By Sajjad Shaukat
While rejecting media assertions on Islamabad advising Kabul against cooperation with the United States, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani said on May 2, this year that strategic dialogue among Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US is scheduled to be held in Islamabad on May 3.
High-level strategic dialogue among the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan set for scheduled for February 23-24, 2011 in Washington had been postponed due to a serious crisis, sparked by the arrest of an American, Raymond Davis who was accused of murdering two Pakistani nationals.
The significance of the Pak-US and Afghan dialogue can be judged from the fact that in these trilateral annual talks, ministers and other top officials of Islamabad, Washington and Kabul outline progress on issues such as the war in Afghanistan and the campaign against extremism.
However, these trilateral talks are likely to be held at a time when a positive shift has already occurred in the Pak-Afghan relations on April 16 as with the consent of America. In this context, a Joint Commission of Pakistan and Afghanistan was formed for facilitating and promoting reconciliation and peace which would include all the Afghans so that whenever the US-led NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan, the situation in that country does not turn into another destruction or civil war. In this regard, it is for the first time that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s visit to Kabul also included Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Director General Inter Service Intelligence, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other high officials in whose presence negotiations took place. Afghan President Hamid Karzai described the parleys as “historic”, saying that “the two countries stand together as they have shared destinies.”
Nevertheless, this trilateral mechanism cannot produce positive results without taking steps which are imperative for Pak-US and Afghan strategic dialogue.
In this connection, Afghanistan must pledge that it will not revive old propaganda against Pakistan, its security forces and intelligence agencies. Notably, since September 11, 2011, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have rapidly deteriorated as Karzai-led Kabul regime has continuously been launching a propaganda campaign against Pakistan, blaming the later for supporting insurgency in Afghanistan. Strained relations between the two neighbouring countries were also owing to the Afghan government’s close ties with India at the cost of Pakistan.
In this respect, in the recent past, Washington Post reported, “For US officials, India’s increasing presence in Afghanistan is causing new security and diplomatic problems in a country where more than 1,000 American troops have died…Washington also fears upsetting the delicate balance in its relations with Islamabad.”
In fact, controversy exists between New Delhi and Islamabad because of difference in interests between the two nuclear countries in Afghanistan. If Pakistan wants stability in Afghanistan, India desires instability in that country. In this respect, by availing the golden opportunity of the 9/11, India left no stone unturned in getting its hold in Afghanistan under the cover of the US-led NATO forces. In this regard, stiff resistance of the Taliban militants against the occupying forces created unending lawlessness in the country which has become a most suitable place for New Delhi so as to prepare conspiracy in order to fulfill its secret strategic designs against Iran, China and particularly Pakistan. Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the tactical support of America which is playing a double game with Islamabad, secret agencies like Indian RAW, Israeli Mossad and American CIA have well-established their networks in Afghanistan from where they have been sending well-trained agents in Pakistan, who have joined the ranks and files of the Taliban. Posing themselves as the Pakistan Taliban, they not only attack the check posts of Pakistan’s security forces, but also target schools and mosques. They are continuously conducting suicide attacks and targeted killings in our country. For this aims, India has also arranged some Madrassas in Afghanistan where highly motivated and RAW-paid militants are being trained with the help of Indian so-called Muslims scholars. Now, support of CIA, RAW and Mossad to the insurgents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Baloch separatists have become a routine matter.
Apart from backing subversive acts in Pakistan, India, US and Israel are also in collusion with the Balochi separatist leaders who have taken shelters in Afghanistan. For example, Akber Bugti’s grandson, Brahmdagh Bugti has been operating against Pakistan from Kabul. On July 23, 2008, in an interview with the BBC, Brahmdagh Bugti had stated that they “have the right to accept foreign arms and ammunition from anywhere including India.”
In these terms, it is essential for the success of Pak-US and Afghan dialogue that anti-Pakistan espionage networks should be eliminated in Afghanistan. And support to Baloch separatists should also be stopped, while these separatist leaders like Brahmdagh Bugti and other ones must be handed over to Islamabad. The related governments must also strictly order their secret agencies such as CIA, RAW and Mossad to immediately stop their nefarious activities against Pakistan such as training of terrorists and supply of arms, which are resulting in subversive acts in various cities of Pakistan.
It is of particular attention that on the one hand, Washington is playing a key role in Pak-US and Afghan strategic talks, while on the other; it has been showing duplicity with Pakistan. During his latest trip to Islamabad on April 20, while praising Pakistan’s military operations against the militants, US Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen blamed that “Pakistan’s perceived foot-dragging in tackling strongholds in North Waziristan belonging to the Haqqani network and its continuing relationship with it was the most difficult part of the US-Pakistani relationship. He further revealed, “The ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network…Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners” in Afghanistan.
It is mentionable that Islamabad has already made it clear that army is engaged in other tribal areas, so it cannot attack the militants of North Waziristan. In the recent past, rejecting US duress, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has remarked that a decision about military action in North Waziristan will not be made on external dictation.
It is notable that in order to divert the attention of their public in connection with their misadventure in Afghanistan, in the past too, US civil and military high officials had accused Pak Army and ISI of secret contacts with the Afghan Taliban including cross-border terrorism in that country. Meanwhile, a recent report published in the Washington Post has disclosed that the US General David H. Petraeus has served as commander in two wars launched by the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. If confirmed as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Petraeus would effectively take command of a third war in Pakistan.
It is noteworthy that on April 29, US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, while ignoring Pakistan’s sacrifices for war against terrorism and repeating US old maxim that Islamabad needs to do “more” to deal with the safe havens of terrorists on its soil, stated that it will help in bringing peace to Afghanistan.
Although drone attacks have continued intermittently on the FATA, yet on March 18 and April 22 this year, in the most lethal strikes, more than 75 innocent people were killed by the CIA-operated pilotless spy planes in North Waziristan.
From time to time, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has protested against the drone attacks, but American policy makers do not bother for any internal backlash as they are playing a double game with Pakistan.
Nonetheless, for the resolution of the decade-old Afghan war, for establishing peace in Afghanistan, for eliminating militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and for creating regional stability, Pak-US and Afghan strategic dialogue has a great significance, but for achieving these aims, the United States must stop its duplicity with Pakistan—its stereotype-thinking and blame game against Pak Army and ISI including stoppage of drone attacks and removal of anti-Pakistan espionage networks from Afghanistan, which are necessary for taking the trilateral dialogue to its logical end.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.