Nearly 15 years after 9/11, the war in Afghanistan is raging and Pakistandeserves much of the blame. It remains a duplicitous and dangerous partner for the United States and Afghanistan, despite $33 billion in American aid and repeated attempts to reset relations on a more constructive course.
In coming weeks, Gen. John Nicholson Jr., the new American commander in Afghanistan, will present his assessment of the war. It’s likely to be bleak and may question the wisdom of President Obama’s goal of cutting the American force of 10,000 troops to 5,500 by the end of the year. The truth is, regardless of troop levels, the only hope for long-term peace is negotiations with some factions of the Taliban. The key to that is Pakistan.
Pakistan’s powerful army and intelligence services have for years given support to the Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network and relied on them to protect Pakistani interests in Afghanistan and prevent India from increasing its influence there. Under American pressure, the Pakistan Army recently waged a military campaign against the Taliban in the ungoverned border region. But the Haqqanis still operate in relative safety in Pakistan. Some experts say the army has helped engineer the integration of the Haqqanis into the Taliban leadership.
Pakistan’s double game has long frustrated American officials, and it has grown worse. There are now efforts in Washington to exert more pressure on the Pakistan Army. Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has wisely barred the use of American aid to underwrite Pakistan’s purchase of eight F-16 jet fighters. Pakistan will still be allowed to purchase the planes, but at a cost of $700 million instead of about $380 million.
Read more » The New York Times
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KABUL: The Afghan parliament Saturday voted to dismiss two powerful ministers for failing to act over cross-border shelling blamed on neighbouring Pakistan and over other security issues.
The move obliges President Hamid Karzai to sack Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, who has strong support among Afghanistan’s Western allies, and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, a key Karzai ally.
The men are expected to continue serving in an acting capacity until the president introduces replacements.
General Abdul Rahim Wardak will continue serving in the ministry as the acting defence minister until a new minister is introduced by the president,” defence ministry spokesman General Zaher Azimi told AFP. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
Pakistan’s Impending Defeat in Afghanistan
By: Ashley J. Tellis
Pakistan’s Enduring Aim
Ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has had one simple strategic goal on its western frontier: ensuring that Afghanistan remains a stable but subordinate entity deferential to Pakistan’s sensitivities on all matters of national security. Such deference was sought for a host of reasons. Islamabad wanted a guarantee that Kabul would not reignite the dispute over the countries’ common border (the Durand Line) and would not seek to mobilize the region’s Pashtun populations in support of either absorption into Afghanistan or the creation of a new nation. The Pakistani leadership also aimed to ensure that Afghanistan would not enter into close geopolitical affiliations with other, more powerful countries, such as the United States or India, in order to increase Kabul’s autonomy from Islamabad.
Amid the chaos that emerged after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan settled on supporting the Afghan Taliban as its strategic instrument for securing Kabul’s compliance with its objectives. Although the Taliban were not always dependable surrogates on these matters, they appeared better than other Afghan rivals, and hence Islamabad—despite its denials—has stuck by them to this day.
Whatever the intended benefits of this strategy, it has alienated both the broader Afghan populace and the government in Kabul, which now views Pakistan as a habitually hostile neighbor. It has also undermined the U.S.-led international stabilization effort in Afghanistan, as well as hopes for a peaceful security transition—not to mention infuriating Washington, which now views Pakistan as a perfidious partner. And it has provoked heightened regional rivalry involving Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Iran, India, the Central Asian republics, and Russia, all of whom are determined to prevent a Pakistani-supported Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Worst of all, Islamabad’s strategy promises to fundamentally undermine Pakistani security. Every one of the three possible outcomes of the Afghan security transition leaves Pakistan in a terrible place.
Destined for Failure
Read more » http://m.ceip.org/publications/?fa=48633
by Syed Nadir El-Edroos
…. The fact of the matter is that China is not going to risk its $3 trillion foreign currency reserve and $250 billion annual trade surplus with the US, to make threats to Washington on Pakistan’s behalf. And in any case, China didn’t make any threat to the US, all it said was something to the effect that states shouldn’t interfere in other the US. And in any case, why do we need to play one country against another one to begin with? As for the ‘Afghan freedom struggle’, the Taliban are not exactly popular in Afghanistan, and are viewed as Pakistani proxies by many in that country. .
How about the Pakistani state, for once taking some responsibility and not placing all the blame on America? The Pakistani people expect its security apparatus to keep them safe, regardless of who the perpetrators or motivating factors are. The writer should stop peddling the fallacy that if the US leaves, terrorism will end. Do we really think that Punjab-based terroist organisations and sectarian outfits will care if the US leaves the region? Do we really think that groups, which want to establish a state in Pakistan along the lines that the Taliban imposed on Afghanistan will stop with their designs just because America has left?
Courtesy: Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011.
It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point.
Pakistan — poised to become an industrial society like South Korea — was subverted to become more like a pauper desert kingdom of the Gulf. Of course, Pakistan’s internal mechanism played a major role but as an external force, the US encouraged the regressive processes to take hold.
Read more >> Daily Times
By Omar Waraich / Islamabad
Bowing to intense public pressure, Pakistan’s largest province has finally moved against some local militant groups. The Punjab government, which had until now preferred to look away, last week ordered a crackdown after a series of vicious terrorist attacks on religious groups branded by the militants as heretics, apostates or infidels. Over 40 people were killed on July 1 in an attack at Lahore’s most famous Sufi shrine, sparking outrage across the country as even moderate Muslims staged armed demonstrations and vowed to tackle the militants themselves if the Punjab government declined to act.
Punjab, Pakistan’s largest and wealthiest province, is home to a toxic mix of sectarian and Kashmir-focused jihadist groups that have operated with state patronage since the 1980s. The province also houses the greatest concentration of hard-line madrasahs that supply young, impressionable recruits to jihadist groups. Some of these groups have been responsible for some of the deadliest terror attacks in Pakistan and also in neighboring India and Afghanistan.
Read more >> Time.com