Better Another Taliban Afghanistan, than a Taliban NUCLEAR Pakistan!?
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It took the Soviets 10 years and the loss of 15,000 troops before they admitted they admitted defeat in
The Soviets were prepared to fight to the death in
The nature of the catastrophe and abysmal defeat in
They are low on adequate resources and relegated in importance. The former British Commander of NATO forces admitted that last year they came close to losing
The Taliban are ferocious fighters, with a messianic fervour to fight to the death. They bring with them the experience of veterans of the brutal Soviet war and the civil war which followed. Now regrouped and rearmed, their forces are prepared for unfavourable open combat of almost suicidal proportions. Furthermore they are opportunistically changing tactics, both in order to create maximum urban destabilization and to win local support in the countryside. Boasting of more than 1,000 suicide volunteer bombers, they have also renounced their former policy against heroin cultivation, thus allowing them to win support among the rural population and gain support from local tribes, warlords and criminal gangs, who have been alienated by NATO policies of poppy field destruction.
Although disliked and despised in many quarters, the Taliban could not advance without the support or acquiescence of parts of the population, especially in the south. In particular, the Taliban is drawing on backing from the Pashtun tribes from whom they originate. The southern and eastern areas have been totally out of government control since 2001. Moreover, not only have they not benefited at all from the Allied occupation, but it is increasingly clear that with a few small centres of exception, all of the country outside
The Break-Up of
However, the Taliban is unlikely to win much support outside of the powerful Pashtun tribes. Although they make up a majority of the nation, they are concentrated in the south and east. Among the other key minorities, such as Tajiks and Uzbeks, who control the north they have no chance of making new inroads. They will fight the Taliban and fight hard, but their loyalty to the NATO and
The Northern Alliance originally liberated
This would leave the Allied forces with few social reserves, excepting a frightened and unstable urban population in
The Taliban themselves, however may decide not to take on the Northern Alliance and fighting may concentrate on creating a border between the two areas, about which the two sides may reach an agreement regardless of U.S. and Allied plans or preferences. The Taliban may claim the name
Although the Pashtuns are more closely linked to tribal and clan loyalty, there exists a strong latent embryo of a Pashtun national consciousness and the idea of an independent Pashtunistan state has been raised regularly in the past with regard to the disputed territories common to
Trying to subdue the frontier lands has proven costly and unpopular for Musharraf. In effect, he faces exactly the same problems as the
When he agreed the policy of appeasement and virtual self-rule for North Waziristan last year, President Musharraf stated clearly that he is acting first and foremost to protect the interests of
Musharraf faces the nationalist struggle in
For the same reasons, he has not captured or killed Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership. Returning from the frontier provinces with Bin Laden's severed head would be a trophy that would cost him his own head in
The Break-Up of
Musharraf probably hopes that by giving de facto autonomy to the Taliban and Pashtun leaders now with a virtual free hand for cross border operations into Afghanistan, he will undercut any future upsurge in support for a break-away independent Pashtunistan state or a "Peoples' War" of the Pashtun populace as a whole, as he himself described it.
However, events may prove him sorely wrong. Indeed, his policy could completely backfire upon him. As the war intensifies, he has no guarantees that the current autonomy may yet burgeon into a separatist movement. Appetite comes with eating, as they say. Moreover, should the Taliban fail to re-conquer al of Afghanistan, as looks likely, but captures at least half of the country, then a Taliban Pashtun caliphate could be established which would act as a magnet to separatist Pashtuns in Pakistan. Then, the likely break up of Afghanistan along ethnic lines, could, indeed, lead the way to the break up of Pakistan, as well.
Strong centrifugal forces have always bedevilled the stability and unity of Pakistan, and, in the context of the new world situation, the country could be faced with civil wars and popular fundamentalist uprisings, probably including a military-fundamentalist coup d'état.
Fundamentalism is deeply rooted in
The nightmare that is now
Undoubtedly, this would also spill over into
Atomic Al Qaeda
What is at stake in "the half-forgotten war" in
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Despite all the diplomatic jaw-jaw and the attempts by the Bush administration to throw dust in the eyes of the public, it is likely that the U.S. has decided together with Israel to launch a "pre-emptive" attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Whatever conferences and accords come up, there is only a short window of opportunity to attack, before defeat in Iraq paralyses the U.S. scope for operations. It will be the last war for the lost cause.
Bereft of new ideas for a new epoch, the U.S. is falling back on the old methods of British Imperialism in divide and rule and the sectarian tactics to deal with counter-insurgence. In particular, they are surreptitiously turning to a method which was successfully employed in Malaysia. Whatever our personal opinion of what is the best or most suitable form of government, it is for the Iraqi peoples to work out and decide for themselves rather than our aspirations for them. It is their future.
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