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US buys Karzai-Pakistan peace policy for Afghanistan


US buys Karzai-Pakistan peace policy for Afghanistan

Bharat (aka India) is pushing for the partition of Afghanistan, so that in a post-US Afghanistan, it can use its proxies to fight the Pakhtuns in Afghanistan and continue to destabilize Pakistan. Bharat’s aim to create a Pakhtun state in Afghanistan that would then push for a united Pakhtunistan.

The US has also toyed with the same idea, but it wil take too much effort to create countries in the area and it would surely not be liked by any of the neighbors. The world is sick and tired of solutions like the ones proposed for Iraq. The US just wants to get out, and will probably allow the chips to fall where they may.

The upcoming civil war in Afghanistan will be a bloody one, with Bharat fully supporting the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, and Pakistan behind the Pakhtuns. Iran has promised to back Pakistan and the Pan-Afghan solution. Russia is playing neutral, because a Tajik and Uzbek instrability would create problems for Tajiksitan and Uzbekistan. Bharat has stashed arms for the post-US scenario, and the Pakhtuns and the Pakistanis know this. Continued supply lines to the Northern Alliance will be difficult to maintain for Delhi, but it will surely try. All Tajiks and Uzbeks cannot be counted upon to back Abdullah Abdullah’s aspirations for a partitioned Afghanistan. The Afghan National Resistance has tentacles right up to the Uzbek border, and they claim Uzbeks and Tajiks as part of their coalition. Warlords like Dostum may chart an independent course and may not support Bharati proxies in Afghanistan.

For years the US has been saying that it would not negotiate with the top leadership of the Afghan National Resistance (aka Taliban). Now there are indications from Washington and London that American is ready to accept the long standing Pakistani proposal of talking to all factions in Afghanistan so that peace can be brought to Kabul and the US can pull a face saving exit.

The focus on shifting governance and warfare into Afghan hands comes as the U.S.-led international coalition backing Karzai’s government, now near its planned peak of 150,000 troops, struggles to contain the Taliban insurgency. The coalition registered its highest number of troop deaths last year at 521, according to iCasualties.org, a nonprofit group that tracks military fatalities. So far this year, 379 have died, a rate 33 percent higher than in 2009. Businessweek

The US press is still caught up in the decade old rhetoric of blaming Pakistan and this that the other for the defeats in the Hindu Kush. US diplomacy has finally caught up with what the Europeans want, especially Britain. The UK has clearly informed Washington that it will definitely pull out its troops by 2014 or before. The beginning of the end starts in 2011 and the end will be terminated in 2014. The recent statement by President Hamid Karzai during the Kabul conference clearly describes his stance that Afghan forces with Pakistani help will be able to stand up in 2014.

Many in America are asking “Why are we in Afghanistan”.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele recently said the unthinkable: Afghanistan is “a war of Obama’s choosing.” Steele’s remarks triggered a verbal slugfest between neocon proponents of endless war, such as William Kristol, and Iraq hawks turned Afghanistan doves, such as Ann Coulter.

Michael Steele was right. President Barack Obama could have started afresh in Afghanistan. But he chose to make the war his own, twice escalating the number of troops.

For what purpose? Baker Spring of the Heritage Foundation declared: to “defend the vital interests of the United States.”

What vital interests?

The original justification for war long ago disappeared. Al-Qaeda has relocated to Pakistan. Today, says CIA Director Leon Panetta, “At most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less” Taliban operatives in Afghanistan. Huffington Post.

Newsweek columnist Haas clearly want the US to withdraw as do the majority of Americans.

Today the counterinsurgency strategy that demanded all those troops is clearly not working. The August 2009 election that gave Karzai a second term as president was marred by pervasive fraud and left him with less legitimacy than ever. While the surge of U.S. forces has pushed back the Taliban in certain districts, the Karzai government has been unable to fill the vacuum with effective governance and security forces that could prevent the Taliban’s return. So far the Obama administration is sticking with its strategy; indeed, the president went to great lengths to underscore this when he turned to Petraeus to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Kabul. No course change is likely until at least December, when the president will find himself enmeshed in yet another review of his Afghan policy.

At the other end of the policy spectrum would be a decision to walk away from Afghanistan—to complete as quickly as possible a full U.S. military withdrawal. Doing so would almost certainly result in the collapse of the Karzai government and a Taliban takeover of much of the country. Afghanistan could become another Lebanon, where the civil war blends into a regional war involving multiple neighboring states. Such an outcome triggered by U.S. military withdrawal would be seen as a major strategic setback to the United States in its global struggle with terrorists. It would also be a disaster for NATO in what in many ways is its first attempt at being a global security organization.

There are, however, other options. One is reconciliation, a fancy word for negotiating a ceasefire with those Taliban leaders willing to stop fighting in exchange for the chance to join Afghanistan’s government. It is impossible, though, to be confident that many Taliban leaders would be prepared to reconcile; they might decide that time is on their side if they only wait and fight. Nor is it likely that the terms they would accept would in turn be acceptable to many Afghans, who remember all too well what it was like to live under the Taliban. A national-unity government is farfetched.

One new idea put forward by Robert Blackwill, a former U.S. ambassador to India, is for a de facto partition of Afghanistan. Under this approach, the United States would accept Taliban control of the Pashtun-dominated south so long as the Taliban did not welcome back Al Qaeda and did not seek to undermine stability in non-Pashtun areas of the country. If the Taliban violated these rules, the United States would attack them with bombers, drones, and Special Forces. U.S. economic and military support would continue to flow to non-Pashtun Afghans in the north and west of the country.

This idea has its drawbacks as well as appeal. A self-governing “Pashtunistan” inside Afghanistan. Newsweek.

The choices spelled out by Haas are walking away from Afghanistan, partitioning the country or negotiating with the top leadership of the Afghan National Resistance (aka Taliban).

The Guardian of London is reporting that there is a sea change in Washington’s attitude towards the peace process in Afghanistan.

  • White House shifts Afghanistan strategy towards talks with Taliban
  • Senior Washington officials tell the Guardian of a ‘change of mindset’ over Obama administration’s Afghanistan policy

The White House is revising its Afghanistan strategy to embrace the idea of negotiating with senior members of the Taliban through third parties – a policy to which it had previously been lukewarm.

Negotiating with the Taliban has long been advocated by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and the British and Pakistani governments, but resisted by Washington.

The Guardian has learned that while the American government is still officially resistant to the idea of talks with Taliban leaders, behind the scenes a shift is under way and Washington is encouraging Karzai to take a lead in such negotiations.

“There is a change of mindset in DC,” a senior official in Washington said. “There is no military solution. That means you have to find something else. There was something missing.”

That missing element was talks with the Taliban leadership, the official added.

The American rethink comes in the aftermath of the departure last month of General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama, apparently frustrated at the way the war is going, has reminded his national security advisers that while he was on the election campaign trail in 2008, he had advocated talking to America’s enemies.

America is reviewing its Afghanistan policy which is due for completion in December, but officials in Washington, Kabul and Islamabad with knowledge of internal discussions said feelers had been put out to the Taliban. Negotiations would be conducted largely in secret, through a web of contacts, possibly involving Pakistan and Saudi Arabia or organisations with back-channel links to the Taliban.

“It will be messy and could take years,” said a diplomatic source.

The change of heart by the US comes as Afghanistan hosts the biggest international gathering in its capital for 40 years, with representatives from 60 countries including Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.

The dominant theme of the Kabul conference is “reintegration”, which involves reaching out to low-level insurgents to encourage them to lay down their arms.

Earlier this year Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, distinguished between “reintegration”, which the US supported, and “reconciliation” or negotiating with senior Taliban. Holbrooke said: “Let me be clear. There is no American involvement in any reconciliation process.”

There is growing disenchantment in the US with the war in Afghanistan and members of the Senate’s foreign relations committee last week questioned Holbrooke over what they described as a lack of clarity on an exit strategy.

The US has no agreed position on who among the leaders of the insurgency should be wooed and who would be beyond the pale. The Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, would be a problem as he provided Osama bin Laden with bases before the 9/11 attacks.

The US would also find it problematic to deal with the Pakistan-based insurgents led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose group pioneered suicide attacks in Afghanistan. The third main element in the insurgency is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has hinted he is ready to break ranks.

A source with knowledge of the process said: “There is no agreed US position, but there is agreement that Karzai should lead on this. They would expect the Pakistanis to deliver the Haqqani network in any internal settlement.”

The US has laid down basic conditions for any group seeking negotiations. They are: end all ties to al-Qaida, end violence, and accept the Afghan constitution.

A senior Pakistani diplomat said: “The US needs to be negotiating with the Taliban; those Taliban with no links to al-Qaida. We need a power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan, and it will have to be negotiated with all the parties.

“The Afghan government is already talking to all the shareholders‚ the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Mullah Omar. The Americans have been setting ridiculous preconditions for talks. You can’t lay down such preconditions when you are losing.”

Some Afghan policy specialists are sceptical about whether negotiations would succeed. Peter Bergen, a specialist on Afghanistan and al-Qaida, told a US Institute of Peace seminar in Washington last week that there were a host of problems with such a strategy, not least why the Taliban should enter negotiations “when they think they are winning”.

Audrey Kurth Cronin, a member of the US National War College faculty in Washington, and the author of How Terrorism Ends, said talks with Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network were pointless because there would be no negotiable terms.

She said there could be talks with Hekmatyar, but these would be conducted through back channels, potentially by a third party. Given his support for jihad, she said, “it would be unreasonable to expect the US and the UK to do so”.

Asked how Obama’s Afghan strategy was progressing, a senior former US government official familiar with the latest Pentagon thinking said: “In a word, poorly. We seriously need to be developing a revised plan of action that will allow us a chance to achieve sufficient security in a more sustainable manner.”

Officials have mentioned possible roles in negotiation for the UN and figures such as the veteran UN negotiator, the Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, who heads, along with the retired US ambassador Thomas Pickering, a New York-based international panel which is looking at such a reconciliation.

Another name mentioned is Michael Semple, an Irishman based in Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School who has extensive contacts with the Taliban. Guardian

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