The NATO Money to Ensure Taliban Security
23 August, 2010
By Sohail Parwaz
The English Prime Minister David Cameron, who before kicking off for India on a business tour few days ago, very rudely and snobbishly, keeping all the diplomatic norms aside, warned Pakistan to behave and to stop exporting terror to India. The interesting part is that the British prime minister insisted that he had neither caused offence to Pakistan nor accused the Islamabad government of promoting terrorism. Amid deep anger in Pakistan, the Prime Minister said that he would always talk straight forwardly to Britain`s friends. Although the former British foreign secretary Mr. Miliband quite aptly snubbed him by saying that, ‚Äėthere was a big difference between straight-talking and being a loudmouth‚Äô.
This is not the first time that Pakistan has been accused of sponsoring terrorism. In the past most popular western lyric ‚ÄėDo More‚Äô has been repeatedly orchestrated off and on. However the irony is that every time the Coalition while demanding from Pakistan to do more would forget about the pains they were taking at their ends to save the skin of their troops in Afghanistan. It‚Äôs impossible that Cameron‚Äôs predecessors had not told him about the efforts they were making before handing over the 10 Downing Street to him.
It is quite open a secret now that for months, British and the US diplomats and intelligence officers had been approaching those Taliban commanders whom they considered "soft and approachable". Although the advances made by them were gauche and gawky and often sabotaged by mutual suspicion and above all a mistrust. Particularly the US and the Karzai government‚Äôs suspicions that always spoiled the British attempts to persuade Taliban fighters and other groups to abandon the insurgency yet at the end of the day the ‚Äėconglomerate‚Äô agreed on a coordinated international initiative in the shape of a discreet trust fund, the brain child of the British government officials, of course the same British government who claims now that Pakistan is exporting terrorism. Interestingly, the move reflects a growing realisation in London, Washington and elsewhere in the NATO countries that the conflict cannot be "won" in any military sense and that some kind of accommodation with the Taliban insurgency is inescapable.
The WikiLeaks made almost 90,000 cables and messages public but the publicity was given to those only which carried contents against Pakistan, however astonishingly the ‚ÄėLeaks‚Äô are mysteriously quiet over the ‚Äėunder table dealings‚Äô between the members of the Coalition forces and the Taliban to ensure the safety and a secure exit of the former‚Äôs troops. No one can disagree with the hard fact that 2010 is proving to be the most costly year of the entire war for the US-led occupation. The death toll has already reached 399, compared with the last year‚Äôs toll of 521. The number of deaths, however, is only one aspect of the mounting crisis being faced by the 100,000 American and 30,000 NATO and other allied troops in Afghanistan. The other alarming issue is the number of soldiers being wounded which has increased exponentially.
About a couple of years back an American Security Archive had published a pile of declassified documents alleging Pakistan to be the Taliban‚Äôs godfather. The papers were related to a period of seven years leading up to 9/11. That means it‚Äôs a 1994 onwards era? Barbara Elias was the lady who labored to arrange the jigsaw pieces of these ‚Äėpuzzling‚Äô documents and gave them the title, ‚ÄėPakistan ‚Äď The Taliban‚Äôs godfather?‚Äô Probably Barbra over looked (or intentionally skipped) the Document 21 which was the voice of the heart. It was the expunged extract of the U.S. Embassy Islamabad‚Äôs cable, through which the Assistant Secretary Robin Raphael was informed on March 10, 1997 and which reads, ‚ÄúThe Embassy recommends a policy of ‚Äúlimited engagement to try to ‚Äúmoderate and modernize‚ÄĚ the Taliban.‚ÄĚ Full engagement would be against American interests as it would associate Washington with a ‚Äúmovement we find repugnant,‚ÄĚ however a failure to engage the Taliban at all would further isolate Afghanistan‚ÄĚ.
This premise made it clear and self explanatory that the recent visits of the American Secretary of the States to Pakistan and Afghanistan were in fact reflecting the volume of pressures being faced by the US and Allies in Afghanistan and also that the US government is desperately seeking an easy, safe, respectable and some phenomenal way out of Afghanistan. The above background would facilitate one to understand when it is explained that recently a number of incidents have been reported where the military operations are annexed and supported by the political maneuvers as well and that maneuvering includes the efforts to buy some influential Taliban leaders and bribing the drug mafia, warlords, ex Mujahedeen and some of the tribal elders of that area. Since making the direct efforts to achieve this all is not considered safe hence some indirect means have been chosen where the millions of dollars contracts are being sanctioned to a number of overt and covert transport and logistic support companies in Afghanistan who are fully aware that the fifteen to twenty percent of the contract amount is not meant for them rather it would be expanded as bribe to Taliban for the safe passage of logistic plying through the roads in fact. The one existing example is of a shady UK based NGO by the name of ‚ÄėForeign & Commonwealth Office‚Äô (FCO) which is apparently involved in stabilizing Helmand province while actually it is working to tone down the Taliban‚Äôs wrath in the area.
It`s next to impossible to trace anyone in Afghanistan who believes that the US and UK are not funding the Taliban. The lot is none other than the highly educated Afghan professionals, those employed by ISAF, USAID, international media organisations and even those who are advising US diplomats, seem the most convinced. They openly say that the aid organisations are nothing more than intelligence-collecting agencies, going into the risky regions where the ISAF troops cannot easily reach to obtain facts on the ground. They strongly believe that even a modest midwife-training project in Afghanistan is a spying outfit.
According to Anna Tomforde, who wrote an article titled, ‚ÄėPaying off the Taliban - Incentive or Bribe?‚Äô published January this year, ‚ÄėThe Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund established at the London conference on Afghanistan is being hailed as an `economic alternative` by its creators and condemned as `paying off the Taliban` by its critics. There can be little doubt, however, that the idea of the fund, aimed at inciting `moderate` elements of the Taliban to lay down their arms, is as much part of a new strategy on Afghanistan as proof of the realization that the conflict cannot be solved by military means alone‚Äô. It leaves no doubt in any mind when Pakistan‚Äôs role is placed vis-√†-vis the US and ISAF forces that Pakistan is fighting the GWOT selflessly and without making the compromises .No one can deny the sacrifices mentioned by the Pakistan army‚Äôs Chief General Kayani, while talking to media about few month back. He informed media that roughly well over two thousand Pakistani army officers and soldiers had been killed in the fighting by that date which included one three-star General, two two-star generals and five brigadiers as the martyrs.
Almost 168 years back, the British over threw Amir Dost Mohammad Khan and installed Shah Shuja as a ‚Äúpuppet king‚ÄĚ who was killed by the Afghans within months and the British were made to lick the dust in a way that in January 1842, out of 16,500 soldiers and 12,000 dependents only a solitary survivor, of mixed British-Indian garrison, was allowed by the Afghan warriors to reach back to Jalalabad Fort, on a stumbling pony. Undoubtedly the US and NATO forces are bribing and paying Taliban to avoid the unsafe and solitary return and definitely they are preferring the lives over money?