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Opinion

July 3, 2013

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Enduring failure

President Karzai is a troubled man these days. With the planned American and allied military withdrawal, he sits atop a sinking ship. He is busy securing his political future. The unruly warlords – the mainstay of Karzai’s US-backed government and mostly on the payroll of the CIA – run in different directions to secure their own careers.
More than a decade later, Pentagon continues to rely on thugs to run the Afghan government while peaceful, educated Afghans are sidelined. This in itself is a big scandal. Washington invaded and occupied the country promising an end to armed Afghan militias running Kabul. But today American taxpayers’ money is used to prop up warlords. This is why, contrary to most US Department of Defence handouts; the ‘civilising’ effect of Washington’s Afghan occupation is overrated.
Luckily, most Americans are blissfully unaware of these truths thanks to opinion leaders and commentators in the US media busy embellishing Pentagon’s and the CIA’s performance in Afghanistan. Now, when the White House and the State Department try options for peace, the Pentagon and its media apologists are busy discrediting the option of talking to the Afghan Taliban.
Under the circumstances, you would expect Karzai to be circumspect. Instead, he is busy picking new fights with a crucial neighbour, Pakistan, and creating new bitterness with the Afghan Taliban, which represent an important segment of the Afghan population.
Just this week, his deputy foreign minister Ershad Ahmadi decided to practise diplomacy through the media, suggesting Pakistan has allegedly proposed a power-sharing arrangement with the Afghan Taliban and accusing Islamabad of using insurgents to meddle in Afghan politics.
Ahmadi dares not describe the CIA’s monthly stipend to Afghan warlords in power in Kabul as meddling, but God forbid if Pakistan tries to help end a 12-year-old war. In effect, the agency continues to bankroll war while we try to bring

peace to Afghanistan and, by extension, to Pakistan’s border regions.
For a long time, Islamabad has been apologetic and defensive about its Afghan policy. This has emboldened critics like Ahmadi and others who try to de-legitimise Pakistani interest in Afghan peace as interference.
Islamabad needs to be blunt. No other country can match the amount of financial aid that Islamabad spent on Afghanistan, hosting nearly three million Afghan refugees for the last thirty years. Last week, we extended the refugee status and the associated benefits to 1.6 million Afghans.
We have given preferential and generous trade concessions to Kabul, above and beyond what is mandated for landlocked countries under international law. We have patiently watched as Afghan soil has been used against Pakistan, again, after 2002. The CIA continues to be involved in multiple anti-Pakistan actions from its Afghan bases, and terrorist groups enjoy Afghan safe havens with impunity.
Considering all of this, Pakistan has a strong case to have a say in ensuring that peace prevails in Afghanistan after the decade-long American military misadventure. If Karzai’s government can’t understand this, we should use the Afghan transit trade concessions as a leverage to drive the point.
We should be direct and blunt in defining our interest in Afghan peace. We should be direct in saying that the Indian policy of meddling in Afghanistan, which started in 1950, should come to an end.
Email: [email protected] org

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