The Regional Institute of Research and Training organized a workshop to ponder about “Future Regional Security in Pakistan & Afghanistan after 2011: issues and challenges”. Participants were invited from different walks of life included researchers, bureaucrats, scholars, journalists, armed forces, think tanks and analysts. (The list of participants Annexure –A) The workshop was organized on 2nd December 2010 at Agriculture University Peshawar. Two panelists presented paper belonging to the department of International Relations and the Area Study Center University of Peshawar.
The first paper for the workshop was presented by Prof. Dr. Juma khan Sufi (Area Study Center) on: “US Exit Plan for Afghanistan”. The second panelist guest speaker was Prof. Dr. Ejaz (International Relation Department University of Peshawar), and he expressed his views on “The dynamics of Post US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the repercussions on FATA & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”.
After the presentations the participants gave their views on the subject, possible future problems resulting due to US- withdrawal or no- withdrawal condition.
One of the recommendations from participants was to organize similar workshops in other provinces so that the people were equally aware of the various so the people were equally aware of the various issues and problems. One important factor that was overlooked during the review process was to seek guidance for a national policy on this matter based upon the “War Resolution” passed by the joint session of parliament after receiving secret briefings and discussions from 8th to 22nd Oct 2008. This subject will be hopefully dealt in a subsequent Forum meeting. This important Resolution is available at Annex- A.
It is hoped that this workshop report will assist the policy making fraternity in making the right choices when the security paradigm changes in Afghanistan.
21st December, 2010
Brief for the Workshop:
1.RIPORT Policy paper on options in Afghanistan
Faced with rising opposition at home, increased casualties on the battlefield, and growing isolation amongst its allies, the United States is looking for a way to salvage the war in Afghanistan. However, the suggested remedies may end up destabilizing not only Afghanistan, but much of Central and South Asia.
2.De-facto Partition of Afghanistan
One of the high risks extreme proposal was recently mooted by a former U.S. Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, a neoconservative mainstay of the US think tank establishment and currently a lobbyist for India. In September 2010, Ambassador Robert Blackwill, spoke about “Plan B: The de facto Partition of Afghanistan.
2.1 Blackwill argues that the Obama administration’s counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan has failed and the best alternative is a de-facto partition of Afghanistan. According to this proposal Afghanistan’s Pakhtun areas are to be cordoned-off from the rest of the country. Blackwill states that this cordoned off area will be like an isolation zone to be policed by counter terrorism techniques reliant on drones and special operation raids when required.
Black will further believes that such a quarantine of Pakhtun areas of Afghanistan will allow the Taliban and anti-Taliban forces to consume themselves. He advocates that while this drama plays itself out, the US should support the development of the rest of Afghanistan. To conduct the military aspect of this plan Blackwill, advocates retention of a 40,000-50,000 US force presence compared to the existing level of about 110,000. Black will suggests that the US continue to target the Al- Qaeda and Taliban within the indicated “killing zone” and in the terrorist safe havens in FATA and other parts of Pakistan.
2.2 The negative aspect of this plan is that it would leave the Afghan Taliban in control in most of their historic stronghold in the South and the East and feels that though it is not the best outcome for the US in Afghanistan but it is the best that Washington can achieve consistent with its national interests and domestic politics.
2.3 But it would not mean that US will completely cut itself from the areas of the Taliban; rather it would control it by shaping the Taliban from a distance, so that the capabilities of the Al-Qaida and Taliban are kept within a manageable limit hoping to reduce them into insignificance over time. US Special Forces would be relied for implementing this policy. He adds, “We would also target Afghan Taliban encroachments across the de facto partition lines and terrorist sanctuaries along the Pakistan border.
2.4 In other words this control proposal would affect Pakistan and that has its own implications. Blackwill admits that his plan, “would allow Washington to focus on four issues more vital to its national interests: the rise of Chinese power, the Iranian nuclear program, nuclear terrorism and the future of Iraq”. It is ironic that only a couple of months ago the US foreign policy intelligentsia admitted that Iraq was the wrong war and the real problem was in Afghanistan. The US foreign policy like a see- saw advocates the return of US to Iraq. Apparently, the US foreign policy will become schizophrenic if the Blackwill prescription is accepted. It is a panacea for a long term war that will definitely find support amongst the US Hawks and the military however, it will be financially crippling in the long term.
2.6 Impact of de-facto partition of Afghanistan on Pakistan and neighboring countries
- Blackwill’s creation of a ‘killing zone’ in Afghanistan will affect Pakistan’s Pakhtuns in FATA, KP and Baluchistan. Secondly, this will change the strategic balance in the neighboring borders with China, Iran, India, Afghanistan and Central Asian States. The Durand Line that is the international border extending some 2640 kilometers and dividing Pakistan from Afghanistan will disappear as the killing zone extends East and Southwards from Afghanistan. Therefore, the plan will not only de-stabilize Afghanistan but also Pakistan. It will also shift the war deeper into Pakistan. If Blackwill’s policies are implemented then the existentialist threat to Pakistan will increase, its military will be over stretched to curb the Taliban revival in their core areas of Waziristan, Swat, Bajaur and Orakzai that operations against the Taliban will generate. . it will also threaten the security of KP and particularly Peshawar.
- Furthermore, about 40 million Pashtuns who reside in Pakistan will at some stage be pushed into the dynamics of establishing a separate state.
- Given Pakistan’s ethnic fragility and simmering discontent in Baluchistan, Blackwill’s prescription will place Pakistan into a stall that may perhaps make her extremely vulnerable as a state.
- A bigger nightmare is also a piggy-backing the Blackwill plan. If as is proposed occurs and the writ of the Pakistani state deteriorates then Pakistani Jihadi outfits will emerge as international agents in their own right. Their narrative will not be of Pan Islamism like Osama’,s but more attuned to the Sub-Continental religious rivalry between the Hindu and the Muslims. Their obvious target will be India – that is the only way that they will be able to be consumed by martyrdom.
- As the local Jihadi organizations emerge they will direct their efforts against India. In the event of such a likelihood coupled with a disengaged US, Indian strikes would follow. Pakistan threatened with disintegration will likely opt to use the nuclear option. In the absence of a US restraint as in December, 2008 such a situation could lead to nuclear finale.
- India is developing into a future intermediate great power of the 21st century and thus has much more to lose from the affects of this plan as it will lose its direction and become mined in security concerns. How this will actually unfold is anyone’s guess.
- Another unintended consequence of the Blackwill plan is the likely dispersal of the Islamic warrior core composed of the Uzbek IMU.
2.7 Gerard Russell, who ran the British government’s outreach to the Muslim world from 2001 to 2003 is doubtful about the efficacy of the Blackwill plan, he feels:
- Iran and Russia will be supporting Northern Afghan tribes, and Pakistan will support the Pashtuns. This will create a potentially lethal proxy war that would be worse than the civil war of the 1990s, because the stakes will be higher.
- Afghanistan and her immediate neighbors will oppose this plan – Pakistan in particular dislikes the idea of ethnic separatism and the Central Asian States show little enthusiasm to open their borders with Afghanistan. This will also create a logistics problem for the US to support their reduced forces in Afghanistan through the Northern route.
3. Firewall Option:
3.1 Another proposal to deal with Afghanistan in the post US withdrawal scenario and penned by thinkers in India proposes that instead of a partition as proposed by Blackwill the AfPak region should be firewalled by policing its borders physically and electronically. One such report prepared by Sushant Sareen and Col. Harinder of Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), New Delhi, states that in the event of the NATO member states disengagement from Afghanistan, it would be prudent to firewall the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) region from all sides with only a minimal foreign military presence inside Afghanistan.
3.2 The IDSA study writes “Such an approach would not only free the United States from aimlessly paying for Pakistan’s follies and hemorrhaging its own economy and military, but also drive its rival China to act more responsibly in the global fight against terrorism.”
3.3 The study is of the view that “India has been fairly successful in fire walling the radical blow back emanating from Pakistan in the past and need not be overly worried about the impending U.S. withdrawal.”
3.4. The writer believes that Indians would ideally like to see the West succeed in its mission of cleansing Afghanistan of the influence of Islamist terror groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, “But if the West fails to achieve this objective, as is becoming increasingly apparent, then it is unlikely that India will step in to replace them in Afghanistan. While India could provide some military assistance in the form of advisers and trainers to anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan, the chances of India putting military boots on the ground are simply remote, the. Instead, India would most likely prefer to beef up its security along the border areas with Pakistan in order to insulate itself from the adverse impact of Taliban ascendancy in Afghanistan.
3.5 The writer say, “After all, the source of India’s insecurity is not Afghanistan; it is Pakistan. And Pakistan will continue to be a problem regardless of whether or not Americans stay in Afghanistan. The much tainted Taliban becomes a menace for India only if they are deliberately directed or pushed into India by their Pakistani patrons or if they take over the Pakistani state.”The authors of the IDSA study odd: “While the former is something that India has been contending with for over two decades, the latter possibility will become a problem not just for India but also for the rest of the civilized world. Short of direct intervention in Pakistan to rescue and reform the Pakistani state, the only way to restrict the fallout of a Talibanised Afghanistan and the inevitability of this development resulting in a Talibanised Pakistan is for the West to take a cue from India and follow a strategy of fire walling the AfPak region.”
4. Impact of a Firewall:
4.1 The paper argues that there is little doubt that the strategic vacuum that will be created by the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan will be filled by the Taliban and other assorted terror groups who comprise the Jihad International’. This, it says, will certainly have local, regional and global repercussions. Afghanistan will either descend into chaos and civil war or else revert to the peace of a graveyard that the Taliban imposed between 1996 and 2001. The report adds “With the Taliban in control, Islamic radicalism will of course get a fillip. But more serious is the imminent prospect of Afghanistan becoming a sanctuary and launching pad for all varieties of Islamic terror groups from around the world,”
4.2 While the immediate impact of such a development will be felt by countries in the region — the Central Asian states, Iran, and China — the global ramifications of a Taliban regime in Afghanistan in terms of the spread of Islamic terrorism cannot be understated, the authors say.
4.3 But the country likely to be worst affected is Pakistan. Rather than providing Pakistan ‘strategic depth’, a Taliban victory in Afghanistan will transform the country into a ‘strategic black hole’. For Pakistan, “In its obsession with sponsoring, supporting and providing sanctuary to the entire Taliban leadership and directing its war effort against the U.S. troops in an elaborate double-game, Pakistan does not seem to have thought things through.”
4.4 The firewall will likely be manned by Iran in the West, by the CAS in the North with US assistance, by India in the East and by the US Navy in the Arabian Sea in the South.
5. Effect on Pakistan:
- Pakistan will be affected especially KP and FATA because if the Pak Afghan borders are quarantined, the Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan will unite and rise against such a policy which will result in regional instability; the very eventuality that the firewall wants to prevent.
This will affect the peace and economy of Pakistan and Afghanistan. By fire-walling the Afghan-Pakistan region, the goal of preventing the Taliban and other militant groups from entering Pakistan will not be possible. Thus instead of Afghanistan the region will have to contend with a very large area and a population of 200 million to content with. Disengagement is not an option.
According Indian analyst Sanjay Kumar war is not just bound to logistics or materials rather it is the war of minds. If a firewall has to be planted then it should be imposed on the minds of the people who support terrorism by educating and reconciling with them rather than physically ostracizing them.
6. Consequences of allowing situation to drift:
Through it is unlikely that the world will turn its back to the region as it did after the Mujahideen victory in Afghanistan in 1989 but the brief considers the consequences if a similar option ever occurs:
6.1 It will create a situation that persisted in Afghanistan from 1996-2001 where there is intense internal struggle in Afghanistan that is supported by Pakistani Jihadist and others. It will spread to Pakistani areas and is likely to attain ethnic dimensions. The demography and fighting capabilities as well as organizational abilities of the Taliban will provide them an edge that will result in their domination of Afghanistan. After a bloody war of the genocidal proportion with grave violations of human rights.
6.2 The effect of a Taliban government will transform the Pakistani national narrative into an Islamist shape that will lead to two distinct possibilities:
- FATA and KP will become similar to the war zone in Afghanistan will the Taliban using it as a safe haven on a large scale Increase in the hate volume against India, the West and even China
- There will be rightist influence over Pakistani politics and security policy.
- There will be more radicalization of the Pakistani population.
- There is likely to be an increase in hate against India eventually against West and China.
- There is a definite possibility of deterioration of relations between Pakistan and the rest of the world particularly India.
- The Pakistani military will be so involved in internal policing that it will not have space to concentrate on defending the border with India and it will thus allow India to encroach further on water resources in the Himalayas and shape Pakistani policies.
- Apparently the policy of drift is also not a prudent option because if the US disengages from Afghanistan without laying a solid framework on which peace can be built will be a sure recipe for chaos that will get out of hand very quickly.
7. Re- instituting former traditional systems of governance:
7.1 Afghanistan historically was a loosely governed confederation of tribes and clans where the King and his officials exchanged influence for the flow of money and exchanged for loyalties for the central government. The country was administered in a minimalist manner where the community elders had a responsible role to play and were answerable to the King in Kabul. Whenever a certain individual rebelled he was dealt with by the Afghan army.
7.2 This model was functional in its pristine form during the reign of Amir Abdur Rehman (1880-1901). His achievements were impressive. His main task was the integration of rebellious tribes into a single polity. He weakened the autonomy of the tribes by transferring many of the military and administrative functions of the chiefs to the central government. He transferred loyal tribesmen as settlers into rebellious regions, and neutralized the independence of Hazaras and Nuristanis. 
7.3 Over a period of time Afghanistan’s leaders have struggled to modernize their nation however in the absence of a strong military it has been a risky proposition. King Amanullah( 1919-1929) the most enthusiastic modernizer of Afghanistan before, Sardar Daud failed because he did not have the military capacity to defeat the tribal challengers.
7.4 Sardar Daud( 1973-1978) was another modernizer yet his attempts to provide a modern base for the development of Afghanistan from 1953-63 failed. As a matter of fact the Helmand Valley Development initiative that was massive by Afghan standards ushered in unintended consequences that helped in creation of a leftist base inside Afghanistan. In July 1973 Daud led a coup ousting King Zahir Shah (1933-1973) and declaring Afghanistan a Republic. Thus ended the rule of a king who presided over the most peaceful and prosperous era in Afghani history for 40 years.
7.5. It is a good point for discussion whether the time is not ripe to revert to the only model of stability that Afghanistan has known in its history and look for a neutral figure as King who is acceptable to all the groups in Afghanistan. It is clear that such a consensus will need to be built through the institution of the Loe Jirga – a collection of tribal representatives who meet at critical times in Afghan history who are able to bring unity.
Once this phase is complete then it is for the new dispensation to end war and usher a period of reconciliation and re-integration of those who were ousted from the national fabric since the last decade. May be this option has the greatest potential of generating momentum towards peace. However, this option will need the support of the West and Afghan neighbors for its success.
7.6 Clearly genuine reconciliation and peace may be difficult to achieve in Afghanistan unless the West seriously engages the Taliban. Such talks can only come about after the exact terms of a post- war Afghanistan have been determined. Even under such conditions the role of having a pivot of statehood under a monarch may be inevitable.
8. Address at Workshop by Khalid Aziz Chairman RIPORT
Gentlemen Good evening
8.1 On behalf of RIPORT and Agricultural University I want to thank you for joining us in this policy formulation workshop. I especially welcome those from government.
8.2 As we all know the war in this region is reaching a terminal phase with a withdrawal of troops looking plainly imminent – it is likely to begin in 2011
8.3 The public in the US and NATO countries are less enthusiastic about the presence of troops in Afghanistan. Secondly the rampant increase of the cost of war in Afghanistan that is $120 billion a year is becoming a burden.
8.4 The Pakistan public and government are for from enthusiastic about the war and the public support for it is fast dwindling.
8.5 Let us begin the proceedings please.
As you know that soon there will be changes in Afghanistan and we are gathered to discuss options that will be transformed into policy paper after the workshop.
Paper presented by Juma Khan Sufi
US Exit Plan for Afghanistan
9.1 The recent Lisbon Summit of NATO was a major development. It dispelled the impression that US, NATO and coalition are eager to wind up sooner than latter. Fixing 2014 as the aspirational goal rather than an actual deadline for the withdrawal of combat forces in consonance with July 2010 pronouncement by President Karzai that by then the Afghan security forces would be ready to take full responsibility of the military and law enforcement operations throughout Afghanistan should be viewed as such in this context. The upcoming December review by the US aimed at to recalculate its military presence will further clear the clouds over the horizon. There were fears that US administration of President Barrack Obama would most probably begin shifting to a counter-terrorism (CT) strategy requiring many fewer troops in Afghanistan if the pending review finds that the current counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy is not working, according to a new report published prior to the Summit by a bipartisan task force of 25 prominent analysts and former top foreign policy officials.
9.2 But the Lisbon summit set no clear game strategy for Afghanistan. The AfPak Special Representative, Richard Holbrooke, has aptly described that US has no exit strategy but a transition strategy. July 2011 draw down date given by President Obama would be just a symbolic gesture. Both dates are mainly focused to appease the domestic unease over the continuation of infinite war – the war they must fight. These dates are conditions- based and the ground realities belie the aspirations. Neither NATO nor Karzai are telling the whole truth. The mostly illiterate Afghan security forces recruited and trained on uneven ground mainly drawn from the ethnic minorities and not led by Pashtoon officers, the traditional officer class, with current large scale desertions will not be able to fight on their own without the active backup of the International Security Assistance Force. Secondly, the troops surge started with big fanfare expected to turn around the insurgency, win the war and force the weakened Taliban to negotiate and reintegrate, is not going to succeed. The widespread corruption and mis-governance of Karzai administration also adds fuel to the fire of insurgency.
9.3 On the other hand, the rising human and material costs of the ongoing counter-insurgency operations are not sustainable for indefinite period of time. The continuation of the present counter-insurgency strategy further swells the ranks of Taliban, unifies the extremist groups, threatens the health of US economy, diverts its attention away from other pressing issues and alienates its population. But the consequences of the defeat and total withdrawal would be catastrophic for the US, NATO, coalition and even for the neighboring states, first and foremost, Pakistan. Russia, China and India must have heaved a sigh of relief over the Lisbon declaration about Afghanistan. The expansion of military infrastructure in the North and West of Afghanistan, the opening of alternative rail route passing through Ukraine or Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Mazar-i- Sharif, the new found love affair with Russia, the extension of Kabul and Islamabad US embassies costing billions of dollars indicate that the US wants to remain engaged for longer period of time in the region.
9.4 We remain victim of the insurgency, as well as counter-insurgency. We have no choices. The US would like to broaden cooperation from tribal area to the cities in Pakistan, minimize the role of security forces of Pakistan and directly deal with the insurgents. Pakistan does not want to give free walk to Americans inside the country, still pins its hope on some of the Taliban combatants for fear of Indian influence in Afghanistan, but at the same time the deepening economic crisis needing continuous intake of US military and civilian aid remain our Achilles heal. Besides, we also face insurgency and terrorism on a wider scale. The more this war drags on, the more we would face the negative consequences. Believing that the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan will automatically end insurgency and terrorism here in Pakistan is negation of history and taking casual view of the phenomenon. Similarly to believe that terrorism and insurgency will remain at manageable level whatever happens in Afghanistan also tantamount to wishful thinking.
9.5 Given the fact that US is determined to remain engaged, the present counter-insurgency strategy is leading nowhere and US would like to achieve its goal by different means, say counter terrorism conducted with application of minimal military boots, high-tech weaponry or even withdrawing from Pashtoon populated areas in the south and east of Afghanistan, then Pakistan would face a worst case scenario on an unimaginable magnitude. Continuing the present reactive policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan might lead us to more disasters. Our over obsession with Indian factor might not blind us to ignoring the existential threat emanating from the situation beyond our control.
9.6 This is the time of reckoning and Pakistani establishment must seize the opportunity to adopt a proactive policy. Taliban led Afghanistan will not take place and the world is not going to let it happen. A negotiated settlement with Taliban is in our interest, as well as in the interest of the world. We have natural clout of geography, history and ethnicity and war or peace in Afghanistan is unthinkable without Pakistan’s help. Instead of repeatedly listening to US mantra to do more, we must take the initiative and shed the past baggage.
Whatever clout we have, we must use it in favor of a settlement. The stakes are high for us. In order to develop an alternative narrative, we should shift the paradigm. The security doctrine pursued so far does not fit into the reality of the present day world. This does not mean that we must ignore the eastern threat. It means that adopting a more robust approach, we dispel the widely held impression that Pakistan uses extremism as a foreign policy tool.
The ambiguity no longer favors us. The alternatives to COIN are dreadful. Before the US decides to go for a Counter Terrorism strategy, we must act and act decisively. We also face the problem of governance and corruption like Afghanistan, but our security establishment is capable enough to act on its own.
9.7 Pakistan can only force an earlier exit from Afghanistan when it is ready to play the role of an honest facilitator. By allowing making it further difficult for Americans to stay in Afghanistan, we would actually impose alternative strategy on them, which would harm Pakistan more than anybody else. With the passage of time the space of maneuver is narrowing down for us.
The dynamics of Post US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the repercussions on FATA & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Dr. Ijaz Khan Chairman: Department of International Relations University of Peshawar
10.1 US President Obama announced last year that US forces would start withdrawal from Afghanistan from July 2001 In Kabul Conference on Afghanistan in July and then re confirmed at Lisbon meeting of NATA last month, the US /NATO announced plan to hand over all operations to Afghan security forces by 2014. These two statements have created a lot of debate and different reactions. There are different interpretations of these announcements as well. The most popular and common interpretation, at least within Pakistan is that US is leaving Afghanistan – is looking for a face saving formula – and has lost the War in Afghanistan.
10.2 I will address this interpretation which I consider to be not wholly correct. But before doing so, I will also present my view of those who interpret such and try to see what can be the implications of that as well as what some expect from such a scenario.
10.3 President Obama’s announcement of the commencement of withdrawal accompanied by an increase in US troops in Afghanistan as well as announcement of plans and commitments to increase the economic, administrative and military/Police capability of Afghanistan. There was no final deadline about when the withdrawal will be completed. Also an important part of the announcement was the plan to review the progress in December 2010.
10.4 In Pakistan initially only the withdrawal word and the increase in troops was heard, then gradually people noticed the other parts including the part that troops will not withdraw by July 2010 but start withdrawing by then, the other parts were downplayed even if noticed. The review part was rarely noticed.
10.5 The current announcement about handing over operations in Afghanistan to Afghans has been interpreted as the final announcement of the missing deadline part in the earlier announcement. Again no one noted that US has not said it will leave Afghanistan by 2014.
All this has been accompanied by US direct or indirect negotiations with Taliban. And various quarters in US talking negatively about Karzai, the Afghan President
10.6 Those interpreting these announcements as US acceptance of its loss and US as being about to leave Afghanistan can be divided into groups
Outright supporters of Taliban / Al Qaeda and agreeing with their political agenda. They consider time has arrived or is about to arrive for a religious takeover of the Af-Pak region.
Traditional Pakistani mindset that continues to consider Taliban as the best bet for Pakistan in Afghanistan and religious extremists as a good tool of policy – they look at all the scenario with focus on India
Some left of the center opinion, which considers this will result in return of Taliban in Afghanistan and may even result in Talibanization of Pakistan – the end of a possibility of a liberal democratic Pakistan. May also lead to a situation which will force the return US in the near future with much more destructive force. Or at least unleash a war with India.
There is also an opinion in between all the above, which considers US withdrawal without addressing the issue of smooth transition to peace in Afghanistan will have negative implications for at least the Af-Pak region. They must leave but first they must address the issues of peaceful transition in Afghanistan as well as address the issues of regional geo politics, especially the India Pakistan problems and their manifestation in the Afghan imbroglio.
10.7 In my opinion, US is not about to leave Afghanistan. If it does, it will not do so in defeat, unless the whole global balance of power undergoes a radical change. We must also try to understand US political system especially the politics of the two parties Republicans and Democrats. While Republicans are conservatives, Democrats have more Centers left strand. Republicans, especially in Foreign Policy are more militaristic and gives less importance to other elements in foreign policy. For republicans socio economic aspects and human rights etc. play a lesser role in any policy than democrats.
10.8 It must be understood that the difference is of degree and not absolute. The language of both also differs, however, it must be remembered that on Afghanistan as on most, if not all Foreign Policy issues they have bi partisan approach. Democratic losses in the recent elections were not because of Foreign Policy let alone Afghanistan. They were more about domestic economic and social issues. The pressire on US administration from is still from the fringe of US public and has not reached the popular mainstream opposition that US intervention Vietnam faced or the issues of ethics connected with Iraq.
10.9 This is not to argue that US does not want to leave Afghanistan. It would love to at the first opportunity, but it will only do so after ensuring that the scenario presented by the third group presented above does not result. Negotiations with Taliban are more a part of what has been termed by some as peeling off strategy and not a compromise with Taliban.
10.10 There are opportunities and challenges for Pakistan. US will do whatever it takes to bring Pakistan on board. They know the vital position of Pakistan in the helping US exit from Afghanistan the way they want to. Pakistan can really help US and gain in many areas or US will try to make Pakistan help it. To what extent it will go to do that and what it can or will do is any body’s guess.
Withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan:
2014 inspirational date of withdrawal of NATO Forces from Afghanistan; but not final.
- It will be a condition-based withdrawal if it occurs
- ANA will not be able to secure peace as there are many problems making expansion uneven
- Mis-governance in Afghanistan is the principle reason for its problems
- Peace in Afghanistan does not really have a deep impact on the stability of Pakistan. There are other issues as well to be addressed related to security and governance
- US will remain in the region for a long time although number of troops and strategy will vary
- Pakistan’s main problem is its financial weakness and thus reduces its options.
- Counter Insurgency is not effective as policies for ‘hold’ and ‘build’ phase need strengthening; they are now weak.
- A negotiated settlement with the Taliban is the path to peace. Pakistan should help the Afghans.
Focus on Pakistan First:
We should shift the national paradigm; Pakistan should stay away from Jihad and redefine its paradigm.
- US announced its troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. It generated debate different interpretations.
- Operations will be handed over to Afghanistan forces
- Pakistan has supporters of Al-Qaeda and Taliban within the country; we are divided.
- Some people say that Taliban are trying to spread religious education.
- Some say that the government of Pakistan’s policy of supporting Taliban is good for regional security.
- The impression amongst many persons is that the US is about to leave Afghanistan.
- According to panelists the US will not leave Afghanistan; they want to leave after winning
- US has influenced Pakistani by its economic and financial assistance.
- More challenges to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
- Keeping US aims in mind; it is essential for Pakistan to decide; how to play the pressure.
Study International Dynamics:
US want to leave but at the moment they want to leave after winning
- Presumptions need to be examined with clarity
- We must understand what is the internal dynamics of FATA/ KP and impact on the once withdrawal of foreign forces occur in Afghanistan- will the militants go away?
- Local Jihadists have become more autonomous and now wage their own war.
- Even Barelvis (a sub sect of Sunni Muslims) have also joined violence and it has now become a Sunni driven violence.
- Pakistan is relevant to US as it serves US interests.
- Pakistan is not pursuing its own issues, like the Kashmir issue, or India’s intent to divert Indus waters. While we remain focused on Afghanistan other national matters are left Madrassah.
- Issues of FATA /KP will remain same, if we remain in a drift. Internal cohesion is must and it is related to better security and governance.
- National consensus to fight the war is essential- people in other provinces are least concerned with the war. Some of the equally important issues for us are:-
- Investing more resources in security
- Implementing the 18th Amendment
More engaged leadership in KP.
- In the past violence was against British, now the Islamist are calling other Muslims Kafirs and they are better armed & funded.
- Nation building has been back staged.
- The Afghanistan refugee issue will revive in a Blackwill plan; Pakistan has a deficit of trust.
Afghanistan has always been chaotic:
- Afghanistan is black hole and no solution is workable.
- Afghanistan was never at peace in history. Let us not waste our efforts to make it peaceful now.
- Pakistan is becoming more corrupt and weak in fighting someone else war.
- Most parts of the country is indifferent to the terrorist activities and the war- like situation prevailing in KP e.g. cities of Punjab. Cities like Lahore present a very different kind of perception than is prevalent in KP.
- The whole nation should be sensitized about the different crises that Pakistan is facing.
We are facing energy crises, water resources and water shortages, poor security and weak dispensation of justice. These issues need to have higher priority than the war.
We need to educate our people- education is prescription against radicalism.
Our wrong Policies
- For USSR, the Mujahidden war their defeat in which Pakistan was used as a tool.
- Afghanistan still believes that Pakistan is responsible for their ills and hate Pakistan.
- US can never exit cleanly, because the Russians and Chinese will not let them to quit.
- Permitting refugees to settle in Pakistan has done us harm as they introduced weaponization and the drug culture.
- We should obtain US aid in return for our favors to the US to overcome our economic crises.
- US cannot have a clean exit from Afghanistan without Pakistani support.
- US is dependent on Pakistan for the execution of its plans in the region. But US cannot be trusted as its sincerity towards Pakistan is doubtful and that is quite obvious from the US stand on Kashmir issue.
- Formation of a committee for institutional revival be created and it should consist of bureaucrats and Ex MNAs for revival of the system.
Reality of US – Pak Relations:
- S will not withdraw unless its security interests are met.
- US is more concerned for security of US mainland then bothered about Pakistan.
- Pakistan fiscal and foreign policy is dependent on events in Afghanistan since 1978, that’s why we have been over emphasizing Afghanistan. We should focus internally.
- Pakistan is facing energy crises and illiteracy problem. As a nation we are short sighted.
- We brought US into the region and that has generated other evils – we cannot prevent without extra regional influences and hence we are become weakened. Therefore, we need to correct our policies that must be focused on implementing universal values of peace within Pakistan.
- During Zulfiqar Bhutto’s reign, we were recognized as a more respected nation and we also had self-respect..
- We must relinquish policies based to not pleasing anymore others.
- Focus on culture for winning peace based on tribal dynamics; we need to revive and support peace, love and brotherhood.
Political Empowerment & Violence – Lessons from Pakistan’s FATA
Presented to WANA Forum, Amman, Jordan, 9th May 2011
(by Khalid Aziz)
I will discuss issues related to identity formation in period of turmoil as is occurring in WANA region and submit some lessons learned from similar transitions that have happened in Pakistan’s FATA at different periods of its history. Instead of building on the traditional strengths of the region we mistakenly opted for using Jihad for ousting the USSR. This radicalized the region destroyed the traditional society in FATA and created a millenarian conflict threatening global peace. Let us learn from our errors.
Before examining other factors let us look at ourselves in a frank manner. In intra religious comparisons regarding the incidence of violence the following conclusions were drawn by Samuel Huntington.
He found that there was a relatively high use of violence by Muslims in resolving disputes than others; he found that:
- US used violence in 18% of its disputes
- The USSR used it in 28.5% of violence in its disputes
- Muslim countries used violence in 53.5% of their disputes
- UK used it in 11.5%
- The Chinese used it 76.9%
The following are multiple explanations given by experts for existence of violence in society;
- High birth rates & a youth bulge – if 20% or more of the population is in the 15-24 years age group then a society will be prone to violence. Experts have identified this as a major cause of the current instability and violence in the WANA region
- Others have argued that the Quran contains few prohibitions against violence and a doctrine of non-violence is absent in Islam.
- The Muslims conquered many parts of the world and this brought them in contact with others who were dispossessed or retained their former religion, that caused conflict
- In other cases for instance the Muslim invasions of India led to violence against non-Muslims; it led to grievances and violence
- Domination of Muslims by Imperial powers led to violent reaction. In the 1857 War of Independence the British massacre of Muslims of Delhi ended any chance of a future friendship and fixed hatred for Britain & Christianity in India
- Even more than Christianity, Islam is an absolutist faith and non-Muslim lands are considered Darul Harb, creating another identity hook of US Vs Them;
- West’s sponsorship of a Jewish homeland in Palestine laid the basis for the ongoing Arab-Israeli violence that created a united Muslim identity against Israel and their supporters the West
- The West’s neo-colonial attitude towards states in WANA based on their appetite for energy resources and strategic location created multiple negative identity factors against the West and rulers who are friendly to it
- Entwined in the larger struggle against the West exemplified by the use of terror by al-Qaeda and kindred groups, lies the struggle between the Sunnis and Shias supported by S. Arabia and Iran respectively as well as between Takfiris and other sects. It has become a Wahabi struggle for supremacy that is in conflict with other regional Muslim religious identities
- However we have seen some hope in the positive behavior apparent in the recent movement of the people who are demanding freedom, liberty and democracy in WANA & the Middle East. It shows:
- The rejection of violence by the demonstrators except in Libya where a full scale civil war has erupted
- The acceptance of religious diversity by a majority of demonstrators
- Communities and people have been brought together by electronic social media that is a positive development.
- There is an acceptance of the principles of human rights and freedoms in these movements
Findings from Terrorism
Two central tenets from the theory of terrorism state:
- Societies that suffer from dis-enfranchisement will witness political trouble and consequent lack of cohesion and national direction
- Where suppression prevents protest and consequential reform in government, a large % of the population will become alienated. Alienation leads to terrorism as extreme-politics. If a state also suffers from an ethnic and a religious divide then alienation will lead to war and separation. Examples are:
- Dysfunctionality of state in Somalia
- Creation of Bangladesh
- Demise of Yugoslavia
- Pressure on Lebanon on numerous occasions
- Division of Sudan
- Tensions in Bahrain or Yemen
Special Position of FATA
The Pakistani tribal areas have a population of 3.5 million and are the size of Belgium. It straddles the border with Afghanistan, a country kept as a buffer by the British Imperial power against expansion of Russia towards India. The British used the tribal areas as a strategic “prickly hedge” in case the Russians advanced through Afghanistan.
- To understand FATA, picture a huge castle that represents India, an Imperial possession and called the Jewel in the British Crown and construct a deep ditch to its North West – that will be FATA – please tell me whether it is possible for someone to lead a normal life in such a strategic ditch? To avoid any qualms of conscious the British developed a legal fiction and said that the “tribal areas though a part of India are not a part of British India!” Thus they were left under-developed.
- Pakistan since 1947 has continued to keep FATA in this position because its space was used for strategic agendas. Pakistan’s voluntary involvement in great power rivalry in this part led to massive underdevelopment of the people. For instance in 2011, FATA’s literacy rate is an embarrassing 17.6%. Its abused population is alienated and now fights the state. FATA was used in the following conflicts:
- Since 1947 as provider of proxy warriors in Kashmir and India
- From 1978-88, as base of Mujahidin War against USSR
- 1996-2001 as support base for servicing the Afghan Taliban
- Sept 2001 to date as a safe haven where OBL and his supporters stayed & launched terrorists acts
- This abuse has led to the creation of an indigenous insurgency against the Pakistan state that threatens global peace and security
- It has caused huge discredit to the Pakistani state
- More than 30,000 civilians, more than 5000 soldiers have been killed many hundred have been injured and a huge economic loss imposed on the people who roam the country side as internally displaced persons.
Situation in WANA
The following to my mind are the main factors causing distress in WANA and the Middle-East:
- A high birth rate and bulge of the 15-24 years old
- High levels of poverty, nepotism & corruption
- Ineffective political participation leading to disempowerment and alienation
- Poor economic conditions leading to unemployment, a factor adding to alienation
- Neo-colonial pressure for resources and support of Western powers for Israel
Lessons from FATA:
Pakistan also witnessed upheavals in the region before FATA became a generator of violence in 1978, these were:
- Tension with Afghanistan/India – 1947-54 (Those who fought in Kashmir in 1947 considered themselves as Pakistanis – thus a positive identity was created)
- Creation of the Pashtunistan separatist movement – 1954 (Another negative identity that of a separatist state was introduced)
- Afghan interference 1970s
- The Mujahidin War (1978-88), a new globalized Islamic identity was created; Pakistan was infected too and Islamized its laws; the motto of the army was changed to “Jihad in the name of Allah.”
Before 1978 the following methods based on traditional power structures were used to obtain cohesion and retain previous identities:
- Tension was neutralized by the use of traditional methods of exploring common grounds, defining core local identity and identifying factors that could encourage the feeling of a common community
- Use of strategic messaging through the traditional leaders and electronic media was undertaken
- Identification of heroes in communities and building them as icons of unity and relevant models was encouraged
- Introduction of a layer of local government to liaison with the State and thus empowering communities; adult franchise was extended in 1996
- Creating an ethos of respecting diversity and encouraging development of positive discrimination for the minorities was encouraged
- Creating new secular identities and relegating religion as an individual’s personal equation with Allah.
- However, after President Ziaul Haq Islamized the state in 1977-88, there was no scope left to prevent the slippage of Pakistan towards violence and medievalism. Thus the lessons learnt from FATA can with modification be adopted to the WANA region to good effect.
I would like to end with the wise remarks on statecraft uttered by Alaudin Khilji the Turkmen ruler of India 7 centuries ago. He said that he made decisions in matters of state that he considered fit. He did not look to Sharia for guidance. He said that he did not know how God will judge him on the Day of Judgment.
What he left unsaid was how God would judge a ruler who acted according to the Sharia but then caused immense suffering to his people?