|British Army Major Gallimore in Afghanistan|
|British Army Major Robert Gallimore with Afghan Soldiers|
The Afghan Army says they'll feel good when they can "invade Pakistan". They do not blame the British but the Pakistanis for 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.
South Asia Investor Review
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Mullah Mansoor Akhtar Killing in US Drone Strike
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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
ISI doesn't make direct radio contact on the field or in the sphere of conflict. If it did, it would be a below par agency.
Communication is always through convuluted channels and via intermediaries.
#Pakistan #PTI chief #ImranKhan's Interview with CNN's Hala Gorani about Trump's #AfghanStrategy
There are at most 2000 to 3,000 Haqqani insurgents that Pakistan is being accused of harboring.
The facts is Pakistan is a scapegoat for the failure of 150,000 NATO troops including 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan can do without US aid that has been extremely costly in terms of human and economic losses to the country.
Trump locks America into its forever war by Fareed Zakaria
A leading expert on Afghanistan policy, Barnett Rubin, who has advised the United Nations and the U.S. government, explains the problem as he sees it. “The Afghan state cannot exist without outside help,” he told me. “It cannot pay its bills without the U.S. government. It cannot have a stable society without Pakistan’s help. It cannot grow economically without trade and transit with Iran.” Referring to reports that Afghanistan is endowed with nearly $1 trillion in mineral resources, he observed, “I’m sure the moon has even more mineral wealth, but you need a way to get it out to markets. And for that, you need friendly neighbors.” Rubin believes that Trump’s approach is doomed because it seems utterly unilateral, willfully oblivious to the interests of the other powers in the region, especially Russia, China and Iran.
Trump’s remarks on Pakistan were seen by many as a strong break from the previous administration, but people appear to have forgotten the unusually blunt testimony that Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave to Congress in 2011. He called the Haqqani network, one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in Afghanistan, “a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.” That same year, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus both went to Pakistan to, in Clinton’s words, “push the Pakistanis very hard” to end their support for militant groups in Afghanistan. That was one in a series of actions that outraged the Pakistanis, causing them to shut down supply routes to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan for seven months.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has doubled down on more of the same. More money, bombs, troops, pressure on Pakistan and tough love for the Afghans. It is a tactical approach, designed by generals, to ensure that they do not lose. But it does not even pretend to contain a strategy to win. In other words, half a century later, at a lower human cost, the United States has replicated its strategy in Vietnam. Call it quagmire-lite.
Well stated and the British Major somehow didn't take pictures or videos of "buckets of Indian money" either!!
Jon: "Well stated and the British Major somehow didn't take pictures or videos of "buckets of Indian money" either!!"
Here's ex US Def Sec Chuck Hagel talking about it:
"India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGvXPgXsKTE
Analysis | #Trump says #Pakistan ‘harbors terrorists.’ The real story isn't so simple. #US pressure will not work
If Pakistan had a conscious policy of allowing a “haven for terrorists” in its territory, U.S. pressure might persuade the leadership to change it. Because the current situation reflects complicated domestic politics and any shift would probably result in pushback from the powerful military, the changes Washington wants are not likely to happen.
The United States has been putting pressure on Pakistan for decades, and neither tough words nor threats to cut off aid have worked for long. That suggests Pakistani leaders appear more afraid of a backlash from their society and military than they are of U.S. anger.
This does not bode well for the Trump administration’s new Afghanistan strategy. Stabilizing Afghanistan will be much easier with a cooperative Pakistan, but that is unlikely to happen. Instead of making threats, U.S. policymakers would be better off working out whatever temporary arrangements they can with Pakistan, realizing the constraints of Pakistan’s leaders — and perhaps considering other options that do not rely on Pakistan.
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)".
You cannot mask the truth by hocus pocus. The world (except Pakistanis) is quite aware of the truth.
Pakistan's support of the Taliban". Human Rights Watch 2000:
"Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the ongoing fighting [in Afghanistan], Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives and the scale of its efforts, which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and ... directly providing combat support."
"The Taliban were largely founded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during 1994. The I.S.I. used the Taliban to establish a regime in Afghanistan which would be favorable to Pakistan, as they were trying to gain strategic depth. Since the creation of the Taliban, the ISI and the Pakistani military have given financial, logistical and military support."
- Pape, Robert A (2010). Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. University of Chicago Press. pp. 140–141. ISBN 978-0-226-64560-5.
According to Pakistani Afghanistan expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" on the side of the Taliban. Peter Tomsen stated that up until 9/11 Pakistani military and ISI officers along with thousands of regular Pakistani armed forces personnel had been involved in the fighting in Afghanistan.
........and so on and so forth.
SG: "Pakistan's support of the Taliban". Human Rights Watch 2000:
"Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the ongoing fighting [in Afghanistan], Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives "
You are talking about the situation pre-911 when Pakistan and several other countries, including US, supported various militant groups and the US government even tried to facilitate a pipeline deal between UNOCAL and the Taliban. Ahmad Rashid has written about all of this in his book on "The Taliban"
Major Robert Gallinore of the British Army is talking about what he observed in his three tours of duty after 911.
Two new books on Pakistan’s ISI and its ‘War for National Survival’
by BY THOMAS E. RICKS OCTOBER 4, 2017
Former DIA Senior Intelligence Analyst Owen L. Sirrs’ Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence Directorate: Covert Action and Internal Operations is the strongest of the pair. Sirrs traces ISI’s “existential war for national survival” to the trauma of Partition, highlighting how many of Pakistan’s early military and intelligence leaders survived the dangerous trek to the new country. The ISI, a “start-up operation born out of a collapsed empire,” leveraged its ties with the CIA to build the capabilities it used to support covert action operations in neighboring India and Afghanistan. Sirrs’ discussion of the transformational role of the Afghan Program — from the early support to Islamists in 1973 through the 1991 creation of the Taliban — is strong, as are his descriptions of how Islamization undermined ISI internal discipline.
Sirrs works to “puncturing the myth of ISI as a ‘rogue’ agency operating beyond the knowledge and consent of national authorities.” He makes a convincing case that ISI operates under firm GCHQ (General Headquarters) control. I suspect, though, that Sirrs overestimates civilian leaders’ access and influence over ISI operations. Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, and others tried to harness ISI against their enemies, but these attempts to manipulate the service fall far short of reliable control. With so little transparency into Pakistan’s civil-military relations, we are forced into a form of Kremlinology, weighing competing claims by players with every reason to spin.
The other book, Hein G. Kiessling’s Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan, could have been extraordinary. Kiessling lived in Pakistan for nearly two decades and had direct access to most former ISI Director Generals. He covers the same history as Sirrs (also dismissing allegations that the “strictly led and managed” service conducts rogue operations). In contrast to Sirrs’ chronological march through ISI’s development, Kiessling’s narrative veers between ISI’s organization, historical controversies, and personality clashes among military and civilian leaders. His on-the-record interviews of former ISI Directors, including the reclusive General Mahmood Ahmed, highlight service leaders’ continuing suspicions over civilian leaders’ competence and goodwill.
Unfortunately, Kiessling undermines his account with unsourced judgments and a low threshold for conspiracy theories. He dismisses accounts of ISI kidnappings and assassinations as political propaganda, proposes an unusually low estimate of ISI personnel strength, and asserts that “all fingers point towards the Americans” in the unsolved mystery of the 1988 plane crash that killed Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel. Kiessling’s stated premise is that ISI is the unjustified target of “frenzied and often ill-informed discussion” and conspiracy theory, while the rival Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is “largely let off the hook.”
In attempting to address this perceived imbalance, Kiessling allows his sources’ whoppers to go unchallenged. Thus, he republishes an ISI statement that the well-documented civilian disappearances in Baluchistan are either (a) nonexistent; (b) terrorists KIA, their bodies hidden by partners-in-crime; or (c) “mentally retarded individuals, who leave their homes and move to other parts of the country.” Elsewhere he cites claims that 9/11 was “an inside job.” The result is an unfocused narrative with some new insights, but one I would hesitate to consider reliable.
The Pakistani military has responded to a charge of having links to armed groups in South Asia, arguing that it is the job of intelligence agencies to maintain such connections, but rejected the notion that Pakistan supported groups such as the Afghan Taliban.
Please understand, 'having links', and 'supporting' [armed groups] are two different things," said Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military's spokesperson, at a press conference in the northern garrison city of Rawalpindi.
"Name an intelligence agency of any country that does not have links [to armed groups]. Everyone does. If you have the links to finish the threat, then that is a positive contribution."
Ghafoor was responding to comments made on Tuesday by General Joseph Dunford, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency maintained links to armed groups.
"It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups," he said, referring to groups that are actively engaged in the Afghan conflict, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
Ghafoor stressed that while the connections may exist, that did not constitute support.
"[US officials] did not say that the ISI is supporting [armed groups]," the Pakistani general said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs also denied that Pakistan was supporting armed groups in neighbouring Afghanistan or on its soil.
"We have time and again rejected these allegations. Pakistan has done enough to erase the footprint of terrorism from its soil through indiscriminate counterterrorism operations against all terrorist outfits," said spokesperson Nafees Zakaria at a separate press briefing.
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Pakistan has friends in Kabul
By Taimur ShamilPublished: January 25, 2018
After returning from my recent trip to Kabul, many people that I met back home were concerned about Pakistan’s image in Kabul — opportunities for cooperation and the intensity of anti-Pakistan sentiment in Afghanistan. My answer to them was simple. Pakistan, socially and politically, has friends in Kabul and the opportunities for Pakistan are many, if we try.
Here are the facts: in terms of social relations, every day between 2,000 to 3,000 visas are issued from Kabul alone to Pakistan. The numbers of visas issued from the rest of Pakistani consulates are additional, that may vary from 800 to 1,000 as per Pakistani officials. The Afghans who travel on these visas are usually travelling for health and educational reasons. The patients who travel to Pakistan feel more comfortable in Pakistan than any other country. The reasons being obvious, most of them share the same culture, language, religion and most of the times clans and tribes as well. Also that many of them have been frequently travelling to Pakistan for the last many years. Majority of them have their families in Pakistan that either migrated during the Soviet-Afghan war or later during the last decade. These Afghans who come to Pakistan also find Pakistan economically affordable as compared to other countries in the region. It is to be kept in mind that most of the Afghans live in abject poverty and lack basic health facilities. Therefore, Pakistan is the logical and economical option.
Interestingly almost every third person that I met, Dari (Persian spoken in Afghanistan) dominated, Kabul could speak and understand Urdu. Most of the people who could speak Urdu were young Afghans. They had either been educated or had spent considerable time doing jobs in Pakistan. They have good memories attached to the neighbouring country which welcomed and hosted them.
After meeting the young Afghans, I realised that when it comes to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, higher education is Pakistan’s strength. While Pakistan has itself improved the quality of higher education, it has worked on giving scholarships to Afghan students who want to pursue their academic ambitions. Islamabad is generally multi-linguistic city and multi-ethnic as well. One can find Hazaras, Persian speaking, and Pakhtuns in large numbers in different universities of the capital. This naturally gives the Afghan students a conducive environment to blend in.
Last year the Higher Education Commission announced scholarships to 3,000 Afghan students and a large number of those are females. These young students are the bridges and ambassadors of peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a huge potential for the future of democracy and peace in Afghanistan. The tapping of this potential needs the Foreign Office’s attention now more than ever.
A lot of Pakistanis are concerned about anti-Pakistan sentiments brewing in Kabul. The concerns are, no doubt, justified and show Pakistan’s concern and urge to improve its relations with the people of Afghanistan. After all, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the decades and expects that the refugees become the ambassadors of goodwill between the two countries when they return to their home country. For that Pakistan too needs consideration on smooth transition of refugees from Pakistani soil to Afghanistan. It doesn’t need to be rough and loaded with blame. That ruins the very spirit with which Pakistan hosted them for decades.
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.
#Tajik, #Uzbek say #IamnotAfghan. #Afghanistan #eTazkira
It is a single word that outsiders commonly use to refer to nationals of Afghanistan. Its formal placement on the country's long-planned electronic identity card, however, has inspired a hashtag and arguments that reflect a national divide: #IAmNotAfghan.
President Ashraf Ghani and First Lady Rula Ghani became the first citizens to apply for the new card last week. But the proposed use of the word Afghan on its face may scupper the entire multi-million dollar project.
"I am from Afghanistan, but I am not Afghan," Aslam Niazy, a young citizen from Jowzjan province, wrote in a Facebook post, in three different national languages, on Monday. His post ignited a debate about ethnicity and identity among his friends on the social network, which has since spread across the country, reflecting a schism that continues to threaten Afghanistan’s unity.
Despite its initially apparent accuracy, members of minority ethnic groups equate "Afghan" as a synonymous and historic reference of Pashtun ethnicity, a group that makes up more than a third of the population.
"Those who oppose consider that the word Afghan is a reference to one community of Afghanistan and so cannot represent the identity of all citizens," said Ghulam Ali Danishgar, a sociologist in the capital Kabul. "However, geographically we are Afghans."
Across the world, citizens of Afghanistan are also largely and commonly referred to as Afghans. The nation's full name - The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - also appears along the top of the card.
Although the country is riven by suicide attacks from the Taliban and ISIL insurgents the cards were primarily devised to help provide better access to public services rather than as a means to improve security.
Known locally as eTazkira, a reference to the existing paper identity document - needed to get water, electricity, education or housing - the electronic card's introduction has been delayed for years because of ethnic sensitivities.
"It's not just about the word, but about the appeasement of the Pashtun nationalists' groups," says Tahir Qadiry, head of Mitra TV and a senior adviser to Atta Noor, the recently ousted governor of Balkh province, who is an ethnic Tajik and opponent of the identity card scheme.
"Even though Ghani is a Pashtun himself, he has always showed himself to be democratic and not a nationalist. But now when he finds himself losing the Pashtun support, he is using the politics of identity to regain the Pashtun majority," added Mr Qadiry.
Other opponents include the infamous warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who despite reputedly being in exile in Turkey retains the title of vice president, and Mohammad Mohaqeq, another anti-Soviet era fighter turned politician. Both them and Noor are planning to boycott the identity card scheme in their constituencies.
And Afghanistan's chief executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah, while not outright critical of the new cards, had called on the government to postpone the launch, pending further consultation.
There is also a broader political interest as the cards should help reduce voter fraud which is rampant in elections. The election commission lacks accurate data and fair voting and ballot counting is a subject of regular dispute, with "ghost votes" a major problem. The electronic cards would also help create a census; the last full one was in 1979 and several attempts since have fallen short.
In an attempt to avoid discord it was proposed near the end of 2017 that the ethnicity of the cardholder would be featured alongside the nationality reference. However, that amendment was also opposed and rejected by several parliamentarians.
#India’s #RAW recruited 3 warlords in #Afghanistan, including Ahmad Shah Masood, says 'RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations' by investigative journalist Yatish Yadav. He doesn’t disclose the names of 2 other warlords still in #Afghan politics
At least three RAW spies involved in covert action in Afghanistan have claimed that Afghan armed forces were "demoralised and divided, remained practically inactive" during the Soviet army’s December 1979 invasion, the book, which will be released on Monday said.
The book also claims that the US knew about the Indian activities in Afghanistan and the Americans launched propaganda against the RAW with stories appearing with Washington dateline, which said that the US supply of arms was a "sort of punishment" to India for failing to oppose the Soviet Union on Afghan soil and the Soviet-Vietnam interference in Cambodia.
RAW also feared, the book said, that the Taliban would not waste time in killing former President of Afghanistan Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai once they gained dominance in the war. An Indian spy recalled the message the RAW sent to Najibullah,
who was staying at the UN mission in Kabul, to leave the country but he refused outrightly. Another effort was made through a reluctant Massoud, but Najibullah rejected the offer once again, arguing that the Taliban may not attack him.
"RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations" by Yatish Yadav reveals #Indian #RAW "helped" a top #Afghan politician/warlord. #India carved #Bangladesh out of East #Pakistan. #RAW played double game in #SriLanka, "helping" govt & LTTE https://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/2020/aug/02/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-2176989.html via @NewIndianXpress
Set in the turbulent ’70s to the ’90s, R&AW spooks toppled dictators like General Ershad in Bangladesh and Fiji’s Colonel Rabuka by organising public protests and trading loyalties of people in their inner circles respectively. India had carved Bangladesh out of East Pakistan, which America opposed vehemently; President Richard Nixon even sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India.
After Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the ISI and CIA moved into Bangladesh. The Hindu refugee problem was a strain on India’s economy and Ershad’s pro-ISI, pro-CIA stance wasn’t helping. So unexpected were the R&AW-engineered protests that Ershad was forced to resign and a neutral government came in his place. In Fiji, where local Indians were being persecuted by nationalist Rabuka, R&AW used foreign contacts in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to launch a successful operation to oust him. The mission was almost compromised when the mistress of a Fiji bureaucrat who was spying for India informed the authorities.
R&AW also created immense goodwill in many countries; it helped a top Afghan politician and former warlord to escape the Taliban and even got his relative a job in Turkey. R&AW spooks relentlessly bribed, cajoled and blackmailed India’s enemies. At great danger to himself, a daring agent bought information from a mole among Khalistani terrorists who were preparing to attack Delhi, which were averted by the intel. The agency even managed to recruit the prime minister of an important Baltic nation. R&AW had support from most prime ministers, except Pakistan-friendly Morarji Desai, who had dismantled foreign operations and turned over imbedded agents to ISI.
In Sri Lanka, R&AW played a double game, helping the Sri Lankan Army to destroy the LTTE while protecting Indian assets against the Tigers and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hit men. According to a R&AW spymaster in Colombo, MEA bungled and allowed the Chinese to get a foothold in the island.
Carter Malkasian does not agree with Ghani's, Karzai's and some #Americans' contention that Pakistan is the key and/or sole factor in Taliban prevailing over Afghan govt/US forces in Afghanistan. In fact, he strongly refutes it. Please reached attached clips
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. A popular tale related to me in 2018 by an Afghan government official illuminates the reality:
An Afghan army officer and a Taliban commander were insulting each other over their radios while shooting back and forth. The Taliban commander taunted: “You are puppets of America!” The army officer shouted back: “You are the puppets of Pakistan!” The Taliban commander replied: “The Americans are infidels. The Pakistanis are Muslims.” The Afghan officer had no response.
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.
#Russian Envoy Kabulov: "it seems that when those in Kabul who are supposed to protect their land from the Taliban fail to do that, they start searching for someone to blame and always consider Pakistan to be a suitable scapegoat.” #Afghanistan #Pakistan https://tribune.com.pk/article/how-russia-and-pakistan-are-supporting-one-another-on-afghanistan
Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said last week that “Pakistan, along with Russia and almost all neighbouring countries, is interested in Afghanistan returning to normality and becoming a reliable trade and economic bridge connecting Pakistan and Eurasia.” He then added that “Sometimes it seems that when those in Kabul who are supposed to protect their land from the Taliban fail to do that, they start searching for someone to blame and always consider Pakistan to be a suitable scapegoat.”
Several days later, The Express Tribune cited its sources to report that Pakistani National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf and Director-General ISI Lt. General Faiz Hameed told US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that Russia is also interested in supporting the Afghan peace process and preventing the on-going civil war there from worsening. That same day, Russia’s publicly financed TASS – its most reputable English-language media outlet which only reports facts and not any interpretations thereof like RT and Sputnik do – ran a story about The Express Tribune’s report in order to raise awareness among their audience of this friendly gesture.
Taken together, these three developments are noteworthy in the sense that they show how much Russia and Pakistan are politically supporting one another on Afghanistan. The Eurasian Great Power is nowadays officially critiquing Kabul’s tendency to exploit Pakistan as a scapegoat in Afghanistan. At the same time, Islamabad is reportedly reassuring Washington of its Russian rival’s peaceful intentions in that same country. This represents a milestone in the Russian-Pakistani rapprochement since it’s the first time that both countries have supported the others’ interests in Afghanistan in the face of third-party criticism.
It’s veritably the case that Kabul regularly uses Pakistan as a scapegoat the same as Washington has previously claimed that Russia has ulterior motives in Afghanistan (e.g. last summer’s Russia-Taliban bounty fake news scandal). That said, few could have expected Russia to officially defend Pakistan from Kabul’s scapegoating just as few could have expected Pakistan to reportedly defend Russia from the US’ suspicions about its intentions. This just goes to show how rapidly Russian-Pakistani relations are improving in recent years, accelerated as they are by their shared interests in Afghanistan.
Observers also shouldn’t overlook the importance of TASS reporting on the Express Tribune’s story about how two of the top Pakistani security officials defended Russia during their latest trip to the US. The publicly financed Russian outlet was presumably so impressed that it wanted to share this good news with their audience in order to inform them of how far Russian-Pakistani relations have come in such a short time. Their story can go a long way towards positively reshaping perceptions about Pakistan and helping others move beyond out-dated Old Cold War-era stereotypes about that South Asian country.
The takeaway from all of this is that it’s time for more experts to pay attention to Russian-Pakistani relations, especially the positive impact that they’ve had on the Afghan peace process. Many influential folks have been ignoring this for far too long to the detriment of their analyses’ accuracy. Their work will always remain incomplete without incorporating this important diplomatic dimension into the insight that they share. It’s impossible for anyone of importance to ignore this relationship any longer if they have professional integrity. At the very least, Russia’s and Pakistan’s defence of one another in the face of third-party criticism is newsworthy.
#US Advisor Carter Malkasian:"Razziq, Karzai & 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. Yet Pakistan could never fully out-inspire occupation"https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/07/06/afghanistan-war-malkasian-book-excerpt-497843
US DoD Press Secretary John Kirby: “..They’ve an airforce, the Taliban doesn’t. They’ve modern weaponry, the Taliban doesn’t. They’ve organisational skills, Taliban doesn’t. They’ve superior numbers to the Taliban. Again they have the advantage, advantages..”.
"I have the proof that they have a force of over 300,000 soldiers and police. They have a modern Air Force -- an Air Force, by the way, which we continue to contribute to and to -- and to improve. They have modern weaponry; they have -- they have an organizational structure. They have a lot of advantages that the Taliban don't have. Taliban doesn't have an Air Force, Taliban doesn't own airspace, they have a lot of advantages. Now, they have to use those advantages. They have to exert that leadership. And it's got to come both from a political and from the military side"
Redefining citizenship in Pakistan
The PTM movement envisions an alternate relationship between citizen and state.
Perhaps, the only slogan borrowed from older iterations of Pashtun nationalism is that of ‘Lar-o-bar Yaw Afghan’ (All Afghans are one). This slogan particularly evokes insecurity within the Pakistani state because it implies the fracture of the country. It can also evoke either making a separate Pashtunistan (a homeland for the Pashtuns) or joining with Afghanistan. The propaganda and suppression tactics surrounding this slogan, it can be argued, form the basis of Afghan support for the PTM. But this slogan expresses the cultural, historical and linguistic identity of Pashtuns as transcending the borders of Pakistan and also as participants in the project of the Pakistani nation as a people having their own identity and culture.
This charge of separatism also comes with the charge of an exclusively ethnic movement. This charge erases the conceptualisation of the particular versus the universal. It raises questions around collective self-expression and how it can be done in a participatory, ethical way.
A national consciousness is very different from the kind of nationalism which creates an essential category of a ‘nation’. That national consciousness takes stock of race- or ethnicity-based oppression. Rather than essentialising the ‘nation’, this consciousness seeks recognition in a framework of the universal. The crucial concept is that a particular race or ethnicity shouldn’t become universal and collaboration should be sought with other groups working towards a universal movement recognising the specificity of nationhood. The universal in turn shouldn’t essentialise and erase particular communities (both go hand in hand).
In this light, the PTM can be seen as reclaiming the right of being different and simultaneously of belonging to a country through the instrument of the constitution. In the PTM’s imagination, the constitution has a life of its own, and can be called upon again and again in order to legitimise the movement. Though the constitution is not a perfect document and is open to change to reflect changing socio-political circumstances, it is a guarantee protecting against the violation of human rights and of the state’s praetorian hold. The abstractness of the articles of the constitution finds materiality in the political programme where those who see the constitution as subservient to the ‘interests of the nation’ are made subservient to the dictates of the constitution. The PTM finds solidarity from people who are not Pashtuns and are not affected by war, because the constitution has the seeds of an alternate tomorrow which can challenge the economy and war-fuelled state through the constant violation of rights of the periphery as well as of people cast as the undesirable ‘other’.
Pashtuns have a complex relationship with the Pakistani state. It is validly argued that they hold disproportionate representation in some institutions, such as in the army, with between 15 and 22 percent of officers and between 20 and 25 percent among the rank and file said to be Pashtuns.
This is partly due to Pashtuns being the largest ethnic minority of the country, the portrayal of Pashtuns as a martial race by the British Raj (continued by the postcolonial state), and a long political struggle leading to upward social mobility for Pashtuns in some areas. Despite being the largest ethnic minority, they are treated, consciously or unconsciously, as the ethnic other to the de-ethnicised Pakistan: their lands are treated as arenas of war and their people are deployed to fight proxy wars of the state. The PTM aims to disrupt this dual treatment born out of the war economy. Their program is not only non-violent, it is also anti-violence and anti-war.
It is generally believed that most people in Pakistan's northwestern areas support the Taliban because of their own inclination toward Islamism, but the reality is somewhat different. It is true that the Islamist group is liked by many in the region, but the number of people who oppose the Taliban and the Pakistani state's alleged support to the outfit has also increased manifold in the past two decades.
Most of these ethnic Pashtuns are wary of a never-ending war in their region and blame both the Taliban and Islamabad for the devastation in their areas.
As the Taliban are gaining strength in Afghanistan, liberal Pashtuns fear it is just a matter of time before Islamists make a comeback in Pakistan's northwestern areas, too.
There are already reports of Pakistani citizens holding Taliban flags and chanting Islamist slogans at rallies in areas close to the Afghan border. Islamic clerics in various parts of the country are also soliciting support for the Afghan Taliban and calling for donations.
This comes amid rapid Taliban advances in Afghanistan ahead of the complete withdrawal of NATO troops by September.
Opposition to the Taliban
Progressive Pashtuns recently held a convention in Charsadda, a town in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
They denounced the Taliban's assaults on Afghan forces.
They also condemned the United States' Doha deal with the Taliban , saying it practically legitimized the militant group.
The convention, which was composed of leading Pashtun nationalist parties, intellectuals, academics and left-leaning political workers, called for an immediate cease-fire across Afghanistan to pave the way for peace talks.
The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), an anti-war group, has also held massive rallies in several parts of the province in the past few weeks. The PTM has condemned the Taliban and expressed its support for the Afghan government.
Support for Ashraf Ghani
Said Alam Mehsud, a PTM leader, believes that the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan would suffer immensely if the Taliban managed to take over Kabul. "We support President Ashraf Ghani's government because it is legitimate. The Taliban are Pakistani mercenaries who want to topple an internationally recognized government," he told DW.
"The Taliban destroy schools, stop women from working, hand down inhuman punishments and kill innocent civilians. How can we support them?" he said.
On the contrary, Ghani's government, according to Mehsud, carried out several development projects in Afghanistan. The human rights situation has also improved under his administration, he added.
Bushra Gohar, a Pashtun politician and former lawmaker, agrees with Mehsud. "The PTM and other Pashtun groups are supporting Ghani because our people don't want to see the return of the Taliban's barbaric rule," she told DW.
She said that, despite Taliban advances, Afghans are revolting against Islamists. "We see an uprising against the Taliban in Afghanistan. People are taking to the streets to show support to their government and the security forces."
Samina Afridi, a Peshawar-based political analyst, says Pashtuns on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border want education, human rights and democracy, but the Taliban are against that.
The 'Taliban project'
Pakistani authorities have long accused liberal Pashtun groups, including the PTM, of destabilizing the country at Afghanistan's behest.
The PTM has gained considerable strength in the past four years, drawing tens of thousands of people to its protest rallies. Its supporters are critical of the war on terror, which they say has ravaged Pashtun areas in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
American Analyst & Author 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.” https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/how-america-failed-in-afghanistan
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.
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