Is Islamabad surrendering its people?
Afghanistan.ru - 12.3.2007
Vladimir Plastun (Photo: afghanistan.ru)
By Vladimir Plastun, Professor at Novosibirsk State University’s oriental studies department, D.Sc. (history), expert-ethnographer on Afghan army (1988), special correspondent of the Moscow-based daily Pravda in Afghanistan (1989).
Reports from Peshawar on March 1 say that Pakistani security forces arrested Obaidulla Akhund, the deputy head of the Taliban movement led by Mohammed Omar with the assistance and the involvement of CIA agents in the city of Quetta. Some time ago CIA offered one million dollar reward for the head of Mullah Obaidulla who was the Taliban regime’s Defence Minister between 1996 and 2001. Mullah Obaidulla was brought to Islamabad where agents of Pakistani special services and their American counterparts have been intensively questioning him to get information about the military potential of the Islamist groups that declared a spring offensive against US and NATO forces and the Afghan national army. Reportedly, coalition forces backed by Afghan government forces have gained upper hand and launched a large-scale offensive against the positions of Islamists in the south of the country.
International observers are unaware whether the deputy Taliban leader was arrested in a planned operation by security forces or General Musharraf handed him over fearing the fact that the Democrats might exert pressure on the State Department to cut financial aid to Pakistan. Perhaps, the Pakistani President came to an understanding that he made a hasty move in 1996 by recognizing the Taliban government and maintaining its armed forces. In fact, Pakistan was not the only country that made a similar move. A large sum of money was given to the Taliban regime by oil magnates of Gulf states and Saudi Arabia and also the CIA. A Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid says in his book: “Taliban resisted any attempts by Islamabad to control is activity despite the fact it received aid, and the Taliban regime was nobody’s puppet government… Pakistan appears to have learned no lesson and continued to live as in the recent past when money from Saudis and CIA made it possible for Pakistan to guide the jihad.” Most probably, time has changed, and Islamabad agreed to surrender former friends whose help has been expecting in both Afghanistan and Kashmir. Moreover, the price of the issue is quite high. This year US aid to Pakistan has been increased up to $785 million from $499 million. This includes $300 million for financing military programmes. Is there a sense to lose such a big sum owing to Taliban, which was uncontrollable in the past and makes troubles now by threatening to launch attacks on coalition forces, and to worsen strained relations with the United States, neighbouring countries and the colleagues in the Moslem world? In fact, Islamic Republic of Pakistan was proved to be in humiliating situation even in the Moslem world by recognizing the Taliban regime.
Mass media swiftly drew attention to the fact Mullah Obaidulla was arrested on the day when US Vice-President made an unannounced visit to Pakistan. Journalists estimated the coincidence of the two incidences as Islamabad’s attempt to show its success in fighting terrorism and prove that the Pakistani authorities honour its pledges made earlier to support antiterrorist policy backed by almost the entire international community.
The position of the loyal ally of the United States in South Asia, Pakistan did not worry the White house when the former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his group handled the issues in the region though the relations in “high politics” were far from cloudless. However, Washington paid accurately for allied relations but now Democrats threaten to cut promised aid to Pervez Musharraf designed for its fight against terrorism. Democrats in the US Congress have started to consider that Islamabad has paid insufficient attention to meet its commitments concerning the containing of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
As a result President George W. Bush sent a tough message to Pervez Musharraf late February and warned against the danger of cutting US aid to Pakistan if he fails to take decisive steps to suppress the activity of Al-Qaeda headed by difficult to catch Osama bin-Laden. Democrats demanded for exerting more pressure on Islamabad by leaning on an opinion of the American contingent’s command in Afghanistan about the growing resistance by Islamist groups, which is promoted by the idleness of the Pakistani authorities and their failure to meet the obligations in fighting terrorism. Moreover, the White House has started unilaterally to draw up plans to launch attacks on terrorist training camps in the northern Waziristan the locations of which have been determined by spy satellites.
The situation has really worsened and the Pervez Musharraf was prompted to make concessions by agreeing to organize and seize the most odious leaders who head the Islamic terrorist organizations.