View Full Version : AfPak: an overview of Pakistan / Afghanistan

George L. Singleton
04-07-2008, 01:36 PM
This aricle is copied by me from Hujra Online, a discussion forum of the website KhyberWatch.com, of which I am the only non-Muslim Member as far as I know.

The fact that I dialogue with vs. talk "at" Paks, Afghans, and other worldwide Muslims who will discuss matters, even though they and I have built in biases, as do you as American troops, gets me onto and into many sites in both the US (academia) and overseas. The Karach DAWN and Peshawar FRONTIER POST print my articles and letters, mainly letters, ever since 9/11 with little or no editing and I pull no punches but am not deliberately rude as all Muslims are not our enemies.

As a non-Member you can still read KhyberWatch.com, the Forums is your area of greatest benefit I would guess, by directly entering in your search box: Hujra Online

No .net nor .com, just Hujra Online.

George Singleton, Colonel, USAF, Ret.

Capital suggestion

Muslims Killing Muslims (http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=103870)
Sunday, March 30, 2008 - By Dr Farrukh Saleem

In 2005, Pakistanis witnessed a total of four suicide attacks. In 2006, there were seven and in 2007 there were 56; more than one a week. In the first 11 weeks of 2008, there have been 17 suicide attacks; an annualized rate of 80. In 2005, Muslim casualties of terrorist violence in Pakistan numbered 648. In 2006 and 2007, casualties jumped to 1,471 and 3,599, respectively. In the first 10 weeks of 2008 casualties already stand at 1,064 with a daily average of 14 and an annualized rate of over 5,000.

Why are Muslims killing Muslims? Is there a connection between suicide attacks and lack of education? Is there a correlation between suicide attacks and poverty? Is there a connection between suicide attacks and the followers of Islam?.....

10-23-2008, 02:54 PM
Thought I'd append this latest article here.

Pakistan Will Give Arms to Tribal Militias

Pakistan plans to arm tens of thousands of anti-Taliban tribal fighters in its western border region in hopes -- shared by the U.S. military -- that the nascent militias can replicate the tribal "Awakening" movement that proved decisive in the battle against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The militias, called lashkars, will receive Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles and other small arms, a purchase arranged during a visit to Beijing this month by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistani officials said.

Many Bush administration officials remain skeptical of Pakistan's long-term commitment to fighting the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups ensconced in the mountains near the border with Afghanistan. But the decision to arm the lashkars, which emerged as organized fighting forces only in the past few months, is one of several recent actions that have led the Pentagon to believe that the Pakistani effort has become more aggressive.

10-23-2008, 09:30 PM
I too had noticed the local and international reporting of a local tribal backlash to the Taliban's activities - clearly with Pakistani government encouragement. Now a programme of arming the tribes; tribes that are already well-armed, maybe not with heavy weapons - a leap of faith I say! How long before these arms are turned on the suppliers, or sold?

If "Uncle Sam" is wise he'll stand back and wait awhile before paying up.


11-18-2008, 07:52 AM
Some other stuff I did, and across this theme I came:

What about uniting Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Would it stabilize the region, or rather de-stabilize further (is that possible)?
What would the neighbours say? Esp India and Iran?
What would that country look like and what role would/could it play in the larger region?
Would it be a threat? Would it turn extremist/lawless (more than now)? Would it be in permanent civil war (more than now)?
And what kind of structure could/should it have?

Without much analysis I say Durranistan could actually be a quite good idea! Based on a federal concept it could work.


11-18-2008, 12:57 PM
What about uniting Pakistan and Afghanistan?
. . .
Without much analysis I say Durranistan could actually be a quite good idea! Based on a federal concept it could work.


Seems to me this is what happened in the Balkans post WWII and was called Yugoslavia, which hung together only as long as Tito was around to keep it together by his personal force of will. Is there an equivalent strong man to do the same in your proposed federation? Are you ready for another Bosnia/Serbia intervention? (Oh gee, I forgot, we already have one going in A-stan now, don't we?)
Also seems to me that the history of British colonial rule in the region would be worth consulting, not to mention the experiences of the various Persian Empires.

11-19-2008, 09:51 AM
Yugoslavia happened post WW1, not 2. In any case the ex Austro-Hungarian areas of the SHS state and the Kingdom of Serbian didn't have anything to do with each other since the late Roman Prefecture of Illyricum.

Yip, nobody says it would be perfect. Historically it's not so easy to say how the country between Persia and India was organised, especially taking into account the "natural" border of Greater Persia might be considered on the Indus, as well as India's "natural" border along today's Pakistan's border in Baluchistan (continuing towards Herat), and how long that area of modern-day Afghanistan was ruled by Mongols or Turko-Mongols.

But one thing is for sure: A lot of problems today stem from the division of the Pashtuns.
With Russia's weakness keeping it from plotting another "Great Game", a more-or-less stable (of course not internally!) Pakistan, and with the SIS running most of Afghanistan anyway, the chances might be good. And the alternative from a Pashtun view would be unacceptable for Pakistan.

Just think that such a Durranistan would pretty much cover that "middle ground" between Persia and India (leaving out the classical Baktria north of the Oxus) and would have some pre-colonial justification, which might be actually accepted by the people.

11-19-2008, 01:30 PM
The dissolution rather than the unification of countries seems to be the major over-arching political theme of the last 60 years. I don't think the region in question has the infrastructure (political or military) to impose a federation on the disparate groups of people in the area.

11-19-2008, 01:36 PM
Some other stuff I did, and across this theme I came:

What about uniting Pakistan and Afghanistan?

You are talking states (Afghanistan and Pakistan) when you should be talking about nations (Pashtuns, Tajiks, Balochis...)

I do not think the fusing of Pakistan and Afghanistan is a good idea.

I also do not think that "westerners" should dictate any changes to political boundaries in that region or any other region in the developing world.

However, if there is consensus on both sides of the Afghanistan and Pakistan border for the creation of an independent Pashtunistan I think our best COA is to get out of the way, let it happen, and then begin a working relationship with the new state to include providing the assitance and advising we are currently offering in Afghanistan.

However, I do not know what the second and third order effects of this new state would with reference to the other major ethnic concentrations in the area. Would Pakistan and Afghanistan cease to exist as states? Would other ethnic groups like the Balochis get their own state? Would still others like the Uzbek and Tajik populations in Afghanistan choose to start their own state or would they opt to join Uzbekistan and Tajikistan? How would Iran, India, and the other states in the region the changes? For example, would Uzbekistan try to foricibly annex the Uzbek areas of Afghanistan?

Does the name you gave to this hypothetical new state, Durristan, imply that the state will be comprised solely of the Durrani Pashtuns? What of the Ghilzai and other tribes?

You might find the following paper interesting:

Artificial States (http://www.nyu.edu/fas/institute/dri/Easterly/File/artificialstatesNBER.pdf) by Alesina, Easterly, Matuszeski

Abstract: Artificial states are those in which political borders do not coincide with a division of nationalities desired by the people on the ground. We propose and compute for all countries in the world two new measures how artificial states are. One is based on measuring how borders split ethnic groups into two separate adjacent countries. The other one measures how straight land borders are, under the assumption the straight land borders are more likely to be artificial. We then show that these two measures seem to be highly correlated with several measures of political and economic success.

In reference to the paper though. It would appear the Durrani line is an exception to the findings of the paper because the Durrani line is not generally straight because it is drawn along moutains which have the same ethnic group residing on both sides.

11-19-2008, 02:46 PM
Note: It's Durranistan, the other name of the old Afghan Empire that incorporated today's Pakistan and existed from 17-something till the Brits showed up in the area. And it's Durand Line for what is on paper the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The name is of course open. Might well call it Bactrian Federation, even though I think old Bactria didn't include Baluchistan and also went far north of the Oxus.

Pashtunistan would be the end of Afghanistan (with Uzbeks and Tadjiks going north, Herat to Iran, and Baluchis going where?), and also make Afghanistan very slim up north. It would also lack access to the sea. Not a good option in any way.

Bob's World
11-21-2008, 05:22 PM
While a "Durranistan" approach is arguably supperior to the current effort to somehow enforce a wedge of a border right through the heart of the Pashto populace who's support we are trying to garner, it has several drawbacks as well. Not the least of those being:
1. I don't hear any voices from either of the affected states calling for this; and
2. It would potentially create a Taliban-led nuclear state.

Both of those are, shall we say, "problematic."

The approach that I have been mentally juggling lately is not how do we exert some new control mechanism on a foreign populace to suit our needs, but rather how do we change our concept of what makes up a state and what exactly composes sovereignty instead. Many of the world's simmering conflicts are where an ethnic populace has been divided by borders drawn to suit colonial powers more than to facilitate effective local governance. The question to me is, how do we continue to honor and support the sovereignty of two states like Afghanistan and Pakistan, while at the sametime recognizing some lesser degree of sovereignty for a Pashto popualce that sits astride those two countries? Same applies for the Kurds and Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran; and muliple situations in Africa.

This is simply a matter of changing our perspective, and then facilitating / mediating some application. It's bold new ground, and perhaps isn't the right approach, but I have to believe a shift to less outside control to impose solutions that work for us, and more outside facilitation of solutions that work for the affected populaces is the best way to move forward. Realize this is easier said than done, but the longest journey begins with the first step...

11-22-2008, 06:24 AM
A discussion coming at the topic here from a different angle is here.


Plus, it's got pictures - highly intellectual, like Classics Illustrated. :)

George L. Singleton
02-01-2009, 02:35 PM
The Pukhtun nationalist movement all too often is racially motivated, have little to no interest in minority tribes and factions in Northern Pakistan nor inside Afghanistan, either.

Attacking the 100 years standing of the Durand Line, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is as often as not a Pukhtun rallying cry.

How about all the Scot-Irish ancestry US and Canadian folks forming a new nation of Scot-Irishastan out of a huge slice (jigsaw puzzle piece) of current US and Canadian soverign territory and name the newly cut out nation as mentioned here?

Folks can come up with reasons to infinity to redraw political boundaires but the less of that we have the less foreign aid and military involvement we will have to get into.

Do we want the Kurds to form Kurdistan as was promised to them by the Great Powers at the end of WW I? Then expect Turkey to invade Iraq, and associated wild events to ensure for the rest of our natural lives and into generations to come.

My two cents.

02-01-2009, 11:13 PM
There is no chance IMHO that borders in the region will change, but I am aware that some see a "fix" in:

1) Granting the FATA full provincial status and integration into Pakistan
2) NWFP losing any "oversight" of the FATA
3) Afghanistan recongnising the Durand Line as the border

Apparently an idea that is floating around inside and beyond Pakistan. Not sure of the dynamics and practicalities from this armchair.


George L. Singleton
02-02-2009, 04:24 PM
I agree that FATA will have full Province status, that is a good thing in my book.

Afghanistan to recognize the Durland Line, this was the case under the late King (who died maybe a year ago. the ex-King called the Grand Jurga which helped kick off the current movement toward some version of democracy in Afghanistan after 9/11).

Your insights and awareness of some details in Pakistan/Afghanistan as a Brit...what did you do over there to have such good insight? When, what years?

02-02-2009, 05:13 PM
I think you are assuming that those living in the FATA want full province status and that the central government wants that as well. I don't think either is the case in reality.

As far as "uniting" Pakistan and Afghanistan, I can't see what problem that would solve, but can see many problems that it would create. Regardless, I think very few who actually live in those two countries (not to mention neighboring countries) want to see Pakistan and Afghanistan merged.

George L. Singleton
02-03-2009, 05:06 AM
It is the Pukhtuns who want FATA to have Province status. However, the abrupt abolition of the "Black Laws" is hardly a year old, and FATA is about as backward, tribally, as it gets over there.

I have weekly e-mail dialogue with folks in and nearby FATA, all Pukhtuns as the interactive website is a Pukhtun ethnic site, and their views to me, over and over, are what I am reflecting here, not some secret knowledge that I uniquely have.

Splintering is in vogue over there, not unifying, that I can safely say based on the revolts underway in Balcoshistan, Waziristan, FATA, and the NWFP.

Swat to me is somewhat unique as they did well under others rule and now are suffering murder and heinous crimes from other tribes which have nothing in common with the culture and heritage of native tribes inside Swat.

03-05-2009, 12:17 PM
The link belows refers to testimony to the UK House of Commons Foriegn Affairs Committee 28/2/09 by four experts (Thanks to Kings of War):


Lots to mine within, particularly over the UK in Helmand and a lack of guidance. Sean Langan, kindnapped by the Taliban and held in the FATA, makes many interesting comments. ISI and the pakistani Army get a mention too.

Fascinating stuff and to American readers will be different to what you see regularly IMHO.


03-05-2009, 12:30 PM
Q<36> <Chairman:> What does SWAT stand for, just for the record?

<Sean Langan:> It is a name, not an acronym.


03-08-2009, 03:12 AM
Fascinating. It also seems to back up Kilcullen's analysis and recommendations.

I have a question. If Pakistan were to tip over the precipice spoken of, and the radicals were on the ascendancy, what would the Indians do? Could they afford to take any chance at all that the nukes would get loose?

03-08-2009, 10:37 AM

Should Pakistan lurch towards the final state of chaos / oblivion not only would India be concerned at who had the nukes; China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and those further away. Would the nukes be transferred or seized by a "concerned" party?

How would Pakistan react to an Indian move, say to resolve Kashmir and so avert oblivion? A military confidence building measure that enabled the Pakistani Army to deploy away from the border?

Just a few thoughts.


03-08-2009, 05:43 PM
From Michael Yon's Blog a posting on Afghanistan: Death in the Corn

Living with British troops of 2 Para at FOB Gibraltar and watching them fight, I witnessed one of the great paradoxes of Afghanistan. The troops are fighting hard and killing the enemy. They are professional and extremely competent. Their morale is high. They are doing a great job. And we are losing the war.

The Brits know exactly who the sniper is. About half a dozen fruit trees occluded fields of fire, so the soldiers cut them down. The Brits offered to pay for the trees, but were bound by regulations on how much they could pay. Major Adam Dawson told me the amount was something like $20 per tree, which of course is tantamount to zero. Achmed, an Afghan neighbor, came to collect the money, but the owner of the fruit tress had told Achmed not to accept payment. The owner was livid, saying: “I can’t believe Achmed let them cut down my trees! I’m going to go @#%& his wife!” I don’t know if anything happened to Achmed’s wife, but I do know that the Brits said the owner of the fruit trees bought himself a sniper rifle. He’s been shooting at Gibraltar ever since.

The British go by a chart that details how much they are allowed to pay for certain items they destroy. A tree, a car, a house, even a life—everything has its price. In Iraq, the payments truly could assuage anger at times. Few transgressions inflame the passions more than a sincere feeling of being manhandled and treated unjustly. The perception of injustice—especially coming from Americans or British, who many people see as monetarily omnipotent—can earn a bomb in the road, or a bullet in the head.

03-08-2009, 07:14 PM
Following comments by President Obama (see SWJ Blog today) talking to the taliban has returned to the media frontpage and the BBC link is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7930865.stm

The short video interview with Imran Khan, a Pakistani politician, is worth watching.

Of course all the reporting has nothing to do with the Afghan elections later this year and Karzai's position looking vulnerable.


George L. Singleton
03-09-2009, 02:52 AM
...since 1947 until end of the 1960s Pakistan's various governments have consistently allowed a great deal of autonomy in the NWFP area, FATA, Swat, etc.

Radical Islam was always present even in the mid-1960s when I was stationed there, but has as everyone knows today much worse no thanks to al Qaida and the Taliban.

Extremist Islamics are in all parts of the country, fueled, peopled by fomrerly harmless madrassas which are radicalized today due to Wahabbi Islamics (terrorists mongers) out of Saudi, who finance, arm, and give radical theological guidance.

A major US university about 2 or so years ago decided they would run a program from the US into Pakistan madrassas and uplift moderate modrassas and moderate theologians teaching there. End result: The damn idiots at the US University (name withheld on purpose) bragged on line, in articles, etc. of their "progress" so stupid much that both al Qaida and the Taliban were able to 100% target the so-called moderate teachers, all of whom were then systematically murdered. How stupid can we be to be talking at the President's level, in the open, all over again, in a manner as the major US university did?

Just some overly obvious thoughts in reaction to your good, well research above inputs.

George L. Singleton
03-09-2009, 12:03 PM

Regrettably a careful reading of this NYT story shows:

1. Any successes, no matter how small, by and of the Taliban and al Qaida are trumpeted by the world media as "wins"

2. Whereas any successes, no matter how small, by and of the Pakistan military and/or our allied/NATO forces in Afghanistan/on the Pakistani side of the border are trumpted by rthe world media as "disasterous losses."

Bob's World
03-15-2009, 05:23 PM
Sometimes it is indeed difficult to see the forest for the trees. Try to step back from your focus on religion to look at the bigger picture, it might help.

But also don't always try to drag larger discussions back to your focus on religion. My points are not about any one state, and apply as much in Pakistan as they do in the Netherlands or South America, or the U.S.; they are independent of any particular fact pattern and premised in the underlying dynamics at work.

Yes, Pakistan saw Afghanistan as a buffer, or maneuver space that they could use in conflict with India. Yes, the Pakistanis backed the Taliban to keep a friendly government there to allow this. Yes these people are largely Muslim. We inserted ourselves into this dynamic in order to get at AQN, which was totally ancilary to the Pakistan -Afghan/Taliban relationship.

What we did there was unconventional warfare to replace this Pakistani supported government with a US supported government in order to deny the sanctuary that the Taliban were giving AQN. Everything that follows is because this is a very complex situation with a lot of history and we didn't appreciate or understand any of that very well, we just wanted to sting AQ and deny the sanctuary. This lack of understanding /appreciation, coupled with our own narrow objective going in, and ever widening set of objectives of "democratizing" and "nation building" since have gotten us ever deeper into a situation we still don't have our minds around.

But "religious terrorism" is a convenient label that places all blame on Islam, and offers no insights as to how to achieve a broader solution. I am sure the Pope and his Catholic team agonized over "religious terrorism" during the reformation as well, just as we agonized over "communist terrorism" in the 50s and 60s. To focus on the beliefs used to motivate the masses over the underlying causes of conflict is to set a course for failure. Many have taken it in the past because it conveniently absolves one of any responsibiltiy for the conflict.

Follow the Pied Piper theory of idological caused insurgency if you will. But I have no time for such baseless fairy tales. If the city is full of rats, it is because we've left too much garbage laying about. When we clean up our mess, the rats will go away.

03-15-2009, 06:54 PM
The lead stories for 14-15 Mar (http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/category/south-asia) at Thai-Indian News are not very upbeat.

Ron Humphrey
03-15-2009, 07:08 PM
The lead stories for 14-15 Mar (http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/category/south-asia) at Thai-Indian News are not very upbeat.

Although their perspective on Pakistan is what one might expect I was caught by the perception of our own governance in the same place

Obama aides admit presentational errors making him less popular

Placing this in tandem with their perception of what they think we can do for or with Pakistan is truly troublesome:o

Silliest thing about the whole deal is I'd bet you anything there's probably a parking garage attendant at the White house who could have given them a heads up that the chosen gifts for Brown might not have been the most(shall we say appropriate:(

George L. Singleton
03-15-2009, 10:12 PM
The other new factor is the rise of non-state actors like AQ, that can now wage unconventional warfare to join and enflame disparate local causes like only state actors could previously. They also are able to do this relatively immune from the time tested DIME tools of statecraft to control such actions among fellow states. A dynamic leader with a powerful ideology like Hitler needed to first attain control of a state in order to have significant impact. Today attaining a state creates an Achilles heel and is to be avoided by such. Bin Laden knows this full well and has no desire to soon abandon the "legal sanctuary" of his current status.

My two years in Paksitan in the mid-1960s fits this topic pretty well, as I picked up the additional duty of managing RON of walking wounded from South Vietnam immediately after the Gulf of Tonkin...and I had been "in the area or arena if you like" prior to the Gulf of Tonkin to have a young man's impression of things to come over there.

Bob, when the whole free world's intel system is jointly wrong, not by collusion to decieve but due to wrong info leading to wrong suppositions, referring to Iraq, this does not undo the continuium fact that ever since the first Gulf of Tonkin [which I volunteered back on duty for and ran the entire airlift for the East Coast, based out of Charleston AFB, but covering the coast, up and down, for that war]..the "ideology or theory" of containment, isolation, and sanctions failed miserably and was not working...in fact by Saddam and his grizzly gang, together with various Western business people in Europe...found ways and means to get richer off of the UN and associated organizations well intentioned by embezzeled morally and literally...programs to provide medicine and food for the ordinary Iraqi citizens.

My today, 2009, friends in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and here in the US, I refer here to my Muslim friends, both Shia and Sunnis, who are both over there and have family here..some of whom are in my home town here in sunny Alabama...tell me, not I them...that the radical Islamic terrorists are succeeding in "kidnapping Islam."

They tell me, but I do agree, that the updated concept of the Umah is stateless and being construed by the Taliban and al Qaida to be the "ideological" state of mind desired to seek to take over the minds and religious freedoms of the world, starting with other Muslims, but extending to all others of differeing faiths, or for that matter, even those of no faith.

You emphasis is to seek a mold, updated, that stamps in common outcomes from the past down to today. I disagree, just as I disagree with the two generals featured in another part of SWJ who complain about folks using high faluting words, confusing terminology which they think confuses young officers and NCOs, but as much, my view, seems to confuse them!

Chaos and mayhem have always been what that says, and is a piece of the puzzle in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Whether it is Musharraf, Zardari, or whoever comes next in Pakistan...and a deposed ex-Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court has no business under their, Pakistani, Constitution which I know a little about...trying to be the top dog and dictator over the non-sectarian PPP elected President of Pakistan.

The Shariff brothers, one of whom was the PM of Paksitan whom Musharraf deposed, are as crooked as it gets and ex-PM Shariff has trucked with the Taliban, and al Qaida, heavily and supported/enabled them both when he was PM, which is part of why Musharraf overthrew him (Shariff).

The Uman as a terrorist adopted and distorted concept is stateless, seeks to draw in or force in, more correctly said, into radical Sunni/Wahabbi driven Islam, the masses of the world, if they but could.

The boogey man? Not yet, but if pacifist ideas took hold here in the West, if we don't keep insisting that Pakistan permanently install peacekeeping forces inside the NWFP and related areas of Pakistan to back up and directly in most cases enforce civil law and order...instead of, my studied opinion, Zardari and/or the flag ranks and ISI sending troops from where they are and were most needed to senseless postings on the Indian border...allegedly over Mumbai terrorism which Pakistan has made clear was instigated, planned, funded, and driven from within Pakistan to inside India... then there is no rational hope.

No, the US cannot police the world, literally, even with our NATO allies. But we can back and support when they can be trusted [and as often as not the ISI and Pak flag rangs are not trustworthy but support radical Islamic terrorists such as the Taliban and even al Qaida) the duly elected non-sectarian government of President Zardari over that of the ex-Chief Justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Chowdry...who would use the court system to run yet another dictatorship of Pakistan...all over again!

It is a mess, but we cannot turn our backs on all this, but we cannot fix it ourselves, either.

So Bob, you have your quasi pacifist influence views and I have my hawkish views, but we both are looking at as you so correctly wrote of...stateless religious terrorism which is bent on worldwide trouble making if we don't keep them pinned in where they are until some sort of resolution in maybe....generations to come...can be realized.

I would never trust these religious terrorist thugs with nukes, and I can tell you it makes my native Pakistani friends, both Shia and Sunnis, loose sleep at night as that prospect grows daily with the chaos inside Pakistan.

So Bob, as during WWII, when actual pacifists refused combat duty but were useful in support non-combat roles, your ideology and ideas have a place in the puzzle, as do mine focused on what I know to be the cold reality of terrorism in the name of Islam. No Bob, all Muslims are not terrorists, but even one such Islamic terrorist is one too many today with nuclear weaponry control and use at stake inside Pakistan...and the possibility of tactical nukes being used elsewhere...fill in the blanks...that makes me loose sleep!

03-15-2009, 11:27 PM
I have moved two posts on another thread, Special Warafre 1962, by Bob's World and George S., to this a more appropriate thread on Afghanistan / Pakistan. The other thread started IMHO to disperse somewhat. (PM to both sent). So if the views seem slightly disjointed blame me and look at the other thread please.


03-15-2009, 11:40 PM
re: the question I asked in post #10 ?

03-15-2009, 11:43 PM
re: the question I asked in post #10 ?

This one pretty much sums it up for me...

March 15th, 2009 - 4:44 pm ICT by ANI -
Islamabad, Mar. 15 (ANI): United States Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker has said there is an awful lot of support for the insurgency in Pakistan, which enabled terrorists to launch attacks ...

03-16-2009, 12:11 AM
is not with the Taliban insurgency (or any other form of Pashtun nationalism), but with the larger issue of dissention in the majority Punjab and Sindh areas - in short, a breakdown in the "arrangements" that have constituted mainstream Pakistani politics. No doubt, the Taliban would take advantage of a breakdown in mainstream Pakistani governance; but, in the event of that, we would be facing much more pressing problems (IMO).


PS: Culpeper - among the other articles on the T-I News page is an updated survey showing that a majority of Pakistanis (presumably Punjab and Sindh) are very concerned about extremist Islamic VNSAs.

George L. Singleton
03-16-2009, 01:24 AM
jmm99 your posted concerns about the near term and longer time events in Pakistan, Sindh and Punjab, are valid but I suggest not yet realizable by the Taliban and al Qaida.

While Lahore is where the Pakistan Taliban were founded in about 1978, their impact there is limited thus far. My opinion is that it only takes a handful of youths to shoot up the Shrilankan cricket team (Ceylon team to us old timers), thereby creating world media frenzy that "the Taliban are coming!"

In Karachi the Pakistan national and Sinda provincial governments, plus the Army, Navy, and Air Force of Paksitan, all of which have multiple bases in and around Karachi, are well aware of the 1.5 million Pukhtuns out of the total Karachi population of around 14 million as trouble making areas to be watched and well "policed."

1. And, I do know from past and current friendships in Pakistan that as all Muslims at not terrorists neither are all Pukhtuns Taliban or al Qaida. There is a huge middle group of Pukhtuns who make a good honest living in Pakistan business, government and the miliary who are in the main loyal Pakistanis.

2. Then there is a second in size group of Pukhtuns, some educated, some illiterate, who favor for various reasons a peaceful secession from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and part of India adjacent to Lahore...and who even in some cases are willing to remain a loyal part of Pakistan in exchange for what has just recently happened, the renaming of the former NWFP as "Pukhtunwanaland" or some such spelling, which gives them primary, focused ethnic recognition [rightly or wrongly, as there are minorities tribes who are not Pukhtuns who are suffering greatly at the hands of the Taliban terrorist Pukhtuns, and even more moderate Pukhtuns if given too much of a swelled head could come down on and discriminate against non-Pukhtuns in their midst...a very slippeyr slope in my view.

3. And a third group of Pukhtuns who seem to favor a violent revolution to create Pakhtuawanaland, or some such spelling, to be made up of most of Afghanistan, various parts of Northern Pakistan and northern Waziristan, even across through Lahore into Pukhtun populated parts in India across from Lahore, that area of India/Guijirat (?).

This ethnic disunity can be as much our ally as our enemy. Wise Pakistani political leadersh may be able to continue to straddle that fence with the Pukhtuns who are otherwise not loyal to the nation of Pakistan.

I believe, only my opinion, that examples of 4-5 teenage to early 20s age boys killing Lahore police and wounding Ceylon cricketers; of youthful, often teenage bloggers on various Pukhtun websites blabbing their boastful threats of violence and their wish for freedom, etc. are far from the majority it would take to start and successfully sustain a major revolutionary uprising.

I do know that many non-Taliban Pukhtuns hate and have no use for the Talban nor for al Qaida...even though the Taliban and al Qaida would like to exploit their general confused discordant attitudes, which I again believe are a minority of Pukhtuns, far from a majority of same.

Remember, there are more Muslims today in India than in all of Pakistan, and India has both Pukhtun separatists as well as other ethnic minorities who are wouldbe kings of the mountain. So, if India, a democracy, is holding things together, Pakistan, which is smaller geographically and has a huge non-Pukhtun majority of 85% of the total Pak population can muddle through until "better times" can be planned out, somehow.

03-16-2009, 09:18 AM
david, re: the question I asked in post #10 ?


Distracted at the moment and have not watched Pakistan as closely as usual. I did watch the newsreel yesterday of Sharif's "long march" and the BBC repporter's comment that the police were active in opposition and then disappeared.

Others who watch Pakistan have remarked that the abyss is not close-by and that large parts of civil society remain strong. Not sure if the decision to restore the Chief Justice supports or detracts from this.


03-16-2009, 10:54 AM
Seems the immediate crisis is over for the time being - per Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE52B02220090316) and Thai-Indian News (http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/category/south-asia).

The restoration of Pakistan's Chief Justice in the larger sense, brings us back to the Taliban in the NWFP. There, more sharia courts are announced (http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/south-asia/sharia-courts-in-other-areas-of-province-soon-says-nwfp-information-minister_100166906.html).

Sharia courts in other areas of province soon, says NWFP information minister
March 16th, 2009 - 11:55 am ICT by ANI -

Mingora (Pakistan), Mar.16 (ANI): The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Government has announced plans to establish sharia courts in other parts of the province.

Over a dozen related stories at the last link.

George L. Singleton
03-16-2009, 01:02 PM

Distracted at the moment and have not watched Pakistan as closely as usual. I did watch the newsreel yesterday of Sharif's "long march" and the BBC repporter's comment that the police were active in opposition and then disappeared.

Others who watch Pakistan have remarked that the abyss is not close-by and that large parts of civil society remain strong. Not sure if the decision to restore the Chief Justice supports or detracts from this.


David et al:

The Shariff brothers are among the wealthiest land owners in and from the Pakistani Province of Punjab.

Punjab used to inclue all of what is today's NWFP, until 1901, as I wrote on SWJ yesterday.

The Shariff family reaches back to Raj era India and had and still has vast land, timber, and mining holdings both in today's Pakistani Punjab, as well as inside today's NWFP and inside today's Swat. I think the Shariffs own copper mine(s) in Swat, among other things.

To my eye these economic business interests the Shariffs own in now troubled terrorist zones explains to me that ex-PM Shariff when he was PM (overthrown in 1999 by Musharraf who knows all about these holdngs) and his brother have in the past (through 1999) and are again at the present among the power centers favoring "deals" with the Taliban...in order to preserve and protect their land, timber, and mining and any other related business interests in ex-Punjab zone now defined as today's NWFP, Swat, etc.

Hope this background helps you all better understand what the Pukhtuns don't like about Punjabis, particularly about the Shariffs who they voted against, not for, by voting for either the PPP or the ANP in the Presidential and Parliamentary national and provincial elections in 2008 in Pakistan.


03-19-2009, 10:27 AM
This long article appeared in The (UK) Daily Telegraph, the author is a former BBC journalist and now works for Al-Jazeera, who spent five weeks in Pakistan and the programme has been shown already:


The programmes are online: http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/general/2008/12/200812211123302404.html

Nothing startling, but of interest.


03-19-2009, 11:14 AM
Broadcast on Monday, on the UK Channel Four, a 49 minute long documentary made by a Pakistani lady reporter: http://www.channel4.com/video/brandless-catchup.jsp?vodBrand=dispatches-pakistans-taliban-generation

The main website for short clips and commentary is: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches

Recommended by local contacts and to be watched later today; Spring is here and into the garden.


George L. Singleton
03-30-2009, 01:21 AM

I think posting #6 may be of interest and perhaps best fits under this established thread by David.

Here is a pinpoint quote from this Internet Pakhtun website that is encouraging to me:

As I have already mentioned that we have always been enmeshed in proxy wars. We dont have much of the options. We have to wait. The govt should try something on the line of Swat, where reconciliation should be fostered to bring a temporary peace and stop further bloodshed. None of the member of this forum will agree, but I am of the opinion that if the local support army in reporting against taliban activities, I am sure this menace will be ended soon. Army is inactive due to non-cooperation from the civil population. Understandably, Taliban have killed many civilians having links with the army and therefore, I understand that civilians are hesitant to report anything to the army. But we have take risk otherwise this fire may take longer than our expectation.

It is not the job of civil population to fight with Taliban, it is the duty of Law enforcing agencies. So we better assist them in performance of their duties.

Ron Humphrey
03-30-2009, 11:57 AM
Broadcast on Monday, on the UK Channel Four, a 49 minute long documentary made by a Pakistani lady reporter: http://www.channel4.com/video/brandless-catchup.jsp?vodBrand=dispatches-pakistans-taliban-generation

The main website for short clips and commentary is: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches

Recommended by local contacts and to be watched later today; Spring is here and into the garden.


Something gets posted that I try to check out in the UK
IT ends up tellin me something like-

You need to be within the UK or the Republic of Ireland to watch Channel 4 programmes:(:(

I think my ancestors got kicked out of Scotland for drinkin too much, thats gotta count for something:D

Startin to think yall got somethin against Yanks tryin to get edumucated:mad:

Thanks for the heads up though, Ill see if I can't find it somewhere else.
Look's informative

07-17-2009, 12:45 PM
David Kilcullen has written a review in The Spectator: http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/5186128/for-answers-to-the-afghanpakistan-conflict-ask-what-would-curzon-do.thtml

I particularly like the description of the current Pakistani operation: 'a patchwork steamroller'.

The last paragraph will be familiar to SWC: For Britons and Americans watching the hard-fought progress of our Coalition troops in Helmand, the harsh reality is that Nato could do everything right in Afghanistan and still lose the broader regional campaign against terrorism if Pakistan fails to contain its internal militants. (My emphasis) This makes the fight in Pakistan, and finding means to help Pakistanis help themselves, the most important battle in the world.


07-17-2009, 01:11 PM
David Kilcullen has written a review in The Spectator: http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/5186128/for-answers-to-the-afghanpakistan-conflict-ask-what-would-curzon-do.thtml

I particularly like the description of the current Pakistani operation: 'a patchwork steamroller'.

The last paragraph will be familiar to SWC: For Britons and Americans watching the hard-fought progress of our Coalition troops in Helmand, the harsh reality is that Nato could do everything right in Afghanistan and still lose the broader regional campaign against terrorism if Pakistan fails to contain its internal militants. (My emphasis) This makes the fight in Pakistan, and finding means to help Pakistanis help themselves, the most important battle in the world.


Exactly! The Afghan campaign and Pakistan/FATA campaign are linked.

Question: Would letting the Pashtuns have a Pashtunistan solve this problem?
I can understand why Islamabad and Kabul might have a problem with this (Talk about your understatement :) ), but it might be a solution, at least as far as stabilizing the region goes.

07-17-2009, 02:18 PM

This topic has featured in SWJ before and I am aware that some in the USA (inside the Beltway) see a united Pashtunistan state as a solution. Personally I think it is a pipedream and does not help now. Would such a state be stable and resist the Jihad? Today, very unlikely.

Previous threads: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6291&highlight=pashtunistan , slightly more cultural: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4165&highlight=pashtunistan and older: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6052&highlight=pashtunistan


07-17-2009, 02:27 PM

This topic has featured in SWJ before and I am aware that some in the USA (inside the Beltway) see a united Pashtunistan state as a solution. Personally I think it is a pipedream and does not help now. Would such a state be stable and resist the Jihad? Today, very unlikely.

Previous threads: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6291&highlight=pashtunistan , slightly more cultural: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4165&highlight=pashtunistan and older: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6052&highlight=pashtunistan


Thanks. Just throwing out simple ideas
Simple ideas are my speciality :)

07-17-2009, 03:26 PM
Pashtunistan is like Kurdistan (an artificial political construction unacceptable to every country with which it would share a border), but without the established Kurdish political infrastructure.

Whose pipe dream would it even be? Can anyone name a major Pashtun political figure, or even two, who can genuinely mobilize a broad consensus of the Pashtun population on either side of the border?

07-18-2009, 06:22 PM
Well, I for one agree and am concerned about a strategy/policy where our ability to achieve success in Afghanistan is contingent upon Pakistan having the will and means to do what we think they need to do.

10-14-2009, 07:41 PM
These predictions are cynical and pessimistic and off the top of my head and I HOPE that some of them turn out to be wrong; Maybe they will (in some infinitesimally small way) even contribute to making themselves wrong....
1. Everyone and his dog knows that the Karzai regime is dysfuntional and is becoming a millstone around the neck of the US effort, but nobody will be able to do anything about it. The US is in the strange position of having occupied Afghanistan without having occupied it and is not acting, and cannot act, as the occupying power. Obama and Biden are not going to be able to get Karzai "fixed" (he could stay on as president, but that whole setup still needs to be fixed) and without someone at the top knowing what they are trying to fix and why they are fixing it and how to do it without becoming publicly or habitually nasty, this is not going to get fixed. Bottom line: the US has taken up a job it is institutionaly incapable of doing (manipulating a foreign country into a desired place without wrecking it, and getting your way while genuinely helping THOSE people...that is just too much of a "finesse" requirement).
2. That woman who is viceroy in Pakistan looks smart and hard and maybe up to the job, but if the US is pulling out of Afghanistan, there is no way in hell they can get a good result in Pakistan. The Pakistani army will continue to lose men in a confused fight with the "bad taliban" while continuing to ignore the "good taliban". If they could think that far ahead, they would know that "defeating" the US in Afghanistan will ruin their own future (well, it wont ruin all of them, some will retire to ranches in the US before the #### well and truly hits the fan)..OK, some of them actually know that by now, but they are scared, confused and trained to think like anti-Indian automatons (remember, they went to NDC and I have never met a Pakistani officer whose thinking had not been completely warped by his time at NDC). They will jump up and declare victory and appoint Hakeemullah Mehsud the governor of Waziristan the moment the US leaves. The irony is, Hakeemullah will then have some of them shot just for fun and "on principle". They will then fight Indian and Iranian proxies in Afghanistan down to the last Afghan and all the mayhem will probably end when India and Pakistan finally blow each other up. This being kalyug and the downward spiral and all that...
3. The US army has never really had a good start in any war (except Inchon? but then the advance on Seoul was hardly the stuff of legend). But they eventually figure it out (OK, except Vietnam). Its not the armed forces that are going to lose this war (or whatever its officially called). Its an institutional and cultural failure at the level of the political leadership and (even more so, in my humble opinion) the strategic "thinkers" and the punditocracy. Or maybe its just rampant corruption (as in people looking out for their own or their friend's pocketbook). I know some people here think its just a culture past its peak, but I dont buy that. There is no general theory of the rise and fall of "cultures". The only rule is "whatever works" and all the patterns are there all the time. Sometimes things turn around and sometimes they dont. What kind of idea are you? (gratuitous "satanic verses" quote: http://evildrclam.blogspot.com/2006/07/my-favourite-quote-from-satanic-verses.html) also check out the Housman poem I found there when I went looking for the satanic verses quote.(http://evildrclam.blogspot.com/)

10-14-2009, 08:02 PM
Its not the armed forces that are going to lose this war (or whatever its officially called). Its an institutional and cultural failure at the level of the political leadership and (even more so, in my humble opinion) the strategic "thinkers" and the punditocracy.

Exactly! Well said.

02-16-2010, 07:33 AM
(Moderator's Note another thread 'Nearly half of Afghan Taliban leadership arrested in Pakistan', which was started 25/2/10 merged into this and re-named as 'Rounding Up').

Well, I've checked this very large board the best I can and found no mention of this incredible news that the Afghan taliban's operational #2, Abdul Ghani Baradar was capture a few days ago in Karachi. NYT held off the story until today-

Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban's Top Commander-NYT Mazzetti Feb. 16, 2010 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/world/asia/16intel.html)

Baradar was profiled last summer in this excellent NEWSWEEK (http://www.newsweek.com/id/208637) article.

This is MASSIVE news. That he was captured in Karachi wasn't particularly surprising. There've been rumors of the Afghan taliban leadership relocating quietly for some time. Too, Hakimullah Mehsud of the TTP supposedly expired in Multan on his way for treatment in Karachi. Karachi is increasingly playing a prominent role in the GWOT. That an Afghan Taliban commander was captured in Pakistan at all IS surprising in light of eight plus years of sanctuary. The implications of a sea-change in Pakistani perspectives is profound.


02-16-2010, 07:53 AM
I guess that Karachi beats an Afghan/Beluchistani cave/village. Anyway an excellent catch.

Hopefully they can tap rapidly into the wider network.


02-16-2010, 12:24 PM
This is a big, big catch. In terms of the Afghan Taleban, it's the biggest yet.

Berader was always viewed as a more 'moderate' element within the Taleban's senior echelons though and rumours would frequently abound about the potential for him to reconcile. He is from the same Popalzai tribe as President Karazi and they were rumoured to be in occasional direct contact.

I think the Talieban in southern Afghanistan is too diffuse for the effects of this to be felt at the tactical level, but Berader has had kind of status, plus the reutation of Mullah Omar's right hand man, hich means more senior commanders will be feeling the pinch. That the arrest took place in Karachi is highly significant; some individuals had begun to favour it over Quetta once the Pakistani authorities begun to make arrest in the latter.

If this strategic boost can be matched by success in Marjah, just perhaps the worm may be about to think about turning.

02-16-2010, 12:29 PM
The BBC report:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8517375.stm

The Daily Telegraph:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7248295/Taliban-chief-Abdul-Ghani-Baradar-captured-in-Pakistan.html

Interesting quote within:
Former Pakistan intelligence chief Hamid Gul, today told The Daily Telegraph Mullah Baradar’s arrest was evidence that Islamabad has been sincere in its dealings with the Uninted States. “Mullah Baradar is member of the Taliban Shura and an important member of it. There haven’t been joint operations between Pakistan and the United States, but perhaps this is new ground,” he said.

Interesting contrast to other items on another thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2313

02-16-2010, 02:16 PM
He is, politely, the MAN-

"It is key that he controls the Taliban's treasury—hundreds of millions of dollars in -narcotics protection money, ransom payments, highway tolls, and 'charitable donations,' largely from the Gulf. 'He commands all military, political, religious, and financial power,' says Mullah Shah Wali Akhund, a guerrilla subcommander from Helmand province who met Baradar this March in Quetta for the fourth time." Newsweek

Fought with Omar in the Afghan-Soviet war. Retired with him to Oruzgan. Drove ol' Omar to Pakistan on a motorcycle. Married sisters together. Connected beyond our wildest dreams and, unlike Dadullah, alive.

02-16-2010, 03:00 PM
This is becoming a world-class farce-

Mullah Baradar Arrest Reports "Propaganda": Rehman Malik-DAWN Feb.16, 2010 (http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/12-us+pakistan+capture+taliban+top+commander--bi-04)


Moderator's Note: Rehman Malik is the Interior Minister.

02-16-2010, 03:42 PM
“We are a sovereign state and hence will not allow anybody to come and do any operation. And we will not allow that. So this (report) is propaganda,” he added.

Typical Rehman Malik stupidity. The last time he was promising to resign if there was any Blackwater/Xe contractors on Pakistani soil, or claiming that India was funding Beitullah Mehsud. I'm pretty sure we can safely discount anything he has to say.

02-16-2010, 04:06 PM
"Typical Rehman Malik stupidity."

Concur. That's the salient portion of farcical.

02-16-2010, 04:24 PM
A great score. Lets hope we can get some good intel out of this guy and start rolling up more of them.

02-16-2010, 07:24 PM
A careful comment by Joshua Foust, hat tip to Abu M:http://www.registan.net/index.php/2010/02/15/baradars-capture/

Amidst the summary this stands out IMHO:
We’ll Keep It Brief: It was a joint CIA-ISI operation, with the ISI taking the lead. “ISI sab ka dada hai,” as they say: the ISI is everyone’s granddaddy.(My emphasis) We paid a price for this, keep an eye out for what it might be.

02-17-2010, 12:24 AM
Yeah...the quid pro quo thus still waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

02-21-2010, 09:32 PM
An interesting comment by Steve Coll on the 'bargain':http://freerangeinternational.com/blog/?p=2604

I read whilst off-line a variety of comments in European papers and one suggestion that the arrest was made at a VCP.

Also see this US-based Pakistani comment:http://watandost.blogspot.com/2010/02/mullah-baradar-journey-from-kandahar-to.html

02-24-2010, 09:36 PM
Namely of the Quetta Shura Taliban:

From Anand Gopal in the CSM (http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/content/view/print/282597):

Pakistan has arrested nearly half of the Afghanistan Taliban’s leadership in recent days, Pakistani officials told the Monitor Wednesday, dealing what could be a crucial blow to the insurgent movement.

In total, seven of the insurgent group’s 15-member leadership council, thought to be based in Quetta, Pakistan, including the head of military operations, have been apprehended in the past week, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Western and Pakistani media had previously reported the arrest of three of the 15, but this is the first confirmation of the wider scale of the Pakistan crackdown on the Taliban leadership, something the US has sought.

News of the sweep emerged over the past week, with reports that Pakistani authorities had netted Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2010/0216/Mullah-Abdul-Ghani-Baradar-capture-Triumph-of-Pakistan-US-cooperation), the movement’s second in command, as well as Maulavi Abdul Kabir, a prominent commander in charge of insurgent operations in eastern Afghanistan, and Mullah Muhammad Younis.

Pakistan (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Topics/Pakistan) has also captured several other Afghan members of the leadership council, called the Quetta Shura, two officials with the Pakistani Intelligence Bureau, and a United Nations official in Kabul told the Monitor.

These include: Mullah Abdul Qayoum Zakir, who oversees the movement’s military affairs, Mullah Muhammad Hassan, Mullah Ahmed Jan Akhunzada, and Mullah Abdul Raouf.

At least two Taliban shadow provincial governors, who are part of the movement’s parallel government in Afghanistan (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Topics/Afghanistan), have also been captured.

A Taliban spokesman denied the arrests, saying that they were meant to hide the difficulties that United States and NATO forces were having in Afghanistan.

Remarkable if it pans out.

02-25-2010, 10:10 AM
It does indeed sound great.


02-25-2010, 10:47 AM
They seem to fail permanently to catch Omar and OBL.
One possible explanation is the avoidance of martyrs, another is that these heads have much better security, which almost inevitably means that they're in poor communication with others and thus not leading that much.

02-25-2010, 12:59 PM
I don't think it was a matter of security... the ISI has long been able to roll these guys up if they wanted, eh hum, needed to. But why now... what makes now so much different than anytime previous? What could these 7 have done that led the ISI to need to remove them? After all it is widely believed that the Quetta shura is empowered by the ISI to maintain influence and some level of control in Afghanistan. What are the thoughts that these 7 began talks of reconciliation? A reconciled shura that deals directly with the Karzai gov't and the coalition means significantly lower ISI influence and control.

Just curious what the rest of you think of this theory.

02-25-2010, 09:37 PM
(Moderator's Note another thread 'Nearly half of Afghan Taliban leadership arrested in Pakistan', which was started 25/2/10 merged into this and re-named as 'Rounding Up').

02-25-2010, 09:50 PM
The BBC commentary:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8533448.stm

A succession of senior Afghan Taliban leaders have reportedly been seized in Pakistan in recent weeks. The world has been left guessing as to what might lie behind these arrests. But answers will take time in coming.

On Abu M Londonistani prefers to listen a little longer before commenting:http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2010/02/end-quetta-shura.html

Some of these issues appear on another thread on US-Pakistani relations: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=2313 I particular recommend reading some recent items, e.g. Stephen Tankel.

So watch and wait for more information, maybe some better analysis then.

02-26-2010, 08:16 PM
Stephen Tankel on ICSR blog weighs in:http://icsr.info/blog/Busted

He starts with:
The full consequences won't become clear for a while, and a number of questions now loom....The biggest question, for me at least, is what this says about Pakistan's calculus.

With a pithy conclusion:
...maybe Pakistan concluded that the best way to guarantee a seat at the table was to show the U.S. that it deserved one.

02-26-2010, 09:38 PM
Will these men be handed over to Afghanistan? It would seem that if they are Afghan citizens, they can be easily "deported" back to Afghanistan (easily in legal terms) but a court in Lahore has just ordered the government NOT to hand them over. Given that this is Pakistan, one wonders if the court was given some "guidance" in this matter.....
If the government wants, it can probably contest the court's jurisdiction in this matter and even have this overturned fairly quickly by the supreme court, so it will be interesting to see how the state proceeds in this matter.


02-26-2010, 10:43 PM
Hat tip to Abu M by Londonistani on: http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2010/02/taliban-united.html:
We have touched in this blog on developments that seem to suggest the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban groups have started working ever-more closely together.

The review cites an article or book review by David Rohde (A NYT reporter who was kidnapped by the Haqqani faction of the Afghan Taliban): http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/terrorists-without-borders?page=0,0&utm_source=TNR%20Daily&utm_campaign=d42aa919e2-TNR_Daily_022310&utm_medium=emailand notes:
In his conclusion, Giustozzi offers a bit of cautionary advice to American and Afghan leaders... “Today, when the Taliban have grown rapidly and seemingly become confident in final victory,” he concludes, “the prospects of having genuine peace negotiations with the movement’s hierarchy seems debatable.”

Rohde's final remark:
(In part) Another scenario is more likely, and arguably more frightening. There is one prospect worse than Pakistani influence over the Afghan Taliban, and that is the Afghan Taliban’s immunity to Pakistani influence. Pakistan’s generals may find that in fact they now do not have the influence over the hard-line Afghan Taliban that they believe.

The article and books were written before the "round up".

Joy and gloom in quick succession - the way of the old Imperial NWFP border methinks.

03-02-2010, 08:05 PM
Actually not the article's title, but an indicator of this short analysis:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/03/01/down_the_afpak_rabbit_hole?page=0,1

The military and political madness of the AfPak Wonderland has entered a new chapter of folly with the detention of a few Taliban mullahs in Pakistan, most notably Mullah Baradar, once the military strategist of the Quetta Shura, the primary Taliban leadership council headed by Mullah Omar...

In fact, it is no such thing. Pakistan has not abandoned overnight its 50-year worship of the totem of "strategic depth," .....What has happened is, in fact, a purge by Taliban hard-liners of men perceived to be insufficiently reliable, either ethnically or politically, or both.....

This explains why when Mullah Zakir, the hard-line military chief of the Quetta Shura along with Baradar, was detained near Peshawar two weeks after Baradar was detained, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) - Pakistan's powerful military spy service -- released him immediately.

03-07-2010, 09:05 PM
Hat tip to other sites. This one from al Sahwa:
According to multiple reports coming out of Pakistan, senior al Qaeda spokesman and leader Adam Gadahn aka Azzam al Amriki was captured by Pakistani Special Forces in Karachi. For more details, check out Bill Roggio's excellent post at the Long War Journal. If the initial reports are true, this would be a significant capture. Gadahn has quickly risen within the ranks of AQ's senior leadership over the last several years (in part due to his value to the organization as an American citizen). Successful and rapid exploitation of Gadahn could potentially provide actionable intelligence on senior AQ leaders, including Ayman al Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al Libi. More to come on this topic as details continue to emerge...

Note reported in the Pakistani press and not confirmed.

al Sahwa:http://al-sahwa.blogspot.com/2010/03/afpak-update.html
FBI Wanted: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/terrorists/gadahn_a.htm

03-08-2010, 12:56 AM
See this post & PS in War Crimes (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=94744&postcount=487).

CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/07/world/main6275953.shtml?tag=stack)is also back-tracking with the NYT.



03-12-2010, 11:00 PM
Taken from a SWJ article's conclusion: A Sea Change in Pakistan?
Breaking Down the Arguments by Jeffrey Dressler and Reza Jan

In the end, it’s too early to tell if the Pakistanis have reversed their policy towards the QST—or even if they will. It would be equally shortsighted to ignore the significance of the recent actions Pakistan has taken. We do not have all the pieces of the puzzle, nor do we really know which pieces are missing. For the first time we are seeing significant pressure being put on the QST in Pakistan at the same time that they are being squeezed militarily in Afghanistan. This novel situation and the opportunities it presents require careful consideration and are in many respects more important than understanding what exactly caused it.


Comments on the SWJ link.

03-13-2010, 12:17 PM
This could appear elsewhere and I may cross post.

Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, director general of the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, was due to retire this month but will remain in office for another year, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's office said in a statement.

From:http://watandost.blogspot.com/2010/03/isi-chief-gets-one-year-extension.htmlWhich has links to two Pakistani press comments.

03-16-2010, 02:20 PM
An odd 'background briefing' report on the background behind the recent arrests and I suspect much of this is diplomatic "smoke".

The Afghan government was holding secret talks with the Taliban's No. 2 when he was captured in Pakistan, and the arrest infuriated President Hamid Karzai, according to one of Karzai's advisers....

What actually precipitated Baradar's arrest remains a mystery.

Some analysts claim Pakistan wanted to interrupt Karzai's reconciliation efforts or force Karzai to give Islamabad a seat at a future negotiating table.

"I see no evidence to support that theory," Richard Holbrooke, U.S. envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, told reporters this month. "I know somewhat more than I'm at liberty to disclose about the circumstances under which these events took place and every detail tends to work against that thesis."

Another theory is that Baradar, deemed more pragmatic than other top Taliban leaders, was detained to split him from fellow insurgents. McChrystal said recently that it was plausible that Baradar's arrest followed an internal feud and purge among Taliban leaders.

Link to AP:http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hx456sYb9C61WWKFFCGE3IYR5EHAD9EFIV9O0

03-16-2010, 09:58 PM
A different UK angle on the US report:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7457861/Hamid-Karzai-held-secret-talks-with-Mullah-Baradar-in-Afghanistan.html

The Afghan president was furious about the seizure of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi last month as the men had been negotiating, according to his aides.

Diplomats have claimed at least one of Mr Karzai's brothers held talks with the Taliban's number two at a private house near Kandahar two months ago.

The meeting at a residence in Spin Boldak is believed to have included discussion on the lucrative opium and heroin trade in southern Afghanistan.

Nice to see so many factors - allegedly - overlap.

03-19-2010, 02:36 PM
From CBC.ca

Pakistan's recent arrests of top Taliban leaders have halted the United Nation's secret talks with the insurgency, the former UN envoy to Afghanistan says. Kai Eide, a Norwegian diplomat who just stepped down from the UN post in the Afghan capital of Kabul, told the BBC that discussions with senior Taliban members began a year ago and included face-to-face conversations outside Afghanistan.

More... (http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/03/19/afghanistan-pakistan-taliban-arrest.html)

It does make you wonder if the arrests weren't an inside-job purge by radicals inside the Quetta Shura...

03-19-2010, 05:59 PM
I was wondering if you could maybe interpret the Kai Eide statements as an indirect criticism of US and UK strategy for talks with Taliban.

He is a former top Norwegian diplomat and the Norwegians have been critical towards the "buying off" the low and mid-level Taliban forces and instead advocated talks with Taliban decision makers (i.e. the Quetta Shura).

As I've understood, Pakistan has advocated the buying them off strategy.

So maybe by blaming Pakistan, mr. Eide is indirectly critizising the UK and US strategy for Afghanistan?

03-19-2010, 06:08 PM
Hi Lars,

That's certainly a possibility, although I don't think we actually have enough data to either support or rule it out. Besides that, bashing the US is a pretty common game played outside the States (okay, and sometimes inside it too ;)). My gut guess is that there was some kind of play on involving Pakistan, but that's just a guess...



03-19-2010, 08:15 PM
Well, for sure, everyone has been saying that if there is to be a dialogue, Pakistan needs to be involved.

Data is scarce, yeah, but we do know that there is a disagreement, question is only how substantial and if Taliban could maybe be able to make gains from this.

Too early to tell, but one might ask...

03-19-2010, 09:01 PM
MarcT & Lars,

I have moved your four posts in the thread 'Arrests end UN talk with Taliban' to this thread, which has the entire episode and some earlier commentary. You know it makes sense!

03-19-2010, 09:08 PM
This is the original BBC-TV interview clip: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8577402.stm

Mr Eide confirmed publicly for the first time that he had secret talks and a series of other contacts over the past year with senior members of the Taliban...Mr Eide spoke to Lyse Doucet at his home in Oslo.

A lot more detail here:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8575623.stm

SWJ Blog
08-23-2010, 05:30 PM
Copied to here from SWJ blog.

Pakistan deliberately scuttled Afghan peace talks (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/08/pakistan-deliberately-scuttled/)

Entry Excerpt:

That is the conclusion of an article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/world/asia/23taliban.html?_r=1&ref=world)by Dexter Filkins in today’s New York Times.

According to the story, late last year the Afghan government and top Afghan Taliban leaders had met in Dubai and perhaps elsewhere, to establish conditions for formal peace negotiations. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second-ranking Taliban leader, was involved in these talks. But in February, Pakistan’s security services apprehended Baradar in Karachi and then picked up another 22 Afghan Taliban leaders inside Pakistan. Many of these leaders were subsequently released while Baradar is still “relaxing” at an ISI safe house.

Pakistani officials told Filkins that they picked up Baradar and the other Afghan Taliban leaders in order to break up their negotiations with the Afghan government:

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” said a Pakistani security official, who, like numerous people interviewed about the operation, spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians.”Commentary

This article is an embarrassment to U.S. officials. U.S. policymakers have always acknowledged Pakistan’s central role in any settlement of the Afghan war. But it does not look good for U.S. officials when the Pakistani government breaks up peace talks between Afghans, while Pakistan receives billions in U.S. assistance and the Taliban kill several U.S. soldiers every day in Afghanistan.

Second is Pakistan’s increasingly brazen declaration of its duplicity. Statements such as, “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians” would seem to leave little doubt that the Pakistani government keeps the Afghan Taliban a functional military force. Such statements make it difficult for U.S. officials to explain why it is so important for the U.S. to accelerate its war effort in Afghanistan and simultaneously keep Pakistan an "ally."

Finally we should wonder why these Pakistani officials revealed this story and these statements to Filkins. Pakistani officials have no doubt already privately made it clear to Afghan Taliban leaders, Afghan government leaders, and U.S. officials that Pakistan will allow no settlement process to occur without Pakistan's participation and approval. Why then did they think it necessary to repeat this message publicly in the New York Times, embarrassing Obama administration officials as they did so?

Perhaps these Pakistani officials want everyone to understand that they will control the end game in Afghanistan. By undermining the U.S. war effort, they are arranging to get their wish.

10-16-2010, 10:09 PM
Hat tip to Circling the Lion's Den for this stranger than fiction report, but then it is 'The Great Game':
Many Pakistani newspapers are reporting that Mullah Abdul Ghani Barodar, deputy commander of the Afghan Taliban, has been freed in recent days so that he can play a role in peace negotiations. Is he the senior Taliban figure that NATO admits it has allowed to travel to Kabul for peace discussions? US Commander General David Petraeus admitted in London this week: "There have been several very senior Taliban leaders who have reached out to the Afghan government at the highest levels, and also in some cases have reached out to other countries involved in Afghanistan".
He added: "These discussions can only be characterized as preliminary in nature. They certainly would not rise to the level of being called negotiations".

While the Taliban's official spokesman has denied that peace talks are taking place, saying that such stories are designed to sap the morale of Taliban fighters, it looks increasingly as if talks-about-talks are occurring.

Link:http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot.com/2010/10/barodar-leading-taliban-peace-efforts.html and this is the linked Pakistani news report: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\10\16\story_16-10-2010_pg7_21

10-24-2010, 07:58 AM
A mix of 'spin", "smoke" and comment this week on the talks in Kabul, where even Baradar is present, on some form of "liberty" from his Pakistani captors or hosts.


Andrew Exum's commentary, aptly titled Smoke and mirrors in Kabul:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/10/22/smoke_and_mirrors_in_kabul?page=0,0

Which makes some interesting comments on the current campaign around Kandahar:
However, very little of what is taking place in southern Afghanistan can be known with any certainty. Journalists have been denied access to ongoing military operations and, though it is believed that the U.S. military and its allies have indeed been degrading the Taliban and its ability to reconstitute its organization once the fighting season resumes in the spring, questions remain: Did the U.S. military wait until too late in the fighting season to inflict serious damage on the Taliban before its fighters withdrew for the winter? Is the current drop in insurgent attacks any different from the normal seasonal drop in attacks that precedes the onset of winter? Is the degradation of the Taliban's organization forcing it to the negotiation table? And has the Taliban realized that the United States is not, in fact, leaving in July 2011?

And ends with:
It is still unclear whether the United States and its allies have managed to capture momentum in Afghanistan. In Washington, however, this narrative already appears to have won the day.

Zenpundit asks in response:
...why the United States is not negotiating directly with Pakistan/ISI instead of wasting valuable time kabuki-ing around with plausibly deniable and expendable members of proxy groups over which Pakistan holds a demonstrated veto?

Pakistan is our real adversary in Afghanistan and the party with the power to actually make agreements that stick.

This could be another thread, but I suspect SWJ readers look at this and the 'Working with Pakistan' thread.

Bob's World
10-24-2010, 12:46 PM
Insurgencies are indeed resolved in the capitals rather than won on the ground.

The old adage of "we must establish security first" only applies to those tactical efforts on the ground. All those efforts on the ground, the security and the development and governance efforts that follow, are supporting efforts to the larger resolution.

In the old days, when the mission was to secure the place of illegitimate governments so that they could continue to support the national interests of the intervening powers the mission was different. Suppression was indeed enough then, it was the mission. Suppress the people and secure the illegitimate government.

Today that mission has flipped. We in fact have no critical national interests in Afghanistan that require us to establish or secure such an illegitimate caretaker government as we have created in the Karzai regime per the old model. Today the U.S. interest being pursued in Afghanistan and Pakistan both is the security of America. America is best secured when we support the people of Afghanistan in their pursuit of good governance.

Other states have other interests that they too must secure. Our NATO allies have different interests than the US does. Pakistan has different interests than the US does. All of Afghanistan's neighbors have different interests than the US, many of those neighbors cling to the cusp of devolving into full-blown insurgency within their own borders as well, and the prevention of this is the primary interest they seek to service in Afghanistan.

When all of the governments and politicians from these various stakeholders come together to balance and negotiate their shared, neutral and conflicting interests we move forward. When the US assumes our interests are what drives solutions we do not.

When we turn our main effort to put pressure on the Karzai government to either include all of their populace in governance and opportunity, and not just those of the Northern Alliance, we move forward.

Intel driven strategy does not help, as it focuses on threat suppression, and that is the old model. The thinking behind the Small Wars Manual was sound when it was written, but it was already beginning to turn. The last 100+ years have been dominated by popular efforts to throw off illegitimate governments, and the efforts of the foreign supporters of those governments to prevent that from happening.

The thinking behind the Small Wars Manual has been fully obsolete for at least 20 years, probably 50. We can't look at the issues with the Pak government and the Taliban, and the Karzai government and the Taliban and see it clearly when we use that old lens.

10-24-2010, 08:11 PM
Has picked up the Exum and others comments:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/10/smoke-and-mirrors-in-kabul/

With Robert Jones and Gian Gentile making comments on the Blog.

11-18-2010, 10:32 PM
A rather telling article in The Daily Telegraph, two selected parts:
The bottom lines are these: Pakistan has gained greater leverage in Kabul, Mr Karzai has drifted ever-further away from his anti-Taliban allies, and the Taliban is no closer to making peace.

Ends with:
Dialogue succeeds when insurgents realise there the costs of fighting exceed any possible dividend. The Taliban are some distance from that awakening.


Cites another comment:http://aan-afghanistan.com/index.asp?id=1286 which is far more detailed.