Author Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan  (Read 499997 times)


ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1601 on: July 23, 2019, 06:01:14 PM »
Even though I support Trump, the prez does suffer from foot in mouth disease. For 70 years India has not tolerated mediation by outsiders in Kashmir, always considered it a bilateral matter between India and Pak. Suddenly Pak becomes the golden boy, Trump offers mediation between India-Pak and then tops it with possibility of destruction of Afghanistan! It is no wonder, he is treated like a buffoon in most countries. Complaints about not treating allies well, suddenly seem all too real.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/how-trump-sold-kabul-and-new-delhi-down-the-river/articleshow/70352190.cms


G M

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1602 on: July 23, 2019, 08:08:06 PM »
As a rule, ignore what he says, watch what he does.


Even though I support Trump, the prez does suffer from foot in mouth disease. For 70 years India has not tolerated mediation by outsiders in Kashmir, always considered it a bilateral matter between India and Pak. Suddenly Pak becomes the golden boy, Trump offers mediation between India-Pak and then tops it with possibility of destruction of Afghanistan! It is no wonder, he is treated like a buffoon in most countries. Complaints about not treating allies well, suddenly seem all too real.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/how-trump-sold-kabul-and-new-delhi-down-the-river/articleshow/70352190.cms

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1603 on: July 24, 2019, 07:05:41 AM »
Brett Baier did a very long and I thought thoughtful interview with the Pak PM.  Thanks to YA's posting here I felt like I saw what a shameless lying sneaky bastard he is.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1604 on: July 25, 2019, 07:58:34 AM »
Pakistan, U.S.: Bilateral Ties Improve as Islamabad Helps Washington in Afghanistan
(Stratfor)

The Big Picture

The United States has turned to Pakistan in its bid to wind down the 18-year war in Afghanistan. As long as Pakistan cooperates and pushes the Afghan Taliban to cooperate, Islamabad's ties with Washington will improve. But Pakistan's own strategy in the region will limit how much pressure it is willing to apply on the Taliban.

What Happened

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House struck a positive tone July 22 despite bilateral relations long beset by rancor and suspicion. Khan later thanked Trump on Twitter for his warm and gracious hospitality. Trump meanwhile offered to help mediate Pakistan and India's long-running dispute over Kashmir, a suggestion that Khan welcomed but New Delhi criticized. The cordial exchanges stand in sharp contrast to the jabs the two leaders traded on the social media platform in 2018, when Trump accused Islamabad of lies and deceit and Khan pointed to Washington's "failures" to win the war in Afghanistan.

Why It Matters

The meeting highlights a shift from the previously harsh U.S. approach to extracting cooperation in the Afghan peace process from Pakistan. In August 2017, for example, Trump publicly chastised Pakistan for offering a haven to militants operating in Afghanistan, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. The United States also used punitive measures, such as cuts to security assistance and threats to revoke the country's non-NATO major ally status, to elicit Pakistani cooperation.

Since then, Pakistan — where some of the Afghan Taliban's leadership indeed shelters — has pushed the insurgents to join multiple rounds of talks with the United States aimed at finalizing a peace deal. Seeking to build on this momentum, Trump has dangled the prospect of improved relations with Pakistan, hoping to induce Islamabad to use its influence to push the Taliban into accepting a permanent cease-fire and engaging in talks with the NATO-backed government in Kabul.

Trump has dangled the prospect of improved relations with Pakistan, hoping to induce Pakistan to use its influence to push the Taliban into accepting a permanent cease-fire and engaging in talks with the NATO-backed government in Kabul.

But any Pakistani support for the Afghan peace process will not come at the expense of Islamabad's ultimate aim of shaping a friendly government in Kabul respectful of Pakistan's strategic concerns. These prominently include preventing Afghanistan from building a stronger relationship with archrival India, and compelling Afghanistan to renounce any claims to Pakistani territory by acknowledging the legality of their de facto 2,640-kilometer (1,640-mile) shared border. Because Pakistan wants the Taliban to advance these interests in a post-conflict Afghanistan, it will be careful not to pressure the Taliban to accede to U.S. wishes to the extent that it alienates the Taliban.

Background

The health of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship hinges on the extent of Pakistan's security cooperation in the war in Afghanistan. The United States has relied on access to Pakistani territory for its overland military convoys to landlocked Afghanistan. But Pakistan has played a double game and also backed the Taliban. Since October, the United States and the Taliban have held seven rounds of talks centering on four issues: a U.S. troop withdrawal, a Taliban pledge not to permit transnational extremist groups to operate in Afghanistan; a permanent cease-fire; and a commitment to dialogue with the central government in Kabul aimed at reaching a power-sharing agreement between Kabul and the Taliban.

DougMacG

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1605 on: July 26, 2019, 10:51:51 AM »
'As long as Pakistan cooperates and pushes the Afghan Taliban to cooperate, Islamabad's ties with Washington will improve."

Yes but better relations with Pak equals worse relations with far more strategic partner India.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1606 on: July 26, 2019, 11:21:33 AM »
I think it was in his interview last night with Sean that the President spoke of looking to dramatically lower our footprint in Afg. 

We have A LOT of demands on our bandwidth right now, and I can't say that the President is wrong in seeing if he can pull this off.  Certainly the man is capable of changing his tactics-- he is very Boydian.

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1607 on: July 26, 2019, 07:25:25 PM »
It is wishful thinking that Pak will change their spots. As long as American moolah flows to Pak, they will provide a few tid bits of help. If somehow the Afghan problem is solved, free money stops as the US exits Afghanistan. The taliban may next turn their focus on Pak!. It is therefore not in Pak's interest to solve the Afghan problem for the USA.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 05:30:24 AM by ya »

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1608 on: July 27, 2019, 05:53:22 AM »
Within days of Taliban Khan meeting Trump, the US plans F-16 sales to Pak. In the convoluted article below, the sales program is called "Peace Drive I". It once again shows that the US has a transactional/maximum pressure relationship with India, which is the reason, India will always keep a foot on the Russian side and buy the best weapons from both sides.

WASHINGTON: Days after the meeting between President Donald  ..
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/us-approves-sales-to-support-paks-f-16-fighter-jets-for-24x7-end-use-monitoring/articleshow/70405143.cms

The US currently wants India to set up F-16 manufacturing line in India (called F-21!, US marketing at its best). India is reluctant for two reasons. First, the Pakis have the F-16, second the F-16 while a significant force is considered outdated, as compared to the F-35. India will not invest billions in an older technology.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1609 on: July 27, 2019, 09:25:17 AM »
"It once again shows that the US has a transactional/maximum pressure relationship with India, which is the reason, India will always keep a foot on the Russian side and buy the best weapons from both sides."

Very frustrating!  It would seem a close relationship would be very good for each side.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Balochistan
« Reply #1610 on: August 09, 2019, 07:03:29 PM »
Pakistan Struggles to Make Good on a Golden Opportunity in Balochistan
This Landsat photograph from 1972 shows the Pakistani-Iranian border.
(SSPL/Getty Images)

Highlights

    Until Pakistan and the Tethyan Copper Co. settle their dispute, development of the country's Reko Diq gold and copper mine will languish, leaving a potentially abundant revenue stream dry.
    Growing foreign investment in the sector will heighten the need for an effective dispute resolution mechanism.
    Unless Pakistan implements the necessary reforms to attract foreign investment, the country's mining sector will not grow beyond its current 3 percent contribution to Pakistan's gross domestic product.

In a remote and arid corner of southwestern Pakistan, Islamabad has found itself embroiled in a difficult battle: a multibillion-dollar dispute with a global mining company over one of the world's richest untapped deposits of copper and gold. In July, the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ordered Pakistan to pay $5.9 billion in damages to the Tethyan Copper Co., a joint venture between Canada's Barrick Gold Corp. and Chile's Antofagasta PLC. The ruling stems from a 2012 case that Tethyan lodged at the ICSID against Islamabad for failing to issue a license to mine gold and copper at the Reko Diq site.

The case draws attention to the rich resources of Balochistan, Pakistan's rugged southwestern frontier in which Reko Diq is located, as well as the tug of war between domestic Pakistani law and international arbitration in resolving investor disputes. But above all, the Reko Diq affair shines a light on Pakistan's numerous underground resources and its broader failure to exploit them — something that will continue to haunt the country if it is to fulfill Prime Minister Imran Khan's goal of rapidly ramping up foreign investment.

The Big Picture

Pakistan's Balochistan province plays a vital role in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor because of its location on the Arabian Sea. It's also known for its resource riches that include an abundance of gold and copper deposits. But a longstanding dispute between the government and a mining company point to the need for reforms, without which mining's contribution to Pakistan's economy won't exceed 3 percent.


A Strategically Significant Frontier

Pakistan possesses large deposits of gold, copper, chromite, bauxite, iron ore, rubies, emeralds, topaz, mineral salt and coal, many of which are — like Reko Diq — located in Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province. Accounting for nearly 40 percent of the country's landmass, Balochistan's 347,000-square-kilometer area (134,000 square miles) makes it equal in size to Germany. Its strategically located coastline faces vital shipping lanes in the Arabian Sea, including traffic destined for the Strait of Hormuz. As a result, Balochistan is the site of a variety of projects as part of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which aims to create a direct overland route linking western China and the Arabian Sea through Balochistan's port of Gwadar. At the same time, however, Balochistan is also home to an insurgent movement that seeks independence from Pakistan on cultural and economic grounds; indeed, Chinese investment in Balochistan has exacerbated long-standing separatist grievances of foreign exploitation in the province.

The mine itself is located in Chagai, Pakistan's largest and westernmost district. According to Tethyan, Reko Diq contains 2.2 billion metric tons of mineable ore that could yield 200,000 metric tons of copper and 250,000 troy ounces of gold annually for over half a century. To extract the precious metals, the company must shovel, crush and grind the ore into a fine powder before converting it into a slurry concentrate for transport through a 682-kilometer underground pipeline to Gwadar. At the port, the company plans to dry the concentrate before loading it onto ships for smelting abroad.

Pakistan Misses a Golden Opportunity

But for all of its lucrative potential — $353 million annually at current gold and copper rates — the development of Reko Diq has stagnated because of the long-running legal battle that culminated in last month's $5.9 billion fine. A key element of the dispute centers on the validity of a decades-old pact called the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (CHEJVA). Signed in 1993 between the Balochistan Development Authority and BHP, the Australian firm that initially offered its capital and technical expertise to explore Reko Diq, CHEJVA later became the subject of a case at the Balochistan High Court. There, the petitioner argued that the agreement granted unfair advantages to BHP in the form of bigger blocks with more time for exploration than permitted under the law governing mining in the province. The Balochistan High Court ruled against the plea in 2006, declaring that the CHEJVA was valid.

This map showing the location of the Reko Diq mine within the rest of Pakistan.

In the meantime, Balochistan's provincial government begged to differ with the local high court. First, the government terminated the exploration agreement in 2009 and then, two years later, it refused to grant a mining license to BHP's successor, Tethyan. But because the company had already invested $220 million for exploration, it lodged cases at the ICSID and the International Chamber of Commerce in 2012, invoking international arbitration by circumventing the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which claimed that it — and not the ICSID — had jurisdiction over the case. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned the Balochistan High Court's verdict on appeal in 2013, ruling that the CHEJVA had been void from the beginning because of its violations of Pakistani law. Accordingly, the Supreme Court also ruled that Tethyan had no investor rights, including that of international arbitration, under the bilateral investment treaty between Pakistan and Australia (where Tethyan is incorporated). The ICSID, however, claimed jurisdiction in the case, ruling in favor of Tethyan in March 2017 before finally announcing last month the total fine, which includes a $4 billion penalty and $1.9 billion in interest charges.

Turning Promise Into Reality

The future of the mine will depend on how Tethyan and Pakistan choose to proceed. The mining company has offered to discuss a negotiated settlement with Islamabad — a gesture the government has welcomed — but it remains unclear whether the company will subsequently maintain its involvement in Reko Diq. Other mining companies from China and Saudi Arabia have expressed interest in the project, while the country's politically powerful military has noted it could help manage the project through its construction firm, the Frontier Works Organization.

The case of Reko Diq points to the fundamental problem in Pakistan's mining sector: the potential offered by the country's abundance of resources and the reality of its inability to efficiently exploit these minerals.

More broadly, the case of Reko Diq points to the fundamental problem in Pakistan's mining sector: the potential offered by the country's abundance of resources and the reality of its inability to efficiently exploit these minerals. If Pakistan wants to successfully exploit its mineral resources, it must attract overseas firms. But as the case of Reko Diq demonstrates, foreign investment requires effective investor dispute mechanisms — to say nothing of roads and other infrastructure to transport the resources from their often remote locations.

Khan, whose top domestic challenge is tackling the structural constraints that are hindering the economy, has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the Reko Diq debacle and learn lessons for the future. What's more, the Planning Ministry has listed seven reform areas for mining pertaining to regulation, resource mapping, infrastructure, upgrading technology, access to finance and skills development. Pakistan's best-laid plans notwithstanding, the disagreement with Tethyan proves that developments taking place above ground will always affect the riches that lie in the earth below. And unless Islamabad can find a way to finally remove the obstacles to business, the Reko Diq affair appears to be one that it is likely to repeat.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1612 on: August 10, 2019, 09:59:01 AM »
As always Andrew McCarthy is intelligent and astute.  Yet the piece does not really address the key question posed by what he says-- what does victory look like?
 

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1613 on: August 10, 2019, 03:28:22 PM »
It is obvious that the US needs to withdraw from Afghanistan. We wont call it surrender, because we will sign an agreement with the Taliban and spin it as a peace deal. I actually think there is a good chance that it will all turn out fine, because the Taliban of today are not the same as the blood thirsty taliban of 20 years ago. They are much more media savvy, note their recent statesman like press release, advising Pak (posted elsewhere). The Taliban want to rule Afghanistan, and they will in co-operation with the warlords of northern Afghanistan. For this to happen, Pak must not be part of the negotiations. The only reason to involve Pak is that the US thinks that Pak will provide them a better deal with the Taliban, thats wishful thinking. It is not in Pak's interest to shut down the gravy train. Why does the US government not understand this ?.  Below is some artwork (loved the expressions, even if stereotyped), paki terror mongers protesting because they think the gravy train is being shut down.

People worry too much about Al-Qaeda. AQ is an arab construct, Af-Pak is not their natural habitat. It would not be in the Taliban's interest to provide them a foot hold, once they gain power. If we have to go back to Afghanistan, that is OK, but staying there for 18 years + is not the answer.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2019, 03:39:16 PM by ya »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1614 on: August 10, 2019, 04:58:32 PM »
YA:

As always, I really dig the level of your analysis and insight on all this.  Very pithy, very penetrating.

G M

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1615 on: August 10, 2019, 05:22:46 PM »
YA:

As always, I really dig the level of your analysis and insight on all this.  Very pithy, very penetrating.

They are lucky I don’t have launch authority for American ICBMs. Af-pak would be an ocean of glass. That would be my peace settlement.

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1616 on: August 11, 2019, 06:16:13 AM »
Some insights into the background machinations.

India, Pakistan, Afghanistan: The new great game

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/afghanistan-taliban-india-kashmir-us-zalmay-khalilzad-5895132/

DougMacG

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1617 on: August 11, 2019, 06:49:13 AM »
As always Andrew McCarthy is intelligent and astute.  Yet the piece does not really address the key question posed by what he says-- what does victory look like?

I agree.  McCarthy expresses the frustration we all have but doesn't present a better alternative.

Endless war is what our enemy is waging.  It wasn't our idea.

I like what YA wrote on Afghanistan.  The Taliban has changed some and al Qaida is an Arab construct.  If Afghans don't want foreigners attacking and occupying their country, don't host or tolerate terrorists.  If they do, we (the US) will be back.

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1618 on: August 11, 2019, 07:04:15 AM »
Below is I believe a very nice summary of how Pak got to where it is.

https://majorgauravarya.wordpress.com/2019/03/12/medusa/
MEDUSA

On 14 August 1947, a part of the British Indian Army separated from its mother organisation and became the Pakistan Army. It retained the flavour of its British creator; the parties, the spit and polish, the gin in the afternoon and whiskey in the evening, the ‘hard as hobnailed leather’ ethos and the drill square. Its officers were Pakistani in skin-tone but British in thinking. “Brown Sahibs” would have been an apt description.

We were no different.

The Indian Army has seen a strong and consistent democratic dispensation since independence. Yes, our political leaders have made mistakes. But it is also true that the Indian Army is the better for never having tasted the fruits of unquestioned power.

India ratified its Constitution on 26 November 1949 and gave itself a Constitution on 26 January 1950.

The Pakistan Army saw a political leadership vacuum from the very beginning, something they could take advantage of. While India’s socialist democracy moved towards economic justice, the power center in Pakistan remained the landowner, the redoubtable Wadera. In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the relationship of the ruler and the ruled has always been that of the Chaudharys and Haaris, the landowner and the landless tiller. And the biggest Chaudhary of them all has always been the Pakistan Army.

Pakistan’s first Constitution was approved in 1956 but abrogated in 1958, after a military coup. The 1962 Constitution was suspended in 1969. It was abrogated in 1972. In 1973, Pakistan framed a new Constitution. It was again held in abeyance in 1977, after a coup. This Constitution was restored in 1985.

Each time it was a Pakistan Army General who tore up the Constitution of Pakistan. When it wasn’t a General, it was a civilian who was all too willing to dance to the tune of whoever was the pied piper in Rawalpindi. Governor General Ghulam Mohammad, Major General Iskander Mirza, General Ayub Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, General Zia ul-Haq, General Parvez Musharraf, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif…not all Pakistani autocrats have worn the uniform.

Gen Ayub Khan midwifed the political career of the greatest of all Pakistani democrats, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. In 1983, another military dictator General Zia-ul Haq appointed a young industrialist to the very important position of Finance Minister of Punjab. That young industrialist was Nawaz Sharif. Before 2013, there was no one more liberal and secular than Imran Khan. He baited the Army and called out the fundamentalists. After losing every election and looking down the path of political oblivion, Imran Khan understood that without the three A’s of Pakistan, he was dust. Allah, Army and America have always been the pillars of Pakistan.

Imran saw that the national mood was against America. So, he embraced Islamic fundamentalism, and suddenly the Pakistan Army was Teflon coated. The elite soon renamed him “Taliban Khan”. In 2018, General Qamar Javed Bajwa manipulated the Pakistan General Elections and Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi became the twenty-second Prime Minister of Pakistan. Incidentally, Imran belongs to the same clan of Mianwali Niazis that gave Pakistan another historical gem, Lt Gen AAK Niazi.

But I digress.

Strategic depth is the Holy Grail that the Pakistan Army has always sought. You need land to fight wars and Pakistan is not more than 400 kms wide, at an average. No nation wants to fight wars on its own land. It is avoidable. So, the Pakistan Army creates “zones of influence”. In Iran, it is the Sunni terror outfits perpetually at war with a Shia state. In Afghanistan, it is the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, amongst many others. In India, it is Kashmir. Earlier, it was Punjab. There are other geographies involved, within India. What I mention here is the tip of the iceberg. There are circles within circles. Pakistan’s attack on India is asymmetric. And it is mind-bogglingly sophisticated.

No one can accuse the Pakistan Army of not having a sense of humor. When the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown by General Zia ul Haq, the coup was called Operation Fair Play.

Zia irreversibly changed both Pakistan and the Pakistan Army. It was under him that mainstreaming of radical Islamists started. When he appointed various ultra-conservative Ulema to the all-powerful Council of Islamic Ideology, an unknown Sargodha born cleric found a special place in Zia’s heart. General Zia-ul Haq created Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.

This was the time when the boundaries between the Pakistan Military and the self-styled Mujahideen who had fought in the Afghan Jihad, started blurring. Unity, Faith and Discipline, the motto given by Jinnah was dumped. Its place was taken by the freshly minted ‘Iman Taqwa Jihad fi-Sabilillah’. Jihad became the avowed aim of the Pakistan Army. Its soldiers were no longer simply professionals. They became Ghazis, devout Muslims who were at a state of perpetual war with non-Muslims.

Officers and men were graded by how ‘pious’ they were. Outward signs of this piety were namaz, the obligatory beard and frequent references to the Holy Quran. Liquor was banned. Music was declared ‘haram’.

From the day it was born, Pakistan’s journey to being a security state started. This required money. So, agreements were signed with US and later with China. It was easier for US to deal with Pakistan, than with India, notwithstanding India’s socialist leaning towards the USSR. India was a messy democracy and work in progress. In Pakistan, US had always dealt with one man, the Army Chief. It was always about convenience. Nothing has changed. Pakistan Army has always had serious mercenary tendencies. That too has not changed.

Soon, the ISI had its own political wing, used for keeping tabs on politicians. They blackmailed, harassed and pressurized. They created and destroyed governments. They were instrumental in assassinations and disappearances of political rivals. They say that the ISI has closed down its political wing. But then, they say a lot of things.

The Pakistan Army was the self-proclaimed savior of the nation. But to be the savior, an enemy was needed. So, the Pakistani population was told how India had never accepted partition and how the Constitution of India did not acknowledge the existence of Pakistan. India, five times the size, would gobble up Pakistan. The Hindu was to be reviled and looked upon with suspicion. Incidentally, Pakistan’s school textbooks have some of the most hateful literature you can find in any school curriculum in the world. The hate for India was thus institutionalized.

Four wars were fought, three over Kashmir. Countless acts of terror later, Pakistan is no closer to getting Kashmir than it is to speaking a coherent sentence in front of a global audience. But once you are the self-appointed Fortress of Islam and the only ‘Muslim nuclear power’, you have an inflated sense of importance.

Today, the business interests of the Pak military are worth over USD 100 billion. Fauji Foundation, Shaheen Foundation, Baharia Foundation, Army Welfare Trust and the Defence Housing Authorities own about fifty different businesses. From cement to real estate, from custard to diapers, the Pakistan Army manufactures every consumable you can think of.

Pakistan Army breeds terrorists because they are cheaper to maintain and arm, than a regular army. It also breeds them because of the huge advantage of plausible deniability. And who can argue with the fact that Pakistani Generals are far better at making money than fighting wars? Pakistan has outsourced its wars with India to the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar.

Post Pulwama, a few things have changed irreversibly. One, Pakistan has upped the ante by introducing suicide bombing to Kashmir. Two, India’s response by launching air strikes into Pakistani territory not just in PoK but also Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has raised the bar for anti-terror response. This message that the air strikes gave was not what politicians thought it was. They were busy counting bodies. Bodies are not important because to get bodies, we could have used MBRLs or medium artillery. We could have done it from the safety of our country. The simple act of launching fighter jets into enemy territory is an incredible statement.

It is not about Kashmir. Pakistan will remain in a state of perpetual war with India, until we are ‘cut to size’. Imagine how we must look to an insecure nation; five times the size, huge geographical area, an economy that has left Pakistan in the dust, a military that dwarfs its own and the blue passport that is respected worldwide. We are everything that Pakistan wanted to be, but never could. Jealousy breeds hatred.

After 1989, Pakistan convinced itself that it was the sole reason for the defeat of USSR in the Afghan War. It forgot that it was just a paid middleman between the CIA and the Afghan Mujahideen. Lt Gen Hamid Gul was the man who fanned this mad fantasy of ill equipped Holy warriors who won on the strength of their faith alone. All this is helium, off course. It was massive CIA slush funds and the infusion of weapons, including the redoubtable stingers that caused Soviet fatalities. All that welded with the Afghan warrior spirit was a little too much for the Red Army.

The more Hamid Gul lied, the more this fantasy took firm hold. If Pakistan could defeat the USSR, India would be a cakewalk. It would fall in two or three years, at the most. With this plan firmly in place, the Kashmir Jihad was launched in 1989. Flush with initial success, the ISI could almost smell the apples in Kashmir. Then, something happened that wrecked their insane plans of conquest. They ran into the Indian Army.

A Kargil and hundreds of terror attacks later, Pakistan has not gained an inch of land in Kashmir. And I will say it again and again; much as Pakistan may like to weave this wobbly narrative around Kashmir, this battle has little to do with the Valley. But one thing Pakistan Army has done, with some degree of brilliance. It has convinced a vast majority of its population that there are good and bad terrorists. And, terrorism is a legitimate tool when the enemy is India.

1947-48, 1965, 1971, 1993, 1999, 26/11, Punjab, Kashmir, Parliament attacks, and Akshardham temple attacks…I can go on and on. 42,000 Indian deaths later, we are no closer to peace, than we were when we gained independence.

Imagine a weird, hypothetical scenario, never possible in a million years. But humor me. Let us say we give Kashmir to Pakistan. Only the extremely naïve, in moments of absolute lack of lucidity, will believe that this will buy peace. It will not.

A full-fledged conventional war with Pakistan will have consequences that are avoidable. There are other ways to punish Pakistan, militarily. What India lacks is a coherent and consistent policy of dealing with a rogue neighbor. It is important that we don’t lose the momentum gained by the Balakot air strikes. We must keep our foot on the accelerator. The Pakistan Army must be in a constant state of pressure. It cannot strengthen both its Eastern and Western fronts. It is this dilemma for Pakistan that we must always seek.

The Pakistan Army is the Pakistani State. Of this I am convinced. It will have its ups and downs, its ebbs and flows. But it is also true that since 1947, it has defined the idea of Pakistan. It is the self-proclaimed guardian of Pakistan’s ideological frontiers.

There can never be peace with Pakistan unless Pakistan becomes a democracy in the truest sense. For that, the Pakistan Army will have to cease to be the center of gravity of that nation.

Greek legend speaks of a female monster called Medusa, whose stare would turn men into stone and who had snakes in place of hair. This terrifying being destroyed everything in her path. The only way to end her terror was to behead her. Perseus, the Greek warrior, did this. By this act of beheading Medusa, he brought peace to Sarpedon.

It is time to cut off the head of Medusa.

Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)

17th Battalion, The Kumaon Regiment

#MajorGauravArya #Medusa #adgpi #IndianArmy

ccp

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Ya wrote,
« Reply #1619 on: August 11, 2019, 07:20:42 AM »
" the Taliban of today are not the same as the blood thirsty taliban of 20 years ago. They are much more media savvy"

This might sound like a naive question from an armchair American but I don't understand this statement.

Who exactly are we fighting in Afghanistan then?

I thought the Talis are protecting the remaining Isis and Al Qaida Islamists.
If they are not then why can't we simply crush them? 
All because they are running back and forth being protected in Pakistan ?

Like Bin Ladin?

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1620 on: August 11, 2019, 06:48:33 PM »
Yes, they get protection in Pak by crossing the border. This includes, rest, money, medical care, intelligence etc.
Over the last 18-19 years the US has made mistakes, but also the taliban have made mistakes and each side has learned. The Taliban realize that the US does not care what they do in Afghanistan as long as the US homeland is not threatened by any AQ remnants. Ongoing AQ activity in Afghanistan means the survival of the Taliban regime is threatened, the Talibs will push out AQ for self preservation once they get power. My understanding is that the taliban want to rule Afghanistan with their brand of ideology, not fight with the US. All that flying, business class to Doha for talks has an impact. Their leaders dont live in caves any more, they release statements which seem sane https://alemarahenglish.com/?p=49828, they sit around a table and actually discuss stuff
https://www.memri.org/reports/doha-agreement-%E2%80%93-paving-way-talibans-takeover-afghanistan-and-enforcement-sharia-based. 20 years ago, the leaders of the taliban were mysterious individuals, that no one had seen. Lots of things have changed.


« Last Edit: August 11, 2019, 06:50:10 PM by ya »

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1621 on: August 11, 2019, 07:31:53 PM »
At this point, the US is fighting for a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, while at the same time the Afghan government is being sidelined (unfortunately). The US knows that the Afghan govt is not winning their battle with the Taliban. Trump wants out. In Iraq, we left behind a power vacuum, this will not be the situation in Afghanistan. Southern-eastern afghanistan is Talib (pashtun) territory, northern afghanistan is held by non-pashtun tribes. The US does not have the time or perseverance to broker a peace deal amongst the various factions. If I were to guess the pashtun and the non-pashtun will still be arguing for a long time. Once the US leaves, the pashtun may turn their affections towards the Durrand line and Pak! We need to get our troops back home, but leave with the message that we will be back if attacks against the US are traced back to have originated in Afghanistan.

Staying in Afghanistan because we think that AQ will get a foot hold is not realistic, AQ can get a foothold in many other parts of the world, not sure how Afghanistan offers them benefits that are not available in their other strong holds. Besides if 18 years did not get rid of AQ completely, we need to re-evaluate if what we seek is even possible.



ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1622 on: August 13, 2019, 06:03:34 PM »
As discussed earlier..pakis are back to their old games. Looks like this strategy has worked for the pakis again and again.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-may-redeploy-troops-to-kashmir-border-pak-envoy-to-us/articleshow/70662669.cms


Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: The End of the Afghan War?
« Reply #1624 on: September 04, 2019, 07:36:23 AM »


Sept. 4, 2019



By George Friedman


The End of the Afghan War?


There is no winning in Afghanistan, only perpetual engagement.


The U.S. seems to be nearing a withdrawal from Afghanistan. After nearly a year of talks, U.S. and Taliban negotiators have in hand a draft agreement for a peace deal to end the 18-year war. The Trump administration, which has long wanted to withdraw forces from the country, still wants to maintain some combat capability there. Reports over the weekend indicate that administration officials have suggested expanding the CIA’s presence in Afghanistan, but Langley is resisting an increased role for the agency there. The CIA, technically speaking, does not represent combat capability. But practically, it could serve as a liaison to factions opposed to the Taliban, providing tactical information for airstrikes and carrying out a range of strategic actions. This suggests that whatever withdrawal the U.S. is considering is a political one.
The U.S. main force will be withdrawn, but the U.S. will still know what’s going on tactically and will retain the ability to launch selective strikes. Uniformed troops will be replaced by ununiformed officials. This is, of course, certainly not the first time the U.S. has used CIA and special operations forces in collaboration with local forces to manage the situation in a country; the U.S. withdrew from Somalia and Lebanon but retained capabilities there. If we’re to learn anything from those instances, it’s that the level of violence will decline, but there will still be deaths, just with far less publicity.


 

(click to enlarge)


Before the War
In all of this, we need to recall why the United States went into Afghanistan in the first place. On Sept. 10, 2001, the last thing anyone thought would ever happen was a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The United States had backed the mujahideen’s insurgency after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and understood the terrain, the tribal rivalries and the difficulty of operating in that environment. The insurgency turned what the Soviets had expected would be an operation of surgical precision into a decadelong morass. The U.S. may very well have had to go into Afghanistan, but it had no right to be surprised at what happened next.
As the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, a complex civil war broke out in which, essentially, the Northern Alliance waged a war of resistance against the rising Taliban. Pakistan, which has long had a major interest in its northwestern neighbor, got involved; its intelligence service factored into the Taliban’s victory in the civil war. And as the Taliban, led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, deepened its control, it gave sanctuary to al-Qaida.
Still, the United States did not see Afghanistan as being of strategic interest. The Americans had come to see Afghanistan not as a prize but as a swamp. Any of its neighbors – from Iran and Pakistan to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and even China – could chew off a piece, but trying to conquer the whole would simply bog you down permanently. Each of these countries’ intelligence services might probe here and there, and deals could be made, but nobody could possibly conquer and occupy the entire country. Even the Taliban at the height of its power could not control it all. From the American point of view, anyone who wanted to replicate the Soviet disaster was welcome to do so.
Into the Morass
What U.S. intelligence had missed was not al-Qaida; the U.S. undoubtedly knew its base was in Afghanistan. What it failed to understand was that al-Qaida had a cadre of operatives able to penetrate the U.S., maintain contact with al-Qaida, receive funding and obtain pilot training. That cadre went undetected right up until they executed a spate of planned, simultaneous hijackings and suicide attacks.
The problem for the U.S. was that its intelligence agencies clearly had no idea what else al-Qaida could do, given that the intelligence community did not detect the 9/11 plot. The only way the U.S. saw to disrupt al-Qaida operations was to attack the organization in Afghanistan. Since a full-scale invasion could not be launched in the timeframe imagined, it was the CIA, with its excellent contacts in Afghanistan, that purchased alliances with various groups and, supported by a fairly small force of Marines, conducted the main attack. Osama bin Laden, aware of the force being marshaled, escaped into Pakistan. Al-Qaida command was disrupted but not destroyed.
This was the critical point. Having sent in troops and reinforcements, the U.S. had no clear strategy for Afghanistan. The country was of interest only to the extent that al-Qaida operated from there. The concern, then, became that al-Qaida might return. The CIA, rather than the U.S. military, used its contacts and funds to build up a local force against al-Qaida. To some extent, that narrow operation was a success. But the attempt to occupy Afghanistan made almost no sense. In essence, the U.S. was willingly putting itself in the same position as the Soviets – who had failed.
The fear that al-Qaida would return to Afghanistan was understandable. But al-Qaida was mobile and had a flexible command structure. It didn’t require some massive control center, even for 9/11. To destroy al-Qaida would mean widespread warfare. But the U.S. did not have to occupy countries. As I have argued elsewhere, occupation warfare is the most difficult form of war; even the Nazis, with no limits on brutality, could never defeat Tito’s guerillas.
The defeat of a group like al-Qaida depended on intelligence and special operations forces. The group was built for dispersal because of its sparseness, and at any given time it could operate globally; the occupation of any one country could not destroy al-Qaida. Perhaps the core problem the U.S. had in Afghanistan was not that it forgot the lessons of the Soviet war but that it used the term “invasion” to describe how it dislodged al-Qaida. The U.S. did not disperse al-Qaida; it launched a covert operation that used money to motivate local forces familiar to the United States, backed by U.S. air power. The actual invasion was an attempt to turn sanctuary denial for a terrorist group into a conventional war.
It didn’t work. The U.S. had minimal interest in Afghanistan beyond al-Qaida, and al-Qaida was everywhere and nowhere. The U.S. could not impose its will on Afghanistan no matter how many divisions it brought in. But it was a passionate time in the U.S., and reasonably so. It was also an example of the dangers of passion.
So now we are back to where we began. The military will leave, and the CIA will take over with far more modest goals. The CIA is not going to try to engage in nation-building; rather it will try to maintain the flow of intelligence and carry out covert operations with special operations forces to keep the enemy off balance. As it was in the beginning, so it shall now be again. And, of course, the CIA is resisting. There will be no glory in winning – there is no winning in Afghanistan, only perpetual engagement. But without winning as an option, a much smaller investment is needed.





ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1626 on: September 15, 2019, 05:16:14 PM »
Watch the movie on Amazon Prime

Kesari


2h 33min
2019
Based on an incredible true story of the Battle of Saragarhi in which an army of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Afghans in 1897.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 05:48:37 PM by ya »


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1628 on: September 17, 2019, 05:26:10 PM »
Quickie question:

How, when, from whom did Pakistan get its nukes?  Looking for a proper citation to shut someone the fuk up.

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1629 on: September 17, 2019, 06:43:51 PM »
My understanding is China..from the Washington Post, when it was known for journalism..

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/12/AR2009111211060.html?noredirect=on
« Last Edit: September 17, 2019, 06:47:39 PM by ya »

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1630 on: September 17, 2019, 06:46:21 PM »
Re the explosions in Afghanistan...important question.

At least 48 people killed in two bombings in Afghanistan. 100s injured. Guess who did it?

Taliban or Taliban Khan?
Islam or Islamabad?

https://twitter.com/TarekFatah/status/1174009663937024005?s=20

DougMacG

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1631 on: September 17, 2019, 06:53:03 PM »
Quickie question:

How, when, from whom did Pakistan get its nukes?  Looking for a proper citation to shut someone the fuk up.

AQ Khan and China.
https://nationalinterest.org/feature/pakistans-nuclear-weapons-program-5-things-you-need-know-12687

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1632 on: September 17, 2019, 06:55:44 PM »
Thanks YA and Doug-- just what I needed.

ya

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Imra Khan admits the truth
« Reply #1633 on: September 24, 2019, 04:15:27 PM »
Imran Khan admits the truth
https://twitter.com/i/status/1176186967408697345

His intent was to give a reason as to why pak is important in the US negotiations with the Taliban...but sometimes there are freudian slips
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 04:17:52 PM by Crafty_Dog »

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Re: Imra Khan admits the truth
« Reply #1634 on: September 24, 2019, 09:06:28 PM »
Imran Khan admits the truth
https://twitter.com/i/status/1176186967408697345

His intent was to give a reason as to why pak is important in the US negotiations with the Taliban...but sometimes there are freudian slips

No joke.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/5140603/Pakistan-the-epicentre-of-Islamist-terror.html

ya

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Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan
« Reply #1635 on: October 05, 2019, 11:13:13 AM »
This is why paki army cannot fight. A soft coup has already happened. Army Chief Bajwa now meets business leaders without Imran, they are deeply involved in food processing. A small selection is presented below. Imran should be gone by next year.

Fauji brand=Military


Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: US reaches out to Russia and China to end Afpakia War
« Reply #1636 on: October 31, 2019, 12:23:57 AM »
To End the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. Reaches Out to Its Rivals
7 MINS READ
Oct 30, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
U.S. soldiers look out over the hillsides of an Afghan army checkpoint in Afghanistan's Wardak province on June 6, 2019.
U.S. soldiers look out over the hillsides of an army checkpoint in the Afghan province of Wardak on June 6, 2019.

(THOMAS WATKINS/AFP/Getty Images)
HIGHLIGHTS

The prospects of a U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan has compelled both China and Russia to take a more active role in the peace negotiations.

In doing so, Moscow and Beijing are also forging stronger relations with the Taliban, which the United States will try to leverage to ensure the insurgents uphold their end of an eventual peace deal.

As the United States searches for an exit from Afghanistan, its outreach to China and Russia points to its rivals' growing influence in shaping the endgame to its longest-ever conflict. On Oct. 25, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited Moscow to discuss reviving the Afghan peace process with Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials. China is also expected to host Taliban and Afghan government officials for talks next month.

A political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban remains the ultimate goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. And if and when that settlement is reached, it will likely include the insurgents joining a future power-sharing agreement in Kabul, which has, in turn, prompted China and Russia to establish stronger relations with the Taliban as well to advance their own counterterrorism objectives in the country. But as long as the United States maintains a military presence in Afghanistan, the prospects for lasting peace in the war-torn country will ultimately remain in Washington's hands. Though that doesn't mean Moscow and Beijing's growing ties with the Taliban won't come in handy, as it could help the United States build a regional consensus behind its Afghan peace process.

The Big Picture

Outside powers have long played an outsized role in Afghanistan's history. This reality has again come to the fore as China and Russia increasingly insert themselves into the U.S.-led Afghan peace process, fueled by a mutual desire for a lasting political settlement to end the country's 18-year war.

China's Stake: Protecting the Far Western Frontier

From a security perspective, China has long had concerns over Uighur militants plotting attacks abroad from Afghanistan, whose Wakhan corridor borders the country's vast western province of Xinjiang. Despite its proximity, however, Beijing has successfully avoided engaging in combat in Afghanistan over the past 18 years — thanks, in large part, to U.S. counterterrorism operations in the country. But should the United States make a hasty exit from Afghanistan without a robust peace deal in place, it could create a security vacuum for transnational extremists like the Islamic State — thereby leaving China to fend off a jihadist resurgence near its western border.

To ensure against such an outcome, Bejing has pushed for a phased U.S. drawdown. It also has become increasingly involved in efforts to promote peace in Afghanistan. Until 2017, for example, Chinese officials participated with their U.S., Afghan and Pakistani counterparts in the four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group to discuss restoring stability in the country. And now, Beijing is slated to host its first intra-Afghan dialogue next month.

This graphic shows U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan since 2001.

With the United States motioning toward an exit from Afghanistan, China has also increased its security presence in and around Afghanistan in recent years. In 2016, Chinese and Tajik forces held a joint military exercise in Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan region, followed by another round this August focusing on counterterrorism. There are also rumors that China has quietly set up a military outpost in the region to monitor the Afghan border. And in 2018, the Afghan Embassy in Beijing confirmed that China is helping the Afghan military raise a mountain brigade to patrol Wakhan as well.

In addition to security implications, however, Afghanistan can also advance China's economic goals under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While Afghanistan is not an official BRI member, its strategic location can still offer more direct overland access for future BRI projects that link western China with Iran, as well as those that link Afghanistan with Pakistan. Beijing also sees Afghanistan as having import potential, as evidenced by the large mineral shipment that was recently transported from northern Afghanistan to China's far eastern coast by cutting through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan via train.

These economic opportunities explain why Beijing invited Kabul to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in 2018. But such prospects — as well as Beijing's security — all are dependent on restoring stability in Afghanistan. To protect its borders from terrorists and reap these potential economic benefits, China will thus continue supporting peace negotiations — including facilitating dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan — as well as sustaining its security cooperation with Afghanistan, even as it avoids deploying actual troops on the ground.

Russia's Stake: Containing the Islamic State

But China isn't the only U.S. rival with a stake in Afghanistan's future. Indeed, Russia's own security concerns — as well as its long and tumultuous history in Afghanistan — has prompted Moscow to try to take the lead in jump-starting peace negotiations in recent years. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 led to a nearly decadelong occupation pitting the Marxist government in Kabul against the Afghan mujahideen backed by the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. The end of that conflict nearly 10 years later then paved the way for a civil war culminating in the rise of the Taliban and its eventual conquest of Kabul in 1996. During the Taliban's five-year reign, Russia — along with Iran and India — supported the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, and also initially backed the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan to dismantle the Taliban government following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

A timeline of U.S.-Taliban peace talks.

But in more recent years, the security implications of a U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan have compelled Moscow to deepen its leverage in the Afghan peace process. Like China and the United States, Russia recognizes that a stable Afghanistan is key in mitigating the transnational threat arising from the Islamic State and other militant groups. From Moscow's perspective, reestablishing some sense of stability and governance in the country could also help rein in the long-standing flow of Afghan opium into Russia.

In support of these two core interests, Russia's Foreign Ministry has hosted several conferences on Afghanistan since 2016, including a summit in February that involved Taliban officials and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai. As a part of this rekindled interest in Afghanistan's future, Russia has also warmed up to the Taliban's key sponsor and former Cold War enemy, Pakistan. In 2014, Moscow lifted its arms embargo against Islamabad. And in 2016, the two countries launched the first of their now annual joint military drills.

The U.S.'s Goal: A Political Settlement
Despite Russia and China's efforts to influence Afghanistan's fate by cozying up to the Taliban, however, only the United States can grant the insurgents their core desire of a U.S. troop withdrawal. But Khalilzad's outreach nonetheless suggests that Washington can leverage each country's budding relationship with the Taliban to help ensure the insurgents uphold their end of the eventual deal, including a cease-fire, counterterrorism pledge against al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and talks between the Afghan government and Taliban.

The United States will petition China and Russia's help to restart peace talks, knowing that a stable Afghanistan is in its enemies' interests as much as it's in its own.

To secure this comprehensive deal, the United States has pursued talks with the Taliban over the past year. But the dialogue has since stalled following U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to call off the process last month. The Taliban have expressed interest in restarting talks to achieve the withdrawal of U.S. forces, though they have pledged to keep fighting in the meantime. Continued violence in Afghanistan, however, won't necessarily keep the White House from ordering a drawdown from Afghanistan in the coming months, as Trump searches for foreign policy victories ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Indeed, NATO's commanding general confirmed Oct. 21 that the United States has already drawn down 2,000 troops from Afghanistan this year, bringing the total U.S. forces in the country to 12,000 (compared with the 100,000 deployed during the height of the surge in 2011).

But after nearly two decades of combat, the United States has decided that a political settlement is its best bet in restoring stability in Afghanistan, meaning its talks with the Taliban will ultimately restart. And when they do, there's a chance Washington could bring Russia and China into the fold for added support, even as the global powers pursue competing self-interests in one of Asia's longest-running conflicts.

Crafty_Dog

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The Afpakia Papers
« Reply #1637 on: December 09, 2019, 03:35:58 PM »

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Afghanistan prepares for a future without US money
« Reply #1638 on: December 11, 2019, 09:18:35 AM »
Afghanistan Prepares for a Financial Future Without the U.S.
7 MINS READ
Dec 11, 2019 | 10:30 GMT
Afghan laborers work on the exterior renovation of Darulaman Palace in Kabul on Aug. 8, 2019.
Afghan laborers work on the exterior renovation of Darulaman Palace in Kabul on Aug. 8, 2019. As the United States looks to slowly stop funding Kabul, Afghanistan's leaders will need to find a way of raising more of their own funds.

(WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
HIGHLIGHTS

A U.S.-Taliban peace deal will pave the way for intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending the country's conflict.
Kabul's lack of domestic revenues will require Washington to continue funding security and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan well beyond 2020.

Accordingly, the United States wishes to end the conflict to grow Afghanistan's $20 billion economy so the country can generate more domestic revenues and gradually wean itself off international funding.

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's 2020 Annual Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis of key developments over the next quarter and throughout the year.

A year ahead of the U.S. 2020 presidential election, Washington appears to have revived its latest attempt at a peace deal with the Taliban. On Nov. 28, U.S. President Donald Trump visited Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where he met his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, and addressed some of the roughly 12,000 U.S. troops serving in the country, just as American diplomats were busy meeting with Taliban officials in Qatar in a bid to rekindle formal negotiations that the president himself halted in September.

The Big Picture

The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to topple the Taliban for sheltering al Qaeda. Washington is currently seeking a peace deal with the Taliban, but the wider Afghan conflict will endure until Kabul and the insurgents forge a cease-fire during the next phase of the peace process. What's more, U.S. funding for security and reconstruction will persist until Kabul can generate sufficient domestic revenues.

See South Asia section of the 2019 Fourth-Quarter Forecast

On Dec. 7, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad did, indeed, revive dialogue with the Taliban. With talks restarting, the two sides will once more seek a deal entailing a partial U.S. drawdown while opening the way for talks between the Taliban and Kabul in support of a political settlement. But regardless of when a U.S.-Taliban deal gets done, the United States will still be footing the bill for Afghanistan's security and reconstruction beyond 2020. Washington, however, doesn't want to fund Kabul's security and reconstruction expenses forever, meaning time is of the essence for Kabul's leaders to get the country onto its own feet financially.

Foreign Funding: The Key to Survival

Throughout Afghanistan's political history, Kabul has relied on external funding. Because the central government has historically struggled to assert its authority over the country's various regions, its ability to generate tax revenues is limited. During the Soviet-Afghan war from 1979 to 1989, Moscow funded the ruling People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), sending 100,000 troops to prevent the collapse of an allied communist government fighting against the mujahideen (whose own survival depended on funding and weapons from the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China). But following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the PDPA lost its key source of funding and suffered its own demise the next year as part of a conflict that eventually facilitated the rise of the Taliban. The militant group, in turn, relied on funding from Pakistan during its time in power from 1996 to 2001. But once Islamabad withdrew its support in the face of U.S. pressure, the Taliban government collapsed within two months of the U.S.-led invasion in October 2001.

Today, the Afghan government and the Taliban rely on external support to sustain their war effort against each other. Since 2002, the United States has spent $809 billion just on security and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The vast majority of these funds have gone toward security, whose exorbitant costs in some years have exceeded the country's $20 billion economy by nearly four times. The United States has a vital interest in funding a robust if diminishing security presence in Afghanistan under the present operation to prevent militants from launching another transnational attack.

This chart shows U.S. spending on security and reconstruction in Afghanistan over the past two decades.
And while the Taliban's sources of external financing are murkier, the movement's leadership receives safe haven in Pakistan and, in all likelihood, some level of material support from Pakistani intelligence, which has supported the movement to help foster an allied government in Kabul that will finally recognize the countries' contested border and keep India at arm's length. At the same time, the group also likely receives funds from wealthy donors in the Gulf (probably facilitated by the Taliban's political office in Doha). Without such funds, the Taliban's own survival would be at stake.

Encouraging Self-Reliance

One of the central aims of the United States' efforts in Afghanistan is thus to encourage Kabul to generate more of its own revenue as Washington gradually withdraws support in the years ahead. Last year, Ghani's government raised $2.5 billion in revenues, roughly two-thirds of which came from taxes. Though this achievement represented a 7 percent increase from the previous year, it accounted for less than half of the government's $5.3 billion in expenses.

The foreign funding topping up the Afghan budget comes in two forms. The first — "on-budget" grants — go through the government and involve three funds for reconstruction, law and order, and security. The second consists of off-budget grants, in which international donors directly fund projects independently of Kabul. Together, grant spending in 2018 equaled $7.3 billion, equaling 37 percent of gross domestic product. The International Monetary Fund projects Afghanistan's domestic revenues will grow from 13.4 percent of GDP in 2018 to 17.1 percent by 2024, while off-budget grants will shrink from 21.9 percent of GDP to 9.7 percent over the same time frame. Nevertheless, achieving these projections will depend on the government's ability to further enhance tax collections and grow the economy faster than the population.

These charts show Afghanistan's GDP per capital and GDP growth over the years.

Boosting revenues explains the importance of investing in roads, electricity and other kinds of infrastructure — all things that Afghanistan has lacked due to war and rural resistance to centrally imposed change — that the country will need to create the backbone of a modern economy. At present, Afghanistan has just 12,350 kilometers (7,718 miles) of paved roads, according to one estimate, and produces only 300 megawatts of electricity domestically, forcing it to import another 1,000 megawatts. Since 2001, Afghanistan's economy has grown from $2.5 billion to $19.6 billion, a nearly eightfold increase that has stemmed from periods of extraordinary growth, including a 21 percent jump in GDP in 2009. Other signs of progress in Afghanistan since the war's beginning include an increase in life expectancy from 56 to 63 years and a fivefold increase in GDP per capita from $117 to $586. Still, the country has the lowest GDP per capita in South Asia. And as external funding has diminished, growth cooled beginning in 2013, trailing population growth in some years. This explains why growth in GDP per capita is stagnant, and why the poverty rate — already at a staggering 55 percent — is failing to improve.

Boosting revenues explains the importance of investing in roads, electricity and other kinds of infrastructure — all things that Afghanistan has lacked due to war and rural resistance to centrally imposed change.

2020 and Beyond

Afghanistan will face severe political challenges in 2020. The moment authorities finally announce official results from the September 2019 presidential election, the losing candidates will almost certainly contest the outcome, portending another contentious transfer of power in the country's evolving democracy. And depending on the winner, vastly different governments could emerge. Ghani, for instance, favors a centralized presidential system (a view that has Pashtun support), while Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah wants a decentralized parliamentary system (a vision that has Tajik backing). Of course, a peace deal between the Taliban and Kabul could ultimately produce a new constitution and more drastic changes to the structure of government.

But the task awaiting Afghanistan's next president is clear: forging a unified front if and when the government enters negotiations with the Taliban following a deal between Washington and the group. But with funding the United States not going to last forever, the president will have to promote security and generate sufficient domestic revenue, create jobs and raise the standard of living beyond 2020. Otherwise, Afghanistan will struggle to develop a modern economy that can stand on its own.

Crafty_Dog

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