Posts Tagged ‘Pashtuns’

Obama’s ‘Just War’ Or A War Of Aggression

December 12, 2009
Ralph Nader, CommonDreams.org, Dec 12, 2009
President Obama, the Afghan war escalator, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, and proceeded to deliver his acceptance speech outlining the three criteria for a “just war” which he himself is violating.

The criteria are in this words: “If it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”

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Escalation is futile in a war in which complexity defies might

September 25, 2009

GABRIEL KOLKO, National Times, Sep 23, 2009

The US scarcely knew what a complex disaster it was confronting when it went to war in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. It will eventually – perhaps years from now – suffer the same fate as Alexander the Great, the British and the Soviet Union: defeat.

What is called ”Afghanistan” is really a collection of tribes and ethnic groups – Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and more. There are seven major ethnic groups, each with its own language. There are 30 minor languages. Pashtuns are 42 per cent of the population and the Taliban come from them. Its borders are contested and highly porous, and al-Qaeda is most powerful in the Pashtun regions of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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The Afghan Pipe Dream

August 20, 2009
by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times Online, Aug 20, 2009

America’s convoluted, Alice-in-Wonderland interpretation of this summer’s top political show – the “free expression of the people” in the Afghanistan election – reads like an opium dream. In fact, it is actually a pipe dream – as in Pipelineistan. With the added twist that no one’s saying a word about the pipe that’s delivering the opium dream.

As in an opium dream, delusion reigns. The chances of United States President Barack Obama actually elaborating what his AfPak strategy really is are as likely as having his super-envoy Richard Holbrooke share a pipe with explosive uber-guerrilla warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

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The Destabilization of Pakistan

May 30, 2009

The Main Result of the “War on Terror”

By Gary Leupp | Counterpunch, May 29 – 31, 2009

So far the principle result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the events of 9-11 has been the destabilization of Pakistan. That breakdown is peaking with the events in what AP calls the “Swat town” of Mingora—actually a city of 375,000 from which all but 20,000 have fled as government forces moved in, strafing it with gunships. We’re talking urban guerrilla warfare, house-to-house fighting, not on the Afghan border but 50 miles away in the Swat Valley. We’re talking about Pakistani troops fighting to reclaim the nearby Malam Jabba ski resort from the Tehreek-e-Taliban, who since last year have been using it as a training center and logistics base. We’re talking about two million people fleeing the fighting in the valley and 160,000 in government refugee camps.

And of course, “collateral damage”: As was reported in The News in Pakistan May 19:

Several persons, including women and children, were killed and a number of others sustained injuries when families fleeing the military operation in Swat’s Matta town were shelled while crossing a mountainous path to reach Karo Darra in Dir Upper on Monday, eyewitnesses and official sources said. Eyewitnesses, who escaped the attack or were able to reach Wari town of Dir Upper in injured condition, said they were targeted by gunship helicopters. However, police officials said they might have been hit by a stray shell. Local people said they saw some 12 to 14 bodies on a mountain on the Swat side but could not go near to retrieve them or help the injured for fear of another aerial attack.

What a nightmare scenario for Pakistan.

We’re talking about the Pakistani Army sometimes fighting over the last year to retake towns from Taliban forces in the Buner region of the North-West Frontier Province that are closer to the capital of Islamabad than the Afghan border. And while the Talibs apparently lack popular support, even among the Pashtuns (who are 15 % of the Pakistani population—26 million and 42% of the Afghan population—14 million) they have been able to inflict embarrassing defeats on the army.

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U.S.-Afghan War: New General, Same War

May 13, 2009

by Robert Dreyfuss | CommonDreams.org, May 13, 2009

The war in Afghanistan has been overshadowed in recent weeks by the crisis next door in Pakistan, but no more. Secretary of Defense Gates has fired the US commander there, General David McKiernan, and replaced him with a counterinsurgency specialist with a spotty track record, General Stanley McChrystal. It’s the first time a wartime commander was fired since Harry Truman got rid of General Douglas MacArthur in the Korean War.

Don’t expect any quick improvement on the battlefront.

A smart commentary on the dual crises in Afghanistan and Pakistan came from Selig Harrison, a longtime expert on Asia at the Center for International Policy, in yesterday’s Washington Post. He raises the critical issue of ethnic Pashtun support for the Taliban. Pashtuns make up about half of Afghanistan’s population and dominate the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. Even though most Pashtuns don’t support the Taliban or their extremist ideas, the Taliban are nearly entirely Pashtun in both countries. The US war effort, including air strikes in Afghanistan and drone attacks in Pakistan that kill civilians, are inflaming Pashtun sentiments, and driving Pashtuns and Taliban together.

Harrison ends his piece on this ominous warning:

In the conventional wisdom, either Islamist or Pashtun identity will eventually triumph, but it is equally plausible that the result could be what Pakistani ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani has called an “Islamic Pashtunistan.” On March 1, 2007, Haqqani’s Pashtun predecessor as ambassador, the retired Maj. Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani, said at a seminar at the Pakistan Embassy, “I hope the Taliban and Pashtun nationalism don’t merge. If that happens, we’ve had it, and we’re on the verge of that.”

Meanwhile, writing in the Saudi Gazette, a former CIA station chief in Kabul, Graham Fuller, has a related piece worth reading in its entirety.

Fuller is an expert on political Islam, and a recurrent thesis in his recent work is that moderate Islamists are the antidote to radical and extremist Islamist movements.

He writes:

The Taliban represent zealous and largely ignorant mountain Islamists. They are also all ethnic Pashtuns. Most Pashtuns see the Taliban — like them or not — as the primary vehicle for restoration of Pashtun power in Afghanistan, lost in 2001. Pashtuns are also among the most fiercely nationalist, tribalized and xenophobic peoples of the world, united only against the foreign invader. In the end, the Taliban are probably more Pashtun than they are Islamist.

He writes: “US policies have now driven local nationalism, xenophobia and Islamism to combined fever pitch.” His prescription is to reduce the pressures that are inflating Pashtun nationalism and xenophobia:

Only the withdrawal of American and NATO boots on the ground will begin to allow the process of near-frantic emotions to subside within Pakistan, and for the region to start to cool down. … Sadly, US forces and Islamist radicals are now approaching a state of co-dependency.

Fuller also adds his voice to those who assert, like me, that changing Afghan culture won’t happen overnight. And in any case, doing so isn’t the job of the United States. It certainly isn’t the job of General McChrystal.

Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.


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