The speeches of some so-called tribal elders in Grand Peace Jirga has further complicated the situation. The demand for withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan has stunned observers. According to Al-Qaeda has used the Jirga event for achieving their motives.
The Al-Qaeda has planted some men in the jirga. The officials have also played an ugly role in selection of members of the jirga from tribal areas. According to the role of the game, members of the jirga should be the representatives of tribal people, but most of the jirga members have no connection with the tribal areas.
The geniune tribal leaders have been favouring the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan. They think the elimination of terrorism is a must for saving the world from further destruction.
According to a newspaper report, A Pakistani tribal elder and former member of parliament (MP), Malik Fazl Mannan Mohmand, addressed the Pak-Afghan Peace Jirga in Kabul and demanded that “Western forces” be thrown out of Afghanistan in favour of troops from Muslim countries. “There is no need for NATO forces. Bring Islamic countries’ troops,” said the wise man from Mohmand Agency in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas.
Interestingly, however, his Afghan counterpart, MP Sardar Mohammad Rehman Ogholi, demanded the ouster from Pakistan of “foreign terrorists” entrenched in the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border.
Thus each side demanded that the other get rid of its “foreigners”.
Therefore, the question arises: what would happen to Pakistan if Afghanistan were to be vacated by the UN-mandated foreign troops?
Would the Afghan army, comprising a measly 35,000 men, which is barely capable after the mujahideen destroyed it in the 1990s, be able to fight the raiders coming from Pakistan? Already, the NATO-US foreign troops are hard put to defend the Pushtuns of Helmand, Uruzgan, Zabul and Kandahar provinces against the Taliban, but they are keeping at bay a wholesale invasion from Pakistan by giving the invaders battle in the provinces of Paktia, Kunar, Paktika and Khost bordering Pakistan’s Tribal Areas.
Most commentators in Pakistan protest that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is complicating the situation instead of bringing peace in the country. Typically, however, no one realises what effect their ouster would have on the security of Pakistan. Worse, the views of the Pakistani tribal elder at the joint jirga echo the universally held view in Pakistan that NATO has failed but is delaying a solution based on the will of the ‘deprived’ Pushtun majority population. Most also prefer an Islamic force in place of NATO.
The ouster of NATO from Afghanistan will, of course, redress the ethnic-demographic balance in favour of the Pushtuns, but it will no longer be a balance within the total Afghan population. What it will bring about is a much-empowered Pushtun population by reason of a “merger” with the Pushtuns of Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. A condominium of Taliban and Al Qaeda will stand behind this new balance. What will be the consequence of this?
Inside Afghanistan, it will cause the non-Pushtun ethnic unities to come together with “foreign” help from Afghanistan’s Muslim neighbours. The battle lines will be redrawn between the Pushtun south and the non-Pushtun north, including the Shia province of Bamyan being ruled by a female governor these days. Because of an imbalance of forces introduced by the Taliban and Al Qaeda elements from Pakistan, the countries of Iran and Uzbekistan, backed by some distant sympathisers like India and Russia, will stage interventions to prevent Pakistan from taking advantage of the situation. The region will explode in a replay of the great game all over again.
It seems to us that Pakistan’s national security establishment is still not fully attuned to the disaster in the making.
If it has learnt any lessons at some level within the army it has not made them public. But one can sense the blowback of its failed strategy from the internal turmoil it is facing these days. The trouble with Malik Fazl Mannan Mohmand is that, just like Afghanistan, Pakistan doesn’t control its vast territories.
If NATO is ousted from Afghanistan, Pakistan too will be overrun by a much strengthened Taliban-Al Qaeda combine. Just as Pakistan is hinterland to the Taliban’s forays into Afghanistan, Afghanistan will become hinterland to forays into Pakistan till a clerical-jihadist state is established here.
As for the replacement of NATO with Islamic troops, Pakistani opinion is naïve to a criminal degree. If the decision is taken at the Saudi-funded OIC, what combination of states will want to get into Afghanistan without triggering a grand Islamic internecine Armageddon? NATO in Afghanistan suits Iran and Uzbekistan — the last named supported by Russia — and India. Islamic troops sent to Afghanistan will have to keep the Arabs out or Iran will veto the plan. If the Islamic troops are Sunni, could they be sent into areas dominated by a Shia population? The question to ask is why can’t an Islamic army be sent to Iraq?