Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Big Push for Pakistan's Afghan Agenda

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has shifted sides so many times that he may be called a bellweather of things to come. That he has declared his intention to deal with the Karzai government suggests, as Shahzad says, that Pakistan has pressed him to make this move. Hekmatyar has very little popular base inside Afghanistan and never has had much. His power and influence lay in his ability to connect well with elements in Pakistan, who have long wanted Pakistan to have a major influence on Afghanistan. He has been, at one time, Pakistan's man. That he is moving to Karzai's side suggests that the Pakistani government sees him, again, as a vehicle of Pakistani influence in Afghanistan affairs. He is as bloody a "warlord" as there is. It is worth saying, contrary to what is being claimed, that the Taliban are not authentic "Afghans". They are a product of the Wahhabi and Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan. True, they are the sons of Afghans but they have virtually no tribal commitment and no sense of belonging to a country that has always claimed an ancient heritage. The Taliban are nationalists with a vision of the past that essentially links to the Islamic movement, not to the regional and local history of the country of Afghanistan.

A big push for Pakistan's Afghan agenda
Asia Times
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

"Warlord, mujahideen leader and former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's announcement that he is severing ties with the Taliban and starting negotiations with the administration of President Hamid Karzai..."
"The announcement by Hekmatyar caught many people by surprise. Yet it is to be expected from the mercurial mujahid with political ambitions who has always had his own agenda, even while his [Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan] HIA fought alongside the Taliban..."
"The US considers Hekmatyar a terrorist, although it backed him against the Soviets in the 1980s."
"...Western policymakers began talking of possible power-sharing arrangements involving the Taliban..."
"As Washington is not comfortable with the Taliban, Hekmatyar is being touted as a suitable candidate to help restore peace to Afghanistan."
"Pakistan saw its opportunity to regain lost ground in Afghanistan and pounced. It was convinced that whether Hekmatyar or the Taliban come to power, as Islamist Pashtuns they would gravitate toward Pakistan rather than India."

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