Monday, November 07, 2011

Afghan Lawmakers to Americans inside the beltway: Give your dang fool heads a shake.

“U.S. officials should stop talking to the Haqqani Network. It is the ISI that is important,” Abdul Rahim Ayoubi, an Afghan parliamentarian leading a ten-member delegation of Afghan lawmakers to Washington, has gently suggested. But this is the lesson the Americans still refuse to learn: “The Haqqani Network is just a name. It is really an ISI and Pakistani military network."

It's going to be a long hard slog before it sinks in. The Washington Times article, for instance, refers to a "Sirajuddin Haqqani" when he's really the Taliban Quetta Shura commander Sirajuddin (Zadran), and "Haqqani" comes from the name of the Talib grad school madrassa in Akora Khattak, Pakistan, known as Darul uloom Haqqania, which has dispatched thousands of alumni over the years to murder and suicide-bombing mayhem campaigns in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Punjab, Balochistan, and other such places. Haqqania alumnus Mullah Omar is the Taliban (which just means "students," incidentally) fuhrer figure.

It looks complicated, I admit. You can't tell the players without a program (oh look, here's one - it's a Haqqani "family tree" in pdf format, published by the Institute for the Study of War). The point is, we have Pakistan to thank for all of this, and the American imbeciles who continue to allow Pakistan to get away with it.

If you want a glimpse into the cesspool of paranoia, conspiracy-theory and Islamist wingnuttery that passes as intelligent and sober analysis in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency leadership, have a look at this. It was not written by some jihadist underwear bomber graduate from a fashionable London college. Its author is General Mirza Aslam Beg, Pakistan's former chief of army staff.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan, known to Pakistani liberals as "Taliban Khan," is all over the news lately. "A liberal in Pakistan today means anyone who is a slave to US policies," he says. His rising star has gone meteoric in recent days. That should tell you something about just how maggot-infested Pakistani politics has become: the most serious challenge to the corrupt Zardari regime is a has-been cricketer and multimillionaire playboy who wants to reach out to the Taliban and supports Pakistan's fascist blasphemy laws.

Ordinary Afghans are fed up to the teeth with all this: Protests have been staged by Afghan youths objecting to statements made by Pakistani public figures. And Afghanistan's media and civil society have moved to the forefront to resist perceived efforts by their eastern neighbor to fill the vacuum as the West looks to exit their country.

It's not just Pakistan, either. For a front-row view of the Iranian Khomeinists' disgusting subversions in Afghanistan, here's an excerpt from my book, Come From The Shadows, in today's National Post.

Afghans are not much impressed with the Karzai government's benefactors, either. The crash in real estate prices in and around Kabul's posh Sherpur district reveals a lot.

Most of the homes were built by Afghanistan's corrupt political elite on land stolen from the poor and the state in 2003. While some in the international community objected, others, including mercenaries, embassies, the UN and television journalists, scrambled to pay tens of thousands of dollars in rent, and moved in. Now the prices are imploding, but ordinary Afghans, as usual, are between a bloody rock and bloodier place: "If the foreigners leave, the warlords will just take our land," said Mohammad Gul, a shopkeeper. "Otherwise the Taliban will come back and the fighting will start again."

Meanwhile, in Afghan politics, the emergence of the centre-right Hezb-e Haq wa Edalat (Right and Justice) coalition is a healthy sign for the moment, but I suspect it will end up being mainly a platform for former interior minister Hanif Atmar and a reactionary defense-line against the efforts by Abdullah's Taghir wa Omid (Change and Hope) coalition to overhaul the Afghan constitution to strip it of its most absurdly anti-democratic provisions.

There's also a good chance that Hezb-e Haq wa Edalat will implode before it does much damage. Any political party that hopes to contain prominent Afghan human rights activist Sima Samar and former Taliban deputy justice minister Mawlawi Jalaluddin Shinwari is going to be a bit of a gong show. The party also tentatively supports peace talks with the Taliban but includes as one of its more prominent founders the fervently anti-appeasement Daud Muradian. I'd say Edalat's shelf life will be roughly the same as ice cream left on a south-facing windowsill.


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