Aurangzebawan's Weblog

October 7, 2008

Pakistani Official to U.S.: Talk to Taliban’s Mullah Omar

Filed under: Uncategorized — aurangzebawan @ 7:23 am

Karzai an ‘obstacle’ to peace

 

U.S apologists and poodles inside Pakistan are trying to convince Pakistanis to unnecessarily ‘own’ America’s blunders in the region as Pakistan’s own.  Not Owais Ghani, the governor of NWFP.   Terrorism inside Pakistan is partially linked to foul play on the Afghan side of the border, and partially to misguided local Pakistani extremists who, again, are influenced from across the border. The real issue is Washington’s failure to bring peace to Afghanistan despite seven years of occupation. Mr. Ghani comes out to tell the truth: The U.S. must broker a power-sharing agreement with the head of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, in order to establish peace in the region. Mr. Ghani’s also said that Hamid Karzai represents no one but himself and is dependent on a foreign power and that he is an obstacle to bringing peace to Afghanistan. When asked about allegations that Pakistan has used the Taliban to retain its influence in Afghanistan, Mr. Ghani replied: “We could counter that by saying India uses the Northern Alliance.” Mr. Ghani’s landmark proposal came in an interview published by London’s Daily Telegraph. Here are excerpts.

 

 

PESHAWAR, Pakistan—Owais Ghani, who governs the North West Frontier Province and its adjoining tribal areas, is the most prominent figure to date to publicly advocate holding talks with militant commanders leading the insurgency against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

 

“They have to talk to Mullah Omar, certainly – not maybe, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Haqqani group,” Mr Ghani told The Daily Telegraph in an interview in Peshawar.

 

“The solution, the bottom line, is that political stability will only come to Afghanistan when all political power groups, irrespective of the length of their beard, are given their just due share in the political dispensation in Afghanistan.”

 

The governor’s remarks are likely to cause controversy among Pakistan’s allies in the U.S.-led “war on terror” and at home where the ruling Pakistan’s People’s Party is opposed to the Taliban.

 

Mullah Omar went into hiding during the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. British intelligence believes that he has his headquarters in Quetta in southwestern Pakistan. But there is no evidence to suggest he is anywhere in Pakistan.

 

In 2006, Mr. Musharraf acknowledged that some retired Pakistani intelligence officials may still be involved in supporting their former Taliban protégés whom they worked with during the 1990s when Pakistan helped the movement sweep to power in Afghanistan.

 

[Seven years later, and with the fact that U.S. has empowered Pakistan’s traditional enemies in Afghanistan, including the Indians, it is only natural some officials in Islamabad begin to review their blind support to the U.S. occupation next door-Editor.]

 

Jalaluddin Haqqani is a veteran commander of the American-backed Afghan war against Soviet invasion in the 1970s and 1980s, and developed links with Osama bin Laden during that period.

 

Haqqani has had close links with the CIA and Pakistani intelligence agencies, notably the military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

 

The New York Times reported in July that the CIA had given the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, evidence of the ISI’s continued involvement with Haqqani, who is now leading militants against coalition forces in Afghanistan, along with evidence of ISI connections to a suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed nearly 60 people on July 7.

 

[On 12 July, Islamabad retorted by giving U.S. military chief Adm. Mike Mullen and the deputy director of CIA who arrived for a brief visit evidence that Afghan soil was being used for exporting terrorism into Pakistan as part of deliberate effort to stoke ethnic and sectarian terrorism in the country-Editor.]

 

The Hezb-e-Islami, the Mujahideen faction of the former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was one of the groups which helped end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan but has had links with Pakistan since 1978.

 

But in the civil war that followed in the early 1990s, his group clashed violently with other Mujahideen factions in the struggle for control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. The Hezb-e-Islami was blamed for much of the terrible death and destruction of that period, which led many ordinary Afghans to welcome the emergence of the Taliban.  Some of his party members are part of the Afghan parliament and he is said to have taken part in back-channel negotiations with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

 

Mr. Ghani said that all three militant commanders were in Afghanistan.

 

“They are a power group that has to be preserved to seek political solutions. We would not destroy them because then you are contributing to further instability,” he said.  He denied that Pakistan “wants the Taliban back”.  He added: “No sir, we have no favorites in Afghanistan.”

 

Mr. Ghani said that West must accept that the “Mullah is a political reality”.

 

However he denied that Pakistan is supporting them by pointing out that it had handed over key Taliban ground commanders operating in Helmand province where British forces are based. [Not only that, but Islamabad needlessly humiliated and handed over to the Americans such Taliban officials as the former ambassador to Islamabad, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, someone who has in the protection of the Pakistani State and had not taken part in any unlawful activity, as transpired later when the Americans released him prematurely from Guantanamo Bay detention facility-Editor].

 

Senior American commanders and policymakers are considering a shift in strategy in Afghanistan. The chairman of the U.S. joint chief of staffs, Admiral Mike Mullen, recently said that failure there was possible and “time was running out”.

 

Mr Ghani said: “You are headed for failure. I think Afghanistan is practically lost. It is compounding our problems.”

 

The governor added that the West must hold talks with the Taliban as al-Qaeda was regrouping from Iraq to Afghanistan. Russia had begun to supply weapons to militants and that the Afghans were intolerant of foreigners on their soil and so were staging “a national uprising”.

 

“To eliminate the Taliban you have to slaughter half the Afghan nation,” said Mr Ghani.

 

Members of a cross-border Afghan-Pakistani tribal council agreed last year to pursue talks with the Taliban. The initiative received initial encouragement from the Taliban but its leadership then set preconditions for the 50,000 U.S. and Nato troops to be withdrawn.

 

Washington rejects talks with the Taliban maintaining that America will not negotiate with “terrorists”.  Mr. Karzai and the United Nations have stipulated that a key condition for peace talks is that the Taliban must accept the constitution that was signed by Mr. Karzai in 2004.

 

It is doubtful that America’s allies in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance, would accept such talks.

 

Mr. Ghani said that Mr. Karzai “does not represent any power group – tribal, religious or political and therefore like the people in his government he is dependant on foreign power. He is therefore an obstacle to dialogue and peace.”

 

He described Pakistan’s military strategy as one of containment. “We are not looking for quick fixes. We want to hold it to a level where we can just tolerate it until Afghanistan settles down,” said Mr. Ghani.

 

When asked about allegations that Pakistan has used the Taliban to retain its influence in Afghanistan, Mr. Ghani replied: “We could counter that by saying India uses the Northern Alliance.”

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