Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Potential allies: Karzai, Pakistan and the Taliban?

June 11, 2010
(Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Razai Gilani)

(Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani)

If you still thought things hadn’t dramatically changed on the Afghan chessboard ever since U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to begin pulling out from mid-2011, you only need to look at President Hamid Karzai’s recent utterances, or more accurately the lack of it, on the Taliban and Pakistan, the other heavyweights on the stage.

For months Karzai has gone noticeably quiet on Pakistan, refusing to excoriate the neighbour for aiding the Taliban as he routinely did in the past, The Guardian quoted  a source close to the country’s former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh as saying.

Karzai, in fact, has lost faith in the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and is increasingly turning to long-time Taliban supporter, Pakistan, to end the deadly insurgency, it said. Saleh and interior minister Hanif Atmar resigned this week, which Karzai’s office said was because of lapses that led to a Taliban attack on a peace jirga last week in Kabul.

But Saleh himself told Reuters in an interview that he had quit because he opposed Karzai’s orders for a review of Taliban insurgents in detention, part of moves the president has launched to reach out to the hardline Islamists in a bid to end the nine-year war. The jirga, packed with tribal elders and notables considered loyal to Karzai, endorsed his plan to seek negotiations with the insurgents who have virtually fought U.S.-led NATO forces to a bloody stalemate nine years after they were ousted

So is this what a final settlement would look like in Afghanistan as the United States pulls back ? An unlikely partnership between Karzai, Pakistan and the Taliban? Quite a change from the time when Karzai and former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf levelled harsh accusations against each other.

The one problem though in this new game is that the Taliban don’t seem to be playing their part, despite the best entreaties from Kabul.  Indeed they have unleashed a torrid spell of attacks beginning from the time the jirga opened in a big tent in the west of the capital. The Taliban weren’t invited to the peace council; not that they were going to attend even if they were invited. Instead they showed up as a three-men suicide bomber squad dressed as women in a burqa.  The attack was foiled, but not before rockets landed barely 100 metres from the tent just as Karzai was speaking.

Then a suicide bomber killed at least 40 people, a quarter of them children and wounded 77 in a particularly savage attack on a wedding party in southern Kandahar province. That was followed by a report about the public execution of a seven-year-old boy in neighbouring Helmand province. The child was accusing of spying for U.S. forces and hanged from a tree. And on Friday came another attack, this time a roadside bomb blowing up a minibus killing nine people,  mostly women and children, again in Kandahar province. You would have to ask under what law, however orthodox, can you justify the execution of a child?

Some people are also pointing to the lack of response of the Afghan people to the savage acts of the past week.  Nobody took to the streets to protest the attack, for example on the wedding party, or the public hanging of the child. For the sake of the argument, imagine U.S.-led forces bombing a wedding and killing 40 people . Surely there would have been protests and they would be every bit justified.

As NightWatch intelligence pointed out, the attack on the wedding party violates Taliban leader  Mullah Omar’s code of conduct published last year, but there is no outrage or punishment mechanism, it seems, for rogue Taliban operations.


A pointed article, and things are moving in line with my prognosis. The Karzai show in recent months is a smoke screen for the foreigners. He knows that no mayor of Kabul could stay in power unless he enjoys the support of the Pashtoons in the South. Therefore his affair with various groups. Let us no longer use the label ‘Taliban’ to confuse the issues. Pakistan has no significant role to play, with the exception of the Pashtoons living in the Pakistan territory. They are likely to continue making Pakistan Govt. rule difficult in the coming years. If Mr Karzai succeeds in removing the foreign troops out of Afghanistan, his popularity will rise on both sides of the border.
Rex Minor

Posted by Rex Minor | Report as abusive

I think Karzai is completely wrong and is wrongly advised to alienate himself from the international community and go closer to Pakistan. As the US and its CIA along with ISI promoted Islamic terrorism and extremism for more than 20 years in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight against the Russians, and then suddenly labelled all the people trained and supported by CIA and ISI from freedom fighters to terrorists, and this change in the policy actually helped the extremist groups to strengthen, the result will be the same in the Karzai case. For past more than eight years, he told this nation that Pakistan was supporting all the terrorism and the terrorism was never acceptable, now his embracing the same terrorists will not bring any change. First of all, the Pakistan based terrorists and Pakistan’s intelligence will never respecte his frienship because they want a complete victory in Afghanistan and want to remove Karzai and install Taliban. The second thing is that he will face opposition within the country and his government (Atmar and Saleh resignations were the first strong singns) because majority of the people have now developed a strong hatred against Pakistan and their Afghan policies and majority of the people will not accept his giving the country again to Pakistan and Taliban.

The problem with Karzai is his and his relatives government’s large scale corruption which alienates the population and helps the insurgents get strong. His attempt to embrace with international terrorists and Pakistan is an attempt to thward international pressure on combating corruption. But at the end of the day, Karzai is the loser in any case as long as he ignores the real problems and playes these games.


Are this guys waiting for Godot ?
Would you like to be president in any nation now days?
Do you believe in a life before this life and do you believe in a life after this life? And what about this life?


@Abdulhadi Hairan
Perhaps you would feel lighter and relaxed, if you were to refrain from the use of terrorist, international community, corruption etc. Mr Karzai has proven to be a stronger personality than I envisaged. He is a Pashtoon anf the so called people with the label Taliban are also Pashtoons. Those who oppose him should try to support him to build the country into a Nation. It is very difficult, the former Kings and their families tried to modernise the country but failed. Let mr Karzai bring unity among the people of Afghanistan.
Rex Minor

Posted by Rex Minor | Report as abusive

@ReX Minor
More than half of the Taliban are anti-Pashtun. And if former kings and their families failed in modernising the country, that does not mean that modernisation is failed. Successful people and nations don’t give up when they fail in achieving good values and goals. We should continue.


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