Geopolitics

Is America subcontracting Afghanistan to Pakistan?
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Issue Courtesy: CLAWS | Date : 22 Mar , 2015

Henry Kissinger writes in his book ‘World Order’, “A further radicalization of the Arab world or heightened conflict in Pakistan could expose India to significant internal pressures.” What Kissinger fails to mention is the role played by the US in both scenarios – heightening conflict in the Arab world and instability within Pakistan.

Perception management by the west leaves an impression that the US has been bungling its foreign policy; creating chaos and increasing radicalization all over.

As part of disarray in the Arab world, CIA sources admitted last year that former British military officers were training ISIS in Turkey. Concurrently in 2012, Jordan media had reported ISIS was being trained in Jordan by US instructors. Could this happen without CIA and Pentagon consent? Now Washington Times of February 23 reports  deliberate leak by the Pentagon that one of its training camps to fight the ISIS is inside Jordan – much to the chagrin of latter who wanted it kept secret.

As for Pakistan, peripheral Predator attacks in the country’s northwest and giving a free hand to Pakistan to spawn terrorism is sure  recipe for implosion, Osama killing notwithstanding. Sub-conventional war has emerged with great strategic value, so big powers are indulging in proxy wars. The game involves creating and using terrorist organizations, mating them or setting them against each other, as required.

Perception management by the west leaves an impression that the US has been bungling its foreign policy; creating chaos and increasing radicalization all over. But when American historian William Blum says that the US with British collaboration since 1945 has attempted overthrowing 50 plus governments including democratically elected, interfered in elections in 30 countries, bombed civilian populations of 30 countries, used chemical and biological weapons and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders, it certainly is a well thought out strategy.

…nothing was done to elevate the Afghan economy, some 97 percent of which is still dependent on foreign aid…

Witness Obama’s uncalled for remarks about secularism in India immediately post his India visit that affected the Delhi elections and consider following US actions that are common knowledge: creation of Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban to oust the Soviets; facilitating air evacuation of Pakistani army regulars and 9000 Pakistan Taliban (including 6000 Punjabi Taliban) from Khost and Kundus during US invasion of Afghanistan; replacing Saddam’s Sunni government in Iraq with a totally Shia Maliki regime; manipulating the  Sunni-Shia war in conjunction Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE; CIA-ISI links since SEATO-CENTO days and use of Pakistani proxies by the US – one example being Pakistan Taliban fighting alongside US aided Syrian rebels to oust Assad; use of Al Qaeda in Libya, Syria and Iraq; the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban concept in connivance Pakistan; letting the ISIS Frankenstein mushroom till Baghdadi went berserk to attack Iraqi Kurds and behead westerners, permitting ISIS to smuggle out and sell US$ 3 million worth oil every day despite the US led 40 nation coalition controlling the periphery, sea, air and cyberspace, to name a few.

Post the 2009 US declaration to draw down US-NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014, Afghan’s had begun saying that they are being subcontracted to Pakistan. This was not without reason because: the US was not attacking the source of terror inside Pakistan; the draw down was planned without letting Afghanistan stabilize politically; the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was not resolved despite 13 years of US-NATO presence; expansion and strengthening of the Afghan National Army (ANA) began only in 2009 and the ANA is still grossly deficient of artillery and air; nothing was done to elevate the Afghan economy some 97 percent of which is still dependent on foreign aid, and; Taliban and associate groups have surged forward from Pakistani sanctuaries and killed some 4,600 ANA soldiers during 2014 alone.

Hamid Karzai made 20 trips to Pakistan during his 13-year Presidency hoping to find a solution and even once stated that if US attacked Pakistan, Afghanistan would side with Pakistan but Pakistan did not stop waging proxy war on Afghanistan largely because of US support to its military. Since 2013, Pakistan has trained 20 Mujahid battalions to operate as and in conjunction with Taliban and many of them may already be part of some 2,50,000 Pakistani refugees who have fled into Afghanistan. With Afghanistan’s reconciliation process driven by Pakistan’s ISI, busted myth of Afghan and Pakistan Taliban being daggers drawn and ISI links with both, Pakistan appears well poised to create its strategic depth in Afghanistan.

With Afghanistan’s reconciliation process driven by Pakistan’s ISI, busted myth of Afghan and Pakistan Taliban being daggers drawn and ISI links with both, Pakistan appears well poised to create its strategic depth in Afghanistan.

Robert Blackwill had actually proposed unofficial bifurcation of Afghanistan with south and east Afghanistan becoming an Islamic Emirate under the Taliban. The erstwhile US move to talk to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (official name of Taliban’s office in Qatar) was not different from acknowledging existence of the entity depicting the name of the office itself.

In recent years, Western Think Tanks started blaming the Indian presence in Afghanistan for instability in Afghanistan and poor Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, some even linking the happenings astride the Durand Line to the Kashmir Issue, conveniently forgetting that hostilities in Kashmir began in 1947-48 and have no link to Pakistan’s proxy war in Afghanistan.

Besides, what is there to limit when India has no military presence in Afghanistan. Yes, USA subcontracting Afghanistan to Pakistan and the latter’s sub-conventional prowess is putting pressure, for instance: President Ghani rushing into official visits to China and Pakistan without any plans announced to visit India; ANA officers going for training to Pakistan; Afghanistan withdrawing request by Karzai government for India to supply heavy weapons; Afghan MoU with a Pakistani university for sending students to Pakistan and the like.

But the underlying significant effect of the subcontracting of Afghanistan was brought out recently in an interview by Dr RD Spanta, former Foreign Minister and later NSA to Hamid Karzai who points out actions by the new Afghan government that are not meeting national interests of Afghanistan – sending their troops to Pakistan for training; allowing Pakistan’s spy agency to inspect terrorist inmates in their prisons; even changing their political literature, as Mr. Ghani said in Munich Conference that “Afghanistan is one of the terrorism centers in the world and the world should not leave us alone.” Dr Spanta believes that it is Pakistan that is the center of terrorism and Afghanistan is but a victim of terrorism. It is Pakistan that sends terrorists to Afghanistan, making Afghanistan completely change its political literature towards them (Pakistan), which was not fair.

The ISIS–Al Qaeda–TTP nexus is reportedly forming up in North Waziristan with tentacles reaching into Gilgit-Baltistan with smaller organizations in tow  like the LeJ, ASWJ, LeT, even HuM – all linked to the ISI.

Ioannis Koskinas, Senior Fellow with the International Security Program at New America compares recent US characterisations of the Afghan Taliban as  “armed insurgents, not terrorists” to George Orwell’s metaphor, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”

The ISIS has made inroads in Afghanistan’s southern and eastern provinces and its cadres have been sighted on the Tajik-Afghan border. Yes, Abdul Rauf Khadim, ISIS head in Afghanistan was killed by a US Predator attack but then US used Al Qaeda even after killing Osama. Dr Davood Moradian, Director-General of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies says Afghanistan’s democratization experiment continues to be threatened by power struggle among the elites and external powers’ anti-democratic agendas. He  points out “what remains unrecognized is the West’s complicity and hypocrisy in denying Afghan democratic aspiration and choice” and that “the Salafists and groups such as the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) concur with the Euro-centric’s cultural construction of democracy and firmly believe in the incompatibility of the democratic system with Islamic values.”

The ISIS-Al Qaeda-TTP nexus is reportedly forming up in North Waziristan with tentacles reaching into Gilgit-Baltistan with smaller organizations in tow  like the LeJ, Arab Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), LeT, even HuM- all linked to the ISI. This does leave China’s economic corridor through Pakistan in a tight spot but China had developed links with both Taliban since past several years. An Afghan Taliban delegation visited China just before President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to China in October 2014. Recently, Afghanistan handed over 15 Uighur radicals to China. China also has the economic clout to buy proxies but there are no guarantees what will happen next, given China’s clamp down in Xinjiang and the Great Game shifting to Af-Pak region with the US and China locking horns to limit each other’s influence. India will need to monitor changing dynamics of the region.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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6 thoughts on “Is America subcontracting Afghanistan to Pakistan?

  1. Afghanistan affairs proved more or less another Vietnam for US. Therefore, President Obama wanted to quickly exit honorably from the quagmire of Afghanistan problem since 2014 abandoning the basic issues for which US intervened. However, based on recommendations of security experts he continued to extend US military presence in Afghanistan. Obama may take credit for killing Osama, but the real problem of Taliban and stability of democratic governance and development in Afghanistan has not been fully addressed yet, which is very essential for eradicating terrorism from soil of Afghanistan. It requires sustained support in capacity building in internal as well external security as well as economic development for a decades or so. After inauguration of new regime its President Dr Ghani has started flirting diplomatically with Pakistan excessively that itself is a failed state. Pakistan is responsible for creating and nurturing Taliban in Afghanistan, and in that process Pakistan also got infected, and feeling the heat of terrorism in Pakistan after Wagha Border Bombing and Peshawar School Children killings. Now, US wants to give command of Afghanistan in hands of Pakistan. Pakistan will utilize Afghanistan to its strategic advantage and will try to make its colony for manufacturing and exporting terror and will utilise against its adversaries. Early exit of US will definitely create a situation in which Taliban will resurrect with new vigor and with support of ISI of Pakistan, even it may become more powerful than earlier. In that situation, perhaps it will be worst situation than 1980s and 1990s for Afghanistan as well as many neighboring countries in South Asia. In this scenario US must reconsider its military withdrawl optio from Afghanistan. In case US withdraw its military from Afghanistan, India must keep a close watch on developments in Afghanistan and re-calibrate its position on Afghanistan issue.

  2. Its not the “Great Game” any longer, its a ‘Buggers Muddle’ that the Americans have created Right from Syria to Pakistan. If Ghani thinks his answer lies in Pakistan and China he is up the wrong gum tree. He is a dead man and Afghanistan is going to be in a worst state then it was in before the Americans stepped in. Our Military has to strengthened keeping in mind the Nexus of China and Pakistan. The recent Defence Budget is pocket money. Acche DIn is a fancy and its a Vision like Nehru’s vision which let India down. We have to wake up militarily for we have no choice.

  3. Regardless of what happens in Afghanistan, India’s number one priority has to be to build its defenses far stronger than the enemy across the border. The most fundamental lesson is that India is facing an enemy who wish to seek not a political settlement but to spread Islam and Sharia. Neither negotiation with Pakistan will help nor appeasement of Muslim minority in Kashmir is going to make a difference. The Pakistani terrorism is growing as a result of religious extremism and will morph into ISIS. It is already knocking on India’s door. Their mode of operation is simple kill themselves and others who resist in the process. This base mentality grounded by their mullahs has convinced them that this life matters not but there is a jannat full of hoors waiting for them after death. Like Arabs refusing to acknowledge a rightful existence of Israel the Islamic terrorists facing India are questioning the very existence of a Hindu nation. Since 1200 AD invaders from North have tried to spread Islam by destroying the Indian civilization and failed repeatedly. Akbar’s reconciliation with Rajputs was a pragmatic decision and promptly rejected by his followers after his death. Again India is being threatened with destruction but with nuclear weapons if it counters the border terrorism. India has no choice but to fight. Needles to say there is a need for Shivaji, Patel and Bose, not a Gandhi or Nehru. Modi was elected largely because Indians were sick and tired of terrorism from Pakistan and the lack of response from the Congress party. Unfortunately, this nation once again is waiting fearful of the next Mumbai.

  4. Dear Katoch sir, salute you for a very awakening article, full of facts, figures, research & examples however politicians are same all over, region, race, religion, reason may be different but outcome is same, Americans need a fear factor to play around there dirty politics, before civil law it was black American population & communists, middle east, European & African dictators which were nurtured, trained, armed, aided by them were overthrown, assassinated, invaded as per there liking or comfort, now it’s china, Iran, ISIS, Russia, they play around one evil against other for there comfort as & when rqd, we too had such politicians in our history like Mughals had given a free hand to there Muslim army to plunder, kill, rape, assassinate non Muslims & even Muslims as per there convenience, Indira Feroze Gandhi too played her dirty politics of divide & rule, creating a movement then suppressing it, anti Muslim riots, caste based partiality, anti Sikh movement, division of states to create new like of punjab to gather votes & stay in power by different Indian politicians in there times, basically it’s to be the leader, plunder the natural resources of respective countries, weaken there economy, social/ cultural/ communal harmony by the ways of creating/ fuelling a internal or external conflict & then send mercenaries in form of armed forces, it’s a policy going around from centuries to infuriate a clan/ country/ religious minority or majority to fight against the other, Pakistan was created over hatred not for any freedom & they need to hate, fight, kill to continue as a nation, india, Afghanistan & Israel are there favourite hate spots so it should not come as shock if they r representative of Yankees for Afghan affairs.

  5. Dear Katoch sir, salute you for a very awakening article, full of facts, figures, research & examples however politicians are same all over, region, race, religion, reason may be different but outcome is same, Americans need a fear factor to play around there dirty politics, before civil law it was black American population & communists, middle east, European & African dictators which were nurtured, trained, armed, aided by them were overthrown, assassinated, invaded as per there liking or comfort, now it’s china, Iran, ISIS, Russia, they play around one evil against other for there comfort as & when rqd, we too had such politicians in our history like Mughals had given a free hand to there Muslim army to plunder, kill, rape, assassinate non Muslims & even Muslims as per there convenience, Indira Feroze Gandhi too played her dirty politics of divide & rule, creating a movement then suppressing it, anti Muslim riots, caste based partiality, anti Sikh movement, division of states to create new like of punjab to gather votes & stay in power by different Indian politicians in there times, basically it’s to be the leader, plunder the natural resources of respective countries, weaken there economy, social/ cultural/ communal harmony by the ways of creating/ fuelling a internal or external conflict & then send mercenaries in form of armed forces, it’s a policy going around from centuries to infuriate a clan/ country/ religious minority or majority to fight against the other, if you go by history Americans ve fought against those who were created, protected, aided, armed & trained by them, Russians received immence support during 2nd world war by Americans n then came the iron curtain, they tried playing india against china n aided Tibetan movement too but withdrew suddenly as per there convenience, Chinese war machinery was brushed up by Americans n west after Sino-russian war n then came the sanctions which were lifted later on economy, now they r arming india.

  6. Comprehensive and incisive as always. All the questions that the Adarsh Diplomats and the Civilian Overlords will never even try to find answers for. The US is famous for running with both the hares and the hounds. It is so convoluted that the CIA does not know what the State Department is doing and the White Hice don’t know what either are doing. Ostensiby. Like a heavily armed law less mercenary gang for hire, the US lumbers along fighting for this cause or the other or those opposed to each other. The question as always is cui bono? Who precisely profits. Who, for example, benefited from the Bombing of Belgrade, the toppling of Muamar Qadafi or the Three Trillion Dollars the US sunk and the 5,000 plus soldiers it buried in Arlington to depose Sadam Hussein apart from the Saudi (Sunni) Petro-Dollar Caliphate which expression includes Kuwait, Qatar and Pakistan? What is always lost sight of is that Taliban (students) raised in Madrassas and Mosques around the world created by the Saudis since more than forty years to keep faith with the Wahabi and funded by Qatar and Kuwait as well. After the US-Pakistan Staff College for Guerrilla Warfare called Al Qaeda (the base) became defunct when they were escaped through Tora Bora to safe Haven in Pakistan under a Pax between the US and Pakistan brokered by the Saudi, the Al Qaeda alumni have grown and multiplied to continue to train and develop Taliban being copiously produced around the World into various regiments such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Jaish e Mohammed, Al Shebab and the Pakistan Army. The smoke and mirrors of journalese that confuses these truths is largely funded by Petro Dollars and also furthered by sheer ignorance of most journalists and media personalities

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