Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pakistan and Afganistan: Terror strikes their roots

What arrogance, what delusion by Kamran Shafi
SO then, 53 “carefully selected” and “chosen carefully Pakistani foreign policy elite” — retired civilian and military officials, analysts, journalists and civil society practitioners — with established expertise on Afghanistan and/or with knowledge of the modalities of policymaking in the US were gathered together.

They came together at different dates and times, in big groups and small in Islamabad and Peshawar, under the joint aegis of the Jinnah Institute, Islamabad and the United States Institute for Peace, Washington D.C.

Their “perceptions” were then “captured” for the report “aimed at better comprehending Pakistan’s outlook on the situation in Afghanistan”, and which has recently been let loose upon an unsuspecting world.

The report is copious but to start:
“Pakistani foreign policy elite [I kid you not] believe that only a truly inclusive government in Kabul can usher in an era of relatively efficient and stable governance in Afghanistan. Most participants defined this as a politically negotiated configuration with adequate Pakhtun representation that is recognised by all ethnic and political stakeholders in Afghanistan.

“While far from a consensus, some opinion-makers insisted that given the current situation, a sustainable arrangement would necessarily require the main Taliban factions — particularly Mullah Omar’s ‘Quetta Shura’ Taliban, and the Haqqani network — to be part of the new political arrangement. Specifically, a decentralised system of governance is more likely to be sustainable than an overly centralised one. Such an inclusive dispensation, it is believed, will view the relationship with Islamabad favourably and be sensitive to Pakistani concerns.”

Really now? So there is, after all, a Quetta Shura of the Taliban, what? Now, which of the ‘foreign policy elites’ has opened this particular can of worms please? Well, good and well as my friend Ashraf Afridi used to say, for prior to this there were stout denials from the security establishment and its handmaidens with only some non-foreign policy elites such as yours truly saying repeatedly that there was a Quetta Shura as large as death itself in Quetta.
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