Strategic Depth: Strength of Pakistan lies in a secure AfghanistanFebruary 2, 2010
A decade of war in Afghanistan has tried to reconfigure the politics of West Asia. Some powers have tried to rearrange the geography and the boundaries. Some in Delhi had hoped that Pakistan would give up its dreams and allow existential threats to cloud its strategic objectives.
Obviously that has not happened.
General Kiyani has once again reiterated the Pakistan’s strategic depth lies in Afghanistan. However that did not mean that Pakistan wanted to control Kabul.
- “We want a strategic depth in Afghanistan but do not want to control it,”
- “A peaceful and friendly Afghanistan can provide Pakistan a strategic depth.”
This means that the Bharati (aka Indian) policy of death by a thousand cuts has not deterred the Pakistani resolve to ensure that the Western flank of Pakistan is free of enemies, and that the Hindu Kush mountains continue to provide depth to Pakistan’s strategic objective.
The Strategic Depth has been dicussed threadbare in Islamabad and in foreign capitals. However this is the first time that a Pakistani Army General has overtly and publicly announced the policy. It is pedagogical to note that the announcement was made in the earshot of NATO, ISAF and US Generals.
It is not a pure coincidence that Pakistan’s overt announcement was made right after the regional conference on Afghanistan which did not include Bharat (aka India). It is poignant to comprehend that Bharat got a seat on the second row at the London conference on Afghanistan–clearly defining its exclusion from a role in Kabul. An angry and incensed Delhi lodged a protest with Turkey, but could not change the mind of the several dozen countries which over ruled Bharati objections on accommodating the Taliban in Kabul.
What was said was important. However what is even more important was what was not said. Mr. Karzai did not object to Bharati exclusion from the conference in Istanbul. Mr. Karzai is fighting a battle for his political survival. He knows that his days in Kabul are numbered. The brazen attacks on Kabul and Helmand are a clear warning sign to his last days in Kabul. Mr. Karzai clearly knows which side his bread is buttered on. Any chance of reconciliation with the Taliban depends on good relations with Pakistan.
- Strategic Depth: Strength of Pakistan lies in a secure Afghanistan
- Proxy war in Afghanistan: Strategic depth vs Strategic clout
- Why is India jittery about peace in Afghanistan?
- Indian agressive hegemony vs. Pakistan’s strategic (depth) self-defense
The Washington Post clearly recognizes the potential of the Pakistan Army to do the job.
Pakistan has one of the largest and best-equipped conventional armies in the world, with a force of nearly half a million. Washington Post. Pakistan’s army chief seeks stable Afghanistan By Pamela Constable. Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The White House is increasing financial and military aid to Pakistan–showing approval of Islamabad’s help in bringing peace to Kabul.
“This is key to improving stability and will also provide the military the tools needed to wage an effective counterterrorist campaign. For Fiscal 2011, funding for Pakistan is $ 3.2 billion,” he said, adding that in 2010 it has been $ 1.88 billion.
“For Pakistan, the Budget also increases security assistance and funds a new signature energy project,” the White House
There is a clear recognition that the occupation of Afghanistan is in the last stages.
The London conference was also all about making it clear that the West’s intensive commitment to Afghanistan is going to be short-lived.
In 18 months US troops will start handing over responsibility to the Afghan army, province by province, and start withdrawing. BBC
General Kiyan’s comments are apt and perfectly timed.
RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Monday the success of military operations in the tribal regions have caused substantial decline in cross-border attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan and warned that it was essential to address Pakistan’s long-term strategic concerns for stability in the region.
In a rare press briefing, General Kayani said it would be a cause of worry for Pakistan if Afghanistan’s projected army developed the potential to take on Pakistan.
“We want a strategic depth in Afghanistan but do not want to control it,” the general said while talking to a group of journalists at the Army General Headquarters.
“A peaceful and friendly Afghanistan can provide Pakistan a strategic depth.” He asked the US and Nato to come out with a clear strategy on Afghanistan. Kayani spells out terms for regional stability By Zahid Hussain Tuesday, 02 Feb, 2010
General Kiyani’s clear enunciation of strategic depth as a corner stone of Pakistani policy was made after his meeting with NATO commanders. It is incomprehensible that the Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) would announce a strategic decision without the total approval of NATO, ISAF and the US. President Obama’s approval of a $1.2 billion military aid package to Pakistan is a clarion call to Pakistan to help the US save face and exit from Afghanistan.
What is even more important for West Asia is the Pakistani offer of training the Afghan National Army, which would ostensibly be merged with the Taliban fighters who sign the peace treaty. This offer is a sign of the times–specially since Delhi’s similar offer was politely refused by Defence Secretary Bob Gates.
General Kayani who last week participated in Nato commanders’ conference in Brussels said Pakistan was prepared to train the Afghan National Army which would help improve relations between the two nations. He said he hoped the offer would get a positive response.
“If we get more involved with the ANA (Afghan National Army) there’s more interaction and better understanding,” General Kayani said.
“We have opened all doors … It’s a win-win for Afghanistan, the United States, Isaf and Pakistan,” he said, referring to Nato’s International Security Assistance Force.
He said he believed it would take at least four years to achieve a target of a 140,000-strong Afghan force able to take over security responsibilities. Kayani spells out terms for regional stability By Zahid Hussain Tuesday, 02 Feb, 2010
There is a huge realization in the international community about Paksitan’s role in Afghanistan.
“There will be no peace in this region unless Pakistan carries its share of responsibility,” Merkel told German weekly Welt am Sonntag.
“For a comprehensive solution, we need a much greater involvement of Afghan authorities and the inclusion of neighbouring countries, in particular Pakistan.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Even Pakistanphobic analysts have now begun to realize the importance of Paksitani assistance in Afghanistan.
it is Pakistan that is planning to bring the Taliban and Afghan government together for peace talks. Karzai explicitly asked for support from Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan, in bringing stability to his nation. Harsh V. Pant teaches in King’s College London and is a Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania. –
The ball is rolling and momentum is building on the Saudi initiative that started in 2008
The Karzai government’s attempts to engage the Taliban leadership are proceeding fast, and the United Nations and Afghan parliamentarians are making separate efforts toward a political settlement to end the violence.
Karzai will meet Saudi King Abdullah this week to ask him to aid the peace process, according to presidential spokesman Siamak Herawi. The Saudis held secret talks between the Afghan government and figures associated with the Taliban in 2008. Miami Herald. By SAEED SHAH McClatchy Newspapers
Pakistan’s new found confidence is based on a tactical and strategic alliance with Iran, China and Turkey. This is based on guartantees to Iran on the Shias in Iran and confluence of Islamabad-Teheran interests in West Asia.
on Saturday January 16, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran inked a regional pact to confront the Afghan insurgency trilaterally and rejected a British proposal to include countries which were not contiguous to Afghanistan, but agreed to include all those that were, namely Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China. Washington works the Af-Pak-India triangle By Zahid U Kramet
Pakistan is now offering military assistance to Kabul–which will not only help Mr. Karzai–it will bring stability to the region and allow the Americans to leave Afghanistan in a proper withdrawal rather than a hasty retreat
Pakistan has raised concern over a similar offer by India to train Afghan army, and the issue could become another point of conflict between the two South Asian neighbours.
Pakistan’s offer reflects Islamabad’s rising concern over Indian influence in Afghanistan. “Our strategic paradigm needs to be fully realised,” General Kayani said.
He warned that an environment hostile to Pakistan could strain its battle against militancy and extremism. He said he had conveyed the concerns and constraints of Pakistan to the Nato allies.
“There are some key issues of the conflict that needed to be fully understood and addressed.”
He said there was a need for realisation of Pakistan’s key regional position and its contribution in the war. Kayani spells out terms for regional stability By Zahid Hussain Tuesday, 02 Feb, 2010
General Kiyani’s doctrine is Pakistan’s Monroe Doctrine. Afghanistan is clearly part and parcel of Pakistan’s sphere of influence and Bharat has been told by almost all concerned to lay-off. The Kiyani Doctrine is similar to the Zia Doctrine which clearly described Pakistan’s sphere of influence from the Indus to the Oxus and beyond. Dushanbe and Fergana are part of the ECO neural network which is being strengthed by thousands of miles of roads and rails connecting the ancestral lands of Babur and Taimur to the people of the Indus in Pakistan
General Kayani said more than 140,000 Pakistani troops were now involved in fighting militants in the northwest and deployment along the Afghan border.
He said over the last seven months Pakistani military had launched 209 major and 510 minor operations in 10 regions. He said 2,273 Pakistani army officers and soldiers had been killed in the fighting so far.
General Kayani said that the military operations in South Waziristan and Swat were at present in a transitory phase — from hold to build. “We must consolidate our gains and fully stabilise the area secured lest it fall back to the terrorists,” he said.
He warned against losing sight for future operations. “Public opinion, media support, army’s capability and resolve are fundamental to our war,” he said.
General Kayani rejected the perception that Pakistan did not want to take on the militants in North Waziristan. “There is already one army division deployed there and we have taken action whenever required,” he declared
He said it was important that the military consolidated its hold in South Waziristan and other tribal regions before starting another army offensive.
Last October the army launched a major offensive in South Waziristan which had become the main bastion of Pakistani Taliban movement and Al Qaeda.
More than 30,000 troops have been involved in the operation which is said to be the biggest since Pakistan joined the US war on terror after September 11, 2001.
The troops have cleared most of the region, but there are still pockets of resistance. Many Taliban commanders have taken refuge in neighbouring Waziristan. “We have broken the myth that Waziristan cannot be controlled,” he said.
The London Conference was focused on the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. From the ISAF, NATO and US perspective, all roads to peace in Kabul lead through Afghanistan
The London conference […] conference has united the international community for a further commitment to Afghanistan’s future – albeit for a shortened period.
Even more significant, there is broad agreement that talking to the Taliban is the only way to bring the insurgency to an end.
No longer are the US, Nato or Afghanistan’s neighbours talking about militarily defeating the Taliban, rebuilding the country from top to bottom or promoting democracy.
Nato is perceived to be ‘not winning’ or at best stalemated in the war against the Taliban
Instead there is a single purpose in mind – how to end the war and provide sufficient security for the people so that development can take place, while at the same time allow foreign forces to leave. BBC
General Kiyani clearly defined the boundaries of US advice to Pakistan
Pakistan has been facing mounting pressure from the United States to start army operation in North Waziristan which is the base for another Taliban faction.
The US and western intelligence agencies believe the area is also a base of Afghan insurgents led by Sirajuddin Haqqani. Pakistan had signed a peace deal with the Taliban faction in 2006.
General Kayani said Pakistani military’s success in South Waziristan had sent a strong message to the militants operating in North Waziristan and other areas.
“There is, however, no need at this point to start a stream roller operation in North Waziristan.”
The army chief said the large number of casualties suffered by the Pakistani security forces and economic losses had not dented the armed forces’ resolve to fight terrorism and violent extremism. “We will fight and finish the terrorism in our own interest,” General Kayani said.
He said the intelligence sharing and greater cooperation between Pakistani military and US forces had helped improve the situation. “The regular contacts between Pakistani and US military commanders have greatly helped in understanding each others’ position.” Kayani spells out terms for regional stability By Zahid Hussain Tuesday, 02 Feb, 2010
The Pakistan ISI is indespensible–specially if peace is the objective in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has had close relations with the Afghan Taliban, since they were given sanctuary by Pakistan’s military regime after their defeat in 2001.
The ISI are the gate-keepers for access to most Taliban leaders, giving it considerable clout in any future negotiations…BBC
There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between Bharati interests and Pakistani interests in Afghanistan. Bharati interests in Afghanistan is to give Delhi a second front–it is a negative, coercive, expansionist and offensive interest that perpetuates hegemony. The Pakistani interest is cultural, religious, and defensive in nature. Pakistan is the mother ship for all Pakhtuns. 40 million live in the country. Karachi is the largest Pakhtun city in the world–not Kabul. More than twice the number of Pakhtuns live in Pakistan than those who live in Afghanistan. Most of the Afghan Pakhtuns were born in Pakistan–especially in the 90s when more than 3 million lived as refugees in Pakistan. Even now more than a million Afghans live in Quetta-which give wind to the ephemeral Quetta Shura.
It is obvious that Pakistan support the Pakhtuns in Afghanistan. Wild horses could not hold the Pakistani Pakhtuns from helping the Afghan Pakhtuns most of which were born in Pakistan anyway. The bonds of tribes and kinship are a lot stronger than Dollars from Delhi (most of which were spent on Indian contractors working in Afghanistan).
Bharat will not give up Afghanistan easily. She will stand up to Turkey and protest. She will plead with NATO and ISAF. She will strong arm Karzai, and she will use her Israeli allies to put pressure on the Americans to give her a spot in Afghanistan. She will try to bifurcate Afghanistan between Pro-Pakistani Pakhtuns and other areas where Bharat may have influence. None of these machinations will work or impede the inevitable union between Pakistan and Afghanistan. When the Americans invented AfPak–it was a fortuitous omen for the one people divided artificially by the British.