Original Articles

General Ahmad Shuja Pasha’s letter to Mullah Baradar – by Hakim Hazik

A man believed to be Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in a photograph taken in 1998, given to The New York Times by a former photographer for the Taliban. Photo – New York Times

Article cross-posted from: Justice Denied

Brother Brother and Brother Pasha
Extraordinary Rendition
By: Hakim Hazik

Dear Brother,

Do you seriously think that you can talk to the infidel Americans and the running dog Karzai while sitting in the citadel of Islam and enjoying the peace and prosperity of the city of Karachi? Do you think you can carry on behind our back while partaking of prime quality snuff, provided courtesy of the International Sensitive Agency?

You must be out of your mind brother Brother. You could easily find yourself at the wrong end of a drone fired missile. You could quite as easily find yourself on a trash heap outside Turbat, with a bullet firmly lodged in the back of the head. They would never find the empty shells brother; that’s the standard operative procedure. Anonymous bullets and dead men tell no tales.

You can run dear brother Brother, but you cannot hide. You can go to Maldives or you can go to the Oruzgan Province but in the end you will have to come home to daddy in the headquarters of the Agency. This is where you and I belong brother Brother. This is where you must come to sip your green tea and have your beard trimmed to the length prescribed by Sharia.

Oh oh, these manacles seem to have caused some abrasions to your hardy skin. Shall I get the batman to bring a turmeric dressing? It can be quite soothing really. Do you want some sugar lumps with your green tea? No no, it is no trouble at all. You must remember brother Brother you could easily have been sipping arsenic. Unlike sugar, there is no shortage. This is the land of the plenty. And as you know we have so many exotic spices and condiments in our warehouse.

When you get into bed with Karzai without telling us, don’t expect the earth to move. Nothing will move brother Brother, without our permission. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, least of all Holbrooke. Have you forgotten what has happened to Baitullah? Can you tell me where Hakimullah is today? Are you not aware of the fate of the 3 wives and 39 children of Haqqani? Helfires are precise munitions brother, but science is not infallible. You can never rule out human error.

Remember, it is us who look after the Shura. Quetta is crawling with spies brother. It is certainly no safer than Waziristan. If you want to go and talk to Amir ul Momineen, if you have received pleas for help from the infidels, that is fine. But you need someone to be watching your back. It is for your own safety. You should not wander into the unchartered territory. Our concerns are based on brotherly love only.

And yes, don’t make any mistakes. I am not in a hurry to retire. The summary is on the table of Sipah Salar Sahib. I should be around at least for another year to support you and help your through these difficult times.

I am my brother Brother’s keeper.

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  • Taliban talks halted by Pakistan arrests: UN envoy

    Friday, 19 Mar, 2010

    The Pakistanis did not play the role they should have played, they must have known about this, Former UN special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide said.

    LONDON: The arrest of key Taliban leaders in Pakistan stopped a secret channel of communications with the United Nations, the former UN special representative to Afghanistan said Friday in a BBC interview.
    Kai Eide, who stepped down from the post earlier this month, confirmed for the first time that he had been holding talks with senior Taliban figures and said they started around a year ago, AFP reported.

    Face-to-face talks were held with “senior figures in the Taliban leadership” in Dubai and other locations, said the diplomat, adding he believed the movement’s leader Mullah Omar had given the process the green light.

    “Of course I met Taliban leaders during the time I was in Afghanistan,” the Norwegian diplomat told the broadcaster at his home outside Oslo.

    “The first contact was probably last spring, then of course you moved into the election process where there was a lull in activity.”

    Eide said that “communication picked up when the election process was over, and it continued to pick up until a certain moment a few weeks ago.”

    He was referring to the arrest of senior Taliban commanders in Pakistan in recent weeks, a move which had been welcomed in the United States as a sign of the country’s increasing willingness to track down Afghan militant leaders.

    But the diplomat said the detentions had a “negative” effect on attempts to find a political solution to the eight-year-old Afghan war and suggested Pakistan had deliberately tried to undermine the negotiations.

    He also said there were now many channels of communication with the Taliban, including with representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    Eide said these contacts were “in the early stages … talks about talks”, adding it would take a long time before there was enough confidence between both sides to really move forward.

    “The effect of the arrests, in total, certainly was negative on our possibilities to continue the political process that we saw as so necessary at that particular juncture,” he said.

    “The Pakistanis did not play the role they should have played. They must have known about this,” said Eide.

    “I don’t believe these people were arrested by coincidence. They must have known who they were, what kind of role they were playing — and you see the result today.”

    Pakistani officials have insisted the arrests were not aimed at wrecking the talks, the BBC reported.

    Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured last month in the southern Pakastani city of Karachi, in what US media said was a joint operation with American spies.

    Other senior Taliban commanders have also reportedly been captured in Pakistan recently.

    Reports first emerged that Eide met Taliban figures after an international conference on Afghanistan in London in January.

    Asked about the level of contact in the talks, Eide told the BBC: “We met senior figures in the Taliban leadership and we also met people who have the authority of the Quetta Shura to engage in that kind of discussion.”

    The Quetta Shura is the name given to the Taliban leadership council, which takes its name from the city of Quetta where the senior members of the militia are thought to have been based.

    Asked whether the leader of the Taliban movement Mullah Omar would have known about the talks, he said: “I find it unthinkable that such contact would take place without his knowledge and also without his acceptance.”

    Eide stepped down from his position as United Nations representative in Afghanistan earlier this month after two years in the post which saw violence escalate and the UN role in fraud-tainted elections mired in controversy.


  • Karzai furious at Taleban militant’s arrest
    By Kathy Gannon and Deb RiechmannView as one page
    Mar 17, 2010

    Hamid Karzai says overtures to the Taleban will fail without unified Western backing. Photo / AP

    KABUL – The Afghan Government was holding secret talks with the Taleban’s No 2 when he was captured in Pakistan, and the arrest infuriated President Hamid Karzai, says one of Karzai’s advisers.

    The detention of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar – second in the Taleban only to Mullah Mohammed Omar – has raised new questions about whether the United States is willing to back peace discussions with leaders who harboured the terrorists behind the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Karzai was very angry when he heard that the Pakistanis had picked up Baradar with help from US intelligence, the adviser said. Besides the ongoing talks, he said Baradar had “given a green light” to taking part in a three-day peace jirga that Karzai is hosting next month.

    Other Afghan officials, including Abdul Ali Shamsi, security adviser to the Governor of Helmand province, also confirmed talks between Baradar and the Afghan Government.

    Talking to the Taleban is gaining traction in Afghanistan as thousands of US and Nato reinforcements are streaming in to reverse the Taleban’s momentum.

    That has prompted Pakistan and others to stake out their positions on possible reconciliation negotiations that could mean an endgame to the eight-year war.

    Officials have disclosed little about how Baradar was nabbed last month in the port city of Karachi. The capture was part of a US-backed crackdown in which the Pakistanis also arrested several other Afghan Taleban figures after years of being accused by Washington of doing little to stop them.

    Members of Karzai’s Administration accused Pakistan of picking up Baradar either to sabotage or gain control of talks with the Taleban leaders.

    Top United Nations and British officials emphasised last week that the time to talk to the Taleban is now. The Afghan Government has plans to offer economic incentives to coax low and mid-level fighters off the battlefield. Last week Karzai said he and his Western allies were at odds over who should be at the negotiating table. Karzai said the US was expressing reservations about talks with the top echelon of the Taleban while the British were “pushing for an acceleration” in the negotiation process. “Our allies are not always talking the same language.”

    Karzai said overtures to the Taleban stood little chance of success without the support of international partners. He says his previous attempts to negotiate were not fruitful because “sections of the international community undermined … our efforts”.

    During his trip to Afghanistan last week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said it was premature to expect senior members of the Taleban to reconcile with the Government. Until the insurgents believe they can’t win the war, they won’t come to the table.

    A US military official in Kabul said the US is still debating the timing of the Afghan Government’s outreach to senior leaders of three main Afghan insurgent groups – Omar; Jalaluddin Haqqani, who runs an al Qaeda-linked organisation; and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the boss of the powerful Hezb-e-Islami.

    Shamsi said: “The Government has been negotiating with Mullah Baradar, who took an offer to the Taleban shura.”

    Shamsi said he’d seen intelligence reports indicating that Omar resisted the offer and that Baradar’s rivals within the Taleban leadership were fiercely opposed to any negotiations with the Afghan Government.

    An intelligence official in southern Afghanistan said there were reports that Omar was angry about Baradar’s negotiations with the Government and asked Pakistani intelligence officials to arrest him. The top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal said recently that it was plausible that Baradar’s arrest followed an internal feud and purge among Taleban leaders.

    – AP

    By Kathy Gannon and Deb Riechmann


  • The mystery of Baradar and Gadahn: a new ‘End Game’?
    Shaukat Qadir
    Last Updated: March 16. 2010 11:29PM UAE / March 16. 2010 7:29PM GMT
    On February 16, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who headed the so-called Balochistan Shura (the council of religious elders), was captured in a joint effort by US and Pakistani intelligence agencies. It appeared to herald a fresh era of enhanced co-operation between the intelligence agencies of the two countries. Within days of this event, three other prominent Taliban leaders were also captured by Pakistani security agencies including Maulvi Abdul Kabir, who headed the North-West Frontier Province Shura.

    Since then, there also have been a number of high-profile targeted killings of terror suspects: Maulvi Nazir Mohahammed, Qari Ziaur Rahman and Omer Rahman were all reported to have been killed by an air strike in Bajaur.

    And finally there is the mystery of Adam Yahiye Gadahn, an American who changed his name from Adam Pearlman and now operates under numerous aliases. One of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives with a $1 million bounty on his head, Gadahn was reportedly also apprehended, but the very next day Pakistani officials said that a mistake had been made due to the similarity of names.

    The individual they had actually captured was Abu Yahya Majadin Adam. The names don’t seem that similar and the media has splattered Gadahn’s face across their front pages. Was there a startling resemblance as well?

    What should be pointed out is that if the captured individual was American and on the FBI’s most wanted list, it would be virtually impossible for Pakistan to resist his extradition. Is that the explanation for the mistaken identity?

    After Baradar was arrested, the generally accepted view was that he would be debriefed by Pakistani agencies before being handed over to the US. Within a week of his capture, Pakistani security spokesmen clarified that he would be kept in Pakistan. Afghanistan’s request for extradition was also turned down. Significantly, the US’s protests have been surprisingly mild.

    On the one hand, it seems that Pakistan can never do enough to satisfy the West. The perpetual litany of “do more” has been plaguing the nation, despite its acknowledged heavy toll of civilian and military casualties. Now that it is succeeding, not only militarily, but also in capturing prominent leaders of the Taliban hidden on its territory, fresh conspiracy theories are being aired from Pakistan succumbing to US pressure to the “End Game” scenario.

    One of the most prominent is that Baradar arranged his own capture to negotiate with the Americans, who presumably would arrange for the demise of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar before organising an “escape” for Baradar. Meanwhile, his “confessions” ensure the capture or elimination of hardliners who might pose a challenge to negotiations.

    While I cannot claim any personal knowledge of Baradar that contradicts this theory, it does seem to run contrary to his history. He is a resident of the same province of Uruzgan in southern Afghanistan as Omar and both of them belong to the same respected Afghan tribe, the Popalzai Durranis – as does Hamid Karzai.

    Baradar was also the first to make an oath of allegiance to Omar during their historic campaign to capture Kabul. In 2001, when Omar was virtually surrounded by US forces in Kandahar and looking at imminent death or capture, Baradar ran the gauntlet to rescue his leader. He made Omar wear a burqa and drove him to safety on a motorbike with Omar riding pillion side-saddle, as a woman would. (It is rumoured that Omar married the woman who volunteered her burqa for the escape).

    Baradar has been, however, one of the strongest voices advocating negotiations with the Americans.

    Another rumour is that Omar engineered a reverse sting operation to remove the most pressing thorn in his side, thus eliminating the strongest voice for negotiations.

    Admittedly, the sudden shift in Pakistan’s security policy in successfully capturing and killing high-profile individuals that it had been avoiding deserves some explanation. There is one certain point: Pakistan’s political masters have shifted all decisions relating to security to army general headquarters (GHQ).

    The Pakistani army chief, Ashfaq Kayani, has correctly stated that Pakistan does not want a “Talibanised Afghanistan” and that a peaceful Afghanistan is a necessity for a peaceful Pakistan.

    Is it possible that the United States and the Karzai government are coming around to the view that Afghanistan’s future is tied primarily to Pakistan. Does Baradar’s capture indicate a new era of co-operation?

    For those who might not recall, Mr Karzai’s father was gunned down in the streets of Quetta in 1999, probably by the Taliban. Karzai believed at the time that he might be killed by Pakistan’s Internal Security Services. He has a legitimate complaint against Pakistan, which was very visible during the Musharraf era, but has steadily eroded since.

    A recognition of Pakistan’s importance is also visible in US policy. Statements that “Peace in Afghanistan is essential to ensure peace in Pakistan” – not vice versa – have become more frequent, as have official and “unannounced” visits to GHQ in the last few weeks.

    Are we finally, at long last, witnessing an “End Game” that has been agreed upon by these three countries and is being sold to Afghanistan’s other neighbours? Time will tell. I can only hope that whatever is in the offing is acceptable to the Afghans collectively, otherwise it will not work.

    Brig Gen Shaukat Qadir is a former Pakistani infantry officer


  • Pakistan refuses to hand over captured Taliban leaders to Afghanistan
    Islamabad cites concerns detainees may be freed or transferred to US custody, though broader geopolitics may also be at play

    Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 March 2010 17.57 GMT

    Pakistan is refusing to hand over captured Taliban leaders to Afghanistan on the grounds that they could be released or transferred to the US, according to officials familiar with the negotiations.

    The refusal to extradite Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader and military commander, together with several regional insurgent commanders seized by Pakistani forces in recent weeks, has deepened uncertainty over Islamabad’s motives.

    “Pakistan has not yet made a decision on whether it is ready to enter into comprehensive peace talks on Afghanistan. There’s a big debate going on inside the Pakistani leadership and it has not yet been resolved,” a senior western official said.

    Mediators involved in back-channel talks with the Taliban have told the Guardian that Baradar took part in the dialogue and appeared interested in a negotiated peace. There had been speculation that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) had arrested Baradar in Karachi last month because of those talks, and because he had bypassed Pakistan.

    However, according to officials in Washington and Islamabad, Baradar’s capture was a joint US-Pakistani operation triggered by intelligence provided by the Americans.

    According to this account, Pakistan may not have had a choice over Baradar’s capture. But Islamabad has had a say over what happens to the Taliban leader and his fellow insurgent commanders now in Pakistani cells. The government rebuffed US requests for them to be transferred to American custody but had initially appeared open to an Afghan extradition request.

    “When we receive a formal request from the Afghan government, we will honour it,” Rehman Malik, the interior minister, said in February.

    That door now appears to have been shut.

    “He’ll not be handed over to Afghanistan or to any other country. Many Taliban leaders who have been handed over to Afghanistan have been released or handed over to the Americans,” an official said.

    Kabul exchanged Taliban prisoners for an Italian journalist at Rome’s prompting in 2007, and has released former Guantánamo inmates, one of whom, Abdul Qayyum, is now said to be running the Taliban’s military operations in Baradar’s absence.

    The movement’s overall leader, Mullah Omar, is widely reported to be in hiding inside Pakistan and cut off from day-to-day operations to ensure he is not tracked down.

    Despite a wave of recent Taliban arrests, it remains unclear whether the ISI is ready to sever support completely for an insurgency it sees as a bulwark against encirclement by India and its Afghan allies.

    A western expert on the Taliban, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the ISI’s role, said: “The ISI continues to be one of the main sources of discipline in the Taliban and the number one rule is ‘no flirting’ … If there is a deal it will go through Pakistan, and take Pakistani interests into account.”

    In a speech last week, Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, said Pakistan would be critical to finding a regional solution to the conflict.

    “Pakistan is essential here. It holds many of the keys to security and dialogue. It clearly has to be a partner in finding solutions in Afghanistan,” Miliband said. But he added: “Fears about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan need to be addressed.”

    Kabul, Islamabad and other regional capitals are also said to be waiting for a clear sign from Washington that the Obama administration will put its full backing behind the search for a political settlement.

    “The US has not yet decided that the timing is right, and it has not yet bitten the bullet on what the best international element in the process should be,” said Michael Semple, a former UN and EU representative with a long history of contacts with the Taliban.

    Semple, now at the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, added: “If the Americans come on board and decide to go the international organisation route and, say, come up with an acceptable Muslim with a UN mandate, then all sorts of interesting outcomes are possible.”


  • Excellent piece of satire!

    To be fair, here is another side of the story. Holbrooke seems to be gratified by the arrest of Taliban leaders:

    US “gratified” by Pakistani arrests of Taliban leaders
    By Anwar Iqbal
    Saturday, 20 Mar, 2010

    The arrests brought more pressure on the Taliban and the move was good for the military operation in Afghanistan, US special envoy Holbrooke said.

    WASHINGTON: The United States is “extremely gratified” that Pakistan has arrested key Taliban leaders, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Friday when asked to comment on a former UN official’s statement that the arrests had squandered Afghan peace efforts.
    At a briefing at the State Department on the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue, Mr Holbrooke also indicated greater US interests in helping Pakistan overcome the grave energy crisis that has paralysed the Pakistani economy.

    “These will be very broad and very complex” talks, said Mr Holbrooke when asked if the US would also consider Pakistan’s request for nuclear reactors for producing electricity.

    Mr Holbrooke came to the briefing from the White House where he attended a meeting of senior US officials who will participate in the strategic dialogue with Pakistan.

    He described the forthcoming talks as the most important ever between the two countries and also said that the level of participation would be higher than ever before.

    Mr Holbrooke confirmed that Gen Ashfaq Kayani, US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, Chairman of Joints Chiefs of Staff Adm Mike Mullen and other military officials will participate in the dialogue. Pakistan, he said, was also sending its director general for military operations. The DGMO usually focuses on India and his participation indicates that relations between the two neighbours may also figure prominently in the talks.

    But one issue that got immediate attention emerged from a statement earlier on Friday by Kai Eide, the former UN special representative to Afghanistan. In an interview to BBC, he said that the arrest of key Taliban leaders in Pakistan blocked a secret channel of communications between the United Nations and the militant Afghan group.

    “We are extremely gratified that Pakistan apprehended the number two (Taliban leader) and others,” said Mr Holbrooke when asked if the US supported the move. He said the arrests brought “more pressure” on the Taliban than before and the move was “good for the military operation” in Afghanistan.

    Mr Holbrooke’s statement differs sharply from Mr Eide’s who claimed that the detentions had a “negative” effect on attempts to find a political solution to the eight-year-old Afghan war.


  • Whose agenda?

    Sunday, March 21, 2010
    Sometimes cats and bags part company in spectacular fashion. A mass feline liberation has recently been performed by somebody more famed for his reticence than his loquacity – Kai Eide, the former UN envoy to Afghanistan who stepped down a month ago. In a detailed interview broadcast by the BBC he told of UN contact with the Quetta Shura (an entity whose existence was long denied by all and sundry) about a range of military and humanitarian matters, and of ‘talks about talks’ with senior members of the Taliban in Dubai and elsewhere. These precursor talks had been going on since early in 2009 and came to an abrupt end with the arrest of Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi, the result of a joint Pakistan-US intelligence operation. He was highly critical of this and other arrests and made it clear that they were a significant impediment to establishing a dialogue that could lead to a peace process in Afghanistan.

    At this point differing agendas come into view. The UN, working with the Afghan government, had been pursuing dialogue with the Taliban. There is an upcoming jirga at which it was expected that Baradar would have a significant role. This is not the agenda that the Americans are pursuing. Their perspective is that they have the Taliban on the back foot and that now is the time for fighting and not talking. It is inconceivable that the Americans and we were unaware of the back-channel communications between the Taliban and the UN; and hence the question of whose agenda has primacy comes into focus. America has long pressured us to ‘do more’. Thus, we cooperate with America in the arrest of members of the Quetta Shura, almost certainly in the knowledge that by doing so a nascent peace process will get stalled, if not killed off entirely. Is this in our best interests? It is if it is added to the ‘credit side’ by the Americans who daily tot up the trust deficit, it isn’t if we are to look to our own future relationship with the Afghan government and our part in any emerging peace in Afghanistan. The Americans will be gone in five years at most. Pakistan and Afghanistan will still be neighbours a century from now. Whose agenda do we really need to prioritise, and when do our own needs and interests assume primacy?


  • کھایا پیا کچھ نہیں، گلاس توڑا۔ ۔ ۔

    وسعت اللہ خان
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، اسلام آباد
    افغانستان اور پاکستان سے متعلق خصوصی امریکی ایلچی رچرڈ ہالبروک نے کہا ہے کہ اہم طالبان رہنما پکڑنے کے لئے مستعدی دکھانے پر امریکہ پاکستان کا شکر گذار ہے۔ تاہم امریکی حمایت یافتہ افغان صدر حامد کرزئی کے ترجمان سیماک ہراوی نے کہا ہے کہ پاکستان کی جانب سے ملا عبدالغنی برادر اور آغا جان مستقیم جیسی شخصیات کی گرفتاری سے طالبان کو بات چیت کی میز پر لانے کی افغان کوششوں پر منفی اثر پڑا ہے۔ جبکہ اقوامِ متحدہ کے سابق ایلچی برائے افغانستان کائی ایڈی کا بھی کہنا ہے کہ پاکستانی اسٹیبلشمنٹ کی جانب سے حالیہ گرفتاریوں کے سبب طالبان سے مذاکرات کا خفیہ چینل فی الحال بند ہوگیا ہے۔

    ملا عبدالغنی برادر اور آغا جان مستقیم جیسی شخصیات کی گرفتاری سے طالبان کو بات چیت کی میز پر لانے کی افغان کوششوں پر منفی اثر پڑا ہے۔

    فرض کیجیے کہ پاکستان نے حالیہ دنوں میں افغان طالبان قیادت کو پکڑنے کے لئے اچانک جو پھرتیاں دکھائی ہیں اسکا مقصد مذاکراتی عمل کو سبوتاژ کرنا ہے۔ سوال یہ ہے کہ پاکستان ایسا کیوں نہ کرے؟

    پاکستان کا اندازہ ہے کہ دہشت گردی کے خلاف جنگ کے دوران پچھلے آٹھ برس میں اسکی معیشت کو پینتیس سے چالیس بلین ڈالر کا براہ راست اور بلا واسطہ نقصان پہنچا ہے۔اس عرصے میں پاکستان کا قرضہ پینتیس بلین ڈالر سے چون بلین ڈالر تک پہنچ گیا ہے۔ پاکستان کو اس لڑائی میں وعدہ کردہ کولیشن سپورٹ فنڈ کے ساڑھے تین ارب ڈالر کی واجب الادا رقم میں سے اب تک صرف نوے کروڑ ڈالر ہی مل سکے ہیں۔ جنگ سے متاثرہ پناہ گزینوں کی امداد کے لئے بین الاقوامی برادری کی جانب سے وعدہ کردہ پچاس ارب روپے میں سے صرف بیس ارب روپے ملے ہیں اور ٹوکیو میں فرینڈز آف ڈیموکریٹک پاکستان کے اجلاس میں مخیر ممالک نے جن سینتالیس ارب روپے کا وعدہ کیا تھا اس میں سے صرف پانچ ارب روپے مل سکے ہیں۔ جبکہ کیری لوگر بل کے تحت ڈیڑھ ارب ڈالر سالانہ کی امداد کا بھی پاکستان کو تاحال انتظار ہے۔

    ایک طرف پاکستانی معیشت کی حالت روز بروز پتلی ہو رہی ہے اور دوسری جانب پاکستان کی فوجی و سیاسی قیادت کو ابھی تک کابل یا واشنگٹن کی اعلی قیادت نے غالباً ٹھوس یقین نہیں دلایا کہ افغانستان سے امریکی اور ناٹو افواج کے انخلا کی صورت میں پاکستان کے مفادات کا نئے ڈھانچے میں کتنا خیال رکھا جائے گا یا افغانستان میں دوبارہ کوئی ایسی انتظامیہ اقتدار میں آجائے گی جو پاکستان کے مقابلے میں بھارت، ایران اور روس سے زیادہ قربت محسوس کرے۔

    ان حالات میں پاکستان اگر یہ محسوس کررہا ہے کہ نہ تو دھشت گردی کے خلاف جنگ اسکے مالی مسائل حل کر رہی ہے اور نہ ہی اسے علاقائی اثر و رسوخ کی بندر بانٹ میں حصہ دار بنایا جا رہا ہے تو پھر پاکستان کسی بھی طرح کی امن کوششوں کو کیوں ناکام نہ بنائے؟

    دوسرا سوال یہ ہے کہ افغان حکومت اور اقوامِ متحدہ کے سابق ایلچی کیوں پاکستان پر امن مذاکرات سبو تاژ کرنے کا الزام لگا رہے ہیں جبکہ امریکی قیادت طالبان قیادت کو پکڑنے کی پاکستانی کوششوں کی کیوں تعریف کر رہی ہے؟

    اہم طالبان رہنما پکڑنے کے لئے مستعدی دکھانے پر امریکہ پاکستان کا شکر گذار ہے۔

    مسئلہ یہ ہے کہ امریکہ جو اب تک پاکستان پر طالبان کے بارے میں دوہری پالیسی برتنے کا الزام لگاتا آیا ہے کس منہ سے پاکستان میں موجود طالبان قیادت کی گرفتاریوں کی مخالفت کرے گا۔ حالانکہ اس وقت یہ گرفتاریاں امریکہ کے امن مذاکرات اور فوجی انخلا کی حکمتِ عملی کی کمر میں لگنے والے اس گھونسے کی طرح ہیں جس کے بعد کیفیت یہ ہوتی ہے کہ نہ آپ ہنس سکتے ہیں نہ رو سکتے ہیں۔ شائد اسی لئے امریکہ ان گرفتاریوں پر حامد کرزئی کے ترجمان اور اقوامِ متحدہ کے سابق اہلکار کائی ایڈی کی زبان میں نا خوشی کا اظہار کر رہا ہے ۔

    فی الحال تو لگ یہ رہا ہے کہ پاکستان رفتہ رفتہ اپنی نئی حکمتِ عملی کے سبب افغان مسئلے کے حل میں ایک ناگزیر فریق کے طور پر ابھر رہا ہے اور اس دفعہ پاکستان شائد اپنا وہ تلخ تجربہ دھرانے کے موڈ میں نہیں لگتا


    کھایا پیا کچھ نہیں، گلاس توڑا، بارہ آنے!!!


  • Talks with the Taliban
    Dawn Editorial
    Sunday, 21 Mar, 2010

    The Pakistani intelligence agencies acted on ‘actionable intelligence’ given by outsiders without realising that Afghan Taliban leaders such as Mullah Baradar would also be netted in the raids. – Photo by Reuters.
    Pakistan will be privy to talks with Taliban: Karzai
    Pakistan will be privy to talks with Taliban: Karzai
    The former top UN official in Afghanistan has come out and publicly claimed what many have been arguing privately. He has said that the recent arrests in Pakistan of senior Afghan Taliban leaders, headlined of course by that of Mullah Baradar, was a deliberate attempt by the security establishment here to scuttle the possibility of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

    The logic goes something like this: Pakistan has clearly indicated that it wants to be a central player in any process that decides what a post-war Afghanistan will look like; any channels of communication with the Afghan Taliban that do not include Pakistan threaten its self-professed ‘central player’ status; therefore the Pakistan Army-led security establishment moved to shut down what amounted to tentative ‘talks about talks’.

    Demonstrating the terrible opaqueness of what may be happening, there is a counter-narrative available — that the Pakistan Army has finally ‘got it’ and has begun the process of a ‘strategic shift’ from its long-standing policy of a benign approach towards the Afghan Taliban. The middle ground between these two theories is occupied by a third, more mundane explanation. The Pakistani intelligence agencies acted on ‘actionable intelligence’ given by outsiders without realising that Afghan Taliban leaders such as Mullah Baradar would also be netted in the raids. So which of the three, mutually exclusive explanations is true? Since the handful of people in a position to know the truth are not talking, little can be said with any certainty.

    The competing explanations, however, overlook at least two fundamental problems with this whole business of ‘talks about talks’. First, with the Americans focused on the military surge, the possibility of talks any time soon is remote. True, the Karzai-led Afghan government is pushing hard for talks with the Taliban and the British have cautiously backed the idea, but the Americans are the real locus of power in Afghanistan. The American approach is reasonably well known by now. The Americans hope that the surge will dent the Taliban insurgency and force the Taliban to negotiate from a position of weakness later. So whatever Kai Eide, the former special representative of the UN, was doing and whoever he was talking to, the possibility of achieving any ‘breakthroughs’ would have been very low. Already, other UN officials have come forward to contradict Mr Eide’s remarks. Second, what even vaguely could be the common ground between the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul government backed by foreign powers? The two sides have antithetical visions for Afghanistan’s future and no one has yet been able to explain how those two visions can both be accommodated in the same set-up.


  • Talks not an option yet

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010
    Rahimullah Yusufzai

    The recent disclosure by Kai Eide, the former United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, about his secret contacts with the Taliban received wide publicity and triggered a controversy. The issue being debated is whether the Taliban representatives held meetings with him and other UN officials and if their contacts broke down following the arrest of Mulla Abdul Ghani Biradar and other Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan.

    If one were to believe the Norwegian diplomat, who until last month was the UN secretary general’s special representative in Afghanistan, he managed to open a channel of communication with the Taliban in spring last year and met some of their leaders in Dubai and elsewhere. In fact, he claims that he met the members of the Taliban central Shura, or the Quetta Shura, as it is referred to by western officials and media. He believes that the Taliban supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar had authorised the meetings.

    Kai Eide had made a similar claim earlier also when he was still the UN special envoy in Kabul, but his recent statement about the issue was more specific and elaborate. In fact, the statement was issued to complain that Pakistan’s decision to arrest the Afghan Taliban leaders had abruptly halted the channel of secret communications that he had built over the past year. He thought Islamabad made the move to take control of the situation in case the US and its allies decided to negotiate with the Taliban. Pakistan rejected the accusation and insisted that the arrests had no link with any talks with the Taliban. The US, too, appeared to be siding with Pakistan as its officials continued to hail the Taliban arrests in Pakistan. Not yet keen on holding dialogue with high-ranking Taliban figures such as Mulla Omar and in the midst of a big military campaign aimed at wresting control of the Taliban-held territory in south-western Afghanistan, the US apparently wasn’t bothered by the prospect of Taliban arrests undermining the nascent Afghan peace process.

    Twice in two days, the Taliban denied Kai Eide’s claim about his secret contacts with the Taliban leadership and termed it baseless. Alleging that it was an effort to create mistrust in Taliban ranks, they reminded that similar false claims were made in the past about Taliban taking part in reconciliation meetings in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Maldives. They also denied the involvement of Mulla Biradar, the deputy Taliban leader now in Pakistan’s custody, in talks with UN officials or Afghan government and demanded evidence from those making such claims. The only way to end the Afghan conflict, according to the Taliban, was the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

    Even if one were to wish so, the Taliban refuse to go away. They have been around as an organised force in Afghanistan since 1994/95 and were able to stage a comeback after suffering defeat and losing power in late 2001 as a result of the US invasion. The efforts by the US-led NATO forces to sustain the Afghan government in power are proving costly in terms of human and material losses. Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is now widespread in the western countries that have deployed their troops there, and bringing the soldiers home has become a popular demand. Talking to the Taliban and trying to negotiate a political solution is increasingly being seen in Kabul, Washington and other western capitals as necessary to supplement the military initiative and stabilise the situation.

    However, there is no evidence that any serious initiative has been made to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Even Kai Eide’s reported contacts with the Taliban were, in fact, “talks about talks” that had been ongoing for a year or so and were yet to enter the stage of a formal dialogue mandated by the US and other real parties to the conflict. Though the UN’s former Afghanistan envoy is claiming that there had been an increase in the intensity of contacts with the Taliban, it is obvious that these talks were still of an exploratory nature. Kai Eide may have kept Kabul and certain western capitals informed about his contacts with the Taliban, but it appears that neither the Taliban nor other major parties to the Afghan conflict were taking these apparently informal contacts seriously. None of the combatants have until now shown any flexibility in their stance towards each other and there isn’t much hope that the US and its allies would become involved in meaningful talks with the Taliban any time soon.

    Despite Taliban denials, it seems their representatives did maintain contacts with the UN officials and held one or two meetings with Kai Eide. In fact, the Taliban haven’t been averse to maintaining contacts with the UN, International Committee of the Red Cross and certain private institutions due to the specific nature of the job performed by these organisations. The name of Muhtasim Agha Jan, the former Taliban finance minister, has been mentioned as someone who held talks with the UN officials. He was reportedly removed from his job as the head of Taliban finances some eight months ago after detection of irregularities in the accounts. He is among the Afghan Taliban leaders now in custody in Pakistan.

    The Afghan government, too, has been sending emissaries to contact the Taliban Shura members. As President Hamid Karzai recently mentioned, he has been offering talks to the Taliban for the last three years now. Despite US reservations, he even invited Mulla Omar to come to Kabul for peace talks and offered to guarantee his security. On one occasion, Karzai asked for Mulla Omar’s address so that he could go and meet him at his hideout. Mulla Omar’s summary rejection of every offer of talks by Karzai hasn’t stopped the Afghan president from trying again. However, Karzai’s talks offer lacks substance as he has yet to persuade his American benefactors to help create the right conditions for starting a credible peace process. This could only happen if the names of the top Taliban leaders with whom Karzai wants to negotiate are removed from the UN ‘blacklist’ and all sanctions against them are lifted. The US offers of head-money against Mulla Omar and other Taliban leaders would also need to be withdrawn as part of the confidence building measures.

    For obvious reasons, the US doesn’t want to let the Taliban off the hook at this stage. Rather, it is applying greater pressure on the Taliban through its military and civilian ‘surge’ in Afghanistan to weaken them to such an extent that they no longer are able to dictate terms to the US and its NATO allies, and instead, agree to peace talks and a deal on terms dictated by Washington and Kabul. For this reason, President Karzai was allowed to offer ‘reintegration’ involving money and jobs to low-ranking Taliban commanders and fighters willing to stop fighting. There is no offer of ‘reconciliation’ at this stage as that would involve talks with the ranking Taliban leaders and could possibly lead to a power-sharing deal. The US-led western strategists don’t envisage such a scenario both in the short and long term, as the priority right now is to defeat and evict Taliban from their strongholds and strengthen the Afghan government and security forces in the captured territory to keep the militants out.

    The big offensive in Marja in Helmand province involving NATO and Afghan soldiers would be replicated in Kandahar, the Taliban birthplace and spiritual capital, and also in faraway Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan and elsewhere in the militants’ strongholds. If Marja is going to be the model for the upcoming NATO-Afghan Army military operations, it cannot inspire much hope as the 15,000 heavily-equipped troops backed by more than 400 jet-fighters and gunship helicopters took almost a month to capture the small market-town and are still neither fully in control nor able to inspire confidence among the insecure populace. With the focus on military operations, it would be naïve to expect any serious initiative by the US and its allies for engaging in talks with the Taliban and finding a political solution to end the Afghan conflict. In such circumstances, the claim by the former UN special envoy Kai Eide about his contacts with the Taliban was, therefore, at best a side-show incapable of achieving anything.

    The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar. Email: rahim yusufzai@yahoo.com


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