By Sajjad Shaukat

Hamid Karzai and David Petreaus

While referring to Pakistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai reiterated calls on Washington on August 26, this year to shift its military focus to “terror” hideouts outside his troubled country. He elaborated that the US-led war “will not be won unless terrorists’ havens are eliminated.”

Before this, in July, Karzai suggested NATO operation inside Pakistan. Without bothering for the restoration of cordial ties with Islamabad, he said, “The time has come for our international allies to know that the war against terrorism is not in Afghanistan’s homes and villages…but rather this war is in the sanctuaries, funding centres and training places of terrorism which are outside Afghanistan,” and are inside Pakistan.

Meanwhile, top NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen David Petraeus, while endorsing the views of Karzai remarked on August 31 that he shared Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s concerns about threats from across the border in Pakistan.

Petreaus further indicated, “Given the very clear linkage between attacks on the Afghan soil by individuals who have come from Pakistan and are commanded and controlled from Pakistan, I think President Karzai has very legitimate concerns”, referring to growing calls by the Afghan government in recent days about the need to destroy Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan.

In the recent past, Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta has also called on Pakistan to “take serious measures against the militants groups” who launch attacks on Afghan targets from secure havens inside Pakistan.

However, these are not new allegations against Pakistan because from time to time, both Afghan and US high officials have been accusing Islamabad of cross-border terrorism and hideouts of terrorists.

In this connection, recently, US Vice President Joe Biden has pointed out during an interview with the ABC television, “everyone knew in these summer months, when they (Taliban) can infiltrate from Pakistan under the cover of foliage and the rest and it is open that there would be more deaths.”

On July 18, during her latest visit to Pakistan US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Pakistan to ‘do more’ to counter

Poppy not to be destroyed; keep making the noise

terrorism. She elaborated, “There are still additional steps that we are asking and expecting Pakistan to take.” In a threatening style, Ms. Clinton also stated, “there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that if an attack against the United States be traced to be Pakistani, it would have a very devastating impact on our relationship.”

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It is of particular attention that on July 25, the 92,000 US secret documents released by an organization called WikiLeaks include a series of accusations against Pakistan regarding infiltration of the Taliban in Afghanistan and its intelligence agency, ISI in relation to its alleged ties and contacts with the Afghan Taliban. In this respect, timings of the leakage of the reports are notable. In this context, besides the above mentioned statements of the foreign leaders, on July 29, British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh spoke against Pakistan in relation to terrorism.

American senior military and intelligence officials have repeatedly been stating that the next plot by Al Qaeda to attack inside America will be made from Pakistan’s FATA regions which are safe-havens of Al Qaeda’s militants.

The fact of the matter is that under the pretext of terrorists’ hideouts in Pakistan US, Afghanistan, India and Israel want to see a NATO attack on Pakistan. In this regard, their secret agencies and lobbies abroad have accelerated anti-Pakistan propaganda against Islamabad. The main aim behind is to denuclearize Pakistan which is the only ‘nuclearised’ country in the Islamic world.

Despite all of this, we need to know as to where terrorists’ hideouts exist. In this connection, through an in-camera interview with a journalist of Pakistan’s private TV channel from Afghanistan on July 21, 2008, revelations of the top Al-Qaida leader, Mustafa Abul Yazid who is also known as Sheikh Saeed have broken the myth of foreign propaganda campaign and blame-game against hpw Islamabad that terrorist’s hideouts are located in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

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Quite contrarily, in his interview, Commander of Al-Qaida Mustafa Abul Yazid stated that the government of Pakistan has caused the most damages to Al-Qaida. He added that the mujahadeen protected Pakistan from the Soviet Army and then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf “betrayed us,” by alligning with the US.

Nevertheless, location of this interview which took place in Khost, in eastern Afghanistan and revelations of Sheikh Saeed provide clear evidence that top leaders and commanders of Al-Qaeda-related Taliban are based inside Afghanistan from where they supervise and conduct subversive acts against the US-led occupying forces, puppet regime of the President Karzai and Pakistan.

Moreover, Al-Qaida leader’s disclosures made it quite clear that the main leadership of the militant organization has its presence inside Afghanistan and his severe criticism of Pakistan’s government shows that there is no link between Islamabad and Afghan Taliban. Besides, Al-Qaeda has connections with foreign fighters of other Islamic countries.

This interview also exposes the false accusations of India and Afghanistan including other US-led European countries that Pakistani intelligence agencies are supporting insurgencey in Afghanistan.

It is mentionable that more than 15,000 Indian troops are stationed in Afghanistan. While, New Delhi has officially declared 14 Indian consulates in Afghanistan, but on ground, has established 200 foreign offices and training camps where Indian RAW’s intelligence officials with the help of Khad, are doing their utmost to destabilise Pakistan.

In Wakhan too, a religious Madrassa of the Indian Muslim clerics is functioning under the patronage of RAW and Israeli Mossad. Very young boys including Afghans, recruits are mostly Uzbeks, Tajiks and Caucasians who also come from Central Asia, bordering Afghanistan. Thus more than 20,000 ideologically motivated terrorists and suicide bombers have been trained in Afghanistan. They are regularly infiltrated in Pakistan so as to commit bomb blasts and suicide attacks.

It is noteworthy that during the Swat-Malakand and South Waziristan military operations, hundreds of Taliban insurgents, composed of Uzbeks, Arabs, Chechens and Tajiks were arrested. This fact was also verified by ISPR Spokesman, Maj-General Athar Abbas during various press briefings.

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In this context, on July 17, 2008, USA Today wrote, “Afghanistan has been drawing a fresh influx of jihadi fighters from Turkey, Central Asia, Chechnya and the Middle East…one more sign that al-Qaeda is becoming the most active front of the war on terror.”

Notably, instead of Pakistan, Afghanistan shares a common border with the Asian Republics. So, all the foreign insurgents are entering Pakistan through Afghanistan which has become a gateway in this regard. Even the top leadership of Al Qaeda is also in Afghanistan along with its headquarter.

It is well-known fact that on the one hand, Pakistan’s armed forces have broken the backbone of the Taliban militants, while on the other; its security agencies have captured a number of the insurgents including their leaders. It is due to these strict actions that majority of the Taliban have fled away to Afghanistan where they feel safe and where their main leaders have taken shelters in the safe-havens—and where they are waging a war of liberation against the occupying forces. So we can conclude without any doubt that the hideouts of the Taliban insurgents are located in Afghanistan.

It would not be out of context to mention here that primarily these are the Afghan Drug Barons and Warlords in whose interest it is to keep the region in state of war. Therefore why would Hamid Karzai mention that when his real brother is neck deep in narcotics trade and not without the blessings of American Commanders there. It is also a known fact that Qasim Fahim, Vice President of Afghanistan is also a warlord and a drug baron. American troops walk through the poppy fields and yet do nothing for its destruction etc. This attitude suggests that some of the American bigwigs also have their share in the booty, case of Col Oliver North is not very old to understand how America funds global unrest through drug money.

Sajjad Shaukat who is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker, writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.