Taliban expanding rapidly in Pakistan, thanks to MusharrafAugust 11th, 2008 - 11:39 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) The Taliban are now expanding rapidly in Pakistan, courtesy the failed policies of the country’s army and the now beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf, says a new book by Pakistani journalist-scholar Ahmed Rashid. An acknowledged authority on the Taliban, Rashid says in “Descent into Chaos” (Allen Lane/Penguin) that the time has come for the Pakistan Army to live in peace with its neighbours “instead of constantly trying to undermine them”.
Penning the story of how the US and its allies have almost lost the war in Afghanistan, after having ousted the Al Qaeda-linked Taliban regime in 2001, Rashid traces much of it to the policies pursued by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.
“The Taliban are now expanding in Pakistan much faster than anyone could have imagined,” the book says. “It has not been their successful strategy as much as the failed policies of the army and Musharraf that have created this crisis.
“The world’s terrorist leaders were already living on the Pakistani side of the border, but with the creation of the Pakistani Taliban, they are now able to expand their influence, base areas and training camps at will across northern Pakistan.”
Rashid says that the 2008 election that catapulted the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to power “offers a panacea, but it will bring relief only if the army, the politicians, and the international community come together to help the new Pakistan government tackle its myriad problems”.
“Success depends on the army and the ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) being pressured or persuaded to give up their twisted logic of insecurity, national pride, and expansion in the region, to help sort out the country’s problems, and to be good friends to Pakistan’s neighbours, instead of constantly trying to undermine them.
“The army’s insecurity, which since 1947 has essentially bred a covert policy of undermining neighbours, has now come full circle, for Pakistan’s very future is at stake as extremists threaten to undermine Pakistan itself,” he says.
Rashid has asked the Pakistani Army “to put to rest its notion of a centralised state based solely on defence against India and an expansionist, Islamist strategic military doctrine carried out at the expense of democracy”.
Pakistan, he says, needs national reconciliation that ends the demonisation of politicians by the army, a new military culture that is taught to respect civilians, institutions and neighbours, and reformed intelligence agencies that cease to interfere politically.
Rashid also has a word of advice for the Afghan elite.
“The Afghans need to evolve a system of governance capable of delivering services to the people and relatively free of tribalism, sectarianism and corruption.
“So far, President (Hamid) Karzai has taken his people only partially down that road. He has compromised too much with warlords, thieves and brigands rather than collaborating with the mainstream Afghans who want to rebuild their nation.”
The book is also strongly critical of the US and the West for failing to understand the problems of Afghanistan in their entirety.
“The (George) Bush doctrine has been overburdened with lies, omissions and spin. The US and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) have failed to understand that the Taliban belong to neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan but are lumpen population, the product of refugee camps, militarised madrassas, and the lack of opportunities in the borderland of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“They have neither been true citizens of either country nor experienced traditional Pushtun society. The longer the war goes on, the more deeply rooted and widespread the Taliban and their transnational milieu will become.”
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