Reconciliation Strategies In Kabul

April 16, 2010

There is a window of opportunity for peace in Afghanistan. It has to be grabbed. For the first time in a decade the U.S. and the U.K. are acting in concert with Pakistan to proffer real solutions for Kabul. The former allies, turned protagonists, turned friends are once again on the same side–this time working for peace.

Mr. Karzai is once again calling his favorite friends for a big powwow which he calls a “Jirga” or tribal council. It is to be held in Kabul in two weeks. Pakistan is working with the UK and the US to ensure that this Loya Jirga represents all the Pakhtuns so that it becomes a vehicle for peace in West Asia. Islamabad has offered to hold a joint Loya jirga between the Afghan and Pakistani Pakhtuns. The last time Mr. Karzai hijacked the societal consensus for ending the war through the traditional means of a consultative assembly. Mr. Karzai used the grass-roots method to rubber stamp his own brand of government. Obviously the corruption, lack of peace, and loss on the ground has proven that a repeat of the previous methodology will not work.

  • India, has “spies… diplomats…a base of operations to train guerrillas to attack Pakistan… and is arming and training terrorists at war against Pakistan” Gordon Duff in Opinion Maker.
  • Obama met him at his palace in Kabul, and shared a dinner with his Cabinet. He invited Karzai to the White House in May, as part of the Americans’ efforts to bully and cajole him into playing his part in their high-risk counterinsurgency plan.
  • America also wants to see the Afghan government push plans to win over “low-level” Taliban fighters, deemed susceptible to job creation.
  • Some diplomats have also detected a coolness in Obama towards a planned ‘consultative peace jirga,’ essentially a large meeting, to be held in May, of national representatives.
  • The hope is that they will come up with an agreed approach to peace talks with the Taliban. The Economist

The convening of the jirga, for from May 2nd to May 4th was part of a pledge made by Mr. Hamid Karzai in his inaugural address last November. It was reconfirmed at the London Conference on Afghanistan. The idea has been viewed favorably by the people in Kabul who are already part of the palace elite. However Mr. Karzai needs to look beyond Arg Palace, and think beyond Kabul. Mr. Karzai is known as the Mayor of Kabul whose writ does not extend beyond the city limits–much like the last emperor of China’s writ that ran in the Forbidden Palace. For the first time in a decade the Western powers, especially the US and the UK acquiesced in manifest reluctance–fully aware that repetition of the same experiment will be will yield the same results–and perpetual repetition of the same experiment borders on insanity.

Much to the chagrin of Bharat (aka India) The U.S. and the U.K. are seem to be on the same side of the fence–acting in concert with Pakistan to help Mr. Karzai. Their concerns appear to converge on a single point — a successful jirga would stop further bloodshed.

  • Peace cannot and will not come to Afghanistan on American terms only. To think in this way is purely a US-NATO political-military illusion.
  • As for India’s role in Afghanistan, it is an expensive political enterprise and a dangerous military engagement (vis-à-vis Pakistan) that India cannot sustain for very long! Poverty at home should be India’s foremost priority.
  • It is yet another political illusion in the minds of Indo-US alliance “pundits” that Pakistan will simply “wither away” or “disintegrate” under the political-military-destabilization strategy and “terrorist” campaigns.
  • Each and every war has made America rich! But for India and its masses, another war will eventually cause the bells to toll in its disunity and disintegration as a nation!
  • The fact of the matter is that poverty cannot sustain the high stakes of power, prestige and global political eminence! The price is too high! Dr Haider Mehdi.

It is pedagogical to note that Mr. Karzai has used the jirga rope trick before. He proposes to invite 1200-1400 of his drug-baron buddies.

Masoom Stanekzai, national security adviser and hood buddy of Mr. Karzai, has been entrusted with the planning the public spectacle. The last time the show was for the American TV cameras that had to justify the brutal war and the occupation. Mr. Karzai’s dog and pony show was used to show the world that Afghanistan had been “liberated’. A decade later Mr. Karzai and his jirga remains sequestered in Kabul with the Taliban controlling 80% of Afghanistan. The world is now asking Mr. Karzai to produce results on the ground. Grandstanding in a tent may not work.

Mr. Karzai jirga has three objectives:

  1. The jirga is about rallying broad support behind the whole policy
  2. The jirga would be asked to endorse a government plan for the reintegration of insurgents in line with the decision taken at the London Conference of January 28.
  3. The jirga would set the ground rules for holding talks with the insurgents.

However to prevent it from becoming a futile exercise in polysyllabic profundity–the Pakistanis, the British, and the Americans are asking that Mr. Karzai not bypass the elected parliament or once again forget about the Taliban who control the country. Mr. Karzai has to produce results and useless platitudinous ponderosity may actually herald the death knell of his government.

The tripartite conference in Tehran, the regional conference in Istanbul, and the London conference in London have already given Mr. Karzai a roadmap to pursue. The agenda is to hold talks with the Taliban and use the fig leaf of asking them to sever their links with the ephemeral ties with this mysterious group called “Al-Qaeda”. This fig leaf is what started the war in the first place. A decade later, the Taliabn still control 80% of the country–and they are supposed to kowtow to diktats from the Mayor Kabul!

The Pakistanis want peace in Afghanistan, so that it does not spill over into Pakistan. While Bharati interests in Afghanistan may find its genesis in its scriptures, Paksitani geography and real history is linked with Kabul. Mr. Karzai was not wrong when he called Pakistan and Afghanistan as conjoined twins.

Pakistan wants to integrate the Pakhtuns into the Afghan government, so that they done feel disenfranchised in their own country. What unnerves Bharat is the fact that peace in Kabul would eliminate its deep intrusion into the Afghan intelligence services and would reverse its gains.

The Tehran, Istanbul and London plans envisage the centrality for the Islamabad in the peace process. President Obama and the entire American leadership has acknowledged Pakistan’s crucial and important role in brining peace to Kabul. Most Afghans resent Bharat;s diabolical role in their country and Mr. Karzai himself does not really need Bharati help. He however does need Pakistani help to get in touch with the Taliban. Mr. Karzai’s connection aren’t working–if they were he would not be in the pickle he is in.

The world now insists on an international role and Pakistan as the main channel for contacting the Taliban so that Islamabad can bring about a lasting political settlement. This strategy will go awry if Mr. Karzaitries to go solo–as he did before. In 2002, the US and the UK bailed him out. This time around, there won’t be anyone left to help them.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (Formerly Mullah Omar’s 2nd in command) is a Pakistani guest these days, and Islamabad has refused to extradite him to Kabul. Mr. Karzai was sent a message, that his previous antics wont work anymore. He has to play ball and bring about real peace.

Pakistan now has consensus on the roadmap for peace which gives the US and the UK a face-saving exit strategy. Advantage: Islamabad. Getting through the American tin ear, Pakistan has finally secured elbow room to bring sanity to the Hindu Kush.

Islamabad has bided its time. It told the Americans what to do a decade earlier. However it wa threatened with bombing and stone age repercussions. Now the West has learned its lessons in the graveyard of empires. Pakistan knows that time is in its side. President Obama needs an exit from Afghanistan. As the clock begins to tick for the American presidential election in 2012, President Barack Obama finds himself between a rock and hard place to show “results” in the Afghan war.

The forthcoming loya jirga is a replay of two failed jirgas that the world wants to forget. The details are consecrated in the writings of Diego Codovez, Selig Harrison, George Criel and many others.

1) After sabotaging Pakistan for a decade, Eduard Shevardnadze (later the leader of Ukraine), then the Foreign Minister of the USSR, visited Islamabad in February 1989 to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to ask for a reprieve for the Russian puppet Najibullah.

2) Mr Najibullah in a last ditch effort to hold on to power held a Loya Jirga in May 1990, soon after the Soviet withdrawal that formally ended the communist party’s monopoly over executive power.

“The present Loya Jirga held at a crucial moment will go down in the history of our beloved homeland. Let this Loya Jirga be identified with the notions of National Reconciliation, national unity and peace and tranquility in Afghanistan.” Najibullah kowtowing to his former enemies.

Mr. Najibullah was found hanging from a lamppost a few days later.

The motives of London and Washington are clear. They want to give Mr. Karzai a fair chance to hold a successful jirga but they expect results–not smoke and mirrors.

After the USSR invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan started supporting the Afghans. For two years Islamabad stood against the might of the Soviet Union and its acolyte Bharat. The USA finally jioned the fight. 52 countries worked with Pakistan to stand firm against the Soviets as celebrating a total communist debacle in Kabul. Pakistan stills holds the same truths to be true. NATO and ISAF have learned the lessons the hard way.

Mr. Karzai is a temporary solution ’till the withdrawal of US forces. After 2011, there will be a new occupant in Kabul–Mr. Karzai may seek asylum in Delhi or Washington. This time around, he won’t be allowed to live in Quetta. Paksitan already tried that. The ingrate spewed venom against his benefactor for years, ’till he found which side his bread is buttered on. Now he is singing a new tune–and appeasing Pakistan. His recent anti-West rhetoric is recognized as for what it it–bluster and farcical acting. The world knows how much he opposes US occupation.

The Dawn


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