Taliban talks and the lobster quadrille

June 6, 2010

holbrookeAll of us do thought association in different ways depending on history, culture and education. But for me personally the latest round of discussion about talking to the Taliban has me thinking about Lewis Carroll’s “The Lobster Quadrille” (with one word changed):

“Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the talks?
 Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the talks?”

This weekend, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke came the nearest I’ve seen from someone from the State Department to saying that Washington might eventually have to engage with the Taliban leadership to end the war in Afghanistan.  

Asked in an interview with Reuters whether U.S. support for “reaching out” to the Taliban extended even to top leaders, such as supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, Holbrooke said: ”Let me be clear on one thing, everybody understands that this war will not end in a clear-cut military victory. It’s not going to end on the deck of a battleship like World War Two, or Dayton, Ohio, like the Bosnian war.”

“It’s going to have some different ending from that, some form of political settlements are necessary … you can’t have a settlement with al Qaeda, you can’t talk to them, you can’t negotiate with them, it’s out of the question. But it is possible to talk to Taliban leaders.”

Until now, the U.S. military has talked about the need for reconciliation with the Taliban leadership, albeit from a position of strength, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said the Taliban were part of the political fabric of Afghan society. The London conference on Afghanistan in January was dominated by the idea that talks with the Taliban might be the best way out of a military stalemate in a war now into its ninth year.

The conventional wisdom, however, rightly or wrongly, was that the State Department was more sceptical about talking to the Taliban than the Pentagon or the U.S. Army. That is why Holbrooke’s words strike me as rather interesting.

So will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the talks?

An Afghan jirga last week agreed to try to make peace with the Taliban, but it is unclear how they plan to do that, or whether the tribal and religious leaders at the meeting were democratic enough (ie at risk of stating the obvious, representative enough of Afghan public opinion), to have the right to speak on behalf of the Afghan people. (For some excellent deconstruction of the jirga, do please read the Afghan Analysts Network).

But will the Taliban talk? One of the obvious problems is timing. There will always been a point in any insurgency when both sides realise they have reached an equilibrium and stand to gain more from striking a deal. The question is really whether both sides recognise at the same time that they have reached a tipping point where they can get more out of talking rather than fighting. And as discussed on an earlier post, tipping points in an insurgency are very hard to recognise. (One rather odd and self-defeating assumption is that the Americans will, and should, talk only when they have reached a position of strength. If you apply the same logic to the Taliban, they too will talk only when they have reached a position of strength, so the war could go on for decades.)

Pakistan may have some ability to force the Taliban to talk. It has already arrested Taliban commander Mullah Andul Ghani Baradar.If Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is living in Pakistan, the Pakistanis have probably convinced him that he needs to let them influence any negotiations on the future of Afghanistan.

 Yet Pakistan will not exploit whatever power it has over the Afghan Taliban — and most analysts argue it has less influence that it once had when it supported the Taliban government in Kabul from 1996 to 2001 – until it is reassured about India’s involvement in Afghanistan.  India and Pakistan have resumed talks broken off after the 2008 attack on Mumbai blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. But it will take a while for them to find some common ground given that the two countries are still trying to resolve their argument of 60 years ago, between a secular but Hindu-dominated India and an independent Islamic Pakistan.

Perhaps what we should be expecting is that the United States and its Taliban enemies will work out some confidence-building measures which will allow them to talk. The United States, for example, can release prisoners and take some former Taliban off the 1267 U.N. terrorism list. The Taliban can promise not to burn down girls’ schools and to sever ties with al Qaeda.

Or perhaps they will keep fighting. After all, Lewis Carroll, for all the Disneyesque rewriting of his “Alice in Wonderland”, had a rather dark view of human nature.

35 comments

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Pakistan has managed to gain a strategic victory here, the experience of Soviet-Afghan war and veterans of that conflict had devised a far-reaching strategy. Right from the invasion of Afghanistan in oct 2001 and thereafter Pakistan had followed a strategy keeping in view the fact that US and NATO forces will once leave Afghanistan. Call it strategic depth or double game, Pakistan today still has considerable influence on Taliban. And lets get it correct here, unlike the Iraq war, in the Afghan theater Pakistan acted as a senior neighbour which has always considered its own national interest as well as that of Afghanistan.
With the Taliban having a large influence in Afghanistan and their resolve to fight on until foreign troops occupy theor country. The tables have been turned, and at last after Pakistan’s relentless efforts, Taliban are now gaining international recognition and legitimacy. Pakistan had always argued to bring them into the Afghan mainstream, also Pakistan had urged the Taliban to come out of their isolation and engage with the world. Here again Pakistan needs to act as an honest peace broker and in the process boost its own national interests too. With the conflict in Afghanistan nearing its end, there is a greater chance of peace in Pakistan’s tribal areas as well.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Rephrase*
- the experience of Soviet-Afghan war and veterans of that conflict had devised a far-sighted strategy.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Umair,

I don’t see it like that. The legitimacy that the Taliban gain will come at a price, paid by Pakistan. Do you really think the rest of the world is suddenly going to forget the double-dealing by Pakistan? Especially as terrorist attacks (and attempts) will continue from the safehavens that are there in Pakistan?

I see it like this: Pakistan won the battle and lost the war. The West will settle up with the Taliban. But now that they are dealing with the West directly, they will scarcely feel that they have to listen to Pakistan any more. Instead the Afghan Taliban will start encouraging and emboldening their Pakistani brethren to pull off the same type of effort in Pakistan.

Yet, on the other side, the US and its Allies will have learned that Pakistan cannot be trusted. So they will scarcely lift a finger for any of Pakistan’s concerns here on in. Kashmir? Forget it. Market access? Forget it. Menancing India? (don’t forget the last several conflicts with India needed US mediation to pull out Pakistan’s bacon from the fire). Forget it.

In sum, a loss for the US and NATO will be far worse for Pakistan than anybody else. If you think the Taliban are going to be satisfied with Kabul, you’ve got another thing coming. And keep in mind that the PA has scarcely been treading water when it comes to keeping the Taliban in check at home.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

It’ll be interesting to see what part the surge plays in Afghanistan and in the Taliban’s calculations. I think they’ll come to the table if the surge does real damage to their capabilities.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

Let the neighboring countries of Afghanistan decide what type of Afghanistan they want. Taliban is a name of Mind Set which one can not now plug out of extremists due to the education system in this part of the world which is full of hate against others. Corruption along with hypocrisy is eating both Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is better not to waste any time and leave these people to decide their own fate. The hub of Taliban Mind Set is in the Province of Punjab which is not prepared to accept the reality due to their own links with these elements in one way or the other (all is on records). Our Media Houses along with other Pillars of the country are full with these elements so allow them to settle down the way they want to. People who can not tolerate their own minorities, how can they be friends with others whom they openly consider “Infidels”. Afghans are the most difficult people in the region to deal with in the fair manner. There are many War Lords, Commanders and High Priests in these countries.

Posted by Aftab68 | Report as abusive

US is going to demand that Taliban drop Al Qaeda if they need to be included for all future discussions. That has been the issue right from the beginning. The US wanted Bin Laden handed over and Taliban refused. The US bombed Afghanistan in 2002 as a result. No one knows what Talban’s current stand is in regards to Al Qaeda. If the Taliban agrees to the US demand, probably things can be diffused considerably. Pakistan will be sought after by the US to convince Taliban to distance itself from Al Qaeda. If they succeed in doing that, US will call it a successful mission and it will be a face saving exit for the coalition. It is Al Qaeda’s presence in the region that has become the bone of contention. If they are thrown out of Afghanistan, they will be on the run from there on and will be hunted down by the US. Let us hope that Mullah Omar does not turn adamant this time. I think the US push into Kandahar will be to give that message to Omar that this will be the last chance for him to make up his mind and what can be gained if he drops Bin Laden. Pakistan, for its part, should block all the elements from escaping into its territory when the US launches its offensive. It should attack the elements inside North Waziristan at the same time to squeeze Al Qaeda and all foreign terrorists holed out there. If Pakistan is sincere this time and manages to help choke the radical elements in North Waziristan, Al Qaeda will be on the run. I hope they stay honest and sincere this time, having seen the menace of terrorism themselves inside their country. If they fail to do so and allow Al Qaeda to survive, Taliban will be encouraged to stay stubborn. And that can turn ugly for Pakistan. A lot depends on what Pakistan will do in the near future. They have to be sincere this time or they will miss the chance to prove themselves. India does not figure anywhere in the equation. It is useless trying to consider India in this scenario. Indian presence in Afghanistan is really not the issue at this time. It is something to consider once truce is brokered between the warring parties first.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Pakistan will have to safeguard its interests, because it has already done a lot for the Afghanis. Let’s hope the peace efforts bring out a positive result, so that we can see the long awaited peace in the region.

Posted by SZaman88 | Report as abusive

@ “Pakistan has managed to gain a strategic victory here, the experience of Soviet-Afghan war and veterans of that conflict had devised a far-reaching strategy”
Posted by Umairpk

This “strategic victory” will most likely turn out to be very costly for Pakistan. Once the US/West reach an agreement with the Taliban & withdraw, Pakistan will be caught between a rock & a hard place. It will certainly never be trusted by the US/West again for it’s double-game and it will not be trusted by the Taliban either, who will remember how the Pakistani army bombed their Pakistani counterpart & killed Pashtun children & women in the process. After getting emboldened with a “victory” over another super power, do you think they will stop at Kabul? They will most likely re-align with their Pakistani counterparts & other Pakistani groups & set their sights at Islamabad.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Keith
You can play with words but cannot deny the ground realities. With NATO and US forces miserably failed to provide security in Afghanistan, Taliban gradually became a force to be reckoned with. I am not making them heroes, however one has to keep in mind the ground realities.

And BTW, in terms of Kashmir, market access and conflict with India , Pakistan does not expect too much from US and west. With US hypocrisy Israel continues to kill, violate international law, its spies forge western passports, disregard laws of friendly nations and commit murder and what does the US and Canada do? Nothing, pat on the back. Good work keep it up. While Pakistani soldiers have laid down their lives, Pakistan has acted as the frontline state in this war, still it is Pakistan that is potrayed as at fault behind every other terror plot. Why?

You can carry on fighting in Afghanistan by all means, after all there are a lot of resources and money to be squandered. War is even more profitable than oil for some, but remain assured Pakistan will protect and promote its interests, and will be prepared to pay the cost.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Mortal1: “This “strategic victory” will most likely turn out to be very costly for Pakistan. Once the US/West reach an agreement with the Taliban & withdraw, Pakistan will be caught between a rock & a hard place.”

Having seen the history of Pakistan, one can surmise that it has one of the cleverst people around. They have managed to slip out of every choke hold successfully. If the US leaves, Pakistan has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It is rapidly piling up nuclear arsenal. I read that Pakistan now has more nuclear bombs and delivery missiles than India. As I see it, Pakistan does not need all those bombs to level India. The extra bombs are being piled up in a hurry for a purpose. This is for the next blackmail. As soon as the US finds no use for Pakistan, it will go hard on it with sanctions, isolation etc. And Pakistan will counter it with overt sales of nuclear bombs, enriched Uranium etc to anyone who wants it. The US and its allies will be forced to yield in order to stop that kind of proliferation. This is the next episode that will be unveiled.

And there will be an intense conflict between India and Pakistan just as soon as the Americans leave. This is avoid any backlashes from the elements that Pakistan had to counter. All their vengeance and anger will be redirected at India with full intensity. It will be called the final liberation of Kashmir. Pakistan will not care if the US does not endorse its mission. And China will support Pakistan in this geo-strategic effort.

The US is known for screw ups and it won’t be any different this time. If the US by any chance decides to attack Pakistan, I won’t be surprised if Pakistan goes all out on a suicide mission of complete destruction of American and allied forces and itself. So the US will not dare venture that for. Obama will have to answer his people. Pakistan might make more money through nuclear blackmail.

I am not supporting or admiring Pakistan here. This is a reality that is facing the world. A sensible thing would be to set off sectarian and ethnic rivalries and turn Pakistan into a civil war. The CIA might be working on that already. If the Taliban gamble does not pan out, the CIA might set off explosives inside Pakistan to turn one group against the other and turn Pakistan into the next Afghanistan. Attack on Ahmadis may not be staged by Punjabi Taliban at all. CIA can perform miracles.

Pakistanis have always been smarter than the Americans and they might dodge this effort by deceit and resort to nuclear blackmail.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Ah, back to those self-hurting strategies.
Thinking that Taliban establishes itself in Afghanistan and leaves Pakistan (or at least Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa) alone is a wishful thinking.

Nothing has changed-not even the sacrifices of Pakistan soldiers and killings of innocents.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@And Pakistan will counter it with overt sales of nuclear bombs, enriched Uranium etc to anyone who wants it.
-KPSingh

–I have not done the exact maths. But my sense from what I read from Pakistan;s past record on sale of nuke stuff is that the price of all this is not huge as one thinks (at least uranium).

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@ “Having seen the history of Pakistan, one can surmise that it has one of the cleverst people around. They have managed to slip out of every choke hold successfully.”
Posted by KPSingh01

I think you’re over-estimating the Pakistanis & giving them way too much credit here. There’s been a saying in Pakistan since the 60′s “Pakistan survives on the 3 As: Allah, Army & America”. One of the reasons they have managed to slip out of every choke hold so far is because America/west has been on their side. Once that relationship is soured (& we’re pretty close to that), it’ll be a different story. How exactly will they survive once the IMF loans & Aid (mostly from US & allies) are cut off drastically, their exports are cut in half & the value of imports rises dramatically? They can’t survive just by selling nuclear technology, for which they’ll also be severely punished.

And even if somehow they survive the global fallout & become a closed, isolated state like North Korea, how will they tackle the onslaught from the Taliban? We know that the Pak army is rife with extremist sympathizers & they have shown that they are incapable & unwilling to take on the radicals head on. So, I think that eventually Pakistan will be swept by radical forces become talibanized.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Mortal1: “And even if somehow they survive the global fallout & become a closed, isolated state like North Korea, how will they tackle the onslaught from the Taliban? We know that the Pak army is rife with extremist sympathizers & they have shown that they are incapable & unwilling to take on the radicals head on. So, I think that eventually Pakistan will be swept by radical forces become talibanized.”

That is where Kashmir comes in. Pakistani army never wants the Kashmir issue resolved. It wants it alive for as long as it takes. When Pakistan gets cornered, they can push their buttons on Kashmir and drag India’s feet. And they keep everyone guessing. Look at what they did with Mullah Baradar when the US wanted to make a deal with the Taliban. I am not admiring them. They are sneaky, slimy guys who have exploited geo-politics to the hilt.

If they turn into North Korea, the military gets a better grip on power and China loves such countries. They can brutally assault anyone who does not align with their policies and will not have to answer any international concerns.

They will unleash something against India and Israel, stage attacks in London, New York etc drawing the fatigued Western powers back. Then they will prop up Iran. If Israel is threatened, the Western alliance will come to war again. But Pakistan will engage China as a proxy sponsor and irritate the US by playing Taiwan for China.

I think both Pakistan and the US see each other as useless for their respective future. The US has pampered Pakistan way too long and it will pay the price for its acts.

All I am worried about is India’s safety. We are unfortunately in a criminal neighborhood. And we are going to see cops and criminals exchange fire as a result.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

RajeevK: “But my sense from what I read from Pakistan;s past record on sale of nuke stuff is that the price of all this is not huge as one thinks (at least uranium).”

Even towards the end of Zia’s regime AQ Khan was getting things ready to sell nuke technology and bombs, delivery systems. Looks like there is big money to be made there.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

The Talibans are unlikely to talk about talks, until the foreigners leave. Mr Karzai is a clever fox and Pashtoon. He and he alone represents Pashtoon Talibans! Pakistan has no part to play in this game. Pakistan military and the civilian Govt. shpuld worry about their own existance. It is shabby to make degrading comments about one of the great nuclear scientist of the sub-continent. After all he comes from the same Indian village where the Indian Nuclear Scientist was born.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@Mr Karzai is a clever fox and Pashtoon. He and he alone represents Pashtoon Talibans!
–Rex Minor

–That left me scratching my head in vain. Can you tell us how Karzai is/will be allowed to represent Pashtoon Talibans?
I can understand if one says he represents non-Taliban Pushtoons.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@RajeevK
Do you speak Pushto language or understand Pushto culture? If the answer is no, then like many foreigners in the world, you would have difficulty to understand Pashtoons who are allergic to foreigners. The D&A of Mr Karzai is not different from that of Talibans. The Pashtoons are the masters in political games and this has been the set back of all foreign elements to deal with them.Even the Russians lost their games in Afghanistan.
Let me try to rephrase your last sentence. Mr Karzai is more acceptable as a leader to non Pashtoon leaders including those of the Northern alliance. The man who sits in Kabul as a mayor representing Afghanistan as a country need to be accepted by the Pushtoons. The Talibans are no more than the Eagles or special forces, commandos, whatever definition you prefer to give them in western terminologies. Once the opponent is weak, the entire Pashtoon tribal chiefs would issue the Fatwa and this would be the new phase to eliminate the foreign element. That stage has not yet arrived.
The foreign elements need to quit the land if they want peace for the world.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@ Rex Minor

just curious, are you pushtoon or just a pushtoon admirer?

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

@Mortal 1
I have no peroblem giving my views on current affairs in the internet, but do not write about my self. I hope you will not consider this rude.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@ Rex Minor : ” have no peroblem giving my views on current affairs in the internet, but do not write about my self. I hope you will not consider this rude”

Not at all buddy. It’s just that if my memmory serves me correct, it wasn’t too long ago that you posed a similar question, enquiring about keith’s backround since it helped you to understand where he was coming from. Anyways, no problem!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

RexMinor:

You are confusing me even more.

From your “@Mr Karzai is a clever fox and Pashtoon. He and he alone represents Pashtoon Talibans!” looks like you are saying Karzai really represents Taliban.

But then you say “Mr Karzai is more acceptable as a leader to non Pashtoon leaders including those of the Northern alliance. The man who sits in Kabul as a mayor representing Afghanistan as a country need to be accepted by the Pushtoons.” This seems like your wishful thinking that Karzai should represent Pushtoon Taliban.

@Let me try to rephrase your last sentence. Mr Karzai is more acceptable as a leader to non Pashtoon leaders including those of the Northern alliance. “
—- Although you are right that Mr. Karzai is acceptable to non-Pushtoons, this is not rephrasing of what I said “I can understand if one says he represents non-Taliban Pushtoons.”

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Rexminor

@Do you speak Pushto language or understand Pushto culture?:
– It is rude to not reveal one’s own identity and ask that from other s. So far you have been forced to describe “I am not Pakistani”.

Let me still arguet. If one does not know a language, does it make one ineligible to comment. That will make you stay silent on lot of subjects. One of my sources for the information is Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani journalist who knows Pushto and other languages as well as the culture of the region, unless you want to label him as the Westerner and ignore him. I bet you have that inclinations going by your statements where you think Fareed Zakaria (CNN) is BS.

Do you know who killed Karzai’s dad? It was the Pushtoon Taliban. Now I will not label all in Pakistan as terrorists, only the LeT and their supporters. Taliban is an equivalent of LeT in Afghanistan. They are gorillas, tough and you may admire them as “Eagles” but they are no protectors of Afghans and the Pushtoon culture.

@The Talibans are no more than the Eagles or special forces, commandos, whatever definition you prefer to give them in western terminologies.
—-”Do you know these “Eagles” were killing the tribal chiefs (in addition to innocents in football stadium and your expecting the tribal chief to speak when Taliban is around.

@Once the opponent is weak, the entire Pashtoon tribal chiefs would issue the Fatwa and this would be the new phase to eliminate the foreign element.”
- There was no Westerner power before 9/11 in Afghanistan. But tribal chiefs could not hold Loya Zirga under Taliban govt. Rather chiefs were killed by Taliban. This is not my invention but from an author who knows the area, culture and lived around there.

I have questions for you:
1. If there is a choice, would you like Taliban of pre-9/11 to be in charge of Afghanistan? After all they are Pushtoons as you say.

2. If you support Taliban as normal Pushtoon guys reacting to the West, do you also have the same opinion about Pakistan Taliban, who were targeting PA. After Pak Taliban were doing those killings in Khyber Pakhtoonwa—their own area.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@Mortal1
And it was keith’s rude answer that taught me the lesson not to ask or disclose one’s identity for this is likely to prejudice the answer.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@Mortal1
And it was keith’s rude answer that taught me the lesson not to ask or disclose one’s identity for this is likely to prejudice the answer.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@RajeevK
I made an attempt to answer your questions and provided further clarification of my previous post, however, it would seem that the moderator has deleted it. Sorryfor that. The same moderator most probably keep stating “welcome back Pakistan”.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@RajeeK
Let me try again to reply your questions.
1. It is the Afghan peoples choice what sort of leaders they choose as their leaders and the head who sits in Kabul. No one should imagine occupying the Kabul post without the approval of Pashtoons from the south, which includes the tribes of Karzai and Mullah Omar! The taliban label is a distraction and the smoke screen used by the foreign powers,Karzai as well as the resistance eagles.
2.The label “Pakistan Taliban” is in my observation being used to classify the resistance groups who are fighting the military intrusion in their territory on both sides of the border. In view of the PA advance the century old agreement with the Brits and later with the Pakistan Govt. is now in question. The so called Pakistan Talibans are now going to operate in the heartland of Pakistan including major cities. In my view following the example of Afghanistan, no future Pakistan Govt. would be able to operate without the approval of Pashtoons from the North.
I abhore violence and loss of innocent life. Equally, I have understanding for the people who resist oppression and try to protect their families. I have no personal experience in ‘surrender’, therefore reserve my comments. The one thing I am certain about is the aggression of the USA military in Afghanistan, and the shabby intrusion of Pakistan military in the Pashtoon holy land. I believe these actions could have been avoided if the aggressor could speak the language of the opponents and understand their culture and traditions.
Have a nice day,
Rex Minors

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@RajeeK
Sorry, With regard to your reference to LeT. Now I have two questions.
1. In your view is there any group of people in the world you recognise as a genuine ‘resistance’, or do you classify all groups striving for independence from the foreign powers are all radical insurgent terrorists?
2. In my view it is unfortunate that in the case of Kashmir, violence was used to annexe their territory between India and Pakistan. They are scattered in the whole of UK, mainly as a result of the military agression in their land. Do you beleve that they have rights that most humans aspire for i.e, independence and self rule.
A fair answer to these questions would enable us to look at the so called extremists from a slightly different angle, and if this concept is universaly supported in the United Nation, the people of the world could have fewer conflicts than we have today.
I am soory, I am not aware of the LeT activities, perhaps the CIA,CNN expert or the ex Pakistan military chief could throw light on the group activities.

The football season has started and let me enjoy the football matadors in South Africa. Have a nice day.
Rex minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Rex Minor waxes eloquently “I am soory, I am not aware of the LeT activities”.

—-

ha ha.

Defeating you will not be through blogging…that’s for sure…be unaware….and stay “soory”.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

RexMinor:

@ It is the Afghan peoples choice what sort of leaders they choose as their leaders and the head who sits in Kabul.”
—Well I was asking your opinion.

@I abhore violence and loss of innocent life. Equally, I have understanding for the people who resist oppression and try to protect their families.”
—Most of us abhor violence. But whom were the “eagles” (Taliban) resisting before 9/11? There was no West that time.

@I am soory, I am not aware of the LeT activities, perhaps the CIA,CNN expert or the ex Pakistan military chief could throw light on the group activities.:
—well then there is no point me addressing your 2 points. you will not understand.

Have fun watching football!

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

I think Umair is correct. Pakistan has one major advantage, geographical significance. No Taliban regime will be able to work with Iran, any Taliban government of Afghan government with Taliban elements will need Pakistan for access to the Sea, for trade, for food, you can’t be Afghanistan and be Pakistan’s enemy, you don’t survive, ask Hamid Karzai.

The west will also be in no position to turn their back on Pakistan. After all that effort, hundreds of billions of dollars, you’ll want a piece of the pie, you’ll want to be involved with the gas pipelines and the oil pipelines and the mineral wealth. Unless your going to befriend the Ayatollah you’ll need our sea ports. You can’t fly that out of Afghanistan.

On top of all that, we still have China, the emerging super power. Has anyone ever bothered to research the level of trade volume between Pakistan and the West and Pakistan and China? Bothered to look at the trends? We’re not reliant on the west for trade any more, we have China right next door.

As for the Taliban monster, Pakistan is more than capable of handling any militants on it’s own turf. For a start the current generation knows who is putting it into power, the generation before them knows who put them in power, they also know those who don’t toe the line are removed from the picture, ask Mullah Baradar. He tried to do his own deal, and was taken out of the picture.

You all seem to think the Taliban is some mental religious group. Realistically is made up of factions, different tribes, different motives, money, drugs, jihad, ethnic control etc. The ISI has plenty to play with.

Furthermore Pakistan doesn’t have to worry about a body count of wiki leaks. Dead soldiers are “martyrs” not “tragic losses of young lives”, Amnesty International reports are “grossly misinformed”. When the Pakistan army decides to march, you don’t stand in the way, you don’t even lurk in the shadows any more. Yes the Taliban in Pakistan are causing us damage, but take away the Jihad and where will the jihadi go? Besides Pakistan has a track record of diverting these types, after the defeat of the last super power those who didn’t want a day job, got send to the Central Asian states and Chechnya to further break the back of the soviet Union, and to Kashmir.

Finally don’t worry about India, we have nuclear weapons, and a first strike policy, that tends to help keep that issue where it is. For all it’s bit talk, India has mobilised by failed to act twice now, since the nuclear spectrum appeared. The fight was taken to them in Kargil, they had no choice.

Posted by platinum786 | Report as abusive

@ “Has anyone ever bothered to research the level of trade volume between Pakistan and the West and Pakistan and China? Bothered to look at the trends? We’re not reliant on the west for trade any more, we have China right next door”
Posted by platinum786

Maybe you need to recheck the “source” of your info. Pakistan’s annual exports to the US/UK are worth $20.6 bn (16.1 to US + 4.5 to UK) & it’s exports to China are worth $4.2 bn wheras Pakistan’s imports from US/UK are worth $5.6 bn (4.8 + 0.8) & it’s imports from China are worth $14.3 bn. What this basically means, is that every year Pakistan makes $15 bn from US/UK while China makes $10.1 from Pakistan. If I include other western countries/US allies, the net gain will be even higher for Pakistan.
(The figures are for 2009, Source: economywatch)

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

“No Taliban regime will be able to work with Iran”

You should talk to the Taliban in Farah, Herat or Nimruz.

“any Taliban government of Afghan government with Taliban elements will need Pakistan for access to the Sea, for trade, for food”

The road the Indians built them to an Iranian port is working out fantastically actually.

“you can’t be Afghanistan and be Pakistan’s enemy, you don’t survive, ask Hamid Karzai.”

Can’t be enemies. Doesn’t mean they have to be friends.

“The west will also be in no position to turn their back on Pakistan. ”

Till the last NATO/US soldier leaves. After that, Pakistan will be about as important as it was pre-9/11….basically a headache that came to mind every time there was a terrorist attack or a new proliferation scheme was found.

“After all that effort, hundreds of billions of dollars, you’ll want a piece of the pie, you’ll want to be involved with the gas pipelines and the oil pipelines and the mineral wealth.”

Hahahaha. You really believe that don’t you? I know everybody dreams about these pipelines. But ask an engineer about how technically feasible they are. And then ask a security consultant how much it would cost to protect them. It’s outside the scope of most western companies to care. Maybe the Chinese will come in with their usual bad bargains and do the job. But I doubt any western multi-nationals want a piece of this.

As for aid money. It’s already been spent.
“Unless your going to befriend the Ayatollah you’ll need our sea ports. You can’t fly that out of Afghanistan.”

Why not? Several NATO countries have actually gotten overflight permission from Iran. Just because the Americans have bad relations with Iran, doesn’t mean everybody does. And I doubt the Iranians aren’t going to give overflight permissions for US troops withdrawing from the region.

“As for the Taliban monster, Pakistan is more than capable of handling any militants on it’s own turf.”

Bang up job you did in Swat. How long did that take? How’s it going in Chitral, Dir, the Waziristans?

“The fight was taken to them in Kargil, they had no choice.”

Which if I recall correctly, resulted in Pakistan making zero tactical or strategic gains, earning worldwide condemnation, sanctions and increased domestic pressure in India to actually spend more on defence.

If that’s a smart move, I can’t wait for the encore!

As for the nukes, meh. Pakistan may have a first strike policy, but I doubt the PA is so suicidal as to actually risk a massive Indian retaliation.

Aside from that, I am pretty sure, erstwhile ally China, might have reservations about the use of nukes, given that they are downwind from any potential fallout.

So if I were Indian, I would not be too worried.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

I am curious to see what happens, when the Russians actually join the western alliances and get together and start co-operating with regards to terrorism and rogue nations that proliferate to make money. In the mean time, it is in India’s interest to expand trade with China and ALL neighbours and build strategic military alliances with Russia, USA and Israel. India has to do nothing but sit by, prosper, and watch the Punjabi’s there slowly implode Pakistan on the heads of average poor Pakistani’s.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Keithz, you said

“As for the nukes, meh. Pakistan may have a first strike policy, but I doubt the PA is so suicidal as to actually risk a massive Indian retaliation.”

–>No worries matey, India is developing a robust missile defence shield that detects launches from the launch source and thereby reacting immediately. The word massive retaliation is a gross understatement…I think you can call it retaliation with the intent to decimate recoverability.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive