US set to cut deal with Taliban?
Chidanand Rajghatta – The Times of India Oct 5, 2006
Alarm bells are going off in the US political and strategic community over the Bush administration's weighing the option of bringing Taliban back into the power equation in Afghanistan.
First signs of impending overtures to Taliban from Washington came last month when Bush and his aides gingerly supported Pakistan’s agreement with Taliban in the Waziristan province, a deal which was panned in strategic circles as a sell-out to extremists at the expense of US and NATO ground troops in Afghanistan.
Undeterred by the criticism, the Bush subsequently persuaded Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is vehemently opposed to the deal, to 'wait and see' how the Pakistani deal works.
Now comes advice from Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that the Bush administration should consider bringing Taliban back into the power equation in Kabul.
Arguing that Taliban fighters were "too numerous and too popular" to be defeated, Frist told reporters after a visit to Afghanistan last weekend that "You need to bring them (Taliban) into a more transparent type of government... And if that's accomplished, we'll be successful."
"Approaching counterinsurgency by winning hearts and minds will ultimately be the answer. Military versus insurgency one-to-one doesn't sound like it can be won. It sounds to me... that the Taliban is everywhere," he was quoted as saying.
The remarks sparked outrage in US political-strategic circles with critics panning Frist, who is a doctor by profession, of waving the white flag before elements who helped perpetuate 9/11.
"Senator Frist now suggests that the best way forward in Afghanistan is to coddle the Taliban by welcoming Taliban members into a coalition government, as if 9/11 had never happened," Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi chafed in a statement. Frist, who is a Republican Presidential aspirant in 2008, was also criticized by John Kerry.
Not that the Democrats have a great record with the fundamentalist yahoos first mid-wifed by the Pakistani military to get a foothold in Afghanistan and gain strategic depth against India, which prefers the more broad-based and pan-Afghan Northern Alliance.
The Clinton administration turned a blind eye to Islamabad's perverse machinations that gave birth to the Taliban and swallowed its barbaric rule for several months in the mid 1990s before Madeleine Albright, shook up by the mullahs treatment of women, began to have doubts. Washington still lumped Taliban till 9/11.
Analysts believe that Pakistan has never really forsaken the Taliban even post 9/11, hoping to return its barbaric wards to power in Kabul and retain its strategic foothold once US withdraws from Afghanistan under domestic public pressure and military setbacks.
Ironically, evidence of Pakistan's role in sustaining Taliban came in a stunning PBS documentary telecast Tuesday night, even as Frist made his pitch.
Titled Return of the Taliban, the documentary minced no words or images in showing Musharraf's army continued to patronize militants and had essentially cut a deal with them in Waziristan after being humiliated by al Qaeda.
The documentary also showed that Musharraf is doing nothing to stop jihadis from returning to Afghanistan to wage war, in violation of his commitment to the Bush administration. It called Pakistan "a failed state... a Taliban sanctuary that had facilitated the return of al-Qaeda."
But the Pakistani dictator bristled at questions about why Pakistan's commitment, shouting, "If Pakistan isn't doing more, who the hell is doing more?"
Among those who worked on the documentary was Hayatullah Khan (to whom the work was dedicated) a reporter who obtained proof that US forces had killed rebel leader Nek Mohammed in a Predator attack inside Pakistan, contrary to Islamabad's claim that it was not allowing US to act inside Pakistan and Pakistani forces had killed him.
According to Khan's family, an embarrassed Pakistani establishment subsequently kidnapped Khan and killed him. He was found with five bullet wounds on his body, hands tied with government issued handcuffs.
Last updated 11/10/2006