Karzai suggests peace talks... with Pakistan

On NightWatch
Afghanistan: Special comment: US Admiral Mullen's public indictment of Pakistani intelligence as the guiding force in anti-Afghan and anti-Coalition operations in Afghanistan has shifted the focus of energy for a solution to Islamabad which is where it belongs.

On Friday, Afghan President Karzai announced a change in Afghan policy. He said Afghanistan will not negotiate peace with the Taliban, but with their sponsors and supporters - Pakistan. Excerpts from his well-reasoned comments follow.
"Now, the question is: Do we want peace? Yes, we want that. The question then is: Who should we make peace with? Who is the other side in these talks? Here, the people of Afghanistan will ask me a question: Dear President, as you have raised the voice of peace, then who is the other side in the peace process? I do not have any other answer but to say Pakistan is the other side in the peace talks with us. Right?

Is this not the case? I do not have any other answer. I do not have any answer other than saying that the other side in the talks is Pakistan. This is because we cannot find Mullah Mohammad Omar. Where is he? We cannot find the Taliban Council. Where is it? A messenger comes disguised as the Taliban Council member and kills, and they neither confirm nor reject it. Therefore, we cannot talk to anyone but to Pakistan.
NightWatch judges that Karzai has the right of it. Pakistani law enforcement and security forces are more than capable of capturing Mullah Omar and all his cohorts. A diligent researcher can find his family cell phone number on the Internet. It beggars imagination that Pakistan can't find Omar!

Karzai has more inherited cultural wisdom about Afghan affairs than US "experts" give him credit. In the case of Afghanistan, without Pakistani subversion and meddling, the country would be essentially stable, with the usual Pashtun inter-clan fighting and constant whining. That stability would result regardless of the honesty or corruption of any government in Kabul.

Pakistan has been difficult to break. Mullen tried and failed, but he seemed to understand that the solution to the Afghan fight is in Pakistan. His error was in thinking that four-star Pakistani generals can make a difference in Pakistan. They cannot because the Pakistan Army has a unique Operational Code that transcends and disciplines individuals.

Put another way, neutralizing Pakistani influence and incessant Pakistani meddling is a necessary and almost a sufficient condition for lasting improvements in security in Afghanistan. Pakistani perfidy and subversion have not stopped, but after a decade the spotlight is where it belongs, on Islamabad.

Various media pundits have debated the "evidence" of Pakistani involvement, but have missed the forest for the trees. Pakistan Army and paramiliary brigades were in position to arrest bin Laden when he crossed from Tora Bora to Parachinar in December 2001. Instead on someone's orders, they escorted him to safety.

Pakistani forces were in position to arrest Omar and his relatives who live near Quetta and his entire cohort of panicky Pashtun Taliban thugs in December 2001. They did not and Pakistani intelligence have protected Omar and his wives and their families ever since, just as they protected bin Laden.

Had Musharraf and his acolytes, namely General Kayani, just kept their word that they would support the US, the US would have saved a lot of treasure, limbs and lives and there would be no Pakistani Taliban.

The geography of the region and the utter absence of any arms factories of any kind in Afghanistan leave no conclusion except that Pakistan Army, Inc. is the reason the Taliban have not been destroyed in Afghanistan. Pakistan is the geographic base. Many entrepreneurs have made huge profits from supplying NATO as well as Pakistani intelligence's supplicant proxies -- Haqqani, Hekmatyar and Omar. These guys would be small time, petty crooks without Pakistani support, especially government negligence in not putting all of them in jail in the name of human civility.

Karzai's focus is refreshing and worth supporting for many reasons. One of them is that nothing the US has done to make peace has accomplished anything but encourage the arrogance of Mullah Omar. Might as well try negotiating with Pakistan. Kayani offered to make some calls, during the Haqqani attack on the US embassy in Kabul last month. Wonder whether Mullen took him up on his offer.
Hamid's a tinker isn't he, that will have got further up Pindi's nose than a Kosher restaurent in Abbottabad. I wonder on what terms they would make peace? Are there any that does not involve Hamid getting strung up by Terry?
On Bloomberg Karzai to Ask India for Security Help, Risking Pakistani Ire By Eltaf Najafizada and James Rupert
(Updates with comment from analyst in third paragraph.)

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- President Hamid Karzai will ask India to help train Afghanistan’s army in a visit that began in New Delhi today, a step that will exacerbate rising U.S. and Afghan tensions with Pakistan.

Karzai will seek the training during his two days of meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other officials, his spokesman, Hamed Elmi, said last night on Kabul’s Tolo TV channel. Elmi commented as Karzai in a speech accused Pakistan of foiling his attempts to make peace with Taliban insurgents by secretly backing their war effort.

After years in which Karzai kept India at arm’s length on security issues in Afghanistan, his willingness to seek military training “is a joint message he and the Americans are sending to Pakistan that, if you don’t come on board and stop supporting these guerrillas, we have an option to strengthen ties with India,” said Amin Saikal, an Afghan political scientist at Australian National University.

Saikal and other analysts say the increased tensions are part of an “end-game” in which Pakistan is seeking to keep or increase its influence in Afghanistan as the U.S. tries to reduce its commitment to the decade-long war, the longest-ever conflict for the U.S. military. While India has drawn closer to Afghanistan with promises of new aid and an offer to invest billions of dollars in mining a large iron deposit, Pakistani leaders have exchanged top-level visits to seek closer ties with China.

U.S. Withdrawal

As President Barack Obama tries to withdraw the bulk of America’s 98,000 troops in Afghanistan by 2014, the U.S. and Karzai have publicly increased pressure on Pakistan to end what they and independent analysts say is its policy of quietly backing the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s army for years has denied reports by scholars -- and last month by the top U.S. military commander -- that it backs Islamic guerrillas as proxy forces for attacks on Afghanistan and India. Pakistan has fought three wars with India and its officials say the army would regard any Indian security presence in Afghanistan as a threat to Pakistan.

While “Pakistan won’t object to any Indian role in helping the development” of Afghanistan, “any military or intelligence role for India will not be tolerable for Pakistan,” Pakistani foreign policy analyst and former ambassador Maleeha Lodi said in an interview in July. Pakistan’s security policies are set by its politically powerful army, which Lodi said retains “its desire to prevent any kind of strategic encirclement” through an Indian-Afghan security relationship.

Embassy Attack

Tensions between Pakistan and both Karzai’s government and the U.S. have increased following guerrilla attacks in the Afghan capital last month that officials in Kabul and Washington say were sponsored by Pakistan. On Sept. 13, Taliban fighters fired rocket-propelled grenades into the U.S. Embassy compound, and a week later a suicide bomber killed Karzai’s chief envoy for talks with the Taliban, Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said before retiring at the end of September that Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, for years has supported “proxy terrorist organizations,” including the Haqqani guerrillas and Lashkar-e- Taiba. Karzai’s office said last week it has proof that Pakistan-based Taliban sent the bomber that killed Rabbani. Pakistan denied both accusations and last week summoned a conference of all political parties to denounce them.

Iron Deposit

As the U.S. and Afghan tensions with Pakistan have increased this year, India’s Singh visited in May to offer an additional $500 million in development aid, following more than $1 billion it has spent since 2002.

India’s government encouraged a group of its steel and mining companies to bid for the estimated 1.8 billion metric tons of ore at Hajigak, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Kabul. The tender is the biggest on offer in a country that the U.S. government estimated last year holds $1 trillion in untapped minerals.

--Editors: Mark Williams, Sam Nagarajan
Pindi won't like that at all.
On CNN Pentagon dances around Karzai's rebuff of any Taliban negotiations By Charley Keyes
Washington (CNN) -- The Pentagon was walking carefully Monday around the latest apparent rift with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai about talking peace with the Taliban.

"We still believe reconciliation is a critical part of this process," Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby said. "I don't want to get in President Karzai's head here and try to decipher what he meant or exactly what he said."

Karzai seemed to suggest in recent news reports that he wants to pull the plug on peace initiatives with the Taliban and turn attention instead toward Pakistan, especially since the man he put in charge of establishing links with the Taliban was assassinated last month. High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed in a suicide bombing attack by people he believed might be willing to talk peace.

Kirby, speaking to journalists in his Pentagon office, carefully said any decisions about peace talks, or reconciliation of the warring parties, has to be led by Afghanistan. And the spokesman could not say whether Karzai has given U.S. officials word that he is turning away from negotiations.

The two-step policy by American soldiers and diplomats has been aimed at improving security for Afghanistan citizens to help them resist the intimidation of the Taliban and then work on reconciliation, urging individuals, as well as Taliban leaders, to put down their arms and rejoin society.

The United States has announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a policy that depends both on the steady improvement of Afghanistan's security forces as well as a decrease in the number of insurgent attacks. Formal programs are under way to persuade insurgents to leave the fight and return to their villages, usually accompanied by a government stipend or a job.

Adm. William McRaven, the U.S. Special Operations commander, brought that strategy home to Congress last week in explaining that talking and not just shooting is the way to fulfill the mission. "We are not going to be able to kill our way to victory in Afghanistan," McRaven told a House Armed Services subcommittee.

Kirby said that "the idea that reconciliation may not be as far along as it ought to be or the idea that there are still challenges to be overcome in reconciliation does not negate the security work we are doing with Afghan and coalition partners."
The United States might just see out 2015 with covert funding of an Afghan insurgency into Pakistan. Back to the good old days of cold war when you knew who your enemies were.

On NightWatch
Afghanistan: The National Directorate of Security thwarted a plan to assassinate President Karzai, agency officials said at news conference on 5 October. Officials arrested five people linked to the Haqqani network and al Qaida, they said. They also arrested one of Karzai's bodyguards, who was recruited by the Haqqani members to kill Karzai, the officials said.

Comment: A persistent theme in high profile assassinations is the role of insiders in aiding, abetting or executing the murder. The personnel vetting systems for installation and personal body guards are incompetent; the results speak for themselves, not just in Afghanistan but in Pakistan and India too. National leaders have been killed by the bodyguards in all three states, but most often and most recently in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan-India: On 5 October, Afghan President Karzai told the press that the new agreement with India will not harm Pakistan. Speaking on a two-day visit to New Delhi, Karzai said the new Afghan-Indian strategic partnership is not directed against any country but meant to support Afghanistan. Karzai said Pakistan is Afghanistan's twin brother and India is a great friend.

Comment: The openly proclaimed Afghanistan-Indian strategic partnership arguably is the most significant strategic development in Afghanistan since 2006. Despite Karzai's public blandishments, India and Afghanistan have agreed that Pakistan must be contained. Expect steadily increased tension in South Asia, starting with increased activism by proxies and clandestine services.

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