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Peace Talks Mere Propaganda: Mulla Omar

Posted by yourpakistan on November 21, 2010


If the US-led coalition needed the Taliban position to calibrate its transition strategy in Afghanistan at the Nato summit in Lisbon this week it has been supplied by Mulla Omar himself. In a message posted on the Taliban website, a ritual coincidental to every Eid, he has denied, forcefully and in no uncertain terms, negotiations with the Afghan government.

“The Islamic Emirate believes the solution of the issue lies in withdrawal of invading troops and establishment of true Islamic and independent system in the country,” says his message. Mulla Omar also decries the “cunning country which has occupied our country”, for its moves on the one hand to expand its military operations and on the other “wants to throw dust into eyes of the people by spreading rumours of negotiations”.

Coming hard on about a dozen Mujahideen leaders who have joined the Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani-headed peace council, he asks them: “We cannot figure out why you are unilaterally co-operating with the invaders.” In 1936, Mao Zedong explained his sixteen character guerrilla warfare formula: “The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps we harass; the enemy tires we attack; the enemy retreats we pursue”. Mulla Omar’s not very different. The Taliban would wear down the foreign forces “in an exhausting war of attrition”, as it was done against the Red Army. The strategy, he said, is to increase military operations step by step and spread them all over Afghanistan “to compel them to come out of the hideouts and then crush them through tactical raids…This experiment was effective in Marja, Kandahar and some other areas”.

Two important developments preceded Mulla Omar’s stout denial of negotiations with the Afghan government. One, President Karzai lambasted the US-led coalition presence as unacceptable intrusion and warned against night raids and special forces operations, obviously to influence the forthcoming Lisbon summit and President Obama’s much-awaited ‘Strategic Review’ next month. Two, the reported refusal of some 35,000 government jobs by Mulla Omar as price for the Taliban’s readiness to join the peace parleys by surrendering arms didn’t take place as expected in Makkah soon after the Hajj. Naturally, the hard line taken by the Taliban’s top leader has come as big disappointment both to the Karzai government and the coalition capitals. But it is not likely to seriously impact the collective mindset of the coalition governments that further military engagement in Afghanistan would be counterproductive. Of course, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton stands at the back of General Petraeus by upholding the latter’s best-option night raids – and in the general’s view as the make-or-break issue between the Afghan government and the US-led coalition forces.

By all accounts the Afghan war has entered its last year; beyond that there would be only political and diplomatic moves and manoeuvres as guns are likely to rest mostly if not fall silent completely. The question on the table would be how soon the administration can be handed over to the Afghans and the contemplated ouster date for that handover is 2014, give or take a few months. Will the Karzai-led government be strong enough by then to accept this challenge the answer is almost equally divided? Certainly, it wouldn’t be a neat cut-and-run thing for the United States and its allies, as was the case in Iraq.

But the Afghans as a society are not as sharply aligned with various forces as Iraqis are – where the invaders greatly succeeded in sowing the seeds of sectarian disharmony that plays out every other day. Socio-cultural and ethnic divisions in Afghanistan do not run through national politics. Therefore, it won’t be unrealistic to imagine that the post-war Afghanistan would enjoy a fair amount of co-existential harmony.

And there is something the stakeholders in the Afghan peace must know: they should not worry about the so-called ‘vacuum of power’, the misconception often blamed for the civil war that ensued following the Soviet withdrawal. Given the motif of resistance to Soviet occupation various Mujahideen leaders had acquired a person-centred clout, which could not be overlooked – even when the Pakistan-brokered negotiations had greatly succeeded. But the more serious obstacle to a single-point power point was the outside interference, which helped create Northern Alliance and lionised it. Now that the Nato summit is going to deliberate on the transition/exit strategy it would be politically right for Afghanistan that the so-called ‘vacuum of power’ is allowed to impede the withdrawal process. It is essentially for the Afghans to decide their political future. Published in Brecorder.com

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