Critical Voices In Pakistan and Afghanistan

June 8, 2009

An interesting exchange in the Pakistani press:

Speakers at a seminar on Sunday unanimously agreed that a military operation was not the solution to the country’s problems.

They said dialogue, an independent foreign policy, Pakistan quitting the war on terror and United States exit from the region would pave the way for a stable Pakistan and peace in the region. Speaking at a seminar organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) entitled “Beyond the Military Operation”, former NWFP governor Lt General (r) Ali Orakzai said the US had repeatedly sabotaged agreements between the Taliban and the government, citing the killing of tribal rebel Nek Muhammad and a predator attack at a religious seminary that killed 82 students in Waziristan Agency.

…Former interior secretary Roedad Khan termed the war on terror “difficult to justify”. He said the war was not the country’s own war and alleging it had been imposed on the nation by corrupt rulers who could not say ‘no’ to Washington…He said the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan would get better the day the US leaves Afghanistan.

This echoes the words of Amir Sultan Tarar (or “Colonel Imam”) an ex-CIA operative who trained Mullah Omar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmed Shah Masood in the 1980s.

“I’m quite happy with the current situation because the Americans are trapped there. The Taliban will not win but in the end the enemy will tire, like the Russians.”

He has offered to find the Americans a way out: “We can give them a face-saving solution but they must change their strategy.”

First, he says, they must spend billions on reconstruction. Then they must open talks with Omar rather than the so-called moderate Taliban with whom negotiations are under way.

“When are you people going to understand there are no number two Taliban?” he asked. “Those who break away from mainstream Taliban have no place in society. You may make deals in Dubai or Saudi Arabia, but when they come back to Afghanistan and people know they have compromised with the Americans, they are finished.

And on the fighting in Pakistan’s Swat province:

“These are not Taliban, they are tribals,” he said. “Mullah Omar told them time and time again not to fight against Pakistan. They are fighting against the government of Pakistan because it is supporting the enemies of Islam. Everybody knows our government is supporting the US drone attacks in our own area.

“This is an American plan to make us a subjugated country and have an excuse to get our nukes. Everybody, your prime minister, President Obama, all go, ‘Oh, the nuclear weapons are unsafe’. I say you’re making them unsafe. When you were not in the region there was no problem.”


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