Friday, 27 March 2009

Steps United States Must Take To Stabilise Afghanistan


By Sikander Hayat


New York Times reported recently that Pakistani spies are tacitly supporting the insurgent elements in Afghanistan to destabilise the current government. This reports highlights a very important factor which has been ignored so far. We are currently witnessing a bitter cold war between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan and until we have a resolution to this issue no amount of American or NATO effort will stabilise Afghanistan.



Americans must understand that their efforts are destined to fail if they do not take into account the considerations of the Pakistanis regarding Indian meddling in that country. For ages, Pakistan has considered Afghanistan as a friend who will defend it in case there was an invasion from the East. The greatest testament to this notion is the Azad Kashmir which was captured from India by the Afghan tribal army in 1948. Any Indian involvement in Afghanistan is viewed with suspicion in Pakistan and relatively recent development of diplomatic posts established by India all along the border with Pakistan are seen as India’s try to destabilise Pakistan.




During the war waged by the Mujahedeen (with the help of West) against the Soviets, India supported the Soviets and lost eventually when Geneva convention was signed by the warring parties and the red army left Afghanistan. After the soviets left the country, India started supporting the puppet regime of Najib Ullah, which was installed in Kabul by the Soviet Union after they left Afghanistan. India lost again when this regime was thrown out by the Mujahedeen. After that India started supporting the Northern Alliance and India lost again when it was driven out of Kabul by the Taliban. And now India is once supporting the eventual losers by backing grouping of Tajiks & Uzbeks in the hope that no Pashtun dominated government will come back and India will continue to call shorts in Afghanistan.

The most important question is this; can all Taliban be defeated. Taliban are Pashtun and one cannot fight and win against an entire ethnic group. In Iraq, America has not won but merely handed over power to most powerful reality on the ground i.e. Shia majority in most parts of the country and Sunnis in the central Iraq. What America has done in Iraq has to be replicated in Afghanistan to have some hope for peace and that is to hand over the power to the most powerful current and historical entity on the ground i.e. Pashtuns. The rest will take care of itself.




US must understand that Afghanistan cannot be stabilised until

1. India, which is not a neighbour of Afghanistan and is only there to cause irritation for Pakistan, is told to leave Afghanistan

2. Levers of power in Afghanistan are taken from the Tajiks/Uzbeks and given back to Pashtun majority who have always ruled Afghanistan

3. Jobs are created in the Pashtun belt of Afghanistan & Pakistan

4. Local culture and sensibilities are respected

These are just the starting steps but the most important ones as well.

New York Times Report A New Alliance Between Pakistani & Afghan Taliban

It seems that New York Times knows more about Taliban than even the Taliban know about themselves. The reports from New York Times about AfPak region always cite anonymous sources for their stories and there is a rising suspicion that these stories are usually based in rumours and not facts. Granted Taliban are a menace and needs to be dealt with but reconfiguring the truth to support an argument does not make for a good strategy. There may be a need for a reputed publication like New York Times to start giving some evidence as well for their reports so that truth does not become a casualty of this war.

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