Crisis in Ties with Afghanistan
by Khalid Aziz | From the DAWN Newspaper 14th Oct, 2011
Recently, President Hamid Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with India in New Delhi. Among other things, it provides for the training of Afghan army officers in India.
Before departing for India, President Karzai had accused Pakistan of some involvement in the murder of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council. Irrespective of the merits of such a claim, merely the charge may have serious consequences and isolate Pakistan further during the forthcoming regional conferences in Istanbul, Bonn and later in Chicago that have been called to work out the Afghan transition.
Investigations into the death of Mr Rabbani may solve the mystery of his assassination. However, the party most threatened by peace in Afghanistan may be Al Qaeda as it would come under extensive pressure to move out of the region.
Secondly, the haste of the Indian government in pleasing Mr Karzai at the risk of harming its relationship with Pakistan may mean that another zero-sum game is in the offing. Normally, India makes decisions with prudence and after doing its homework. Can it be assumed that the agreement was actually negotiated some time ago and signed now to suit the circumstances?
The Indo-Afghan agreement gives a clear indication that it is aimed at Pakistan`s purported sphere of influence in Afghanistan. Does that mean that the US, India and Afghanistan have decided to jointly mount pressure on Pakistan? If so, this portends yet another conundrum for Pakistan.
The Indian military recently began manoeuvres near the Pakistan border in Sindh and Punjab. The simultaneous move of sophisticatedSu-30 fighter jets to the region lends credence to Pakistani worries that India may be on the threshold of executing another `Cold Start` exercise to place Pakistan under pressure.
Why India would generate pressure in the region now when it is at the threshold of huge economic growth is inexplicable. One possible explanation may be Indian suspicions of a jihadi attack inside India. The exercise may be a pre-emptive message to force Pakistan to act more responsibly.
If such an event should occur, it would prove disastrous for the whole region; thus, extra care and vigilance is required of Pakistan. India`s moves and the strategic agreement are clearly meant to put Pakistan on notice regarding acting against jihadi networks in the country.
In June 2009, the US secretary of defence directed Centcom to prepare a report advising the US government on how the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) could achieve its objectives in Afghanistan. The report was prepared by Gen McChrystal, the ISAF commander in August 2009.
It highlighted many issues related to the challenges facing the international coalition in Afghanistan. Although it was not followed in letter or spirit, the report was honest and realistic and drew some forthright conclusions that are worth revisiting.
Amongst other conclusions drawn by Gen McChrystal, an important one was that "The Afghan government has not integrated or supported traditional community governance structures — historically an important component of Afghan civil society — leaving communities vulnerable to being undermined by insurgent groups and power brokers".
The breakdown of social cohesion at the community level ha sincreased instability, made Afghans feel unsafe, and fuelled the insurgency. He further added: "The insurgency … is predominantly Afghan."
If the Afghan government has been unable to increase its capacity due to various reasons, is it not possible that the death of Mr Rabbani may have been the result of ethnic rivalries or the dynamics of Afghan politics?
Then, Gen McChrystal had said that "Stability in Pakistan is essential, not only in its own right, but also to enable progress in Afghanistan. While the existence of safe havens in Pakistan does not guarantee ISAF failure, Afghanistan does require Pakistani cooperation and action against violent militancy, particularly against those groups active in Afghanistan".
He cautioned about expanding India`s role in Afghanistan: "Increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India."
International politics are based on realism: relations are based on competition and conflict rather than cooperation. Realists consider states to be concerned with their own security and act in pursuit of their own national interests in their struggle for power. International politics are characterized by active or potential conflict among states.
In the current situation, the US, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan are obviously following the realism route. Pakistan, however, must calculate the cost of confronting a mounting coalition against it for its alleged support to the jihadis, including the Haqqani group.
Clearly, the survival of the Pakistani state is more important than tactical preferences. The parallels of the current crisis with the East Pakistan situation in 1971 are too close for comfort.
Pakistan`s geography on the junction of Punjab with Sindh has remained its Achilles heel. To cover this weakness, Pakistan considered Afghanistan as within its legitimate sphere of interest, and resultantly the new strategic agreement between India and Afghanistan is viewed with alarm. However, realism teaches us to watch out, for there is greater danger lurking.
The pieces on the chessboard clearly do not augur well for peace or for an orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 2014. Commonsense would suggest that the best strategy for bringing peace to the region would be to engage both India and Pakistan in a collaborative mode for the endgame in Afghanistan.
Such a result may best be achieved by the appointment of a special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations with a mandate to expeditiously consult the states concerned on how to create a regional consultative mechanism to ensure peace in Afghanistan and an orderly drawdown of forces by 2014 while also assisting in maintaining regional security.
Ambassador Gajendra Singh’s Comments
Pathans in Afghanistan and Punjab are welcome to be ruled by Pak Punjabis.
No country except Delhi has shown the patience against pinpricks, serious intrusions and wars by Pakistan against India, which Racist white Christians exploit .Pakistan was created to suit UK and then US interests to control the region and the oil well with Riyadh money which only perpetuates its corrupt Saud dynasty .The dynasty prospers by keeping Muslims backwards.
Extracts: India-Pakistan Geo-political mold
As for the geopolitical template of Hindustan or South Asia, the people now dominating Pakistan, i.e. the Punjabi Musalman in Lahore or Islamabad have throughout history been envious of the rulers of Hindustan with their capital on Jamuna in Delhi or Agra with their vast territories for revenue, even without Deccan. They invited the Moghuls to invade Hindustan when Afghans were ruling in Delhi. Later they invited Pathans and Iranians when Moghuls were ruling in Delhi. The religion of the rulers in Delhi was immaterial. For its strategic defense, Hindustan should control Kabul if not Kandahar as was done by early Moghuls. Once Kabul and Kandahar were lost, Hindustan became a plaything of invaders. And the Punjabi people joined in the loot and robbed the invader if he failed.
The same strategic paradigm is operating now. It is the outside powers, first Britain, then USA and China, which are behind Pakistani aggressive confrontations against India, beginning with 1947, then 1965 and Kargil among these instances. In the process Pakistan has been afflicted with opium (in whose contraband cultivation and trade Pak elite specially elements in the military and ISI are involved both for financing their activities and for personal wealth) and Kalashnikov culture and remains envious of the economic progress India has made.
A former Indian diplomat Narendra Singh Sarila, in a well-researched book 'The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India's Partition', based on British documents, uncovers the truth that, after the2nd world War, realizing that London had to relinquish India, the British leadership across the political spectrum, Conservatives and Labour, intrigued, told lies and finally partitioned the Indian subcontinent creating the state of Pakistan. Because with Mahatma Gandhi with his opposition to violence and war and Jawaharlal Nehru 's non-strategic idealism and the vision of creating friendship and understanding among colonized and exploited people of the world, New Delhi would not join Western military pacts to protect the oil fields in the Middle East from the Soviet Union.
Britain's ultimate objective was to retain at least some part in the North-West of India, for defensive and offensive action against the USSR in any future dispensation in the sub-continent. And Britain knew that this could be best achieved by having a willing and subservient Pakistan as its client. So the only way was to use Jinnah to detach areas of India, which borders Iran, Afghanistan and Xinjiang and create a new state there. Sarila documents in detail how after the end of World War II in 1945, the new Labor government of Clement Attlee and Wavell decided to divide India and used Jinnah and political Islam to protect their strategic interests.
A top-secret telegram of Lord Wavell, then Viceroy, to the Secretary of State in London dated February 6, 1946, suggested the lines on which British India could be divided. On June 3, 1947, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, while addressing the Labor Party's annual conference, spilled the beans that the division of India "would help consolidate Britain in the Middle East".
Sarila also traces the roots of the present Kashmir problem and how the matter was handled in the UN to favor ally Pakistan. That India should have no direct land access to central Asia, even via Afghanistan , motivated Western perfidious policy on the Kashmir Question has also been brought out in the book "War and Diplomacy in Kashmir 1947-48' by another Indian diplomat C Das Gupta.
The US /Israle-Saud Dynasty/ Whabis-Pak Army/ ISI is the Exagon being used to exploit energy resources for western benefit as in Libya now with support from Riyadh and now going bonkers ERdogan.
Stakeholders in Afghanistan
The Kingdom of Afghanistan was accepted as a de facto buffer state by the British and Russian empires at the end of 'the Great Game' in Central Asia in 19th century. Various British efforts to conquer Afghanistan ended in disasters. By the end of the 20th century, the British and Russian empires in Asia had unraveled and many new states have emerged out of them. Thus the very raison d'etre of a buffer state no longer exists. Since the US provoked entry of Soviet troops in 1979, their withdrawal in 1989, fighting between residual Nazibullah regime and Pakistan supported warlords and finally takeover of most of the Afghanistan territory by Taliban with Pak military and ISI participation and funds from the Gulf states established a rudimentary and medieval regime under Mullah Omar. However the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and other mainly non Sunni groups have been governed by their ethnic warlords and resistance fighters against Russian occupation troops like the legendry Masood, who was treacherously assassinated just before 11/9. Masood had headed the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and others who resisted the Taliban regime. The Alliance was supported by Iran, Turkey, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and others.
The 2001 December bombings and invasion of Afghanistan did not have UN sanction and was based on the premise of US and hence NATO's right to defend US territory after 11/9 attacks. In spite of US wish to enter Kabul as liberators, the Northern Alliance troops of Masood entered as liberators. Since then except by air attacks including by drones, which have killed large number of Afghan civilians, including women and children, ISAF and NATO troops have not fared too well on the ground. The increase in foreign troops’ deaths, reluctance of most NATO member states to go on, has put intolerable burden on the cohesion of Western occupation forces. The number of western troops killed has been highest in June, but West, as per its racial attitude, in Gen Colin Powell's words do not do body count of enemy troops and civilians (both in Afghanistan and Iraq.) The Afghan territory is under control of different armed groups, foreign and local, with Washington installed President Hamid Karzai, with US mercenaries as his bodyguards, barely controlling the city of Kabul. Except for Karzai, a Pashtun, most of the ruling elite consists of Northern Alliance ethnic leaders, with Karzai family making hay (money) while the sun shines. Recently US media reports gave details of how billions of dollars meant for military and development projects have been flown out of Afghanistan. Similar loot of funds in Iraq has also been reported from time to time. Western governments and media mount propaganda campaigns for donor meets whether for Serbia or Iraq or Afghanistan and amounts are pledged (but much less is given) with large share being spent on foreign (mostly Western) experts or just plain stolen and brazenly shipped out by air.
The number of stakeholders in Afghanistan is large, the Afghan people, 40% Pashtuns, the rest Tajiks, Hazaras , Uzbeks and others with their ethnic kins in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, who provide support and even manpower, neighboring countries like China via Xinjiang and the former ruler of central Asia, Moscow. India also has historic interests and invested billions of dollars in development projects to have influence and friendly relations with Afghans, which it had when Pakistan was part of united Hindustan.
Pakistan's interests have already been brought out since the Soviet occupation in 1979 and involvement in Afghan affairs. As the major financial contributor of the 1980s Jihad against USSR , and even otherwise the Saud dynasty, with its coffers bulging with petrodollars, its purchase of US and British arms would be of dubious value which many feel Saudis are unlikely of using, like the Kuwaitis in 1990. But Riyadh has its Wahabi ideology and cheque books for funding not only Madrasas, mosques but also for arms to Pakistan, and Pashtun Afghan groups. After the destruction of Iraq power, USA's Sunni allies from Egypt to Jordan, in western Sunni Iraq, even Yemen are worried about the rising power and clout of Iran in spite of all obstacles and sanctions against Tehran by US led West. It has its advance guards in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza. Hezbollah, Iranian and Syrian leaders who stand up to US and Israel are extremely popular with Muslim masses not only in the Arab world but elsewhere too.
So what if after Afghanistan, Pakistan unravels too. Little effort has been made by its leaders since 1947 to even develop a territory based nationalism. China would not also escape further problems in Xinjiang and Tibet.