Time For the Latest Episode of “Taliban Peace Talks”

[SEE:   China will negotiate peace in Afghanistan; Arresting Taliban To Cover America’s Ass ; Taliban ready to negotiate ; Taliban secret participant in peace courses in Oslo “Taliban Negotiators” In Doha Are ISI “Ringers,” Who Have Not Seen Mullah Omar In 12 Years ; Taliban say not involved in Kabul peace talks]

Sorry, what? Afghan president says time to apologize to Taliban


Afghan President Ashraf Ghaniю (Reuters / Gary Cameron)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghaniю (Reuters / Gary Cameron)

After 13 years of war aimed at rooting out the Taliban, the Afghan president declared in Washington that torture and mistreatment only intensified resentment in some members of the Taliban, so it’s time to heal wounds and apologize.

Speaking during his first visit to Washington, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, who became president last year, said peace with the insurgents was “essential” and that some Taliban members suffered legitimate grievances.

“People were falsely imprisoned, people were tortured. They were tortured in private homes or private prisons,” he said, Reuters reported.

“How do you tell these people that you are sorry?” he lamented.

In a speech to the US Congress on Wednesday Ghani said that Taliban members could even find their way back into Afghan society, if they agreed to respect the constitution.

Reuters / Lucas JacksonReuters / Lucas JacksonThe Taliban “members” said earlier this week they had no alternative but to continue its fight against the US. They made the statement after President Barack Obama delayed withdrawal of the American troops until the end of 2015.

“Obama’s announcement to continue to keep troops in Afghanistan is a response to the peace efforts,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujaahid told AFP.

The US president was initially planning to cut the number of troops to 5,000 by the end of this year, withdrawing completely by the end of 2016. But – with the full backing of his Afghan counterpart – Obama decided to slow the withdrawal, leaving all 9,800 in place through 2015.

Why is there such unity and accord between Ghani and Obama? Former State Department official Matthew Hoh believes it’s as easy as pie: both need each other for their “political survival.”

“[Ghani’s] survival as president of Afghanistan is directly related to the mass of influx of American cash and Western money that his government receives, as well, as the presence of American soldiers to keep him in power,” Hoh told RT.

The US president, meanwhile, needs Ghani because Obama is “facing a lot of difficulties due to his failed policy choices in the Middle East whether it be Libya, Yemen or going after the Islamic State… So he needs Ghani, he needs Afghanistan to show that he is still successful, that he hasn’t given up, that the US is still committed to fighting terrorism,” Hoh says.

Such “commitment” – the Afghanistan war – has cost the US taxpayer nearly $1 trillion, according to Financial Times’ calculations, and will require spending several hundred billion dollars more after it officially ended in December.

US lawmakers, meanwhile, keep showing support for a slower drawdown of troops.

“Iraq has shown us the consequences of leaving a fragile ally too early,” US Representative Mac Thornberry said in a statement. “The bottom line is that our own security is at stake,” the Republican, who leads the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, added.

According to independent journalist Sergey Strokan, security is a myth. The RT contributor says the American operation in Afghanistan – the longest overseas conflict in American history – has eventually led to a paradoxical result. As never before the fate of Afghanistan currently lies more in the hands of external forces – regional powers and superpowers – than in the hands of the Afghans themselves, Strokan says.

“It is obvious that if the Americans complete their withdrawal, it will embolden Islamic militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, giving new steam to radical Islamic movements not only in these two countries, but also in the rest of Central Asia and even China, with the potential to create a major threat for the nearby former Soviet republics,” Strokan maintains.

The other key factor which will hardly allow the Americans to leave Afghanistan to the Afghans is the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the journalist says.

“With the emergence of ISIS, the Middle East has turned into a testing ground for a destabilization model that will be exported to other regions. The Syrian or Iraqi ‘model of destabilization’ can be effectively applied in Afghanistan, with external forces playing a key role,” he warns.

2014 was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since the UN began compiling figures in 2009. A report published by the United Nations in February revealed 3,699 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014, which is a rise of 730 from the previous year. Perhaps more worryingly, there has been an increase every year in the number of civilian deaths since 2009, figures from the UN report show.

A powerful blast rocked central Kabul on Wednesday. Security officials said at least six people were killed and 31 others injured. The suicide bombing occurred in front of the Finance Ministry and near the city’s 2nd Police Station.

Armed confrontations between militants and security forces in Afghanistan have also intensified in recent years, as the number of Taliban fighters has skyrocketed from 2,000 to up to 60,000, since the US-led invasion in 2001.

On top of that, a report by Human Rights Watch in early March said the US’s desire to have security at any cost actually gives Afghan authorities an opportunity to act with impunity, allowing them to get away with murder and torture.

“The previous Afghan government and the United States enabled powerful and abusive individuals and their forces to commit atrocities for too long without being held to account,” HRW’s deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said.

Musharraf Admits His Part In Creating Neo-Taliban From Ashes of Real Taliban

[No Sunglasses has featured reports on the two faces of Musharraf and his single-handed resurrection of the “Neo-Taliban,” after Coalition forces decimated the original Taliban in 2001 (SEE:  Waging War Upon Ourselves).]

“In 2003, at the instance of the ISI, Mulla Omar, the Amir of the Taliban, reconstituted the Taliban army to launch a new jihad in Afghanistan—this time against the Western forces. He asked Mulla Dadullah, who continued to enjoy the confidence of the ISI, to act as the chief military commander of the new Taliban army, which consisted of experienced jihadi fighters of the pre-October 7,2001, vintage as well as new recruits from the madrasas and Afghan refugee camps of Pakistan. The new Taliban army was trained by the ISI and started operating in the Pashtun majority areas of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Balochistan and in the Waziristan area of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Within a short period of time, Dadullah raised not only a well-motivated army, but also constituted a suicide squad of Afghan and Pakistani nationals for undertaking suicide missions against the Afghan army and the Western forces.

The total strength of the Neo Taliban army raised by him with the help of the ISI is estimated by reliable sources as about 5,000, but Dadullah himself has been claiming that it has a strength of about 20,000.”–B.Raman

In interview with the Guardian, former Pakistan president voices his support for Ashraf Ghani and hints that he cultivated the Taliban

1000Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf during an interview in November. Photograph: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani military ruler accused of sheltering and supporting the Taliban after 2001, has called for an end to the backing of militant “proxies” in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the Guardian, Musharraf admitted that when he was in power, Pakistan sought to undermine the government of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai because Karzai had “helped India stab Pakistan in the back”. But now the time had come to “totally cooperate” with Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president since September, who Musharraf believes is “the last hope for peace in the region”.

“In President Karzai’s times, yes, indeed, he was damaging Pakistan and therefore we were working against his interest. Obviously we had to protect our own interest,” Musharraf said. “But now President Ashraf Ghani has come and he is trying to restore balance in Afghanistan. We must totally cooperate with him.”

In his first months in office, Ghani has sought to woo Pakistan in a way Musharraf could only have dreamed of in the critical years between the US-led intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, and 2008, when Musharraf was finally forced from power. Ghani has not only suspended a planned weapons deal with India, but also diverted troops to fight against anti-Pakistan militant groups in eastern Afghanistan.

For Musharraf, the most welcome development was Ghani’s decision this month to send six army cadets for training at Pakistan’s officer academy in the town of Abbottabad. Karzai infuriated both Musharraf and Ashfaq Kayani, his successor as army chief, by spurning offers to help train Afghanistan’s embryonic army. Instead, Karzai sent cadets to India, where Musharraf believes they were “indoctrinated” against Pakistan.

Speaking in his luxurious Karachi home, the former army chief repeatedly hinted at what is now widely accepted among diplomats and analysts: that the nominal western ally assisted both Nato forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban they were fighting against in a bid to counter the perceived influence of arch-rival India. “Pakistan had its own proxies, India had its proxies, which is unhealthy. I do admit this, it is most unhealthy. It is not in favour of Afghanistan, or Pakistan or India. It must stop,” he said.

Musharraf said Pakistani spies in the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) cultivated the Taliban after 2001 because Karzai’s government was dominated by non-Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group, and officials who were thought to favour India. “Obviously we were looking for some groups to counter this Indian action against Pakistan,” he said. “That is where the intelligence work comes in. Intelligence being in contact with Taliban groups. Definitely they were in contact, and they should be.”

The army remains deeply suspicious of India, a country that has beaten Pakistan in three conflicts since independence and played a critical role in the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Musharraf insists he is not an “India hater”, but bristles at what he says is western bias towards Pakistan’s giant neighbour. “‘India is the greatest democracy, promoter of human rights and democratic culture’? All bullshit,” he said. “There is no human rights. The religion itself is anti-human rights. In the rural areas, if even the shadow of an untouchable goes on a pandit, that man can be killed.”

Like many soldiers, he is convinced that India, through its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), backs regional separatists in an effort to break up Pakistan. “The RAW of India, the ISI of Pakistan have always been fighting against each other since our independence. That is how it continued, it continues now also.

“It must stop, but it can only stop when leaderships on both sides show the will to resolve disputes and stop confrontation in favour of compromise and accommodation.”

Musharraf has become increasingly vocal in recent months as his position in the country steadily improves after he suffered a series of setbacks in the wake of his disastrous return from self-exile in 2013. A ban on standing in elections quashed his hopes of entering parliament. He was ensnared by a series of legal cases, including one murder charge. Most seriously of all, Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister Musharraf ousted in a coup in 1999, won a landslide victory and initiated a treason trial for which the former dictator could be hanged if found guilty.

But Sharif’s power has been curbed by a series of bruising fights with Pakistan’s powerful military establishment and the treason case now appears tied up in legal wrangling. Musharraf is still banned from leaving the country, which he says deprives him not just of the lucrative international lecture circuit, but also access to his homes in London and Dubai. He says he misses his old life in his two favourite cities, where he could go to restaurants alone without the vast security required to protect him in Pakistan.

But he says his problems are nearly behind him, and that he has the army to thank. “I’m very proud of my institution. Whatever they are doing to help me, to protect the honour and dignity of their ex-chief, I’m proud of that,” he said.