Can’t Win in Afghanistan, Blame Pakistan

As resistance to the US-led occupation of Afghanistan has intensified, the increasingly frustrated Bush administration is venting its anger against Pakistan and its military intelligence agency, the ISI.

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CAN’T WIN IN AFGHANISTANBLAME PAKISTAN

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VIOLENCE & UPRISINGS IN  FATA NOT CAUSED BY “TERRORISM” BUT OUT FALL OF THE US-LED OCCUPATION OF AFGHANISTAN

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by Eric Margolis

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Soon after the US invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government in 2001, I predicted that Taliban resistance would resume in four years.

My fellow pundits, who were cock-a-hoop over the US military victory over a bunch of lightly-armed medieval tribesmen, became drunk on old-fashioned imperial triumphalism, and denounced me as “crazy,” or worse. But most of them had never been to Afghanistan and knew nothing about the Pashtun tribal people. I had covered the struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980’s and was well aware of the leisurely pace of warfare favored by Pashtun warriors.

“Do not stay in Afghanistan,” I warned in a 2001 article in the Los Angeles Times. The longer foreign forces remained in Afghanistan, the more the tribes would fight against their continued presence. Taliban resumed fighting in 2005.

Now, as resistance to the US-led occupation of Afghanistan has intensified, the increasingly frustrated Bush administration is venting its anger against Pakistan and its military intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence, better known as ISI.

The White House just leaked claims ISI is in cahoots with pro-Taliban groups in Pakistan’s tribal agency along the Afghan border and warns them of impending US attacks. The New York Times, which allowed the Bush administration to use it as a mouthpiece for Iraq War propaganda, dutifully featured the leaks about ISI on front page. Other administration officials have been claiming that ISI may even be hiding Osama bin Laden and other senior al-Qaida leaders.

The Bush administration claims that CIA had electronic intercepts proving ISI was behind the bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul. India and Afghanistan echoed this charge. No hard evidence though was ever produced, but the US media has been lustily condemning Pakistan for pretending to be an ally of the US while acting like an enemy.

During a visit to the US by Pakistan’s newly elected  Prime Minister, President George Bush angrily asked, Yousuf Gilani, “who’s in charge of ISI?” An interesting question, since all recent ISI director generals have been vetted and pre-approved by Washington.

I was one of the first western journalists invited into ISI HQ in 1986. ISI’s then director general, the fierce Lt. General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, personally briefed me on Pakistan’s secret role in fighting Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. ISI’s “boys” provided communications, logistics, training, heavy weapons, and direction in the Afghan War. I kept ISI’s role in Afghanistan a secret until the war ended in 1989.

ISI was primarily responsible for the victory over the Soviets, which hastened the collapse of the USSR. At war’s end, Gen. Akhtar and Pakistan’s leader, Zia ul Haq, both died in a sabotaged C-130 transport aircraft. Unfortunately, most Pakistanis blame the United States for this assassination, though the real malefactors have never been identified and the investigation long ago shelved.

On my subsequent trips to Pakistan I was routinely briefed by succeeding ISI chiefs, and joined ISI officers in the field, sometimes under fire.

ISI, which reports to Pakistan’s military and the prime minister, is accused of meddling in Pakistani politics. The late Benazir Bhutto, who often was thwarted and vexed by Pakistan’s spooks, always playfully scolded me, “you and your beloved generals at ISI.”

Butbefore Gen. Pervez Musharraf took over as military dictator, ISI was the third world’s most efficient, professional intelligence agency. It still defends Pakistan against internal and external subversion by India’s powerful spy agency, RAW, and by Iran. ISI works closely with CIA and the Pentagon and was primarily responsible for the rapid ouster of Taliban from power in 2001. But ISI also must serve Pakistan’s interests which are often not identical to Washington’s, and sometimes in conflict.

ISIwas long and deeply involved in supporting the uprising by Kashmiri Muslims against Indian rule, and has been accused by India of abetting groups that have committed bombings and aircraft hijackings inside India, including a wave of terrorist bombings against civilians in Bangalore and Gujarat over recently weeks. For its part, India’s powerful intelligence service, RAW, has mounted bombing and shooting attacks inside Pakistan.

The reason it is often difficult to tell whether Pakistan is friend or foe is because Washington has been forcing Pakistan’s government, military and intelligence services into supporting the US-led war in Afghanistan and in the past, in rounding up and torturing opponents of Pakistan’s military dictatorship. Pakistan was forced to bend to Washington’s will through a combination of over $11 billion in payments and threats of war if Pakistan did not comply. The ongoing prosecution of the US-led war in Afghanistan depends entirely on Pakistan’s provision of bases and troops.

WhilePakistan’s government, military and intelligence services were forced to follow Washington’s strategic plans, 90% of Pakistan’s people bitterly oppose these policies. President-dictator Musharraf was caught between the anger of Washington and his own angry people who branded him an American stooge.

Small wonder Pakistan’s leadership is so often accused of playing a double game.

The last ISI Director General I knew was the tough, highly capable Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmad. He was purged by Musharraf because Washington felt Mahmood was insufficiently responsive to US interests. Ever since 2001, ensuing ISI directors were all pre-approved by Washington. All senior ISI veterans deemed “Islamist” or too nationalistic by Washington were purged at Washington’s demand, leaving ISI’s upper ranks top-heavy with too many yes-men and paper-passers.

Even so, there is strong opposition inside ISI and the military to Washington’s bribing and arm-twisting the subservient Musharraf dictatorship into waging war against fellow Pakistanis and gravely damaging Pakistan’s national interests. After coming of the new civilian set up under Mr. Zardari as the new President, and Mr. Gilani, the prime minister, for most of the Pakistanis Pakistani people, there seems to be hardly any change in this policy.

ISI’s primary duty is defending Pakistan, not promote US interests. Pashtun tribesmen on the border sympathizing with their fellow Taliban Pashtun in Afghanistan are Pakistanis. Many, like the legendary Jalaluddin Haqqani, are old US allies and “freedom fighters” from the 1980’s. When the US and its western allies finally abandon Afghanistan, as they will inevitably do one day, Pakistan must go on living with its rambunctious tribals.

Violence and uprisings in these tribal areas are not caused by “terrorism,” as Washington and Musharraf falsely claimed. They directly result from the US-led occupation of Afghanistan and Washington’s forcing the regimes to attack theirown people.

ISIis trying to restrain pro-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen while dealing with growing US attacks into Pakistan that threaten a wider war. India, Pakistan’s bitter foe, has an army of agents in Afghanistan and is arming, backing and financing the Karzai puppet regime in Kabul in hopes of turning Afghanistan into a protectorate. Pakistan’s historic strategic interests in Afghanistan have been undermined by the US occupation. Now, the US and India are trying to eliminate Pakistani influence in Afghanistan.

ISI, many of whose officers are Pashtun, has every right to warn Pakistani citizens of impending US air attacks that kill large numbers of civilians. But ISI also has another vital mission. Preventing Pakistan’s Pashtun, 15-20% of the population of 165 million, from rekindling the old “Greater Pashtunistan” movement calling for union of the Pashtun tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan into a new Pashtun nation. The Pashtun have never recognized the Durand Line (today’s Pakistan-Afghan border) drawn by British imperialists to sunder the world’s largest tribal people. Greater Pashtunistan would tear apart Pakistan and invite Indian military intervention.

Washington’s bull-in-a-china shop behavior pays no heeds to these realities. Instead, Washington demonizes faithful old allies ISI and Pakistan while supporting Afghanistan’s Communists and drug dealers, and allowing India to stir the Afghan pot – all for the sake of new energy pipelines.

AsHenry Kissinger cynically noted, being America’s ally is more dangerous than being its enemy.

Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World.. 
Copyright © 2008 Eric Margolis
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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Perhaps a day will come when RAW and ISI will stop fomenting trouble in each other’s countries.

    To quote from a song titled ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, “You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.” 🙂

  2. Ya, Gursharan Dear,

    This a wish and a dream but minds do dream and think, otherwise:-

    “Maen aesay Shakhs ko bandoan main kya shumar karoon
    Jo khawab daikhta bhi nahin, sochta bhi nahin”.

  3. […] Re: A U.S. Report: India, Not Pakistan, Creating Trouble For NATO In Afghanistan Can�t Win in Afhganistan, Blame Pakistan Soon after the US invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government in 2001, I predicted that Taliban resistance would resume in four years. My fellow pundits, who were ****-a-hoop over the US military victory over a bunch of lightly-armed medieval tribesmen, became drunk on old-fashioned imperial triumphalism, and denounced me as �crazy,� or worse. But most of them had never been to Afghanistan and knew nothing about the Pashtun tribal people. I had covered the struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980�s and was well aware of the leisurely pace of warfare favored by Pashtun warriors. �Do not stay in Afghanistan,� I warned in a 2001 article in the Los Angeles Times. The longer foreign forces remained in Afghanistan, the more the tribes would fight against their continued presence. Taliban resumed fighting in 2005. Now, as resistance to the US-led occupation of Afghanistan has intensified, the increasingly frustrated Bush administration is venting its anger against Pakistan and its military intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence, better known as ISI. The White House just leaked claims ISI is in cahoots with pro-Taliban groups in Pakistan�s tribal agency along the Afghan border and warns them of impending US attacks. The New York Times, which allowed the Bush administration to use it as a mouthpiece for Iraq War propaganda, dutifully featured the leaks about ISI on front page. Other administration officials have been claiming that ISI may even be hiding Osama bin Laden and other senior al-Qaida leaders. The Bush administration claims that CIA had electronic intercepts proving ISI was behind the bombing of India�s embassy in Kabul. India and Afghanistan echoed this charge. No hard evidence though was ever produced, but the US media has been lustily condemning Pakistan for pretending to be an ally of the US while acting like an enemy. During a visit to the US by Pakistan�s newly elected Prime Minister, President George Bush angrily asked, Yousuf Gilani, �who�s in charge of ISI?� An interesting question, since all recent ISI director generals have been vetted and pre-approved by Washington. I was one of the first western journalists invited into ISI HQ in 1986. ISI�s then director general, the fierce Lt. General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, personally briefed me on Pakistan�s secret role in fighting Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. ISI�s �boys� provided communications, logistics, training, heavy weapons, and direction in the Afghan War. I kept ISI�s role in Afghanistan a secret until the war ended in 1989. ISI was primarily responsible for the victory over the Soviets, which hastened the collapse of the USSR. At war�s end, Gen. Akhtar and Pakistan�s leader, Zia ul Haq, both died in a sabotaged C-130 transport aircraft. Unfortunately, most Pakistanis blame the United States for this assassination, though the real malefactors have never been identified and the investigation long ago shelved. On my subsequent trips to Pakistan I was routinely briefed by succeeding ISI chiefs, and joined ISI officers in the field, sometimes under fire. ISI, which reports to Pakistan�s military and the prime minister, is accused of meddling in Pakistani politics. The late Benazir Bhutto, who often was thwarted and vexed by Pakistan�s spooks, always playfully scolded me, �you and your beloved generals at ISI.� But before Gen. Pervez Musharraf took over as military dictator, ISI was the third world�s most efficient, professional intelligence agency. It still defends Pakistan against internal and external subversion by India�s powerful spy agency, RAW, and by Iran. ISI works closely with CIA and the Pentagon and was primarily responsible for the rapid ouster of Taliban from power in 2001. But ISI also must serve Pakistan�s interests which are often not identical to Washington�s, and sometimes in conflict. ISI was long and deeply involved in supporting the uprising by Kashmiri Muslims against Indian rule, and has been accused by India of abetting groups that have committed bombings and aircraft hijackings inside India, including a wave of terrorist bombings against civilians in Bangalore and Gujarat over recently weeks. For its part, India�s powerful intelligence service, RAW, has mounted bombing and shooting attacks inside Pakistan. The reason it is often difficult to tell whether Pakistan is friend or foe is because Washington has been forcing Pakistan�s government, military and intelligence services into supporting the US-led war in Afghanistan and in the past, in rounding up and torturing opponents of Pakistan�s military dictatorship. Pakistan was forced to bend to Washington�s will through a combination of over $11 billion in payments and threats of war if Pakistan did not comply. The ongoing prosecution of the US-led war in Afghanistan depends entirely on Pakistan�s provision of bases and troops. While Pakistan�s government, military and intelligence services were forced to follow Washington�s strategic plans, 90% of Pakistan�s people bitterly oppose these policies. President-dictator Musharraf was caught between the anger of Washington and his own angry people who branded him an American stooge. Small wonder Pakistan�s leadership is so often accused of playing a double game. The last ISI Director General I knew was the tough, highly capable Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmad. He was purged by Musharraf because Washington felt Mahmood was insufficiently responsive to US interests. Ever since 2001, ensuing ISI directors were all pre-approved by Washington. All senior ISI veterans deemed �Islamist� or too nationalistic by Washington were purged at Washington�s demand, leaving ISI�s upper ranks top-heavy with too many yes-men and paper-passers. Even so, there is strong opposition inside ISI and the military to Washington�s bribing and arm-twisting the subservient Musharraf dictatorship into waging war against fellow Pakistanis and gravely damaging Pakistan�s national interests. After coming of the new civilian set up under Mr. Zardari as the new President, and Mr. Gilani, the prime minister, for most of the Pakistanis Pakistani people, there seems to be hardly any change in this policy. ISI�s primary duty is defending Pakistan, not promote US interests. Pashtun tribesmen on the border sympathizing with their fellow Taliban Pashtun in Afghanistan are Pakistanis. Many, like the legendary Jalaluddin Haqqani, are old US allies and �freedom fighters� from the 1980�s. When the US and its western allies finally abandon Afghanistan, as they will inevitably do one day, Pakistan must go on living with its rambunctious tribals. Violence and uprisings in these tribal areas are not caused by �terrorism,� as Washington and Musharraf falsely claimed. They directly result from the US-led occupation of Afghanistan and Washington�s forcing the regimes to attack theirown people. ISI is trying to restrain pro-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen while dealing with growing US attacks into Pakistan that threaten a wider war. India, Pakistan�s bitter foe, has an army of agents in Afghanistan and is arming, backing and financing the Karzai puppet regime in Kabul in hopes of turning Afghanistan into a protectorate. Pakistan�s historic strategic interests in Afghanistan have been undermined by the US occupation. Now, the US and India are trying to eliminate Pakistani influence in Afghanistan. ISI, many of whose officers are Pashtun, has every right to warn Pakistani citizens of impending US air attacks that kill large numbers of civilians. But ISI also has another vital mission. Preventing Pakistan�s Pashtun, 15-20% of the population of 165 million, from rekindling the old �Greater Pashtunistan� movement calling for union of the Pashtun tribes of Pakistan and Afghanistan into a new Pashtun nation. The Pashtun have never recognized the Durand Line (today�s Pakistan-Afghan border) drawn by British imperialists to sunder the world�s largest tribal people. Greater Pashtunistan would tear apart Pakistan and invite Indian military intervention. Washington�s bull-in-a-china shop behavior pays no heeds to these realities. Instead, Washington demonizes faithful old allies ISI and Pakistan while supporting Afghanistan�s Communists and drug dealers, and allowing India to stir the Afghan pot – all for the sake of new energy pipelines. As Henry Kissinger cynically noted, being America�s ally is more dangerous than being its enemy. Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World.. Copyright � 2008 Eric Margolis Can’t Win in Afhganistan, Blame Pakistan Wonders of Pakistan […]

  4. […] of a larger geopolitical agenda of the world’s sole super power as her friend and ally. But as Henry Kissinger cynically would say “Being America’s ally is more dangerous than being its […]

  5. […] of a larger geopolitical agenda of the world’s sole super power as her friend and ally. But as Henry Kissinger cynically would say “Being America’s ally is more dangerous than being its […]

  6. Now it is clear that one day America will leave Afghanistan .The unfinished task will leave injured snakes all over in the region .They can bite any one any where .Crisis managers of the world will have to face such challege in future ahead .

  7. @ Siddhusahab , Noble dream too lands on a noble mind .The mind already polluted with duel thoughts can not serve as a runway to land such dreams .Then the pilot of the dream says…..Miles to go before I land , and miles to fly before I land land . At present the intelligentia has duelity in thought ,it is busy and not allowing such dreams to land .It is bitterly devided .Now it get entangled in a puzzel related to 9/11 and to assess who is winning and who is loosing .About 15000 innocents of one side and 15 lac of other side have been sacrified from 1990 till today, even then people are not clear that who is winning and who is loosing ……Wait and see is the best policy for the time being .

  8. In Pakistan we need to setup our home right. We can do it as I explained it here:
    http://ihaveadream-pakistan.blogspot.com/p/religion.html

  9. Pakistan’s problems are mostly internal. We have to understand that the present set of politicians and those at the helm are not sincere to our homeland. This system and people both are non-functional which we need to replace. 99% of the weak population is being exploited by 1% rich and powerful. Lets break the shackles, we need to bring a revolution as soon as possible.

  10. Mr. Waris Ali , Go ahead but one thing you have keep in mind that Pakistan is now on the target of terrorist and mecimeries who can easily derail the mass movement in to a civil war .Perhaps it would be better to eliminate terrorists and Islamic fanatics first and then think about the political change .Any Govt. hostile to India will never be in the interest of Pakistan .Let Nato to operate in Afghanistan to bring stability there .Duelism in this regard will be not affordable for Pakistan .

  11. Asking questions are in fact nice thing if you are not understanding something
    totally, except this post gives fastidious understanding yet.

  12. “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will, never grow”
    Ronald E Osborn. 00 based on being in the 25% tax bracket
    and also the saving you will receive from the 7.
    Well, if you happen to be a nanny or babysitter looking for work, things have to be tough.

  13. Thanks a lot, good information people. I’m sure Raj Napal who was a great legal professional I do
    know, acquired won thousands of situations performing very hard.
    He now will be the highest rated law firm inside North america.


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