Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ARE WE ALREADY AT WAR - WITH PAKISTAN?


The following article, if true, is extremely disturbing. It claims that Pakistan has betrayed the West and is now in league with the Taliban in their mutual goal to topple the Karzai government and set up, in his place, a pro-Pakistan, Taliban-Warlord coalition regime.

It is not apparent whether Pakistan president Musharraf is even a party to the purported deal or whether this is being done behind his back by Pakistan's powerful military intelligence service.

The usually reliable Asia Times reports that Pakistan has agreed to provide logistical support to the Taliban. The purported pact is intended to extend Islamabad's influence into southwestern Afghanistan and significantly strengthen the insurgency in its bid to capture Kabul.

"...Mullah Dadullah will be Pakistan's strongman in a corridor running from the Afghan provinces of Zabul, Urzgan, Kandahar and Helmand across the border into Pakistan's Balochistan province, according to both Taliban and al-Qaeda contacts Asia Times Online spoke to. Using Pakistani territory and with Islamabad's support, the Taliban will be able safely to move men, weapons and supplies into southwestern Afghanistan.

"The deal with Mullah Dadullah will serve Pakistan's interests in re-establishing a strong foothold in Afghanistan (the government in Kabul leans much more toward India), and it has resulted in a cooling of the Taliban's relations with al-Qaeda.

"Despite their most successful spring offensive last year since being ousted in 2001, the Taliban realize they need the assistance of a state actor if they are to achieve "total victory". Al-Qaeda will have nothing to do with the Islamabad government, though, so the Taliban had to go it alone.

"Taliban commanders planning this year's spring uprising acknowledged that as an independent organization or militia, they could not fight a sustained battle against state resources. They believed they could mobilize the masses, but this would likely bring a rain of death from the skies and the massacre of Taliban sympathizers. Their answer was to find their own state resources, and inevitably they looked toward their former patron, Pakistan.

"Al-Qaeda does not fit into any plans involving Pakistan, but mutual respect between the al-Qaeda leadership and the Taliban still exists. All the same, there is tension over their ideological differences, and al-Qaeda sources believe it is just a matter of time before the sides part physically as well.

"Ever since signing on for the US-led "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, Pakistan has been coerced by Washington to distance itself from the Taliban. The Taliban were, after all, enemy No 1 for harboring Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda's training camps.

"So when the opportunity arose, Islamabad was quick to tap up Mullah Dadullah. This was the perfect way in which Pakistan could revive its contacts in the Taliban and give the spring uprising some real muscle, so the argument went among the strategic planners in Rawalpindi - in fact, so much muscle that forces led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would be forced into a position to talk peace - and who better than Pakistan to step in as peacemaker and bail out its Western allies?

"The 2006 spring offensive was veteran mujahideen fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani's show. Nevertheless, the main areas of success were not Haqqani's traditional areas of influence, such as southeastern Afghanistan's Khost, Paktia and Paktika. The Taliban secured major victories in their heartland of the southwest, Helmand, Zabul, Urzgan and Kandahar. And their leader was Mullah Dadullah, whose men seized control of more than 12 districts - and held on to them.

Pakistani strategic circles are convinced that as a proven military commander, Mullah Dadullah will be able to work wonders this spring and finally give the Taliban the edge over the Kabul administration and its NATO allies.

"This, ultimately, is Pakistan's objective - to revive its role in Kabul - and Islamabad is optimistic that Dadullah's considerable diplomatic skills will enable him to negotiate a power-sharing formula for pro-Pakistan Afghan warlords.

The article claims that, with help from the Pakistan military, the Taliban have been able to signficantly upgrade their Russian-made surface to air missiles with American sensor technology:

"The Taliban acquired these missiles in 2005, but they had little idea about how to use them effectively. Arab al-Qaeda members conducted extensive training programs and brought the Taliban up to speed. Nevertheless, the SAM-7s, while useful against helicopters, were no use against the fighter and bomber aircraft that were doing so much damage.

"What the Taliban desperately needed were sensors for their missiles. These detect aircraft emissions designed to misdirect the missiles.

"And it so happened that Pakistan had such devices, having acquired them from the Americans, though indirectly. The Pakistanis retrieved them from unexploded cruise missiles fired into Afghanistan in 1998, targeting bin Laden. They copied and adapted them to fit other missiles, including the SAMs.

"Now that the Taliban and Pakistan have a deal, these missiles will be made available to the Taliban. Much like the Stingers that changed the dynamics of the Afghan resistance against the Soviets, the SAMs could help turn things Mullah Dadullah's, the Taliban's and Pakistan's way."

2 comments:

Taylor said...

Pakistan's never been a strong an ally as they've been made out to be. Be it signing peace deals with insurgents in Waziristan, essentially creating a safe-zone for Taliban fighters and al-Qaeda, or hampering efforts to find bin Laden, they've always been a bit of a stumbling block.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think part of the problem is that Pakistan has fallen into a Soviet-style mechanism - where the pols, the military and the security service all had to find peace among themselves. I think we expect Western-style powers for Pakistan's president when, in reality, he's barely hanging on to power thanks to his military. It would surprise me that Musharraf has more than primarily ceremonial powers. I think he holds office at the suffrance of others, the real extremists in the Pak government.