Asif Haroon Raja
The British, German and the French military commanders in Afghanistan as well as of other Nato countries having fought the resistance forces in Afghanistan for the last eight years to subdue militancy are now having second thoughts. They say that force is not the answer and a political settlement through process of dialogue should be found to end insurgency. Despite rapidly rising number of Americans disfavouring war and opposing troop increase in Afghanistan and Obama’s approval rating dipping, Obama Administration is still favouring continuation of Bush aggressive policies. Obama says it is war of necessity and has repeatedly expressed his resolve to dismantle, disrupt and defeat al-Qaeda and is still optimistic that war will be won. In pursuance of the stated objectives, Af-Pak policy was framed in February and approval for increase in troop level by 21000 given. These troops were to be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan by December 2009 to take the total of US troops to 68000. Border belt astride Pak-Afghan border was declared as the battle zone since in US reckoning, bulk of Al-Qaeda leadership and other operatives were hiding in this area.
While Pakistan was pressed to deal with militants on its side of the border, US-Nato forces launched operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan in July with greater focus on Helmand province. In late August, it was announced that Pentagon was reassigning its 3rd Special Forces Group, presently deployed in Africa and Caribbean to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Adoption of aggressive posture proved costly since US and other allied troops suffered more casualties from July to September than what they had suffered from 2001 onwards. In August casualty of ISAF was 77 out of which toll of US soldiers was 51. Allegations of rigging and fraud during presidential election in Afghanistan further compounded the woes of US-Nato. On 3 October, two US outposts in Nuristan province were attacked by Taliban fighters killing eight US and 30 Afghan soldiers and capturing as many Afghan soldiers. It was deadliest battle in last 15 months. Taliban are now gaining strength in northern and western Afghanistan as well which has become a serious cause of worry for US military commanders in Afghanistan.
In spite of troop surge taking the total to 107000, Gen Stanley McChrystal pleaded for 40,000 additional troops saying that war will be lost if he didn’t get more troops. He wants carte blanche to intensify killings in order to drown popular opposition to US occupation in blood. He vehemently rejected Joe Biden’s plan of reduction of troops terming it as unworkable. He has mustered support of Republicans, Blue Dogs, New Democrats and media. Crying over spilt milk, McChrystal among several reasons he listed of Afghanistan getting out of hand, he has once again drummed up ISI-Taliban linkage fed to him by CIA, RAW, RAAM. USA has added Quetta on its hit list on the plea that Afghan Taliban Shura is stationed there. Threat of drone attacks on Quetta is meant to spread the fires of insurgency into Pashtun belt as well and to force settlers to abandon the capital city.
It is not the alleged linkage of ISI with Taliban that has complicated military situation in Afghanistan but it is continued occupation of Afghanistan together with disruptive role of RAW that has caused extreme turbulence in Pakistan with its spillback effects on Afghanistan. While feeling upset over ISI-Taliban nexus, Chrystal has no compunction over Pakistan specific Indo-US-Israeli axis that has and is causing immense harm to Pakistan. Weapons are still flowing in from Afghanistan for the militants to prevent stabilisation of restive areas. India and Israel are playing the devil’s role to create mistrust between USA and Pakistan by continuously feeding concocted stories and even faking incidents to mar their relations. Anderson Cooper of CNN showed video of snipers (Mossad or Israeli soldiers) killing American soldiers in Iraq in 2006. Purpose was to enrage US troops so that slaughter continues. Both RAW and Mossad are master at false flag operations. Israeli company Rafael has promoted IEDs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan soldiers are now being trained by Blackwater to kill US soldiers while conducting joint operations so as to justify troop surge.
Gen McChrystal’s recent admission that insurgency in Afghanistan is predominantly Afghan flustered Indian leaders. His warning on 23 September that Indian increasing political and economic influence in Afghanistan is exacerbating regional tensions gave stomach cramps to them. His apprehensions are however against Af-Pak policy in which India has been assigned a key position by USA. Without US blessing, India could not have expanded its influence in Afghanistan in such a big way. Saner elements within India have now begun to question the wisdom behind investing such huge amounts in Afghanistan when over 70% Indian population are living in utter poverty.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee and 21 Congressional colleagues in the meanwhile introduced a bill HR 3699, which would bar funding to the increased troop level in Afghanistan beyond current level. Gordon Duff has termed Afghanistan as another Vietnam. More and more western analysts and security experts are giving similar assessments. Call for quitting Afghanistan is getting louder. Sensing the fast changing mood both in Afghanistan and within USA, Obama resignedly admitted on 8 October that the US accepts political role of Taliban in Afghanistan.
Ignoring the changing sentiments of people of USA and western countries, India, Karzai regime in Kabul, Israel, weapons merchants in USA and those involved in drug trade are constantly airing frightening scenarios about US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. They caution the US leaders that the vacuum created would not only result in victory of religious extremist forces but also would have a profound impact on the entire Muslim world thereby making USA more vulnerable. They advise them not to abandon Afghanistan till the elimination of terrorism irrespective of human and financial costs incurred. In their selfish urge to fulfil respective ambitions, they don’t care if USA ruins its economy, loses soldiers in futile war, and smudges its prestige and status as a sole super power. India and ruling cabal in Kabul would be biggest losers in case USA decides to quit since it would result in exit of Karzai and his team and return of Taliban and roll back of rising influence of India. India has invested over $1.2 billion in various development projects in Afghanistan and has managed to make deep inroads in all spheres. It is now keen to increase its military presence and become a key player in Afghan affairs to be able to encircle Pakistan and spread its influence in mineral rich Central Asian states.
India established an airbase in Tajikistan which became operational in 2007 and where 14 Indian MiG-31 bombers are parked. Farkhor base gives IAF option to strike Pakistan from the rear. It has also helped Afghanistan in connecting Kandahar with Chahbahar Port in Sistan province of Iran thereby removing dependence of landlocked Afghanistan on Pakistan. India would therefore not like to lose these strategic benefits and in consonance with Israel, which has huge influence over Washington would keep advising USA to convert Afghanistan into a permanent military base. Both are digging the grave of USA but myopic US leadership is so dumb that it is totally banking upon the two grave diggers. Zionism and Hindutva are global movements with a history of fascism and pro-imperialism. Israel which practices apartheid and commits atrocities on daily basis with no restraint on barbarity is called democratic friend by USA. Same is true for India. Both Israel and India serve as proverbial glove to hide the US hand and its hypocrisy.
Staggered by changing events RAW sprung into action and once again resorted to its old trick of terrorism in Kabul on 8 October. A huge explosion occurred near Indian Embassy in Kabul killing 17 and injuring about 83 persons. Some Indian guards also got killed or injured. Future course will be exactly in line with suicide attack on Indian Embassy Kabul in July 2008 the blame of which was put on ISI. Purpose is to force Obama Administration to send additional troops to Afghanistan as requested by Chrystal rather than opting for a troop cut and eventual withdrawal. The other is to project ISI as a rogue outfit which refuses to mend its ways; to mar Pak-US relations that have begun to warm up and get Pakistan declared a terrorist state; to torpedo Kerry-Lugar bill or force Pakistan to accept it in its present form; force Pakistan to expedite operation in Waziristan. Lastly, create a situation justifying heating up of eastern border.
Some mechanised battalions have reportedly been moved towards eastern border and Adampur airbase has been beefed up by placing MiG-29 jets facing Pakistan. Another notable and surprising development is Indian support offered to Pakistani Taliban. Display of video of dead body of Baitullah and sudden appearance of Hakimullah and Waliur Rahman on 4 October are consequential. Last winters, call given by late Baitullah and other warring militant leaders that they would fight the Indian aggression along side Pak army had taken the wind out of the sails of Indian aggressive designs. This time they have schemed to neutralise this threat by making them their allies. In all likelihood, India with the blessing of USA would once again create another crisis situation in November-December for which we must be mentally and physically prepared.
The writer is a defence and security analyst based at Rawalpindi and author of several books.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org