Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rubin: Pakistanis on Pakistan

Scott Horton of Harper's has interviewed Ahmed Rashid, whose book "Descent into Chaos" has just come out, on Pakistan and the Taliban:

The CIA, we learned in a report today, has compiled damning evidence of the Pakistani military’s complicity with the Taliban. But this is hardly news. Indeed, one analyst has repeatedly warned that Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence service have been taking America for a ride, pretending to support U.S. counter-terrorism operations while sheltering and supporting the Taliban and numerous other extremist organizations. That analyst is Ahmed Rashid, and he is the most articulate of the observers of the region between the Oxus and the shores of Karachi. Based in Lahore, Rashid combines scholarly excellence with popular appeal, as demonstrated by his book on the Taliban, which is Yale University Press’s all-time best-seller. Rashid’s latest book, Descent into Chaos pulls back the cover on American operations in Afghanistan, which were hampered from the outset by chronic bad judgment on the part of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.


The following article by Afrasiab Khattak, the head of the Pashtun Nationalist Awami National Party in the Northwest Frontier Province (Pakhtunkhwa) appears in Dawn today. I have not been able to find it on the website yet. Khattak is provincial head of the party that heads the elected government of NWFP and has been appointed Pashtun Peace Envoy by the NWFP Provincial Assembly.

FATA’s growing disconnect

By Afrasiab Khattak

IT is hardly an exaggeration that the security of Pakistan, Afghanistan, the entire region and indeed that of the whole world will be defined by developments in Fata over the next few months. Different scenarios are being painted by military strategists and political experts.

Al Qaeda, after regrouping in the militant sanctuaries of the area, is acquiring the capacity to repeat attacks in North America or Europe similar to those carried out in 2001 in the US.

If reports about the exchanges between Pakistan and the US at the highest level are anything to go by it is pretty clear that the US will retaliate against Pakistan, probably even more severely than it did against the Taliban-dominated Afghanistan. Similarly the use of these militant sanctuaries for cross-border fighting is so large in scale (in fact all the six political agencies bordering Afghanistan are being used) that denial in this regard is no longer plausible.

The federal government has to either admit defeat or muster the political will to resolve the problem, or else justify the existence of militant sanctuaries by explaining their usefulness to the national interest. We have run out of time and this decision cannot be delayed any more as there are no takers of the denial line.

As if this were not enough, armed lashkars (armies) from militant sanctuaries in Fata are poised to penetrate/invade the contiguous settled districts. The events in Hangu some three weeks back are a case in point. The Hangu police arrested four Taliban commanders from a car that also contained weapons, explosive material and manuals for making bombs in a place called Doaba not far away from the Orakzai Agency border.

Hundreds of Taliban surrounded the Doaba police station and demanded the commanders’ release. They also blocked the Hangu-Kurram highway. During this confrontation the Frontier Constabulary was ambushed near Zargari village and 16 security personnel were killed. Subsequently the army was called in to launch a military operation in Hangu. This action was not just in retaliation for the murder of 16 FC men but also came in view of the threat of attack by four to five thousand Taliban from Orakzai and Kurram agencies.

By now the said military operation has been completed and the targets achieved to the extent that the Taliban have been chased out of Hangu. Nevertheless, they have fled to Orakzai Agency where they are regrouping and preparing for future attacks.

The NWFP (Pakhtunkhwa) government is in a quandary. It has to call in the army whenever armed lashkars threaten to overrun a district as the police force simply does not have the capacity to fight an ever-expanding insurgency.

After Swat the army has also been deployed in Hangu. In view of the militant sanctuaries situated nearby, the army cannot be withdrawn in the near future. Imagine if the story is repeated in other vulnerable districts. Will the army also have to be deployed in all these other districts? Will such measures not bring the existence of the civilian provincial government into question?

Is it not amazing that in spite of such high stakes the presidency that has a monopoly over governance in Fata seems to show no anxiety over the prevailing situation? It is continuing with the policy of keeping Fata a black hole where terrorist groups from across the globe run their bases. It is still a no-go area for the media and civil society, and so far there is no corrective measure or policy change in sight. So much so that we have failed to take even the most preliminary step of extending the Political Parties Act to Fata.

It is only natural that we are perturbed when attacks are launched from across the border. But should we not be equally sensitive to the loss of our sovereignty over Fata to militant groups? Strangely enough we do not seem to be bothered about the militants’ total control of Fata. When the international media carries reports about this situation we dismiss them as ‘enemy’ propaganda against Pakistan. We have failed to grasp the fact that in the post-cold war world there is a universal consensus about two things. One, that all assault weapons that can be used for launching a war cannot be allowed to be kept in private possession. Two, that no state will allow the use of its soil by non-state players against another state. The entire world is astounded by our fixation with the cold war mode. We have developed an incredible capacity to live in unreality. This is indeed dangerous for any state system but it can be catastrophic for a state dancing in a minefield.

Where does all this leave the people of Fata? They are victims and not perpetrators as some people would like us to believe. They are in fact in triple jeopardy. Firstly they are groaning under the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) of 1901. They have no access to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan since they are not justiciable outside of the jurisdiction of the higher judiciary.

Secondly the tribal belt has almost been occupied by foreign and local militant organisations that are better equipped, better trained and better financed than the local population. More than 160 tribal leaders have been killed by terrorists in North and South Waziristan who operate with total impunity. Today’s Fata is not dissimilar to the Taliban and Al Qaeda controlled Afghanistan before 9/11.

Thirdly, the people of Fata get caught in the crossfire between militants and security forces from both sides of the Durand Line. The so-called collateral damage has seen a cancerous growth in Fata. The people of Fata have lost the support and protection of the state. They have no access to the media, courts and hospitals or to humanitarian assistance. The only intervention by state players takes place through their armies and air forces in which people of the tribal area are mostly on the receiving end.

For any informed and sensitive Pakistani, the situation in the tribal area is the top-most priority when it comes to policy formation and implementation. We must realise that the question of dismantling militant sanctuaries in Fata and taking short-term and long-term measures to open up the area and integrate it with the rest of the country needs urgent national attention if we are to avoid the impending catastrophe.

35 comments:

ANJAN SENGUPTA said...

Exceptionally well written and Ahmed Rashid is one person whose views are appreciated and commended across the Indian subcontinent.

Of course CIA knew of the complicity of ISI & Taliban and its resurgence. But I wonder at what levels their (CIAs) strategy works :

1. CIA funds Afghan Mujahidden to get rid off the Soviet Red Army. Excellent strategy. (The only issues were: a) Why did they not have an expiry contract on the vast armoury they were leaving behind, b)Why did they allow AQ Khan network to carry on its work.
By not having a macro view, it created a monster.

2. CIA helps ISI (and by default its extensions incl Taliban) in its one sighted approach to kill off Al Qaeda (AQ) elements. Seems to be a similar approach as above. Except this is already a hydra headed monster that is being used to kill a small prey. And of course, the ISI is playing along the US obsession of AQ to the hilt.

China is obsessed with internal secuirty and Olympics and is in no position to utter a word in defense of Pakistan. And US has understood that it is being taken for a ride all along. Its dollars were being used against its troops all along.

Pakistan orchestrated a poor attempt by blowing off a small IED in front of its embassy in Herat and Pakistan has summoned the Afghan Ambassador to its foreign office to convey "grave concerns".

At the same time, India is seeing a flurry of activity: a) Bombs exploding in major economic bastions / cities, b) Ceasefire violations across the LOC.

An orchestrated attempt at mischief.

India is yet to get Phalcon Awacs - a force multiplier, and is yet to get its triad functioning optimally. With its weak govt, India is asking for trouble, if it is not alert. Pakistan is seething like a wonded tiger, at getting caught, finally - someone willing to call its bluff !!!

Note: We all blame ISI - but it is under Gen Kayani of Pak Army (who was in ISI too). It is the Pak Army who sanctions all ops for ISI.

Anonymous said...

"Al Qaeda, after regrouping in the militant sanctuaries of the area, is acquiring the capacity to repeat attacks in North America or Europe similar to those carried out in 2001 in the US."

This is fear-mongering, war-mongering tripe. But, when you want a war you write such tripe.

Anonymous said...

Also, when you want more war while a war is going on simply write about how poorly the war was fought to begin with so that it can be fought well from here on forever more.

Anonymous said...

Now, let us all follow whoever the coming President is on to an indefinite war in Afghanistan and at least parts of Pakistan. I am ever so pleased.

Barnett Rubin for honorary general?

Anonymous said...

An Indian on Pakistan

In short, Pakistan and the US are in a codependency relationship.

From wiki:
"...A "codependent" is loosely defined as someone who exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her. A "codependent" is one side of a relationship between mutually needy people.

The dependent, or obviously needy party(s) may have emotional, physical, financial difficulties, or addictions they seemingly are unable to surmount. The "codependent" party exhibits behaviour which controls, makes excuses for, pities, and takes other actions to perpetuate the obviously needy party's condition, because of their desire to be needed and fear of doing anything that would change the relationship.

..
Symptoms of codependence are controlling behavior, distrust, perfectionism, avoidance of feelings, problems with intimacy, excessive caretaking, hypervigilance.... the codependent person [often] succumbs to feelings of frustration or sadness over his or her inability to improve the situation..."

Recommended cure is group therapy.

The US will need multilateral/multinational cooperation to reduce the spell of its codependent relation with Pakistan.

Pakistan's addiction to strategic depth in Afghanistan and quest for control over Afghanistan corridor to Central Asia makes proxies like the Taliban too attractive an option to give up even for all the pay offs the US can manage.

However if the US, China, Afghanistan's other neighbours and Russia are made part of some substantial regional body with agreements with the Afghan govt to protect all their respective interests, Pakistan cannot spin these dreams of dominance alone.

Currently, there is no limit to the dreams riding on the shoulders of Taliban militias. Gen. Hamid Gul said not so long ago that the US will be defeated in Afghanistan in 2009 and then the US will disintegrate like the Soviet Union and subsequently Pakistan will win Kashmir and then India will disintegrate. You can depend on it that Hamid Gul's point of view is factored into Pakistan policy.

From the Pak Army point of view, either the US finds the military costs of insurgency very high and capitulates to Taliban's demands progressively or the US altogether quits Afghanistan leaving it to Pakistan's tender mercies, or there is endless insurgency while the Pak political front faces American music like poor Mr. Gilani is facing.

Any of these options cost the Pakistani Army brass very little literally. From the Pak Army point of view, the US is literally paying the Taliban militias(through the Pakistan Army) to fight the US/ISAF/NATO.

In short US is the codependent "The "codependent" party exhibits behaviour which controls, makes excuses for, pities, and takes other actions to perpetuate the obviously needy party's condition, because of their desire to be needed and fear of doing anything that would change the relationship."

btw its interesting to realise that Bin Laden and Zawahiri have apparently been kept healthy and safe almost 7 years somewhere and if in Pakistan, then apparently without Pakistani Army or Bush administration losing much sleep over them.

Barnett R. Rubin said...

Some of the anonymous commenters seem to think that I wrote this post. I didn't write any of it. The offensive quotation about al-Qaeda was written by Afrasiab Khattak, secretary-general of the ANP in NWFP and the lead negotiator with the Taliban in Swat. There is no one more dedicated to peace in the region than Afrasiab. But unlike the commenter he lives there and actually knows what is happening.

Anand said...

Prof Rubin, this article was very well written. Thanks for publishing it. The world has to do much more to help people like Afrasiab Khattak and the ANP succeed.

Perhaps the world should offer Pakistan $300 billion in grants over 10 years in return for transforming itself into a prosperous successful free democracy at peace with itself and the rest of the world. As part of the bargain, the Pakistani army should dismantle all armed militants by whatever means are necessary.

I know the words used above are platitudes that mean different things to different people. The important point is that Pakistan becomes a more decent place for all its people.

On another note, I have been a big fan of Rashid since 1998. He is one of the best informed people regarding this subject on the planet today.

Anonymous said...

Anjan,

Your question 1 of CIA Funds and continuation is
quite simple.

It was US policy to destroy and split India like it did with USSR. That is why the AQ Kahn network was not curbed either.

Pakistan is supported by Saudi Arabia, China and US.
So only hope is for Global Warming to have pakistanis fighting each other and leave India alone. but that is long shot because there is also
bangladesh just waiting to go off as well. India better build bigger fence now or it will be too late.


To all the anonymous pakistanis crying about without reading are just pathetic loosers. they are worse than Neocons.

Anand said...

President Bush (41), Reagan, Carter and Ford knew little about India and had little curiousity about it. Top US policy makers had little interest in India and knew even less about it.

Nixon and Kissinger believed that America should focus on great powers (which included South Korea) and ignore small powers (like India.)

US policy makers didn't want to destroy India. They didn't care about India one way or another. They thought India was an irrelevant country that wouldn't amount to anything. They were dead wrong of course. But it is important to understand other people from their point of view. Without understanding, adjustment is dangerous.

Neither America nor India understood each other until the late 1990s.

Anonymous said...

"Al Qaeda, after regrouping in the militant sanctuaries of the area, is acquiring the capacity to repeat attacks in North America or Europe similar to those carried out in 2001 in the US."

This may be written by someone who lives there and pretends to know this and that, but this is fear-mongering war-mongering absurdity. All this sort of stuff will accomplish is to make sure we are forever attacking Pakistan.

Nonsense.

Anonymous said...

No matter, the Democrats have made sure we will be attacking Afghanistan and Pakistan indefinitely, so feel safe safe safe while we bomb away. Somalia too I guess.

I am, like, so proud.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know that writer is a person of peace, sort of a regular Martin Luther King. I am just not interested in warring in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

Anand,

I don't know what are talking about.
Just listen to Nixon tapes and his hatred toward Indira Gandhi.

US foreign policy is always about commerce. So Gulf war forced open India is 1991. remember that India got all his oil from Iraq.

India had no choice but play the game of follow the leader once USSR no longer existed.

US hated most of all the non-aligned nations. US policy is dictated by commerce. There is nothing to understand. The fact that India is heading to same issues that plague US in the 20th century shows that Indian politician haven't learned anything.
All keep talking about superpower this superpower that. In history superpowers have risen only by defeating another superpower. India was superpower long time ago because it supplied the world with Cotton, Sugar, Spices, Ghee, etc. In other word the rest of the world depended on it.
The basis of US supremacy is OIL.
They won WWs because of it. once that goes way. their superpower status will go away as well. and Western civilization. India can't ape them.

programmer craig said...

There is nothing to understand.

Thanks for clearing up what the attitude problem apparent in so many of those anonymous comments was! You're just another self-righteous know-it-all who doesn't acre about anything but his own narrow minded world view! Why didn't you just spit that out from the start and save everyone a lot of time?

And also, if there's really "nothing to understand" then what on earth are you doing here? You certainly can't be working very hard at "trying to understand", so that leaves throwing rotten tomatoes from the sidelines, right?

san said...

This is the Moment of Truth for the War on Terror. This is where the other hidden corner of the triangle comprising Taliban and AlQaeda is exposed -- the ISI.

As the kingpin of the terror violence, the ISI is now finally attracting the scrutiny of the Whitehouse and media that was long overdue.

It remains to be seen how a cornered ISI will react or lash out.

Anand said...

Read Kissinger’s book on his first term in office. He wrote that both he and Nixon thought that India was not an important country and that for too long American leaders had given India too much importance, attention and deference.

Kissinger said for Nixon, Indira was a mirror image. Just as machiavellian, and hard nosed. Kissinger wrote that he was surprised by how much Indira and Nixon were alike. Alike repels. Nixon and Indira hated each other. {For the record, I am not a fan of either.}

“US foreign policy is always about commerce.” Partly true. America is a network of networks. Americans (and most other countries) want other countries to be more prosperous, successful and integrated into the global economy because that facilitates faster economic growth at home. In our interdependent world, more effective collaboration around the globe means that more rapid technological innovation in one part of the world is correlated with more rapid technological progress elsewhere in the world too.

Most people, whether in India, China, America, South Korea, Japan, Brazil or Mexico now share common perspectives on this.

How did America become a superpower? Through rapid technological innovation (total factor productivity compound growth.) China and India are emerging as global superpowers much the same way.

What is “supremacy”?

The correlation between what you call “oil” and productivity growth is unclear. Large oil importers such as America, China, Europe, India, South Korea and Japan share almost identical interests and perspectives on oil.

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Misanthrope said...

The link to the article is: http://www.dawn.com/2008/07/31/ed.htm#5

As a Pakistani I feel Mr Khattak's article is right on the money. Now if only it would be possible to convince the powers-that-be to give up their power-trips and myths of Great Game Politics and listen to what he has to say.

As for Mr Anand's suggestion of grants to transform Pakistan, the thought is nice, but one needs to make sure all that money isn't being poured into the army's coffers or spent on glamorous but ultimately low-impact mega-projects as has been happening.

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John Maszka said...

An Escalation of the War in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a Very Bad Policy.

Conservatives and liberals can argue the merits of the surge in Iraq, or the need to deal with terrorism now rather than later. I want to focus on something else: the impact of the perspective of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. I’m not implying that it is somehow homogeneous, just relevant; more relevant than my opinion at least.

Taking the war on terror back to Afghanistan (and most likely Pakistan) is bad for a number of reasons: the perspective of the international Muslim community; the fact that a military solution has not worked thus far, so why keep kicking a dead horse (especially when it has the potential to trample you); the delicate balance of power in the immediate theatre and in the broader region; the likely negative reaction of other states; and last but not least, its potential impact on the price and availability of oil.

Pakistan’s reaction to the Bush Doctrine has been somewhat mixed. Musharraf was caught in the middle between pleasing the U.S. to ensure continued military and economic support, and the preferences of his constituents who resent the U.S. presence there. The region is already very unstable because of this tension between the US applying pressure from the outside and the internal desire of the populace to rid themselves of the unwanted American presence.

We can say the exact same thing about Afghanistan, Karzai is in a very similar position as Musharraf was. In 2006, Karzai had to start rearming the warlords to maintain order. Similarly, in September 2006, Pakistan was forced to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan - a loose group of Waziristani chieftains, closely associated with the Taliban, who now serve as the de facto security force in charge of North and South Waziristan.

If Senator Obama becomes president, and refocuses the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the best we can hope for is another five to six years of what we’ve seen in Iraq. But this best-case scenario is very unlikely.

In addition to a multiple-front war, we would be dealing, not with a fallen state as with Iraq, but with two established states. This could possibly work in our favor as long as they continue to remain on our side. But as already mentioned, the tension is high, and there is a very delicate balance keeping Karzai in power. What if Karzai falls to a coup or assassination? And now with Musharraf stepping down, what happens if Musharraf’s successor plays to the popular demands of the people? We could find ourselves fighting the armies of the sovereign states of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in addition to insurgent forces there. If we consider the history of this region, we realize that this is not as far-fetched as it might sound on the face of it.

As we all know, the Taliban was comprised of Sunni Islamists and Pashtun nationalists (mostly from southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan). The Taliban initially enjoyed support from the U.S., Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in the early 1980s to fight the Soviets. By 1996, the Taliban had gained control of most of Afghanistan, but its relationship with the U.S. and most of the rest of the world became strained. Most of the international community supported the Taliban’s rival, the Afghan Northern Alliance.

Still, even after the U.S. began to distance itself from the Taliban in late 1997, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates continued to officially recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Even after 9/11 when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates officially stopped recognizing the Taliban, Pakistan continued to support it. The Taliban in turn, had tremendous influence in Pakistani politics, especially among lobby groups- as it virtually controlled areas such as the Pashtun Belt (Southeast Afghanistan, and Northwest Pakistan) and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Going back to the perception of the international Muslim community … When the U.S. demanded that the Taliban turn Bin Laden over, it initially offered to turn Bin Laden over to Pakistan to be tried by an international tribunal operating according to Sharia law. But Pakistan was urged by the U.S. to refuse. Again, prior to the beginning of U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan, the Taliban offered to try Bin Laden according to Islamic law, but the U.S. refused. After the U.S. began air strikes, the Taliban offered to hand Bin Laden over to a neutral state to be tried under Islamic law, but the U.S. again refused. This is important because in the eyes of the greater international community, the war in Afghanistan was justified (at least initially). But in the eyes of the international Muslim community, especially given the Taliban’s offer to turn over Bin Laden, it was an unnecessary war. This, combined with the preemptive war in Iraq, has led many Muslims to equate the war on terror with a war on Islam. Senator Obama’s plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan will only serve to reinforce that impression.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an Islamic political party in Pakistan, won elections in two out of four provinces in 2003, and became the third largest political party in the Pakistani parliament – with substantial support from urban areas (not just border regions). This speaks to the tremendous influence Islamic groups enjoy in Pakistan.

This strong influence is fueled by the fact that the Pashtun tribal group is over 40 million strong. The Taliban continues to receive many of its members from this group today. In fact, the Pakistani army suffered humiliating defeat at the hand of these so-called “insurgents.” Finally, in September 2006, Pakistan was forced to officially recognize the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. Many saw the Pakistani government’s acknowledgment of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan as not only a military necessity, but also a political one as well – a concession in response to the growing internal pressure on the Musharraf administration from the people of Pakistan who resent the U.S. presence and involvement in the region.

Just consider the many, many public protests against the Pakistani government’s compliance with the United States. For instance, on January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area.

On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani military, under pressure from the U.S., attacked a madrasah in the Northwest Frontier province in Pakistan. Immediately following the attack, local residents, convinced the U.S. military was behind the attack, burned American flags and effigies of President Bush, and shouted “Death to America!” Outraged over an attack on school children, the local residents viewed the attack as an assault against Islam. On November 7, 2006, a suicide bomber retaliated. Further outrage ensued when President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack, and President Musharraf did the same, without ever offering their condolences to the families of the slaughtered children.

Last year troubles escalated surrounding the Pakistani government’s siege of the Red Mosque where more than 100 people were killed. Even before Musharraf’s soldiers took the Lal Masjid the retaliations began. Suicide attacks originating from both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants targeted military convoys and a police recruiting center.

There are countless more examples; too many to mention in detail. Likewise in Afghanistan; April 30, 2007 for example, when hundreds of Afghans protested US soldiers killing Afghan civilians. Why can’t the powers that be recognize that we’ve been in Afghanistan for nearly seven years, and in Iraq for over five; a military approach is not working. If we must focus the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, let’s focus on winning the hearts and minds of the beautiful people of these countries, rather than filling their hearts with bitterness and hatred toward us. With their support, we can offer them the financial and technical assistance that they need to rebuild their infrastructure, their agriculture and their economy. With their support, we can offer them the needed resources to rebuild their human capital and start attracting foreign direct investment. But without their support, we cannot possibly have any positive influence in this region at all; our only influence will be that of brute force, bribery of corrupt officials, and outright coercion. It will be a long, hard, costly and bloody endeavor, and the people of these countries will continue to suffer.

Let’s not forget that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Let’s not also forget that this is a highly Muslim-concentrated area, the Islamic concept of duty to come to the aid of fellow Muslims would no doubt ensure a huge influx of jihadists in this type of a scenario. Why on earth would we want to intentionally provoke a situation that would not only radicalize existing moderates in the region, but could also potentially cause the influx of a concentration of radical jihadists from elsewhere into an already unstable region (that has nuclear weapons no less)? We would be begging for a nuclear proliferation problem.

We like to assume that we would have the upper hand in such a scenario. But we have been in Afghanistan since October of 2001. And we have yet to assume the upper hand. The fight in Afghanistan has the potential to become much more difficult than it already is. Nor would it be unheard of to expect other major powers to back these radical jihadists with economic and military assistance in much the same way that the US backed the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Beyond the fact that roughly 1/5 of the world’s population is Muslim (approximately 1.5 billion people- 85% Sunni, 15% Shia, Ibadiyyas, Ahmadis and Druze), we have to remember that Muslims are the majority in 57 states (out of 195). Most of these have Sunni majorities, which gives them added political power.

China has traditionally backed Pakistan. What would China do if the US were to find itself at war with Pakistan?

India has tremendous economic and security interests in the region. Let’s not forget that while India has been in nearly continual conflict with Pakistan, primarily over the Kashmir issue, it has the second largest Muslim population in the world next to Indonesia. What happens if India were to side with the U.S. in a potential conflict with Pakistan? It will have a very difficult task justifying that position with its very large Muslim population. A U.S.-Indian alliance could also spark more terrorist attacks in the Kashmir region; it could also create added tension to the already tenuous relationship between India and Iran, which has a long history of support for Pakistan. Or, if radicals gained control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, a nuclear attack against India could spark a nuclear altercation between the two nuclear powers. Or, what if radicals then gained control of India’s nuclear arsenal?

On the other hand, what happens if India for some reason (either via a coup or due to Muslims gaining the upper hand in the long-running Hindu-Muslim conflict) were to side with Pakistan against the United States? It seems unlikely now, but not completely unrealistic considering the on-again, off-again relationship between the U.S. and every country in that region. We constantly flip-flop in our foreign policy. An attack on Pakistani soil would be a perfect example of this type of wishy-washy foreign policy, as the Bush administration guaranteed Musharraf that the U.S. would never do such a thing (as much as Karzai wants us to). Speaking of Karzai, what if he is ousted and we find ourselves at war with Afghanistan. What would India do then, given its friendship with Afghanistan?

Also consider the U.S. position on Kashmir, which has a predominantly Muslim population. Pakistan wants a plebiscite, as called for in a 1949 UN resolution, to essentially allow the people to decide which state the region should belong to. India refuses a plebiscite, claiming Kashmir and Jammu as an integral part of India. The U.S. is arming both sides through billions in aid to Pakistan and selective proliferation to India, but insists Pakistan stem terrorist activities flowing from inside its borders, and at the same time discourages India from attacking Pakistan. Yet an escalation of war in the area could backfire badly.

Beyond all that we still have to consider a slew of other states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia – not to mention the central Asian states - all of which have economic and/or political and security interests in the region. How will they react to an escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Finally, what would such a scenario do to oil prices and availability? I’m 100% in favor of America developing alternative energy sources, but again that’s my opinion, and the oil conglomerates have not been listening to me. Unfortunately, the facts are that the oil lobby is a very powerful entity. Even more to the point, our country could not ween itself off of oil overnight, even if it wanted to. We have to consider what such an escalation would do to oil prices, and the overall availability of oil.

The oil embargo of 1974 (in support of Egypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur war against Israel), in retaliation against the U.S. for its support of Israel had devastating economic and political consequences on the U.S. and much of Europe. Also, the more recent boycott of Danish products across the Muslim world, in retaliation for the 2005 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, demonstrates the ability of the international Muslim community to act collectively.

Escalating the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan would also demonstrate the fickle and hypocritical nature of America’s foreign policy. We supported the Taliban when it served our interests (to oppose the Soviets in Afghanistan) in spite of clear human rights abuses. But now we condemn the Taliban (and much of the Muslim world) over the very same human rights abuses (against women … etc.), while we also continue to ignore similar or same human rights abuses in China, Saudi Arabia, Israel … etc., when it’s convenient for us to do so. We did the same thing with Saddam Hussein; arming him in spite of clear and egregious human rights abuses when he was our ally, and condemning the same actions when he wasn’t.

The U.S. practices selective proliferation with India, and selective sovereignty with those it chooses (today Pakistan, tomorrow someone other than Pakistan), while at the same time violating the sovereignty of other states- depending on its whim at the time.

The United States government insisted that the Taliban turn over Bin Laden, but the United States itself has refused on several occasions to return foreign nationals (being held on death row in America) to their state of domicile because the U.S. wanted them to face execution, and the home state did not uphold the death penalty. We also continue to refuse to acknowledge the ICC because we don’t want American military personnel tried in an international court. How is that so different from the Taliban wanting Bin Laden tried in an Islamic court?

Rather than blindly accepting that America holds some God-given moral superiority over the rest of the planet, we need to realize that everywhere, humanity has a God-given right to live, love and prosper. Our children have the right to grow up in an environment free of air strikes and constant assault from an external enemy. They have the right to attend schools without fear of being maimed and killed inside of them. And they have the right to be children, instead of orphans. No state has the right to take that away from your children, or from mine. Imagine now that Senator Obama is planning to escalate the war on terror where you live.

Anand said...

John Maszka, India sees itself as a rapidly energy global superpower, regardless of what others see India as. India increasingly sees the world through global lenses, and has a surging self confidence that India can do anything it chooses (especially among younger people.) Freedom and democracy are firmly entrenched in India. There is no chance of radicals taking over in India, or taking over India’s nukes. Indians aren’t concerned about any external foe, whether America or China. Most Indians love America, China and the rest of the world, which they see as partners that they can collaborate with to increase global GDP, solve global problems, while making themselves for more successful and prosperous in the process.

India’s only serious national security concern relates to Takfiri militants, especially AQ linked networks. If these networks ever got control of WMD, they would likely try to use them on Indian population centers. Indians, North Americans, Europeans, Russians, and Chinese confront much the same threat, and are increasingly viewing this threat, and the risk of instability in Pakistan/Afghanistan in similar ways.

Your comments about OBL make little sense. You do know that powerful parts of the Pakistani and KSA establishment have been complicit in OBL’s and AQ linked networks’ many crimes.

Zia and Musharraf were both complicit in OBL’s massacre of Shiite civilians in Gilgit, Azad Kashmir, in 1988. Many parts of the Pakistani and KSA establishment have been complicit in large scale persecution (and murder) of Shiite Pakistanis, and Shiite Afghans at the hands of AQ linked networks. Many have dirty hands in numerous AQ linked network crimes. How in the world can OBL or his groupies ever receive a fair trial inside Pakistan or KSA? OBL can be tried in Afghanistan or some other country, or the global tribunal. But please don’t jump into fairy land about OBL and his colleagues being tried in Pakistan.

John Maszka, who gave OBL and his fellow Takfiris the right to mass murder Sufis, Shia, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists; not to mention large numbers of “Sunnis” that they disagree with?

“there is a very delicate balance keeping Karzai in power. What if Karzai falls to a coup or assassination? And now with Musharraf stepping down, what happens if Musharraf’s successor plays to the popular demands of the people? We could find ourselves fighting the armies of the sovereign states of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in addition to insurgent forces there.”

Any Afghan leader needs to be fiercely anti Taliban, anti AQ, and needs to be seen as standing up to Pakistan on the behalf of Afghans. Otherwise, the Tajiks, Uzbechs, Hazaras, and a majority of Afghan Pashtu tribes would turn on them. I don’t see how the assassination of Karzai would affect that dynamic, aside from causing a nationalist hawkish anti Taliban/AQ wave among Afghan civilians and the ANSF. The ANSF vehemently detests the Taliban and AQ down to its core. The Pashtu in the Afghan army come from Eastern Afghanistan and some anti Taliban southern Afghan pashtu. These people want to fight AQ (loose term for Punjabi Taliban and other foreign non Pashtu foreign fighters) and the Taliban more than you can even imagine John Maszka.

Do you have any idea how much most Afghan Pashtu (let along the 5/8ths of Afghans that are not Pashtu) detest Pakistani Pashtu Taliban and the more than 10,000 non Pashtu fighters fighting alongside them?

A large part of the Afghan war is really a Pashtu civil war with many foreign actors.

Why would you say a military approach is not working if it has never been tried? The ANSF ran on a shoestring budget of less than $400 million a year until November, 2006. It is only after firing Rumsfeld (who consistently demanded that the ANSF projected end state significantly shrink and that the Afghans pay for it, while blocking American aid to the ANSF), that the ANSF has received even a small fraction of the funds it so desperately needs.

It is hard to see any circumstances were the Russian, Indian and Chinese governments do not support the Afghan government. If Aynak (copper mines) does not demonstrate China’s commitment to Afghanistan, what does? Takfiris, including AQ linked ones, pose a major long term threat to China. China is likely to push Pakistan to reform itself.

The Taliban cannot significantly threaten major Afghan cities as long as the ANSF gets foreign funding, and the international community (at least except for Pakistan and KSA) continues to support it. However, the Taliban (and its Haqqani network, Punjabi allies, Hekmatyur, foreign fighters) can make Afghanistan and Pakistan bleed, as they are doing now for some time. Afghanistan is likely to remain a stalemate for some time.

The only country where you analysis makes some sense is inside parts of Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

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pavocavalry said...

Descent into Chaos , Ahmed Rashid, Allen Lane,2008.ISBN No .978-1-846-14175-1

Book Review

A.H Amin



Ahmed Rashid acquired fame and became darling of the west when his book on Taliban was published in

2000 or so.Descent into Chaos is another bestseller as far as publishing statistics is concerned.It is a

tragedy that the West,guardian of the present worlds intellectual property projects what suits its

political and social interests and stifles what it finds “ politically unacceptable”.Seen in this background

what Ahmed Rashid writes is acceptable to the west.Possibly because what he says fits hand in glove with

western perceptions about how to shape the future.



As normal the book has some factual errors.Some insignificant some not so insignificant and some which

not have escaped the sagacity of a known Afghanistan hand like Ahmed Rashid.



The Ghilzai revolt started not in 1701 as stated on page.7 but in 1709.The Durranis did not move the

capital to Kabul in 1772 as stated on page.7 but in 1774 if we agree with Sayed Qasem Reshtia a great

Afghan historian or 1775 if we believe Louis Dupree who is concerned the most reliable western

historian.On page.8 Ahmed Rashid states that the British tried to conquer Afghanistan three times.This

is not correct.It happened twice if we include the English East India Company and once if we include the

Second Afghan War of 1878-80.In the Third Afghan War it were the Afghans who tried to attack India

and miserably failed and the British launched some very local offensive actions at Spin Boldak and

Khyber Agency to push back the Afghans.On page.9 Rashid promotes Major General Naseerullah Babar

to lieutenant general rank.On page.11 he states that for first time in 300 years the Afghan capital Kabul

fell in non Pashtun hands once Ahmad Shah Masud captured it.This is quite incorrect.The first time

Afghanistan’s capital fell in Non Pashtun hands was once the Persian Qazalbash Nadir Shah captured

Kandahar the then capital of Ghiljai Pashtuns on 24 March 1738 some 224 years before 1992 and Kabul

on 29 June 1738 again some 223 years and some 10 months before April 1992.In any case we must

remember that Kabul was a Hindu province for a long time in twelfth century and a Mughal Indian

province for some 200 plus years long before 1992.On page 17 Rashid states that the Pakistani FC

managed Pakistani artillery and communications.This is factually incorrect.The FC hardly has any

artillery and the Afghans did not require any training in communications.In any case the Afghans had a

much larger number of ex Afghan Army gunners with Mujahideen quite capable of handling all types of

artillery guns of Soviet vintage available in Afghanistan.Rashid seems to be very friendly with US

officials who throughout his narrative keep on telling him so many things,like on page.18 US officials tell

him that Al Qaeda was responsible for USS Cole.On page.34 Rashid states that “ the British conquest of

Northwest India was aimed solely at providing security from marauding Afghan Baloch and Pashtun

tribes” .This assertion is factually incorrect.The British company English East India Company’s conquest

of North West India comprising modern Pakistan was done in response to invasion of Sikhs of British

territory in 1845.At that time the Sikhs were controlling all major Pashtun cities like Peshawar,Bannu

,Kohat,D.I Khan etc so the question of the Pashtun, Afghan or Baloch simply does not arise.Musharraf

was not commissioned in the field artillery as stated on page.45 but in the “ Self Propelled Artillery”.On

page.45 Rashid states that in 1971 Musharraf commanded an SSG Commando unit which went behind the

enemy lines.In 2002 I interviewed Musharrafs Commanding Officer in 1971 Brigadier Iqbal Nazir

Warraich who confirmed that Musharraf was a sub unit commander under him and Musharraf’s sub unit

was not used behind enemy lines.On page.52 Rashid states that the National Accountability Bureau

(NAB) was the ISI’s investigative arm.This is also factually incorrect.The NAB was an independent

public body which was not independent and not connected to ISI in any organizational sense.On page.73

Rashid calls Burhanuddin Rabbani a Panjsheri Tajik which is not correct.Rabbani was from Badakhshan

province.On page.79 Rashid states that the ISI chief (Mahmood) was forced to resign.This is

incorrect.Mahmood was simply removed and never resigned and to date draws his pension from the army

to which an officer who resigns his commission is not entitled.On page 186 Rashid reduces the distance

from Kabul to Kandahar to 190 miles which is not correct.On page 193 Rashid states that the Mazar

Kabul line was financed by World Bank.This is not correct since this electric transmission line was a gift

of Government of India to Afghanistan.Karachi port had not serviced transit trade for Afghanistan

since 1950s as stated on page 192 but for a long time before that dating back to the Kalhora,Talpur and

British times.There was a famous incident of a ship carrying armaments for Afghanistan by the British

so that King Amanullah was militarily weakened against Afghan rebels in late 20s.On page.259 Rashid

states that the ISI was meeting Taliban leaders in Command and Staff College Quetta.This is quite

funny and ridiculous.Why should the ISI meet insurgents in an academic institution with which it has no

connection rather than in a safe house.Probably Rashid was trying to be humorous.On page.261 Rashid

indicates that Afghan ministers gave up their foreign passports.My inquiries while permanently based in

Kabul from June 2004 till todate indicate that this assertion is not correct.On page.274 Rashid places

the Mahsud tribe in North Waziristan whereas Mahsuds main area is South Waziristan Agency.On page

275 Rashid states that a murdered man’s body was found in military handcuffs.This is a unique

discovery .My inquiries reveal that there is no such object as military handcuffs.The military buys

handcuffs from the open market.On page 331 Rashid states that the Afghan Tajikistan border is 750

miles whereas my inquiries reveal that it may be about a 100 mile less.



Factual errors done with we move on to the more serious assertions of Rashid.On page.4 Rashid

dismisses Mullah Omar as a itinerant preacher who could not claim the pedigree of Karzais.On page.13

Rashid again ridicules Mullah Omar for being born without social status or pedigree. I find this

distinctly snobbish coming from the pen of a leftist Ahmed Rashid.Probably in his old age he has become

class conscious.On page 6 Rashid states that easy to pass through the country has been impossible to

conquer.Now this is a relative statement.For more than 200 years most parts of Afghanistan were

provinces of Mughal and Saffavid Empires.The Mughals actually had a Hindu Rajput Governor in Kabul.



On page 19 Rashid passes sweeping judgment on Talibans when he says that Osama Bin Laden had a clear

strategy in mind to isolate them from the world.A more balanced and scholarly approach may have been

used.Rashid cites no supporting sources.



Some of Rashids conclusions about Pakistan are quite accurate.Like Pakistan as a state being grappled

with an acute sense of insecurity.The army’s monopolization of power in Pakistan in the name of national

security.His analysis of the Pakistani military mindset is penetrating and brilliant.His exposure of of the

military links of the likes of Maliha Lodhi and Shaukat Aziz is again a breath of fresh air.Rashids

revelations about the Pakistani intelligence agency ISIs negative role in Pakistani politics is bold and

accurate to the dot.One may not agree with how the USA downsized the Afghan intelligence.My inquiries

reveal that some of the most brilliant officers of the indomitable Khad were removed just because the

American advisors wanted to severely reduce Russian influence.Rashids analysis of US firm Louis Burger

is incomplete and not wholly correct.Louis Burgers failures in delay in building of schools was because of

unprofessional sub contracting procedures and because of the fallacious policy of hiring only Afghan

NGOs to do the job instead of commercial firms.Most of these NGOs were owned by political appointees

and haphazardly formed to siphon the fruits of US aid.I saw the whole process myself as the Vice

President of an Afghan NGO which was building schools and clinics for Louis Burger in 2004 and 2005 in

Helmand ,Ghazni and Kunduz.Rashid does not have his facts correct when he states that Louis Burger

had just 9 schools and 2 clinics ready in end of 2005.The number was much larger than this.Even in this

case some Afghan NGOs like CDU did extremely well.



Rashids conclusion that the ISI was no longer in control of the monster of extremism that it created

are valid but incomplete.What about the CIA and the Saudi intelligence the real fathers of extremism ?



On page 223 Rashid states that Pakistani artillery gave covering fire to Taliban militants infiltrating

Afghanistan.This is an illogical and implausible assertion.The Talibans do not need covering fire because

a very large part of Afghanistan Pakistan border is unmanned.The most important stretch in Helmand

and Nimroz has hardly any Afghan NATO or US presence at all.



Rashid is harsh on the Americans,the Pakistanis as well as the Afghans.However he presents no tangible

recommendations to remedy the situation.



His analysis ignores some important ground realities.First that the USA came to Afghanistan to achieve

certain strategic objectives.Its aim was not altruistic or missionary.Thus the low per capita aid figure to

USA.The US objective at least till 2008 has been to maintain control of about 15 plus military/air bases

.The US troop strength is far below the minimum necessary to even ensure security in Afghanistan.



The control of Afghanistan still lies with the pre 1992 bureaucracy trained by the Soviets.This includes

the army,the civil services,the police which was a real bastion of the leftists and above all the foreign

ministry and the intelligence .All despite various reductions and purges by the USA and NATO.The

Northern Alliance cadres on whom the USA tried to rely dod not simply have enough trained and

educated recruits.Thus the important division in all Afghan Government in between the Maslakis (

professionals) and the Wasta dars (those who came without sufficient qualifications).



Rashid also ignores the fact that Pakistan’s Islamic extremism is not the result of a sudden flight but a

logical result of misuse of religion by all major Muslim leaders since 1858.



Rashids subject matter is vast and the complexities with which he is trying to deal are vast in magnitude

and their dimensions.Rashid’s analysis is subtle and thought provoking but marred by his extreme bias

against the Taliban.This leads him repeatedly to make pre conceived statements and sweeping

judgements.



Nevertheless Rashids analsyis is thought provoking and can be immensely instrumental as a catalyst in

inspiring more research on the subject.My fear is that Rashid’s present work is more a commercial

venture with one eye on audience in the west.This is not the idealistic Rashid reporting from Kabul for

the Far Eastern Economic Review.But as they say “ things do not change,we change”.



One may not agree with Rashids assertion about Central Asia being the new bastion of Al Qaeda.With

Russia fast moving in and re-asserting it may be more difficult for the Al Qaeda to gain ascendancy in

Central Asia.The provisional centre of gravity of the Al Qaeda lies in non state actors in Pakistan and

the Arabian Gulf.It is going to be a long bloody war for the USA to alter this particular strategic

situation.

http://low-intensity-conflict-review.blogspot.com/

A.H Amin
transoxiana@mail.com

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pavocavalry said...

all these are a result of US policies .....the US policy makers were all having biased life scripts like brezinski who hated the russians because they had played hell with the poles...and then you had a naieve peanut farmer who called shah of irans regime a good regime and sent US CIA death squads to salvador and guatemala....ha ha ha.....
----------------------------------

Descent into Chaos , Ahmed Rashid, Allen Lane,2008.ISBN No .978-1-846-14175-1,Published June 2008,544 Pages



Ahmed Rashid acquired fame and became darling of the west when his book on Taliban was published in 2000 or so.Descent into Chaos is another bestseller as far as publishing statistics is concerned.It is a tragedy that the West,guardian of the present worlds intellectual property projects what suits its political and social interests and stifles what it finds " politically unacceptable".Seen in this background what Ahmed Rashid writes is acceptable to the west.Possibly because what he says fits hand in glove with western perceptions about how to shape the future.



As normal the book has some factual errors.Some insignificant some not so insignificant and some which not have escaped the sagacity of a known Afghanistan hand like Ahmed Rashid.



The Ghilzai revolt started not in 1701 as stated on page.7 but in 1709.The Durranis did not move the capital to Kabul in 1772 as stated on page.7 but in 1774 if we agree with Sayed Qasem Reshtia a great Afghan historian or 1775 if we believe Louis Dupree who is concerned the most reliable western historian.On page.8 Ahmed Rashid states that the British tried to conquer Afghanistan three times.This is not correct.It happened twice if we include the English East India Company and once if we include the Second Afghan War of 1878-80.In the Third Afghan War it were the Afghans who tried to attack India and miserably failed and the British launched some very local offensive actions at Spin Boldak and Khyber Agency to push back the Afghans.On page.9 Rashid promotes Major General Naseerullah Babar to lieutenant general rank.On page.11 he states that for first time in 300 years the Afghan capital Kabul fell in non Pashtun hands once Ahmad Shah Masud captured it.This is quite incorrect.The first time Afghanistan's capital fell in Non Pashtun hands was once the Persian Qazalbash Nadir Shah captured Kandahar the then capital of Ghiljai Pashtuns on 24 March 1738 some 224 years before 1992 and Kabul on 29 June 1738 again some 223 years and some 10 months before April 1992.In any case we must remember that Kabul was a Hindu province for a long time in twelfth century and a Mughal Indian province for some 200 plus years long before 1992.On page 17 Rashid states that the Pakistani FC managed Pakistani artillery and communications.This is factually incorrect.The FC hardly has any artillery and the Afghans did not require any training in communications.In any case the Afghans had a much larger number of ex Afghan Army gunners with Mujahideen quite capable of handling all types of artillery guns of Soviet vintage available in Afghanistan.Rashid seems to be very friendly with US officials who throughout his narrative keep on telling him so many things,like on page.18 US officials tell him that Al Qaeda was responsible for USS Cole.On page.34 Rashid states that " the British conquest of Northwest India was aimed solely at providing security from marauding Afghan Baloch and Pashtun tribes" .This assertion is factually incorrect.The British company English East India Company's conquest of North West India comprising modern Pakistan was done in response to invasion of Sikhs of British territory in 1845.At that time the Sikhs were controlling all major Pashtun cities like Peshawar,Bannu ,Kohat,D.I Khan etc so the question of the Pashtun, Afghan or Baloch simply does not arise.Musharraf was not commissioned in the field artillery as stated on page.45 but in the " Self Propelled Artillery".On page.45 Rashid states that in 1971 Musharraf commanded an SSG Commando unit which went behind the enemy lines.In 2002 I interviewed Musharrafs Commanding Officer in 1971 Brigadier Iqbal Nazir Warraich who confirmed that Musharraf was a sub unit commander under him and Musharraf's sub unit was not used behind enemy lines.On page.52 Rashid states that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was the ISI's investigative arm.This is also factually incorrect.The NAB was an independent public body which was not independent and not connected to ISI in any organizational sense.On page.73 Rashid calls Burhanuddin Rabbani a Panjsheri Tajik which is not correct.Rabbani was from Badakhshan province.On page.79 Rashid states that the ISI chief (Mahmood) was forced to resign.This is incorrect.Mahmood was simply removed and never resigned and to date draws his pension from the army to which an officer who resigns his commission is not entitled.On page 186 Rashid reduces the distance from Kabul to Kandahar to 190 miles which is not correct.On page 193 Rashid states that the Mazar Kabul line was financed by World Bank.This is not correct since this electric transmission line was a gift of Government of India to Afghanistan.Karachi port had not serviced transit trade for Afghanistan since 1950s as stated on page 192 but for a long time before that dating back to the Kalhora,Talpur and British times.There was a famous incident of a ship carrying armaments for Afghanistan by the British so that King Amanullah was militarily weakened against Afghan rebels in late 20s.On page.259 Rashid states that the ISI was meeting Taliban leaders in Command and Staff College Quetta.This is quite funny and ridiculous.Why should the ISI meet insurgents in an academic institution with which it has no connection rather than in a safe house.Probably Rashid was trying to be humorous.On page.261 Rashid indicates that Afghan ministers gave up their foreign passports.My inquiries while permanently based in Kabul from June 2004 till todate indicate that this assertion is not correct.On page.274 Rashid places the Mahsud tribe in North Waziristan whereas Mahsuds main area is South Waziristan Agency.On page 275 Rashid states that a murdered man's body was found in military handcuffs.This is a unique discovery .My inquiries reveal that there is no such object as military handcuffs.The military buys handcuffs from the open market.On page 331 Rashid states that the Afghan Tajikistan border is 750 miles whereas my inquiries reveal that it may be about a 100 mile less.



Factual errors done with we move on to the more serious assertions of Rashid.On page.4 Rashid dismisses Mullah Omar as a itinerant preacher who could not claim the pedigree of Karzais.On page.13 Rashid again ridicules Mullah Omar for being born without social status or pedigree. I find this distinctly snobbish coming from the pen of a leftist Ahmed Rashid.Probably in his old age he has become class conscious.On page 6 Rashid states that easy to pass through the country has been impossible to conquer.Now this is a relative statement.For more than 200 years most parts of Afghanistan were provinces of Mughal and Saffavid Empires.The Mughals actually had a Hindu Rajput Governor in Kabul.



On page 19 Rashid passes sweeping judgment on Talibans when he says that Osama Bin Laden had a clear strategy in mind to isolate them from the world.A more balanced and scholarly approach may have been used.Rashid cites no supporting sources.



Some of Rashids conclusions about Pakistan are quite accurate.Like Pakistan as a state being grappled with an acute sense of insecurity.The army's monopolization of power in Pakistan in the name of national security.His analysis of the Pakistani military mindset is penetrating and brilliant.His exposure of of the military links of the likes of Maliha Lodhi and Shaukat Aziz is again a breath of fresh air.Rashids revelations about the Pakistani intelligence agency ISIs negative role in Pakistani politics is bold and accurate to the dot.One may not agree with how the USA downsized the Afghan intelligence.My inquiries reveal that some of the most brilliant officers of the indomitable Khad were removed just because the American advisors wanted to severely reduce Russian influence.Rashids analysis of US firm Louis Burger is incomplete and not wholly correct.Louis Burgers failures in delay in building of schools was because of unprofessional sub contracting procedures and because of the fallacious policy of hiring only Afghan NGOs to do the job instead of commercial firms.Most of these NGOs were owned by political appointees and haphazardly formed to siphon the fruits of US aid.I saw the whole process myself as the Vice President of an Afghan NGO which was building schools and clinics for Louis Burger in 2004 and 2005 in Helmand ,Ghazni and Kunduz.Rashid does not have his facts correct when he states that Louis Burger had just 9 schools and 2 clinics ready in end of 2005.The number was much larger than this.Even in this case some Afghan NGOs like CDU did extremely well.



Rashids conclusion that the ISI was no longer in control of the monster of extremism that it created are valid but incomplete.What about the CIA and the Saudi intelligence the real fathers of extremism ?



On page 223 Rashid states that Pakistani artillery gave covering fire to Taliban militants infiltrating Afghanistan.This is an illogical and implausible assertion.The Talibans do not need covering fire because a very large part of Afghanistan Pakistan border is unmanned.The most important stretch in Helmand and Nimroz has hardly any Afghan NATO or US presence at all.



Rashid is harsh on the Americans,the Pakistanis as well as the Afghans.However he presents no tangible recommendations to remedy the situation.



His analysis ignores some important ground realities.First that the USA came to Afghanistan to achieve certain strategic objectives.Its aim was not altruistic or missionary.Thus the low per capita aid figure to USA.The US objective at least till 2008 has been to maintain control of about 15 plus military/air bases .The US troop strength is far below the minimum necessary to even ensure security in Afghanistan.



The control of Afghanistan still lies with the pre 1992 bureaucracy trained by the Soviets.This includes the army,the civil services,the police which was a real bastion of the leftists and above all the foreign ministry and the intelligence .All despite various reductions and purges by the USA and NATO.The Northern Alliance cadres on whom the USA tried to rely dod not simply have enough trained and educated recruits.Thus the important division in all Afghan Government in between the Maslakis ( professionals) and the Wasta dars (those who came without sufficient qualifications).



Rashid also ignores the fact that Pakistan's Islamic extremism is not the result of a sudden flight but a logical result of misuse of religion by all major Muslim leaders since 1858.



Rashids subject matter is vast and the complexities with which he is trying to deal are vast in magnitude and their dimensions.Rashid's analysis is subtle and thought provoking but marred by his extreme bias against the Taliban.This leads him repeatedly to make pre conceived statements and sweeping judgements.



Nevertheless Rashids analsyis is thought provoking and can be immensely instrumental as a catalyst in inspiring more research on the subject.My fear is that Rashid's present work is more a commercial venture with one eye on audience in the west.This is not the idealistic Rashid reporting from Kabul for the Far Eastern Economic Review.But as they say " things do not change,we change".



One may not agree with Rashids assertion about Central Asia being the new bastion of Al Qaeda.With Russia fast moving in and re-asserting it may be more difficult for the Al Qaeda to gain ascendancy in Central Asia.The provisional centre of gravity of the Al Qaeda lies in non state actors in Pakistan and the Arabian Gulf.It is going to be a long bloody war for the USA to alter this particular strategic situation.
---------------------------------
http://low-intensity-conflict-review.blogspot.com/

pavocavalry said...

Here's my half cent on NAIEVE US POLICY MAKERS who US SECOND SECRETARY DOUG SCHERER IN KABUL DESCRIBED AS " WET PUSSIES" :---

War against terror and Pakistan as a region situated on a crevass filled with lethal dynamite
War against terror and Pakistan as a region situated on a crevass filled with lethal dynamite

A.H Amin

26 October 2008




Setting aside Professors Ijaz Guls somewhat valid conspiracy theories.Setting aside the fact that the Pakistani Taliban are CIA sponsosred as the professor states.Pakistan is a dangerous place and will be lethally more dangerous in next ten years.

The Paistani state and its armed forces will be unable to control the Islamists.They simply do not have the capability to deliver.

Any US withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan would bring far greater disasters for the USA.

Many countries will take advantage of the Americans failure in the region and this would represent the Clausewitzian culminating point of USA.

The situation is very complex and the Islamists with no visible centre of gravity would be a grave threat.All this process would take its course.The struggle will be long bloody and sticky.A very messy job.I doubt if any US government democrat or republicans would be able to handle it.

As I see it and from what I have assessed,the americans have the resources but they are short on two things (1) The Resolution ,both at the strategic and tactical level (2) Grey matter ....their so called think tanks and decision makers simply do not realise the complexity of the issue and more than that its gravity.

Pakistan ,Afghanistan,Iran,Iraq ,Central Asia ,all are located on top of a deadly and highly explosive crevass.There is more to the Islamists than CIA or RAW or any state entity.They will destroy,they will create severe historical breakdowns and in the process will be destroyed but all this historically will be a long drawn affair.Many decades.This is my half cent of the situation ! Strategists like Mr Ijaz Gul should now drop some pearls of wisdom ! God Bless All !

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