karzaiAfghan plot nipped in bud

By S. M. Hali

Afghanistan’s budding plot to destabilize Pakistan has been nipped in the bud by US forces. Having received an inkling of the conspiracy, the United States Special Forces raided an Afghan convoy that was ushering a senior Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant, Latif Mehsud, to Kabul for secret talks last month, now have Mr. Mehsud in their custody. Much to their chagrin at having their heinous plot being exposed, the Afghan government accused the US of bullying tactics. In his naïveté, Hamid Karzai believes that the nabbing of the prized intelligence asset of the Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS) was an arm twisting maneuver by the US to get Karzai to sign on the dotted lines on a pact to keep American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

The Afghan government has admitted being in contact with the TTP. Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Mr. Karzai, said that Mr. Mehsud had been in contact with officials from the NDS for “a long period of time.” The Pakistan Taliban leader “was part of an NDS project like every other intelligence agency is doing,” Mr. Faizi said in an apparent reference to the alleged support provided to the Afghan Taliban by Pakistan intelligence. “He was cooperating. He was engaged with the NDS — this I can confirm.”

Mr. Faizi did not elaborate on the nature of the cooperation. But according to a “New York Times” story ‘U.S. Disrupts Afghans’ Tack on Militants’ published on October 29, 2013, two other Afghan officials, when asked why they were willing to discuss such a potentially provocative plot, said Mr. Mehsud’s detention by the United States had already been exposed — it was first reported by “The Washington Post” — ruining his value as an intelligence asset and sinking their plan.

Publicly, the Afghan government has described Mr. Mehsud as an insurgent peace emissary. But according to Afghan officials, the ultimate plan was to take revenge on the Pakistani military.

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In their paranoia, the Afghan authorities have been blaming Pakistan for all their woes. In his megalomania, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been having hallucinations that Pakistan and its intelligence agency the ISI have been causing mayhem in his country by abetting and aiding the Afghan Taliban. Karzai’s Indian handlers have been feeding on his phobia to create the desired impetus to bait Pakistan.

The unraveling Afghan stratagem depicts that its government decided to recruit proxies of its own by seeking to aid the TTP in their fight against Pakistan’s security forces. NDS was beginning to make progress over the past year before the American raid exposed the plot.

Although Afghan anger over the raid has been an open issue since it was revealed in news reports earlier this month, it is only now that the full purpose of the Afghan operation that prompted the raid has been detailed by American and Afghan officials. Those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to hpw discuss secret intelligence matters.

The thinking, Afghan officials said, was that the Afghans could later gain an advantage in negotiations with the Pakistani government by offering to back off their support for the militants. Aiding the Pakistan Taliban was an “opportunity to bring peace on our terms,” one senior Afghan security official said.

The Afghan conspiracy speaks volumes for its desperation in trying to backstab an ally and erstwhile benefactor Pakistan by conniving with its detractors. Perhaps Karzai’s love affair with the Indians has rubbed off some of their guru Chankaya’s dictums on him. Believing that “the enemy of my enemy should be my friend”, Mr. Karzai chose to reach out to the TTP to ‘settle scores” with Pakistan. He forgets that at the end of the day, colluding with shadowy characters like the TTP, who remain wedded to their own brand of extremism, are loyal to no one but themselves. Whereas the Afghan Taliban are engaged in an armed struggle to “liberate” their country from foreign invaders and limit their operations to within Afghanistan, the TTP are more than willing to take the fight beyond international boundaries and perceive the west as being responsible for its woes. The TTP’s complicity with the Al Qaeda is well documented. Latif Mehsud, the under US custody combatant is suspected of having a role in the foiled plot to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square in 2010.

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Wali-ur-Rahman Mehsud, who was successfully targeted by a US Drone attack on May 29, 2013, was wanted by both Pakistani and US authorities. On November 2, 2009, Pakistani authorities offered a Rs. 50 million ($600,000) reward for information that leads to the capture or killing of Wali-ur-Rehman for his alleged role in targeting Pakistani security personnel. On September 1, 2010, the United States added him and Hakimullah Mehsud to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists and the TTP to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. On August 26, 2011, an interview with him was aired on Al-Arabiya TV, in which he threatened to “wreak vengeance” on the U.S. and NATO (especially France and Britain) with “an attack greater than 9/11.”

It is high time that Afghanistan sheds its blinkers which are forcing it to perceive Pakistan as the enemy. Pakistan has said it time and again that it is a stakeholder in Afghan peace. This fact cannot be underscored more emphatically because when there is conflict and turmoil in Afghanistan, Pakistan too gets trapped in the dragnet of strife and friction. We have seen the result of the mass exodus which took place as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989) and brought around five million Afghan refugees to Pakistan. More than fifty percent remain back. Additionally, the influx of drugs and weapons into Pakistan brought turmoil and death into Pakistan. The advent of TTP and suicide bombers has hit Pakistan so hard that nearly fifty thousand lives have been lost and it would be irrational to believe that Pakistan would support any efforts to destabilize Afghanistan, when it would itself bear the brunt of such adventurism.