Be­ware, Gen­eral Kayani

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Shahzad Chaudhry

Pak­istan has ex­plic­itly stated that any par­leys to set­tle the Afghan im­broglio must have Pak­istani par­tic­i­pa­tion. Kayani also feels that while the US charts its own course of a po­lit­i­cal res­o­lu­tion, it pushes Pak­istan on the warpath

Ju­lian As­sange has stirred quite a storm, and it may not re­main re­stricted to the teacup. He is in­tro­duced var­i­ously: pri­mar­ily, a hacker, a peace ac­tivist or an anti-war lob­by­ist, some­one who is lead­ing the drive for a trans­par­ent govern­ment in democ­ra­cies, and who is keen to ex­pose du­plic­ity in state af­fairs. He is also a lot more: a cy­ber-war­rior who has got his role cut out as the world goes in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal and, there­fore, li­able to in­ter­ven­tion. He has a team of around 30, all of the same vein, ready to as­sist him chart a new dy­namic that will in­creas­ingly de­ter­mine the na­ture of the West­phalian nation state and how it may con­duct af­fairs in the fu­ture. As­sange is also a use­ful con­duit to, well, stir a few storms.

But I rush too far ahead. Let us go back to the NATO vi­o­la­tions of Pak­istani bor­ders in Septem­ber 2010, and Pak­istan's re­ac­tion of sus­pend­ing sup­plies through Torkham, the ma­jor sup­ply route car­ry­ing al­most 65 per­cent of NATO sup­plies. A two-week clo­sure caused a pro­por­tion­ate re­duc­tion in stocks, forc­ing ei­ther a pause or fur­ther low­er­ing of re­serves - both sig­nif­i­cantly rais­ing US/NATO forces' in­dex of vul­ner­a­bil­ity. The US, the sole su­per­power, to some the only im­pe­ri­al­ist power of mod­ern times, had to swal­low its pride and apol­o­gise pub­licly to Pak­istan - a state vir­tu­ally de­pen­dent on the US for its po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and (some­what) se­cu­rity sur­vival. Gen­eral Kayani would have had some­thing to do with the de­ci­sion. Ele­phan­tine mem­o­ries are long.

NATO as­sem­bled in Lis­bon in Novem­ber to val­i­date NATO in the 21st cen­tury. On the side, it con­ducted two other im­por­tant sum­mits: NATO Afghanistan and NATO Rus­sia. At the NATO Afghanistan sum­mit, other than NATO's 28 mem­bers, an­other 20 na­tions that are part of the 48-nation In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity As­sis­tance Force (ISAF) sta­tioned in Afghanistan too were in­vited, as was Afghanistan. Their sub­ject of dis­cus­sion - US/NATO's exit from Afghanistan. Pak­istan was omit­ted from this meet­ing. Hav­ing spent nine years as the front­line state fight­ing this global war on ter­ror, los­ing some 13,000 men, women and chil­dren in the blow­back sui­cide vengeance un­leashed by the Tal­iban on Pak­istani cities, as in­deed the 3,000 uni­formed men who lost their lives fight­ing this war on the front­line, this has been quite an omis­sion. Pak­istan's sta­bil­ity is linked to what hap­pens in Afghanistan; Pak­istan's so­ci­ety and state are both ten­u­ously sus­pended in thin air, un­sure how the Afghan labyrinth will re­solve it­self. And Pak­istan gets con­ve­niently ex­cluded from im­por­tant de­lib­er­a­tions. Come to think of it, if Haqqani in­deed re­sides in North Waziris­tan, if the Quetta Shura has its head­quar­ters amor­phously di­lated from any­where be­tween north of Quetta to the port city of Karachi, and Pak­istan's ISI holds the key to how these groups will re­spond within Afghanistan, not hav­ing Pak­istan in the meet­ing must have a tale at­tached. Soon some­thing will have to give.

I did ask in an ear­lier col­umn if Afghanistan was what Obama bartered with In­dia for a strate­gic re­la­tion­ship with mul­ti­far­i­ous po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic div­i­dends for the US dur­ing his Novem­ber visit to In­dia. Per­haps the eas­ier way out was to ex­clude Pak­istan from con­sid­er­a­tions in Lis­bon when the cur­tain is about to draw down on Afghanistan rather than con­fronting an im­me­di­ate first test of not in­clud­ing a pre­ten­tious 'su­per­power' In­dia in such an im­por­tant gath­er­ing. Call the US a su­per­power in de­cay. But there are other things too. The Pe­traeusKayani re­la­tion­ship has not been too cosy. They hap­pen to be the two fight­ing gen­er­als on ei­ther side of the PakAfghan border. And Pe­traeus has been car­ry­ing that sharp edge to his gen­er­al­ship. He may have dif­fi­cul­ties with the ad­min­is­tra­tion in Washington too but tends to wash those away with an ag­gres­sive de­meanour. He does not get along well with Karzai. He ac­tu­ally does not get along well with any­one who wishes to tell him that there is no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to Afghanistan. He is a des­per­ate, frus­trated com­man­der whose COIN strat­egy, which he claimed had seen suc­cess in Iraq, is be­ing blown to smithereens by these half-sav­age, half-no­mad vagabonds of the Tal­iban. Pe­traeus is un­will­ing to let pol­i­tics take prece­dence in the endgame. Kayani is all about pol­i­tics as the only means to bring both peace and sta­bil­ity. In the Oc­to­ber strate­gic di­a­logue be­tween Pak­istan and the US, Kayani was frus­trated that Pak­istan's pre­ferred plan of op­tions was not reach­ing the high­est lead­er­ship in the US. He handed Pres­i­dent Obama, when he dropped in on the Pak­istani prin­ci­pals of the di­a­logue, a14-page doc­u­ment de­tail­ing pre­cisely what Pak­istan thought that the US needed to hear. Obama's De­cem­ber re­view of Afghanistan would hope­fully re­flect what those with their ear to the ground in Afghanistan can sug­gest as the grace­ful way out.

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