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Pak-Afghan Jirga

18 June, 2007

By Farzana Shah


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The ensuing Pak-Afghan Jirga – a commission for peace - is being viewed with great expectations to usher in peace in the region particularly be able to deal with the violence in Afghanistan. However, before getting too optimistic over the formation, the role and the outcome of such a Jirga, Pakistan needs to have a realistic look at the intricacies involved and their repercussion on her own sovereignty. It was announced at the end of the recently held meeting of the commission in Pakistan that Taliban would not form part of the Peace Commission. Such exclusion of one of the main parties to the conflict, itself negates the very purpose of the formation of the commission. Analysts are already skeptical about the possibility of any durable peace through the joint Jirga commission sans Taliban.

We need to examine closely the possible motives behind formation of such a body wherein a key player-Taliban-is missing and instead stress is laid on the inclusion of tribesmen from Pakistan. By looking at the structure, mechanism and the main architect behind the proposed Jirga, one doesn’t have to be a Socrates to see through the motives behind it, and, for engaging Pakistan in an unnecessary exercise complicating matters further for her. The idea of the joint Jirga is the brain child of Mr. Karzai whose hostility towards Pakistan is no more a secret. In fact the antennae of the Foreign Office should have gone up instantly the moment Afghan president thought of engaging Pakistani tribesmen for a solution to a domestic conflict going on inside Afghanistan!  Such a Machiavellian scheme needs analyzing in depth keeping the overall situation in view.

The practice of holding Jirgas to solve the problems in their respective tribal areas has been going on in both countries since ages. Due to the indigenous traditional sensitivities of the individual tribes and tribesmen, smaller Jirgas at the local level are held to decide the conflicting issues between them. Similarly Grand or Loay Jirgas are held at the national or country level. However it is for the first time that the two sovereign countries would hold a Joint Jirga which is not only unusual but tantamount to deciding the problems of one country by the other, which in the international diplomatic parlance is known as interfering in the internal affairs of another country. The proposed joint Jirga intends to engage about 700 tribal leaders and other influential elders from both sides. This seems to be a clever maneuver in line with the sometime back media reported intentions of Mr. Hamid Karzai to hold talks with the tribesmen on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border directly.

A Joint Jirga once formed would set the precedence and possibly continue working in future also for resolving the border issues through engaging the tribal leaders from both sides thus gradually undermining the role of the governments, specially the Pak government which is not as ethnic in Pushtoon character as the Afghan government is. Imperceptibly over the years it could result in passing on to the Afghans a direct access to our tribal areas and the tribesmen which will just suit Afghanistan’s designs on the Durand Line.  Kabul’s efforts in charting Afghan ideological inroads into the Pak tribal territories with a view to inculcating the tribesmen there could make Karzai’s task of proving to the world the impracticality of the Durand Line far easier.

Strangely, Karzai wanted a third country to monitor the peace Jirga scheduled for August 2007, which was very wisely not agreed to by the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. One wonders which third country except India had Karzai in mind and what kind of monitoring of the proceedings of the Jirga could Pakistan expect from her?  It will, therefore, be not out of place to examine the India factor in a little detail.

India factor:

India would have naturally jumped to the opportunity of playing the role of a mediator between the two countries which sounds rather amusing and open to question regarding the credibility of India for playing such a role. The most obvious of the obvious would be, “Would India want cordial relation between Pakistan and Afghanistan when she is already engaged in using Afghan soil for the terrorist activities inside Pakistan?” The Indian hand in creating problems in Balochistan is not new while the sabotage activities have also witnessed a sharp increase in NWFP with increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan, thanks to the seeds sown by Abdullah Abdullah and now being cleverly watered by President Karzai. The Indian consulates in Kandahar and Badakhshan and other provinces of Afghanistan are already busy like a bee and acting as the outpost for the outsourcing of intelligence of all kinds against Pakistan.

The Kandahar Governor Assadullah Khalid recently on May 24th 2007 openly admitted sheltering the so called Balochistan Liberation Army rebels in his area. He also offered to play a role between Pakistan and BLA rebels over stepping the Karzai government which lacks the required influence over the BLA and which the Indian backed Kandhar governor seems to have. The BLA is known to have been used by India as a double edged sword against Pakistan and Iran through Afghanistan. On one hand the BLA terrorists are facilitated by the hostile elements in Afghan government in entering Balochistan for sabotage activities. While on the other, they are used for similar ‘Larger Baluchistan’ activities in Iran, for which Pakistan is often accused by Iran. Who doesn’t know that by embittering the relations between Iran and Pakistan only India would stand to gain in the region?

India has been very active in creating anti-Pakistan feelings in Afghanistan and never let’s go of an opportunity to cash upon. During the recent border clashes in Tirimangal area of Parachinar Agency of Pakistan in May 2007 where 13 people were killed, India played up the event out of proportion. The protest led by three members of the Afghan parliament in Kabul was orchestrated by the Indian mission in Kabul and personally supervised and monitored as an operation by the Indian envoy Rakish Sood himself in Kabul.

Arranging of such protests against Pakistan by India in Kabul in the past also has been an on going feature. In it many a time the Pakistan embassy is mobbed, stoned, damaged and even burnt by the angry Afghans. The sole Indian objective being to create anti-Pakistan sentiments among the Afghans.

The matter did not rest here only, the suspended Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta – whose anti-Pakistan sentiments surpass that of his predecessor Abdullah Abdullah-- even sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon protesting against Pakistan over the issue.

Interestingly, no statement was issued by Hamid Karzai over the clashes or the Indian backed reaction of Afghans, though it is impossible to believe that he did not notice what all was happening under his very nose. In such a situation making our tribal areas directly accessible to a hostile Afghan government would be tantamount to paving way for the creation of more outposts for outsourcing intelligence for India against Pakistan and creating problems for our own sovereignty.

It is, therefore, highly imperative for Pakistan to take an in-depth stock of its future relationship with its Muslim and brotherly important neighbour - Afghanistan.

The very formation of the Jirga is flawed as the peace in Afghanistan is torn only by the Taliban who are fighting against the NATO forces, and they are being kept out of the Jirga! It is beyond understanding, when Karzai himself and the collision forces in Afghanistan are willing to hold talks with the anti-collision militia (Taliban), why Pakistan is being kept away from them. Or, is there some other nefarious design behind it than what meets the eye?

It is time Pakistan changed its policy towards the Taliban and instead of indulging in a futile exercise like the Joint Jirga, it offered to mediate between the warring factions - the Afghan government, the NATO coalition forces and the Taliban.

In 2001 Pakistan had to withdraw its support to Taliban, though half heartedly, and ever since has been causing damages to them by its pro-American policies. Pakistan is facing sever criticism internally as well as from certain external quarters for its most conspicuous U turn against the Taliban who were once considered to be the real asset for Pakistan. Never had Pakistan such cordial relations from any Afghan government than that of  Taliban. We had no direct conflict with them nor had they done any sabotage activity inside Pakistan. Our borders with Afghanistan were much safer and securer under the Taliban regime there. No unrest of the sorts was witnessed in Waziristan or other tribal agencies of Pakistan. In hindsight,  we made a big blunder by helping Karzai in getting elected.

Along with the U Turn it is unfortunate that we failed to formulate a clear policy towards Afghanistan since the fall of Taliban. Our Foreign Office should have foreseen the type of animosity towards Pakistan from the anti-Taliban elements – mostly from the North - who would occupy the corridors of power in Afghanistan. We destroyed all too suddenly all the bridges with the Pashtun Taliban putting our own interests and security at stake. If we had to get Karzai elected to the office of the President the prudence demanded that we had insisted as pre-condition upon chartering a clear course of action for the future relationship of the two countries and other parameters of  trade and relations with the Afghans and the Afghan government which was anticipated to be dominated by the anti-Pakistan elements.

Pakistan has already done great damage to her security by supporting unequivocally and whole hoggedly   the US on its War on Terror. Every possible mean was used to destroy our assets and good will in Afghanistan. What is most disappointing is that even then it did not win us the favour of the ungrateful Uncle Sam.  We must, therefore, in the best interest of Pakistan and its posterity realize that we can no longer continue with this state of affairs at the cost and expense of our own national security. It is time that we adopted a more independent policy towards Afghan conflict and could play the role of a mediator between the Afghan government, the NATO forces and the Anti Coalition Militia fighting them.  Pakistan should ask for the inclusion of the Pashtun Taliban in the Peace Commission without whom the peace Jirga would be just another toothless body. Even Russia, during its invasion of Afghanistan in the 80s, had to hold negotiations with the Mujahideen. Also, when the two sworn enemies US and Iran can come to the negotiating table after 50 years why can’t all the parties to the conflict sit on the same table in Afghanistan too?

 

Reader Comments:

Oh no!! Not again

If India wanted, they could have supplied military training and armament to Afganistan. Just compare the contribution of India and Pakistan towards Afganisthan
Pakistan -> Arming Taliban and helping internal War in Afganisthan was major role what Pakistan has played in Afganisthan. In that process Afganisthan is destroyed and Pakistan has received US$60bn from USA, in the name of 'war on terror'.
India's Contribution-> US$550mn in pure civil terms (School, College, Hospital, Transportation Sector, Enegry Sector). Even their parliament is built by India.
May be India's contribution is un-islamic ( school, college, hospital,parliament may not conform with Islam), but India is TRYING to bring civilsation in Afganisthan. This is war of establishing civilization and barbarism. Let us see who wins.

Nikus, Hungary - 18 June, 2007

Amazing facts

It is for the fiest time someone mentioned the intentions and bad implication of such a jirga on Pakistan's soverignity.

Pakistan should be careful

Murad, Pakistan - 18 June, 2007

Pak-Afghan Jirga

I am very Happy that this meeting is taking place between Pakistan and kind Government of Afghanistan. We Pakistanis prase Karzai for his commitment. Lets bring peace in the region and forget about tribalism or Pashtu language. Lets be brothers and muslims not Afghans, Punjabis, sindhis or Kashmiris. We Pakistanis are greatful that we have such a nation as Pakistan and if 12-15 million Pathans are not happy to what we 150 million Pakistanis want then they have a nation called Afghanistan. Which has been theirs from day one. They are more then welcome to go with their own blood brothers, but please no war or violence. Lets bring peace my Pakistani brothers and always support the move of Mr.Karzai and Mr.Musharaf. Otherwise no-one can be bad as us Pakistanis, if Afghanistan disagreed to sign the Durand line as an Border then ISI has to take actions. Everyone knows Pakistan is a nuc-power nation and even US support us. From the last border attack Afghanis have seen that Musharaf can buy Karzai anytime so how can we not bring Taliban back in Power if we bought out Karzai.

Long live Pakistan.

Aftab Ahmad, Pakistan - 18 June, 2007

To Nikus

Mr Nikus India is already traning Afghan army and police mostly from Northern Alliance who are anti-Pakistan and also anti-Karzai.

seondly India has over eight Counsulats in those provinces of Afghanistan where they are not needed. These are onyl used against Pakistan and fomenting terrorist activities inside Pakistan.
India is hosting and arming terrorist organisation BLA.
India had reportedly arranged many anti-Pakistan protest in Kabul but its a petty India failed miserbly to achieve its goals.
Pakistan has contributed to Afghanistan construction as mcuh as anyone could do.
Pakistan is budling roads, hospitals and in education sector Pakistan had provided textbooks and other educational stuff worth billions to Afghanistan.

lets not forget that billions of rupees food stuff cross over to Afghanistan from pakistan, if we even stop that they will strive to hunger.





Faisal, Pakistan - 19 June, 2007

Pakistani brother I fully agree with the writer of article and appriciate the vision but your comments make very little sense, there is no war between Pakistan or Afghanistan rather we are thankful to Pakistan for their help and hospatiability with their limited resources they have sacrificed a lot for Afghanistan.

No one can pressurise Afghanistan to sign anything which is not in intrest of Aghans but sadly Afghans are no in power, its puppet US government which is in power and is pushing Pakistan to help them get out of the crime which they committed by attacking Afghanistan, but without participation of Afghan people this is not going to happen, once invaders get out of Afghanistan we would have no problem to settle everything with Pakistan including Durand line, actually Afghans want some sorth of soft borders between tow countries, but the crusaders and dirty Indian intrests are pushing Afghans towards bloodshed and obviously they will pay a price for it and that too on Afghan land.

Long live Afghan

mirbadshah, Afghanistan - 19 June, 2007

A beautiful article by Ms Jana Shah

It is amazing article, very balanced and practicle approach.

I salute to writer for her vision and knowledge.



Ahmad, Pakistan - 19 June, 2007

It is not a wonder that an Indian gentleman is telling the world that India is trying to bring civilisation in Afghanistan, obviously being a "super power" India is playing this role!

To be honest India itself is going through worst toruble anywhere in world with ahelf of India being practically run by NAXAL and 120 seperatists organisation while 80% of population of "super power" is starving according to UN reports.

We welcome your involvement in Afghanistan, why dont you see the same barbarianism being happened with 160 million Dalits in India and why it dont bother you when entire villeges of Muslim population are burned by extrmist Hindu's? Well, your designs was to create a cnflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan and that was not for welfare of Afghans but to harm your enemy Pakistan, I must tell you that with pull out of NATO (near future) the Karazai puppet governmet will go down alongwith Indian designs and by coordinating with enemies of Afghans and invaders Inida will have to pay back to people of Afghanistan in kind.

AHMAD NADEEM, Pakistan - 19 June, 2007

Civilisation exists in the heart of every Afghan

India and Indians are aware of the nature, history and the recent political confussion in Afghanistan, therefore the talk of bringing civilisation from India to Afghanistan ( India a peacefull and harmonious country in the world and our region, which has had direct links to Afghanistan, and over the course of our histories, many Afghan Rollers and explorers tied the historical knot of friendship between the two sides, regretable sometimes in harsh manners) The idea of civilisation From India to Afghanistan is the talk of the narrow minded and short sighted individuals and circles whom in time will discover the reality.

Samir Latifi, British Indian Ocean Territory - 20 June, 2007

What is she on about, this so called author

Look folks, here is a quote from the above article which sums up the whole argument, and the motive behind holding such Jirga or council, which is for people to face each other directly.

Can someone tell me whats so wrong with it to.....

The proposed joint Jirga intends to engage about 700 tribal leaders and other influential elders from both sides. This seems to be a clever maneuver in line with the sometime back media reported intentions of Mr. Hamid Karzai to hold talks with the tribesmen on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border directly.

Samir Latifi, British Indian Ocean Territory - 20 June, 2007

Nonsense Jirga

Every body knows that what pakistan is doing to afghanistan.Pakistan has become a breeding ground for terrorists and islamic fundamentalism and exports terror to all over world . And afghanistan is the one of the worst sufferer among the nations.One way pakistan speak about war against terror to get american dollars and other way it trains taliban and jihadis and send across the border to afghanistan.All the counries surrounding pakistan including iran and china accused pakistan of providing sanctuary to fundamentalists and terrorists.Indian interest is to keep fundamentalists away from power so that it will not effect its security.Pakistan should completely stop interfering in afghanistan and should allow us to live in peace.

Sameer, Afghanistan - 21 June, 2007

Anti-Pakistan

Military and police training is part of Govt. to Govt. assistance program. There is nothing wrong in this. India receives training from Israel,Russia, USA,UK. Does that mean all these countries are against Pakistan and other neighbouring countries of India? Now, after Taliban fall, Pakistan is not able to accept the civilian Govt. in Afganisthan. Taliban infrstructure, which Pakistan has built has so far fetched US$10bn to Pakistan (the most lucrative project for Pakistan). This is not petty ammount. So, if Pakistan is nurturing Taliban and encourage them, it is part of its business strategy.
Talking about India and its human rights, please look at the FSI
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3865&page=7

Regarding minority rights, look who is talking!!!
In India, the religious minority gets special provision. In fact, muslim population % has increased in last 50 years. If muslims were tortured, they would have left the country ( like Hindus,Jews has done. Mass exodus from Pakistan).
Please compare minority population % in 1950 and 2007 in Pakistan. ( I won't mention blashphemy law etc...).
Baluchistan problem is not created by India. Can you please provide details, how India arms Baluchs (there is no direct link between India & Baluchistan)?

Nikus, Hungary - 21 June, 2007

Little differently

I have never said, Afgans are uncivilised. Do you think killing people as he is from other sect, destroying schools, hospitals, stopping girls from going to school is civilisation? Creating education, healthcare infrastructure is definitely contribution towards civilisation. You may disagree...

Nikus, Hungary - 21 June, 2007

To faisal

Please leave our country alone. you pakistanis already already destroyed my country by creating jihadi groups and taliban.you come to afghanistan and see the sufferings of the people.Our country is ruined completly by ISI and your miltary government.

Sameer, Afghanistan - 21 June, 2007

India

India is adopting the same strategy of pakistani goverment.pakistan ISI have a number of terrorist taining camps to train kashmiri militants in pakistan kashmir.which regularly send militants across the border for sabotage activities in india.So India also will do the same thing to pakistan.

Martin, United Kingdom - 21 June, 2007

India never provides arms

Martin, Indian freedom struggle was largely peaceful. We generally discourage people use arms/violence to achieve anything (Please read life of Gandhi. Wrong means for right goal sometimes cause trouble). Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama knows that very well. Indira Gandhi was the only exception (provided support for armed struggle towards LTTE, PLO and Mukti Vahini in Bangladesh. She has event tried to divert democracy in India once. She was exception). But, after her death everything is back to normal now.

Nikus, Pakistan - 23 June, 2007

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