June 22, 2008

Afghan Paper Slams President’s Comments on Pakistani Insurgents

Excerpt from an article by Mohammad Ekram Andeshmand in Dari entitled: "The repetition of a failed policy", published by private Afghan newspaper Arman-e Melli on 19 June; original subheadings retained:


After the Taleban attack on the Kandahar prison, which NATO said was a success for the group, the president of Afghanistan poured his anger on Pakistan.

On Sunday, 26 Jowza of the current year [15 Jun 08], the president, in a rare serious tone, blamed Pakistan and threatened that he would attack and kill Pakistani Taleban on the other side of the border, and that he would kill foreign terrorists in their homes.

[Passage omitted: known details of the remarks]

But the question about the angry remarks by the president goes back to the roots and causes of these remarks. The president stressed that his remarks were not based on sentiments. Were they merely passive and sentimental remarks, or did they really originate from political logics and a planned strategy?

If the president's remarks are part of a new policy and based on logics and firmness, how feasible is it to translate the new policy into action?

Shallow and contradictory:

In spite of the fact that the president spoke, with a serious and harsh tone, of fighting terrorism and hunting terrorists on Pakistani soil, his remarks were contradictory and shallow in many respects.

Karzai said: "We will kill Pakistani Mullah Omar in his home, and we will find our own Mullah Omar and bring him. He is our own and it is not a problem whatever our own people say, but when foreigners come to fight us with hostility, we will stand against them and we have started doing so. It is the responsibility of Afghanistan to save the Pakistani Pashtuns from oppression and terror."

Are Baitullah Mehsud and Pakistani Mullah Omar, whom Karzai wants to kill in their homes, not Pakistani Pashtuns?

Both Pakistani Mullah Omar and Afghan Mullah Omar commit similar activities, and both of them are in war against the government of Afghanistan led by Hamed Karzai. They are both leaders of terrorist groups. Why is what Afghan Mullah Omar does not a problem for the president, but Pakistani Mullah Omar is convicted to death? Is it the responsibility of the government of Afghanistan and President Karzai to save the Pakistani Pashtun community from terrorist attacks? Is the president of Afghanistan and his government considered to be the leader of Pakistani Pashtuns? Has our president managed to save the Pashtuns of his own country from oppression and terrorism, and did he manage to take the Afghan Pashtun community towards prosperity and development, that he now considers it his responsibility to save the Pakistani Pashtun community?

Causes and objectives:

Though the weakness and incompetence of security forces of the government of Afghanistan in the recent Taleban attack on the Kandahar prison angered the president, and convinced him to cover up the incompetence by warnings of attacks on Pakistan, there are other causes and objectives behind his recent remarks. Especially his remarks saying that he will save Pakistani Pashtuns from terrorism go back to his main problem of trying to convince the Pashtun community to accept his leadership.

President Karzai knows very well that ensuring security in the Pakistani Pashtun community and saving the Pakistani Pashtuns from terrorism are not his responsibility or the responsibility of the government of Afghanistan, but are the responsibility of the government of Pakistan. But he still considers it the responsibility of his government to save the Pakistani Pashtuns from terrorism in order to create a positive mindset among Pashtuns about his leadership as a defender of the rights of Pashtuns in the two countries.

If with his sentimental and contradictory remarks, the president tries to prepare the ground for the acceptance of his leadership in Afghan and Pakistani Pashtun societies, he seems to be mistaken about what he has in mind.

The fact that he has treated Mullah Omar and the Taleban very leniently, describing them as the noble sons of this country even though they continued the beheadings, burning of schools and killings also goes back to the main problem that Pashtun society rejects the president's leadership.

The other reason for the president's remarks is the upcoming presidential elections.

By issuing oral warnings and speaking about his government's capability and strength, he tries to portray the image of a strong and independent leader so the people re-elect him as their president.

[Passage omitted: Former presidents of Pakistan also used similar tactics towards Pakistan; Karzai depends on foreign support]

Reconsideration of relations with Pakistan

It would be repetitive to say that Afghanistan needs a general reconsideration of its relations with Pakistan, but this repeated point is the solution to many problems between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The government and leaders of our country, political and social groups and circles should not follow the same failed and repeated policies of our previous leaders in their relations with Pakistan.

Afghanistan's policy towards Pakistan should be cleared of previous traditional and sentimental approaches. It should be developed under a new standard based on political logics.

[Passage omitted: government and political groups must jointly work out a solution if they think Pakistan is the main problem for Afghanistan, the paper says]

Originally published by Arman-e Melli, Kabul, in Dari 19 Jun 08, p 2.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.