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The Taliban in Paris

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Spearhead Analysis – 12.12.12
Spearhead Research

The official word from the Taliban is that they will be in Paris for discussions with the US and its western allies and with the former Northern Alliance representing the Karzai government in Afghanistan. This is an amazing development on several counts. It indicates that the Taliban are a cohesive organized group with clear cut policies and that they think that the time has come for them to be part of the reconciliation process. It is nothing short of a miracle that they have decided to become a part of the intra-Afghan dialogue supposedly led by the Afghan government but actually a joint US-Pakistan venture.

Not surprising then that President Karzai feels left out and has tried to gain a toehold by blaming the US for the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan for a recent assassination attempt on the Afghan intelligence chief. Mr Karzai knows full well that the attack could have been planned anywhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan but that does not make it something sponsored by the state of Pakistan. The US, in a recently released Pentagon report, has clearly stated that the problem in Afghanistan is the lack of state capacity in Afghanistan, the high level of corruption there and the sanctuaries in Pakistan’s western border areas (created as a result of the fighting in Afghanistan).

It is also not surprising that with the start of the end game in Afghanistan the US and Pakistan are at pains to point out that their rocky relationship is back on track – at least for the 2014 transition in Afghanistan for which the progress in 2013 is critically important. A 25 member US delegation participated in the US-Pakistan Defense Consultative Group meeting in Pakistan and both sides expressed satisfaction at the positive outcome. There have been other discussions between the two countries on energy and economic issues. The Pakistani Foreign Minister declared the US-Pakistan relationship ‘back on track’ with all issues resolved and accompanied by the Army Chief she was in Brussels for discussions and briefings that seem to have gone well.

Given the track record of the US-Pakistan relationship Pakistanis may be forgiven for asking if all this is for real and sustainable after 2014 or is it to get Pakistan on board till the transition in Afghanistan is completed without a serious mishap?. After all when the US left after the USSR exited from Afghanistan, not only was Pakistan left to face the blow-back but it was also slapped with sanctions unable to effectively support the indigenous uprising in Kashmir against Indian atrocities. Pakistan has responded positively to US overtures and the Taliban it holds are being released – free to travel and participate in the negotiations that might lead to political stability in Afghanistan. There is a realization all around that the reconciliation and dialogue track could eventually lead to the all important phase of direct US-Taliban negotiations with Pakistan’s support.

The danger of failure on the reconciliation front is that there may be reversion to a civil-war environment given the fact that warlords are alive and well. Ismail Khan’s recent gathering in Herat indicated that this could happen. There is also the realization that with continued US presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 the Taliban could not depend on external support in an all-out bid for power – as they had attempted earlier. The fact that Pakistan wants peace and stability in Afghanistan to deal with the insurgents in its western border areas and that it wants Afghanistan to deny support and sanctuaries to such groups creates convergence in objectives. Trouble may come from a split in the Afghan government ranks – if Karzai decides to play hard ball especially because of the remarkable cohesion being displayed by the Taliban. Much will also depend on how many US troops stay on in Afghanistan with guesses that put the figure anything between 10000 to 25000), what kind of a status of forces agreement is drawn up for these troops and significantly on the capacity of the Afghan security forces.

(Spearhead Analyses are the result of a collaborative effort and not attributable to a single individual)

India reiterates warning over US arms supply to Pakistan

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NEW DELHI: India described Monday the scale of US military assistance to Pakistan as “disproportionate” to Islamabad’s needs and warned that it could be used to target India.


Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he had raised New Delhi’s concerns during talks last week with visiting US National Security Advisor James Jones and Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he had raised New Delhi’s concerns during talks last week with visiting US National Security Advisor James Jones and Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.

The military equipment being supplied to Pakistan is “disproportionate to the war on terror” for which it was intended, Antony told reporters.

“We feel that there is every possibility of diverting this sophisticated equipment against India,” he was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

India has previously protested the proposed delivery of unmanned US drones to Pakistan.

Washington sees Pakistan as integral to winning the war in Afghanistan, as Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents targeting coalition forces roam the mountainous region dividing the two countries.

One day we all will be terrorists!

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By Dr Haider Mehdi

“Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism.”

– Chris Hedges (in an article of the same title)

My generation grew up in a different Pakistan. A different Lahore, a different Karachi, a different Peshawar, a different Quetta, a different Islamabad and an entirely different country.

In Lahore, people sat in Pak Tea House and Coffee House and talked about politics, poetry, religion, culture and friendships gave birth, on a daily basis, to youthful romanticism of our times: the mutual seduction of kindred spirits within the confines of our cultural values and the gentleness of Urdu poetry, songs, geets (lyrics) and the Lahori humour. We celebrated basant (the kite-flying festival), maila-charagha (the festival of lights) and Urs Data Gung-Baksh (the festival of a saint). We observed Muharram with great reverence.

Karachi used to be alive 24 hours a day all year round. It was a city of “lights”, “fashion”, hustle-bustle of a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. Ethnic diversity and tolerance was the hallmark of this city.

Peshawar was a beacon of hospitality, a tribute to human gentleness and an affirmation of a rich community life.

Quetta’s apple-laden trees decorated its roads everywhere and the Balochis colourful existence found its spirit in its music, songs and even in its cuisine. Moreover, Pakistan’s rural society existed in purity, simplicity and the zealousness of hard working people.

Pakistan was a different country then: we lived in relative peace, tolerance and mutual harmony. A delicious puri nashta cost one rupee, petrol was Rs 2.50 a gallon, schooling was cheap, sugar and food were plenty, and a round-trip by PIA from Lahore to Karachi was Rs 250.

The majority of Pakistanis were poor even then, but there was no mass starvation, deprivation suicides, forced prostitution, massive collective depressive communities, agonising socio-psychological conditions, economic collapse, and no one knew of crippling demoralising inner fears. We did not know of institutional violence and extensive state terror – though police brutality and legal system atrocities were common, bureaucracy was horribly cruel, corrupt, inefficient and unbelievably powerful vis-à-vis the citizenry, commerce thrived on black marketing and the political class wholly and completely indulged in vested interests, inappropriate use of political power and mismanagement of state affairs.

Even though we lived with a million vices as a nation, but strangely enough, life was not as painful as it is in today’s democratic Pakistan. Neither was the entire nation, every one of its citizens, gripped with such forceful, depleting and paralysing fear – a fear that the management of the survival of this country has gone out of control. A fear that we all may be blown away from existence the next moment, if not literally then at least in a metaphorical sense!

Do you realise the seriousness of our contemporary political crisis?

The present state of our deplorable existence is the work of our decade long political leadership inclusive of Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship and the incumbent political dispensation in the country.

The fundamental failure of our national policy is this country’s ruling elite’s destructive all time political-economic-military alliance with the US and its allies (now India included).

Even at the time that I have described as the “golden days” of Pakistan’s past, our ruling elite was fully and comprehensively politically engaged with the US and its allies. However the US was in a different political mode then: it was fighting its own self-invented “demons” – the communist ideology and the communist nations (though communism was not a threat – it was a political experiment to solve mass poverty). The objective of American foreign policy was global political-economic and military domination.

In the present day world, the policy objectives of the US and its allies remain same: worldwide imperialist hegemony and exploitation by the west’s multi-national corporations.

However, in the contemporary equation, the west’s enemies have been redefined: Now we are the “demons”. They have declared a war against Muslim nations, their people, their faith, their culture, their traditions, their values and customs, their history and even against their existence as we know it today. Huntington in The Clash of Civilisations warns that if we do not transform our civilisation to a western model, then we must be prepared for an ultimate obliteration through successive wars at the hands of the west: we are given no choices.

Seven hundred Pakistani citizens died in American drone attacks in 2009 alone. It is not accidental!

What the US and its western allies do not understand is that their present war is not against an economic-political ideology (communism). This war is against a people, a faith, a history, an existential reality, an entirety of a civilisation, an actual formidable historical presence and an enduring spiritual entity. They, the US and its allies (which include collaborating political elites in Muslim countries), cannot win this war. Indeed, they can unleash havoc, a wave of destruction (as they are doing now), but they cannot and will not win!

Coming back to the context of Pak-US relations, consider the following most plausible scenario in the immediate future:

Through covertly managed organised violence, collaborations, propaganda, bombings and political manipulations, the US succeeds in destabilising Pakistan to an extent of complete political chaos, limited anarchy and a near civil war situation. Under the pretext of threat to international security, American and NATO forces are moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Pakistan’s nuclear assets are seized, a puppet regime is installed: Pakistan is de-nuclearised, India (the newest US ally) becomes a dominant regional power, Iran is contained, China-Russia growing political clout is checked, the US/west’s historical global dominance is achieved – the world is saved!

Is that what the Pakistani nation wants and deserves?

Imran Khan’s perspective on Pakistan’s foreign policy and domestic priorities is correct: we need to politically-militarily disengage Pakistan from the US/west’s global objectives. We need to immediately end this so-called War on Terror against our own citizens. We need to negotiate peace with political dissidents in NWFP, Balochistan and in every corner of Pakistan. We must appreciate the fact that political dissent is not terror!

We ought to, by engaging our own citizens and political dissidents, quietly and secretly do a complete “cleansing” of the foreign elements and local collaborators involved in organised violence in our country. This can only be accomplished by a determined, independent, nationalist and highly efficient political leadership that can make the national policy without American influence and interference. And this is the ultimate requirement of our times.

At last, Mian Nawaz Sharif said something right the other day: the public in Pakistan needs to think in revolutionary ways now.

Allow me to go one step further: what we need is a revolutionary political leadership in this country. We deserve a change in the political mindset and political conduct of this nation’s leaders. We need fresh leadership in Pakistan.

We all do not need to be politically loyal to our contemporary political dispensation or to our present political allies. We must completely reject a global political system of US/west’s dominance.

We all ought to be political dissidents! After all, dissent is a vital element of the democratic political process. It is a duty of an engaged citizenry!

One day we all might be considered terrorists by our western “friends”.

Never mind. So be it!

The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert.
Email: hl_mehdi@hotmail.com

Written by rohitkumarsviews

January 15, 2010 at 5:59 am