By M K Bhadrakumar
The United States' proxy war against Afghan President Hamid Karzai has taken a vicious turn, undermining the tenuous political equations in the country. Washington is displeased with Karzai's moves to accelerate reconciliation with the Taliban, while his pitch for a regional initiative and his agenda of a multi-vector foreign policy challenge US regional strategies....
The US is caricaturing Karzai as a tin-pot dictator, arguing that he is "anti-democratic" since he decided to postpone by a month the convening of a new parliament. The election commission cleared the election results and Karzai's reluctance to accept the results casts him in poor light.
However, Karzai has no choice but to order a special tribunal to review election results. Close to half of the population consists of ethnic Pashtuns and yet 75% of parliamentary seats have been "won" by non-Pashtuns. The Hazaras constitute 10% of the population, but they "won" 20% of the seats, including in Pashtun-dominated regions.
Something has gone very seriously wrong. Conceivably, the election commission did come under extraneous influence, as alleged by the attorney general. A parliament on the basis of the available results lacks political legitimacy, as Pashtuns will feel disenfranchized. Karzai rightly apprehends that Pashtun alienation, which is at the root of the insurgency, would further deepen and that can only augment Taliban's support base.
Enter the Americans. Washington waded into these ethnic politics by encouraging non-Pashtun leaders to challenge Karzai's decision to have the election results reviewed by a special tribunal. The American ambassador in Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, and his Western colleagues threatened to attend a gathering of the elected parliamentarians and recognize it as the "real" parliament.
This extraordinary "trade unionism" by Western diplomats can only be seen as an orchestrated move predicated on the calculation that Karzai is damned either way. If he convenes a parliament at this juncture, the US proxies who command a majority will incrementally weaken him and can even impeach him at some suitable moment.
But if Karzai insists on greater Pashtun representation, it becomes a point of friction with the non-Pashtun groups, and the delicate web of pan-Afghan alliances that he tenaciously wove while consolidating political power over the past two to three years will unravel.
Plainly put, the US is using the ethnic card to "entrap" Karzai and bring the Afghan leader to his knees. The US is counting on the opposition candidate in the 2009 presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah, and the speaker of the outgoing parliament, Younus Qanooni, to spearhead the opposition to Karzai. The Washington establishment has also co-opted former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, who was sacked by Karzai last year.
Abdullah, Qanooni and Saleh belong to the Panjshiri clan and the line-up has dangerous overtones of a (Tajik) revolt against (Pashtun) Karzai. The US is also instigating sections of Hazaras whose political influence is at its historical zenith today.
Why such venom?
Besides weakening Karzai, the US hopes to deal a body blow to the Afghan leader's initiative to kick start an intra-Afghan dialogue. Karzai is banking on a pan-Afghan alliance to support his audacious plan to reconcile the Taliban, and the US is using the ethnic card to unravel Karzai's alliance system.
Why such venom toward America's own one-time prot้g้? Washington finds Karzai increasingly acting as an Afghan nationalist rather than as a US surrogate. What is at issue is how to secure a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan. Washington is negotiating a new Status of Forces Agreement with Kabul but Karzai is resisting the US plan to keep permanent military bases. US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Kabul last month failed to clear the deadlock.
Meanwhile, Karzai is making sustained efforts to develop ties with Iran and Russia, including military cooperation, so as to reduce his dependence on the US by the 2014 timeline. Moscow has proposed a key role for Kabul in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Last week, Karzai visited Moscow and openly said that the Russians made better friends for the Afghan people than the Americans. This was the first official visit by an Afghan head of a state to Moscow since the departure of Soviet troops in 1989. The US reportedly tried to dissuade Karzai from undertaking the visit.
Karzai also recently deputed former Northern Alliance stalwarts Burhanuddin Rabbani (who heads the Afghan High Council for Peace in charge of reconciling with the Taliban) and Mohammad Fahim (the first vice president) to Tehran to seek Iranian support for his policies.
Most importantly, the climate of Afghan-Pakistan relations has dramatically improved and the US feels "excluded" even as Kabul and Islamabad show signs of kick-starting an intra-Afghan dialogue. The recent visit to Islamabad by Rabbani underscored a new flexibility on the part of Pakistan.
Army chief General Ashfaq Kiani received Rabbani. Biden visited Islamabad within days of Rabbani's talks with the Pakistani leadership but he drew a blank. Evidently, Islamabad and Kabul increasingly find themselves sharing a lot of common ground. Neither one favors US General David Petraeus' military strategy and both are keen to begin talks with the Taliban.
Within a week of Biden's talks in Islamabad, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir flew to Kabul and held more consultations, which included calls on Karzai and Rabbani. Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul is now scheduled to visit Islamabad on Tuesday for a follow-up.
Kabul and Islamabad are getting along better than at any time in the past decade and they don't seem to need the crutch of US mediation. By the time the US-Pakistan-Afghan trilateral forum of foreign ministers convenes in Washington on February 21, there could be a strange reversal of roles with Pakistan and Afghanistan coordinating their stance vis-a-vis the US.
Clearly, the specter of a peace initiative on the Afghan problem at a regional level has begun haunting Washington for the first time. Biden openly flirted with the idea of a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan. Middle-level US officials have shifted gear to reinforce Biden's thought process. A recent speech entitled "The Obama Administration's Priorities in South and Central Asia" by Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy falls into this category.
Red rag, intransigent bull
Blake underscored that Washington intends to expand its engagement with Central Asia, "this critical region", which is situated at a "critical crossroads, bordering Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran".
What emerges from Blake's speech is that Washington and Delhi may have drawn closer on Afghanistan. Arguably, this was bound to happen. India is perhaps the only regional power that still seeks a military solution in Afghanistan. India quietly favors a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan. The US is edging toward the one-dimensional Indian view of Pakistan as the "epicenter" of global terrorism.
The US views India as a red rag to taunt the intransigent Pakistani bull and India may not mind it. Blake made a stunning claim that India is the key US partner in Afghanistan and Central Asia:
These projects with India in Afghanistan mark a small but important part of a significant new global development - the emergence of a global strategic partnership between India and the US ... India's democracy, diversity and knowledge-based society make it special, a model of a tolerant pluralistic society in the region, and one that now actively seeks to work with the US and others to help solve problems on a global level ... The strength of India's economy makes it the powerhouse of South and Central Asia's growth.He said one of the three "primary objectives" for the US in the "dynamic regional context" of South and Central Asia would be to "build a strategic partnership with India". This may seem like hyperbole, but it makes for geo-strategy.
The Americans are feeling rather lonely in the Hindu Kush and India too faces isolation, as it stands excluded, on Pakistan's insistence, from the regional forums working on the Afghan problem. Neither Washington nor Delhi feels comfortable with the Kabul-Islamabad bonhomie. Both the US and India view the Afghan endgame through the prism of their rivalry with China.
Then, there are the opaque operational factors. India wields influence with the "Panjshiri boys" who happen to be the current US proxies. Saleh figures as a key advisor to the security establishment in Washington, while Abdullah and Qanooni act as front men in Kabul. All three share a near-pathological aversion to Karzai and are viscerally opposed to any form of accommodation with Taliban. Pakistan brands Saleh as an "Indian agent". If the American ploy is to annoy the Pakistani military (and Karzai), there couldn't be a better choice than Saleh.
Any US-India axis in Afghanistan can only be tactical, but it will nonetheless be seen as high provocation by Pakistan and Iran (possibly, also by Russia and China). Pakistan will feel more justified than ever to have placed such irrevocable faith in the Taliban as its "strategic asset".
The US will eventually realize that it is skating on thin ice. There are half-a-dozen very good reasons why Pakistan remains and will continue to remain central to any durable Afghan settlement. Karzai will prove to be as tough as a nail. Thus, in many ways, the US proxy war in Kabul promises to be a defining moment....for the utterly corrupt and crumbling US Empire of killers/assassins...
One of the Pakistanis shot dead by CIA agent Raymond RAYMOND DAVIS was Muhammad Faheem.
Faheem's widow, Shumaila, 'committed suicide'.
On 17 March 2011, The Nation quotes Muhammad Afzal, the uncle of Shumaila, as having said (Shumaila kin threaten suicide):
"We never demanded blood money...
"We did not accept any money nor did we pardon the American killer..."
He said the Pakistan government bowed down to US pressure.
On 16 March 2011, the police arrested Shumaila's uncles, mother, sister, and other relatives.
The CIA plan is for Balochistan to become 'independent' and to be used as a route for heroin?
Earlier, on 23 February 2011, three men forcibly gave poison to one of Shumaila's uncles, called Sarwar. (Shumaila's uncle forcibly given poisonous pills)
"According to sources, two motorcyclists had warned Sarwar on 11 February not to pursue the case registered against Raymond Davis...
"Afzal, another uncle of Shumaila, told Dawn that three men entered the house through a ventilator, grasped Sarwar and subjected him to severe torture.
"Afzal claimed that they administered him poisonous pills, citing the recovery of one tablet from the spot.
"He said the men remained in the house for about half an hour and fled when other family members woke up. Sarwar was taken to hospital..."
In February 2011, Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and American military top brass met at a secluded luxury beach resort in Oman to work out a deal on Davis. (Raymond Davis's release based on ISI-CIA secret deal: Report)
ROBERT ANDERSON, on 8 March 2011, at just-international, wrote an article entitled "I Had Ray Davis's Job, in Laos 30 Years Ago. Same Cover, Same Lies"
According to Anderson:
"In Laos the program I was attached to carried out a systematic assassination of people...
"It was called the Phoenix program and eliminated an estimated 60,000 people across Indochina...
"I saw one team of mercenaries I was training show us a bag of ears of dead civilians they had killed..."
The CIA ran an illegal drug operation "to pay for their operations."
The CIA's Raymond Davis, who was allegedly organising acts of terrorism in Pakistan
On 16 March 2011, it was reported that the USA had suspended aid to Pakistan.
(US 'blocks' aid over Raymond Davis issue. / Raymond Davis row leads to suspension of US aid)
On the same day, the CIA assassin Raymond Davis was released from custody in Pakistan.
According to Muhammad Afzal, a relative of one of the slain men:
"Family members were told they were being taken to the police station to make statements.
"Instead, they were taken to a secret location and held in isolation and told that unless they signed a letter pardoning Davis, 'you will never see daylight.'"
(Veterans Today Exclusive: Raymond Davis Release, the Inside Story ...)
"Initial media reports surrounding the release of Raymond Davis suggest that the families of the victims killed in the Lahore shooting have left the country on a second plane.
"Their neighbours say they haven’t seen the families in two days and that their homes are empty and locked.
"Sources say an aircraft carrying more than 10 people left Lahore airport and is headed to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
"They also say the families have been given Green Cards and homes in New York state and Washington DC." (Raymond Davis saga: Victims' families leave country say sources )
The US government did not pay any compensation to the families of two Pakistanis killed by Raymond Davis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on 16 March 2011. (U.S. did not pay compensation in Raymond Davis case)
•On 27 January 2011, three young Pakistanis were killed by US spooks in Lahore.
•The Police arrested US citizen Raymond Davis at the crime scene.
•On 6 February, the widow of Faheem, one of the victims, committed suicide.
•On 22February, US officials confirmed that Raymond Davis worked for the CIA.
Jonathan Azaziah explains more about Raymond Davis And A Travesty Of Justice
The Pakistanis were shot dead "because they witnessed Davis and another group of mercenaries loading their cars with machine guns and explosives, and overheard them discussing their trip into an area of Lahore known for 'terror bombings.'
"While Davis was detained, the other car, full of mercenaries, jetted away and ran over another innocent Pakistani in the process.
"The phone found in Davis’ car, revealed that the CIA-Xe murderer made several calls to an organization known as the ‘Tehrik-I-Taliban,’ a group linked to hundreds of bombings across Pakistan in the last 10 years.
"Pakistani police also discovered photographs of sensitive military defense installations on Davis’ camera, including the Balahisar Fort, the headquarters of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in the strategically important city of Peshawar and several Pakistan Army bunkers on the border with India...
"Mossad and RAW, the two principal executors of 'the Dragon Policy', set up four agencies in 2001 which would target Pakistan’s societal top tier, from finance to politics, religion to military.
"These agencies would seduce, blackmail, train and employ young Pakistani men from different sects and serve as their handlers in carrying out terrorism across Pakistan.
"Once the recruits are in the field, they are met by their handlers under the guise of ‘Al-Qaeda’ or the ‘Tehrik-I-Taliban’ and issued money, weapons and other supplies.
"These meetings are then reported by the Zionist media as coordination between terror groups.
"When these stooge agents are unable to secure a ‘checkout,’ or completion of their mission, the ordnance units of Mossad and RAW take to the field in collaboration with sleeper cells of Xe contractors to spread the chaos.
"The blood-drenched end result is still reported by the cabalistic Zionist media as “Islamic extremism,” to the detriment of Pakistan..."
~~Pakistan will be divided as well...
[Gen. Kayani was quick to denounce the US drone massacre of 40 tribal leaders meeting in N. Waziristan, after thinking that he had reached some sort of accommodation with the US. Obviously, it has once again become US policy to concentrate on killing the tribal leaders who have reached some sort of agreement with the Pak Army. In a murderous pattern that has repeated over and over in S. Waziristan, since the first drone assassination of Nek Mohammad, Ahmadzai Wazirs have been marked for death, always after signing peace treaties with the govt. In other words, the US military demands that Pakistan's Taliban fight the Pak Army, under penalty of death. Fight the Army or we will kill you.
In the most recent example of the American war upon Pakistan's Wazirs, the following two reports (notice the dates) tell of an Army/Wazir agreement, followed by the deadly Predator strike upon a grand Jirga meeting to demand an end to the war....
Failure to fight the Pak Army is grounds for an American death penalty.]