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Rumsfeld: Afghanistan Is Looking Up

Do you agree? - In an editorial today, Bush's defense secretary cites improvements in education, security, health care, infrastructure and the economy as signs that there's hope for Afghanistan.

Our panelist Ahmed Rashid recently returned from Kabul, Afghanistan and wrote the following piece:

Musharraf: Stop Aiding the Taliban

Ahmed Rashid, Lahore, Pakistan - Commanders from five Nato countries whose troops have just fought the bloodiest battle with the Taliban in five years, are demanding their governments get tough with Pakistan over the support and sanctuary its security services provide to the Taliban.

Nato's report on Operation Medusa, an intense battle that lasted from September 4-17 in the Panjwai district, demonstrates the extent of the Taliban's military capability and states clearly that Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence (ISI) is involved in supplying it.

Commanders from Britain, the US, Denmark, Canada and Holland are frustrated that even after Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf met George W. Bush and Tony Blair last week, Western leaders are declining to call Mr. Musharraf's bluff.

"It is time for an 'either you are with us or against us' delivered bluntly to Musharraf at the highest political level," said one Nato commander.

After the September 11 attacks in 2001 America gave Mr Musharraf a similar ultimatum to co-operate against the Taliban, who were then harboring Osama bin Laden.

"Our boys in southern Afghanistan are hurting because of what is coming out of Quetta," he added.

The Taliban use the southern province of Balochistan to co-ordinate their insurgency and to recuperate after military action.

The cushion Pakistan is providing the Taliban is undermining the operation in Afghanistan, where 31,000 Nato troops are now based. The Canadians were most involved in Operation Medusa, two weeks of heavy fighting in a lush vineyard region, defeating 1,500 well entrenched Taliban, who had planned to attack Kandahar city, the capital of the south.

Nato officials now say they killed 1,100 Taliban fighters, not the 500 originally claimed. Hundreds of Taliban reinforcements in pick-up trucks who crossed over from Quetta -- waved on by Pakistani border guards -- were destroyed by Nato air and artillery strikes.

Nato captured 160 Taliban, many of them Pakistanis who described in detail the ISI's support to the Taliban.

Nato is now mapping the entire Taliban support structure in Balochistan, from ISI- run training camps near Quetta to huge ammunition dumps, arrival points for Taliban's new weapons and meeting places of the shura, or leadership council, in Quetta, which is headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the group's leader since its creation a dozen years ago.

Nato and Afghan officers say two training camps for the Taliban are located just outside Quetta, while the group is using hundreds of madrassas where the fighters are housed and fired up ideologically before being sent to the front.

Many madrassas now being listed are run by the Jamiat-e-Ullema Islam, a political party that governs Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province. The party helped spawn the Taliban in 1994.

"Taliban decision-making and its logistics are all inside Pakistan," said the Afghan defense minister, General Rahim Wardak.

A post-battle intelligence report compiled by Nato and Afghan forces involved in Operation Medusa demonstrates the logistical capability of the Taliban.

During the battle the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells, which slowly arrived in Panjwai from Quetta over the spring months. Ammunition dumps unearthed after the battle showed that the Taliban had stocked over one million rounds in Panjwai.

In Panjwai the Taliban had also established a training camp to teach guerrillas how to penetrate Kandahar, a separate camp to train suicide bombers and a full surgical field hospital. Nato estimated the cost of Taliban ammunition stocks at around £2.6 million. "The Taliban could not have done this on their own without the ISI," said a senior Nato officer.

Gen Musharraf this week admitted that "retired" ISI officers might be involved in aiding the Taliban, the closest he has come to admitting the agency's role.

The article was first printed in the Daily Telegraph on October 6, 2006.

On Tuesday October 10th at 11AM ET, Ahmed Rashid will be answering reader questions in a live on line. Propose questions here.

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Comments (22)

been there:

Oddly, no one notices some major links in our murderous meanderings around Afghanistan.
1. Our role in supporting factions opposing the Taliban prior to sending sizeable units of American troops.
2. The factions opposing the Taliban were primarily 'warlord' factions fighting the Taliban out of locale/powerbase, and economic -dope- survival needs. You won't find many Republicans, or, Democrats over there.
3. Our government decided to hook its wagon to these warlord stars based on activity & performance against the Taliban. We provided weapons they provide bodies to use them. In doing so our government strengthened some warlords over others. the trade off,undoubtably, saved American -soldiers- lives.
4. After the defeat/ouster of the Taliban these warlords became our defacto military enforcers in their particular provinces.
5. When local elections (sic) took place in those provinces friends of these warlords did pretty well. Whoda thunk?
6.When our military forces began to 'expand' throughout Afghanistan we needed local enterpreters. Guess who provided them? Yep, our good buddies the warlords, EXCLUSIVELY! And between the recently elected local(warlord)government officials, to include local law enforcement (warlord militia) and the interpreters (again warlord) providing information about the evil insurgents our forces were only to happy to focus on the people/families pointed out to us by our friends. Unfortuneately, it now appears that our guys have killed or captured many more political, and poppyfield rivals of the warlords than insurgents or Taliban.
Some of our -gotta torture them for viable info- Gitmo guests cannot be returned home for fear of instant mortal combat ensuing between them and the warlords/NATO forces, or, outright murder of the wrongly imprisoned. Such is life. These things happen, right?
7. We are aware of this problem now but can do little to change the situation.
The warlords and their corrupt local govenments are firmly entrenched. They decide who lives and dies, whose poppy byproducts move and whose gets confiscated -looks good to the DEA types-. Poppy growing and heroin production is just about the only income producing product in Afghanistan. Money is power, power is control. The money/power/control are all warlord owned and solidly,corrupt. What happened to womens rights, education for girls, plain old hope for the common man....
We screwed the pooch...again. so sorry.
Rumsfelf points to a democratic Afghanistan over the ruins of Iraq, yet the British commander of all NATO forces said yesterday that we could lose all of Afganistan by spring....hmmmm. Who should I believe?

Paul Habib:

I am sorry, but I find it very difficult after the past years in Iraq to think that ANYTHING Donald Rumsfeld says has an iota of credibility. And yet, I don't know why he would want to spread disinformation. What purpose does that serve? Therefore, he must really believe in what he says. And, THAT is what concerns me.

Baci:

When senior officials of this administration count with their fingers successes of Afghanistan or Iraq (as the author of the abovementioned article does) the voice of the communist leader of my little Albania echoes in my ears counting successes of our socialist country: 100% of kids in the whole nation went to school without pay, all contagious diseases such as malaria, syphilis, TB, poliomyelitis, etc. gone, health care free for everybody, life expectancy increased significantly, electrification of the whole country, construction of roads, railroads, women's right to go to work and reject men's paternalism. None of such things that really happened was counted by America as success for that little socialist country.

Chandra USA:

interesting articles. Mr. Rumsfeld is not a very smart individual. Nixon recognised it. Do not give him much credit, his days are numbered, just wait till the elections to be done with in US, and then you will see! After five years Osama is still not caught. Yes if he is caught the fight is over folks! Mr. Bush was sleeping when 9/11 occured. He charecterised it himself, an "opportunity" to get rid of all evil doer's. If not for 9/11 Mr. Bush would have been a one term president just like his dad. Unlike his father, who stopped the war as soon as Kuwait fell, the Jr. learnt a lesson. Continue, and escalate the problem through an election cycle! No body wants to change a C in C, in the middle of the war, it worked for Roosevelt too!!! Now he is in over his head. He has a loose cannon in Rumsfeld. Just listen to what Jim Baker had to say about it today! Do not be surprised if Rumsfeld is given the boot on Nov. 10th. As far as Pakistan, I have come to a belief that they cannot be trusted. You cannot be providing asylum to future terrorists, and tell the world that they are interested in peace!! Just like Iran does not wish to see Israel around, Pakistan does not want to see India around. That brings up the original question, whoever decided to make a Pakistan? Well do you have the answer?! You solved the puzzle!!!!

Abbas:

Ahmed Rashid is a fraud, the guy never makes a specific or logical claim just vague accusations. His last paragraph is indicative of this, if Musharraf specualtes that retired ISI officers "might" be helping the Taliban, he is not admitting to the agency's involvement.

Honestly I think this man is an agent of foreign intelligences services, he serves as their Pakistan-basher in Pakistan.

Aamir Ali:

The anti-Musharraf fanatic Ahmed Rashid strikes again! This guy writes the exact same article over and over. The Taliban dont need Pakistan's support, they have the entire Afghan Pashtun population to recruit from and hundreds of miles of uncontrolled territory in Afghanistan to operate in. The poppy growth provides all the funding necessary.

Susenjit Guha:

It is difficult to take Gen. Musharraf at face value.

Former PM Nawaz Sharif had said that he was totally in the dark when the General, who was supposed to be under the command of the democratically elected PM, carried on a proxy war with India in Kargil. Claiming that the mujahideens were fighting Indian forces in Kashmir, he had put the full weight of his army to back them and fight in plainclothes.
It was similar to what the Hezbollah was doing against Israel as a recognised force within Lebanon. States which use terrorists as backup and as forerunners in a war, are similarly liable.

Pakistan is doing the same thing with Taliban in Afghanistan. Sheltering them in Quetta and the General passing them off as the doings of sympathetic former ISI officials cannot be bought. On that score, the ISI too cannot be trusted along with the Pakistani defense establishment which keeps claiming that the former organisation is directly under its command.

Again, a head of state who promotes his 'mythical', gallery targetted memoirs on a state visit to the US, cannot be taken seriously.

Susenjit Guha:

It is difficult to take Gen. Musharraf at face value.

Former PM Nawaz Sharif had said that he was totally in the dark when the General, who was supposed to be under the command of the democratically elected PM, carried on a proxy war with India in Kargil. Claiming that the mujahideens were fighting Indian forces in Kashmir, he had put the full weight of his army to back them and fight in plainclothes.
It was similar to what the Hezbollah was doing against Israel as a recognised force within Lebanon. States which use terrorists as backup and as forerunners in a war, are similarly liable.

Pakistan is doing the same thing with Taliban in Afghanistan. Sheltering them in Quetta and the General passing them off as the doings of sympathetic former ISI officials cannot be bought. On that score, the ISI too cannot be trusted along with the Pakistani defense establishment which keeps claiming that the former organisation is directly under its command.

Again, a head of state who promotes his 'mythical', gallery targetted memoirs on a state visit to the US, cannot be taken seriously.

Susenjit Guha:

It is difficult to take Gen. Musharraf at face value.

Former PM Nawaz Sharif had said that he was totally in the dark when the General, who was supposed to be under the command of the democratically elected PM, carried on a proxy war with India in Kargil. Claiming that the mujahideens were fighting Indian forces in Kashmir, he had put the full weight of his army to back them and fight in plainclothes.
It was similar to what the Hezbollah was doing against Israel as a recognised force within Lebanon. States which use terrorists as backup and as forerunners in a war, are similarly liable.

Pakistan is doing the same thing with Taliban in Afghanistan. Sheltering them in Quetta and the General passing them off as the doings of sympathetic former ISI officials cannot be bought. On that score, the ISI too cannot be trusted along with the Pakistani defense establishment which keeps claiming that the former organisation is directly under its command.

Again, a head of state who promotes his 'mythical', gallery targetted memoirs on a state visit to the US, cannot be taken seriously.

M. Aliani:

Afghanistan is not stable and Pakistan is responsible for it. Pakistan is funding and training Taliban. Pakistan is the root cause of global jihad.

Mike:

Thanks for a great dialogue.

Having been in Afghanistan a year ago, I can tell you that western nations are making progress. It's unfortunate that the positive news doesn't make the headlines. Instead, some focus on the "increase" in fighting. Consider:

1. Three years ago, the US had approximately 3 combat battalions on the ground.
2. Today, there are roughly 15 combat battalions. Those forces, coupled with the trained Afghan Army and Police Force, are squeezing the extremists out. As a result, extremists are fighting back. Western and Afghan forces are going into valleys and areas that have never seen western forces before (Korengal valley last december, to name one.)
3. A significant slice of the extremist forces could care less about Islam. They are recruited and ruled by warlords who fight for petty feudal power. They see the liberal, free market system coming into Afghanistan as a threat. So, they fight.
4. The Afghan forces, with NATO help, are making progress. Leaving now will prove the extremist right.

Ask yourself a simple question: How dedicated are you to your liberties? In Afghanistan, people go to school, teach, vote knowing that they may be killed for doing just that. And still...they go to learn, teach, vote or speak their mind. Their dedication is something to be admired and supported. Freedom is not just for the anglo-saxons.

Sherzad:

This is right that Mr.Karzai does not have controll on all provinces without the kabul office.
Now that Karzai is not active we should do not blame Pak or Iran as it is better to create of friend not to create one enemy.

But the basice problem in Afghanistan is the northren people they dont want Gov of Karzai therefore they do whatever possible to make the GOV weaker.

Muhammad Azeem Akhter:

Pakistan has been a very close ally of Americans since its independence. ISI and Pakistani military did play a role in organizing and supporting Taliban in Afghanistan.

This was done with the help of CIA to stabilize Afghanistan so that Americans can explore oil and gas from Central Asia. The other reason for the support of Taliban was to eliminate supply and production of drugs.

Meanwhile, Taliban were also involved in negotiations with USA to explore oil and gas and to eliminate drugs. Why it is fine for Americans to support and negotiate with Taliban but not for Pakistan?

ISI and Pakistani military are very well organized and professional organizations. They have successfully defeated Russians in Afghanistan and played a vital role in breaking down the communist regime in Russia. They also kept India under control, which was a very close ally of Russians during Cold War.

http://pakistan1947.blogspot.com/2006/08/shadows-of-great-game.html

Brigitte Meier USA:

There isn't enough reliable information to decide who is at fault for what in the western war against the Taliban. But there are implications: It is unlikely that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan for refusal by the then governing Taliban to extradite Bin Laden. To destroy an entire country for hunting one person, whose capture was then relegated to some Afghan soldiers and failed, is at best crime against humanity. There was clearly no real intention to capture Bin Laden; five years later he still hasn't been captured. According to some information, the Taliban refused U.S. operated oil pipelines to be built across Afghanistan. In response the U.S. ousted the Taliban and Karzai agreed to the said oil pipelines. In light of the current situation in Afghanistan, that reason is more convincing than capture of Bin Laden. Since Bin Laden escaped and is unlikely still in Afghanistan, why, if not for access to oil in Central Asia, would the U.S. care who governs Afghanistan? Surely, nobody believes in this democracy thing other than as a means for U.S. control of the region. If the invasion was in fact prompted by refusal of oil pipelines - with Bin Laden's capture confirmedly failed --then there are questions as to the origins of 9/11. The Indians claim that some general of ISI organized and relayed the funds to Atta. If true, that again raises questions as to 9/11. ISI, CIA and Israeli Mossad act in cooperation with each other. Assuming that Indian participation in the war against Taliban is correct, then it follows that the unrest in Balochistan is in fact incited by India with likely intention to split Balochistan off from Pakistan. That would imply that the unrest in Kashmir is fomented by India as well, as a two-prong attempt to fracture Pakistan. This raises questions about the new gift of U.S.nuclear technology to India. Apparently it is in return for India's help to open access to Central Asia and weakening Pakistan. With Pakistan fracturing, any oil pipeline intended from Iran to Pakistan and India would be prevented and India would become a new client for U.S. controlled oil from Cental Asia, which will put the growing Indian economy under U.S. control. It is not unreasonable that in such circumstances Pakistan would try to annex Afghanistan to prevent the U.S. scheme. In fact it would be in India's interest to have access to Iranian oil independent of U.S. control. It is the reason for the U.S. threats against Iran, which is the only piece not under U.S. control. The Israeli Mossad does collaborate with the U.S. in the intended destruction of Iran as it did in the destruction of Iraq. If the above reasoning is correct, then 9/11 was a state crime.

It is tragic that the Afghan people have no say in these matters. Like the people of Iraq were better off under Saddam -- the war crimes of the U.S. committed against Iraqis are larger now than Saddam's -- the Afghan people were better off under the Taliban. Taliban are Afghans. Their destruction is ethnic cleansing. Karzai's government is unable to deliver either services or security. It is deplorable that Nato forces agreed to continue this dirty job.

Ali Ettefagh (Tehran), PostGlobal Panel Member:

The Afghan government openly admits that narcotics represent for at least 50% of Afghan GDP, before processing labs in northern Pakistan process the raw material. This means billions of Dollars to be spread around in a cozy reationship of military officers, intelligence, customs and other statesmen that bear diplomatic passports.

British sources openly admit that street prices of hard drugs such as heroin are now much lower than 5 years ago.

Thus the root of the issue in Afghanistan is directly linked to the narcotics business and until such time that alternative economic activity in Afghanistan is reality, the cozy relationship will continue, Taliban, Karzai and ISI notwithstanding.

Yousuf Hashmi:

Dear Ahmad Rashid

No doubt that you are one of few writers in Pakistan who knows the art of writing. However your current article is simply explosive.

Once upon a time I was crazy of the work of Robert Ludlum. Your article is comparable to his work.

You are portraying ISI as a double spy agency. This is possible that some super agent start playing here and there however this is remote possibity that ISI is officially aiding taliban.

You should also consider that so many US and british intelligence and counter intelligence agencies will be keeping an eye on ISI then how this is possible that they are unable to report any leak to their superiors

If their is some small truth in this story then US Adminstration and President Musharraf government can not have such smooth sailing.

so far the official adminstration policy is that Pakistan and Musharraf are made for each other.

The campaign against ISI can be attributed to mount additional pressure on Pakistan to do more

Muhammad Azeem Akhter:

Prophets of doom and gloom are trying their best to portray Pakistan as a failed state. Their propaganda machine is working overtime to propagate stereotypical images of Pakistan.

Read More ...

http://pakistan1947.blogspot.com/2006/07/is-pakistan-failed-state.html

suresh sheth:

Pakistani nationals financed, planned and facilitated 9/11 attacks. Pakistani ISI director, General Mahmoud Ahmed asked Omar Sheikh (kidnapper of Daniel Pearl) to send $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker one year before the attacks. Atta used that money for flight training, living expenses and purchase tickets for the hijacked flights. Atta even returned unspent $25,000 back just before 9/11 via same channel and Omar Sheikh picked it up from Dubai and returned to Pakistan. Musharraf was forced to retire General Ahmed after Wall Street Journal exposed him as the paymaster for the hijackers. Previous Pakistani ISI director, General Hamid Gul was the chief planner for Osama's 9/11 attacks. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) facilitated the residence in Karachi, training and travel from Pakistan to US for other 9/11 Saudi attackers. Why isn't US demanding extradition of two Generals and Omar Sheikh from Pakistan to stand trial in US for financing and planning 9/11 attacks? Why isn't US trying KSM for sending Saudi terrorists to carry out 9/11 attacks? Sometimes one has to wonder if Bush administration is not in bed with Pakistan to continue this terror threat emanating from Pakistan so that Republicans can continue to paint Democrats as weak on defense.

9/11 attacks was Pakistan's revenge for US refusing to supply F-16 jet fighters after Pakistan had already paid for them in 1990s.

Center for Global Studies:

Dear Mr. Rashid:

Thanks for an excellent article. We enjoyed your sharp analysis and honest appraisal. However, we do worry about your safety and well being. Please be careful. Pakistan and the world need intelligent and honest journalists like you - much more than we need those cunning-conniving ISI and Mussharaf and Co.

For quite sometime, we have been trying to understand why Pakistan's military and ISI is so much in live with Taliban. Here is a gist of our analysis:

Afghanistan is located in the "backyard" of Pakistan. During the last thirty plus years, Pakistani generals have, again and again, lamented about the lack of strategic depth vis-à-vis India; in case a war breaks out again. The Pakistani Generals and politicians are on record having stated that only Afghanistan can provide Pakistan the much needed strategic depth. Thus, since the time of Zia, Pakistan has been dreaming of "acquiring" Afghanistan through a well planned strategic maneuvering. Core of the strategy is to promote lawlessness and make Afghanistan ungovernable. Then install and nurture a fanatic Islamic regime. Create economic bankruptcy, make it impossible for the Mullahs to rule. Finally, get the Talibanis to pass some kind of a "resolution" or "Fatwa" favoring merger of Afghanistan with Pakistan.

The plan had almost succeeded, but then the 9/11 happened. Faced with an imminent American onslaught probably combined with Indian military support, Musharraf had no choice but to make a "strategic retreat". "Officially" he broke Pakistan's link with Taliban and became America's partner in the war on terror. He did help Americans capture some peripheral and marginally important Al Qaeda fighters. The number were inflated by handing over a number of criminals and undesirable social elements; rather than lodging them in Pakistani jails, it was deemed more cost-effective to let Americans take care of them. Get some easy appreciations from Americans and a lot of money and ammunitions in the process. Now, at last, the Americans are slowly realizing that barring very a few, most had nothing to do with 9/11 or any other kind of anti-American or pro-Taliban activity. We are told that even the well publicized operations in Vaziristan were actually a façade, a show designed to make a lot of noise and impress the world. Big claims were made about excessively high casually in Pakistan troops, but no one was ever shown a dead Pakistani shoulder, what to talk of hundreds dead! The whole thing was cleverly staged managed by ISI with full blessing from Field Marshal Mussharaf. The tragedy is that the western leadership is unable to grasp the truth, even though our intelligence personnel know it; the ground forces in Afghanistan know it!.

Unless something is done soon and with a firm determination, sadly it looks like there is not going to be any lasting peace in Afghanistan, until it becomes a part of Pakistan. The only way Afghanistan can be saved is by doing whatever it takes to convince Pakistan to stop creating trouble for Afghanistan. And Mussharaf must be made to understand that the world will not let him or his successor annex Afghanistan. Otherwise, Mussharaf will continue to make a fool of the western powers. America and Europe have already missed the golden opportunity to tackle the "Islamo-fascist" problem during its infancy. Back in 2001, USA should have gone to Kabul via Islamabad! The occasion was right, Indians were willing and ready and the whole world would have supported the operations. We seem to have forgotten that every act of terrorism then and now has its root in Pakistan.

BigBadWolf:

Western leaders have to understand that they cant win war on terror without destroying its root cause in Pakistan. They(US-Canada-Brit-Den-Holland) can fight forever and they will get no result.

If western society cares about their soldiers, they have to accept the reality that pakistan is behind Afghan mess.

Somebody said pakistan is not responsible for poppy production in afghanistan. First of all it those pakistani Taliban which give shelters to poppy cultivators and also poppy grows in NWFP which is part of pakistan.

The best solution would be to dismantle pakistan and form 6-7 countries out of it, than take enemy in afghanistan by sword. Finish poppy cultivators and Taliban.

Note: You can not get rid of poppy with out destroying those farmers bosses in Pakistan backed Taliban.

Tom:

David Arms:

The question is not Poppy cultivation! The question is Taliban and Pakistan/Musharaf's Connivance in the matter. I wonder why you cannot see the logic and appreciate the facts presented by the author. You are talking exactly the way Mussharaf and ISI talk. Deflect the issue--bring in sensationalism and divert attention!!! For your information, people have a brain of their own and they can draw their own conclusion, provided they get to know the facts. And Mr. Ahmed Rashid has brought out the facts in a logical manner. I am sure you have some grey matter in your cranium; try to use it.

David Arms:

It is easy to blame Pakistan for ill of Afghanistan but is ISI growing Poppy in Afghanistan??The poppy production has gone up 2000% and Karzai has been unable to anything about it.Basically there is no government in Afghanistan,Karzai is a weak Stooge plus there is also the Indian factor.The only way to manage Pakistan & Taliban is to keep India out of Afghanistan.

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