Friday, September 24, 2010


“What Afghanistan would lose to Persia in the west, it would gain in the east, as Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren (the point of this exercise is not to draw maps as we would like them but as local populations would prefer them). Pakistan, another unnatural state, would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining “natural” Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi”. (RALPH PETERS)

This quote of Ralph Peters seemed ridiculous and wild day-dreaming when it first appeared in the Armed Forces Journal, back in 2006. But, when we look at the rapidly changing political and geo-strategic scenario in Pakistan and Afghanistan, today in 2010, it seems a prophetic vision of a Political Scientist. Many questions are boiling in one mind. Is Afghan Taliban insurgency turning into a Pashtun nationalist resistance? But how? This is a million dollars question to be answered by political and military analysts.

The recent statements of Mullah Mohammed Umar, the spiritual leader of Taliban, appearing in the selected press in Pakistan and Afghanistan, lead one to believe that the man has decided to part ways with Al-Qaeda. The tone of the message and suggestions presented appears to be a turning point in the core ideology of Taliban which will determine its future course of action. Mullah Umar has offered an olive branch, though not openly to the USA and Allied Forces. He expressed his desire to establish relationship both with Muslims and Europeans. He also expressed his commitment for respect for Human Rights particularly the rights of Women and their education. He clearly mentioned that the important posts and ministries will not be given on religious ground rather on competence and capability in future set-up, if they are allowed to participate in. Though political observers have a lot of doubts, but the way, the US is using its sticks & carrot strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it does not seem impossible.

Even, a recent interview by Gulbadin Hikmatyar is also indicative of the change in the approach of former Mujahedeen Commander, an important player in the Afghan game. But, these Taliban and Mujahedin commanders should not be considered seriously until or unless they openly renounce terrorism and extremism.

To understand, the currents trends, we have to analyze the important events that are shaping Afghan political and military land-scape for some time.

Americans have developed a strong Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP), which is becoming stronger and stronger with every passing day. The Afghan Army is dominated by Tajiks, but Pashtuns are also not negligible.

Second, Afghan Police is locally recruited. It is also establishing itself as a strong force to be reckoned with as it is rapidly becoming the eyes and ears of the government. Local policemen know about the terrain completely and it is becoming difficult for Taliban to find safe heavens and to hide themselves in civilians areas to launch attacks either against foreign forces or terrorize local people.

Another important development is the establishment of local Lashkars (local armies consisted of Pashtuns) to fight against Taliban and other extremist groups. These Lashkars commanded by ordinary citizens are fighting against Taliban, dis-credited warlords and former Mujahedeen commanders. Later, these Lashkars can easily be absorbed into the main police or Army structures at a convenient time.

The recent discovery of the mineral resources in Afghanistan also gives a hope for the people and they know it well that only through co-operation not through war they can exploit these resources and develop badly-needed infra-structures for economic and social development. Through co-operation and peace with western forces they can get the much needed foreign investment for the exploitation of the these natural resources.

New York Times, report that these huge reserves of lithium, iron, gold, niobium, cobalt and other minerals worth trillions of dollars could transform Afghanistan into a global mining hub. There is ever-growing demand for lithium, which is used to make batteries for everything from mobile phones and cameras to iPads and laptops. Future growth in electric and hybrid cars could create still more demand. Afghanistan has so much of the metal that it could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," according to an internal Pentagon memo quoted by the New York Times.

China Metallurgical Group has won a $3.5 billion contract to develop Afghanistan's Aynak copper field, the largest foreign direct investment project in the history of Afghanistan. By some estimates, the 28-square-kilometer copper field in Logar Province could contain up to $88 billion worth of ore. This chines investment in mine sector is very important and more investment is till to come. Similarly, infrastructure development projects are underway by Chines, Europeans, Indians and Americans firms. Afghanistan can become a viable state now, as it can afford to pay for its government, army and police without being dependent on foreign aid or drug trade.

With arrival of this huge wealth the menace of drug production and trafficking can also be effectively tackled now. Drug trade has been a biggest source of instability in Afghanistan. As drug producers, traders and traffickers were always creating instability in Afghanistan to keep it as a safe-heaven for drug production and trafficking. Most important of all, Afghanistan is slowly and gradually experimenting democracy. Already, two Parliamentary and two Presidential elections have been held. They were not exemplary but Afghans are moving in right direction with a clear vision of future which will mature with the passage of time and will lead towards a democratic and stable state in the years to come.

Despite the fact that these statements and important developments on the ground are new, but the strategy and plans for these developments are not new. The major force behind all this seems to be USA. Rather, these are well thought-out and carefully planned strategies devised by military, political scientists, social experts and think tanks of America, which are the real movers & shakers of the political, social, economic and military events in Afghanistan.

While, we see a stable Afghanistan emerging on one side, on the other side of the Durand line an unstable and terror-torn chaotic Pakistan is in sight.

Extremists elements, having almost lost their ideological battle in Afghanistan. Unable to come- to-term with new reality, they are entering Pakistan, where they are meeting like-minded religious fanatics, welcomed by a state (Pakistan) sponsoring ideology of hate and killing:, providing them safe heavens, finances and training.

Already weakened by terrorism, corruption, un-employment, economic mismanagement and political instability, Pakistan is an ideal location for the terrorists and Taliban to take refuge in. On economic front, the Finance Minister of Pakistan has recently told media that government will not be able to pay the salaries of the government servants in the next two month. The cheques handed over to government contractors are not paid by the banks.

Recent floods have completely handicapped the government of Yousof Raza Gilani as most of the infra-structure in three provinces of Pakistan is damaged. Besides, due to Army interference in Political affairs and continued black-mailing of the government has rendered the state of Pakistan politically unstable and direction less. If military ventured into derailing the present democratic set up, with the exit of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), one of the biggest political Party of Pakistan which is considered the binding force of the federation of Pakistan will plunge Pakistan into complete chaos and disarray. The last straw in the revolution, which will make it easy to divide Pakistan on Ethnic lines. It is not known, whether Pashtun leadership is prepared for the future course of action or not? But, soon very important developments are about to take place which can cause the probable break-up of Pakistan on ethnic-lines. Anticipation and preparation by Pashtuns in advance will minimize the material and human loss to the Pashtun Populations living in areas like Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad. Of course, Pashtuns will face problems in Karachi and Quetta, but with active diplomacy by Americans, these problems can be resolved as they have strong influence on Baluchs in Baluchistan and Urdu speaking Muhajirs in Karachi.

The operations conducted by Pakistan Military have failed completely despite the fact they seemed successful in the beginning. The recent wave of suicide and controlled attacks by Taliban in the three provinces of Pakistan have shown that they are still strong and they can attack any target anywhere in Pakistan with impunity. The weak and demoralized army is fighting a Nationalist Movement in Baluchistan Province on one hand and Taliban on the other hand in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. After a little bit stability and peace in Afghanistan, the Afghan Nationalists will start supporting their brothers in Pakistan, which will turn this Taliban resistance into PASHTUN NATIONALIST MOVEMENT.

On the other hand ordinary secular-minded Pashtuns have established local Lashkars, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, supported by USA. These lashkars are fighting against Taliban for the moment. Awami National Party (ANP), a secular face of Pashtuns, can play a leading role in the future of Pashtun Nationalism, which is already rendering great sacrifices in its fight against Taliban and other extremists elements. But, disappointed and enraged by the atrocities and the state-sponsored-terrorism of the present Military Establishment, dominated by Punjabis, which is killing more civilians than Taliban, they (Lashkars) may turn antagonists rather than allies with the Army and the state of Pakistan.

While the reducing influence of Taliban may turn them into Pashtun Nationalism, the same Taliban with active political and financial assistance from America will shake hands with the Pashtun Nationalists in Pakistan, which will be the first step towards the creation of Greater Pakhtunistan. It is really a tricky question as to how the Taliban extremists will convert into Pashtun secular Nationalists, but the inherent resilience and flexibility of Pashtuns in tough times will give this option a chance. However, the developments on the ground have to be followed with extreme care by the international Community.

It is to be noted here that Taliban extremists and Pashtun Nationalists both consider themselves to be betrayed by Pakistan Army, particularly the ISI. Gulbadin Hikmatyar and other former Mujahedeen commanders have already lost their trust in Pakistan. Hikmatyar in his recent interview with Salim Safi, at a GEO TV program JIRGA on September 13, 2010, has supported all those Taliban who are attacking foreign targets in Pakistan and termed Pakistan a lesser evil. Pakistan ditched him, to support Taliban in Afghanistan. It shows that the former Mujahedin commanders do not consider Pakistan to be a Sacred Cow. On the contrary, he offered Guarantees of peace to US and NATO forces, if they withdraw from Afghanistan. It seems likely that Hikmatyar will play an important role in the future political dispensation of Afghanistan. Other Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara leaders have already distanced themselves from Pakistani authorities, due to its blind support for Taliban before September 11, 2001. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, a founder of the Taliban in 1994 and former ambassador to Pakistan, in his book named “My Life with the Taliban”, has criticized Pakistani authorities as betraying him, by capturing and handing over to Americans, despite his diplomatic immunity as an Ambassador

The arrests of Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan in Akora Khattack, the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s military commander and the deputy to Mullah Muhammad Omar and some other top Taliban commanders in Karachi have dismayed Taliban. Taliban feel betrayed by the double-timing of Pakistani Military and they can join the resistance movement of Pashtun Nationalists in Pakistan in the near future, fighting for carving out a purely Pashtun Secular State consisted of Pashtun dominated areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. This state of Pashtun can only be a guarantee of peace and stability in this region. Could the political and security analysts, think in their wildest dreams that this nationalism which appears to be taking shape in Afghanistan and Pashtun dominated areas of Pakistan, is directed not against Americans but Pakistan?

While in trance of Pashtun Nationalism, Pashtuns will not have more interest in Northern Afghanistan, so the Tajik dominated Afghan Army will easily take control of Northern Afghanistan making a new Tajik state. The presence of American bases both in Greater Pakhtunistan and Northern Tajik state will provide stability in the region

Until and unless, a state for Pashtuns is created, where they can live according to their traditions and customs, we cannot see a stable south Asia, central Asia and Middle East. American should keep in mind and think over it, as without peaceful and tamed Pashtuns, one cannot think of peace and stability in this region which is a big hindrance in developing link with central Asian mineral rich states, and transferring these minerals through Afghanistan via Gavadar sea Port of the future State of Baluchistan or the future Hong Kong (Karachi) to the countries of the world and vice versa.

Pakistan has become so weak that it has virtually handed over the de facto control of Gilgit & Baltistan to CLA. The construction of permanent military barracks by Chinese Army in GB, shows the real future intentions of China. Selig Harrison, an American expert on Asia, in his article published in New York Times, has termed it a dangerous development which will have negative implications for American interests in the region. Soon, Pakistan is going to hand-over the control of Gawadar to China, to counter American-supported Baloch Liberation Movement. The volcanic situation in Pakistan is best summarized by Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal in his article, appearing in the The News of September 24, 2010, which says, “One cannot think of any reason other than Pakistan and Iran to be the cause of prolonged American presence in Afghanistan. Pakistan is being dismembered chip by chip; in fact, it will not be wrong to say that Pakistan is now like a volcano already simmering. It will take very little for the lava to gush out, taking with its volcanic fury the entire country: from the ethnic violence to sectarian feuds and from the economic meltdown to random violence, all scenarios for the last and final fury are looming on the horizon”.

The phenomenon of double timing will continue between Pakistan and American, as Pakistani Military still consider some Taliban like the Haqqani Network to be a strategic Asset and will continue to bleed American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. But, Americans will also not sit idle and they are not sitting idle by actively supporting the TTP to weaken Pakistan to bring it to term with the new realities of the fast changing world. Or worst, to balkanize it in the near future. The religious motivated war is rapidly changing into Nationalist freedom struggle of Pashtuns who are fighting for their true identity, free from extremism and terrorism based on the centuries old traditions of Pakhtunwali. And the new reality is written on the wall for Pakistan, as the very Army which is suppose to defend the borders of Pakistan is putting colors into the Map of Ralph Peter s Blood Borders to realize the dream of dismantling the unjust and un-natural borders and create new states which will be better for the International peace and security.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pakistan heads towards a bloody Revolution?

Fazal ur Rehman Afridi

Unable to recover from the worst catastrophe of its 63 years history, Pakistan is faced with a serious challenge in the days to come. But, political analyst and observers believe, the worst has yet to come. After recovering from the shock and emergency relief efforts, the people will find themselves in a real problematic situation where they will find ruins of what they owned and massive destruction all around. Inefficient government lacking political will and disinterested establishment to rehabilitate the people are playing politics on the dead bodies of the victims by launching dirty vilification campaign against each other in the print and electronic media. This resembles the same situation when Rome was burning, Nero was playing violin.

Some political observers term it a follow-up to a phenomenon just like French Revolution (1789-1799), resulting in evaporation of feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges and embracing of enlightened principals like Liberty, Equality and Fraternity ( While French Revolution was for the achievement of the above mentioned objectives, Pakistani masses lack both leadership and goals.

Faced with myriads of problems like terrorism, economic and social problems, masses are really frustrated and have developed psychological problems. Rampant torture and killings have made the people dangerously aggressive and violent, which is resulting in Incidents like Sialkot, when two brothers were brutally tortured and beaten to death by a mob, while police and other spectators were applauding and cheering the murderers. Later the bodies of these teenagers were hanged in front of a police station. This brutal episode shows the barbarity and distrust of the people in the security apparatus and Pakistani Judiciary, resorting to mob-justice time and again (

Another serious area of concern is the revival of Taliban in the areas where they have been considered weak after successful military operations. The government and military have been weakened considerably due to the destruction of infrastructure and are over-stretched to provide some help to flood victims. Taliban have come out stronger after the floods. This proposition is supported by recent wave of suicide attacks by Taliban-cum-Al-Qaeda-affiliated anti-Shia group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

1. Immediately after the floods, the first alarm bell was rung when 33 people were killed and 50 injured by a suicide bomber at Karbala Gam-e-Shah, Lahore, the capital city of Punjab Province. The enraged Shia-precisionist vent their anger on police, journalists and even rescue workers. Again, the world saw the phenomenon of mob-justice by public, setting ablaze a police station and destroying properties. (Daily The News, September 02, 2010)

2. Second suicide attack was reported at Quetta, Provincial capital of Baluchistan, resulting in the killing of 65 and injuring of 160 of the Shia student processionists of Imamia Students Organization (ISO). The mob reacted in the same way as in Lahore by resorting to indiscriminate firing and destruction of properties. The Quetta attack was more dangerous in the sense as seven journalists were injured in this incident. (Daily Jasarat, September 04, 2010 ).

3. In a similar attack 2 policemen were killed in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In another suicide attack 2 Ahmadis were killed and 5 others were injured in Mardan when they were performing Friday prayer. (Daily Frontier Post, Peshawar, September 04, 2010)

4. Again, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a police station in the southern city of Lakki Marwat, killing 19 people, most of them security officials. (Daily Dawn, Mon, 06 Sep, 2010)

5. Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh echoed with firing on a Shia procession near Impress Market. Fortunately, it did not result in death and injury but the phenomenon of Target Killing mainly between two ethnic groups for the control of the city is continuing and hounding the public in Karachi on daily basis- which has brought the economic engine of Pakistan to a stand still.

It is important to note that all these co-ordinated attacks by Taliban and their affiliate groups took place within a short time span of one week, indicate the strength & superiority of Taliban and weakness of the government. But, this is just like scratching the surface. The civil and military establishment is weakened to the extent, that Gilgit Baltistan area has been virtually handed over to PLA of China. 8000-10000 strong Chinese army has the de-facto control of GB, in the guise of helping the flood victims and rehabilitating them. The construction of permanent military barracks by Chinese Army in GB, shows the real future intentions of China. Selig Harrison, an American expert on Asia, in his article published in New York Times, has termed it a dangerous development which will have negative implications for American interests in the region.

When we analyze these dangerous un-controlled developments in the face of the recent historically worst floods and the consequent destruction of infra-structure, it leads us to the conclusion that Pakistan is about to enter an uncharted territory. New horrible developments, one can forecast for the immediate future are partly explained by General Hamid Gul, former ISI chief, in his thought-provoking article published in Daily Jhang on September 02, 2010, “ The situation is really bad. Historical floods have taken away everything, but now the flood of (angry) people is going to sweep away (Pakistan). Nothing will be able to stop this flood of masses…..the situation demands to bury the 63 years old system. I have always been for Soft-Revolution, which seems to be imminent now.”

Retired generals and establishment fed journalists, forwarding the concept of controlled soft revolution are naïve to understand that it cannot be termed revolution at all but Evolution, as there is no concept of soft or hard revolution, it is always bloody. It seems naïve on the part of an experienced General like Hamid Gul to dream of a soft Revolution, despite the fact that the idea of revolution (either soft or hard) presented by him seems to be real and imminent. As, there seems to be lack of leadership and vision, the angry movement can turn into mobocracy, which can result in civil war and unimaginable destruction. A revolution sans leadership lacking vision and goals will plunge the country into chaos and destruction.

So, to cut it short, the establishment fed journalists and political actors who are proposing the idea of Soft-Revolution to destabilize the present democratic set-up, will have to think twice about the consequences of a Revolution. Pakistan Army will not have a country to rule then, as one political scientist put it, “other countries have Armies, Pakistan Army has a country”. Revolution on the French pattern is not possible as Pakistan lack the values, vision and wisdom of the French people, which transformed France for a better tomorrow. If Pakistanis opt for a real revolution, Army, feudals and religious extremists who are presently at privileged position will not have place in the future political dispensation. Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, already in civil-war like situation- Of course, a revolution can result in Balkanization of Pakistan.


Fazal ur Rehman Afridi
Leaving the hot summer holidays behind, President Nikolas Sarkozy is faced with a bit hotter political situation at Elysee, Paris. Prime Minister Fracois Fillion is doing his best to defend the internal security policies elaborated by Sarkozy earlier: still he is facing immense difficulty in persuading majority of the Members of Parliament on this polemic issue.
The forced deportation of a thousand Roma Community members to Romania and Bulgaria by chartered plans after Grenoble episode has strained France relationship with EU and UN Human Rights forums and stained the image of France as righty put by Dominique de Villepin.
France's crackdown on its foreign Roma population came under fire from all sides of the political and social spectrum recently as pressure mounted on the government to abandon its plan to repatriate hundreds of Roma people to their native countries.
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance expressed its deep concern over France's tactics of exclusion of Roma. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), of United Nations has called on France to stop the mass returns of Roma. The interior minister, Brice Hortefeux, however shrugged off the criticism by terming it opposition from a left-leaning elite of Paris which is out of touch with the mood of mainstream society.
Foreign Minster Bernard Kouchner defended the policies earlier, but after deep resentment and strong protests by the European Commission and UN watch dog on Racism, he seems to be helpless. Frustrated of course, he is thinking about resigning as it is becoming difficult for him with every passing day to defend the internal and sometimes external policies carved out by Sarkozy. The fact that most of the French support these so-called security measures of the government as confirmed by peoples opinion poles, make it difficult for world community to pressure it to refrain from such moves.
Moreover, the policy of penalizing parents for the delinquents youth, revocation of the citizenship of foreigners who deliberately attack the police force and persons involved in polygamy, has also caused widespread criticism. The full veil or Burqa issue is on the back-burner for the time being, as ban on complete-veil has been adopted in the National Assembly earlier and waiting to become a law after a vote in Senate.
In the wake of mounting pressure from the main opposition Party PS on the issue of security, the prime Minster has confirmed that there are some problems with the security policies adopted by the government and seems difficult to defend some them. Matine Aubry, the First Secretary of the Socialist Party (PS) is on offensive by introducing her own version of soft approach of prevention, dissuasion and sanction, to reduce crimes in French society. Resistance to the changing of retirement age from 60 to 62 years by PS is another issue which divide the two main parties. Political Analysts term it a preparation for the Presidential elections of 2012 for which Martine Aubry has emerged as a strong candidate against Nikolas Sarkozy. Left-leaning PS believe in empowering the police and Judicial system rather than resorting to repressive measures resulting in alienation of public.
On diplomatic front, the August 25, Foreign policy speech at the 18th Conference of Ambassadors, Sarkozy reaffirmed French commitment to remain in Afghanistan, despite pressure from certain circles on account of deaths of French soldiers and completely strange and difficult conditions in Afghanistan. Lack of experience and communication with region make it difficult for French soldiers to work effectively. Concern was expressed on the double timing of Pakistan on the war on terrorism, which has resulted in big human and material losses for Allied forces in Afghanistan. France with a 3750 strong army, fighting shoulder to shoulder with American and allied forces is committed to fight terrorism in all its forms.
On the issue of Nuclear civilian energy transfers to countries in need, he made it clear that France is not against the transfer of civilian nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under the supervision of IAEA. Despite American concerns regarding civilian nuclear technology transfers, France's soft-attitude on this sensitive issue is largely due to the fact that she is interested in civilian nuclear technology co-operation with a number of countries like UAE, with which it has signed Mega-deals. France expects to sign more deals ranging in billions of Euros. But, countries like China and Pakistan can object to such deals, as both the countries have signed an agreement for two nuclear power plants to be constructed in Pakistan. Americans have objected to this deal, sighting security concerns and lack of transparency.

The French head of the State expressed his hope that a peace deal is possible between Israel and Palestinian Authority within a year. This shows France's commitment and interest for the peaceful resolution of this conflict. He confirmed firmness and sanctions against Iran but expressed France's readiness for dialogue. Sarkozy outlined the French priorities and proposals for changes into international financial instruments and frameworks at the G-20 forum. France is expected to head G-20 in November this year.
The economic crisis which has affected the world and Europe has forced France to take austerity measures in different sectors. Cut in allocations for foreign missions have created anxiety and un-ease in the diplomatic corps of France. Feeling the pinch hard, One Ambassador of France in Senegal has already resigned and others are in apparent un-ease as government has reduced the budgetary appropriations to Embassies abroad. Government funded French cultural Centres are facing eminent closure and scholarships for foreign engineering students have been slashed, which will damage the French political and cultural influence in the African countries considerably in the long run. Non-utilization of such instruments will result in receding French influence in face of the strong cultural offensive of Chines and German foreign missions in this continent.

The foreign policy evolved during Sarkozy's mandate as head of the state is under attack as he laid out his new priorities in an emphatic speech of August 25, lacking substance: a routine annual stunt. Critics have termed it a policy lacking strategic thinking and full of errors. The internal security policy, heading in the wrong direction is under fire both by political analysts and PS, the main opposition party of France.