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Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem
The deal between the Pakistani government and the Swat Valley armed militiaAfter the Pakistani government had consented to grant the Swat District in the Malakand Province the appropriate competencies to implement Islamic Shari’ah and after they had assumed the practical arrangements to execute this agreement, some observers ascribed this to the guidelines of American and British officials who had made a distinction between the moderates and the extremists of the Taliban Movement, in the hope of holding talks and a dialogue with the moderates, and isolating and fighting the extremists. What is remarkable is the squabble-free response of the Pakistani government to those guidelines, which could not be envisaged as useful to the apparent aim of what is referred to as the Afghan crisis. The US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates said upon the signing of the deal: “If there is a reconciliation, if insurgents are willing to put down their arms…Washington could accept a political agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban militants along the lines of a truce in Pakistan.” However, the White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama’s Administration believed that “solutions involving security in Pakistan don’t include less democracy and less human rights. The signing of that denoting strict Islamic law in Swat valley goes against both those principles.” These contradictory American statements on the Swat agreement were designed to alleviate the NATO, British and Indian reservations. Also, America wanted this tactical agreement to fail to absolve the Pakistani army of blame before the domestic public opinion, as it was about to engage in fierce battles to uproot the armed militiamen, thus prompting the flight of hundreds of thousands of residents. Hence, it was the Pakistani army who thwarted the agreement with the blessing of America, because they did not withdraw their troops from the Swat Valley despite the pledge to do so according to the agreement. Also, the spokesperson of Jama’at-e-Islami in Pakistan Abdul Ghaffar Aziz confirmed the “presence of agents for foreign countries impersonating the Taliban Movement with the aim of igniting war in the region.” Besides, observers unanimously agree that American and Western pressure was behind the Pakistani army’s decision to launch the recent operation, in order to “curb the torrent of accusations suggesting that the Pakistani government has submitted to the demands of the terrorists and extremists.”
This is why the agreement of Swat collapsed. As for the objective behind the thwarting of this agreement, we will explain after a quick glimpse at the American vision towards solving the Afghan crisis. America adopted in the last year of the Bush administration, which was later confirmed with the arrival of Obama, that the Afghan crisis was in essence a Pakistani crisis and that Pakistan was part of the problem and not part of the solution; thus America had to tackle the cause and not the effect. On the basis of this vision, National Security Advisor General James Jones deemed on the very day Barack Obama was presenting his Afghan strategy “the regional approach the cornerstone of a revamped strategy, and for the first time, we will treat Afghanistan and Pakistan as two countries, but as with one challenge in one region.” As for Barack Obama, he said that “InAfghanistanandneighbouringPakistan wedohave real problems with the Taliban and al Qaeda.” He added: “They are the single most direct threat to our national security interests. But as commander-in-chief it is my responsibility to make sure that bin Laden and his cronies are not able to create a safe haven within which they can kill another 3,000 Americans or more.”
Consequently, the American vision to solve the Afghan crisis is summed up in two issues: Extending the field of military operations inside Pakistan and seeking the help of neighbouring and regional countries. Once the American vision vis-à-vis the Afghan crisis becomes clear, we can perceive the objective behind America’s feigned blessing and practical thwarting of the Swat agreement.
1. America is working towards establishing an uninhabited buffer zone deep inside Pakistan and along the northwest border province, and in the tribal areas such as Waziristan, which does not form part of the four Pakistani provinces. The battles nowadays are concentrated in the governorate of Malakand, which includes the Swat Valley, Buner, Dir and Shankala among others, because of its proximity from the Khyber Pass, used to transport equipments and supplies for NATO forces serving in Afghanistan. Hence, the operations of the Pakistani army are expected to expand in Malakand and then gradually in the tribal areas and inside the northwest border region. Here, the former interior ministry secretary Rustam Shah Mohmand revealed that the current fierce war in the tribal areas was a conspiracy aimed at displacing the residents and generating a buffer zone between Pakistan and Afghanistan, thus heralding the fragmentation of Pakistan. Shah explained that this conspiracy aimed at facilitating the task of the foreign occupation forces in Afghanistan to control the region, which is in accord with the calls made by certain forces in Afghanistan to regain this region from Pakistan since it was part of the Afghan territories annexed by Pakistan under the Durand Line agreement during the British Empire’s occupation of the Indian Subcontinent.
2. America is working towards securing alternative supply routes that pass through Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia after the Taliban Movement succeeded in destroying hundreds of containers and trucks carrying military vehicles and vital supplies for more than 53,000 US and Western soldiers deployed in various parts of Afghanistan, through successive attacks on the current supply routes, which are deemed the lifeline for NATO and ISAF from a military and strategic aspect. Hence, the objective of the battles the Pakistani army is fighting in Malakand on behalf of America, which led to the dislodgement of hundreds of thousands from their areas, is to secure the Khyber Pass until America succeeds in concluding a host of agreements with Central Asian countries, Russia and Iran, on new supply routes. Nevertheless, the supply routes that pass through Pakistan, starting from the Karachi seaport on the Indian Ocean to the Khyber Pass that leads to the Afghan territories, continue to secure up to 80% of the food, military and logistic supplies for American occupation forces and their surrogates in Afghanistan.
3. As part of the American vision for settling the crisis, the US diplomacy is working towards securing the help of countries neighbouring Afghanistan and regional powers that have influence in Afghanistan, especially Turkey, India and Iran. In this context, the 45th Munich Security Conference held between 6th and 8th February 2009 with the participation of several world leaders and 50 diplomats and defence officials, focused heavily on solving the Afghan quagmire, especially the issue of generating alternative supplies routes to the ones that pass through Pakistan. Four days before the start of the conference, NATO’s top Commander General John Cradock said that “the alliance would not object to individual member nations making deals with Iran to supply their forces in Afghanistan.” This means that America relies heavily on reaching an understanding with Iran in respect of securing supply routes that pass through Iran for the NATO forces. Military planners and officials at the Pentagon said that the United States was contemplating generating fresh supply routes to Afghanistan to avoid passing through Russia. US experts are even contemplating land routes through Iran that America’s NATO allies could use. NATO planners are exploring the Iranian routes that emanate from the port of Chabahar and that are linked with a new route built recently by India in Western Afghanistan. This route is deemed safer and shorter in comparison to passing through Pakistan.
4. The main aim of the American war on the tribal region and the northwest border region is to divide Pakistan itself. This is because granting competencies to implement Sharia’h in the Swat Valley and this swift approval by the Pakistani government indicates that other rebel and separatist groups would demand the same, be it in the Baluchistan province or elsewhere. If we added to this the deteriorating political and economic life inside Pakistan, the fragility of the security situation on the borders with India after the Pakistani army withdrew recently 6000 soldiers from the Indian border to fight the Muslims on the Afghan border on the instruction of America and the resurrection of Indian-backed separatist Baluchistan Movement to execute America’s project and to bargain with Pakistan over the Kashmir province, we would deduce that the issue of fragmenting Pakistan is at the heart of the strategic vision of the United States, who succeeded in separating East Pakistan or what is today known as Bangladesh back in 1971.
America is focusing on Pakistan to establish herself firmly in Afghanistan; because the American administration would not relinquish the bases it has established on the borders of the former Soviet Union’s lebensraum, which would enable her to constantly cause Russia problems by using the Muslims of the southern republics as tools. Besides, America does not wish to relinquish the gains made by her companies and her investments in the Caspian Sea oil and the pipelines that pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan. If America does not want to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban Movement, because it does not conform to her strategic vision for Pakistan, the issue of negotiating with the Afghan Taliban Movement is possible; figures close to the Taliban Movement were approached in Saudi Arabia and Hamed Karzai initiated a clear and direct invitation to the Taliban Movement to engage in negotiations that may lead to power-sharing deal. It seems that the intransigence of certain Taliban officials in respect of the implementation of Shari’ah hampered those approaches, though other officials would favour the prospect of the Pashtuns having a satisfactory share in governing Afghanistan since they represent the majority. In any case, what is established is that America would not object to the “moderate” elements within the Afghan Taliban Movement assuming power and getting rid of Karzai and others, as she did in Somalia when she removed Abdullah Yucef and brought Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, while her military machine assumes the chasing of the rebel Taliban operatives, amid pledges from Barack Obama to rebuild the Afghan infrastructure and amid an international commitment to assist in the effort of training the Afghan army and police. The Iranian chief of police General Ismael Ahmedi Muqaddam said on 13 April 2009 that Iran was prepared to train the Afghan police. This came after Iran had partaken in the Munich Security Conference and in the “International Conference on Afghanistan” in The Hague on 31 March 2009, having received an official invitation from the United States. Vice Minister for Iran'sForeign Ministry Mohammad Mehdi Akhunzada said that “Iran was fully prepared to partake in the rebuilding of Afghanistan.”
23 Jumada al-Oulah 1430h