Kabul Tomorrow Sunny
Kandahar Tomorrow Unknown
Herat Tomorrow Sunny
Mazar-i-sharif Tomorrow Party cloudy
Ghazni Tomorrow Sunny
Jalalabad Tomorrow Sunny
Bamiyan Tomorrow Party cloudy
Zaranj Tomorrow Sunny
Mimana Tomorrow Sunny
The Killid Group
Karzai, ISI and the TalibanWritten by Killid commentary
Saturday, 23 April 2011 10:38
Instead of his foreign minister, Prime Minister Gilani was accompanied by Pakistan's intelligence and military chiefs during his talks with Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
The fact that Pakistan's notorious intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), controls the country's Afghan policy is nothing new but the way Pakistani civilian officials naively pretend that they are in control is comic.
Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, visited Kabul last week but the real talks were between President Karzai and Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, ISI's director. Like previous prime ministers did, Mr. Gilani only listened carefully when Pasha and Karzai discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the prospects of peace with the Taliban.
Since its controversial inception in August 1947, Pakistan has been ruled by its powerful military and since 1978 its Afghan policy has been decided and executed by dominant intelligence agency.
It was the ISI which nurtured the anti-Soviet Mujahideen factions in 1980s until they toppled the Moscow-backed regime in Kabul in 1992. As the victorious mujahideen were caught in internecine fighting in 1992-1994, the ISI initiated another project in Afghanistan in 1994: the Taliban. For over ten years the world's most advanced militaries are fighting to eradicate Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan but their efforts have ended in smoke. Now even the White House confirms that the Afghan Taliban insurgency is deeply rooted in Pakistan where the ISI protects, trains and controls Taliban leaders.
As Kabul and Washington increasingly turn to political means to end the intensifying war, the Taliban show no interest in laying their deadly weapons down. Taliban leaders have even rejected a free office in Turkey and have responded to every peace and reconciliation call with suicide attacks, improvised blasts and assassinations.
While NATO plans to transfer all its security responsibilities to Afghan forces and withdraw forces in the next three years, President Karzai has no option but to satisfy the Taliban politically and to curb their armed rebellion.
Karzai was personally involved in the anti-Soviet Jihad and lived in Pakistan for almost two decades, thus he should know the power of ISI over the Taliban and on other Afghan militant groups. Who else could convince the Pakistan-based Taliban leadership to accept the offer of a contact office in Turkey or elsewhere than the ISI's chief? Indeed President Karzai has conveyed his message to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban's reclusive leader, via the ISI director. Omar's response would be as secretive as everything has been about him - even the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) does not have a picture of Mr. Omar.
The ISI is a bad partner for Afghans. Current and former ISI officials have Afghan blood on their hands. Massacres, large-scale destructions and many other appalling crimes have been committed in Afghanistan at the behest of ISI and by its puppet militias.
As he turns to the ISI for help, Mr. Karzai needs to be extra careful on his tradeoff for peace with the Taliban. The ISI has never been a genuine friend of Afghans.