Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Old spectre of partition sparks new jitters
An analysis by a former U.S. envoy to India has touched off a fire storm in Afghanistan where the world’s super power is struggling along with a 150,000-strong NATO force it leads against a resurgent Taliban it thought it had almost defeated with their ousting in 2001.
It has revived a long-held suspicion among some Afghans that the U.S. wants to divide the country as part of a wider plan to destabilise the middle east and central Asia in pursuit of world hegemony.
The Obama administration’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan seems headed for failure, said Robert D. Blackwill, who also served as U.S. deputy national security adviser for strategic planning and presidential envoy to Iraq in the administration of President George. W. Bush.
“Given the alternatives, de facto partition of Afghanistan is the best policy option available to the United States and its allies,” he wrote.
Western diplomats and military commanders have not publicly commented on Blackwill’s analysis, nor has President Hamid Karzai, whose government remains unpopular, but some Afghans have reacted bitterly.
One journalist in a late evening radio discussion said Afghans should not remain silent and Karzai had to show that he is a national leader at this critical time.
Ramazan Bashardoost, a lawmaker and former minister in Karzai’s government, told the same show that Washington eyed broader regional goals, and Afghanistan’s instability or division suited those aims.
“Don’t invest in Afghanistan’s disintegration”, read a headline in the Kabul Weekly on Thursday.
“The idea (of partition) is not a new of one,” it said in an editorial. “Western diplomats and so-called political experts have proposed partition before.
In the early 1990s, it said, a Pentagon agency had produced a map of a partitioned Afghanistan, “appropriately titled ‘Balkanization of Afghanistan’ which proposed breaking up both Pakistan and our country…”.
Afghanistan is made up of a variety of ethnic groups well represented elsewhere in the region such as Turkmens, Uzbeks and Tajiks. Pashtuns make up some 37 percent of of the 30 million population and also number in their in millions in Pakistan as part of the colonial-era separation of the tribe and territory.
Showing they also keep tabs on the wealth of pundits with an opinion on Afghanistan, the Taliban also responded on their website.
With the Afghan war getting out of America’s control, and appointing a new man in charge, it is possible they wants to stir disunity among Afghans and divide Afghanistan into several parts, the hardline Islamist group said.
It also had a dig at the strength of newly appointed commander of foreign forces, General David Petreaus, noting his fainting at congressional hearings last month.
Since invading Afghanistan in 2001, Washington has been keen to see the disintegration of Afghanistan, the Taliban said.
The fire storm over partition will be given fuel by news that Karzai had endorsed a U.S.-proposed plan for creating a new rural community police force as a security front against the Taliban.
The formation of the force is a sensitive issue for Afghans who remember the notorious militias mobilised by the Soviets during their decade-long occupation in the 1980s, and the role they played in the bloody civil war that followed.