Taliban 'poised to retake Afghanistan' after Nato pullout

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by Vyom, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Vyom

    Vyom Seeker Elite Member

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    KABUL: A secret US military report says that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control over Afghanistan after Nato-led forces withdraw from the country, The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

    Lt Col Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), confirmed the document's existence but said it was not a strategic study of operations.

    "The classified document in question is a compilation of Taliban detainee opinions," he said. "It's not an analysis, nor is it meant to be considered an analysis."

    Nevertheless, it could be interpreted as a damning assessment of the war, now dragging into its eleventh year and aimed at blocking a Taliban return to power, or possibly an admission of defeat.

    It could also reinforce the view of Taliban hardliners that the group should not negotiate peace with the United States and President Hamid Karzai's unpopular government while in a position of strength.

    The document cited by Britain's The Times said that Pakistan's powerful security agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was assisting the Taliban in directing attacks against foreign forces.

    The allegations drew a strong response from Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit. "This is frivolous, to put it mildly," he told Reuters. "We are committed to non-interference in Afghanistan."

    The Times said the "highly classified" report was put together by the U.S. military at Bagram air base in Afghanistan for top Nato officers last month. The BBC also carried a report on the leaked document.

    Large swathes of Afghanistan have already been handed back to Afghan security forces, with the last foreign combat troops due to leave by the end of 2014.

    But many Afghans doubt their army, security forces or police will be able to take firm control of one of the world's most volatile countries once foreign combat troops leave.

    The U.S. embassy in Kabul declined to comment on the report.

    The accusations will likely further strain ties between Western powers and Islamabad, which has long denied backing militant groups seeking to topple the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

    Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was visiting Kabul on Wednesday on a mission to repair strained diplomatic ties with Afghanistan's government and to meet Karzai to discuss possible peace talks with the Taliban.

    TURBULENT HISTORY

    Pakistan is currently reviewing ties with the United States which have suffered a series of setbacks since a unilateral U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil in May last year humiliated Pakistan's powerful generals.

    A November 26 cross-border Nato air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers deepened the crisis, prompting Islamabad to suspend supply routes to Nato forces in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan is seen as critical to U.S. efforts to stabilise Afghanistan, a feat one foreign power after another has failed to accomplish over the country's turbulent history.

    Islamabad has resisted US pressure to go after insurgent groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani network, and argues Washington's approach overlooks complex realities on the ground.

    Pakistan says Washington should attempt to bring all militant groups into the peace process and fears a 2014 combat troop exit could be hasty, plunging the region into the kind of chaos seen after the Soviet exit in 1989.

    "They (the Taliban) don't need any backing. Everybody knows that after 10 years, they (Nato) have not been able to control a single province in Afghanistan because of the wrong policies they have been following," Pakistani SeNator Tariq Azim, a member of the Senate's Defence Committee, told Reuters.

    Pentagon spokesman George Little said: "We have long been concerned about ties between elements of the ISI and some extremist networks."

    Little said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "has also been clear that he believes that the safe havens in Pakistan remain a serious problem and need to be addressed by Pakistani authorities".

    The document's findings were based on interrogations of more than 4,000 Taliban and al Qaeda detainees, the Times said, adding that it identified only few individual insurgents.

    A state department spokesman and Britain's Foreign Office both declined comment on the report.

    Despite the presence of about 100,000 foreign troops, violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, according to the United Nations.

    The Taliban announced this month they would open a political office in the Qatari capital Doha to support possible peace talks with the United States.

    But there has also been talk of efforts to hold separate talks in Saudi Arabia because Karzai fears his government could be sidelined by US. talks with the Taliban.

    The report could boost the Taliban's confidence and make its leaders less willing to make concessions on key US demands for a ceasefire and for the insurgency to renounce violence and break all ties to al-Qaida.

    Hoping to gain credibility with a population still haunted by memories of the Taliban's harsh rule from 1996-2001, the group has tried to improve its image as its fighters battle Nato and Afghan forces.

    The Times said the document suggested the Taliban were gaining in popularity partly because the austere Islamist movement was becoming more tolerant.

    "It remains to be seen whether a revitalised, more progressive Taliban will endure if they continue to gain power and popularity," it quoted the report as saying.

    "Regardless, at least within the Taliban, the refurbished image is already having a positive effect on morale."

    Prominent Pakistani security analyst Imtiaz Gul described the report as alarmist, saying Afghan security forces backed by the international community would resist any Taliban takeover.

    "This is simply preposterous to propagate this theory," he said.

    Taliban 'poised to retake Afghanistan' after Nato pullout - The Times of India
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The US has not lost men in vain or have they?

    Like the British, who when leaving their colonies, created schisms between the population causing misery, the US may take a leaf or two from them!

    There are many players and vested interest in Afghanistan beyond the Taliban and Pakistan!!
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Exit at any cost?

    Washington: When the road and the destination are both foggy, getting lost becomes a real possibility. The US administration's attempt to engage the Taliban is a risky endeavour set in the sands of shifting red lines. The motive driving the project is a search for a graceful exit or something resembling it before the 2014 deadline announced by President Barack Obama. It seems at any cost.

    US officials admit they are very far from serious negotiations but this time they are sure they have a reliable conduit to the Taliban. Everything else is unclear and unknown. Here are the many "known unknowns", to use Donald Rumsfeld's unforgettable phrase: whether the conduit can really reach the Quetta shura of top Taliban leaders in Pakistan; whether the Quetta shura is interested in serious talks; what it wants; whether it will in turn talk to the Afghan government; whether Pakistan will play a spoiler or guarantor of peace; and whether US engagement with the Taliban will streng-then the hand of President Hamid Karzai or weaken it.

    The flurry of recent activity shows Washington's eagerness to put a plan in place before Obama becomes vulnerable to charges from Republican presidential candidates that he "lost" Afghanistan. The basis for enthusiasm are two statements issued by the Taliban in the New Year, seen as concessions big enough by the US to contemplate the release of five hardened terrorists. The first announcement said Taliban would open an office in Qatar and talk to the world. The second said talking did not mean an end to jihad or acceptance of the Afghan constitution.

    The Taliban red lines are clear but what about the US red lines? Over the long years of this war Obama once called "necessary", US preconditions for negotiations have been that the Taliban should disarm, work under the Afghan constitution and sever all ties with al-Qaida. But these have now morphed into "necessary outcomes" to meet the 2014 deadline. The shift is significant.

    The Obama administration appears willing to hand over five Taliban commanders currently in Guantanamo Bay as a "confidence-building measure" without significant concessions in return. It has made no demand on the Taliban - at least publicly - to end suicide bombings, which have become a method of systematically eliminating representatives of the Afghan government, especially those effective in getting insurgent groups to work with Kabul.

    The governor of Panjwai district in Kandahar was killed in a suicide attack on January 12, the day the Taliban released the second statement. Sayed Fazuldin Agha was credited with bringing relative peace to his region and persuading several Taliban groups to join his effort. In the two years before 2014, the Taliban will kill many more as they play for time.

    This is not just an attempt to show a strong negotiating hand but a way of life. Remember Mullah Omar's words that his fighters are "ready to sacrifice everythinga¦until there is no bloodshed in Afghanistan and Islam becomes a way of life for our people". To reach the "no bloodshed" stage, an untold amount has already been shed and will continue to be shed. From the Taliban's previous run, the kind of Islam they practise is also no secret. It is neither inclusive nor gentle.

    But supporters of the "quick exit" strategy say bluntly that the "Taliban's religious fundamentalism is not the war the US has chosen to fight". The core US goal is to defeat al-Qaida, destroy its safe havens in Pakistan and prevent its return. Taliban's ideology is not at issue and should not be the basis for negotiations. Human rights can be dealt with later, they add casually.

    This is dangerous talk. Even desperate. To exit at any cost risks a replay of the five-year Taliban rule (September 1996-October 2001) when women were shut in and girls denied basic education in addition to many other horrors. There is no indication that Mullah Omar's men have improved their vision. Their blueprint for the future will be set in the past. They must not be given ascendance over Karzai's government or allowed to squash the rights of other ethnic groups.

    It might even be time to question the belief that the Taliban give voice to Pashtun alienation, a story forcefully embedded in the western mind by Pakistan's former military dictator Pervez Musharraf to feed the idea of strategic depth. After years of war, one may even question if the Taliban have grassroots support except what they gather by force or fear. Going beyond the Pakistani media's infatuation with the idea, many Afghans don't share good feelings about the Taliban.

    To her credit, secretary of state Hillary Clinton was bru-tally honest when she admitted recently that Washington didn't have "any idea" where the engagement policy may lead, if anywhere. A real beginning is far into the future but exploring the idea of talks is necessary because of America's loss of appetite for war. Even if the Qatar office delivers progress, an actual deal must still be struck bet-ween the Taliban and Karzai of which continued US presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 will be an important part of the puzzle.

    What Pakistan will do is a dark mystery. The decision to send foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul could be an attempt to open a separate channel to Karzai by Pakistan's army-ISI to upstage the US. Or it could be an attempt to play a constructive role. One can only hope it's the latter, and hope is a large part of the US policy mix.

    Exit at any cost? - The Times of India
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Exit at any cost?

    Washington: When the road and the destination are both foggy, getting lost becomes a real possibility. The US administration's attempt to engage the Taliban is a risky endeavour set in the sands of shifting red lines. The motive driving the project is a search for a graceful exit or something resembling it before the 2014 deadline announced by President Barack Obama. It seems at any cost.

    US officials admit they are very far from serious negotiations but this time they are sure they have a reliable conduit to the Taliban. Everything else is unclear and unknown. Here are the many "known unknowns", to use Donald Rumsfeld's unforgettable phrase: whether the conduit can really reach the Quetta shura of top Taliban leaders in Pakistan; whether the Quetta shura is interested in serious talks; what it wants; whether it will in turn talk to the Afghan government; whether Pakistan will play a spoiler or guarantor of peace; and whether US engagement with the Taliban will streng-then the hand of President Hamid Karzai or weaken it.

    The flurry of recent activity shows Washington's eagerness to put a plan in place before Obama becomes vulnerable to charges from Republican presidential candidates that he "lost" Afghanistan. The basis for enthusiasm are two statements issued by the Taliban in the New Year, seen as concessions big enough by the US to contemplate the release of five hardened terrorists. The first announcement said Taliban would open an office in Qatar and talk to the world. The second said talking did not mean an end to jihad or acceptance of the Afghan constitution.

    The Taliban red lines are clear but what about the US red lines? Over the long years of this war Obama once called "necessary", US preconditions for negotiations have been that the Taliban should disarm, work under the Afghan constitution and sever all ties with al-Qaida. But these have now morphed into "necessary outcomes" to meet the 2014 deadline. The shift is significant.

    The Obama administration appears willing to hand over five Taliban commanders currently in Guantanamo Bay as a "confidence-building measure" without significant concessions in return. It has made no demand on the Taliban - at least publicly - to end suicide bombings, which have become a method of systematically eliminating representatives of the Afghan government, especially those effective in getting insurgent groups to work with Kabul.

    The governor of Panjwai district in Kandahar was killed in a suicide attack on January 12, the day the Taliban released the second statement. Sayed Fazuldin Agha was credited with bringing relative peace to his region and persuading several Taliban groups to join his effort. In the two years before 2014, the Taliban will kill many more as they play for time.

    This is not just an attempt to show a strong negotiating hand but a way of life. Remember Mullah Omar's words that his fighters are "ready to sacrifice everythinga¦until there is no bloodshed in Afghanistan and Islam becomes a way of life for our people". To reach the "no bloodshed" stage, an untold amount has already been shed and will continue to be shed. From the Taliban's previous run, the kind of Islam they practise is also no secret. It is neither inclusive nor gentle.

    But supporters of the "quick exit" strategy say bluntly that the "Taliban's religious fundamentalism is not the war the US has chosen to fight". The core US goal is to defeat al-Qaida, destroy its safe havens in Pakistan and prevent its return. Taliban's ideology is not at issue and should not be the basis for negotiations. Human rights can be dealt with later, they add casually.

    This is dangerous talk. Even desperate. To exit at any cost risks a replay of the five-year Taliban rule (September 1996-October 2001) when women were shut in and girls denied basic education in addition to many other horrors. There is no indication that Mullah Omar's men have improved their vision. Their blueprint for the future will be set in the past. They must not be given ascendance over Karzai's government or allowed to squash the rights of other ethnic groups.

    It might even be time to question the belief that the Taliban give voice to Pashtun alienation, a story forcefully embedded in the western mind by Pakistan's former military dictator Pervez Musharraf to feed the idea of strategic depth. After years of war, one may even question if the Taliban have grassroots support except what they gather by force or fear. Going beyond the Pakistani media's infatuation with the idea, many Afghans don't share good feelings about the Taliban.

    To her credit, secretary of state Hillary Clinton was bru-tally honest when she admitted recently that Washington didn't have "any idea" where the engagement policy may lead, if anywhere. A real beginning is far into the future but exploring the idea of talks is necessary because of America's loss of appetite for war. Even if the Qatar office delivers progress, an actual deal must still be struck bet-ween the Taliban and Karzai of which continued US presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 will be an important part of the puzzle.

    What Pakistan will do is a dark mystery. The decision to send foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul could be an attempt to open a separate channel to Karzai by Pakistan's army-ISI to upstage the US. Or it could be an attempt to play a constructive role. One can only hope it's the latter, and hope is a large part of the US policy mix.

    Exit at any cost? - The Times of India
     
  6. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Whatever happened to the earlier plan to use the same policy to split Pakistan and prop te Baloch, Pashtuns to assert themselves. We still have time for that. At the end of the day all problems seem to have a solution in the disintegration of the Terroist State.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Yusuf,

    Watch the space in Waziristan and Balochistan.

    It is not India!
     
  8. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    well let america would vacant afg and sooner or later afg would be captured by taliban and all its promosie would be bllah blah .i think aq would be replaced by LeT . i think india should be out of agf as soon as posssible befor looses becomes to heavy
     

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