Sunday, October 29, 2006

Karzai's Wild Card

A recent artilc by Dr Roashan sees Karzai's recent proposal to meet with Pushtun tribal leaders on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan as a promising proposal. It seems to me a possible way to upstage Musharraf's recent deal with the tribes in Waziristan, to leave them alone if they "promise" to behave. And it is conceivable that they will talk with Karzai. But whether their current arrangements will change is problematic; they have few reasons now to consider any major shifts in policy.

Karzai's Wild Card
Published: October 10, 2006 (

President Karzai has taken upon himself to seek a radical solution to the problem of increased violence by Taleban in his country in meeting with tribal leaders on the Pashtun lands. …[B]ecause of the fact that the Taleban emanated from among Pashtun students of the madrassas in Pakistan and because of the shifting of the center of extremist activities from Afghanistan to Pakistan and newly found basis for al-Qaeda within the Pashtun belt in Pakistan, it seems a necessity that Karzai for the first time should play his so far un-played Pashtun card.

During his last month's trip to America, he overshadowed in rudence and diplomacy his Pakistani counterpart, President Musharraf.
… General Musharraf, [for his part] played his role as a general rather than a civilian politician. His statements verged between the two extremes of harsh and blunt military leader's utterances and those of a soft spoken diplomat. Yet … he left many questions unanswered regarding his pet military spy agency, the ISI, Inter-Service Intelligence organization and its role in supporting of Taleban that are carrying out wide range of violence in Afghanistan and especially in the south of the country. President Musharraf did not succeed in defending in any convincing way the treaty he had signed with tribal leaders in north Waziristan. The treaty, some believe, encourages Taleban and al-Qaeda to continue training insurgents, now unhindered and rather freely in the semiautonomous tribal zone. The trained and regrouped Taleban would then easily cross the border into Afghanistan and commit acts of violence.

President Karzai [has] … proposed joint meetings on both sides of the border area with leaders mostly of Pashtun tribes to deal with the annoying issue of the Taleban resurgence and its acts of violence.

This ... is one of the rare proposals that has surfaced regarding [the search for] a non-military solution to the question of insecurity in Afghanistan. ...

Afghanistan much like its neighbor, Pakistan is a tribal society. In both countries Islam has consistently played a unifying role among many ethnic groupings that live within their boundaries. [But in] Pakistan where after a little more than half a century of its life as an artificial nation, the four nationalities of Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtun have failed to thoroughly emancipate as a nation that is united. Hypothetically, if you take away the religious factor from Pakistan the country will fall apart. In Afghanistan however, even without consideration of the factor of religion, the Afghans would remain united because of their thousands of years of history. [B]ecause of the shifting of the center of extremist activities from Afghanistan to Pakistan and newly found bases for al-Qaeda within the Pashtun belt in Pakistan, it seems a necessity that Karzai … plays his so far un-played Pashtun card. If [the meeting is] planned thoroughly with ample preparations …, the Afghan President would be in a good position to negotiate with the Pashtun tribal leaders and find a lasting solution to the problem posed by Taleban.

Read the article in its entirety at

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