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Archive for category Afghanistan

US QUAGMIRE IN AFGHANISTAN: The US  is Reviving Talks with the Afghan Taliban without Pre-conditions By Sajjad Shaukat

The US  is Reviving Talks with the Afghan Taliban without Pre-conditions

By

Sajjad Shaukat

When first time the US decided talks with the Afghan Taliban in 2012, the same was conditional, as America had demanded that before any deal, violence against Afghan people must stop and the Taliban must cut ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. She seeks to distinguish between Al-Qaeda-related fighters and Afghan insurgents—good and bad Taliban.

 

Afterwards, with the backing of the US, an office of the Taliban was opened in Qatar. After the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, held in earlier July 2012, efforts to convince the Taliban for talks with the Kabul government had been expedited and Pakistan was requested to play an important task. In this regard, during the tripartite meeting in Kabul on July 19, 2012, the then British Prime Minister David Cameron and the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai met Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and reiterated Islamabad’s assistance for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. They fully backed Pakistan to help arrange meetings between Afghan officials and Taliban representatives.

 

 

 

 

There were also reports that the US and the national security adviser to the Afghan President Karzai contacted the Taliban and had a secret dialogue with them. However, in a bid to win Taliban’s support for reconciliation, President Karzai had called upon their leader Mullah Omer to take part in the elections. On the other side, the Taliban were willing to resume talks with America but had refused dialogue with Karzai whom they consider colonial puppet.

 

Earlier, the Qatar-based talks with America were suspended because the ex-US President Barack Obama did not release five Taliban detainees to participate in peace negotiations as a pre-condition by the Taliban.

 

However, America along with other Western countries was fully supporting Karzai-led regime to commence peace deal with the Afghan Taliban with the help of Pakistan. While on the other side, top officials of America, Afghanistan and India, including their media continued blame game against Pakistan by accusing its security agencies of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan—and support to the Taliban. They set aside the fact that US-led NATO forces had failed in coping with the resistance of the Afghan Taliban who is fighting a war of liberation against the occupying forces. In fact, America and other NATO countries wanted to make Pakistan a scapegoat of their defeat in Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, when any terror attack occurs in Afghanistan, America, India and puppet rulers of Afghanistan shift the blame game towards Pakistan. The US has also accused Iran and Russia of assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Particularly, the main purpose of Washington was not only to pacify their people and justify the unending war in Afghanistan but also to fulfil the secret strategic designs against Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

 

Notably, on May 31, 2017, a massive truck bombing of the Afghan capital’s diplomatic section killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others, including foreigners. Taliban denied responsibility for the terror attack. But, Afghanistan’s intelligence service accused the Haqqani network by saying that a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan, carried out the attack. Addressing the conference-the “Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation”, held in Kabul on June 6, 2017, which was attended by representatives from 26 countries and international organizations, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani criticized Pakistan for a lack of cooperation in promoting Afghan peace and alleged that Taliban insurgents are using sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to wage the insurgency in Afghanistan.

 

In the same speech, President Ghani offered peace talks to the Afghan Taliban by reiterating his preconditions such as recognition of the Afghan constitution, continuity of the reforms of educating and advancing the rights of women, and renunciation of violence and linkages with terrorist groups.

 

A Taliban spokesman rejected Ghani’s offer of a peace dialogue by stating that it is another attempt to endorse and prolong the foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

 

In the recent past, when the US-led NATO forces failed in coping with the stiff resistance of the Afghan Taliban in wake of the continued attack on their installations and Afghan forces, they have decided to revive peace talks with the Taliban without pre-conditions.

 

At present, the Afghan situation is witnessing new trend as all sides favour dialogue option and agree that there is no military solution. Pakistan has long been insisting on dialogue as only viable option to end Afghan quagmire.

 

In this respect, the US State Department has recently appointed experienced statesman Ambassador Khalilzad as an adviser for Afghanistan. During the recent visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to America, Zalmay Khalilzad has also held a meeting with him. Both the leaders expressed positivity about a dialogue based Afghan peace process.

 

Pakistan has assured the US of its full support for peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, as this was in line with the policy of the government and in the best interest of Islamabad. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was addressing a news conference after having talks with the US delegation which was led by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

 

In this connection, the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on October 3, this year: “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed Afghanistan’s Taliban to come to the table to end the long-running war as he called on Pakistan to play a supportive role. Pompeo met in Washington with the foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in the latest US outreach to the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, a longtime advocate of a negotiated settlement with insurgents. Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s support for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and for peace in the neighbourhood…The top US diplomat, who met PM Imran last month in Islamabad, “emphasised the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan Pompeo “agreed that there was momentum to advance the Afghan peace process and that the Afghan Taliban should seize the opportunity for dialogue”.

 

On the other hand, there are also reports that the Taliban have held talks with the Afghan Government in Saudi Arabia. Reported talks were related to a ceasefire during upcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, to be held on October 20, this year. It is considered that the peaceful elections cannot be conducted in Afghanistan without the Taliban’s cooperation. Taliban have refuted the talks. Saudi Arabia is seeking a role to replace Qatar where the Taliban hold a political office. Russia has also emphasized for an Afghan solution based on negotiations between all sides.

 

Again, it is notable that Islamabad has long been insisting on talks to end the Afghan crisis through dialogue. All the regional players including Russia, Iran and even China have also been favouring this approach. In these terms, the visit of the Foreign Minister Qureshi to the US has been a success in which he has assured the international community about Pakistan’s pragmatic and positive support on all issues including that of Afghanistan. The visit has also resulted in melting the ice between Washington and Islamabad.

 

In this context, under the caption, “Study Finds Americans Feel U.S’s Involvement Has ‘Failed’, Afghan-based website Tolonews said on October 7, 2018: “A Washington-based research centre Pew has found that most American’s feel that the US’s second longest war–Afghanistan, after 17 years has failed…On the 17th anniversary of the US’s involvement in Afghanistan, 49% of Americans say their country has failed to win the war. The report is an eye-opener for those who have been supporting Trump’s policy of increasing military pressure to win the war in Afghanistan. In fact, the policy has resulted in a huge spike in losses of both Afghan defence forces as well as in the civilian causalities. The reverses in battleground have forced Trump administration to pursue the option of dialogue with Taliban which was advocated since long by Pakistan….Pakistan has given clear stance in recent days declaring an Afghan-led dialogue as the only option to bring peace in the region. Pakistan has offered its fullest cooperation in pursuance of peace. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has strongly rejected the military option and advocated dialogue to end the Afghan quagmire. A new survey by Pew also supports Pakistan’s stance for a durable solution. New development has once again indicated about positive Pakistani role” (Afghanistan Times and other news agencies also reported).

 

Reuters reported on October 8, 2018, “The Taliban directed Afghans to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections and demanded a complete withdrawal of foreign forces as the only solution to end the 17-year-old war as they ramped up attacks in strategic provinces. The statement from the hardline Islamic militant group coincided with the visit of top U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad {Rabidly anti-Pakistan}, who has been appointed to lead peace efforts with the Taliban. Khalilzad met President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul to discuss ways to hold Afghan-led peace talks with the Taliban…With less than two weeks to go before the long-delayed elections, the Taliban and Islamic State have stepped up attacks across the country…“Peace is a holy process, and the U.S. government and people are united with the Afghan government and people in this process,” Khalilzad was quoted by Ghani’s office in a statement as saying. Khalilzad is scheduled to visit Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week as he seeks to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.”

 

Nevertheless, in the recent past, after the visit of the US Secretary of State Pompeo to Islamabad and visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi to America, positive change has occurred between the strained relations of the US and Pakistan. Now, ties between the two countries are improving rapidly. Positive change in Pak-US relationship has resulted in positive change between Afghan-Pakistan ties. Therefore, Kabul has re-opened Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad.

 

These developments clearly show that now the US has realized that without Islamabad’s help, she cannot achieve durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Otherwise, the US-led NATO forces will remain entangled in that war-torn country. Hence, with the support of Pakistan, unlike the previous conditional dialogue, the US is reviving talks with the Afghan Taliban without pre-conditions.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

                          

 

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Afghanistan: The War That Shames America By Eric Margolis

Afghanistan: The War That Shames America

By Eric Margolis

August 20, 2018

 After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.

There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers. No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.

Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation’s legitimate government. Withdraw foreign troops and the Kabul regime would last for only days.

The whole thing smells of the Vietnam War. Lessons so painfully learned by America in that conflict have been completely forgotten and the same mistakes repeated. The lies and happy talk from politicians, generals and media continue apace.

This week, Taliban forces occupied the important strategic city of Ghazni on the road from Peshawar to Kabul. It took three days and massive air attacks by US B-1 heavy bombers, Apache helicopter gunships, A-10 ground attack aircraft, and massed warplanes from US bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the 5th US Fleet to finally drive back the Taliban assault. Taliban also overran key military targets in Kabul and the countryside, killing hundreds of government troops in a sort of Afghan Tet offensive.

Image result for Afghanistan War US Lost

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan regime police and army units put up feeble resistance or ran away. Parts of Ghazni were left in ruins. It was a huge embarrassment to the US imperial generals and their Afghan satraps who had claimed ‘the corner in Afghanistan has finally been turned.’

Efforts by the Trump administration to bomb the Taliban into submission have clearly failed. US commanders fear using American ground troops in battle lest they suffer serious casualties. Meanwhile, the US is running low on bombs.

Roads are now so dangerous for the occupiers that most movement must be by air. Taliban is estimated to permanently control almost 50% of Afghanistan. That number would rise to 100% were it not for omnipresent US air power. Taliban rules the night.

Taliban are not and never were ‘terrorists’ as Washington’s war propaganda falsely claimed. I was there at the creation of the movement – a group of Afghan religious students armed by Pakistan whose goal was to stop post-civil war banditry, the mass rape of women, and to fight the Afghan Communists. When the Taliban gained power, it eliminated 95% of the rampant Afghanistan opium-heroin trade. After the US invaded, allied to the old Afghan Communists and northern Tajik tribes, opium-heroin production soared to record levels. Today, US-occupied Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, morphine and heroin.

US occupation authorities claim drug production is run by the Taliban. This is another big lie. The Afghan warlords who support the regime of President Ashraf Ghani entirely control the production and export of drugs. The army and secret police get a big cut. How else would trucks packed with drugs get across the border into Pakistan and Central Asia?

The United States has inadvertently become one of the world’s leading drug dealers. This is one of the most shameful legacies of the Afghan War. But just one. Watching the world’s greatest powerbomb and ravage little Afghanistan, a nation so poor that some of its people can’t afford sandals, is a huge dishonour for Americans.

Even so, the Pashtun defeated the invading armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the Mogul Emperors and the mighty British Raj. The US looks to be next in the Graveyard of Empires.

Nobody in Washington can enunciate a good reason for continuing the colonial war in Afghanistan. One hears talk of minerals, women’s rights and democracy as a pretext for keeping US forces in Afghanistan. All nonsense. A possible real reason is to deny influence over Afghanistan, though the Chinese are too smart to grab this poisoned cup. They have more than enough with their rebellious Uighur Muslims.

Interestingly, the so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ supposedly found in Afghanistan in 2001 were actually guerilla training camps run by Pakistani intelligence to train Kashmiri rebels and CIA-run camps for exiled Uighur fighters from China.

The canard that the US had to invade Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden, alleged author of the 9/11 attacks, is untrue. The attacks were made by Saudis and mounted from Hamburg and Madrid, not Afghanistan. I’m not even sure bin Laden was behind the attacks.

My late friend and journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave shared my doubts and insisted that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to a court in a Muslim nation to prove his guilt or innocence.

President George Bush, caught sleeping on guard duty and humiliated, had to find an easy target for revenge – and that was Afghanistan.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun-Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. ericmargolis.com

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Pakistan, Afghanistan Fail to Reach Border Deal After Deadly Clashes

Pakistan, Afghanistan Fail to Reach Border Deal After Deadly Clashes

Ceasefire Holding, But Thousands Stranded at Border

by

Jason Ditz,

Antiwar.com

June 20, 2016

 
 

The ceasefire between Afghanistan and Pakistan is holding at the Khyber Pass border,

Negotiations don’t seem to be making much progress either, with the two nations ending a full day of talks today without anything resembling an agreement resulting from them. Pakistani officials came out of the talks, however, reiterating their intention to build the border fence.

Afghanistan and the US occupation forces there have been pressuring Pakistan for years to “control” the border, and Pakistani officials believe that fence and gates will improve their control over traffic back and forth. Pakistani officials even tried to be amicable about it, building the fencing some 30 meters into Pakistani territory.

At least by Pakistani reckoning, and that’s the problem. The 1893 deal between Afghanistan and Britain, which defines the de facto border, is roundly rejected by Afghan officials, who insist that the “real” border is dramatically further south, at the Indus River, and that Afghanistan actually spans a large portion of Pakistan as well.

So when Pakistani government forces came to build the fencing, the Afghans started shooting, and the border patrols quickly got into open combat. With nothing resolved, it remains to be seen what happens when the construction crews return.

 

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Enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan: COAS

Enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan: COAS

* Gen Raheel says menace of terrorism has badly hurt both Pakistan and Afghanistan and needs to be tackled boldly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KABUL/ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday said enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan.
He paid a crucial visit to Kabul on Tuesday amid the reports that the terrorists involved in the recent spate of bloodshed in Pakistan had their traces across the border. The day-long visit saw the army chief’s interactions with the top government functionaries and the military commanders from Afghanistan. According to security sources, the visit took place following intelligence reports that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Fazlullah directly masterminded the recent Imambargah attack in Peshawar reportedly from Afghanistan’s Kunar province or its adjoining belt, that left several people dead. “There was credible intel (intelligence) information that it was cross-border activity,” the sources commented on the army chief’s visit, who was accompanied by his military aides.
This was General Raheel’s second visit to Afghanistan since December 17, 2014 when he had rushed to Afghanistan to share information with the Afghan authorities regarding TTP’s involvement in Peshawar school attack, a day after the deadly attack on Army Public School in the provincial capital had left 150 people dead including 134 school children, on December 16. On Tuesday, the TTP also claimed responsibility of yet another deadly attack on security personnel in Lahore that left at least 10 policemen dead. During Tuesday’s visit, Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, DG MilitaryOperations( DG MO) Major General Aamir Riaz Rana and other senior officials from the ISI’s Counterterrorism and Counter-intelligence Directorates and the Directorate General of Military Operations reportedly accompanied the COAS. Military Spokesman and DG Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said the COAS met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. “Both appreciated improving relations, pledged to continue operations on respective sides, won’t allow use of soil versus each other,” he said in a tweet. Separately, General Raheel also met Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Abdullah Abdullah. Dr Abdullah, according to Bajwa, acknowledged overall “positive trajectory in bilateral relations, concrete progress in operations, border management and intelligence sharing.” The security officials said Pakistan’s military delegations held low-key meetings with the Afghan military and intelligence authorities led by their army chief General Sher Muhammad Karimi. Last week, DG ISPR told a press briefing that Pakistan demanded of Afghanistan to “either handover Fazlullah to Pakistan or to eliminate him.” He said that the two countries were in contact over tracking down the TTP chief. 

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The gate of the ‘graveyard of empires’ Asad Khan Betini

The gate of the ‘graveyard of empires’

Asad Khan Betini

Fifteen years of US invasion will soon be completed and soon become the stuff of the history of this region. In Afghanistan, ‘lost and gained’ will be assessed later but the insurgency is indeed still in question. Yet another suicide attack in central Logar province killed 12 security personnel and wounded eight others, a sure sign of the dreadful hold of the insurgents. The Taliban still claim to have control of over 40 percent of the areas in Afghanistan, excluding the capital and other major cities in Afghanistan. Territories under the grip of the Taliban are declared as no go areas, leaving the whole world wondering whether the war on terror has achieved victory or a fiasco. Many observers are now vocal as to who will be up next for the ‘graveyard of empires’. 
aria09040220090401085210Hamid Karzai declined to sign any security deal with the US and left it to his successor to decide. The newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which will allow 9,800 US troops and at least 2,000 NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Generally, mindsets with two opinions have lingered on in Afghanistan: one supported the invasion while the other defied it. In fact, we observe that Afghans failed to get what they expected from the US intervention since 2001. Rather, this invasion put the land in turmoil just like the former Soviet Union did. Our controversial ally, the US, and its war against the former jihadists who were once called ‘soldiers of God’, declared them terrorists following the 9/11 incident. Indeed, the ashes of war brought catastrophe to Pakistan too.
Pakistan has suffered over $ 107 billion in economic setbacks since the war broke out, leaving a bad impression on the international community. Apart from that, thousands of people have been killed due to the ‘do more’ mantra. Yet, hoping for development for Afghanistan, the Chinese government has pledged 1.5 billion Yuan ($ 245 million) in aid to Afghanistan over the next three years, as well as greater support for Kabul in the struggle against terrorism. Ghani, while bewildering his neighbours, warned all not to interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan. This statement was released as soon as this aid was received in Afghanistan. 
But what plagues the mind is the fact that the warmongers are still in position. The withdrawal of US and NATO forces will leave the Afghan National Army to its own fate. 
Throughout the entire 13 years of war in Afghanistan, corruption and opium production remained a worrying issue. Observers believe that poppy cultivation has become a lucrative business for international dealers, as it was not brought to an end despite the US spending $ 7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan. The UN’s office on drugs and crime reports: “Afghan farmers grew 209,000 hectares of opium in 2013, surpassing the previous record of 193,000 hectares in 2007.” Poppy production is a major source of revenue in Afghanistan, which produces an estimated 90 percent of the world’s opium. At the start of 2018, it is expected to double. 
This is a problem that all the stakeholders avoided discussing throughout the entire Afghan war. The value of poppy cultivation and opium products produced in the country in 2013 was about three billion dollars, a 50 percent increase over the two billion dollars estimated in 2012. Reports now indicate that farmers grew 210,200 hectares of opium in 2014. 
Let us pretend Afghans will decide their own fate post-withdrawal but staggering questions of poppy cultivation and the presence of the former soldiers of God are being left unresolved. To date, $ 753.3 billion have been spent on the war in Afghanistan, including $ 89.1 billion in fiscal year 2014. Despite spending billions of dollars and the sacrifices of thousands of US and NATO soldiers, who spewed blood into the water and soil, the results are by no means comforting. The Afghans have now opened their gates for China, which has already stepped up its support to India and Pakistan. The recent Beijing Declaration has been signed between Afghanistan and China, agreeing to start 64 programmes covering issues such as trade, investment, infrastructure, disaster management and education. These projects will help Afghanistan develop and keep the peace without outside assistance. The corridor of South Asia, Afghanistan, is now in the arms of China, so the future of South Asia is now going to be in the hands of China, leading the US out the door in disgrace. 

 
 
(Asad Khan Betini is a Balochistan Based Journalist and Currently Chief Editor of Monthly Nawa-e-Qaisa Political Magazine)

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