Karzai sees the Urdu writing on the wall

December 21, 2010

The Wiki leaks has shown that Mr. Karzai tried to use Baloh terrorists as bargaining chips against Pakistan.

That gambit has backfired and Mr. Karzai was told in no uncertain terms by PM Gilani that he has stop this nonsense


Iran too is sick and tired of Afghanistan harboring Baloch Jundullah terrorists like Rigi. Mr. Rigi was apprehended by the Pakistanis after they had met the Bharati Ambassador in Kabul. Both the Rigi brothers were found hanging at the end of a rope in Iran after a trial.

Ajai Shukla has written a brilliant article in the Business Standard that states the obvious. Mr. Karzai has made his choice between the devil and the deep sea. Since neither Afghanistan nor Mr. Karzai can survive without access to the deep Arabian Sea, Mr. Karzai apparently has chosen the sea.

  • Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s steadfast support for India is being apparently overtaken by his growing alignment with Pakistan
  • “Karzai has clearly decided that his survival depends on hedging his bets with Pakistan,” said an Afghan foreign ministry official in Kabul.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s steadfast support for India is being apparently overtaken by his growing alignment with Pakistan. This despite New Delhi backing Karzai’s political ambitions and the $1.3-billion developmental aid programme for Afghanistan.

The signals were unmistakable at a just-concluded “track two” India-Pakistan-Afghanistan tri-loge, organised this week in Kabul by an Indian think tank, the Delhi Policy Group. After strongly supporting the first three rounds of the tri-loge, over the last two years, the Government of Afghanistan effectively ignored the fourth round, as did the Pakistani embassy.

“Karzai has clearly decided that his survival depends on hedging his bets with Pakistan,” said an Afghan foreign ministry official in Kabul. “He believes his support from America is running out, and New Delhi is unwilling to go beyond humanitarian aid and provide a more muscular presence.”

The Afghan sources described an insecure and frightened Karzai who is worried that, with India having decided to confine itself in Afghanistan to soft power and developmental aid, the American troop pullout would see him isolated and at the mercy of the Taliban. His post-American survival, therefore, depends on building good relations with Pakistan and Iran.

“Every Afghan president is haunted by the spectre of Najeebullah,” explained an Afghan official. Mohammad Najeebullah, who was the president of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal, was captured by the Taliban when they swept into Kabul in 1996. He was tortured, brutally murdered and his mutilated body was hung from a light post at Aryana square in Kabul by the Taliban.

Foreign ministry sources realised Karzai’s first major pro-Pakistan gesture with the sacking ofAmrullah Saleh, head of the Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, on June 6. Saleh, an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s backing for the Taliban, was ordered to resign after an abortive rocket attack on a peace jirga (conference) that met to approve negotiations with the Taliban. Interior Minister, Hanif Atmar, was also asked to resign.

The move gave him the opportunity to hand over charge of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to a Pakistan-friendly officer, said Indian officials in New Delhi. The stridently anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistan ANA chief, General Bismillah Khan Mohammad was asked to hand over command of the army and take over the interior ministry.

At that time, Karzai’s spokesperson, Waheed Omer, insisted that the only reason for Saleh’s removal was a security lapse at the jirga. But most Afghans perceived it as a sop to Pakistan in exchange for “facilitating” a dialogue with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, India continued diplomatically, but firmly, to oppose Karzai’s key internal initiative — a dialogue with the Taliban. “There is no moderate Taliban just as there is no good terrorist,” remained India’s official position voiced by numerous officials in multiple forums worldwide.

In retrospect, said Afghanistan experts in New Delhi, Karzai’s evolving approach towards Pakistan was evident even before Saleh’s removal. In January this year, when Karzai excluded his longstanding foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, who had been unsparing in his criticism of Pakistan, from his new cabinet. Zalmai Rassoul, who had been far friendlier towards Pakistan, was Spanta’s replacement.

Two months later, during a visit to Islamabad in March, the Afghan president said: “India is a close friend of Afghanistan but Pakistan is a twin brother.”

The Indian government continues to rely on the United States and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (IS AF), which currently maintain security across Afghanistan to build Afghan capabilities. New Delhi is keen to provide training assistance for the ANA and the police, but Washington has resisted an Indian military presence, in deference to Pakistani fears.

This evening, the US government is scheduled to announce a major policy review on Afghanistan, which will indicate whether the US troop surge of 30,000 additional soldiers over the past year, has been able to weaken the Taliban insurgency. If the review is pessimistic, New Delhi would conclude that Obama’s promised US “drawdown” will begin in earnest from July 2011. If, on the other hand, the review sees an improvement in the security and political situation, New Delhi will conclude that the draw down will be much slower. Afghan president seems to favour Pakistan over India

Mr. Karzai speaks many languages. One of them is Smooze. His time of course is running out. If he does not stop playing a double game against Pakistan, he too will end up like Mr. Najibullah. Mr. Karzai knows which side his bread is buttered on, and will continue to distance himself from Bharat and try to survive the American retreat from Kabul. He clearly sees Pakistan in charge of the area, and does not want to anger the big fish in the tank.



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