Taliban talks: “an iffy, high-level treaty”

October 15, 2010

arghandab3In Obama’s Wars, Rob Woodward attributes the following thoughts to U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke on the prospects for a peaceful settlement to the Afghan war:

“He saw reconciliation and reintegration as distinct.  Reconciliation was esoteric, an iffy high-level treaty with Taliban leaders. Reintegration occurred down at the local level in villages and towns…”

It’s a good place to start to frame the current wave of interest in the prospects for a deal with the Taliban.  As we wrote in this analysis, for the first time in the nine-year war all the main parties involved — from the Afghan government to insurgents, from the United States to Pakistan are seriously considering ways of trying to reach a peace deal.

Official sources in different countries interviewed by Reuters said all the main insurgent groups — the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar, the Haqqani network and the Hizb-ul-Islami Gulbuddin (HiG) led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — were involved in informal talks on how to open a more structured peace process. 

They also said the United States had given a far higher level of endorsement to these talks than before, while Pakistan was showing a slight shift in its approach to Afghanistan as it worries about increasing instability at home.

However, the whole thing came with a huge health warning – the current “talks about talks” are fragile, preliminary and liable to break down at any time.  Analysts and official sources caution that no one should expect an early result in a country which has seen more than three decades of war and many broken promises on all sides. And the whole process — if indeed “process” is the right word for it — is bedevilled by contradictions which could bring the whole thing tumbling down.

Here are just a few of them:


The United States and NATO say they are ready to facilitate contacts between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban to help seek an end to the war.  However, the U.S. priority still seems to be very much on reintegration — trying to break the insurgency by winning over individual fighters or commanders – rather than reconciliation through a broader power-sharing deal with insurgent leaders. 

Some analysts argue that reintegration and reconciliation can  run in parallel.  Weakening the insurgency through reintegration while fighting militants on the ground, they say,  will encourage leaders to come to the table for reconciliation negotiations.  Others make the opposite argument – that trying to break the insurgency through reintegration, combined with a strong military focus, undermines trust and makes reconciliation all the harder.

With the U.S. administration divided over Afghan policy and the many different players each giving their own spin to the media, we should expect to see much confusion in the months ahead over the extent to which the United States is favouring reintegration over reconciliation. And if President Barack Obama has a hard time keeping track of what his generals are saying, what must it be like for Afghan insurgent leaders, like Mullah Omar, to work out what is going on when they make their own calcuations on how to respond?  The image of two blind men playing chess springs to mind.


With Afghan militants using Pakistan as a rear base and given historical links between its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and insurgent leaders, Islamabad/Rawalpindi has the capacity to act as spoiler or facilitator on any peace settlement. It has long been accused of backing insurgents to ensure a friendly neighbour and counter the influence of India in Afghanistan, but is showing some signs of a shift in thinking as it faces growing instability at home.

“We don’t insist on a stable and friendly Afghanistan,” one Pakistani security official told me. “‘Friendly’ you can interpret in your own way. We have gone down to peace and stability.”

That said, the Pakistan military’s focus is still very on India as its primary threat, virtually guaranteeing that its rather conflicted policies towards Afghanistan and Islamist militants will continue.

At one point during last year’s strategic review, according to Woodward, Obama asked Pakistan expert Peter Lavoy to explain apparently contradictory intelligence reports suggesting that on one hand Pakistan feared an early American withdrawal from Afghanistan, while on the other it dreaded having a large Afghan army on its border that might ally with India. A major U.S. aim was to build that army.

What exactly was Pakistan worried about – too much, or too little? “What I am to believe?” Woodward quotes Obama as asking.

“Mr President, they’re both true, Lavoy answered. That was the nature of Pakistan,” writes Woodward.


One of the biggest questions yet to be resolved is how Afghan insurgents would be persuaded to break with al Qaeda and guarantee it would not again be allowed to use Afghanistan as a safe haven in the event of a peace deal.

Again with reference to Woodward, he writes that “like (Vice President Joe) Biden, Holbrooke believed that even if the Taliban retook large parts of Afghanistan, al Qaeda would not come with them. That might be ‘the single most important intellectual insight of the year’ Holbrooke remarked.”

As an aside, that reference to “intellectual insight” is somewhat troubling, since the Taliban have long been signalling their willingness to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base for attacks on foreign countries — it’s always worth at least considering whether people mean what they say.

But more to the point, what is unclear is how Afghan insurgents focused on a national cause – the liberation of Afghanistan from foreign occupation — are meant to be separated from Pakistan-based Islamist militants, including al Qaeda, with a global agenda.  Where does the line lie between the Afghan Taliban, focused on Afghanistan, and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),  blamed for a string of attacks in Pakistan and for training Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber? Or between the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda? (For a great overview of these overlaps, see this report by Antonio Giustozzi.)

One argument you sometimes hear is that al Qaeda has its roots in the Middle East and is something of an alien force in South Asia. In this argument, once Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas are more settled, al Qaeda’s Arab and other non-Pashtun cadres will accelerate a movement towards other bases, for example in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa

But where does that  leave Pakistan-based groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed, or the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which though focused on India ideologically shares al Qaeda’s global agenda? (see Stephen Tankel’s comments on the LeT here) One of developments most analysts agree on is that in the years since 9/11, different militant groups have become increasingly intertwined, the cadres of one group working with others to plan, facilitate or execute attacks.

There are plenty of countries and no doubt many brilliant minds trying to untangle these, and the many other problems, in the way of a settlement to the Afghan war.  The sources we spoke to left no doubt that the machinery of trying to find a settlement has been put into motion. But as for the end result – that may be best summed up by a four-letter word – “iffy”.


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Al Qaeda is not going to give up its hold in this region. It has brought the war to its familiar territory by attacking the US in 2001. It had dragged the US and its allies around for as long as it could and basically frustrated all efforts. This means, the Al Qaeda has won this war. Once the Americans leave, it is all not going to be peaceful.

Al Qaeda has contributed towards shaking Pakistan up. Now its plan would be to penetrate Pakistan’s power structures and strengthen its base there. Any attack that emanates from Pakistan, will be difficult to deal with. Al Qaeda will start eliminating political leaders inside Pakistan quickly and create a strong power vacuum. It has sympathizers inside Pakistan’s military and intelligence agency. Al Qaeda has realized that Pakistan is a better hostage than Afghanistan. If Pakistan can be controlled, Afghanistan will be under its toes at all times. They do not care about economy or other calamities.

This war is not over. Only the battle is being completed. There will be many more battles to come.

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America was not effective even when it started war and had to finally take help of Northern Alliance to take control of Kabul. Americans may have infinite fire-power to flatter themselves but an army of playboys cannot defeat hardened warriors as pashtuns. Wars are not won by fire-power or technology, instead wars are won by warriors’ guts. It is never about the weapon, it is instead always about the warrior himself. Americans are simply not cruel enough to deal with these barbaric warriors. But of course being hardened warriors does not legitimise the actions of Taliban/AQ, they were and are criminals of human society.

And now we are starting to hear some kind of nuclear deal being possibly negotiated with Iran and in return Iran may support US strategically for now and may be militarily as well down the line. With Iran vs Pashtuns it will be a different ball game altogether. Seems that US is getting its diplomacy somewhere but again they need to not screw it up again. Similarly IF US can deal something with China on currency wars and in return ask for its help from Pakistan side (Pakistanis will never agitate so much against Chinese bombings in Pakistan and PA will never make such a hue and cry of it); and remembering that Chinese PLA is one of the most cruel fighting force on earth; then we are talking of something for US victory. (of course this Chinese deal is just hypothetical imagination for now). But US/NATO on its own can never win a man-to-man combat against Taliban/AQ in their homeland.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

“It has sympathizers inside Pakistan’s military and intelligence agency. Al Qaeda has realized that Pakistan is a better hostage than Afghanistan. If Pakistan can be controlled, Afghanistan will be under its toes at all times. They do not care about economy or other calamities.”

If that does happen then it is going to be a long long war for India that will drag down all of India’s economic growth. So lets hope India does not get dragged into war with Pakistan or rather AQ controlled nuclear Pakistan.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

Let us never ignore the reality that the Pashtoons do not negotiate with foreigners!! Mr Karzai told the Aljazeera that the Pashtoons do talk with each other(in english I would use the word Dialogue) and that he has had meetings with the so called taliban leaders. Contrary to Woodward attributes, a reconciliation among the afghans is always possible and has been a way of their lives over centuries. Is it not the time for the americans to leave Afghanistan? Have they not done enough damage to many communities around the world and then not suffered humility. what must happen to them that they start living a life concentrating on their domestic problems. One solutioon would be to eliminate the position of the foreign secretary, the President could take over the command of the foreign office.
With regard to Pakistan and Iran they have no role to play in afghanistan affairs, other than to support the decisions of the Afghan people and avoid hostility. Pakistan central govt and its military has done enough damage to their reputation under Musharaf, who supported the invasion of afghanistan and sent many innocents under the guise of suspected radicals to the USA prisons. ISI has been the exception in maintaining friendly contacts with most of the taliban leadership.
Alquaeda is an idiology not an organisation or a cohesive force? It is not present and never was in Afghanistan, Pakistan or in other parts of the world. It is a bogey, a smoke screen, invented by the CIA and the neo- conservatives and squarely fits into the psyche of the western masses. Identify the perceived enemy in order to facilitate the development of military strategies and plans.
A fiction therefore, beefed up with lies and spins and treating it as if it is a reality. The next ten years military strategy of the USA and NATO is now based on combating terrorism and nuclear horrors. Remember the anti-missile shield program in Europe to defend European countries against the Iranian nuclear invasion, mind you not to defend against the North Korean missiles or for that matter Indain and Pakistani missiles.
Let us not confuse our intelligence by mixing many issues into the arena of conflict between Afghans and the Americans. The message from the Afghans is very simple, exit Afghanistan immediately to facilitate reconciliation,whereas, the non Pashtoon afghans would like to have the reconciliation before the Americans leave. The neighbouring countries have no role other than to facilitate, whatever that means. I would carefully listen to the words of the ex Taliban Govt. ambassador to Pakistan who was also the guest in Gitmo.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

777xxx777: “lets hope India does not get dragged into war with Pakistan or rather AQ controlled nuclear Pakistan”

If Al Qaeda entrenches itself inside Pakistan, they will launch first against India, using the Kashmir issue. They do not care for nuclear war and its aftermath. Pakistan has been weakened considerably and this is an ideal condition for Al Qaeda to strengthen its position. It has probably planned to create a rift between the US and Pakistan. Breaking up staunch allies itself is a victory of sorts. Now they will try to widen that rift even more. It is possible only if Al Qaeda and its supporters take over Pakistan. Then they have a country, its nukes and its people to hold as hostages.

Now the Taliban is making moves to negotiate. The naive Americans, desperate to get out are falling for this move. As soon as “peaceful settlement” is declared and the US troops leave (not all, but there will be some sitting ducks left behind), all the elements will move back in. Then Europe, India, US, Middle East, Africa and everywhere chaos will be unleashed. Al Qaeda will definitely move into Pakistan and take over through ideological support. All this will happen within the next two years. By 2012, India will face the first onslaught.

So let us not celebrate the settlement in Afghanistan. The monster has been strengthened.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

We all understand the problem and the monster that AQ is. But suggest some solutions. How to tackle the chaos unleashed by AQ? Should India hand over Kashmir to Pakistan just like that and does that guarantee that monster’s never ending greed will be satisfied?

By the way only person here to celebrate settlement in Afghanistan is Rex. But what I do not understand is that on one hand Rex says that Taliban does not negotiate its freedom and on other hand it has agreed to negotiate with US and probably accepted bribes as well to stop killing its own motherland’s sons. Despite all this they are to be considered pious and Allah’s men and not Shaitaan’s (Satan’s).

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

The best outcome should be the end of this conflict, reconciliation of all Afghan rebel groups. Reintegration into mainstream Afghan society, preventing instability in Pakistan.
Withdrawal of foreign forces and leaving behind a stable Afghanistan should be another main goal.
And things look positive with all major stakeholders looking for a way out.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

you provoke with unrelated questions. AQ khan is a heroe, one of the brilliant nuclear scientist in the world, not only he was able to develope a muke for the defence of Pakistan, but was able to teach many nuclear scientists from most of the muslim countries, who had no accesss to this science in anglo saxon countries. His reward was that a con military President presented him to the world as a culprit for illegal spread of nuclear weaponry. The military clown played this drama and thought that the powerful CIA did not know the personal involvement of Musharaf in the program.
A fellow muslim villager of AQ khan assisted India in the development of the nuke and the missile technology and was made the President of India.
Are you still of the opinion that AQ is a monster?
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

It seems to me that the biggest hurdle to a peaceful Afghanistan is the amiguous & contradictory nauture of the Pakistani establishment. They want a peaceful Afghanistan but they also want an Afghan govt which takes dictates from Rawalpindi. They want the US to leave Afghanistan but they don’t want them to leave it in the hands of a self-reliant Afghan army (which may or may not be hostile to Pakistan). They want to eliminate terrorist groups which are a threat to their own security but want to sheild those, which are a threat to others. This confused state of the Pakistani establishment, is the biggest threat to the region & the world.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

777xxx777: “We all understand the problem and the monster that AQ is. But suggest some solutions. How to tackle the chaos unleashed by AQ? Should India hand over Kashmir to Pakistan just like that and does that guarantee that monster’s never ending greed will be satisfied?”

The methods I suggest may not be appealing to everyone. To contain Al Qaeda’s hold, the US has to counter its move as quickly as possible. A weakened Pakistan is going to make things worse for the US. If you observe the history for the past three decades, you will observe a couple of critical things:

1. The CIA in collusion with Pakistan, laid a bear trap for the USSR in 1970s. They tried on a plan to bring the enemy to a war field which was located in an unknown territory to the Russians, surrounded by nations hostile to the USSR. The Russians walked in. The plan was to let them settle first and then frustrate them over a period of time that would derail their economy and lead to complete loss of faith in continuing with the occupation. Pakistan had its own agenda to accomplish by working with the Americans. The plan worked and USSR soon disappeared, leading to the liberation of many countries. They never expected this windfall. They only wanted to run a proxy war to slowly bleed the USSR.

2. Al Qaeda founders were involved during the entire conflict and got to see the whole thing – how to lay a trap to a big animal, make it come into unknown territory, place hostile groups around and play hide and seek game with them by frustrating them.

3. 9/11 was planned not to destroy the US and Europe by sending in Jihadists there. It was a trap to draw the US to a territory not much known to the US. Bin Laden saw more in the opportunity to strike when Bush became the President. So he went about doing exactly the same thing to the US. He knew that the US would come and walk into the trap. All he and his cronies had to do was to go into hiding. Pakistan miscalculated about its gains by taking sides with the US. So Pakistani Taliban was born to frustrate and weaken Pakistan. Ten years into the battle, the US looks in all aspects similar to the USSR – frustrated and losing faith at the whole thing.

By sending in Jihadists into the US and Europe and letting them being traced back to Pakistan, Al Qaeda has managed to create a huge rift between Pakistan and the US. Trust is gone. Now the strategy would be to wait for a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the US and strike real hard, using elements that will be traced back to Pakistan. The US, all set and ready to return home, will need to make hurried changes to its plans and will have to face Pakistan this time. Al Qaeda will exploit the chaos by knocking out pro-American leaders inside Pakistan.

All this will happen one by one within the next 18 months.

You asked for a solution. There is only one solution and most people will not like it – Create Pashtunistan comprising of the lands in Afghanistan and Pakistan where majority Pashtuns live. Strengthen the Northern Alliance again and stage everything in the remaining Afghanistan. Employ coercive methods to get the nukes out of Pakistan. If Pakistan falls into the hands of Al Qaeda, then it will not be a matter of whether nukes will be launched into India. It will be when. By hitting India hard, Al Qaeda will draw India into a conflict. India will be pressured into not using its nukes in a counter offensive. Therefore it is important to go after the nukes now.

India has screwed itself up in Kashmir without any external help. Therefore, I’d say letting Kashmir go now will be a practical and prudent form of defense. But that is not going to happen.

The US needs to work immediately on reducing its alliance on Pakistan. This is not because Pakistan is bad. It is just that Al Qaeda’s men will soon take over that country. Before that the US needs to cut Balochistan off and create Pashtunistan. Then it will be easier to take on the elements inside a much reduced Pakistan and knock Pashtunistan down to Paleozoic era.
These people only respond to violent methods. They do not know much about peaceful methods and have no respect for them. They see it as a sign of weakness.

Bin Laden does not have to do anything from here on. He has set up a momentum and it is catching on by itself.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

“These people only respond to violent methods. They do not know much about peaceful methods and have no respect for them. They see it as a sign of weakness.

Bin Laden does not have to do anything from here on. He has set up a momentum and it is catching on by itself.
Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive”

–>Singh, it seems that some people never negotiate, but only bow when an american cruise missile is bearing down on them, that is the only thing they respect at the end of the day, either they are at your feet or at your throat, how do you talk with men who are insane and unreachable?…sometimes action is all that they understand and respect and that will become clearer than ever, as Af-Pak unrolls.

Overpowering sledgehammer might is the only one thing in this part of the world, that cements one’s ability to use diplomacy that has weight.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

“Are you still of the opinion that AQ is a monster?”

What kind of a person you are? First you type rubbish and then when people slam you in your face you tell them their English is bad. Now did I say AQ Khan??? Did you check the context I was speaking?? Did you find out the possible meanings of AQ?? I was referring to Al-Qaida and not the Pakistani scientist AQ Khan. You are really unbelievably dumb head. You only see what you want to see in your opinions and never want to understand other persons’ views. Such a super self centric attitude will be very harmful to you. Did you notice that ONLY you misinterpreted AQ as AQ Khan and everyone else got it as Al-Qaida??

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

@G-W and KP
I would agree with you on that Taliban and AQ are barbarians and needs to be dealt with utmost cruelty possible. But I would not agree that US missiles can win the war. No war can be won with missiles. Wars are won by guts of men fighting. To fight with these barbarians one needs infinite cruelty which of course an army of playboys can never have. US men can never defeat Afghans in man-to-man land combat. So to give barbarians their own dose US needs to rope in Iran and/or China as both are known to be fiercest fighters and very very cruel forces on earth. Had there been no Pakistan then even India could have done the job. But not in current scenario.

What is disturbing is that this clash is slowly getting converted into clash of civilisations. Someone needs to tell the muslim world and Israel, by and large that “tum hi tum ho toh kya tum ho, hum hi hum hain toh kya hum hain, jo hum tum sang hain, toh duniya mein rang hi rang hain..” (meaning that this world can be beautiful and full of colours only when all of us are together and not separated). Why can’t these people live their way and let others live their way? Why ENFORCE Islam onto everyone? Or rather why enforce their own interpretation of Islam on everyone? What is the need of Taliban in first place? Why create Taliban? What is the need of so called Allah’s force? On the other hand why can’t Arabs accept existence of Israel? That land was inhabited by Jews since the time of Roman empire then what’s wrong if they want to live there peacefully. Why provoke Israel time and again? Why can’t rest of Arabs accept Israel just like Egypt? And why can’t Israel recognise independent Palestine? Why this fight among Judaism and Islam to PROVE that they only are God’s beloved and other is not?

I seriously believe that once US can find a solution to Israel vs Arab(Muslim) conflict only then the steam will run out of AQ and others like them. Missiles and wars will not solve anything, diplomacy will and can only if right heads are into it. It was good to hear Obama say that Israel should accept independent Palestine but only one Obama cannot change the world.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive


It is these religious leaders who claim that they are the gatekeepers of God’s loves and selectively impart a political form of religion on the minds of people.

These religious men, their will is to impose endless wars, violence and butchery between. In my humble opinion, religious leaders who are this way, actually serve not just God, but TWO masters and are in fact unknowingly leading the people astray from goodness. These religious leaders are as ungodly as you can get.

Still people follow them blindly and accept what they say, doomed to repeat failures and mistakes of past and accept a politicized version of God, from the mouth of madmen who impart their own interpretations.

Religious leaders need to be told, on the many sides to think, talk and behave responsiblity, otherwise, they are sending people to die. Politics of organized Religion lacks the cohesive glue to bring peace to humanity, it only serves to divide and do the work of evil at the end of the day. Religion and god are best practiced at home, without religious leaders to lead people astray.

This is the grand deception of it all, it is a war on people’s sensibilities, their intelligence and a spritual war for their blind obedience and destruction of independent thought.

Words start wars of civilizations, and therefore the wrongly chosen path or words can and will kill.

Time and again, religious leaders send people to die and people have to ask themselves, if this person is truly an agent of God, would God not want me to be living a happy productive life with joy? If people accepted this one statement wholeheartedly even without knowing their respective holy books, they would reject established religious political figures and organize as people to lead themselves, outside of theocratic interference.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive


Missiles help soften up a target. What happened in Afghanistan in 2002 is that afer softening up the target, the US lost its focus and went after Iraq. It fell into the trap laid by Musharraf and cheated itself. It took Obama to come and realize what has happened. By this time, things were too late and everything had to be started from scratch. Bush placed more troops in Iraq than in Afghanistan. When idiots take charge, military might means nothing.

I don’t think I’d agree with you that Afghans are the toughest fighters. With guns, anyone can be a fighter. What is needed in today’s warfare is strategy. Wars are not fought with guns alone. Right from the days of the colonial empires, wars have taken a different dimension – they are fought over long periods of time. In addition to battles, wars are fought on diplomatic and political fronts at the same time. Turning people against each other, causing long lasting rift between groups, supporting one against the other etc help weaken the enemy. Over a period of time, the groups destroy each other themselves and it becomes easy for the real enemy to walk in and take over everything.

This kind of a divide and rule strategy works very well in South Asia. People are highly fragmented. India and Pakistan epitomize that nature in the region. That is why a ship load of sailors could easily conquer most of the sub-continent including Burma in a span of 150 years.

The term Afghan is vague. There are Pashtuns, Kazaks, Uighurs, Tajiks, Turks, Hazaras, Kyrghyz, Persians etc. These people have historic animosity between them. They are brutal towards each other. There is a famous line in the book, Charlie Wilson’s war – “When a Tajik man wants to make love, he wants a Pashtun man.” Such is the venom in their deep seated mutual hatred.

What the US should have done in 2001 is this – Drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan and not allow them into Balochistan by aerial bombardment from the South at the same time. Musharraf would never have objected to it because he was more afraid of the bombs hitting Islamabad at that time. By collecting the elements inside Waziristan tribal belt, they could have carpet bombed the whole region until the people handed the Al Qaeda and Taliban elements themselves. The US was very close to finishing off Bin Laden. But Rumsfeld suddenly told the mission commander that he is being replaced and took the focus out of chasing Bin Laden. The US should never have allowed air lifting of Pak army regulars from Kunduz. Many Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders escaped along as well.

While knocking the daylights out of the barbarians, the US should have brought in Northern Alliance rule into Kabul. Now it would have resulted in a Pashtun versus non-Pashtun war. By arming the Northern alliance to the hilt with sophisticated weapons, the war could have been driven into Pakistan’s law-less tribal land. Instead of the marines and NATO troops, Northen Alliance would have done the job. At the same time, the US could have held Pakistan off by employing pressure and incentives. Pakistan wouldn’t have dared go against the American moves at that time. If Pakistan had any issues with it, the CIA could have launched chaos inside Pakistan to keep them busy.

By turning the elements against each other, at some point, the Pashtuns would have caved in and turned against each other. They also have tribal loyalties and one tribe could be turned against the other. All one had to do was set up a beard lighting fight between the tribes and they would have destroyed each other by now. Afghanistan was already in rubble before 2001. So it wouldn’t have mattered much, if the fight drifted into Pashtun homeland. Al Qaeda would have run helter skelter in the bargain because there would have been no time to host them when everyone was fighting for the other’s beard.

Divide and rule is the only way this region can be contained. It would have saved a lot of lives of the US and its allies and contained the war within the region. We would not be hearing of London, Madrid, Mumbai attacks or Shahzad. There would have been no time for any of it. By keeping the elements busy by turning on each other, the region would have easily collapsed and given the chance for settlement. They would have come out asking for it and the super powers would have been in a position to offer it to them.

But I do not expect the Americans to be smart. Look at CNN and you can see how shallow their world knowledge is. They have the power. But they are full of ignorance. Finally their ignorance has defeated them.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

“Religious leaders need to be told, on the many sides to think, talk and behave responsiblity, otherwise, they are sending people to die”

Yes quite right. And India today stands as an example of that. Ice cold reactions by ordinary public of all communities to ayodhya verdict is a stand out example that people in India want an end to decades of religious bigotry. Message sent to fools in New Delhi from the proud nation called India is loud and clear, “We want peace and progress from leaders and leave religion to us”. Nephew of celebrated Mualana Kalbe Saadik donated Rs. 15Lakh for making of hindu temple at disputed site and we are now hearing efforts from hindu organisations to build a mosque alongside and this time it will be functional as well. Talk of communal harmony. India shows the way to rest of world on culture!! Recently when Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid New Delhi went to Lucknow then a reporter (incidentally he was also a muslim) asked an uncomfortable question about Ayodhya to Imam and Imam got irked so much that he issued “fatwa” there and then to behead the reporter and his goons (an Imam has personal goons too…strange isn’t it) beat up the reporter. Following this lucknow police promptly filed case against Imam. What was surprising is that in a country like India where Media can tear you apart in a matter of hours how can these Imams dare do this. Imam has hurt his image and achieved nothing else. And because Imam achieved nothing out of it is significant enough of people’s attitude in India.

Therefore ultimately its all about people. If ordinary Afghanis walking on roadside do not want Taliban then Taliban cannot come to power. And Taliban did come to power then it was because people wanted it and if it fell then it is again because people rejected them after seeing their horrible philosophy of life. So what is needed in Afghanistan is strengthening the common man and letting the ordinary Afghani decide his her fate and rest all should help and not rule. Although yes Afghanis need to be told that they need to be at peace with others and not give asylum to people who plan and carry out illegal activities against other countries of world. If Afghanis want respect and security then they need to learn to GIVE it in first place even to non-muslims as well. They have to be told to treat rest of the world as equal to them and not inferior. The sense of superiority that is very prevalent in Arabs and Russian origin muslims should not be allowed to spread in Afghanistan. Afghanistan produces some of the best pomegranates and apples one can find in the whole world then why grow drugs? There are lot of issues with Afghanistan society which have to be ironed out but what is the correct method for the change, that no one is sure of. But one thing that is increasingly becoming clearer is that problem’s major and significant part is Pakistan state agencies. ISI is backbone of Taliban and that needs to be dealt with first. If Pakistan goes out of Afghanistan and ends it proxies in the region then we are talking of solutions. But these are all our fantasies because ISI fan*tics will never want a solution for sake of their so called strategic depth against a fictitious enemy.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive

“Divide and rule is the only way this region can be contained. It would have saved a lot of lives of the US and its allies and contained the war within the region. We would not be hearing of London, Madrid, Mumbai attacks or Shahzad. There would have been no time for any of it. By keeping the elements busy by turning on each other, the region would have easily collapsed and given the chance for settlement. They would have come out asking for it and the super powers would have been in a position to offer it to them.”

That is what I am saying. US needs diplomacy and not missiles. If you soften up targets with missiles and send in army of playboys then you have no one to blame for loss. I also proposed in one of the articles that Americans do not know how to Divide and Conquer and British know it very well that one cannot conquer without dividing. But US historically has been very very bad when it comes to diplomacy. But I like your idea of beard lighting fights. Thats a good one :) By the way do the muslims themselves know why they are told to keep long beards by their mullahs? Why it is said that muslims should wear pyjamas that are short of their feet? Islam is a religion that originated in deserts and all these practices are meant for conserving water. Therefore Islam has some of the best practices for conserving water in deserts. But trouble is that muslim leaders use these falsely as symbols of Islam even when they are not in deserts and people are fool enough to not know or ponder over the reason why these practices were created in first place. So your idea of beard fights, may be, could work. Who knows what could work in Afghanistan.

And yes rightly said Americans are good only at eating and nothing else. Bunch of dumb heads really. That’s why Obama said he fears that children in India spend more time in classrooms than children in US. Guess his fear may be true to some extent. And CNN is ALL FALSE. Rubbish at best.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive


I agree, there is no reason why a synangogue, hindu mander, christian temple and mosque cannot be built on the same street, provided, all choose to respect each other and behave like human beings.

Religious leaders that teach hatred and incite anger and make false blasphemy claims, they should be punished and made examples out of.

In fact those that incite religious hatred should be tried as enemies of the state and enemies of civility and tried in criminal courts and any of those that teach and lead astray unknowing lost souls to kill in the name of God or religion should not be spared capital punishment. Those that promote communal harmony and brother hood between religions and cultures should be rewarded.

Tolerance, and equality should be imposed and bigotry and hatred should be avenged to the maximum extent possible.

There are those that choose to exploit democracy for some perception that it is weak or exploitable somehow. A clear message should be sent to those that take democracy for granted and dissent to seek their puritanical and tyrannical way of thinking. This uncompromising way of thinking should not be tolerated, nor appeased, but met with relentless backlash.

At the same time, peaceful, loving people that promote interfaith communion and brotherhood should be rewarded for being good, ideal people, as this supports the greater common good of the state and overall happiness of the people. People who choose not to live in such a respectful manner, should leave the country or emigrate where they can be with like-minded individuals.

Religious hatred and bigotry should not be given an inch of soil to grow on.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

@777, Singh, others,

CNN report today states that NATO has indicated that Osama Bin Laden is living in NW Pakistan, not in a cave, but a house, across the border from Tora Bora and in allegedly protected by Pakistani Intelligence agencies.

This is a report today from CNN.

A lot of Pakistani’s here have indicated that they do not like or ascribe to Osama Bin Laden, I wonder what those same ones think about their state agencies, if they are in fact protecting OBL?

What do they think of Pak State agencies protecting number one wanted man in the world, if supposing, it were true?

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Has anybody ever thought of the Indian majority peaceful walk into the neighbouring territories of Pakistan and Afghanistan, enabling India to take over the countries without firing a bullet? This would sound more probable than the lofty ideas you guys have been posting. The former Morrocan king did this act and took over the desert left by the Spaniards.
@KPSingh, the term Afghan is not vague, the words Afghan and Pashtoons are synanimous, the non Pashtoons, Tajiks and Uzbeks and others are the citizens of Afghanistan. Your theories and the spread of imagination can easily delude many. Most of the Pashtoons, more than 60 million are not yet active, they are capable to take over the helms of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a very little resistance. At the present there are only few thousands spread across Afghanistan and Pakistan, the special forces, the commandos, the snipers, call them what one wants.
The American administration would probably reward you millions of the printed green dollars, if you could advise how they could disengage themselves from the Quagmire? But try to be a bit realistic, a four star General has left the battle ground with all his staff, the other one is harrying around from one clinic to another and in between having PR meetings with the political leaders. Many senior Generals are queying up for early retirement from the military and many former Generals advisers are leaving their posts who were advising the administration on how to win the war militarily or the hearts and minds of the population or some other tangible thing to show the American people that the saty in Afghanistan was worth something.
The 5th columnist can facilitate the entry of the enemy but not win wars for the Americans. A non Pashtoon could not sit in Kabul for more than a weak even if he would be there to act as a mayor of Afghanistan. Mr Karzai statement to Algazeera that he has had talks with the talibans was known to the CIA. Mr Karzai is following the instructions of the Talibans for a very long time now, and this was known to the administration, and therefore the rift.
Do you really believe that the flat footed invaders are more intelligent or better soldiers than those who came into Afghanistan from the North or south? The Brits used their machiavilly politics and the Americans used their THINKTANK Brains, They have all proven to be less of a match for the people of hindukush mountainsn. I am not sure if any one really knows what the waziris do with their enemies?
No definitely not, they do not usually go into the non waziri terrain, Kashmir was an exception! It is sad that even in Kashmir, they did not leave anything moving or a trace after their departure. Has anybody ever given a thought, how come the USA are operating blind drones now, fewer helicopters and very seldom the fighter aircrafts. Does one win a war with pilotless machines? How come,the Germans have withdrawn their Tornados now? The correct answer to these questions could give a clue to you guys that you are simply flogging the dead horse. Mr Obama knows that now, if no one else in his administration. Have a nice day.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive


Your affeminate man crush on AQ-Taliban-Pashtoon, or anything 7th century is quite intriging. As a mysogenist, I bet you feel women are chattel and non-muslims are not human beings.

Perhaps the answer here is to redraw the Durand line and annex a the entire Pashtoon part of Pakistan and have the pashtoons join their brothers, this way, pakistan will not have worry about policing ungovernable territory and does not have to extort cash from the west anymore to fight militants that it harbours there.

What do you think about dividing the territory and making Afghanistan a little bigger and just making the Pashtoons a little happier?

Unlike Pakistani’s who are using and abusing the Afghans for personal gain, kind of using Afghanistan like a garbage can, there is nothing redeeming or worthwhile created for the Afghans, with pakistani presence.

I think Pakistan is free to compete with India and go toe to toe with us in legitimate competition for love in the region. We are building highways, mosques, services for Afghans and you Paks’, well the record stands for itself, you have brought only death to Afghans, nothing else.

Again, perhaps the Pashtoons and Afghans should decide as a nation, if they want your meddling there.

As far as pilotless drones go, they have been quite effective, if you didn’t think they were that good, you would be openly advocating for them.

Obviously they are effective and nothing in war is perfect. Infiltration units like android “terminators” and insects are not yet available, so in the mean time, Rex Minor, drones will have to do.

Most of the pilots getting trained these days are Drone pilots. As the militants migrate to the cities, running from the drones, also goes up the risk of creation of a retaliatory type attack from city based militants.

I wonder if such a thing happened, would NATO choose to send in troops or drones?…or something much more radically advanced? I am sure, whatever they do send, it will be surgical, precise and exact and not noisy as drones.

Let’s hope that Pakistan co-operates to help complete the Afghan mission for the west, and bring the Taliban down, as that is what will make NATO go back home.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Rex Minor: “The American administration would probably reward you millions of the printed green dollars, if you could advise how they could disengage themselves from the Quagmire? But try to be a bit realistic, a four star General has left the battle ground with all his staff, the other one is harrying around from one clinic to another and in between having PR meetings with the political leaders. Many senior Generals are queying up for early retirement from the military and many former Generals advisers are leaving their posts who were advising the administration on how to win the war militarily or the hearts and minds of the population or some other tangible thing to show the American people that the saty in Afghanistan was worth something.”

Your absolute loyalty to Pashtuns is interesting. They are not all that invincible. It is just that in this war, the US has been led by a bunch of clowns until 2008. They have a dug a huge hole for their country, out of which Obama is trying it get it out. This has nothing to do with the might of Pashtuns. It has everything to do with politics in Washington.

If the British had another 50 years on hand during their colonial era, they would have conquered Afghanistan. And probably, would have given it a taste of modernity. Read about the Zulu wars in South Africa when Shaka Zulu was building an empire in the early 1800s. The English could not contain them until he died. I wish the British had controlled Afghanistan for a considerable period of time. Much of all the tribalism in the region is due to overall backwardness. No government can run and therefore the people have created their own local power structures. They fight each other when one group steps into the others’ territory. The British would have turned them against each other and burnt them down. But all that is extrapolation.

If Obama had been President in 2001, you will be singing a very different song now. He would have fixed the Af-Pak region for sure. The unfortunate thing is that he came to power a little too late. The neocons had already done enough damage to the efforts. That is the reason by General after general is leaving or retiring. This has nothing to do with the might of any Pashtuns. In fact all the wolves are hiding and waiting it out instead of fighting their enemies. Drones are hunting them down regularly. Now the Taliban is reaching out through Karzai for a negotiated settlement. They have no place to go now.

What has been left unaffected is the Al Qaeda. It has become an ideology and is spreading through Pakistan slowly. Many of its leaders might have been killed or detained. Yet they are influencing more Islamists everywhere. Europe is shivering from a terrorist threat.

Whatever settlement that is going to happen will only be a temporary one. Then things will quickly return to the old ways. The Jihadists will call it victory and will be more emboldened to take on the Western nations. This is not the end, but a new beginning.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

“CNN report today states that NATO has indicated that Osama Bin Laden is living in NW Pakistan, not in a cave, but a house, across the border from Tora Bora and in allegedly protected by Pakistani Intelligence agencies.”

***G-W: “Indicated” is the word here so you should be careful in believing it.
If these guys were 1% sure that OBL is there, they will blow the place up without worrying about any collateral damage.

NATO may be right but such news from NATO in public does not sit well with me. If they have substance they can twist ISI arms and get the guys. All these NATO indications via CNN are worth a laugh nothing more. Have you noticed how long such snippets of information have been coming such as: “A-Q and top Talibans move around place to place wearing local dress and without a large number of guards around them” Such news is not meant to help finding the guys lost 10yrs ago but to serve some other agendas.

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

“Has anybody ever thought of the Indian majority peaceful walk into the neighbouring territories of Pakistan and Afghanistan, enabling India to take over the countries without firing a bullet?”

That is just your fantasy. India would never want to take responsibility of highly unstable lands with people who are only good at fighting and nothing else. By the way is it not another confusing statement from you. On one hand you said Pashtuns will destroy power centres in South Asia in 50 years and now you say India would take over Af-Pak. And at the end you call others confused.

Your idea of dividing Pakistan to create a bigger Afghanistan can work but the risk is that it may result in more chaos in Afghanistan. Pashtuns are only good at fighting and have absolutely no brains for anything else. And moreover US can never divide Pakistan because of its already huge unpopularity in Pakistan and China would never help US in weakening Pakistan. So I would not agree with your idea by and large.

Come on man stop thinking about things that never happened. If brits had 50 years, if Obama came to power in 2001, all these are silly talks. Its like If cat was belled then mouse will be safe. Instead of talking about IF in past lets talk of IF about future. And for past always talk of what happened. Pashtuns are not invincible because in past first Ashoka conquered and Mauryans ruled Pashtun land for almost 200 years or so because Ashoka was so cruel that he would just kill every single soul on enemy lands and then it was Attila who f****d pashtuns hard because he would burn down everything in his way. So yes Pashtuns are not invincible but do you honestly think these Americans/NATO can really match brutality of Ashoka or Attila. I don’t think so. That’s why I said that US needs to rope in China to tackle Pashtuns. Even now I would say its kind of mini-Vietnam going on. All the ammunition and weaponry is being ‘illegally’ sold to Taliban and party by no other than China. China is a very big player in illegal arms trade and that is no hidden fact. So if US can pursue China to at least not sell arms to Taliban then may be something can improve for them. But that is all fantasy. IF US still wants to win this war then they will have to first throw the Geneva convention out of the window and then fight Taliban. Any living soul on Afghan land who is NOT from Afghan/NATO security forces and still carries any weapon should be shot at sight without any questioning or mercy. That is the kind of cruelty that is needed. But US soldiers are not built that way.

Perfectly correct. CNN is just meant to spread US’ international agenda nothing else. Right now focus of Obama admin is to just get out and on way out just take away nukes of Pakistan and once out then impose sanctions on nuclear fuel trade with Pakistan. CNN is all false and rubbish at best.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive


You cringe when Pakistan is called a terrorist country. We’re not talking about ‘non-state actors’ here but a state agency of Pakistan. So, what do you have to say about this now?

‘ISI was behind Mumbai attacks’ – Guardian
(Not that anyone is surprised!)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct  /18/pakistan-isi-mumbai-terror-attacks

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

@KP Singh
Your post has always been of a interest to me because of the history lines you provide. The problem is the absence of the time limit.
The Brits were in India for more than two hundred odd years and in the Pashtoon territory for one hundred years. They lost two Afghan wars and could never defeat the Pashtoons in any combat. Their armiy units were practically butchered. They were successful in bringing the entire Pashtoon family becoming their enemy. Several books have been published to record the events. At the end a certain peace was achieved with the Pashtoons who live in today’s Pakistan. The Brits were allowed to have some military posts on the Border with Afghanistan( the so called durand line, not recognised by the Afghans to this day)to keep watch for any Russian’s intrusion. The brits also appointed a co-ordinator in their Govt. with the title of the Political Agent. His task was to coordinate political arrangements with the tribal chiefs and to make sure that they regularly receive the agreed fee for the roads which were laid in the Pashtoon territory. These arrangements arte still intact and the Pakistan Govt. have upheld the written contract since partition. Now some of your commentry does not make any headway if you do not accept the aforesaid basic facts. Where the Brits have failed and the one before them, you are of the opinion that the Pakistan Govt. (now controlled by the Pashtoons) could make any headway with such a strategy. On the other hand it is a common knowledge that mr Karzai has been secretly in contact with the so called Tlaiban leaders and have been following their orders, while at the same time playing a typical “pashtoon game” with both the Bush and the Obama administrations. No one in the USA knows about the power of the Pashtoons more than the good old George W himself. The Taliban leaders were regular visitors to Texas. He underestimated them when he demanded the handover of mr Bin laden, who also happened to be the son in law of the Taliban leader.
The USA military has been decidedly defeated on the battle ground of their own choosing. But the show is still on until the exit.
General macChrystal did not want to become the CAVAGNARI, the British rep. in Afghanistan who was killed in the streets of Kabul, and Holbrooke is too smart to become the American victim of the 21st century. Though I did at one time suspected that he was on the cards, when he asked Mr karzai to speak in english to the Press.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@Rex Minor, Umair, 777, Singh, others,

Forget Afghanistan for a second. There is some sort of huge movement here. OBL’s location was just alleged to be in Pakistan. One-two days later, the U.S. issues 2B USD aid package for Pakistan to take fight into N.Waziristan.

On CNN, the news anchors have stated that “there are no more excuses left for Pakistan, they have all them money the need now…..”

I suspect Pakistan state agencies are being cornered now and all legitimate means of leverage against them has now come out in the form of financial aid, and they have stated that. Now the U.S. machine expect results or severe consequences may follow.

If Pakistan does not comply, they will in fact bring war on Pakistan, in the form of a 2012 loss by Obama and the new republican Neo-cons will be far worse than what anybody has seen and these neocons will be out to make a style statement on Pakistan, the kid gloves will come off.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

I was not serious about Indian people marching into Pakistan peacefully, because in my view the Indian people have no such deep feelings for peace with Pakistan, nor do the Pakistani want any peace with India. The morrocans did it, since they were peaceful.

The people of Europe are fed up with wars and wanted peace and we have peace now.
The Durand line is not recognised by Afghanistan as of this day. Nor does it have any relevance for the Pashtoons! The so called border is no different than the irrelevant borders within Europe. The Pashtoons are divided into tribes and the borders of these tribes are very much relevant.
Perhaps one day the borders between India and Pakistan would become irrelevant, and all the provinces would act more or less independent of the central Govts. This is the recipe of solidarity, cooperation and progress. The allied powers wanted to prevent the rebirth of a strong germany with a strong central Govt and therefore created the federal system of Govt. To day this is the model for the whole of Europe, Let us hope that your leaders would think in a similar way but this effort could take centuries. Your complaints about the Talibans and others would disappear.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Why do you think nasty things about people, I do not? Neither me nor any muslim has indignant feelings about non muslims. I am practically sorrounded by non muslims. Any one who fits into your imagination of being a pashtoon or muslim is certainly none of the sort! Are you happy now? It is not worthy of any to throw accusations at people that you do not know about? I was told that George W was an alkohaliker and then was reformed. We are told that the american marines have done cruel things and that the so called talibans have also committed cruel things. The Venezualen President says that the american colonialists have always made up lies before they invade a country and still do. Some of these allegations we believe in and some we do not. Is it our fault if we do not believe certain horrible things being said about the Pashtoons, Pakistanis and by the way Indians as well.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@GW: “Your affeminate man crush on AQ-Taliban-Pashtoon, or anything 7th century is quite intriging”

There’s nothing to be intrigued here. It’s quite evident that Rex Minor/Pakistan is a closet Pashtun. So, in essence, he’s not doing anything else here, except toot his own horn. Nothing different from what we’re accustomed to seeing from Umair vis-a-vis Pak army etc.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

Did Nato/cnn provide the address and warned the guy to leave the area otherwise the USA are going to send the Drone or killer commandos? I guess not otherwise the Reuters journalists could google his location and visit him for an exclusive interview.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive


Let me apologize, I really don’t know who you are and am merely critizing your words, not you personally.

If you admire something about pashtoons, that is your business, but you have not provided one good reason to back up people who are retrograde and 7th century.

I also take exception to your assertion that Indians don’t want peace with Pakistan. That is completely false. Indians actually move on pretty quickly and go abou their busines, even after the numerous terrorist attacks that happen on them.

The could have turfed the camps in Kashmir, but did chose the path of eternal goody two shoes restraint, much to the surprise of most nations, that would not have done the same, especially somebody like China or the U.S.

Indians do want peace, but Pakistani’s keep destroying it by lying, lying and more lying. I don’t know how many times Musharaff, AQ Khan, Nawaz Sharif and others have switched their stories over and over and over and over again, just to suit their political needs in light of Mumbai and other situations like it.

There is no depth to the incoherent babbling liars in Pindi, Islamabad and elsewhere, they all hate each other’s guts and but collectively hate India even more. How can Indians make peace with fools who can’t even agree and get along with each other, let along with India?

As a devout muslim, you should recognize that telling the truth is compulsory. As a Pakistani, you know that all your leaders, from the top down to the bottom, all they do is lie, from the army to the civilians and everything in between. Yes Indian ones lie too, but not nearly to the exponential amount that Pakistani ones do.

Tell me, what can India do to make peace with a country like Pakistan, please tell me what India should do and what Pakistan is willing to do. Please provide a 50-50 list of things each can do.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Time and again I have said that I am not a Pakistani. I am also not a devout muslim as you call me. Yes, I believe in the scriptures which describe God’s commandments for the humans. The human specie is a complete product gifted with senses,intelligence and spirtuality, superior to that of others in the universe. I am humble and greatful to the one God whom I fear and try to live like millions of others in the world.
I have never come across the devil or been cheated or robbed by monsters. People throughout the world have been kindto me.
I am a citizen of Europe,one of the five hundred millionswho are now trying to live in peace with each other per the Lissabon treaty.
I believe that the will of the individul can change the course of the history, equally the will of two or three can create a process with astonishing results. When I said that the Indian people and the Pakistani people do not want peace, it was not meant to belittle or criticise an act. No sir, I genuinely believe that both people in the Indian subcontinent do not desire peace and that is why they do not have it.
Now we all have been going around and around all sorts of reasons blaming every one and this has not helped. Do I have a recipe for the people with centuries of established culture and languages. I have a problem even in communicating with you guys.
I do believe in a dialogue and some pre-requisitesfor peace in the region. Both countries should solve their domestic problems, India in Kashmir and Pakistan with the self created bogey Talibans(aliens from the mars) and the continued secterian violence.
This should take the two govts. a very long time to find practical solutions, not military
I can forecast the possible consquences during this period, namely further attacks from the kashmiri resistance on the Indian soil or its facilities abroad, and further violence and attacks from Pashtoons throughout Pakistan to revenge for any deaths in the family. Pakistan must also quit love hate relationship with the United States and the NATO. Their presence is like showing the red to the Bull and is manifested in the instability Pakistan is experiencingand India could ecperience infuture. The leaders of both countries must take steps to win the hearts and minds of the population and not use force and talk about radicals, extremists , insurgents and terrorists. Both countries have the choice, either use force calling every resistance as terrorists without peace or have a dialogue with opposition as equals and influence the radicals to have peace. mind you Gandhi was not born in Europe or Africa and there was more violence and terrorism in the history of India before them.
Rex Minor
Rex Minor

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