of her interview that MASHALLAH situation is not as bad as the Western and Indian media is trying to portray. Their are Taliban and American forces both at the airport of Kabul and both are working together without any quarrel or conflict. Both Taliban and American forces are having normal communication with each other. American forces are telling Taliban that they should take care of that side of the airport and American forces will take care of the other side of the airport.


Riaz Haq said...

#Afghan #Taliban Commission Looking Into #Pakistan’s Concerns: “TTP leaders are being warned to settle their problems with Pakistan and return to the country along with their families in exchange for a possible amnesty by the Pakistani government” #TTP

A high-powered commission set up by Afghanistan’s Taliban has been working to press anti-Pakistan militants to stop violence against the neighboring country and return to their homes across the border with their families, VOA has learned from highly-placed sources.

Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada set up the three-member commission recently to look into Islamabad’s complaints that the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, is using Afghan soil to plot cross-border terrorist attacks, the sources said.

“TTP leaders are being warned (by the Afghan Taliban Commission) to settle their problems with Pakistan and return to the country along with their families in exchange for a possible amnesty by the Pakistani government,” said the sources in Islamabad.

The sources privy to the matter revealed the details on condition of anonymity, citing the “sensitive nature” of the matter and for not being authorized to speak to media.

Pakistan and Afghan Taliban officials have not publicly commented on the development.

On Friday, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said Islamabad intends to raise the TTP-related concerns with Kabul.

“We have been taking up the issue of use of Afghan soil by the TTP for terrorist activities in Pakistan with the previous Afghan government and we will continue raising the issue with the future Afghan government as well to ensure that TTP is not provided any space in Afghanistan to operate against Pakistan,” Chaudhri told his weekly news conference.

The sources, while speaking to VOA, ruled out the possibility of Pakistan accepting any TTP demands, insisting the amnesty would be offered in line with the country’s constitution and law of the land, that require the militants to surrender their firearms in order to protect Pakistan’s years of counterterrorism gains.

The United States and the United Nations have also listed the TTP as a global terrorist organization.

The February 2020 deal reached between the Taliban and the United States in Doha, which paved the way for foreign troops to leave Afghanistan, binds the Islamist group to prevent regional as well as transnational terrorist groups from using Afghan soil to threaten global security.

"This concern is legitimate, and our policy is clear that we will not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against any neighboring country, including Pakistan. So they should not have any concern,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told VOA, without sharing further details.

Shaheen said be it TTP or any other terrorist group they “will have no place in our country and that’s a clear message to all.”

The Taliban are in desperate need of support from regional and international countries now that they are in control of Afghanistan to address governance as well as critical economic challenges facing the country, one of the poorest in the world.

Analysts say it would be extremely difficult for the Taliban to disregard reservations of all the neighboring countries, including Pakistan, on the presence of terrorists which have targets across the Afghan border.

“If they (the Afghan Taliban) fail to deliver on their counterterrorism commitments, not only Pakistan but China, Russia, Iran and Central Asian countries would all be upset because they also complain that fugitive militants sheltering on Afghan soil threaten their national interests,” the Pakistani sources stressed.

“Can they survive if they turn their guns against us and support TTP? This is not possible. Our trade routes are a lifeline for them, for landlocked Afghanistan,” the sources added.

Riaz Haq said...

British Defense Chief General Sir Nick Carter: The world should give the Taliban the space to form a new government in Afghanistan and may discover that the insurgents cast as militants by the West for decades have become more reasonable, the head of the British army said on Wednesday.


General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the British Armed Forces, says that General Bajwa is an upright man.

The head of the British Armed Forces, General Sir Nick Carter, told the BBC that General Bajwa wanted to see a peaceful and moderate Afghanistan.

General Sir Nick Carter said that Pakistan had to face various challenges. Pakistan sheltered 3.5 million Afghan refugees on its soil.

The British military chief said Pakistan had set up barricades on the Afghan border and was keeping a close eye on border traffic.

Riaz Haq said...

Afghanistan: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace backs UK armed forces chief General Sir Nick Carter over 'Taliban has changed' remarks

The chief of the defence staff had told Sky News that the Taliban wants an 'inclusive' country and is 'a group of country boys that live by a code of honour',

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has backed the UK's armed forces chief over comments he made to Sky News suggesting the Taliban has "changed" since it was last in power 20 years ago.

General Sir Nick Carter also called the insurgents "a group of country boys who live by a code of honour" and said that they wanted an "inclusive" country.

Sir Nick, chief of the defence staff, said on Wednesday that the world should be patient and "hold its nerve" to see what Afghanistan's future holds under a Taliban-led government.

He also told the BBC it "may well be a Taliban that is more reasonable, less repressive and, if you look at the way it is governing Kabul at the moment, there are some indications that it is more reasonable".

His remarks have since been criticised as "absurd" and "unpalatable".

But Mr Wallace told Kay Burley on Sky News: "He also said that he will see if they change. We are where we are, the Taliban are running the country."

Asked whether he was defending Sir Nick, Mr Wallace said: "Of course I am defending him. Nick Carter knows more than I will ever know about Afghanistan and the Taliban and more than most people. He is a deeply experienced general.

"When he says things, we should listen and we should value it. He is my adviser, he is the prime minister's adviser, and he is absolutely right in some of his observations".

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said the general's remarks were a "very difficult and unpalatable message", particularly for women and girls in Afghanistan.

The comments have also come in for heavy criticism elsewhere.

Sky's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay told Burley: "To say that we've been able to gauge what the Taliban is actually like nowadays is frankly absurd."

Labour MP Dan Jarvis, who also served in the British armed forces in Afghanistan, said: "I'm with Stuart on this one. This is a critical moment and it's very early days...[the Taliban] will be judged not by their words but by their actions."

Also speaking to Burley, political activist Hassina Syed - who managed to get an RAF flight to the UK to escape the country - said: "Actions speak louder than words...this is not the time [to know what will happen] in the future...we have to wait and see."

But former British army officer Simon Conway, whose involvement with the Halo Trust charity has included working with former Taliban fighters, suggested the Taliban may have changed in some ways.

He told Sky News: "It is possible to deal with honourable people. I can't speak for everyone, but there are elements within the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan that it's possible to reason with.

"They will be judged by their actions."

Riaz Haq said...

Did the War in #Afghanistan Have to Happen? “One mistake was that we turned down the Taliban’s attempt to negotiate (in 2001)” said Carter Malkasian, a former senior adviser to Gen. Joseph Dunford, who was chairman of #US Joint Chiefs of Staff. #Taliban

“We were hugely overconfident in 2001, and we thought the Taliban had gone away and weren’t going to come back,” he said. “We also wanted revenge, and so we made a lot of mistakes that we shouldn’t have made," said Malkasian

Almost 20 years later, the United States did negotiate a deal to end the Afghan war, but the balance of power was entirely different by then — it favored the Taliban.


Taliban fighters brandished Kalashnikovs and shook their fists in the air after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, defying American warnings that if they did not hand over Osama Bin Laden, their country would be bombed to smithereens.

The bravado faded once American bombs began to fall. Within a few weeks, many of the Taliban had fled the Afghan capital, terrified by the low whine of approaching B-52 aircraft. Soon, they were a spent force, on the run across the arid mountain-scape of Afghanistan. As one of the journalists who covered them in the early days of the war, I saw their uncertainty and loss of control firsthand.

It was in the waning days of November 2001 that Taliban leaders began to reach out to Hamid Karzai, who would soon become the interim president of Afghanistan: They wanted to make a deal.

“The Taliban were completely defeated, they had no demands, except amnesty,” recalled Barnett Rubin, who worked with the United Nations’ political team in Afghanistan at the time.

Messengers shuttled back and forth between Mr. Karzai and the headquarters of the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, in Kandahar. Mr. Karzai envisioned a Taliban surrender that would keep the militants from playing any significant role in the country’s future.

But Washington, confident that the Taliban would be wiped out forever, was in no mood for a deal.

“The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders,” Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a news conference at the time, adding that the Americans had no interest in leaving Mullah Omar to live out his days anywhere in Afghanistan. The United States wanted him captured or dead.

Almost 20 years later, the United States did negotiate a deal to end the Afghan war, but the balance of power was entirely different by then — it favored the Taliban.

For diplomats who had spent years trying to shore up the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan, the deal that President Donald J. Trump struck with the Taliban in February 2020 to withdraw American troops — an agreement President Biden decided to uphold shortly after taking office this year — felt like a betrayal.

Now, with the Taliban back in power, some of those diplomats are looking back at a missed chance by the United States, all those years ago, to pursue a Taliban surrender that could have halted America’s longest war in its infancy, or shortened it considerably, sparing many lives.

For some veterans of America’s entanglement in Afghanistan, it is hard to imagine that talks with the Taliban in 2001 would have yielded a worse outcome than what the United States ultimately got.

“One mistake was that we turned down the Taliban’s attempt to negotiate,” Carter Malkasian, a former senior adviser to Gen. Joseph Dunford, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during parts of the Obama and Trump administrations, said of the American decision not to discuss a Taliban surrender nearly 20 years ago.

“We were hugely overconfident in 2001, and we thought the Taliban had gone away and weren’t going to come back,” he said. “We also wanted revenge, and so we made a lot of mistakes that we shouldn’t have made.”

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"

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.

Riaz Haq said...

India's current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said in 2013 that the the 325,000 strong Afghan Army and police will deliver. They are well trained and sufficiently motivated. They will defend the Afghan state and Afghanistan's constitution irrespective of what happens at the political level. Doval said he didn't believe 15-20 Pakistani security officials who have told him otherwise. He never believes anything the Pakistanis say.

Riaz Haq said...

#British General Nick Carter's response to BBC's Yalda Hakim's charge of #Taliban "safe havens" in #Pakistan: Pakistanis have hosted millions of #Afghan refugees for years & "they end up with all sorts of people"....they can't "heartlessly" kick them out

Responding to the familiar charge of "safe havens" for Taliban in Pakistan, General Nick Carter told BBC's Yalda Hakim that Pakistanis have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for many years and "they end up with all sorts of people". "We would be very worried if they heartlessly kicked out" the Afghans from Pakistan. He said that Pakistan's Army Chief General Bajwa genuinely wants to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Did #Pakistan Help #Taliban Retake #Afghanistan? Ex #US #military advisor Sara Chayes alleges the it was the #Pakistani #ISI that helped the "rag-tag" Taliban militia plan & execute their recent military campaign to swiftly retake Afghanistan via @YouTube

Riaz Haq said...

#US sees "critical" Afghanistan role for #Pakistan despite #Taliban ties. On Tuesday, #Afghan women and men marched to the Pakistani embassy in #Kabul condemning the offensive in #PanjshirValley. "Support Panjshir, death to Pakistan," they shouted.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has denied that his country is taking sides in Afghanistan.

One week before the Taliban swept into Kabul, Khan told journalists: "Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one."

Khan added: "I think that the Americans have decided that India is their strategic partner now, and I think that's why there's a different way of treating Pakistan now."


"Pakistan has frequently and publicly advocated for an inclusive government with broad support in Afghanistan and we look to Pakistan to play a critical role in enabling that outcome," the (US) spokesperson added.

"The entire international community has a stake in ensuring the Taliban live up to their public commitments and obligations.

"It's critical that the members of the international community with the most influence in Afghanistan use all the means at their disposal to ensure that Afghanistan lives up to its obligations under the UN Charter."

With the fall of the U.S.-backed civilian government in Kabul last month, the Taliban has seized control of most of the country and is now defeating the last resistance groups in the Panjshir Valley as it prepares to announce the makeup of its new government.

National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) leader Ahmad Massoud claimed this week that Pakistan facilitated his forces' defeat in Panjshir.

Massoud alleged that his forces had been under "bombardment by Pakistan and Taliban," and that "foreign mercenaries supporting the Taliban have always existed, they did so in the past, and will continue to do in the future."

The NRF has been posting propaganda posters online framing the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as subservient to Pakistan.

Some Afghans were also outraged by a photograph of ISI chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed visiting Kabul last week as the Taliban discussed the formation of their new government. His presence was taken as a sign of Pakistani and ISI influence over the incoming government.

There have also been reports that the ISI is fuelling Taliban infighting between those loyal to political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and members of the powerful Haqqani network.

The U.S. is in the process of recalibrating its Afghanistan strategy, following the humiliating retreat from Kabul and the stunning failure of its costly two-decade nation-building effort.

American officials are still in touch with the Taliban as the U.S. tries to extract all remaining American citizens who wish to leave the country. The diplomatic effort is being run through a team in Doha, Qatar, following the abandonment of the U.S. embassy in Kabul during the withdrawal.

Riaz Haq said...

#USDA says #Pakistan’s #wheat import estimate for 2021-22 is still at 2 million tons, in spite of the 27 million ton bumper wheat crop. Why? #Afghanistan imports all its flour from Pakistan, which might pressure Pakistan to import more wheat for stocks.

Although Pakistan produced a record wheat crop of 27 million tonnes in the 2021-22 marketing year, it was insufficient to meet the country’s domestic consumption requirements and maintain large strategic reserves, according to a recent Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report noted that at 2%, Pakistan’s annual population growth rate is among the highest in the world, so future supplies — either through domestic production or imports — must be increased to meet consumption and stock management goals.

The USDA said Pakistan’s wheat import estimate for 2021-22 is unchanged from the previous forecast at 2 million tonnes.

“Even though in June 2021, the government announced intentions to buy 3 million tonnes during 2021-22, as of Sept. 20 only 57,000 tonnes had been imported,” the USDA said, noting that the government recently bought another 110,000 tonnes for arrival in early October.

Recent wheat imports have come from the Black Sea region, and that is expected to continue in 2021-22 due to price and quality considerations, the USDA said.

The USDA said the domestic wheat demand situation likely will be impacted by neighboring Afghanistan becoming increasingly politically unstable. Afghanistan imports almost all of its domestic flour from Pakistan, which might pressure Pakistan to import more wheat for stocks.

Riaz Haq said...

KGB defector report contains interesting accounts of requests by early Afghan communist leaders to Soviets re: Pakistan.

Hafizullah Amin: “The territory of Afghanistan must reach to the shores of the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. We wish to see the sea with our own eyes.”

In August 1978 Amin was heatedly telling Puzanov and Gorelov: “We are not
parading the question of Pushtunistan and Baluchistan in the press although this question is
still on the agenda. The territory of Afghanistan must reach to the shores of the Gulf of
Oman and the Indian Ocean. We wish to see the sea with our own eyes.”
In October he again raised his favorite theme. “Our task is to direct the officers and
soldiers and all the Afghan people to the Durand line which we do not recognize, and then
to the valley of the Indus which must be our border. If we do not fulfill this historic task,
then one can say that we have been working in vain. We must have an outlet to the Indian


On 24 February 1980 Tabeev and Ivanov sent a joint telegram to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and the FCD about a united Soviet and Afghan explanation of the reasons
for the introduction of Soviet troops into Afghanistan. They suggested the following
approach. The Afghan side had repeatedly requested that a limited contingent of Soviet
troops be sent to Afghanistan. Amin had officially handed the Soviet ambassador the
request for Soviet troops, as the counter-revolutionaries were being supported from outside
by the USA, China, Pakistan and the reactionary Muslim regimes. The plan of the
imperialists and reactionary forces was to establish a puppet regime headed by Amin and to
appeal to the USA, China and Pakistan for their troops to be sent in order to put an end to
the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, even if this led to a
war in the region. This evil plot was uncovered by healthy forces within the leadership of
the DRA who had infiltrated into the narrow circle of those trusted by Amin. Thanks to
these comrades and the threat of direct aggression against the country, Amin was forced to
accept the introduction of Soviet troops in order not to reveal his part in the plans for an
external and internal counter-revolution. Amin could not disagree with the majority of the
members of the Afghan leadership. The Soviet government responded favorably to the
request from a friendly government and met the request. The USSR had nothing to do with
the events of 27 December 1979 which ended with the removal of Amin.


Strategic considerations must not be ignored. Soviet internationalism often covers
vast geographical expanses under the guise of the fight against imperialism. Hindustan has
been like a magnet from time immemorial and attracted the gaze of conquerors. And it is
only five hundred versts from Afghanistan to the southern seas. Like toreadors waiving a
red flag to a bull, Taraki and Amin threw an exciting idea to the Soviet politicians. They
could reach the Strait of Hormuz and the shores of the Indian Ocean. At the government
level, Taraki raised the question with Brezhnev of Afghanistan extending to the sea and
training the army to act in this region, particularly against Pakistan, with a radical solution
to the Pushtu and Baluchi111 problem to the advantage of Afghanistan. Pakistan was viewed
as a foreign body in the region. “We must not leave the Pakistani Pushtun and Baluchi in
the hands of the imperialists,” he said. “Already now it would be possible to launch a
national liberation struggle amongst these tribes and include the Pushtun and Baluchi
regions in Afghanistan.”

Riaz Haq said...

From Twitter:

Sharif Hassan

November 23, 2021

Sanullah Ghafari, the Isis-K leader known as Shahab al-Muhajir, was a special guard of Amrullah Saleh, Ghani’s first Vice President. His ID card posted by the US counterterrorism bureau was issued on March 21, 2019 — nearly two weeks after Ghani & Saleh assumed power.

Note: This tweet has since been deleted.

Riaz Haq said...

Darul Uloom Haqqania Madrassa: #Afghan #Taliban ministers' alma mater in #Pakistan. Haqqania's curriculum includes English, math & computer science. It claims zero-tolerance policy for anti-state activities. #education #Islam #science #math #Jihad

Haqqania has broadened its curriculum to include English, math and computer science. It demands full documentation from foreign students, including those from Afghanistan, and administrators said it adopted a zero-tolerance policy for anti-state activities.


AKORA KHATTAK, Pakistan — The Taliban have seized Afghanistan, and this school couldn’t be prouder.

Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa, one of Pakistan’s largest and oldest seminaries, has educated more Taliban leaders than any school in the world. Now its alumni hold key positions in Afghanistan.

The school’s critics call it a university of jihad and blame it for helping to sow violence across the region for decades. And they worry that extremist madrasas and the Islamist parties linked to them could be emboldened by the Taliban’s victory, potentially fueling further radicalism in Pakistan despite that country’s efforts to bring more than 30,000 seminaries under greater government control.

The school says it has changed and has argued that the Taliban should be given the chance to show they have moved beyond their bloody ways since they first ruled Afghanistan two decades ago.

“The world has seen their capabilities to run the country through their victories on both the diplomatic front and on the battlefield,” said Rashidul Haq Sami, the seminary’s vice chancellor.


Haqqania has broadened its curriculum to include English, math and computer science. It demands full documentation from foreign students, including those from Afghanistan, and administrators said it adopted a zero-tolerance policy for anti-state activities.

Experts on education in Pakistan say that the effort has had some success and that Haqqania doesn’t advocate militancy like it once did.

Still, they said, such madrasas teach a narrow interpretation of Islam. Lessons focus on how to argue with opposing faiths rather than critical thinking, and stress enforcement of practices like punishing theft with amputation and sex outside marriage with stoning. That makes some of their students vulnerable to recruitment from militant groups.

“In an environment of widespread support for the Taliban, both with the government and society, it would be na├»ve to hope that madrasas and other mainstream educational institutions would adopt a teaching approach other than a pro-Taliban one,” said Mr. Abbas, the author.

The school’s syllabus may be less influential than individual instructors.

“Whenever a madrasa student is found engaged in an act of violence, the wider approach is to hold the madrasa system and its syllabus responsible for the ill and no attention is paid to the teacher or teachers who influenced the student,” Mr. Abbas said.


School administrators point to recent statements by some groups in Afghanistan as reflective moderate teachings. After the Taliban captured Kabul, the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Sami party, founded by Mr. Sami’s father, urged them to ensure the safety of Afghans and foreigners, particularly diplomats, protect the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and allow women access to higher education.

In any case, Mr. Sami said, the world has little choice but to trust the Taliban’s ability to govern.

“I advise the international community to give a chance to the Taliban to run the country,” he said. “If they are not allowed to work, there will be a new civil war in Afghanistan and it will affect the entire region.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan offers $63m #education package for #Afghanistan. It includes 3,000 scholarships, free training with stipends for 5,000 #Afghan, training 150 Afghan teachers, 100 #nursing diploma scholarships, and a university in #Kabul via @middleeastmnt

Pakistan has finalised an Rs11.2 billion ($63 million) education package for Afghan students and plans to establish a university campus in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, a senior official said on Monday and Anadolu News Agency reports.

The Ministry of Education and Professional Training package "includes 3,000 scholarships, free training with stipends for 5,000 Afghan nationals, free training for 150 Afghan teachers, 100 nursing diploma scholarships, and the establishment of an AIOU (Allama Iqbal Open University) regional campus in Kabul to improve the education sector and skill development," a senior Pakistani government official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity, as the package is expected to soon be announced by the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister.

The AIOU in Islamabad is the country's largest university, and its chancellor is Pakistan's President.

During acting Afghan Higher Education Minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani's first visit to Pakistan last month, the University of Management and Technology in Lahore also announced 100 scholarships for Afghan students and 10 PhD scholarships for teachers and researchers to support education in the war-torn country, the officer added.

"Pakistan is making a significant contribution to providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan," he said. "So far, we have offered enormous relief assistance to Afghan people to help them in this difficult time."

Last November, Prime Minister, Imran Khan, announced over $28 million medical, food, and other humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan owing to the economic crisis that emerged after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in mid-August.

Last week, Pakistan also dispatched a team of engineers and technicians to Afghanistan for installation and commissioning new medical equipment worth Rs 2 billion ($11 million) in various Afghan hospitals.

"We are helping the Afghan people in these difficult times; as last month, our medical teams arranged free eye camps in Khost province and carried out 424 surgeries," the official said.

Last week, Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, stated his country played a crucial role in the safe evacuation of nearly 80,000 people from 42 countries and nationalities, including diplomats and UN officials, from Kabul.

Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has pledged Rs5 billion ($28.3 billion) in aid to Afghanistan, with the first consignment already on its way, Qureshi said.

Riaz Haq said...

China announces land link with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan | South China Morning Post

China announces land link with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan
State media heralded the departure of a cargo from Lanzhou, a key transport hub, but analysts said its main importance is the symbolism
Freight will pass through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, two countries where China is hoping to build a rail link

The 3,125km (1,940 miles) route uses both railways and roads and passes through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as well.
One of the main businesses involved in the route said it hopes to normalise express links between the two countries, although analysts have said the main significance is symbolic rather than practical because air and sea links are still more important.
The route starts with a railway line between Lanzhou, a major road transport hub in the northwestern province of Gansu, to Kashgar in Xinjiang on the border with Kyrgzstan.

The route then continues by road to Kyrgyzstan, travelling to the border with Uzbekistan, where it switches back to rail until it reaches the Afghan border town of Hairatan.

The first train to leave Lanzhou was carrying US$1.5 million of freight, including car parts, furniture, machinery and equipment from Gansu province and other places, according to state news agency Xinhua.

“We hope to normalise the route for Sino-Afghanistan express service and aim to run four times a month,” Li Wei, a marketing manager from New Land-Sea Corridor Operation Co, one of the main firms involved in the shipment, told Xinhua.
But one observer said the route’s main importance is symbolic as China seeks to increase communications with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

“Currently, the economic value of this land route from China to Afghanistan is still not high. Though it has some strategic importance, this kind of transport is not yet on a [large] scale,” Zhu Yongbiao, a professor at Lanzhou University’s school of politics and international relations said.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has resulted in a cut in a number of routes into the country and most freight and traffic goes via Pakistan, according to Zhu.

However, most of these routes suffered from limited capacity, according to Zhu. “The line with the highest volume between the two countries is still the sea route to Pakistan, other routes such as land route and air corridor all have relatively small capacity.”
China has been emphasizing that Afghanistan is an important country in its Belt and Road Initiative – a transcontinental infrastructure initiative – but Beijing has not recognised the Taliban government.

Meanwhile, Beijing is also urging the Taliban to enhance counterterrorism measures after attacks on Chinese targets.

According to the shippers, the newly opened China-Afghanistan land route is an extension of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan freight land road, which started delivering shipments from China to Uzbekistan last December.

The three countries hope to build a rail link but despite signing a memorandum of understanding back in 1997, they have never been able to make much progress.
“All three sides will contribute equal investments toward the Kyrgyz section of the railway,” Niva Yau, a fellow in the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said in a report published in March.
“However, many practical issues are not yet resolved, particularly those of public concern in Kyrgyzstan.”

She said local concerns included “the number of Chinese workers expected to arrive and stay, vocational training for local railway engineers, investment for industrial projects along the railway, and an increasing number of permits for Kyrgyz products to enter China”.

Riaz Haq said...

#Afghan #Taliban Fighters, Unsettled by Peace, Seek New Battles Abroad, in #Pakistan. “Our only expectation is to be martyred,” Tahir says in a video of him en route to Pakistan. A month later, he was killed by Pakistani security forces. #TTP #Terror

The exodus has renewed longstanding fears about violent extremism spilling out of Afghanistan under the Taliban and destabilizing neighboring countries or one day reaching Western targets. Countries from Russia and China to the United States and Iran have all raised alarms about the possible resurgence in Afghanistan of terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, with more global ambitions.

Taliban leadership has publicly condemned the outflow of fighters. The men, who acknowledge that they have gone to Pakistan without official permission, have joined a militant group known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or T.T.P., which seeks to impose strict Islamist rule.

But whether Afghanistan’s government stems the tide will signal to the rest of the world its ability and willingness to contain extremist groups within its borders.

“If you look at how the Taliban are enabling the T.T.P., restraining but housing various elements of Al Qaeda, protecting and shielding the alphabet soup of Central Asian militant organizations — all of this challenges the idea that the Taliban are serious about not allowing Afghanistan to be a safe haven of international terrorism,” said Asfandyar Mir, a senior expert at the United States Institute of Peace, a federal government institution.

In Pakistan, the young men have already helped fuel a return of militant violence this year, worsening tensions between the two governments. Pakistani authorities have accused Afghan officials of sheltering terror groups and turning a blind eye to their soldiers joining the groups, which Taliban officials deny.

Last week, an Islamic State affiliate long based in Afghanistan carried out a suicide blast in Pakistan that killed around 60 people. The bombing added to a mounting death toll from similar attacks by the T.T.P. that have grown more frequent since the Afghan Taliban came to power.

Over the past year, the T.T.P. has carried out at least 123 attacks across Pakistan — about double the number it claimed in the year before the Taliban seized power, according to the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies, which monitors extremist violence.

It’s unclear exactly how many Afghans have crossed the border to join the T.T.P. or other groups, but it is a small minority of the tens of thousands of former Taliban fighters.

“Young men seeking thrill and adventure is common everywhere; from Americas, to Europe to Asia, Africa and elsewhere,” said Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “This adventurism does not reflect common trends or public opinion, rather they are anomalies.”

Those who go are driven by yearslong religious education in Taliban-run madrasas that extol the ideals of global jihad and martyrdom, they and their relatives say. Others are bored in their new peacetime roles as soldiers or police officers charged with mundane tasks like manning checkpoints and doing routine security sweeps.

Many are also invigorated by the collapse of the Western-backed government in Afghanistan.

“Peace and security have been secured in our country, so now we need to fight in other countries and secure the rights of other Muslims,” a Taliban member named Wahdat said one recent evening while he drank tea alongside a handful of his colleagues in Kabul.

“It’s more important to go there and continue our jihad there than to stay in our country,” his friend, Malang added. Mr. Wahdat and Mr. Malang, both 22 and now police officers, preferred to go only by their last names because they were not authorized to speak to the press.