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Archive for category Afghanistan-Land of Backstabbers

Gambling against Armageddon by Amb.Munir Akram, former Pakistan ambassador to the UN

Gambling against Armageddon


Munir Akram, former Pakistan ambassador to the UN | 


IN an opinion piece last year, Henry Kissinger observed that over the next couple of decades a nuclear war was likely to take place between India and Pakistan. The nuclear factor was in play in four major and one minor India-Pakistan crises: in 1987, 1990, 1998, 1999 and 2002.
In 1987, when an Indian army chief launched the Brasstacks military exercises along Pakistan’s exposed desert borders, Pakistan responded by deploying its forces in the north where India was vulnerable. Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s agreement to a mutual stand-down no doubt also took into account the informal threat from Islamabad to bomb India’s nuclear reactors in case Pakistan was attacked. (After the crisis ended, the Pakistan-India agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities was jointly formulated in one day.)
In January 1990, when the anti-Indian insurgency erupted in Kashmir and India threatened Pakistan, a conflict was forestalled by US intervention. The US acted when it learnt that Pakistan had begun to arm its nuclear-capable aircraft.

The operation of mutual deterrence between India and Pakistan is being eroded.

armageddon21During the night of 26-27 May 1998 — the night before Pakistan conducted its nuclear explosions in response to India’s tests — Pakistani radar detected unidentified aircraft flying towards its territory. Islamabad issued warnings of instant retaliation to India and relayed these to the US and Israel. This may have been a false alarm; but it illustrates the danger of accidental conflict in the absence of real-time communications.
During the 1999 Kargil war, the nuclear dimension was implicit, given that the crisis occurred a year after the India-Pakistan nuclear tests.
During the 2002 general mobilisation by India and Pakistan, the director general of the Pakistan Armed Forces Special Plans Division enunciated its nuclear ‘doctrine’ in a news interview. The ‘doctrine’ envisaged that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons if: it was being militarily overwhelmed; its nuclear or strategic weapons or facilities were attacked; and it was subjected to an enemy blockade.
The projection of this doctrine, including at a UN news conference by this writer in July 2002, sparked a fall in the Indian Stock Exchange, the evacuation of foreign personnel and embassy families from New Delhi and a demarche by Indian business leaders to prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and reportedly led to the Indian agreement for a mutual drawback of forces.
The operation of mutual deterrence displayed in 2002, however, is being eroded by several developments.
One, the conventional military balance is becoming progressively unfavourable to Pakistan. India is engaged in a major arms build-up. It is the world’s largest arms importer today. It is deploying advanced and offensive land, air and sea weapons systems. Pakistan’s conventional capabilities may not prove sufficient to deter or halt an Indian attack.
Two, India has adopted the Cold Start doctrine envisaging a rapid strike against Pakistan. This would prevent Pakistan from mobilising its conventional defence and thus lower the threshold at which Pakistan may have to rely on nuclear deterrence.
Three, Pakistan has had to deploy over 150,000 troops on the western border due to its involvement in the cross-border counterterrorism campaign in Afghanistan, reducing its conventional defence capacity against India.
Four, the acquisition of foreign nuclear plants and fuel, made possible by the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, will enable India to enlarge its nuclear weapons stockpile significantly. To maintain nuclear balance, Pakistan has accelerated production of fissile materials. Both nuclear arsenals are now large and growing.
Five, given its growing conventional disadvantage, and India’s pre-emptive war fighting doctrine, Pakistan has been obliged to deploy a larger number of nuclear-capable missiles, including so-called ‘theatre’ or tactical nuclear-capable missiles. The nuclear ‘threshold’ is now much lower.
Six, the Kashmir dispute — once described by former US president Bill Clinton as a nuclear flashpoint — continues to fester. Another insurgency is likely to erupt, certainly if the Bharatiya Janata Party government goes ahead with its platform promise to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution (which accords special status to Jammu & Kashmir). A renewed Kashmiri insurgency will evoke Indian accusations against Pakistan and unleash another Indo-Pakistan crisis.
Seven, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has obviously decided to adopt an aggressive posture towards Pakistan, no doubt to appeal to his hard-line Hindu constituency. The recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control are an ominous indication of such belligerency.
Eight, India is reportedly involved in supporting the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and the Baloch Liberation Army to destabilise Pakistan internally.
Nine, India has terminated the ‘composite dialogue’ with Pakistan. Its precondition for talks — an “absence of violence” — is impossible for Pakistan to meet.
Ten, the US and other major powers evince little interest in addressing the combustible mix of live disputes, terrorist threats, conventional arms imbalance and nuclear weapons in South Asia.
During the parallel dialogue initiated by the US with Pakistan and India following their 1998 nuclear explosions, Pakistan proposed a ‘strategic restraint regime’ with India which would include mechanisms to resolve disputes, including Kashmir; preserve a conventional arms balance and promote mutual nuclear and missile restraint.
India rejected the concept of a mutual restraint regime.
The US at first agreed to consider Pakistan’s proposal. However, as their talks with India transitioned from restricting India’s nuclear programme to building a “strategic partnership” (against China), the Americans de-hyphenated policy towards Pakistan and India, opened the doors to building India’s conventional and nuclear capabilities and disavowed any interest in the Kashmir dispute. Currently, Indian belligerence is bolstered by US pressure on Pakistan to halt fissile material production and reverse the deployment of theatre nuclear-capable missiles.
If a South Asian Armageddon is to be prevented, it is essential to build a structure of stable deterrence between India and Pakistan and find ways to deal with Kashmir and other outstanding disputes. Reviving consideration of a strategic restraint regime would be a good place to start.
The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

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Afghan endgame meshed in uncertainties

Afghan endgame meshed in uncertainties

Asif Haroon Raja

Almost thirteen years ago, the US led coalition forces started raining tons of molten from the air on October 7, 2001 on sovereign and peaceful Afghanistan. Its sin was that the ruling regime had allegedly sheltered the mastermind of 9/11 Osama bin Laden and had the temerity to refuse to hand him over without providing proof of his complicity in the crime. No Afghan was involved in the attacks on World Trade Centre and Pentagon. images-39Daisy cutters, cruise missiles, cluster bombs and other lethal ordnance were used abundantly to break the will of the Taliban fighters. Ground operation spearheaded by Indian-trained Northern Alliance was backed by carpet air/artillery bombing, tank fire and gunship helicopters.

While Tony Blair was the most vociferous supporter of war, Pakistan was coerced to ditch the Taliban and support the invasion. Month long air and ground bombing devastated the country. In order to save the country and its people from further ruination, ruling Taliban regime under Mullah Omar took a wise decision to carry out a tactical withdrawal and deal with the invaders at an opportune time. The calculated withdrawal was however trumpeted by the invaders as a complete victory.

In order to form a government of its choice in Kabul under string-puppet Hamid Karzai, the US doled out $1.2 billion to win over the loyalties of war criminals and warlords including ruthless Gen Rashid Dostum. The US kept pumping billions of dollars on propaganda war to demonize the Taliban, to sell its brand of democracy and constitution, win over the confidence of Afghans through development works, make the Karzai led regime functional and to train and equip non-Pashtun heavy ANSF, which could assist the ISAF in combating Taliban/al-Qaeda threat. Colossal amount was also spent to pay 80,000 security contractors and for the covert war against Pakistan.

In short, rather than taking Afghan Pashtuns on board as suggested by Pakistan, all possible means were employed to bring the resistance forces comprising Pashtuns down on their knees. This discriminatory act impelled overwhelming majority of Pashtuns residing on both sides of the Durand Line to gravitate towards the Taliban. Opening of another war front in Iraq in 2003 despite the international outcry was a big mistake. It gave a godsend opportunity to the Taliban to return to their strongholds in eastern and southern Afghanistan and start the guerrilla war.

When all efforts failed and the Taliban kept gaining strength despite all the odds against them, the US picked up Pakistan as a convenient scapegoat and held it squarely responsible for all its failings. Karzai lent strength to the indo-US propaganda war and blamed Pakistan that it was in league with the Taliban. Trusting India and distrusting Pakistan, which had helped the US winning the first Afghan war, was another blunder made by USA. George Bush kept wholly relying on US military prowess and didn’t pay any head to Pakistan’s advice of complimenting military prong with political prong.   

Once the initiative was lost by the US led occupation force in Afghanistan in September 2009 as a consequence to military debacles in Helmand and Nuristan despite the two troop surges, hurriedly vacating forward posts in eastern and southern Afghanistan, bunkering the troops in fortified military bases and restricting the war effort to airpower only, the US never made any worthwhile efforts to recover the 65% territory it lost and to regain its upper edge. Thereon it was a downhill journey. Replacement of Gen Stanley McChrystal with Gen David Petraeus in 2010 and subsequent changes made no difference. Instead of salvaging the situation, top commanders got involved in sex scandals. Fatal casualty and injury rates kept multiplying and surge in militant attacks kept mounting all over the country.

The US/British trained non-Pashtun heavy ANSF could not match the grit of the Taliban hell-bent to push out the occupying forces, topple US installed unpopular, inefficient and corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai and to regain power. In the backdrop of fast deteriorating security situation and having understood that it was impossible to win the war, Obama took the hard decision in December 2010 to bid farewell to Afghanistan by December 2014 and forgo the high-flying dreams he and his predecessor had nurtured. He took this decision in spite of serious reservations of the US military, which egoistically insisted that it had the will and capacity to turn sure defeat into victory.

In order to show to the world that the US military had not lost heart, Gen Petraeus planned a major offensive in Kandahar in April 2011 but kept postponing it on the plea that until Pak Army cleared North Waziristan of the presence of Haqqani network (HN) and al-Qaeda, it will not be possible for him to undertake the risk. Pakistan refrained because of its multiple compulsions. To punish Pakistan for not ceding to its demand, operation ‘Get Osama’ was executed in May 2011, followed by activation of western border with the help of runaway Fazlullah.

Spectacular attacks by Taliban on most sensitive targets inside Kabul in September 2011 shook the security apparatus in Afghanistan and in sheer frustration Admiral Mike Mullen put the blame on Pakistan saying HN was the ‘veritable’ arm of ISI. In revenge, NATO launched a brutal attack on Salala Post in November 2011 forcing Pakistan to suspend military ties with Washington, close Shamsi airbase and block NATO supply routes. Worsening ties with Pakistan made the drawdown cumbersome. 

The US woes kept increasing in the following years despite restoration of ties with Pakistan and opening of supply lines in July 2012. While secret parleys between the US and Taliban for a possible political settlement stalled because of bungling of the US over prisoner swap deal in 2012, the US military was confronted with other menaces of in-house green-over-blue attacks, surge in suicide cases and PTSD cases. Waning economy and home pressure to end the futile war were other worrisome reasons to ‘turn the page’ on America’s longest war initiated by George W. Bush led neo-cons. Karzai after serving US interests faithfully became irksome and started creating trouble for the US.

2014 has proved more calamitous for the US. The Taliban have gained ascendency over 80% of Afghan territory and are so far not in any mood to negotiate a political settlement with the US despite the successful prisoner swap over on June 1, 2014. Presidential election on which the US had pinned lot of hopes has also gone awry owing to Abdullah Abdullah’s allegation that Karzai was fraudulently trying to make Ashraf Ghani win the race. Offensive launched by the Taliban in Helmand on June 19 has posed a serious challenge to the ANA. It has so far not been able to evict 800 attackers holding on to Barekzai and Bostanzai in Sangin District. Further reinforcements in far-flung Helmand will render Kabul vulnerable to HN attacks.

Although the longest war in the US history is at last winding up, endgame of Afghan venture is meshed in uncertainties. Ambitious dreams of the imperialist powers lay in tatters since nothing has proceeded in accordance with the chalked out plan and laid down objectives. While the Soviet forces managed to skip out of Afghanistan under the umbrella of Geneva Accord, no arrangement has so far been made to ensure smooth and safe exit of ISAF troops. Of the 150,000 ISAF troops, less than 33000 soldiers are now desperately looking forward to fly back home in one piece. 12000 soldiers forming part of residual force which is required to stay back till 2016 would be the unhappiest.   

Pakistan policy makers have no clue what shape Afghanistan will take in the aftermath of pullout of foreign troops in next six months. Many neighbors and distant neighbors of Afghanistan would like to fill the power vacuum in Afghanistan. In this, India, Iran, China, Russia and Pakistan are likely contenders for space. Barring Pakistan, all other competitors particularly India and Iran have an edge because of their closeness with current Northern Alliance heavy regime. The US, Israel and western powers would also back India and Iran and bolster ANSF to prevent the Taliban from recapturing power.

On the other hand, although Pakistan has a soft corner for Taliban because of multiple reasons, there is no strategic relationship between the two. In the ensuing power struggle, civil war becomes a probability. If so, outside powers will fuel bloody internecine war in which Afghanistan and Pakistan would again be the biggest losers. Much talked of strategic grouping of India, Afghanistan and Iran backed by Israel and USA and development of alternative economic corridor linking Chahbahar with Central Asia are the emerging possibilities having serious ramifications for Pakistan.

The writer is a retired Brig/war veteran, defence analyst/columnist/historian, Director MEASAC Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan, member Executive Council PESS. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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And, who came out he biggest winner in all the Wars in Afghanistan?  Of course India, it did not send a single soldier to fight in Afghanistan from 1987 to 2012. Thousands of 7000,Pakistani, ~3000 US, and NATO soldiers have died fighting, but not ONE INDIA ARMY SOLDIER has died in Afghanistan. And that you may call Indian chicanery or the Chanakiya doctrine, but, whatever, name you give it, good or bad, India played its cards right and won the great game.


Hamid Karzai’s Anti-Pakistan Statements: With friends like Hamid Karzai, Pakistan needs no enemies.

Pakistan is involved in a series of terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the “recent assassination attempt on the country’s intelligence chief was planned in Pakistan.”

(CNN) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that “a suicide bombing targeting the country’s spy chief was planned in the Pakistani city of Quetta, and that he expects to raise the issue with Pakistani authorities.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to confront Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari at a meeting in Turkey on Tuesday over the wounding of his intelligence director in a suicide bombing which he says was planned in Pakistan.


Drawing by Latuff.

Shilajit, also spelled Shilajeet or salajeet, is a pale-brown to blackish gummy brown substance found on rocks. Shilajit is found on steep rocks in the mountains of India, Himalayas, and Afghanistan. It has been thought to be an exudate of the plant Styrax officinalis and other plant and microbial substances. This substance is thought to be a complex mixture of organic humic substances and plant and microbial metabolites occurring in the rock rhizospheres of its natural habitat.  In Afghanistan and India, silajeet is claimed to libido and sexual thoughts. Hamid Karzai peddles the silajeet, not of libido arousal but of fear arousal. He keeps harping on the theme, like a broken record:“the Taliban are coming, the Taliban are coming to US and their NATO allies.”  

Pakistanis know, that Taliban, may have some power of mounting small scale probes or attacks, but for all intents and purposes, they are a spent force. But, for Karzai, US offers a gravy train, not only for himself,  his brother and relatives, but, also to the coterie of crooks, who forms his inner circle politically. He is really enjoying the prospect of taking the only global super Power, for as the American slang say, “for a ride.” He is laughing all the way to the Swiss, Cayman Island, and Luxembourg Banks. Hamid Karzai, is a master of playing both sides of the aisle. He has Loya Jirga with the Taliban and is allied with Baitullah Mehsud faction. He winks at their opium and heroin smuggling, and lets their shipment pass on to Europe. On the other hand,  he thinks Americans are too naive about the region, its tribal culture and mores,that he can sell them any bill of goods, he wants, including the Fear Factor of Bogeymen Al-Qaeda and/or Taliban reaching the shores of Long Island, a total absurdity.  At the same time he wants the American gravy train to continue till 2030 and feed his personal coffers. He has no regards for the young Americans, who lose their lives to Taliban attacks as well as IEDs. He wants to keep feeding the American people and politicians, the silajeet of fear, that the bogeymen, Taliban are ready to disembark on Coney Island. He understands that a psychology of fear works wonders on the American people’s psyche and keeps them worrying about the resurgence of Al-Qaeda and their cohorts the Taliban. He is a Master Proponent of  Domino Theory.  The Domino Theory was first developed under the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower. It was argued that if the first domino is knocked over then the rest topple in turn. Applying this to South-east Asia Eisenhower argued that if South Vietnam was taken by communists, then the other countries in the region such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia, would follow (Ref:US Education Forum).  Eisenhower’s vice-president, Richard Nixon, was a devout follower of this theory. In a speech made in December, 1953, Nixon argued “If Indochina falls, Thailand is put in an almost impossible position. The same is true of Malaya with its rubber and tin. The same is true of Indonesia. If this whole part of South East Asia goes under Communist domination or Communist influence, Japan, who trades and must trade with this area in order to exist must inevitably be oriented towards the Communist regime. Karzai sells the fear to US that , “today Afghanistan is conquered by the so called Islamic “fundamentalist,” or Taliban, next to fall will be Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and rest of the Islamic World .”  So far, Karzai’s silajeet has sold well among the US congress, the US Executive branch, US Media, and US people, majority of whom would not be able to point to Afghanistan on a map of the World.. But  nevertheless, American people cannot be fooled for ever, they are begining to realize, that Karzai is nothing but, what people in the American south call, a “Flim-Flam Man.” He may not see it, but, the train of American peoples enlightenment and realization of the facts on the ground is heading inexorably coming towards Karzai. He may not accept to see it, but, its headlights are coming closer and closer, when its hits him, he will will be banished to the nirvana of iniquity. And, thats the truth!


Pakistan the Patsy in the Global Game

Pakistan played a key role as an ally of US and NATO in the defeat and ultimate disintegration of the Soviet Union. That was the biggest mistake in its over 60 years history. Thousands of Pakistan Army soldiers from the Pashtun belt fought as Mujaheddin, in the battle to make US and NATO nations safe from a Soviet onslaught. But, little did Pakistan know that how fickle the Western nations are, when it comes to protecting their own interests. Pakistan, by siding with the West, is still paying a very heavy price. An extra bonus has been added, which includes a constant barrage of drone attacks by its own allies, whose soldiers exult in calling Pakistani child drone victims as “bug-splats,”.  And to top it all, India, its inveterate enemy is enjoying the largesse of economic growth and expansion of exports to US , UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and NATO nations.

Pakistan has been left holding the bag full of exploding suicide bombers and so-called “Islamic” fanatics or “fundoos.” Never again, should Pakistan strike such a “chickenshit” bargain. The destruction of the Soviet Empire was a Phyrric victory for Pakistan, its people, and thousands of Pakistani soldiers, who laid down their lives as the so-called Mujahedin.  The Western agents from Arab countries like Osama Bin Ladin, Ayman Zawahiri, Abu Zubayda, the CIA trained “Mujahids,” became double-edged sword for Pakistan. After the Soviet-Afghan War, while US packed its bags and left, these “stalwarts” of the “Good War,” turned on their host Pakistan and became hell-bent on its destruction. Their presence in Pakistan not only earned it a bad name and provided fodder the Zionists and their Hindu cohorts in the Western Press and Media  A crescendo of propaganda was launched to declare Pakistan, a “Terrorist State.”If had not been for President George Bush Sr and Jr, and to a great extent President Obama and General David Petraeus, Pakistan would have been a proverbial toast.

And now to top it all, even the West and its NATO ally are starting pose a real time threat to Pakistan nuclear and strategic assets. the Qu’ranic exhortation to Muslims, not choose allies from other Abrahamic faiths, which Pakistan ignored are coming true.

And the Winner is…

And, who came out he biggest winner in all the Wars in Afghanistan?  Of course India, it did not send a single soldier to fight in Afghanistan from 1987 to 2012. Thousands of Pakistani, US, and NATO soldiers have died fighting, but not a single Indian soldier has died in Afghanistan. And that you may call Indian chicanery or the Chanakiya doctrine, but, whatever, name you give it, good or bad, India played its cards right and won the great game.

Pashtuns are Incorruptible, according the Code of Pashtunwali: 

Hamid Karzai has made mockery of Pashtunwali, a cornerstone of Pashtun character. Pakistan hosted millions of brethren Afghan refugees, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai was one of the refugees, who enjoyed the hospitality of Pakistani Pashtuns, but, this ingrate broke all norms of Pashtunwali and started a long romance with Pakistan’s inveterate Hindu enemy.  In other words, he urinated in the pot from which he received his meals. But, the flaws of Hamid Karzai’s weak and corrupt character are exploited by his stealth enemies, who wine and dine him, when he visits them India.India still hosts a large number of KHAD agents, who are waiting in the wings to land at Bagram Airbase, as soon as an opportunity occurs. The Guardian, UK states that: 

“Karzai and Abdullah had their men in the polling station, but there was no one for [Ghani], so we cheated for him. He is a very educated man and with good strategy for Afghanistan. Also we are all from his tribe in this area. I tried to put my extra ballots in our polling station, but I had some enemies who tried to take my picture so I went to another polling station and no one asked to ink my finger or anything, they just said bring cards and put them in the box. It was a very happy day.“Karzai’s men were paying 1,000 Afghani per family and Abdullah’s were paying 1,500 Afghani. But many people took money from Abdullah and voted for Karzai anyway.”(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/18/afghanistan-election-fraud-evidence)

Hamid Karzai Bit the Hand that Fed him

While most Afghans were grateful for Pakistan’s hospitality, safety, security, and largesse in feeding,clothing, educating, and healing their millions of refugees, Hamid Karzai, a backstabber, started plotting against Pakistan, so much so, that he tried to influence the opinion of US President Obama against Pakistan Army and people. Now, he is worried, that after US leaves Afghanistan, his chickens will come to roost. He makes secret trips to Pakistan, to seek a fellow crook Asif Zardari’s help to find a post US departure safe haven in Pakistan. But, he forgets, that Pakistani Pashtuns still adhere to Pashtunwali, and consider Hamid Karzai, a blot on the honor of  the Pashtun global community. 


Lest We Forget: If a Pakistani had one piece of bread, he gave half to his Afghan Refugee Brother or Sister

  At one time an estimated 10 million Afghan Refugees were living in Pakistan. Pakistanis fed, housed, and educated their children. These Afghan refugees still linger in major cities and take up Pakistan’s meagre resources. In 2012, Pakistan’s cities like Karachi host millions of Afghan, who came as refugees and never went back. However, this huge influx of Afghan Refugees has made Karachi, a tinderbox, where ethnic Afghans vie for jobs, food, and shelter, with the local population, who had migrated from India during the the 1947, Diaspora of Muslims of India.  
Afghans in Pakistan are the source of destabilization of nation, economically, socially, culturally, and most importantly present a security threat 
Pakistanis, even this day tolerate, love, respect, and honor their Afghan refugee brethren. But, Pakistanis patience is running out. Pakistan is a developing nation. It has 180 million people and topping that are at least several million undocumented Afghans, who use and abuse Pakistan on a daily basis in their blogs, newspapers, and media. Pakistani people are falling below the poverty line due to resources being grabbed by Afghans, some of whom have palatial houses not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but in Dubai, US, Britain, Canada, India, and Europe, including Moscow. Pakistan is facing  a burden of feeding millions of extra mouths. It is a gargantuan task, in which a handful of brotherly country’s like Turkey are helping. The International Aid Agencies provide mere pittance to support this huge population. Moreover, western intelligence agencies recruits amongst these refugees to carry out surveillance of Pakistan’s defense and strategic sites.
US Looks the Other Way or Winks and Nods, at Indian RAWS Training of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan attack Pakistan’s Frontier Constabulary.
 On top of this catastrophe, innocent Pakistanis in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Khuzdar, Bannu, Kohat, and in all major metropolitan areas are being blown to smithreens daily by bombs, planted by Afghan agents of Hamid Karzai working in tandem with RAW and Mossad. RAW, the Indian Intelligence Agency trains so-called Pakistani Taliban, and sends them across the Durand Line to attack Pakistani Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Police. Pakistan’s corrupt government led by Asif Zardari and his opposition chort Nawaz Shariff, have no sensitivity towards the enormity of problems, each and every day 180 million Pakistanis face.  They do not need an extra burden of carrying the load of a million or more Afghan refugees, who NEVER left. Pashtunwali has reached its limits, enough already. 
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Problems faced by USA in Afghanistan

Problems faced by USA in Afghanistan

Asif Haroon Raja




While 2013 is at its fag end, so far there is no light at the end of the tunnel as far as breakthrough in US-Taliban peace talks is concerned. Stalemate has made the US position rickety. Although the US officials including Obama are repeatedly mentioning that Pakistan is a key country in the Afghan endgame, however, the American commentators gave the twirl that Pakistan has had a real change of heart and is now prepared to play a constructive role in negotiating an Afghan settlement. They tried to sell the thesis that Islamabad has eventually realized that so long as the Afghan war continues, Pakistan too will remain unstable and, therefore, only an Afghan settlement can resolve its own conflict with TTP insurgents. Secondly, an enduring Afghan settlement needs to be riveted to a broad-based power sharing arrangement that accommodates all Afghan groups. Thirdly, peace dividends are more to Pakistan’s strategic advantage than a continued pursuit of the military option of supporting the Taliban.


Apart from the tension of stalled peace talks with Taliban since last June because of Karzai’s misdoings, Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) has cropped up as yet another big issue for USA because of Karzai’s refusal to sign it. Karzai is insisting that the BSA will be signed by next elected President after the elections in April 2014. He is acting tough since he wants to extract personal favors from USA. Addicted to regular pocket money from CIA, he wants the same to continue even after he is out of power. Suffering from paranoia, BSA is the last card he holds. Once he signs it, he will have no leverage left to get things done his way.


Besides failure on political front and lingering problem of BSA, the US is beset with host of other problems in Afghanistan. Large number of seriously injured war veterans, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cases and suicide cases are worrying the US military command. The rate at which troops are being hospitalized for mental health illness has risen by 87% since 2000. Every one in five who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from PTSD.  266,810 service members received traumatic brain injuries between 2000 and 2012. Suicide cases in the three military services started to surge up from 2006 and soared to 310 in 2009, 301 in 2011 and to a record 349 in 2012, far exceeding combat deaths in Afghanistan. There were 109 cases in first four months of 2013. One suicide has taken place every 18 hours. Attempted suicide cases are much higher.   

Another perturbing factor is the IEDs which has caused much more fatalities and injuries upon the occupation forces and ANSF than combats. IED technology is continuously improved and changed to prevent detection. Even specially designed and thickly armor-plated armored vehicles are not safe from IEDs. NATO fatalities in Afghanistan have crossed the figure of 3300 which include 2500 American soldiers. Injured are well over 50,000. During the Vietnam War, fatality rate of US soldiers was very high and body bags streaming into USA disturbed the American people. Body bags became a major factor for the US administration to quit Vietnam hastily. The US is not much bothered about financial pressure, fatigue of troops, home pressure or fatalities; what concerns it the most is the seriously injured as a result of IEDs, PTSD cases, suicides and in-house attacks. These factors together with meltdown of economy, having suffered a loss of $ 6 trillion in war on terror, impelled Obama to announce drawdown of troops from Afghanistan. 

Insiders’ attacks are another menace which is giving shudders to US military leaders. From January 01 to March 31, 2013, 172 attacks took place resulting in 140 fatalities and injuries to 208 ISAF soldiers. Attacks increased by 120% between 2011 and 2012. 2012 was the deadliest for ISAF in which NATO lost 63 soldiers and injury to 85 at the hands of insiders, mostly belonging to Afghan Local Police (ALP), in 48 attacks. In every combat death was on account of green-over-blue attacks. This trend scaled down in 2013 due to tough measures taken and reduction in interaction between ANSF and foreign troops. This was however at the cost of erosion of trust between 12-year old allies.


Defections from 350,000 strong ANSF are another source of worry for the US as well as Kabul government. The latest defection took place on October 20, 2013 in which Afghan Special Forces Commander joined Hizb-Islami taking with him guns and high-tech equipment. Desertion rate is very high and so is casualty rate. The US has so far invested $54 billion to arm, train and sustain ANSF but overall results are far from satisfactory.   


Poor performance of ANSF upon which colossal amount has been spent by USA to make it an effective and efficient force is yet another cause of exasperation for the US. Majority of soldiers and policemen are addicted to drugs, they accept graft and other gratifications and are involved in discipline cases. Opium trade called Tariab is flourishing in Afghanistan because of involvement of higher ups in Kabul regime including present Karzai as well as Afghan warlords, CIA and other intelligence agencies. There was a high upsurge in drug trade in 2012/13 and it touched the figure of $3 trillion.


Notwithstanding that poppy cultivation is done in Afghanistan, the chemical and processing plant without which raw opium cannot be processed come from western countries. Poppy cultivation had been banned by the Taliban when they were in power and had brought the drug trade to almost zero level. Taliban are now also involved in drug trade especially in poppy rich Helmand to supplement their war effort. The US wants CIA and others to continue with this illegal trade but doesn’t tolerate Taliban to indulge in this trade. It was not an unwanted but a deliberate miscalculation, rather a blunder for which the world is paying a heavy price.


Creation of ALP called Arbaque under the Afghan Ministry of Interior was the brainchild of Gen David Petraeus. Every incumbent draws a monthly salary of 8-10,000 Afghanis. The force funded by the US had been drawn up on the pattern of tribal peace lashkars in tribal belt and settled areas to guard against militant threat in villages. The inductees are imparted just 2-3 weeks training and handed over a weapon. Over the years, this private force has been extensively armed over which the Interior Ministry or ANSF or NATO has little control. It has become a nuisance for Afghan regime and the creators since it is highly undisciplined and has become a huge security risk because it has been extensively infiltrated by Taliban.


In case of a political settlement with the Taliban in which Pakistan will be one of the major guarantors, the US will have to agree to exercise ‘zero option’ and also modify election rules in consultation with the Taliban, expedite releasing all prisoners and grant general amnesty.  In case the left over 87000 troops of ISAF minus 10,000 depart by December 2014 without arriving at a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban, by mid-2015 the Taliban would establish their government in eastern and southern Afghanistan where they already enjoy complete sway, with Kandahar as capital of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Kabul will fall sometime in 2016 making Bagram base untenable. Although Afghanistan will split into two distinct parts on ethnic basis however, 2017 will see insurrectional war shifting entirely into northern Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance devoid of leadership will find it difficult to stop Taliban offensive and may once again get confined to Panjsher Valley, which had once become the unassailable den of Ahmad Shah Masood.  


India which at present is in a domineering position in Afghanistan will find it exceedingly difficult to retain its heavy presence in all departments and strong influence after 2014 and is likely to wind up its consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad and bulk of intelligence units deployed in major cities. Pakistan’s presence and influence on the other hand is likely to increase particularly in Pashtun inhabited regions. Pakistan will continue to play a constructive role in patching up differences and in forming a broad based government as it had done in the 1990s. China and Iran are also likely to play a productive role.      


Apparently some thaw has occurred in Pak-US relations but the US reservations against Pakistan still exist. It refuses to cease drone attacks and continues to host Baloch absconding leaders in USA and espouses their separatist agenda. Sustained vile propaganda aimed at discrediting Pak Army and ISI, Raymond Davis incident, independent intelligence collection networks, Black Water, Abbottabad operation and unceasing intelligence operations crowned by Salala massacre without subsequent remorse, provocative attempts to get Dr. Shakil Afridi released, coercing Pakistan to cancel Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, refusing to stop drone war, deliberately killing Hakimullah Mehsud to scuttle peace process and withholding CSF cannot be termed as friendly acts by any score. Pakistan will have to tread its steps in 2014 with great amount of watchfulness, tact and discretion.  


The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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