China’s rising influence in Afghanistan — and elsewhere in Central Asia

The world is changing faster than we can keep track of it. This article on China’s investment in Afghanistan is one small indication of the shift in power and influence. China — whatever its methods — is bearing down on Central Asia. Lots of resources there for a country whose needs will be huge as it grows into a world power with even greater influence. Ben Farmer of the Sydney Morning Herald gives us a glimpse of how things work in this region, and how they are likely to continue to work in the future. RLC

Afghan revenue to balloon as Chinese influence grows
BEN FARMER Sydney Morning Herald – Nov 23 5:21 AM

KABUL: China’s growing influence in the Afghan economy has been hailed by the country’s mining minister, who has revealed that projects acquired to feed Beijing’s industrial base will triple government revenues within five years.

Muhammad Ibrahim Adel said foreign investment in the country’s vast mineral deposits would bring $US2 billion ($2.18 billion) a year in taxes and royalties by 2013.

”Within five years I hope the Government will be getting $US2 billion a year from mining, not including the salaries people earn,” he said.

Afghanistan has the potential to emerge as one of Central Asia’s biggest sources of raw materials for manufacturers.

China paid $US800 million to acquire the Aynak copper deposit 48 kilometres south of Kabul two years ago and has emerged as the favourite from a pool of Indian and Saudi firms to gain control of an iron-ore deposit at Hajigak, 100 kilometres west of Kabul, when tenders are considered next year.

Both deposits rank among the world’s largest and entail the construction of roads, processing plants and railways in deprived areas that are dominated by the Taliban.

But the burgeoning role of the Chinese in Afghanistan has provoked a backlash, with allegations of corruption emanating from US officials.

A new FBI-style major crimes unit, set up with British and US police involvement, is reported to have gathered enough evidence to issue arrest warrants against Mr Adel and another member of the cabinet, Sediq Chakari, who is the Minister of Haj and Islamic affairs. A new FBI-style major crimes unit, set up with British and US police involvement, is reported to have gathered enough evidence to issue arrest warrants against Mr Adel and another member of the cabinet, Sediq Chakari, who is the Minister of Haj and Islamic affairs.

Last week The Washington Post quoted a US official who alleged Mr Adel had accepted a $US30 million bribe from the Chinese bidders for Aynak. Mr Adel rejected the accusations.

”I am responsible for the revenue and benefit of our people. All the time I’m following the law and the legislation for the benefit of the people.”

The Chinese firm developing Aynak plans to employ 20,000 Afghan workers at the site and has the reassurance of a massive police presence, backed by security assistance from US special forces.

The facility is also barricaded by sandbags, and a wall of iron shipping containers surrounds the perimeter.

Afghanistan recorded government revenues of $US800 million last year. The World Bank concluded that mining revenues are the best hope of building a recurring income stream for the war-torn economy, which has been blighted by corruption and weak government.

International donors have been left with a bill, which is rising sharply, to prop up the state. The tab includes billions of dollars to train and equip a police force and an army seen as critical to defeating the Taliban.

McClatchy: Pakistan still following its own “road”

McClatchy is a good example of a relatively small newspaper that does it’s own work and it’s own thinking. I’m glad to see whatever they do. Here is a fresh and honest statement of the Pakistani viewpoint. RLC

Despite U.S. pressures, Pakistan continues to follow its own road By Saeed Shah, Mcclatchy Newspapers – Fri Nov 20, 5:12 pm ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The Pakistani government has some advice the Obama administration may not want to hear as it contemplates sending additional U.S. troops to neighboring Afghanistan : Negotiate with Taliban leaders and restrain India .

Pakistan embraces U.S. efforts to stabilize the region and worries that a hasty U.S. withdrawal would create chaos, but Pakistani officials worry that thousands of additional American soldiers and Marines would send Taliban forces retreating into Pakistan , where they’re not welcome.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s office said Friday that he told visiting CIA Director Leon Panetta of ” Pakistan’s concerns relating to the possible surge of the U.S. and ISAF forces in Afghanistan which may entail negative implications for the situation in Baluchistan,” the Pakistani province that borders Afghanistan to the south.

The Pakistanis’ advice is almost diametrically opposed the strategy outlined by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal , the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan : Don’t send additional forces to protect Afghan cities, but send them to outposts along the Pakistani border – where McChrystal has withdrawn troops.

It’s just one example of how Pakistan , a critical U.S. ally in the struggle against Islamist extremists and a major recipient of American military aid, continues to deal differently with the violence that threatens not only the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai , but also impoverished, nuclear-armed Pakistan .

The two countries’ divergent views of the threat posed by Islamist extremists, and the Obama administration’s efforts to press Pakistan to move against groups that menace Afghanistan have produced strains between the two countries and between Pakistan’s civilian government and its powerful military and Inter Services Intelligence agency – and a growing drumbeat of Pakistani allegations about alleged nefarious CIA activities in Pakistan . “The Pakistanis say some things in public – often for reasons related to internal politics, it seems – that they don’t focus on in private,” said a senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because intelligence matters are classified. “That’s not to say that we see eye-to-eye on everything behind closed doors, but both sides realize that – whatever the disagreements of the moment might be – the long-term partnership is essential. After all, Pakistani contributions to counterterrorism since 9/11 have been decisive, and our government recognizes that.”

Instead of escalating the war in Afghanistan , however, top Pakistani officials are pressing the administration to try to negotiate a political settlement with top Taliban commanders that would allow the U.S. to exit Afghanistan .

Pakistani officials argue that that such a negotiating strategy can’t work unless the rebel leadership is involved, right up to Jalaluddin Haqqani , the head of the most dangerous insurgent faction, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed founder of the Afghan Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s ally and host.

Because Pakistan is a longtime patron of the Taliban and of the Haqqani network, Pakistani officials think they could broker a deal to reduce Afghan President Hamid Karzai to a figurehead leader and divide power between the Pashtun Taliban and Afghanistan’s Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities.

U.S. and some Pakistani officials, however, are skeptical, arguing that the Taliban have little incentive to negotiate when their strength and sway in Afghanistan is growing and public and international support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan is waning.

Najmuddin Shaikh , formerly the top bureaucrat in the Pakistani Foreign Ministry , said the Taliban could be brought to the negotiating table if they saw a greater American military commitment and more investments in the Afghan countryside.

“It’s a little premature for talks (with the Taliban ),” Shaikh said. “There has to be a change in the ground situation, things happening in the next six to eight months that shows the ‘ink spots’ strategy (McChrystal’s idea of protecting Afghan population centers) is taking hold, that some foot soldiers are being weaned away, then talks become possible.”

Nevertheless, behind the scenes talks with mid-level Taliban officials already have begun, and Pakistani officials think they could rapidly accelerate now that Karzai has begun his second term.

“We’ve already been talking to them (the Taliban ),” said a senior Pakistani official in Islamabad , who couldn’t be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. “If the U.S. helps the process, some arrangements can be worked out for political reconciliation. I’m not for a moment suggesting that it’s an easy task, but otherwise you will be fighting these people for the next hundred years.”

The United States and other NATO forces also favor talking to some Taliban , but they focus on “non-ideological” insurgents who can be peeled away, partly through bribery. Retired British general Graeme Lamb was appointed for this task in August, but so far the effort has produced little success.

“The Americans have wasted a lot of time over this ‘moderate Taliban ‘ idea. It is never going to pan out. It misunderstands the Taliban phenomenon,” said Simbal Khan, an analyst at Institute of Strategic Studies , a policy institute funded by the Pakistani government. “If you try to break off elements with cash, they’ll take your money and still fight you.”

The Pakistani military and ISI still consider archrival India , not militant Islam, the main threat, and unlike U.S. officials, Pakistani officials distinguish between the Taliban and other militant groups whose target is Afghanistan and groups that are seeking to impose their extreme brand of Islam on Pakistan .

Pakistan has for eight years declined to mount any serious pursuit of bin Laden and the other top al Qaida leaders who sought shelter in Pakistan after the 2001 U.S. invasion drove them out of Afghanistan .

Pakistan also has quietly tolerated the presence of Mullah Omar, who U.S. officials said is based near the

Baluchistan city of Quetta and shuttling between there and Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and a key financial and logistics center for Islamic militants. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because intelligence on terrorist groups is classified. Officially, Pakistan denies that bin Laden and Omar are in the country.

Pakistan’s laissez-faire attitude toward al Qaida , Omar and Afghan militants such as Haqqani doesn’t appear likely to change in the face of stepped-up American pressure.

U.S. national security adviser James Jones last week delivered a message to Gilani and other Pakistani officials from President Barack Obama , who urged Pakistan to take action against Afghan militant groups operating from Pakistani soil.

The Pakistanis politely told Jones that Pakistan is doing all it can, and that it must concentrate on groups that are attacking Pakistan , rather than those that are a threat in Afghanistan . Gilani’s office said he told Jones that Pakistan’s “forces were over-stretched because of continuous tension on the eastern border” with India .

Gilani’s office said Friday that, “The new Afghan policy of the U.S. government should not disturb the regional balance in South Asia .”

Pakistani officials say that relations with India remain dangerously strained, requiring military resources on Pakistan’s eastern border. Pakistan is also concerned about India’s growing influence in Afghanistan , which Islamabad fears is part of a move to encircle Pakistan .

With Pakistani forces already fighting the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan , the country fears opening too many battlefronts and furiously rejects Washington’s constant mantra of “do more.”

U.S. officials say the Pakistani military is obsessed with the Indian border, where they say there’s no active threat, and reluctant to address the threats that are a product of Pakistan’s refusal to quash the insurgency on Pakistan’s western border with Afghanistan .

“When we get into the position of stabilizing, then we can help the other side (the U.S.),” said a senior Pakistani military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly. “There are limits of our power. You cannot be expected to use your force against all (militant) groups because then your power will be diluted. That’s exactly what’s happening on the other side (to the U.S. in Afghanistan ), they’re all over the place and virtually in control of nothing.” (Shah is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

A revealing interview with Rahimullah Yusufzai on the Taliban and Pakistani sentiment

Kaustav Chakrabarti of Open Security has published an interview on the Taliban and related issues in Pakistan with the deservedly respected journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai. This interview is a treasure trove of valuable information on the situation in Pakistan today. Thanks to Chakrabarti and Open Security for making it available. I reproduce here the latter 80% of this interview. The earlier portion is on material that is generally well known. [Click on the title above for a link to the whole article.]

Links between the Taliban and al Qaeda have grown stronger

Kaustav Chakrabarti, 24 November 2009

. . . .

RY: . . . Osama Bin Laden was given refuge by the Jalalabad shaura (council) of the Mujahideen headed by Haji Qadir. The Taliban inherited these Arabs and Osama Bin Laden. I am witness to the fact that they were initially suspicious of each other. Osama thought that the Taliban was a US-Pakistan creation and that he could not work with them. The Taliban thought that since Osama was working with the Mujahideen earlier he must still be friendly to them.

They had a few meetings, and they resolved their differences; he was allowed to stay on in Jalalabad. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan militants and other Central Asian groups were also allowed to stay. They were already there before the Taliban came to power. But their presence in Afghanistan increased after the Taliban came to power because Taliban gave refuge to everyone who wanted to come; Arabs, Central Asians, Chinese Muslims, and Indonesians.

The Taliban’s links with al Qaeda, however, have grown over the years, since they have been fighting together for long. They have fought a common enemy in a common trench, given blood to each other; so now the bonds are much stronger. The Taliban would still like to confine themselves to Afghanistan. Maybe they would not be very happy to give refuge to people like Osama. But now that the bonds have been strengthened, I do not know if they can push them out.

KC: Mullah Omar regarded Bamiyan Buddha as an Afghan heritage and wanted to protect it. Then why did he allow it to be destroyed? Was there a change in his outlook?

RY: Regarding the destruction of Bamiyan Buddha, the radical elements within the Taliban movement had their way. Mullah Omar, in spite of being the leader, did not have the power to stop this. What they did was something very unwise; it was a heritage, why destroy them. One incident provoked them. A famine had exasperated the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. People had been displaced because of the fighting. The Taliban had appealed to the world for help including the UN. No one was forthcoming as the Taliban was like a pariah. And this got them angry. They thought that while the world was concerned about the statues, no one was concerned about the Afghans. That there was more concern for the dead than for those who were still alive and could have survived if they were given help.

KC: Saudi Arabia maintains that the Taliban would become moderate in due course of time. Do you agree with it?

RY: I think that’s a good point. You know, if you interact with these radical groups and bring them into the mainstream, I think it can moderate their policies. I know at that time [late 90’s], there were some NGOs – Danish, Swedish, the Red Cross – they were interacting with the Taliban and they were influencing them. In fact, Swedish NGOs were allowed to run girl schools. The security situation in Afghanistan was very good during the time of the Taliban.

KC: I understand that the Taliban were hugely popular when they came to power. But what was their popularity among the Afghans in later years?

RY: They emerged in the autumn of 1994. I was the first one to go to Kandahar and tell the world about the Taliban. In fact I was there in Kabul immediately after Najibullah [the Soviet -backed president who had taken shelter in a UN compound prior to his execution by the Taliban], was hanged. I did not see the execution but I saw their bodies hanging from the electricity pole. I spent the previous night in Jalalabad. I was told by the Taliban commanders that the next day Kabul will fall. I was with the BBC team. We left Jalalabad at four in the morning, we got special permit to leave before the curfew was relaxed. And there was jubilation, people were happy. It was the grape season and people were distributing grapes to everyone.

The Taliban were able to stop lawlessness in a very short time. During the rule of the Mujahideen, there were about 42 check posts between Chaman (border town in Balochistan) and Kandahar. Under the Taliban there were only three. The security was excellent. I traveled at night and nothing happened. Under the Mujahideen robberies were common, I too was robbed.

They brought peace after so many years of war. Those who claim that the Taliban were a Pakistani creation were missing the whole point. I was there when the Taliban came to power. The people welcomed them since they were tired of the excesses of the Mujahideen. The people thought that they would bring peace, and they wanted nothing of the Mujahideen. A term was used at that time in the Kandahar region ? Topakayan, which is Pashto for gunmen. The Mujahideen were called the gunmen. Things had become to such a pass that Kandahar was divided into five different regions. Kabul was also like that; Dostum was controlling the northern parts, the Palace area was controlled by Ahmed Shah Masood and Rabbani, the south was controlled by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, western Kabul was in the hands of the Hazara-Shiite groups led by Mazari, and the North west was controlled by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. And this was true of every city in Afghanistan. These groups set up numerous checkpoints which made life miserable for the people. That’s why the people welcomed the Taliban. Earlier there were at least five to six centres of power. With the Taliban there was only one centre of power. They controlled ninety percent of the land.

Their third achievement was ending drug trafficking. They did it with very few resources, no international help and no alternative crops for the farmers. They simply issued a decree banning poppy. And look now; it is feeding the insurgency and has increased manifolds under the watch of the Americans and their allies. And today, it’s not only the Taliban which is benefiting from narcotics trade but others in power also have a share in it.

But this security came at some costs. Their laws were very tough. The non-Pashtuns were a bit apprehensive. The Taliban’s biggest criticism was that the fighting never ended. The Taliban in due course of time became like any other armed group. They were unable to transform themselves from an armed group into a political organisation. So the Taliban became another armed faction which wanted power at all costs, especially since they were in war with the Northern Alliance. They never held any peace talks. They wanted to rule alone, there was no effort made to forge alliances. They really never had any socio-economic policies to improve the life of the people.

KC: What was Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban?

RY: The Pakistanis were initially not even aware of the Taliban movement. I was in Kandahar, and in my presence a phone call came from the ISI office in Rawalpindi. The ISI wanted to exchange some pleasantries. Mullah Omar spoke in Pashto and the ISI guy spoke in Urdu. Mullah Omar’s response was clear: “I don’t know you, I don’t have any work with you, I cannot communicate with you in Urdu, and I don’t want to talk with you”. This was in 1995. People who write about these things have never been to these places, they have never met Mullah Omar or his Shaura. When I came back, the ISI debriefed me about the Taliban. Officers of the rank of Brigadier asked me: “Who are the Taliban, who is Mullah Omar, what kind of person he is.” Had they known, why would they ask me?

At that time, the Taliban were very popular, the movement was spreading like wildfire. And that phone call was the first attempt at contact between the Taliban and the ISI. And then, they thought- wait, hang on, we can offer them support.

The belief that the Taliban were a Pakistani creation is not true, although eventually there were contacts. Pakistan asked the Taliban not to bomb Bamiyan Buddha, they refused. Pakistan asked them to hand over Osama Bin Laden, they refused. Pakistan asked Taliban to hand over Pakistani criminals and militants who had taken refuge in Afghanistan and some of them were with the Taliban, they refused to hand over even one Pakistani. The Taliban were very angry with the transit trade conditions placed on Afghanistan by Pakistan. Pakistan had declared many items as negative which Afghanistan could not longer import through the Pakistani territory since these items, like tires and gadgets, were being smuggled back into Pakistan. This created problems between the two.

Current Situation in Afghanistan

KC: Let us talk about the present situation-How popular is the Taliban now?

RY: Among the Pashtuns they are the strongest group. Western polls suggest that the Taliban control only eleven percent support, I don’t believe that. When the Americans wanted to defeat the Taliban initially, they sided with the wrong people, they befriended these warlords. The same warlords who were defeated by the Taliban were brought back to power. These warlords were hated, that’s one reason why the people turned against the government in the first place.

However, for many reasons, they are not the most popular movement, majority of Afghans don’t like the Taliban. You must understand that it’s a very fragmented tribal society. The Taliban militias are heavily armed, well funded and enjoy the requisite manpower. What has the other side [government troops] got? Hamid Karzai, and the Afghan Army is not a very well organized force. There is no organised military force in Afghanistan.

If you live in places like Kandahar or Helmand, the most powerful group are the Taliban. You have no choice, if you want to live in peace and survive, then you have to agree to cooperate with the Taliban. When the government displays authority in some area, the people will support them. The government is not powerful, and that’s where the problem lies. The tide will turn if the people realise that now the government and the Americans are winning, and the Taliban are weakening. That can happen.

KC: What do you think of the counterinsurgency strategy suggested by Gen Stanley McChrystal?

RY: The Americans are faltering. They have lost the way; they do not know what to do. They are moving from one disaster to another. Obama came up with a new policy when he came to power. He inserted 21000 new troops and changed the commander. He also started focusing more on Pakistan. Now they are doing another review since the first policy has obviously failed. Now the second review is going on. The Americans are actually trying to extradite themselves from the problem. The memories of Vietnam are still fresh, that is the problem. Obama has been asked for 40,000 more troops, which is going to push Obama deeper into the Afghan problem. Afghanistan is known as a graveyard of empires for a reason.

KC: The counter argument could be that Afghans have got the wrong end of the stick from all those who tried to invade Afghanistan. No one ever really did hearts-and-minds in Afghanistan. Can such a strategy work?

RY: How do you do a hearts-and-minds policy with people in uniform. And that too with foreign troops! The foreign presence is not liked- the way they behave, their cultural and religious ignorance. The way they carry out their search operations, the way they bomb people which cause civilian casualties– all cause deep resentment.

It’s too late. Hearts and minds means that you go out of your camps and heavily-guarded fortresses and you interact with the locals on a very regular basis. You ask them for their problems and help them with money and other assistance. But they can’t go out like that, wherever they go, the roads are mined. Children have been taught how to explode the bombs; IEDs are planted by the Taliban and the remote is given to a child and when they see the vehicle coming, they push the trigger. They might be living in areas under the control of the government but they are not for the government. Because people have lost family members, they have suffered. Their family members have been arrested and they have been jailed in Baghram and Guantanamo Bay. So there are many issues involved here. I think that it’s a bit late in the day to revive the policy of wining the ?hearts and minds’.

What they can do is perhaps to buy some people. Which I think is the new policy– ‘to buy’ the insurgents. The Americans have come up with a very insulting term ? ‘ten dollar a month Taliban’– the notion that 10-15 percent are committed Taliban and the rest are fighting for money.

The Pakistan Taliban

KC: Can you explain the Taliban’s meteoric rise in Pakistan.

RY: Many tribal militant groups were tolerated by the Pakistan army when they took refuge in the tribal areas as they were attacking foreign troops in Afghanistan and not the Pakistani forces. Such arrangements began changing in early 2004 when the Taliban started fighting inside Pakistan . In January 2004, the army launched military operations in Waziristan. That was the turning point. The operation was conducted under the American pressure, hoping to dislodge al Qaeda. It was a shock, the fighting was very tough and the army lost many men. Since then the Taliban’s influence has been spreading. Instead of being controlled, it has spread. After every military operation we have seen that the Taliban presence has expanded – from South Waziristan to North Waziristan and then to Bajaur, Mohmand and Swat. The Taliban is spreading in Pakistan largely because the army is using heavy weapons against the people.

KC: Why did Baitullah Mehsud turn against Pakistan Army?

RY: As long as he was concentrating on Afghanistan, Baitullah Mehsud was being tolerated. He told the Pakistan government, “I won’t fight you, but you must not stop me”. He wanted to send his people to Afghanistan and continue to maintain his base. He could not afford to lose his own centre of power in Waziristan. Under the American pressure, the army acted against him. Subsequently, when he turned against Pakistan, the state’s whole focus fell upon his group.

Baitullah was not an al Qaeda member. You can say that Baitullah was pushed into the laps of al Qaeda. Even in the last days of his life he maintained that Mullah Omar was his leader because he was fighting a genuine jihad against the US. He had fought in Afghanistan as a Taliban member. He was very close to the Afghan Taliban. Al Qaeda is asking its fighters to fight on two fronts–If they lose their territory in Waziristan, then where will they find refuge?

KC: Many experts in India and the US feel that Pakistan is still supporting former proxy groups.

RY: The Haqqanis are from Afghanistan, they have been living in Waziristan since 1979. If the Taliban is not interfering in Pakistan, then Pakistan will not like to harm them. I don’t know how much support the Taliban are getting from Pakistan, I don’t think that the Taliban need much support. They get a lot of money from the Arab countries. But even tolerating them is a support. This is the bone of contention between the US and Pakistan; the US wants Pakistan to take them out.

You know, the jihadi groups like Jaish-e- Mohammad were being tolerated by the Pakistan government. Some of them were being used by the State in Kashmir. Musharraf changed the policy in 2004; it was a turning point. When he made the commitment to root out terror groups, he actually meant it. The backlash after the Lal Masjid operation was also a significant turning point. However, you don’t really snap all your contacts. The disengagement has to be gradual. Pakistan has suffered so much, I don’t think that there will be any tolerance for these groups. At one time, they were allies. They were used in Kashmir, and Afghanistan. But I think that that policy is now a thing of the past.

If Pakistan is still supporting the Haqqanis and Afghan Taliban, it is because they want to retain some influence in Afghanistan. Pakistan is very suspicious of the Northern Alliance and vice versa; its mutual hatred. Pakistan will like to have friends in Afghanistan after having invested so much in Afghanistan.

India-Pakistan Relations

KC: What do people in Pakistan think about India now?

RY: I think that there has been a big change in people’s views towards India. People don’t have the stomach for any more wars with India or with any body else. There are so many issues ? security, poverty, unemployment. They know that if they have another war, the problems will become even more acute. I don’t think that there is any support for any hostility with India. People would want the Kashmir issue to be resolved, that would be a huge sign of relief.

KC: If Pakistan agrees to convert the Line of Control into the International Border, what will be the reaction?

RY: I think anything that is a face-saving solution for both the countries and it will be acceptable. Both will have to give and take. I think there will be greater support for such a move this time around — we may not get the whole of Kashmir, but still it will be acceptable. Trade, economic relations have taken a priority.

KC: What does the average Lieutenant and Captain of the Pakistan army think?

RY: Their whole training is geared towards India as the enemy. The soldiers and officers who were asked to fight in Waziristan did not like that. They had to obey orders, they have their careers and they can’t say no. A very few refused, some were even court-martialed. Privately they say that this [counterinsurgency] is not what they were trained to do. They don’t want to fight their own people; they don’t want to bomb their own villages. They don’t want to become martyrs fighting their own people, that too Muslims and Pakistanis. Their whole orientation was against India. But that is changing now. There has been no war since Kargil. Also, they have a very big fight at hand. This is also affecting their orientation- Ok, India is not the only enemy, we have another enemy.

KC: What can India can do to normalise relations?

RY: India is much bigger, India is much stronger, it has more resources. It can absorb all this. It can put a lot of money on the defence. It can also create a lot of problems for Pakistan. We know that. We realise that if we try to match India, we will actually harm ourselves since we have lesser resources. India has to reassure Pakistan; act like a big brother, like an older brother. I realise that post-Mumbai it was very difficult; Mumbai was actually a very dangerous development.

KC: Who was behind Mumbai?

RY: I have no doubt that it was the Lashkar-e-Tayeeba. Not al Qaeda. I tell you, al Qaeda is not that strong or big [in Pakistan].

KC: Who controls Lashkar-e-Tayeeba?

RY: I don’t know. Lashkar-e-Tayyeba had links with the Pakistan Army. I don’t know how much of that still persists. But they are not backed the way they were earlier. LeT has been fighting in Kashmir, and it is a very efficient organisation. It has been getting a lot of funds from various people who think that it is fighting a jihad. I don’t think that al Qaeda is behind LeT. It has different Islamic beliefs from al Qaeda.

KC: Do you think that it is right to accuse India of supporting the Taliban as Rehman Malik has been suggesting?

RY: We don’t have any evidence. But India being a bigger power, why will it sit idle and not take revenge [for Pakistan’s support to Kashmiri militants]. There is a feeling that India is supporting the Baloch separatists. I don’t know whether India was supporting Baitullah Mehsud, there is no evidence of that, but Baitullah himself would not be willing to get any support from India.

Pakistan Counterinsurgency

KC: Post-Swat operations, do you think Pakistan’s counterinsurgency efforts are improving?

RY: Where is the success? There is no proper counterinsurgency policy. Only military means are being employed. I think that they are committing a big mistake by using only the army. They are using the army since the Taliban are very strong. They should have instead used Frontier Corps. The army is not trained for counterinsurgency. Frontier Corps, being Pashtun dominated, are better suited. Besides, the use of heavy weapons and air bombing has caused deep resentment. They are not taking prisoners, they are killing all the Taliban, and their bodies are being dumped. They are creating more Talibans. All these people who are losing family members, and their houses, they will never reconcile. There is no policy for reintegration- that’s the weakest link.

They are forcing them to form lashkars. Salarazai lashkars in Bajaur was being sustained by the army. Their family members have been killed and they cannot sleep in peace. They are always at risk. I keep asking the big landlords in Swat, ” how can you hope to go back and live in your previous grandeur”.They can’t have soldiers guarding them all times. For how long can you have the lashkars? Nobody is talking about the lack of justice. All the forest land is owned by the landlords, most members of the Parliament are feudal Khans. All the shelter-less, landless and jobless have joined the Taliban. Class war is not the only factor but it is one of the factors.

Many people who are being branded as the Taliban are those who think that they cannot get their political rights peacefully. That’s why the army cannot stay there forever. The more it stays there, the more it bombs, more enemies it will create. The army was attacked in its own backyard in GHQ. There is no end to this.

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Pakistan’s “help” against the Taliban: It won’t materialize

Two recent articles make it plain that the United States will not be able to count on Pakistan in the fight against the Taliban. Some excerpts. RLC

Why Pakistan Won’t Fight the Afghan Taliban
By Omar Waraich / Islamabad Friday, Nov. 20, 2009

“The demands of its own domestic counterinsurgency campaign, doubts about the duration of U.S. commitment in Afghanistan and looming political instability in Islamabad have left Pakistan in no hurry to help out.”

. . . As a weak and unpopular President scarcely seen in public and now the object of growing vilification at home, Zardari is in no position to lead a popular movement against militancy, much less to redirect his army’s focus. As ever, it is the all-powerful military establishment that will make the key decisions in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s military has certainly moved decisively against those militants that pose a direct challenge to its authority on home soil. Buoyed by its successes in last May’s campaign to drive the Taliban out of the Swat Valley, it has for the past month deployed some 30,000 troops to confront the militants in their main stronghold of South Waziristan, along the Afghan border. . . .

The South Waziristan offensive, however, may be the limit of what the Pakistani military is willing to take on right now. It’s priority after clearing the area of Taliban elements will be to hold it – and there are signs that the militants have merely scattered to areas beyond the scope of the current offensive, waiting to stage a return. “We have not been defeated,” Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told reporters at a secret location on Wednesday, dismissing the army’s claims. “We have voluntarily withdrawn into the mountains under a strategy that will trap the Pakistan army in the area.”

. . . “Pakistan army is not going to go to North Waziristan before it completes its operation in South Waziristan.” Two of the militant groups that Washington would like to see Islamabad target are based in North Waziristan: the Haqqani network and the one led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, both of whom mount cross-border attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

. . . [The army leaders] don’t want to open a front with every militant group.” The army has long insisted that it does not have the resources to counter the full range of militants based in the tribal areas. Already, military officials argue, heavy numbers are committed all along the tribal areas and in the Swat Valley. It is also forced to commit forces to guard against upsurges of militancy in other parts of Pakistan. And, of course, the army’s priority remains guarding the eastern border with India. Indeed, the fact that India continues to be viewed as the principal security challenge by the Pakistani military establishment also dictates a policy toward Afghanistan that does little to help the U.S. there.

Pakistan’s generals are concerned by what they perceive as growing Indian influence in Afghanistan, through the Karzai government and massive development projects. They also accuse India of using Afghanistan as a base from which to wage a proxy war on Pakistan. Its priorities make the Pakistan army unlikely to turn its fire on the Haqqani and Hafiz Gul Bahadur networks, as Obama is demanding. Instead, the army has revived a nonaggression pact with Bahadur and with Maulvi Nazir – both of which use Pakistani soil as a base from which to wage war on NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s priority is simply to get them to agree to stay neutral or join in the fight between the army and the Pakistan Taliban. Nazir, who was freed from Pakistani custody to fight al-Qaeda-linked Uzbek militants, controls the areas of South Waziristan where the Pakistan army has positioned troops to seal off a line of retreat for the Pakistan Taliban. The danger for the U.S. is that such deals involve a nod and a wink for continued cross-border attacks, making the militants an even more potent threat.

The Haqqani network is believed to have long-standing links with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization, while senior Western diplomats allege that Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban continues to operate out of the southwestern city of Quetta – a claim furiously denied by Pakistan’s military. Many suspect that the reason that the Afghan Taliban manages to operate unmolested on Pakistani soil is Pakistan’s need to maintain leverage in Afghanistan, where the U.S. presence is viewed as temporary. Indeed, some Pakistani observers suggest that even if a U.S. surge is successful, it will at best lead to a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, in which Pakistan would play broker.

EXCLUSIVE: Taliban chief hides among Pakistan populace
Friday, November 20, 2009 The Washington Times Eli Lake, Sara A. Carter and Barbara Slavin

Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, has fled a Pakistani city on the border with Afghanistan and found refuge from potential U.S. attacks in the teeming Pakistani port city of Karachi with the assistance of Pakistan’s intelligence service, three current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

Mullah Omar, who hosted Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders when they plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had been residing in Quetta, where the Afghan Taliban shura — or council — had moved from Kandahar after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Two senior U.S. intelligence officials and one former senior CIA officer told The Washington Times that Mullah Omar traveled to Karachi last month after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. ….

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI, helped the Taliban leaders move from Quetta, where they were exposed to attacks by unmanned U.S. drones.

The development reinforces suspicions that the ISI, which helped create the Taliban in the 1990s to expand Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, is working against U.S. interests in Afghanistan as the Obama administration prepares to send more U.S. troops to fight there.

Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran and analyst on al Qaeda and the Taliban, confirmed that Mullah Omar had been spotted in Karachi recently.

“Some sources claim the ISI decided to move him further from the battlefield to keep him safe” from U.S. drone attacks, said Mr. Riedel, who headed the Obama administration’s review of policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan last spring. “There are huge madrassas in Karachi where Mullah Omar could easily be kept.”

. . . “There are indications of some kind of bleed-out of Taliban types from Quetta to Karachi, but no one should assume at this point that the entire Afghan Taliban leadership has packed up its bags and headed for another Pakistani city.”

. . . The official said that neither Osama bin Laden nor al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has been spotted in Karachi. The official said the top two al Qaeda figures are still thought to be in the tribal region of Pakistan on Afghanistan’s border.

But, the official said, other midlevel al Qaeda operatives who facilitate the travel and training of foreign fighters have moved to the Karachi metropolitan area, which with 18 million people is Pakistan’s most populous city.

“One reason, [al Qaeda] and Taliban leaders are relocating to Karachi is because they believe U.S. drones do not strike there,” the official said. “It is a densely populated urban area.”

. . . In late 2001, a cell likely commanded by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — the admitted operational planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — abducted and killed journalist Daniel Pearl.

Mohammed, who was captured by the CIA with ISI help in Pakistan in 2003, was sent to the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and is now set to go on trial in New York. In 2007, at a closed military hearing at Guantanamo, he confessed that he personally beheaded Mr. Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Pakistani officials said they were perplexed by the U.S. reports regarding Mullah Omar and denied that the ISI had facilitated a move by the Quetta shura to Karachi.

. . . “We have no evidence of his presence in Pakistan,” Mr. Kiani said. “If anybody in the U.S. government knows of any Quetta shura or Karachi shura, why don’t they share that intelligence with Pakistan so we can take care of the issue ourselves? We have not been made aware of any presence of Mullah Omar in the region.”

. . . “Our forces are fighting the Taliban in Waziristan and other areas,” he said. “The terrorists are now killing and targeting innocent people in Pakistani cities. ISI is a very professional intelligence agency and these allegations are baseless.”

The long term costs of middle class flight from the Third World

The reality that many educated people are being drawn to the Western world from their home counties is an old and familiar topic. But there is a back side to this process that seems yet to be identified. This is to try to define some of the implications of the problem. The point: the “drain” of talent into the Western countries [I’m mainly thinking about the United States] means that the social and cultural capital of countries desperately in need of that talent is being lost. That loss could eventually cost not only those countries but also the Western world, which must deal with countries bereft of educated middle classes.

One of the most noticeable entailments in this process of educated middle class movement is a flow of trained physicians to this country from other countries. Many countries in fact pay for their citizens – usually the cream of the crop – to study medicine. So their graduates come out of medical school with no debt. At same time the developing countries have the usual problems of graft and administrative incompetence, so that some of the best medical graduates can become frustrated and jaded. And some of them discover that in the United States [or some other western country] medical practice can be more fulfilling and far more profitable. The barrier is the costs of entering a medical career in the West: usually there are exams to take that often require further study. But the incentive is huge: a life in safety, a comfortable way of life, often a superior income, and the opportunity to actually practice medicine and even excel in the profession.

So some of them come to the United States and qualify to practice medicine. What this means for them is that their lives are much improved; they have a good income – one that can enable them to support family members back home – and a comfortable, safe career. Without debt — unlike almost every young physician trained in the United States, for doctors trained in this country pay for their own education, almost always by acquiring an astronomical debt. Doctors graduating from medical schools in this country have no other option than to work hard, charge the best fees possible, in order to pay off their debt. Doctors arriving from elsewhere, after qualifying to practice, begin in a position to develop their careers with much less concern about financial obligations.

So much for what happens inside the United States, for instance. But the implications for the countries that trained these physicians is a growing and costly loss. Countries that must have professional communities and a viable middle class are constantly having their middle class, their best citizens, siphoned away. I don’t know any numbers, but I fear that the long term consequences of this process are to undermine social and cultural processes that our country needs to take place in other countries. We have a national interest in seeing middle classes prosper all over the world, but the seductive power of the opportunities that our country offers those classes works against that interest.

That’s a problem we see happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, after 2001, when the American military invaded the country in order to punish Al Qaeda, hundreds of Afghans who had been living abroad and had prospered in their respective professions returned to help develop the country. There was much excitement about finally developing their home country and they came, in many cases at their own expense.

As everyone knows, it hasn’t happened the way they had hoped. I fear that most of them – those for instance that I met at a 2002 conference on how to help the country, have given up. I wonder how many have stayed, continued trying to develop the country, despite the disappointing developments.

And what are the implications of losing that enthusiastic community of willing Afghans? Those who were ready to pay their own way, even to sacrifice, to serve the public interest of the country: doctors, bankers, hydrologists, engineers – educated, well trained professionals. What has been lost? It is easy to guess: A loss no one can assess. An opportunity lost that is unlikely ever to return.

For Afghanistan there is a huge need for them, but for reasons we can all appreciate I fear that most have gone back to the West.

I see the same problem in Pakistan. And there the loss may be just as catastrophic. And it is one many of us in this country can easily see in our own communities. The community I know includes many excellent physicians from Pakistan and other Third World countries. Our county in fact cannot do without them. But what does it do to Pakistan? Every day we read on the front page signs of the tragic failure of that country to develop the powerful and dominant middle class that must be established if it will ever establish a productive modern country. Pakistan’s loss, America’s gain. A gain scarcely appreciated in America; a loss scarcely recognized in Pakistan.

Slackman on Montazeri’s challenge to the Iranian government

NYTimes Michael Slackman’s article on Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri indicates again how conflicted, and contradictory the actual practice of administration in Iran has turned out to be. He was one of the original promoters of the concept of “Velayat-e Faqih,” the juristic guardianship, the concept that underlies Iran’s current theocracy, and was, in fact, at one time the teacher of the current leading “faqih,” Ali Khameini – now addressed as “ayatollah” although he never earned such a high level of scholarly achievement. Slackman says that Ayatollah Montazeri has argued for years that even in a religious state legitimacy comes from the people.

“The government will not achieve legitimacy without the support of the people, and as the necessary and obligatory condition for the legitimacy of the ruler is his popularity and the people’s satisfaction with him,”

Once the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini until he began to criticize Khomeini’s practice in 1988, he is now a respected voice of opposition to the current regime. “He criticizes this regime purely from a religious point of view, and this is very hurtful. The regime wants to say, ‘If I am not democratic enough that doesn’t matter, I am Islamic.’ He says it is not an Islamic government.” (Mehdi Khalaji).

He has for years challenged the abuses of power in Iran. Even in the time of Khomeini, “He mocked Ayatollah Khomeini’s decision to issue a fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie, author of “The Satanic Verses,” saying, “People in the world are getting the idea that our business in Iran is just murdering people.” It was in January, 1988, that Montazeri’s objections to a wave of executions of political prisoners and his recoomendations to the leadership that Iran should export the revolution by example, not by violence. For that he was forced to leave government.

He has not, however, ceased to criticize the government, and now his criticisms of the Khameini regime have become exceedingly dangerous to it. A recent statement:

“A political system based on force, oppression, changing people’s votes, killing, closure, arresting and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail, is condemned and illegitimate.”

He says that the Islamic Republic of Iran is neither Islamic, nor a republic, and the supreme leader has lost his legitimacy.

Dangerous words for a regime now believed guilty of stealing an election and then brutally crushing the thousands of citizens who objected to it.

Steve Coll on The price of “failure” in the Afghanistan/Pakistan war

Steve Coll, whose understanding of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan has to be considered superb, has published in the Atlantic an estimate of the consequences of our “failing” in the war against that Taliban and AlQaeda. Anything he says needs to be considered carefully. Here is a fine statement of the implications of giving up or otherwise “failing” in the South Asian war. This, he says, is what would happen:

The Nineties Afghan Civil War on Steroids:

Momentum for a Taliban Revolution in Pakistan:

Increased Islamist Violence Against India, Increasing the Likelihood of Indo-Pakistani War:

Increased Al Qaeda Ambitions Against Britain and the United States:

He concludes this last section with the following:
“As 9/11 and the current creativity of the regionally focussed Taliban amply demonstrate, their potential should not be complacently underestimated. If they did get through and score another lucky goal, it is easy to imagine the prospective consequences for American politics and for the constitution.”

Mutawakil’s hint: Is negotiation possible?

On CNN Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil, former foreign minister for the Taliban, said that negotiation with the Taliban was possible. Also, Taliban commander Mullah Toor Jan has recently said that the Afghan Taliban had no connection with Al Qaida or with Pakistan’s Tehrik-i Taliban, the Taliban that have challenged the Pakistani military. Comments to make us wonder.
As for Mutawakil, what he says is worth taking seriously because he seems to be — even now — a key link between the leadership of the Taliban and the American military. I went back to the transcript, to be sure of what he actually said. Not a lot, it turns out, but it is enough to be suggestive: Is it a hint of a chance of a deal with the Taliban? [Click on the title for a link to the CNN site it comes from.] Here are the key statements:

MUTAWAKIL (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The common Taliban do not believe in the peace process. They don’t trust it.

LAWRENCE: (voice-over): But Mutawakil says its leadership is open to negotiation. …

MUTAWAKIL: We are not a danger to the world. We can be flexible.

MUTAWAKIL (through translator): Only reconciling with Hekmatyar will not solve the problem. If they do not negotiate with the representative of Mullah Omar, it will be useless.

LAWRENCE: (voice-over): Mutawakil says the Taliban realize they can’t turn back the clock to early 2001.

(on camera): Could they accept a government where women are granted rights, women can — are allowed to go to school?

MUTAWAKIL (through translator): They will won’t believe in co- education, but there can be separate education while wearing veils. This will be different.

LAWRENCE: (voice-over): He says the current Taliban leadership is more focused on driving out foreigners than Islamic crusade, but admits a lot of young Afghan fighters have been influenced by years of contact with the foreign jihadists.

MUTAWAKIL (through translator): The new generation of Taliban, the young boys who joined with them, they are different. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: The mullah told me that some American diplomats have already visited him to talk about Afghanistan’s future. But he says the price of any deal could be taking the bounty off the heads of some Taliban leaders or even giving them control of some provinces . . . .

This, let us hope, is a possible opening. But it is clear, as Mutawakil intimated, that Mullah Muhammad Omar does not control all of the groups that call themselves “Taliban”; indeed, Mutawakil specifically rejected any point in talking to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Mujahedin leader against the Soviets and now a leader of one of the “Taliban” factions. And he admits that many young people have come under the influence of the more extreme of the Islamists connected with the Taliban; presumably there is no negotiating for them either.

So, if it means anything it means only that some Taliban might be willing to talk.

BBC interview with a child “suicide bomber”

I have for some time believed that it takes a huge degree of inhumanity, wickedness, to train children to become suicide bombers. It appears to be an industry among the Taliban/Al Qaeda. So many bombers have been produced that the process cannot exist without a number of adults being involved and other numbers being willing to ignore it. For me, it is easy to believe that eventually this activity will create such revulsion among the communities being mined for their children that there will be an extreme reaction. How can a society, once fully aware of the practice, continue to allow it? Given my faith on the subject, I am encouraged by the report of a 14 year old boy who was “recruited” to be a suicide bomber. The whole report follows below. RLC

‘I agreed to become a suicide bomber’ Thursday, 12 November 2009 BBC News

A 14-year-old boy in the tribal region of Bajaur, in north-west Pakistan, says he was detained by Taliban forces who tried to turn him into a suicide bomber. The boy is now in army hands.

He provided a detailed account to BBC correspondent Orla Guerin. His story cannot be independently verified.

“There were five people who came after me from a place in Bajaur. They tricked me. They told me they were going to behead my father.

I went with them but my father wasn’t there. They tied me up.

They said: ‘You have two choices. We will behead you, or you will become a suicide bomber.’ I refused.

There were two more guys of my age. They were also training to be suicide bombers. If we refused they would tie our hands behind our backs, blindfold us and start beating us.

They brainwashed us and told us we would go to heaven. They said ‘there will be honey and juice and God will appear in front of you. You will have a beautiful house in Heaven’.

We used to ask them to let us out to pray. They would reply ‘you are already on your way to heaven. You don’t need to pray.’

They beat me hard for five days. I wasn’t given any food. While they were beating me I agreed to become a suicide bomber. They separated me from the other boys.

Mosque mission

They took me to a dark room and started giving me pills. I was handed over to Maulvi Fakir [the Bajaur Taliban commander]. After all this preparation they said I was to go and do the job in a mosque.

It was an ordinary mosque but the cleric there used to talk against the Taliban, and they declared him their enemy. They told me the cleric was a non-believer, a non-Muslim.

They took off my shirt and put the jacket on my shoulders. There were two hooks on my chest. They told me that when you go there you say’Allahu Akbar’ [God is Great] and then you pull apart these two hooks. Then they took me there, showed me the mosque and went off.

I was drugged and I couldn’t feel anything. I only came to my senses when I arrived in the mosque. I saw the peaceful kind face of the cleric, and I saw the mosque was full of holy books. I saw the people praying. And I thought, they are all Muslims. How can I do this? I decided not to and I came out.

I sat under a tree outside the mosque and waited for prayers to be over. After that I made my way back to the Taliban. Then they called me ‘a son of a bitch’ and asked why I had come back without doing it.

I told them I could not do it because they were carrying out body searches of all the people entering the mosque. They took off my vest and handed me over to Maulvi Fakir.

They tied me up but I told them to give me another chance and I would do it. They trusted me. I was roaming around with them for a couple of days. I got to the road, found transport and came home. They followed me to my house. They wanted to know if I was still there or had run somewhere else.

The Taliban had beaten me so harshly my back was scarred. When my parents saw that my mother started to cry, and told me not to go back to them. My father asked them why they were after his son. One day he took his weapon and went after them. But they wanted to kill him so he came back home and closed the door.

Before the Taliban came we used to enjoy freedom. We used to play, and go to our schools. There were no restrictions on us. Morning and evening we used to play games, and sit and chat with friends. We used to listen to music on our mobile phones. They banned that. They stopped us doing anything. They stopped us playing cricket and going to school. We felt like prisoners.

I want to join the army because they are the defenders of the land. They are fighting for the right cause. I want to fight against the Taliban. I have no other intention except to defend my country. The Taliban should be eliminated.

I want to tell the Taliban that they are cruel, and what they did to me was unjust. I can’t kill innocent Muslims.

I am not afraid of them. I am only afraid of God. I am answerable only to Him.”

Pakistani double-speak. Ingress? Dominate?

Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf has complained that Afghanistan is “under the influence of Indian intelligence.” He clearly indicates that the ISI are somehow connected with the Taliban:

“They (ISI) will not support it (terrorists). That was not the government policy. That was not the military policy. However, there was ingress,” he said.

“Always, in every group, there is an ingress of the ISI. And that is the efficiency, the effectiveness of the ISI. You must have ingress, so that you can influence all organizations. And it is this ingress of theirs, which doesn’t mean that they are supporting them, but they have ingress. They have some contacts, which can be used for their own advantage,” Musharraf said.

At the end of this article he says that we should “defeat Al Qaeda” and “dominate Taliban.” Hmm. Not defeat the Taliban; only dominate them.
Ingress. Dominate. These terms leave us unsettled as to what Pakistan is really committed to. What the Pakistani military are not fully committed to is a complete defeat of the Taliban. As Musharraf says, some of them are useful…. What follows, at least, is the version of India’s Economic Times. The whole article follows below. RLC

Afghan is under influence of Indian intelligence:
The Economic Times (India) – Nov 08 9:21 PM WASHINGTON:

Acknowledging that there is “An ingress of the ISI in every terrorist group”, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has alleged Afghanistan is under influence of Indian intelligence agencies and he has documentary evidence against it.

“Afghan intelligence, Afghan President, Afghan Government. Don’t talk of them. I know what they do. They are, by design, they mislead the world. They talk against Pakistan, because they are under the influence of Indian intelligence, all of them,” Musharraf said in an interview yesterday.

“The Afghan intelligence (is) entirely under the influence of Indian intelligence. We know that,” Musharraf said when asked that Taliban leader Mullah Omar is in the Quetta city of Pakistan.

“Whatever I am saying, I am not saying it here (for the first time). I have given documentary evidence of all this to everyone. There is the documentary evidence. And we know the involvement of Indian intelligence, in India, with their intelligence,” Musharraf, currently in London, charged.

“I have given documentary evidence to everyone from top to bottom. Everyone knows it. And we have the documentary evidence,” the former Pakistan Army chief said.

Musharraf denied reports and statements coming from the US leaders that ISI still has contacts with the terrorists.

“They (ISI) will not support it (terrorists). That was not the government policy. That was not the military policy. However, there was ingress,” he said.

“Always, in every group, there is an ingress of the ISI. And that is the efficiency, the effectiveness of the ISI. You must have ingress, so that you can influence all organizations. And it is this ingress of theirs, which doesn’t mean that they are supporting them, but they have ingress. They have some contacts, which can be used for their own advantage,” Musharraf said.

He said foreign troops are not welcome in Afghanistan, but now since they are there, they should win the battle against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

“Foreign troops are not welcome there (in Afghanistan). But now that they are there, we have to win. And quitting is not an option at all,” he said.

“Anyone who is talking of quitting doesn’t understand the ramifications of quitting. He must sit down and analyze what will happen if he were to quit there without a solution.

We have to defeat the al-Qaida, we have to dominate the Taliban, and we have to introduce a credible, legitimate government in Afghanistan. But we cannot leave before that,” he said.