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Pakistan: Afghanistan's Only Solution - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Pakistan has repeatedly denied all accusations about its official government relationship, or that of its leaders within the country, with the Taliban and extremist movements, which are becoming more widespread in different parts of the country, and is extending into Afghanistan. However, a lot of evidence points to a continued relationship that has been uninterrupted since the days of Taliban rule in the Afghan capital of Kabul. This is what the Prime Minister of Great Britain alleged, in a statement that initiated the first conflict between his new government and the Pakistani regime, accusing them of being involved in relationships with terrorist groups.

Because of these accusations, discussion has moved towards penalizing Pakistan, and this in my opinion would be a terrible mistake. On the contrary, it is necessary to gain [the support of] the Pakistani side and maintain it, because in order for the regime to remain standing, there is a need to eliminate extremism and terrorism in the Indian Subcontinent and Afghanistan. Without a stable Pakistan, the region will be fractured and completely out of global control.

India, and the Karzai government in Afghanistan, have both insisted that inside Pakistan there is hidden support for thwarting the war against terrorism in the region. Even if we assume that this charge is true to some degree, there can be no military solution to it, because the pursuit of internal Pakistani forces will tear apart the country’s system, which is the largest state to be confronted with terrorism. Until we know the size of the potential danger, it is enough to refer to them [areas of Pakistani rebel forces] as ‘hot spots’. Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq, are the four most prominent producers of terrorist groups in any battlefield, yet all of them combined have a smaller population than Pakistan. Let’s just imagine if Pakistan became another Somalia! We would see an alarming picture.

It is certain that Pakistan suffers from the infiltration of extremist groups, and within its territory there is a terrorist presence including Al-Qaeda, and both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. Within the Pakistani regime, either in the military or security departments, there may be forces believed to have met with, and supported, these armed organizations to assist in their recent objectives, as they confront India and fight the Karzai government, which is hostile towards Islamabad. In spite of this forbidden relationship, attempting to punish the Pakistani regime will lead to chaos and could result in the collapse of the system.

The United States and its allies today are powerless to discipline a small regime such as that of Karzai, so how will they be able to confront the rebel forces of Pakistan? Perhaps it was their inability to understand the Pakistani relationship in the Afghan administration that was specifically behind their failure to install a new regime in Kabul, and their inability to defeat the Taliban, which has emerged from the ashes with renewed strength. It may also have contributed to the emergence of other terrorist groups. Washington’s insistence for the past nine years on Pakistan’s exclusion from any role in Afghanistan, which has always been its ‘back yard’, has caused the Afghan forces to continually remain unbalanced, due of tribal, demographic and Pakistani reasons.

The involvement of Pakistan [in the Afghanistan situation] is beneficial, especially as U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden clearly stated so in his last visit there. He said he did not consider it important for his country to insist upon a specific political regime, but rather what was important was to reach a solution satisfactory to all Afghans, and achieve civil peace. In other words, the United States has abandoned the plan of former President George Bush to build a democratic system in Afghanistan, and encourage a similar regime in Pakistan. This would mean a return to the game of regional axes. It is imperative to cooperate with the Pakistani regime with regards to the Afghan administration, rather than to satisfy Karzai, who won the recent election by fraud, and is unable to rule Afghanistan without the Americans. The United States, which has spent more time in Afghanistan than it did in Vietnam, is finally aware that Pakistan, with all its imperfections, could be its only savior. Pakistan’s involvement in the administration of Afghanistan, on a large scale, is necessary. The establishment of an internationally acceptable political system should be postponed until a later stage, as currently the situation is worsening on both sides of the border.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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