THE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT

Monday, December 17, 2007

Future of peace in Afghanistan

 

Musa Khan Jalalzai


On Saturday, December 8, 2007, President Karzai criticised the Northern Alliance for its secret political dealings with the neighbouring countries. The President said that his country’s agencies had retrieved secret documents that indicate the Northern Alliance’s anti-state activities and their fundraising conspiracy. The document, the President said, shows that elements of the Alliance have secret links with some states and want to create problems for his government. To avert the threat of foreign involvement in Afghanistan, the President offered to meet the Taliban leaders and give militants government positions. Calling for negotiations, Karzai said he was willing to meet the reclusive leader Mullah Omar and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former prime minister. According to experts, President Hamid Karzai is ready to hold serious talks with the Taliban movement. For once, this is confirmed by the recent debate in the Afghan Senate about the replacement of the term “moderate Taliban leaders” in official speeches by Afghan bureaucrats and MPs with the term “Afghan Taliban leaders”.

“If I find their address, there is no need for them to come to me, I will personally go there and get in touch with them,” Karzai said. “Esteemed Mullah, and esteemed Hekmatyar, why are you destroying the country?” The Afghan president criticised corruption by both the country’s administration and humanitarian groups, saying none of the aid coming from foreign countries was being distributed fairly. “I do not think that the money that has been given to Afghanistan has reached the Afghan countryside in a proper manner,” Karzai said at the opening of a conference of major donors.

Experts say the role India play in Afghanistan is most dangerous for the country’s relations with Pakistan. India supports the Northern Alliance against the majority Pashtuns. Its intelligence network in various provinces of Afghanistan has harmed the stability of the country. Pakistan rules out any role for India to bring peace to the war-ravaged Afghanistan, saying India was not among the eight countries identified by the UN to resolve the Afghan conflict. The six countries include Pakistan, Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The other two are the US and Russia.

Pakistan’s former minister of state for information and broadcasting Tariq Azeem once said at a joint press conference with Major General Shaukat Sultan, the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) that India support insurgency in Balochistan. “The weapons recovered from miscreants in Balochistan are sophisticated, expensive and modern, which is a strong indication of involvement of a foreign hand,” he said. He said, “Everyone knows why India has opened its consulates in Afghanistan near the Pakistani borders. India could be in a better position to explain reasons for opening consulates in Afghanistan near the Pakistani borders,” he said. According to (www.pakistanidefenceforum.com/lofiversion/index), “involvement of Indian consulates working in different cities of Afghanistan has been found in anti-Pakistan activities whereas solid proofs have been found that the consulates are providing financial assistance to Baloch chieftains and also giving funds and weapons to Balochistan Liberation Army and Balochistan Liberation Front.” The People’s Daily on March 8, 2007 reported that the Ministry of Indian External Affairs “‘denied Indian involvement in any terrorist activities in Balochistan province of Pakistan. Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters that, “I can state that there was no Indian agency or consulate involved in any activities in Balochistan.” As mentioned above, Pakistan had pointed out that India was involved in terrorism in Balochistan at an India-Pakistan joint meeting held in Islamabad. “We are helping Afghanistan. I categorically deny any involvement of Indian embassy or Indian consulate in any way in Balochistan,” Mukherjee said.

The Hindu on September 11, 2003 reported Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Vivek Katju, as saying that Pakistan is, “no factor” and that “we do not view Afghanistan through the prism of any third country.” While Mr. Katju may be right in that India has never publicly raised any issue vis-à-vis Pakistan in Afghanistan, Islamabad’s focus on New Delhi’s role has made it a factor nonetheless. India’s relations with the Northern Alliance may further create problems for Afghanistan.

Russia’s relations with India and the Northern Alliance are still sound. Russia significantly expanded its military assistance to the Alliance after September 11, 2001. In October 2001, Russia sent approximately 40 tanks and 12 military helicopters to the Northern Alliance forces as part of a $ 70 million arms package. This package also included old Soviet T-55 tanks, military helicopters and submachine guns as well as anti-aircraft missiles. In the new political developments in Afghanistan, India is playing another dangerous role against the majority Pashtun population of the country. India must know that no government can succeed without Pashtun participation. Experts advise India to play carefully. Afghanistan is a mountainous country. The Afghan President’s leadership may face trouble in future due to India, Pakistan, Russia and Iran’s rivalry. According to some reports, his administration and cabinet members have been war criminals.

This is a gathering of people who were once bitter enemies and who had been blamed for a number of serious human rights violations. During the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal, men like Rabbani and Dostum turned Kabul into a pile of rubble, killing thousands of civilians. The Afghan President wants to take action against members of his cabinet and deputies in parliament for committing corruption. He said the problem is so widespread that it is affecting the reconstruction of the country. Latest reports say that President Karzai has established a Republican Party of Afghanistan (RPA). Judging by the list of names in the party’s ruling body, this is not a party of radical Islamists at the moment. Among the suggested leaders of RPA are Kayum Karzai, Faruq Wardak, Abdullah Ramin, Ahmed Moqbel and Hamid Karzai. Without greater support for President Karzai, security in Afghanistan will deteriorate further, prospects for economic reconstruction will dim, and Afghanistan will revert to anarchy. President Karzai has set at least two preconditions for peace talks.

He has said he would negotiate only with the Afghan Taliban and not with foreign fighters. He has ruled out links to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. “We are ready to negotiate to bring peace to this country,” Karzai said. “Continuation of the war, explosions, and suicide attacks should be stopped in any way possible.” Finally, the international community has to facilitate the creation of a regime that adequately represents all Afghans, women as well as men, Pashtuns and Tajiks and Uzbeks and Hazaras. They all have to be part of the deal.

 

The writer is the author of 156 books on terrorism, extremism, human trafficking, Afghanistan, drug trafficking and foreign policy studies and is based in London, UK