Taliban names removed from U.N. list – how times have changed

July 31, 2010

mullah zaeefIn all the noise about the war in Afghanistan over the last week, including the WikiLeaks uproar and a spat between Pakistan and Britain over remarks made by Prime Minister David Cameron about Pakistan’s links to Islamist militancy, one piece of news carries real significance.

On Friday, five Taliban members were struck off a U.N. Security Council list of militants subject to sanctions in a move designed to smooth the way for  reconciliation talks with insurgents.  Among those, two of the five were dead. The other three - Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad Awrang, a former Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the last Taliban ambassador to Islamabad before 9/11, and  Abdul Satar Paktin – are no longer subject to the asset freeze and travel ban imposed on those on the list.

To get a sense of quite how significant a change this is, consider how Mullah Zaeef – who now lives in Kabul and says he is no longer an active member of the movement – describes his treatment when he was arrested in Pakistan in early 2002, according to his book “My Life with the Taliban“. The Pakistani official who arrested him told him:  “Your Excellency, you are no longer an Excellency! America is a superpower. Did you not know that? No one can defeat it, nor can they negotiate with it. America wants to question you and we are here to hand you over to the USA.” 

Turned over to the Americans near Peshawar after being driven there from Islamabad, he says he was attacked and his clothes ripped with knives. “The Pakistani soldiers were all staring as the Americans hit me and tore the remaining clothes off my body. Eventually I was completely naked, and the Pakistani soldiers — the defenders of the Holy Koran — shamelessly watched me with smiles on their faces, saluting this disgraceful action of the Americans.”

“That moment,” he says, ”is written in my memory like a stain on my soul.”

That was followed by long years of humiliation and degradation in jails first in Afghanistan and later in Guantanamo. Finally freed from Guantanamo without charge on Sept. 11 2005, he returned to Kabul where he has lived under government protection.

The decision by the United Nations, with American support, to remove the names of Mullah Zaeef and others from the sanctions list is possibly the closest Washington has come since 9/11 to offering some kind of legitimacy to the Taliban movement which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

It is an important step for a movement which some analysts argue always craved legitimacy – it was recognised only by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan when it was in government - and which in any negotiations about giving it an eventual share of power in Afghanistan would be looking for the kind of funding and trade possibilities that only international recognition can provide.

It should also make it easier to open the kind of informal  contacts that could eventually pave the way to more serious negotiations.  Mullah Zaeef – who in his book speaks of his loyalty to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar – was involved in earlier meetings in Saudi Arabia which were reported to have focused on the possibilities of reconciliation with the Taliban.

The United States and its allies have increasingly spoken about the need for talks with the Taliban to try to bring an end to an unpopular war now into its ninth year, although Washington has also said it needs more time to end a stalemate on the ground so that it can enter any talks from a position of strength.

But if and when talks do start, one of the obstacles has been over how to talk to a movement whose members are on the United Nations “most-wanted” list.

The Taliban leadership is not expected to negotiate in public until their names are removed from the list. The United States and its allies are unlikely to remove those names from the list until the Taliban sever ties with al Qaeda. And the Taliban are unlikely to sever ties with al Qaeda until after negotiations start, since that is their biggest bargaining chip.

The removal of some names – even of former Taliban members – from that list is a small step to resolving that conundrum. Potential intermediaries can now travel more freely and if they choose to do so, open up lines of communication to agree on the kind of confidence building measures which would likely be an essential prelude to more organised talks. U.S. and other officials can also meet them without fear of sanction.

Whether those contacts succeed or not is a different question – the Taliban leadership will make their own calculations about whether they can win more at the negotiating table than by waiting out the clock for the Americans to leave. But they should help both sides to understand each other a bit more in a shadowy war where neither side, each from radically different cultures, has much of an understanding of the enemy it is fighting.

In the words of Mullah Zaeef again:

“The biggest mistake of American policy makers so far might be their profound lack of understanding of their enemy. The U.S. brought an overwhelming force to Afghanistan. They arrived with a superior war machine, trying to swat mosquitoes with sledgehammers, destroying the little that was left of Afghanistan and causing countless casualties on their mission, knocking down many more walls than killing insects. Till this very day, it is this lack of understanding and their own prejudices that they still struggle with.”

Comments

Typical Indian responses:
“1. Always accuse pakistan of terrorism.
2. East Pakistan accusation of genocide.
3. Bringing trouble in Kashmir.

Above are characteristics of a patriotic Indian. An Indian is not a true Indian if he does not hold the above views.

Posted by Umairpk”

The solution then is to counter those views and prove them wrong.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

(Post failed – retrying)

Umairpk said:

> I have come to a conclusion, India itself I mean a majority of its people the regular folks are not bad.

Sincere thanks for saying that. I believe this is true of the majority of people on *both* sides of the border. In that case, more people-to-people contact is the only way to reduce mutual suspicion and build trust between the nations.

This very forum gives us an opportunity to exchange views in a frank and civil manner. It doesn’t mean we have to sweep issues under the carpet in order to be “nice”, but we can talk about controversial topics in a spirit of openness and refrain from being abusive.

> Even if this is not reality and just a perception, it needs to be changed. Until both nations live peacefully nothing will improve.

Once again, I would appeal to everyone on this forum to take this as the opportunity to change these negative perceptions. There is a very bright future for South Asia, and it cannot be realised until we can improve Pakistan-India relations.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

G-W said:

> Quite honestly, I would be a little apprehensive to walk around, esp if people knew I was from India, or an Indian.

From whatever I have heard, Indians who visit Pakistan are treated very warmly and leave with a good impression. This seems to be another unfortunate misperception that needs to be corrected.

Regards,
Ganesh

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

(Post lost – retrying)

Umairpk said:

> I have come to a conclusion, India itself I mean a majority of its people the regular folks are not bad.

Sincere thanks for saying that. I believe this is true of the majority of people on *both* sides of the border. In that case, more people-to-people contact is the only way to reduce mutual suspicion and build trust between the nations.

This very forum gives us an opportunity to exchange views in a frank and civil manner. It doesn’t mean we have to sweep issues under the carpet in order to be “nice”, but we can talk about controversial topics in a spirit of openness and refrain from being abusive.

> Even if this is not reality and just a perception, it needs to be changed. Until both nations live peacefully nothing will improve.

Once again, I would appeal to everyone on this forum to take this as the opportunity to change these negative perceptions. There is a very bright future for South Asia, and it cannot be realised until we can improve Pakistan-India relations.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

G-W

It is said that unless you go into the water you don’t know how deep it is, you are afraid to come to Lahore that is your incorrect perception. In reality you will feel at home, its a modern metropolitan city with a lot of cultural activities, welcoming people etc.
My advise get a Pak visa, jump on a flight, check yourself in a hotel and everything else will take care of itself. And if you have a foreign passport rather than Indian passport that makes it a lot easier to travel. On an Indian passport there is lot of hassle to travel to Pakistan and vice versa. But that does not mean Pakistan is unwelcome for Indian visitors, it has to do with bureaucratic red tape on visas etc. One of the initiatives of the “Aman ki Asha” has been to highlight the issue of visas, hurdles and limitations that divide families on both sides of the border who have to often celebrate weddings or mourn their dead without being close to their loved ones.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

G-W:
“I am terrified that I might be mauled by an Islamic mob, perhaps a false blasphemy accusation can be enough to do that.”

-Again that type of thing maybe holds true for Karachi because it is a huge city with all sorts of people. But Lahore is very different, if you hang out with the right people, you would find Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to be modern, cultural, visitor friendly. Islamabad pretty much resembles wealthy Los Angeles neighbourhoods with luxury cars and beautiful houses and excellent roads. Now there are Mosques everywhere in Islamabad too but you will not find mobs with sticks and stones looking for infidels to kill them.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

This a good start. I’m generally supportive of at least talking to the Taliban. Nobody has ever lost anything by talking.

That said, this does not yet signal a change in the US game plan. But it might at least prevent a civil war and utter collapse when US/NATO forces exit the region.

As for Pakistan’s desire for influence, I actually think it’s not going to go so well if the Taliban come back to power. They’ll come back with a fresh sense of victory and new legitimacy (having dealt directly with the West instead of having Pakistan as a mediator). If they no longer need Pakistan, they’ll cut it off like a bad habit. And they might resort to at least some populist measures to shore up popular support. Ignoring the Durand line is a likely start.

Once they don’t need their Pakistani sanctuaries anymore or Pakistan’s assistance in dealing with the outside world, they’ll be less inclined to consider Pakistan’s point of view. The day is coming when Pakistanis are going to wish that Karzai was running the show.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive
 

@”Above are characteristics of a patriotic Indian. An Indian is not a true Indian if he does not hold the above views” Posted by Umairpk

It has nothing to do with being Indian and/or patriotic. These are facts, plain & simple. Not just India but many countries are now openly accusing Pakistan of supporting selective terrorism (the British PM just did it last week) and regarding the east pakistan genocide also, not just India but pretty much the whole world (including Bangladeshis themselves) has conclusively established that your army conducted a genocide of millions in East Pakistan in 1971. As for the accusation of fomenting trouble in Kashmir, why did your army create & nurture terrorist outfits like LeT & JeM & infiltrate them into kashmir? To do social service there?

If you have anything credible to refute these facts, please feel free to provide it anytime.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

@Umair,

Likewise, I advise you to goto India and see it for yourself as well. There has been over billions spent on the new delhi airport and India has modernized quite a bit, despite the poverty and some throwback things that still go on there.

You have a much better chance at personal safety, being a muslim in India, than I do being a lone Hindu in Pakistan.

Very grateful for the welcome, but Pakistan is not in a security or political situation, where I would want to travel there.

If Pakistan wants to make peace, then it would be an entirely different story.

Pakistan would benefit greatly from the tourism, from all over the world, especially India.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive
 

Pakistan would benefit greatly from the tourism, from all over the world, especially India.

– why is everything about money with you all ?

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive
 

Umairpk said:

> But Lahore is very different, if you hang out with the right people, you would find Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to be modern, cultural, visitor friendly. Islamabad pretty much resembles wealthy Los Angeles neighbourhoods with luxury cars and beautiful houses and excellent roads.

G-W said:
> Likewise, I advise you to goto India and see it for yourself as well. There has been over billions spent on the new delhi airport and India has modernized quite a bit, despite the poverty and some throwback things that still go on there.

Guys, sorry to sound a discordant note here, but instead of talking about the broad roads and modern infrastructure that is now to be found, we should be concentrating on broad minds and modern thinking in the two countries. (Sorry if that sounds like a movie dialogue). As we have seen, that’s the biggest challenge to improving relations between our two countries.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

Pakistani school seeks to turn boys from Taliban
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100804/ap_o n_re_as/as_pakistan_militant_children

Sharing a success story finally.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive
 

@Guys, sorry to sound a discordant note here, but instead of talking about the broad roads and modern infrastructure that is now to be found, we should be concentrating on broad minds and modern thinking in the two countries. (Sorry if that sounds like a movie dialogue). As we have seen, that’s the biggest challenge to improving relations between our two countries.”
Ganesh Prasad

—-Ganesh, that was a nice front foot cover drive for four! Well played. :-)

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

Ganesh,

I agree with you that broadening of minds in both countries, is certainly desirable but I think that free movement of people on both sides, resulting in direct physical contact, will go a long way towards dispensing the false notions & perceptions, prevalent in both counries. I can say it from personal experience (& I believe that many living in foreign countries will attest to it) that once Indians & Pakistanis get directly in touch with each other, they realize that they have far more similarities than differences & this helps in understanding each other’s POV and breaking the barriers.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive
 

Pakistanis are extremely hospitable to Indians. We were hospitable to indian cricket fans. ask any sikh pilgrim about pakistanis.

We wish no ill will towards Indian people. We have issues with your governments policy towards our kinfolk in kashmir and our territory.

Other than that, we wish you no harm and no ill will. this is a fact that your refuse to accept.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive
 

@ We were hospitable to indian cricket fans. ask any sikh pilgrim about pakistanis.
Posted by mirusmtupsha

What you say, used to be true till a few years ago. Being a sikh, I know plenty of sikhs who travel to pakistan to visit the holy shrines & they tell me that the security situation there has been getting worse in the last 4-5 yrs & they don’t feel safe to travel there anymore. Many have dropped their plans to go there & wait till things get better.

Posted by jordan23 | Report as abusive
 

After the lovely treatment of the Sri Lankan cricket team, I’d be skeptical if any Westerner or Indian or Jew (the favourite targets of Islamists) are truly safe and eligible for Pakistani hospitality.

In any event, the security situation is such that most employers aren’t willing to risk employees travelling to Pakistan and I doubt too many people fancy Pakistan as a vacation hotspot (though I hear skiing used to be fantastic in Swat).

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive
 

@We have issues with your governments policy towards our kinfolk in kashmir and our territory.

Other than that, we wish you no harm and no ill will. this is a fact that your refuse to accept.
Posted by mirusmtupsha

—I diasgree that Kashmir belongs to you. your long list where you mention the Mughal dynasties “raping Bharat Mata” is an evidence that Kashmir does not belong to you. Now do you want to include “raped Kashmir” in your list?

@kinfolk in kashmir— oh Puhleeze. drop it.

Because:
1. by saying kinfolks, you are excluding Kashmiri minorities–Hindus, Sikhs annd Budhists out of the equation. That is not what kashmiriyat all about.

2. Kashmiris which you talk about (muslims) have kinfolks in India–14% of India’s population and about the size of Pakistan.

3. what u said “our land” suggests u approve of “Kashmir banega Pakistan” and kashmiris disapprove that.

kashmir solution will happen but not to fulfill your wet dreams. so keep dreaming and pass the dreams to your generations.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

@We have issues with your governments policy towards our kinfolk in kashmir and our territory.

Other than that, we wish you no harm and no ill will. this is a fact that your refuse to accept.
Posted by mirusmtupsha

—I diasgree that Kashmir belongs to you.

>> who cares what you think?

your long list where you mention the Mughal dynasties “raping Bharat Mata”

>> I said nothing of r_pe, this is appears to be a Freudian slip on your part. This also proves your historic baggage causing your stubborn, irrational stance to deprive kashmiris.

is an evidence that Kashmir does not belong to you.

>> If nehru hadn’t blown moutbatten, you would not have gurduspur and no real geographical access to kashmir. You have no cultural affinity to kashmiris.

Now do you want to include “raped Kashmir” in your list?

— don’t hold kashmir responsible for what my ancestors did.

@kinfolk in kashmir— oh Puhleeze. drop it.

>> Script, language, race, features, religion, poetry — what do tamils have in common with kashmiris?

Because:
1. by saying kinfolks, you are excluding Kashmiri minorities–Hindus, Sikhs annd Budhists out of the equation.

>> Kashmiri Hindus betrayed kashmiriyat by, collaborating with the SD’s to oppress and massacre the kashmiris.

That is not what kashmiriyat all about.

2. Kashmiris which you talk about (muslims) have kinfolks in India–14% of India’s population and about the size of Pakistan.

3. what u said “our land” suggests u approve of “Kashmir banega Pakistan” and kashmiris disapprove that.

>> they do now but not when you stole from my newly born nation on the basis of a worthless piece of document.

kashmir solution will happen but not to fulfill your wet dreams.

>> many oppressors infinitely mightier than your mughal-gifted repulic of India have said the same and perished.

so keep dreaming and pass the dreams to your generations.

>> and you be sure to warn your future generations of our intentions.

Peace.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive
 

May be this will cool you down about your respect for poetry and poets.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/colu mnists/jawed-naqvi-the-waning-romance-of -an-idea-970

Artists like Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Saadat Hassan Manto, Zia Sarhad, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ustad Daman, Quratulain Haider are some of the names that went to Pakistan and languished in jails or fled back to India.

India has one example–MF Hussain driven out of country by certain allegations and pending court cases (not going into the details). But guess what he chose Kuwait over Pakistan.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

@ If nehru hadn’t blown moutbatten, you would not have gurduspur and no real geographical access to kashmir. You have no cultural affinity to kashmiris.”
–Posted by mirusmtupsha

—Want to play with “if”? If arrogant Jinnah had shown a foresight, Milllions would have been alive today.
If you “aunt” had ba_ls, you would call her “uncle”

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive
 

—Want to play with “if”? If arrogant Jinnah had shown a foresight, Milllions would have been alive today.

>> he tried but hindus like you wanted a hindu-raj over an expansive territory conquered by muslims, inherited by the british.

If you “aunt” had ba_ls, you would call her “uncle”

>> even by rajeev’s standards, this is a do_uchey comeback.

Posted by mirusmtupsha | Report as abusive
 

conquered? You meant looted and plundered?

Jinnah was craving for power and his only way to achieve that was at the cost of million lives. He went for it. His soul (where ever that may be) is surely haunted by every person who died during the partition.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

@ he tried but hindus like you wanted a hindu-raj over an expansive territory conquered by muslims, inherited by the british.”
–Posted by mirusmtupsha

—-”conquered” invaded (ok, not raped!). This is what I have being saying. if Kashmir is given to Pakistan on a platter, your generations will also say the same that Pakistan conquered Kashmir.

So mughals conquered and Brits inherited? lol..what is your sensitivity abt NOT saying Brits kicked your ancestor’s Mughal ass, the way Mughals did to Indians of that time.

@Inherited–Is that the reason people like you expect that the keys of Hindustan should have been handed over to them when Brits left in 1947. Then you should vacate Pakistan the land where Ranjeet Singh ruled over his Sikh Kingdom with Lahore as his capital for ~50 yrs. He had driven Muslim rulers/Afghans of his time and Brits did not step into his kingdom until he was alive.

I wish Pakistan could have gone back to Akbar’s days instead of worse than Aurangzeb’s days.

Posted by RAJEEVK1 | Report as abusive
 

We should give money, weaponry and recognition to three or more Taliban leaders and just wait for them to destroy each other. Simple, inexpensive, and effective.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive
 

The rats have started leaving the sinking ship. A good news, but be careful the USA military is still there in force most probably to find a place in the neighbouring country.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive
 

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