Pakistan 'where our enemy is': Afghans

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Rage, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

    Feb 23, 2009
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    Pakistan 'where our enemy is': Afghans

    Villagers agree with British PM's assessment that Islamabad is promoting the export of terror, writes Nick Meo.

    By Nick Meo, The Sunday Telegraph August 1, 2010

    August 1, 2010

    The district governor of Nad-e-Ali pointed across parched fields toward a line of trees from where the Taliban attacks come.

    "That's where our enemy is," said Habibullah Shama-lany, 58, standing outside a police fortress, the ground around his feet littered with discarded ammunition cartridge cases from recent battles. "Their shadow government begins over there."

    Behind him a teenage police recruit wearing jeans and an Adidas shirt squinted down the sight of his machine-gun toward where the governor was pointing.

    Shamalany is a close ally of British soldiers who patrol the dangerous roads around Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital 30 kilometres away. The Taliban sow fear in the villages, he said, but it is Pakistan that is the true enemy of Afghans like him.

    "Yes, our Afghan village boys join the Taliban," he conceded. "But only because they are scared by Taliban threats to their families.

    "It is Pakistan that trains, funds and leads them. When we capture their fighters they confess that they are trained in Pakistan. The Pakistanis find religious boys, give them weapons, and send them across the border into Afghanistan to kill us, and to kill your British soldiers."

    Villagers grunted in agreement. "Pakistan is against Afghanistan, they want to destroy us," said Mullah Yar Gul, 29, to approval.

    They had gathered to discuss a new "safer fields" scheme, described by the commander of British forces in the district, Lt.-Col. Lincoln Jopp MC, as Neighbourhood Watch, Helmand-style. "The difference is that instead of reporting possible burglars, farmers are encouraged to keep their land free of bombs and landmines by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity," he said.

    The colonel arrived with a detachment of 1st Battalion Scots Guards in armoured vehicles to be embraced as an old friend by the governor.

    Only a year ago the area was under Taliban control, and it remains frighteningly violent. Last Sunday three Taliban died in a gunfight with police a mile from the fortress, a mud brick construction festooned with razor wire and with an Afghan flag fluttering over it.

    Days before that, two of Col Jopp's soldiers died when they came under fire trying to rescue an injured comrade.

    At dawn British and American soldiers had started Operation Black Prince to push the Taliban out of one of the few pockets of Nad-e-Ali they still controlled, a few miles to the north of the fortress.

    Villagers said they were glad the insurgents were being pushed back again. They queued up to denounce the Taliban, who they said had stolen food and press-ganged their young men.

    They believed that many of the gunmen, who they were forbidden from talking to, were Pakistani fighters, speaking Pashtun with unfamiliar foreign accents.

    The governor was delighted to hear David Cameron accuse Pakistan of promoting the "export of terror" and saying that Helmand was one of the places to which it was exported.

    "I agree with your prime minister," he said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. "I am glad he said this about Pakistan. Almost every day here we see the bloody consequences of their work."

    The prime minister's accusation, made on a visit to India last week, was greeted with fury by Pakistan, coming soon after the Wikileaks reports alleging that Pakistan's notorious Inter-Services Intelligence agency orchestrated Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan openly supported the Taliban regime before 2001 and Afghans believe it has secretly done so ever since. Afghan police and intelligence chiefs say captured Taliban fighters often have Pakistani rupees and receipts from Pakistani shops in their pockets.

    For several years they have accused the ISI of helping to organize terrorist attacks on Afghan soil, and insist that the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, lives in the major Pakistani city of Quetta, where his fighters allegedly go for rest and recreation between bouts of jihad.

    The claims are accepted, off the record, by many NATO officers, but Pakistan is rarely condemned in public because it is officially an ally of the West.

    Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, tried to rally support last week for Nato attacks on Taliban based in Pakistan, asking why they had not attacked guerrilla sanctuaries on Pakistani soil.

    A major concern for many Afghans is that Pakistani jihadists could impede negotiations which they hope will one day end the war.

    "Peace with the Taliban is possible," said Hajji Abdul Ajan, 38, a member of the provincial council in Lashkar Gah. "But the Pakistani Taliban won't accept it. They will never reconcile and they will try to stop the Afghan Taliban from doing so."

    British soldiers also believe Pakistanis fight alongside the Taliban, although they stop short of accusing the ISI of helping them.

    "We do encounter some evidence of Pakistani involvement in the insurgency in Helmand," said Col. Jopp.

    Bismillah Khan, 22, the deputy leader of the Afghan police contingent said he chose to work for the police because the Taliban was against Afghanistan and killed innocent people.

    "Friends from my village joined the Taliban and there is a lot of trouble now at home. My family has been threatened," he said.

    Like other Helmandis, he fears what will happen when the British and other NATO troops finally pull out, a process which is expected to begin next year.

    "The Afghan security forces are not strong enough by themselves. There will be civil war again," he said.

    The Ottawa Citizen:
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Sorry but Ex-CIA chief Bruce Riedel don't agree....Riedel is totally nonjudgmental about the ill-motives or ill-actions of the Pak army. As far as he is concerned, all the blame lies with past US policies; and since this is the case, then all the obligations on future course of action also lies with the US. The Pakistanis, and the Pak army needs to correct nothing.

    With Pakistan, being consistent is key

    The U.S. should be open-eyed in dealings with its difficult but crucial anti-terrorism partner, but making and following through on commitments is vital to the relationship.

    The thousands of secret documents released to the news media last week about the war in Afghanistan have once again raised questions about Pakistan's role in supporting the Taliban. Pakistan's ties to extremists are well known, of course, but now Americans can read for themselves how difficult it is for our troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan when it enjoys a haven across the border in Pakistan, a sanctuary where it can resupply, train and plan attacks.

    Not all the reports from WikiLeaks are accurate; raw intelligence rarely is completely reliable. But taken together, they confirm what experts have been saying for years: Pakistan is playing a complex double game in Afghanistan. What is not clear from the documents is why and how we came to this point.

    In poll after poll, Pakistanis say they do not believe America is a reliable ally. They are right. For more than six decades the United States has had a love-hate relationship with Pakistan, embracing a long succession of military dictators in the country and sending mixed messages about our commitment both to democracy and to foreign aid.

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    President Obama has an opportunity to change that. He was a critic of George W. Bush's embrace of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and he promised while campaigning to wage the war in Afghanistan relentlessly and to also go after Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

    He has so far followed through on that commitment, using drones far more often than Bush did and sending additional troops to Afghanistan. But doubts persist in Pakistan that the United States is in for the long haul, and the doubts are strongest in the Pakistani army, which has little confidence in America. It repeatedly has relied on American arms to fight its wars, only to find the arms supply cut off when it's most needed. So the army keeps its ties with the Afghan Taliban as a hedge in case America abandons the fight.

    The president has rightly called the border lands between Pakistan and Afghanistan "the most dangerous place in the world" for American interests today. The remote region is the epicenter of a global jihadist movement that still sends terrorists to New York City to blow up subway trains and Times Square. The released documents also accurately reveal the close links between Al Qaeda, its longtime Taliban allies and a host of other extremists in Pakistan.

    In the best case, a year from now the president's strategy will have shown signs of modest success. In Afghanistan, the momentum of the Taliban insurgency will have been broken and parts of the insurgency will be open to political dialogue with the Kabul government. In Pakistan, our dialogue will have moved the government toward a tougher line on terrorism.

    In this best-case scenario, the U.S. and NATO can then begin the gradual process of handing off security to Afghan forces. But we have to accept that doing so will take years and will require a substantial NATO residual presence to provide intelligence support and other help to the Afghans.

    America will also need to be Pakistan's partner during the process. One crucial lesson of the last three decades is that stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan are interlocked. Chaos on one side of the 900-mile border breeds chaos on the other. The jihadists cannot be effectively fought with partial or short-term measures, or on one side of the border only. Thus the Kerry-Lugar bill the president signed last year to triple economic aid to Pakistan rightly commits to maintaining that level for at least five years.

    If the situation a year from now is not moving in the right direction, then Obama will face a dilemma. He knows he can't cut and run. That would give Al Qaeda a world-changing victory, jeopardize the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan and increase the threat to the American homeland. So how should he proceed?

    One alternative option would be to trim down our presence in Afghanistan and focus on a smaller counter-terrorist mission, much as Bush did from 2002 to 2008. This option could best be described as creating a Fortress Kabul. NATO would concede much of southern Afghanistan to the insurgents but would maintain a large base in the north to wage drone and special forces attacks on Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorists. We would be committed to containing terrorism rather than truly destroying the terrorist nest.

    This approach has many flaws, but the worst is that it removes any incentive for Pakistan to cut its ties to the Taliban. Rather, Islamabad would have to come to an accommodation with the insurgents, because in all likelihood they would control the border region.

    There are several things America can do now to help strengthen Pakistan's young democracy and wean it from playing both sides. The first is to follow through on our commitments. Pakistan desperately needs helicopters and other military equipment to fight the extremists within its borders, and we must help meet that need.

    Second, the economic assistance promised in the Kerry-Lugar bill should be concentrated on visible infrastructure projects, including highway construction and power plants, so that Pakistanis see tangible benefits of a relationship with the United States. American tariffs should also be adjusted so that more Pakistani textiles and other goods can be sold here. Every think tank that studies the Pakistani economy has concluded that trade will do more than aid to foster better relations and improve life for ordinary Pakistanis.

    The U.S. should have no illusions about Pakistan; it is our most important ally in the war with Al Qaeda, but it is also our most difficult ally. We need to be open-eyed, but we also need to be consistent.

    Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. A CIA officer for three decades, he has advised four presidents on South Asia and chaired President Obama's review of policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    The whole world is aware that Pak ISI sponsors terrorism, not only in Afghanistan, but also around the world including in India.

    Cameron may not be the best at diplomacy, but he has told the truth and quite openly. Manmohan Singh is quite poker faced about it. I am sure he is delighted at what Cameron has said, but he is playing the cards close to his chest even though he was critical of the way the Pak FM Md Shah Querishi handled the press conf. Manmohan wants the dialogue to go on, possibly under goading from the US.

    US is well aware of the ISI's role. There has been enough indications of the same from various leading figures of the US political system and the military. However, since the US requires Pakistan for ferrying military hardware into Afghanistan, she has to play the cat and mouse game and blowing hot and cold.

    The US takes India for granted that India will not stray. India has quite a few eggs in the US basket. Hence, India's protests are handled with less sensitivity than that of Pakistan.

    Obama has to drawdown on the troop level and give a charade of pulling out to keep to his electoral promises. Therefore, unless Pakistan plays ball, there is no hope, excepting attacking Pakistan and clearing the badlands of Pakistan of the Taliban, good bad and ugly. That she will not venture upon.

    So, the game goes on.

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