What should Pakistan do after US exit from Afghanistan?

Ghulam Murshed

After the re-election of Barrack Obama to the world’s top job, the ongoing brutal war in Afghanistan[a Bush legacy] has already assumed a more topsy-turvy situation with guerilla attacks by al-Qaeda-backed ruthless Talebans and Haqqani elements operating in mountainious terrains,
invading white aliens from Wiseden, Germany(Nato)and US marine bases at San Diego and North Carolina, more and more bodybags are being almost daily sent by C-111 & 130 air transports back to their natives via German base for ceremonial or facelifting burial. The scenario was not similar to Panama on the Carribean Sea, where for the first time in US history Delta Force women commandos almost made it a cakewalk to oust dictator Noriega.

Pullout from Afghanistan 
The current Afghan policy in the White House also may not be taken off the table because of Obama’s election pledge for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan by early 2014 in a bid to offset the second global recession. He already addressed the US fiscal cliff by striking a deal with the Republicans, and the hawks are replaced by doves in the Pentagon. But the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, the 4-star general David Petraeus, , mired in a sex scandal, resigned in disgrace and Obama backed general John Allen, the former Nato commander, for his commendable service and promoted and posted him as new commander in Afghanistan.
The US fleet was deployed by George Bush in Gulf following 9/11 mayhem and mixed up Pakistan with sweet-sour talks in the war of revenge, to oust the Taleban Mujahedeens during Soviet occupation regime of their own creation, now a Frankenstein but it only imported suicide bombers day in day out killing both Pakistani, Nato and Afghan military personnel and innocent civilians in a collateral damage, and installed the US-polished Hamid Karzai, a loyal terrier to the White House, as President.

Highly unpopular
The Taliban had fought with Stingers supplird by the US downing Soviet planes and choppers and drove out the Reds from Afghanistan, a goldmine of untapped minerals and natural resources besides its geostrategic importance in the region. But more than a decade on, he is still batting on a flattish but slow track, with a plethora of myopic though, has his writ only within Kabul’s Green Zone under Nato umbrella and sorrounded by secret agents of KHAD and cannot go beyond because of many abortive assassination attempts on him who proved to be an American stooge and highly unpopular.
Now a kind of Indo-Pak proxy war has emerged like a Cold War.
India has pumped 2 bn dollars into Afghanistan, a third world power with its clout in many areas, next to China, buttressed by its new-found strategic partner, the US, while Russia — once its starry-eyed chum— is now virtually treated as an empty beer can.
Now that the US coalition forces’ exit, in phases being on the card, also being the promised change as a leitmotif of Obama campaign, from Afghanistan as scheduled, a vacuum will for sure unfold itself although the partially declared recent strategic partnership treaty inked by both Indian and Afghan leaders at Nizam’s Hyderabad House, Delhi, earlier doesn’t say it all.
Insiders in The Deccan Times and India Today say, the deal apart from the training of police and military by India, already with economic, political and diplomatic forays deepening ties with Kazakasthan, Tazikasthan and others in central Asia in its fold with pipelines for fuel thereby holding its sway over the region, will rule the roost.
The shots called sidelining Pakistan which made a heck of sacrifices in men and materials over the decade (allegedly billions doled out during late General Zia’s regime to keep Afghanistan intact and if need be, India will install its own man in a different garb who will also bolster the Afghan economy[only poppy will not do] while Karzai will have a path to a safe sanctuary in another country. India neither flays nor admits it. After all, it cannot escape the long-term consequences of the Afghan endgame including its rehabilitation and stability to which end a token force needs to be maintained by the US when few outsiders may call it a day but the regional entities will have to stay perforce.
The bad thing is that Afghanistan’s neighbours are divided, as even a cursory look suggests. Karzai never tires of wooing Indian investments. And the world is still groping for answers to the Afghan insurgency, as threatening as ever. It’s also very unpopular in the US.

Female foreign minister
Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar is a clairvoyant and highly cultivated and accomplished lady like the other female ambassador Sherry Rehman. Other female foreign ministers in the region could jolly well take cues from her performance or emulate her examples in foreign policy to brief and debrief their bosses. Under such circumstances, Pakistan before 2014 might complete its homework in advance; but speaking less and doing more.
Hillary, then top American diplomat, told Islamabad, harping on the same string—that it was not doing enough to combat terrorism with iits knock-on effect on Afghanistan’s decade-old war and that North Waziristan, the tribal badland, has its own rule, ungoverned by Karachi or Islamabad since 1947.
Meanwhile, Hina’s former Indian counterpart Krishna found her outspoken in smarter English a hard nut to crack while advising the former that barely Pakistan must boost anti-terror combat, otherwise US will mount an assault deep inside Pakistan unilaterally as the ISI allegedly sheltered bin Laden near Abbottabad garrison and US House froze all aid to Pakistan, and Afghanistan remained the same despite pouring of billions of dollars during the protracted war against the Taliban which bombs Nato fuel and ammo tanks on Khyber Pass.

Flip-flop options
Meanwhile, bilateral relation between Pakistan and Afghanistan soured, despite Karzai’s reassuring the ‘twin brother’ Pakistan following the Indian deal. the US’s trump card is India to contain China and the US has already focused on the Pacific, even making a marine base in an island in Australia in agreement with the premier Julia Gillard, the Aussie PM. Pakistan might walk the extra mile instead of toying with flip-flop options which are seemingly exhausted as Pakistan put all the eggs in the same basket so far.
US- Pakistan ties headed for meltdown further because of unmanned helicopter-predator drone (which needs no runway because off vertical take-off and landing like Harrier jets on aircraft carrier) shooting Hellfire rockets and missiles with its joysticks remote-controlled from operational HQ in Florida with satellite guidance to kill the insurgents in Waziristan.
This angered and frustrated Islamabad more because of collateral damage besides being a naked attack on Pak sovereignty. (In a dangerous new world of drones, US monopoly on drones is past; 70 nations have them}. In fact, these tribal badlands on Afghan porous border are safe havens for most Talebans who speak the same language and operate from there with repeated attacks on American and Nato forces.
America wants to contain China via also central Asia thru Afghanistan from 2014. India’s planning is always long-time ones; and recently Karzai himself admitted his failure to secure his country, though US and Karzai say their own security forces suffice to contain any terrorism.

Nuclear powers
What should Pakistan do? Could it allow any other to rule Afghanistan in case of the vacuum emerging after US exit? ?It has one of the best fighting machines in the world for a conventional war as shown in Cargil operation, but both being nuclear powers, no one will strike one another with unconventional weaponry. Mired in muddled and meddled politics, though. Pak with its territorial advantage may warn Karzai for his double game and switching as Pak is not starved of strategists to figure things out. . It also must relay the message to US that it does not need their aid as its arsenal is accurate and aplenty, leave aside the nukes, that remains to be seen in case of a worst possible scenario.
Now the Jordanians want the King to go. America is a past master in this art and was also after late Hugo Tavez of Colombia and Castros of Cuba and the last Stalinist lamp-post in North Korea and Iran. Nonetheless, Afghan war can still be won but this will be meaningless in this type of war but rays of aromas of hope rather than resignation should loom.
America should show steely resolve not to maintain a large troop presence or extend timelines under any alibi, but to be smarter about the way they use their tapering resources to empower those Afghans willing to lead and survive keeping others at bay or arms length. And does a new generation mean a new genre of politicians and a changed character of politics in Afghanistan? While the old ones are willing to pass the batton, are the new ones ready and prepared to the hilt to receive it without much ado, hyperboles or ding-dong? That of course remains to be seen.
Finally comes the next presidential poll next spring of early 2014, all the technical works will have to be done towards that end since not much time is left. . Among other things, the voter registry, a level playing political field for all the four main ethnic groups for a viable election with a peaceful democratic transfer of power in a fractured country along with a functional parliament are the immediacies so that flawed elections with electoral fraud as of 2009 are not repeated.
Hamid Karzai is unable to seek re-election, but can stand in a perfect position now to secure his place in Afghan history. But for that to happen, he will have to campaign for the rightly preferred candidate to ensure a credible election whose outcome will be broadly accepted;he should also reach out to opposition on the naming of electoral commissioners and appoint a balanced and impartial commission.
The US and the international community would only lend support whatever it takes to. That way polls will legitimize a successor to Karzai stonewalling any implosion of the fragile political order, followed by the disintegration of the security forces, a renewed harsh civil war and the resurgence of Taleban forces, no matter that presently the options facing Afghanistan and its allies are stark. Mostly, what Afghans desperately now is powerful leadership from their president to let them fairly choose his successor. Given the chequered history of Afghanistan, such a heroic achievement will make Karzai a statesman of a high order, his omissions and commissions notwithstanding during his presidency. Historically, it remained too difficult to conquer or govern from the centre.
The country is an example where the world leaders substituted theology for reality. The extreme conservatism of a patriarchal society foreshadowed any ruler’s nation-building objectives. However big with a bang any power tries to reverse the country’s fate, only ends up in a whimper, as if to prove the law of diminishing return; the slogans and arguments of growth, democracy, governance are of no relevance for the country that is far less developed, with a lower level of education, urbanisation, and only about one-tenth of the per capita income with little revenue accruing from trading in narcotics, smarting from acute poverty, internal conflicts, growing drug addiction and steady criminalisation, Afghanistan indeed faces a bleak future as the present way of life. The most worthwhile action to take is to destroy the poppy fields using chemicals in the genuine interest of Europe and the United States.

How CIA opened way for drone strikes
The CIA allegedly negotiated with Pakistani intelligence to kill a Pakistan state enemy in exchange for the U.S. receiving access to the country’s airspace for the start of their controversial drone campaign, as reported in the Daily Mail on 7 April 2013.
The New York Times national security correspondent Mark Mazzetti suggests in his new book that the CIA agreed to a secret deal with Pakistan to execute a drone attack in June 2004 that killed Nek Muhammad, a Pashtun tribesman in Waziristan.
That operation served as an initiation test of sorts and allowed the CIA drone programme.
In his book, The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth,’ Mr Mazzetti states that the American intelligence community was desperate to begin using drones in 2004 as it faced increased scrutiny over its use of torture in intelligence gathering.
An internal review conducted by CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson offered scathing criticism of the agency’s network of prisons where arrested insurgents were taken to be tortured and interrogated.
In the wake of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq, the CIA wanted to shift the strategy from apprehending suspected terrorists to simply eliminating them with the use of drone strikes.
In an excerpt from Mazzetti’s book, published in the Weekend edition of the Times, he writes, ‘The ground had shifted, and counterterrorism officials began to rethink the strategy for the secret war.’
‘Armed drones and targeted killings in general, offered a new direction. Killing by remote control was the antithesis of the dirty, intimate work of interrogation.’

Source: Weekly Holiday

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