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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 42, October 8, 2011

Obama’s New Afghan Strategy with Pakistan to Induct the Taliban in Kabul

Saturday 8 October 2011, by Bashir Mohammad

DESPITE LATEST STRAINS IN US-PAK RELATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN

The strategy devised at the London Conference on Afghanistan (held in January 2010)—“reinte-gration and reconciliation”—was a veiled scheme of once again handing over Afghanistan to Pakistan. President Obama’s rhetoric on the “Way For-ward in Af-Pak” has the same thrust.

The consequences of this dangerous scheme are not difficult to fathom. These are as follows:

(i) the resumption of civil war sucking in the neighbouring countries;
(ii) spread of terrorism and resultant bloodshed farther afield;
(iii) a virtual partitioning of Afghanistan into two distinct states run by Pushtuns and non-Pushtuns.

DESPITE the latest strains in the relations between the US and Pakistan (due primarily to the latter’s deep links with the Haqqani network), there are certain vital similarities in the approaches of the two allies in the war on terror: (a) both Washington and Islamabad ignore the traditions and sentiments as well as cultural linkages of Afghanistan’s non-Pushtun populace—the Hazaras, Uzbeks and Tajiks; (b) both overlook the interests of other neighbours and friends in the region, namely, Iran and the Central Asian republics, India and Russia; (c) both support a regime of Sunni fudamentalists in Kabul. They both know that while the Karzai Government has lost the Afghan people’s trust, the Taliban is hated in Afghanistan to this day; yet they are both doing everything to undermine in effect President Hamid Karzai’s authority and at the same time negotiating with the Taliban for reasons which are purely opportunistic.

Indeed Washington appears poised to compound its earlier follies and make way for the induction of the Taliban in Kabul. President Obama’s new strategy is centred on the full recognition that the US’ success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to its partnership with Pakistan which has intimate bonds of solidarity and understanding with the Taliban.

There is one more point to note. It is well known that drug money finances the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. That is why it is imperative for the international community to eliminate drug traffic and the opium fields in Afghanistan. This is a critical issue to be tackled on an urgent basis; but the US does not give adequate attention to this phenomenon as it is, for all the eloquent anti-Taliban pronouncements of Obama, even now interested in “reconciliation” with the Taliban. However, anyone with even a basic knowledge of the Afghan reality is fully conscious of the fact that it is impossible to fight the militants and terrorists in Afghanistan by being totally oblivious to the growth of drug production in the country.

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