Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Afghan President Hamid Karzai may be pushing for talks with the Taliban in public as the only way to end the nine-year war, but in private he is as determined as the United States in opposing any place for top Taliban leaders in a future government , the latest set of WikiLeaks documents show. Those repeated calls for talks are more aimed at sowing dissensions in the insurgent group than any serious attempt for a negotiated settlement of the war. Indeed as The Guardian reports on the leaked comments on its website, so far as Karzai and the Obama administration are concerned, the only option open to the Taliban is surrender.
Which pretty much is a deal-maker, given that the Taliban having fought the world’s most advanced military formation to a virtual stalemate, have shown few signs of a compromise, much less surrender.
“We have no illusion that Mullah Omar could ever join the government,” General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, is quoted as saying in a cable to Washington on 20 January 2009. The general made the remarks during a conversation with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev who said he was concerned by Karzai’s bid to involve the Taliban in a post-war settlement. Petraeus says Karzai’s position is more nuanced than that, and that the Afghan leader ‘s goal was to break up the Taliban, and reconcile some.
A year later another cable makes clear that the United States is remains fundamentally opposed to any deal with the Taliban. “There will be no power-sharing with elements of the Taliban,” Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan tells Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao citing the Taliban’s “unpalatable social programmes”and links with Al Qaeda.
At about the time WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables, including one related to a secret attempt to remove enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor, a top Pakistani military official held a briefing for journalists that focused on U.S.-Pakistan ties.
Dawn’s Cyril Almeida has written a piece based on the officer’s comments made on the condition of anonymity, and they offer the closest glimpse you can possibly get of the troubled ties between the allies.
from Russell Boyce:
Some pictures still shock me. Some make me laugh; many provide an insight or window into a new idea but only a few haunt me with my mind's eye returning to them again and again.
On Wednesday 28th July an Airblue plane crashed just outside Islamabad in the beauty spot of the Margalla Hills killing all 152 on board. The cause of the crash, as yet unconfirmed, is thought to have been the driving monsoon rain. I edited the pictures shot by Reuters photographers who reached the scene. Images ranging from smoke drifting through the hills, men scrambling in the charred rocky, woodlands, picking through twisted metal and rocks looking for signs of life; tied cloth bags, dripping with the blood that contained the remains of the passengers, to a severed arm and hand, the fingers still perfectly formed, just lying on the ground. There were no survivors.
from Tales from the Trail:
There may be more shoes to drop from WikiLeaks if it releases another 15,000 documents on the Afghanistan war that the whistleblower website is reviewing. It is already seeing some backlash after releasing 75,000-plus documents on the Internet.
The Times of London reported Wednesday that the leaked documents expose informers helping U.S. forces and have put hundreds of Afghan lives at risk.
from Tales from the Trail:
In many ways the documents released by WikiLeaks last night merely underscored the bleak assessment of the Afghan war which General Stanley McChrystal issued last August.
At the time McChrystal warned the overall situation was “deteriorating”, complained of “under-resourcing” and called for not just more resources but a “fundamentally new approach” from NATO forces if failure were to be avoided.
A Pakistani security official stands near a burning vehicle after it was attacked in Chaman in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, along the Afghan border on May 19, 2010.
On the face of it, you could ask what’s new about the latest disclosures of Pakistani involvement in the Taliban insurgency while accepting massive U.S. aid to fight Islamic militancy of all hues. Hasn’t this been known all along — something that a succession of top U.S. officials and military leaders have often said, sometimes couched in diplomatic speech and sometimes rather clearly?