In Afghanistan: fighting over the terms of a settlement

January 31, 2010

karzai londonAt last week’s London conference, two of the great truisms of warfare punched their way to the surface. The first is that wars are fought as much on the home front as on the battlefield. With public support for the war in Afghanistan ebbing away, the United States and its allies in NATO have shifted from seeking outright victory to looking for an exit strategy that will allow them to start bringing home their troops next year.  Rather as the British did after their two failed invasions of Afghanistan in the 19th century, they are sending in reinforcements in a display of military might which they hope will secure better terms in an eventual settlement.

The other truism is that if you can’t win outright victory on the battlefield, then you have to negotiate with your enemies. President Hamid Karzai set the ball rolling by announcing he would hold a peace council to which, according to an Afghan government spokesman, the Taliban leadership would be invited.  Karzai has made such suggestions before, and it is by no means clear the Taliban leadership will send representatives. What was different this time, however, was the context.  Karzai’s suggestion no longer met with the same resistance from war-weary governments, who stressed that it was up to the Afghans themselves to lead the process of reconciliation.  He also coupled his call for a peace council with an appeal to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to bring peace to Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia is a trusted interlocutor between the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership; Pakistan is the only country which still has some measure of leverage over them. Thus Karzai’s call for a loya jirga, though not dramatic in itself, became emblematic of a broader shift towards seeking a political settlement to end the war.

What happens now is so complicated and so delicate, that no one can predict the outcome. Just as western governments have little clear idea about who might buy into a political settlement and on what terms, nor do the insurgents themselves. Contacts with various insurgent groups are expected to follow many  different tracks,  so that everyone — on all sides — is going to be watching what everyone else does to try to maximise their advantage.

The warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose men play a powerful role in the insurgency in eastern Afghanistan, has shown some signs of flexibility, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a video leaked to the WSJ, he said that “we have no agreement with the Taliban – not for fighting the war, and not for the peace.”

“The only thing that unites the Taliban and [us] is the war against the foreigners,” the paper quoted him as saying. “Unlike in previous videos, where Mr. Hekmatyar used a Kalashnikov rifle as a prop and expressed support for al Qaeda, in the latest tape, recorded in late December and provided to The Wall Street Journal by his aides in Pakistan, he assumed a professorial tone, wearing glasses and a black turban as he spoke in a quiet, soft voice.”

A spokesman for Hekmatyar suggested last week that President Barack Obama’s commitment to start drawing down troops in 2011 could be a possible step towards talks. ”We do not see a hindrance to the negotiations provided a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces is set,” said spokesman Wali Ullah. 
“With Mr Karzai and (other) Afghans we have no problems.”

The Afghan Taliban in the “Quetta shura” — named after the Pakistani city where Washington says it is based — will keep a close eye on any signs that Hekmatyar could switch sides. At the moment they are in a strong position, but this — argues Ahmed Rashid in The New York Review of Books – could give them an incentive to negotiate to try to extract concessions before the influx of U.S. troops and any breaking of ranks in the insurgency weakens their hand.

“Despite their successes, the Taliban are probably now near the height of their power,” he writes. “They do not control major population centers—nor can they, given NATO’s military strength and air power. There are no countrywide, populist insurrections against NATO forces as there were against the coalition forces in Iraq. The vast majority of Afghans do not want the return of a Taliban regime despite their anger at the Karzai government and the general international failure to deliver economic progress. Many Afghans believe that as long as Western troops remain, there is still the hope that security can return and their lives change for the better.

“Thus the next few months could offer a critical opportunity to persuade the Taliban that this is the best time to negotiate a settlement, because they are at their strongest.”

The Afghan Taliban have been insisting in recent statements that they are an Afghan nationalist movement which represents no threat to the west, possibly signalling a willingness to break with al Qaeda – a crucial precondition set by Washington for inclusion in any political settlement.  According to a UN official, representatives of the Quetta shura secretly met with the UN’s representative for Afghanistan this month to explore the possibility of talks.

Saudi Arabia has insisted that the Taliban must sever relations with al Qaeda before it is willing to mediate in any Afghan peace deal.  But as discussed here and here, it has the potential to play a powerful role in any negotiations.

Pakistan, which nurtured the Taliban in the 1990s to extend its influence over Afghanistan and bring stability to a country torn apart by civil war, has the leverage to bring them to the table — though it would be wrong to assume it can tell them what to do. Even when in power in Kabul, the Taliban remained independent, refusing for example to recognise the Durand Line, the British colonial frontier separating Afghanistan and Pakistan. In its contribution to any settlement, Pakistan will also want to make sure its own security interests are taken care of — including the recognition of the border, a limit to India’s growing influence in Afghanistan and an end to the violence unleashed by the Pakistani Taliban on its side of the border.

Even assuming a settlement could be reached with Taliban leader Mullah Omar,  questions remain about far he can convince all of the insurgents in the field fighting under the Taliban name to accept it.  While some analysts say that many insurgents still feel an intense loyalty to Mullah Omar, others point to the fragmentation of Islamist militant groups that has happened in recent years — with more extreme splinter groups breaking away from the leadership — to suggest that even if he were to agree a settlement, not all Taliban fighters would accept it.

“Even if Mr. Omar did agree to sit down at the table – in Riyadh, Islamabad, Dubai, or at the tribal assembly proposed by Mr. Karzai – it is not clear that a decision by the Taliban high command to support the government would erode the insurgency in the restive south,” writes Sonia Verma at The Globe and Mail. ” In Kandahar and Helmand, there are signs that the battle is increasingly being fought by pockets of breakaway fighters who would rather renounce their allegiance to Mr. Omar than lay down their weapons.”

Finally, of the three big insurgent groups fighting in Afghanistan, there is the Haqqani network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son. Based in Waziristan, it is seen as close to al Qaeda, making it an unlikely candidate for a political settlement.  Haqqani has been scathing in the past of any notion of a dialogue with Karzai’s government, although he too has insisted his interest is in fighting for Afghanistan rather than in promoting global jihad.

Navigating through the competing interests of these different militant groups is going to be hard for all sides — not just the Afghan government and its western allies, but also for potential mediators like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and indeed for the leaders of the insurgency themselves. And that is before you take account of “spoilers” like al Qaeda, which must already have its own plans to make sure it does not lose its sanctuary on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  And then, of course, come the rivalries between different countries with a stake in the region — including between India and Pakistan and between the United States and Iran, to name but two of the biggest among many.


It is amazing that the US has been unable to force Pakistan to take on the Afghan Taliban all these years. They could have done that by imposing economic sanctions on Pakistan and isolated them. For some reason the Afghan Taliban has been kept in cold storage. It is a mystery why the US allowed them to have a “vacation” of this kind. And interestingly neither Pakistan nor the CIA could find where Bin Laden has been hiding all these years! I for one cannot believe that. I see some level of “understanding” between the various parties including the US. I think they wanted to stay in this region for a while for their own purposes. But the economic downturn last year seems to have changed everything. If the US did not go through the economic slide, then everyone involved in the Afghanistan game will be dancing around the bush not making any progress. I think the US needs Bin Laden alive as long as possible. It wants the Taliban intact as long as possible. And it gives it a good reason to sit in the region for a long period. And Pakistan wants the Taliban alive for as long as possible. It does not want the Al Qaeda, which has basically hijacked Pakistan’s regional goals. Al Qaeda wants the Taliban alive for as long as possible because without its support it has no foothold anywhere else. The US can track the Mehsud militants and kill them one by one using its drones. But it cannot find even one Al Qaeda leader and knock him down. It is obvious to me that a game is being played. India’s entrance into Afghanistan is causing excruciating pain to Pakistan because Pakistan knows that it will find it difficult to carry out its regional mission once the US and their allies withdraw from the region. From Indian stand point, it would be prudent to hinder Pakistan’s “strategic plans” because it has suffered from it prior to 9/11. So it might gather up the non-Taliban elements and stage a counter offensive if Taliban begins to start hacking its enemies. Initially the Hekmatyar and Haqqanis will begin to go after the Karzais and Dostums. The Pak military will allow the chaos to worsen first so that people would welcome the Taliban. The last time this happened, India was not present. Now India has cut inroads into the region. With Iran, it might launch a counter offensive and conduct a proxy war. The proxy war in Kashmir will be shifted to a different stage in Afghanistan. That might be India’s aim as well – to shift the stage away from home. Pakistan will find it hard to sustain two proxy wars on either side. Both countries know that conventional wars are history and nuclear war will be self destructive. Proxy war will be the war of the future. If Pakistan can run it with meager resources, India can do it even better. I do not see any alternative for India. To keep peace at home, it needs to engage its enemy elsewhere. India will not be sending its troops. It will fight through proxy elements. It might stage some anti-Shia attack in the region to draw Iran into the conflict. A local cold war is about to begin.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

ok so it is correct, Afghanistan is the graveyard of the empires. First it were the British, then Russians and now its the Americans. Soon American tanks will be rusting in Bagram airbase as relics of the Afghan war. The legends of Afghan Mujahideen have won again. As NATO and US cut their losses and run, it is becoming evident how greedy war mongerers started a war nine years ago which took thousands of life and pushed back Afghanistan in terms of national reconciliation and nationbuilding. Today, Afghanistan is more fragmented than before. the challenge is not only how to withdraw foreign forces, but also how to prevent a civil war and ensure nation building process.
On the sidelines an international tribunal must be formed just like the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) which was a United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s. All those who were responsible for this needless war in Afghanistan must be brought to justice.
Pakistan on its part must also offer peace talks to Pakistani Taliban and reintegrate them. The west cannot offer investment. It can only give aid through NGOs and Pakistan and Afghanistan must reject that. Only invite China to make investment in energy and other sectors. Kick out foreign troops and build sustainable economies. Only then will the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan see a bright future.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

“I do not see any alternative for India. To keep peace at home, it needs to engage its enemy elsewhere. India will not be sending its troops. It will fight through proxy elements.”

-This is precisely what India had been already doing in Afghanistan. But if you read the link Myra posted the coulmn written by Ayesha Siddiqa in Dawn and I quote her:
“The regional states have their eyes on maximising benefits as the US reviews cutting its losses and bailing out of Kabul.
there is no possibility whatsoever of a much-needed arrangement amongst regional stakeholders like India, Iran and Pakistan regarding Kabul’s future.
The regional actors would pump in resources and use contacts with the proxies to create greater chaos and mayhem on the other side. This is certainly a dangerous proposition since what we may be looking at is a conflict which will not be contained within specific boundaries. Therefore, we may end up having larger ungovernable spaces. Such a development will threaten India as much as it will Pakistan. Or perhaps it will affect Pakistan more since society is already bleeding from the impact of a decade of the war on terror.

Sadly, there is no end in sight to proxy wars in the region and non-state actors. In fact, heightened competition between India and Pakistan over Afghanistan will result in greater justification on both sides for maintaining non-state actors as proxies. ”

-you can now make your own assessments, if you think India will soak its hands with blood in Kabul, Herat or Kandahar and that Mumbai Delhi or Bangalore will remain safe you are mistaken. Proxy wars of future will also not be confined to one geographical region either. Also, consider one more thing regarding a cold war between India and Pakistan; Geography. While the Soviet Union and US at the height of cold war had thousands of miles of territory between them. Pakistan and India share a thousands KM border with each other and in the event of any crisis the response time will be reduced to minutes. Making any potential crisis situation very dangerous. Under these circumstances it is best for all regional states to refrain from proxy warfare altogether, both in their own national interest and that of the victim; Afghanistan whcih has already suffered three decades of war.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Pakistani military is the winner in this war. Without doing much and by dodging and ducking, they have managed to keep their resources in tact. American drones have been killing Pakistan’s enemies. Hakimullah Mehsud’s death is the latest one. So Pakistan pushed the Pak Taliban into a corner and the US drones took care of the rest. And the US should have done the same with Afghan Taliban. If Pak military was forced to corner them, the US could have taken out Mullah Omar and others. But Pakistan has managed to slip out of that choke hold.

Now it all depends on how the negotiations with the Taliban and the Allies go. Taliban wants the Allied forces to exit before any talks can be run. And if they insist on that, there is a chance for the US and allies to go after them. For peace to return to the region, the Pak sponsored Afghan Taliban have to be decimated and eliminated. Otherwise, it will be the repeat of the same story all over again. Only this time I expect India to get involved in a proxy war that can add more to the chaos.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

What a farce? We are seeing the second phase now. After payments to several Pashtoon groups the US and the NATO armies were managing free pssage of their supplis on the main highways. Now they want to formalise this arrangement with the leaders. The total amount allocated for the new campaign is less than what they are currently paying.
According to the BBC, AlJazeera and CNN. the so called talabans control most of the provinces in Afghanistan. Are they going to accept the well meaning offer from Mr Karzai? Certainly not without pre-conditions. Participation in the Govt. and the withdrawal of foreign armies.
@kpsingh, you are still maintaining your illusions? Once the Pashtoon talabans have dealt with the Afghan issue they are going to turn towards the Pakistan Army, from Swat to Waziristan, they are going to cross over and take over the NWFP and Baluchistan, clearing the sea route for afghanistan. India is neither here nor there. They have no vision or a strategy. Both Pakistan and Indian Armies can hang on to their beloved Kashmir.
Like the roman empire, the USA is overstretched and no longer the world super power. The USA is sruggling very hard to keep its hegemony empire around the world(designed by the neo-conservatives) but the domestic bankruptcy is no longer able to sustain it.China, China, China is the growing power in the world.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

For people living in this region, and therefore the most affected by events here, what is certain is that foreign troops will be leaving in the not too distant future. They are concerned only with what will happen, which is an exit, they don’t care it happens. As far as the West is concerned their main problem is to work out a face saving exit. What happens thereafter is nobody’s business.

I think it would be prudent to start thinking about what happens subsequently. What is certain is that once the Western troops leave, nobody will lose any sleep over events here. That is why I find the Pakistani attitude a bit strange. They complained that the US left them high and dry after the Soviets moved out and yet they don’t see the writing on the wall this time. Now they want the US to do exactly the same thing. Why will the result be any different this time? Will someone explain why they feel they will manage any better this time than they did the last time?

Similarly, the US is actually spending all its effort in trying to make out a strategic defeat into some sort of victory declaration. Once it finds one that carries even the slightest credibility, it will spread it around and catch the next flight home. That is why all talk is about whom Karazai must and must not talk to, who is bad and who is good and thats the total sum of all discussions!

Someone once said “the only lesson history has to offer is that no one learns anything from it.”

Why is no one coming out openly and saying “let us all get together and think of a way to stabilise the region and commit assistance by way of finances, expertise, logistics and advice to stabilise Afghanistan”. Once that becomes the agenda, maybe the confusion will reduce. The least that will happen will be that people will be thinking positively and working towards an achievable aim, instead of floating high flying fancy theories every hour on the hour.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Dara, I’ve not heard the Pakistanis say they want the Americans to leave straight away. Rather I think they want a stable Afghanistan, which is not a million miles away from what India wants, or indeed what western governments want.

Do read Raja Mohan’s piece on this, including his bold suggestion that Manmohan Singh invite Karzai and Zardari to Delhi for a trilateral summit. 1/top-towards-a-grand-summit.html

Posted by Myra.MacDonald | Report as abusive

Can we stop with the conspiracy theories? First it was the Pakistanis on here. Now it’s the Indians. Having dabbled in the darkside of this business, I can assure you that the US has no love or tolerance for the Taliban.

The problem for the US and the West is a simple one: they depend on Pakistan. The supply lines to Afghanistan run through Pakistan. The Taliban take shelter there. There are ethnic tribal relations across the border. And the ISI is the intelligence service that has the most contacts with the enemy.

It’s an unfortunate situation. But that’s reality. The West has recognized this though. A year and a bit ago, NATO and the Americans got together and decided to build an alternate supply line through the ‘stans and Russia. In the meanwhile, you’ve seen Pred strikes in Pakistan go up exponentially. That too is part of the plan. The Americans have even quietly engaged the Iranians through intermediaries to allow for co-operation and promote another alternative to Pakistan. And there’s more coming…

However, there are limits to what the West can do in Afghanistan and how much they can push the Paks. Conspiracy theories aside, the Americans aren’t superhuman.

That said, the Americans undoubtedly feel deeply betrayed by the Pakistanis. Canada and Europe aren’t all that far behind in this emotion. The Pakistanis, think they’ve gotten away with their duplicity. But in the long run, nobody is going to forget that they co-operated with groups that killed US/NATO troops in Afghanistan and harboured groups that killed and will continue to kill Western citizens at home and around the world (not to mention scores of Indians and even Pakistanis themselves).

Their current attitude, if not reversed, will lead to their own isolation. The travel restrictions to the US is a leading indicator. Europe is also deeply concerned about Pakistan. Several Gulf countries are also concerned that Pakistan is just a breeding ground for instability since they get large numbers of their citizens coming back radicalized from Pakistan. Yet, I don’t see that Pakistanis in Pakistan understand what’s happening and how quickly they are being isolated from the world.

As for Afghanistan, whatever has to happen will. The spotlight is slowly but surely moving across the Durand line.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

@Dara, I’ve not heard the Pakistanis say they want the Americans to leave straight away. Rather I think they want a stable Afghanistan, which is not a million miles away from what India wants, or indeed what western governments want.”

Myra: Who does not want a “stable Afghanistan”? They just want stable in their own way. It is not enough to say Pakistanis want stable Afghanistan. Rather Pakistanis want stable Pakistan and do not care if that comes at the expense of Afghanistan or anyone else—did we forget the pre-9/11 history already?

someone said India lacks strategy on Afghanistan. Isn’t the West, India, Pakistan all are resigned to the circumstances and no one has the strategy here? I doubt that Pakistan-Af-Taliban relationship will continue to be the same as before 9/11–unless the West is stupid but I won’t bet a penny on the West for the way they handled stuff in Afghanistan. Are Pakistanis not worried that Taliban in Afghn will undo PA’s operations and that the TTP will come back in Pakistan.

Myra: how many Pushtoons want or don’t mind Taliban coming back? It will be interesting to know the numbers.

It will be really ironic if West makes an exit from Afghanistan faster than from Iraq.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive


The problem is that everyone wants peace on their terms. The Pakistanis want a stable Afghanistan that includes the Taliban in the government. Essentially they want the setup that was there on September 10th, 2001. To the US that’s unacceptable. India wants a government which won’t shelter anti-India terrorists like the Taliban did for the Indian Airlines hijackers and other assorted troublemakers. Iran wants the US out and wants its says (because of the Shia minority) to carry weight.

Too many conflicting interests. And that’s what makes consensus difficult.


I’d argue that the Pakistanis do want the Americans out. Their position is becoming untenable and they know it. Any American led resolution in Afghanistan will inevitably be insufficiently pro-Pakistan for Islamabad’s taste. And the American presence in Afghanistan has displaced at least some of the instability from there to Pakistan. Why would the Paks not want the Americans out of the region?

What they don’t want leaving with the last American GI is aid money. That’s what they are really worried about. For all the talk about how many friends Pakistan has, nobody has really stepped up, except the US. Even the Chinese and the Saudis are weary of helping Pakistan. They know it’s a money pit. Only the Americans will be generous enough to keep Pakistan afloat. That might all end, if the Americans leave.

That’s why they are desperately trying to balance out these two opposing issues. They are trying to find a way to keep just enough American interest in the region to keep the money flowing, yet not so much that the hammer comes down on them.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

“That said, the Americans undoubtedly feel deeply betrayed by the Pakistanis. Canada and Europe aren’t all that far behind in this emotion. The Pakistanis, think they’ve gotten away with their duplicity. But in the long run, nobody is going to forget that they co-operated with groups that killed US/NATO troops in Afghanistan and harboured groups that killed and will continue to kill Western citizens at home and around the world (not to mention scores of Indians and even Pakistanis themselves).”

Keith, your opinion is something that disturbs me the most, being a citizen living in Rawalpindi and having lost friends in the Army. I know Pakistan Army suffered 2273 (officers and men) fatalities in this war. Just on Monday I was in Peshawar and the road leading to the Military hospital resembled a war zone as if the country is at war. Pakistan has suffered so many economic and other losses, civilians killed soldiers martyred.
We do not want to please NATO/ US or Canada at such cost, we want to get things right in Pakistan. The war to stop, economy to get stable, tourism improve, sports increase, normalize daily life.
We are not concerned of any isolation, we just want to safeguard Pakistan’s national interest. you can never be our friends since you have never acknowledged the sacrifices made by Pakistan. Who is that ‘nobody’ you are referring to, is that US and Canada and NATO? what NATO alliance of probably Germany and U.K. Last time i checked the world map there were more than 180 countries in the world. No problem if Pakistan is isolated from US, UK, Canada, Germany and France. We can trade, do business with, go study in and visit the other 175 or so countries of the world. The rest of the world even does not understand the conflict in Afghanistan. So chill out man, no one is worried about US and Canada and NATO being betrayed by Pakistan.
Besides, US betrayed Pakistan again and again over the decades. Being paid for F-16s and not delivered. That was just an example of one betrayal. Having used ISI to bleed Soviets and then loosing interest in the region and Pakistan was left alone to deal with the consequences of a prolonged civil war in Afghanistan in the 90s. This was another betrayal.
So i think Pakistan has all the right to betray the US and it is good the US is feeling betrayed. So far they only know how to betray others, its good to learn they are feeling betrayed themselves now.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Someone is putting highly contradictory posts.

Here they are:

Long time no see my friend, welcome back to the blog. I have some good news. The tourist resorts are luring people back to Swat and South Waziristan has been clenaned up by Pakistan Army.”

and then here is the opposite one from less dangerous area than the above 2:

“I know Pakistan Army suffered 2273 (officers and men) fatalities in this war. Just on Monday I was in Peshawar and the road leading to the Military hospital resembled a war zone as if the country is at war.”

So things are rosy in Swat and South Waziristan but Pehawar is a war zone! whome are you kidding here? Just make up your mind if it is touristy season or war zone.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive


I am going by the impression I get from all the Pakistani bloggers here, almost without exception. Also many analysts say the same thing – Pakistan is biding its time till the Americans leave so that they can regain control of affairs in Afghanistan. I also think that it is the true picture. Naturally the Pakistani establishment will not tout this line openly.

Thanks for the Raja Mohan link, I read it in the Indian Express yesterday. Though I agree generally with his analysis, I think there is some wishful thinking on his part, specially when it comes to the trust deficit, he seems to gloss over it.

Just one example: “Five, India must also make a special effort to address Pakistan’s fears — irrational as they might seem in Delhi — that it is meddling on its western frontiers.”

He gives suggestions without how to go about doing so. What exactly can India do to belie fears that are irrational? Has anyone, other than the State of Pakistan, accused India of fomenting trouble in that area? As far as I know that idea has been scoffed at by most. Obviously I don’t expect Pakistan enthusiasts to accept that line. But how should India go about doing what he says? I also see no mention of what Pakistan is not doing and needs to, to assuage Indian sentiments over Pakistan’s supreme indifference to being a terror factory and nursery. No, it is not enough to say Pakistan is also a victim! It is sadly, reaping what it has sown, India on the other hand is suffering because of its foolish strategy of conducting a proxy war through Islamic fundamentalists.

I also have no doubt that everyone (India, the West and even Pakistan) wants a stable Afghanistan. My point is that they are not doing anything constructive about it. All they are playing at is how to best extricate themselves from a mess they have created while some are playing the waiting game biding their time. My point is, all this has happened before, it didn’t work. Why will it be any different this time?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive


I accept what you say, we are on the same page. My stand is that the priority should only be Afghanistan and stability, not on my terms or yours or anyone else. That is what I think happened in London, every one was and is looking at it from their own short term benefit. That is the key problem. They are looking at a common approach to different goals – not a sensible approach.

Like it was over the climate change issue – its all me and mine to solve a global problem. There is no collective focus and unless there is, there will be only tokenism and rhetoric. History will repeat itself a few years down the line with worse consequences.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Rajeev wrote:
“So things are rosy in Swat and South Waziristan but Pehawar is a war zone! whome are you kidding here? Just make up your mind if it is touristy season or war zone.”

-Being in Rawalpindi/Islamabad I try to get input from the media, from the TV, I keep talking to friends and colleagues who belong to Bannu, Peshawar and Darra Adam Khel and Frontier regions etc and just FYI my place of birth is also Peshawar thoug I am not pushtun. My sources of keeping upto date with the latest situation is not just one. And yes I get conflicting news sometimes. A colleague of mine hails from bannu he told me things are quite at his hometown. Then during the weekend a girls school was bombed in Bannu. Again in Bajaur and it is same situation, just recently there was BBC news saying that the millitant stronghold of Damdola was captured by Pakistan Army. So a lot of things taking place, then again in the cities like Islamabad or Rawalpindi things remain normal but there is occasional attack here and there but lately things are looking much normal. It is a stalemate, the state of Pakistan (Army, Air Force, ISI, paramilitary, Police etc) are overstretched and have a major task to protect huge civil and military installations and ensure public security. Millitants on the other hand have to simply pull off suicide and simple attacks and it is very difficult to stop such attacks despite all efforts.
Despite everything, it is very clear for what is going on in Pakistan the country has to be very resilient to come back from the brink everytime. So i am still positive, with the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia playing a mediation role and a negotiated settlement taking place things will improve.
Regarding the point I made to Keith, I would reiterate that If US or Canada or NATO cannot acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices. Then thump there chests of giving Pakistan $1.5 bn and at the same time bombing with drones and expect Pakistan to be a friend that is not going to happen. Pakistan lost more than $35 bn in economic losses due to war and suffered almost 2500 military and many thousands of civilian fatalities. No one can repay and account for those losses. And those insincere ones who claim to be Pakistan’s friends, in their presence Pakistan dont need any enemies.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive


I was quite surprised by your comment on the conspiracy theory being spouted by Indians and Pakistanis here. What is it that has got your back up?

You seem to have summarised the situation quite nicely, but the fact is your final “As for Afghanistan, whatever has to happen will” sounds as if you are almost resigned to a negative outcome.

I think what people have conveniently forgotten now is that when this started, in the name of safeguarding US security, 80% of the US was solidly behind Bush. There was much flag waving and a lot of talk like ‘Afghanistan is toast’ and “these colours don’t run”; because they believed that superior fire power and bombardment would bring the Taliban to their knees and they would be finished. There were enough warnings about Pakistan’s role too and yet no one bothered to think things out to their logicl conclusion. There was simply not enough planning or any Plan B or C.

The few sane voices, like Powell who said they are in it for the long haul and that it would take years to sort out the mess, were gradually eased out. Now when the going got tough, there is no resolve left, its all about ‘get the boys back’ from the same 80% who were hysterically waving those flags.

One must ask now, so how long and how often does the world have to suffer the consequences of this kind of fickle mindedness. And no I’m no American baiter. But I, like millions other living in this part of the world, have to suffer the consequences of American adventurism – and not for the first time. Does anyone see that? I wonder….

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive


Make one of the best IQ tests!


Posted by loloosvk | Report as abusive

@I would reiterate that If US or Canada or NATO cannot acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices. Then thump there chests of giving Pakistan $1.5 bn and at the same time bombing with drones and expect Pakistan to be a friend that is not going to happen.”
Posted by Umairpk

Umair: I think you have not grasped the situation yet. US does not care how many of your soldiers are dead (they got their own killed in Iraq without reason). What they want is get the job done. The job was to defeat Taliban. Pakistan’s job throughout has been to help Taliban survive. Now US/NATO are going back without getting Afghanistan rid off Taliban. The reason is Pakistan’s duplicity. Do not expect US/NATO express gratitude for Pakistan’s duplicity that allowed Taliban to survive. I can only imagine how frequently the F words is being used for Pakistan in private by these politicians from the West.

STILL, for the record Hilary Clinton in person has admitted US’s fault in the past (Pakistan never did), thanked Pakistan for all the sacrifices for the current war (I disagree with her since pakistan does not consider this as Pakistan’s war) and this has been acknowledged by your leaders. Check the news.

It is well known that US pours money in Pakistan and Pakistanis remain thankless. After the current experience, I can only hope US learned something. I will wait and watch.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@Then thump there chests of giving Pakistan $1.5 bn and at the same time bombing with drones and expect Pakistan to be a friend that is not going to happen”

Umair: I did not address the droning part. If you are this unhappy with US for droning Pakistan, you must be mighty pissed off with your own Army for letting this happen since they are the ones who have allowed the launch of the drones from Pakistan. Are you unhappy with PA?

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@Then thump there chests of giving Pakistan $1.5 bn and at the same time bombing with drones and expect Pakistan to be a friend that is not going to happen”

Umair: @droning: If you are this unhappy with US for droning Pakistan, you must be mighty pissed off with your own Army for letting this happen since they are the ones who have allowed the launch of the drones from Pakistan. Are you unhappy with PA?

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@Rajeev, Keithz, Umair,

Guys, it seems that the Pak Army would consider the losses thus far, within acceptable parameters. They are willing to eat up some biscuit to maintain strategic depth whereever they can, just to keep up appearances until they can help create circumstances for the loss of the Afghan mission. That is my opinion on it. Umair calls those sacrifices and I am sure that most Army people there do to, but in fact, with regards to war planners, and the long term planners there, they are willing to accept a margin of losses to keep political appearances up to keep getting money from the U.S.

On the point by Rajeev and Keith, from other posts, yes the Pakistani’s remain thankless, as the drones keep hunting and killing those who murder Pakistani People, women, and children.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive


Umair, you do not understand western European mentality. You keep thumping your chest about Pak Army sacrifices, well to the western mindset, that this is just a part of the progress to achieving the goal. You have no reason speaking out here about sacrifices until militancy is gone from the region, then feel free to gloat about sacrifices and such. In the mean time, feel free to turn in Talibans, keep your eyes and ears open to those bearded guys who call themselves muslims, they rove the streets of Pindi and Islamabad, you never which one, and when may try to harm your countrymen. This is the creation of your army forefathers. Please be more productive and invite all forms destruction backwardness, like the Afghan Taliban, TET, JUD and all Kashmiri militants.

The world will not rest until ALL of Pakistan is rid of anti-civilization and anti-human elements, that includes all strategic depth toys your army guys you have as unofficial limbs of the army, trying night and day to wreak havoc on Afghans and Indians.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

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