Five Years of NATO in Afghanistan

Five Years of NATO in Afghanistan

Seminar Speeches By: Rustam Shah Mohmand, former Ambassador to Afghanistan; Shireen M. Mazari, former DG of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and Security Analyst.; Akram Zaki, former General Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, GoP.

Seminar Speeches


Opening Remarks by: Khalid Rahman

NATO, as it is claimed, changed its perception of the world security in the aftermath of 9/11 as a result of which it decided to share coalition forces in their war on terror in Afghanistan. It assumed the command of ISAF (the International Security Assistant Forces) on August 11, 2003. And through its four-step strategy, it completed its expansion across the country in November 2006, to be more specific, on 15th November 2006. As to the objectives: strengthening of the Afghan government, ensuring security, rebuilding Afghanistan and fighting the opium were declared as the major goals of NATO’s presence in Afghanistan.

Last five years showed that NATO’s first ever operational commitment outside Europe was a tough call for it. Also, while the physical presence of US and NATO troops in the region was considered an opportunity by Kabul and New Delhi. It certainly raised concerns among the rest of the countries of the region. Today, while NATO is entering the sixth year of its presence in Afghanistan with about 53 thousands fully equipped troops from 26 NATO members and 11 non-NATO countries under its command, many questions have raised about the role of NATO, its achievements in Afghanistan and the future strategy. There are claims and counterclaims about the declared goals of NATO in Afghanistan and to what extent these have been achieved. Claims apart, it is a fact that the overall insurgent attacks have jumped by 50 percent in the first half of 2008. The number of casualties of NATO forces is also increasing. In June 2008, the number of deaths of foreign troops exceeded those of Iraq in Afghanistan.

The ‘war against opium’, it seems to be completely failed or practically out of the agenda. Strategic discrepancies among NATO member countries are becoming known and questions about the moral ground to fight the resistance and lack of understanding of the geo-strategic and demographic complexities of the region are getting increased attention.

American commander of NATO: General Dan McNeil said in one of his interviews with the daily Telegraph that “NATO troops were gaining the upper hand against the Taliban, but progress was limited by not having a force “big enough to clear and hold every part of this country”. The significance of His comments is that these came at a time when political pressure is growing in many NATO countries to if not withdraw, downgrade the combat status of their soldiers in Southern Afghanistan. Prominent among them are Canada who has lost 100 soldiers and one diplomat from its 2500 troops in Southern province of Kandahar and Holland who has also lost some soldiers from a total number of 1700 based in southern Uruzgan province. Ten French troops were killed and a further 21 wounded in an ambush‎ near Kabul- the heaviest loss of troops France has suffered since deploying to Afghanistan in 2002 and the biggest single loss in 25 years.

The governments of Italy and Germany are also under huge pressures even over their presence in the northern Afghanistan which until recently was relatively quite peaceful. Though the reports coming particularly from northern provinces Kapisa and Kunduz:, confirmed an increase of violence in this part also. Many other NATO nations such as France, Spain, etc. are maintaining its cautious approach on the deployment of their forces to the south.

Washington on the other hand, after five years of NATO’s expansion across the country, seems unsatisfied with NATO’s performance in Afghanistan. Secretary Defense Robert Gates clearly told to the Congress, “we are unhappy with the NATO over the promises.” And he further said, “I am disappointed with regard to the accomplishment of the promises.” The situation doesn’t seem to be improving in future either as if one looks at the US forces counter insurgency manual that estimates a total force of 4 to 6 hundred thousand required to pacify a country like Afghanistan.

Looking from the other side, after several incidents of killings of civilians by NATO forces including many tragic incidents involving civilians during the last few months, such as bombing of wedding ceremonies in different parts of Afghanistan. The mandate of NATO and whatever little credibility it had among the Afghan people is falling down to the lowest point. In the region outside Afghanistan the apprehension and an environment of dissatisfaction among the regional countries is getting stronger and stronger. Around particularly the continued presence of NATO in Afghanistan since it has its own application for the entire region. The dilemma for NATO is that on the one hand countries in the region are apprehensive about its long-term presence in Afghanistan, on the other it cannot leave the mission incomplete.

We are holding today’s seminar in this backdrop – and have requested the learned speakers to enlighten us on the different dimensions of the subject.

Speech by Dr. Shireen M. Mazari, Senior Analyst

While having a look at the impact of NATO’s presence in Afghanistan on the region, one has to look at something that is even important. At a time when international law has been and is being flouted left, right and center by the major powers, it assumes significance to actually look at the sole question of legitimacy. How legitimate is presence of NATO in this region?

These are the two things to look at in this connection. If one really wants to understand NATO’s role in Afghanistan or its presence in Afghanistan, you have to look at the wider picture that is the US agenda for this region which really came into play post of disintegration of the Soviet Union. But for which 9/11 offered an ideal operatonalization. Because, basically if you look at the activities of external powers in our region post of disintegration of the Soviet Union and the vacuum created by the creation of a number of smallest states of Central Asia, which often had weak state structure, you will see that the grad for energy resources had began. The presence of Israel and Israel was one of the first states actually came into this region with its oil and gas companies and so on. If you look at that and if you look at the US moving in for the energy resources and we all heard about the unholy tempted alliance between the Unocal and of course the Taliban regime and Mr. Zalmai Khalilzad; represented the interest of Unocal and tried to bring Taliban to Washington also to show them as the very respectable leaders of the world. And interestingly Hamid Karzi also represented Unocal after his family shifted to United States after we had played host to his family for a long time as well.

So, what I am trying to say is that that what is happening now, is not something happen only as the result of 9/11. But the roots can be trait by to a period of post soviet’s disintegration. That is why- in my view- NATO is in Afghanistan and why the Americans need to convert the UN mandated ISAF into NATO. It is interesting, because most of the countries that were present in ISAF were members of NATO in any case, some were not and they perhaps participated in ISAF. But what was the need to change ISAF into NATO? So, that people look at the legitimacy question, because- I think- especially as a neighbor of Afghanistan we need to know; from where NATO acquires its legitimacy?

This issue of legitimacy is critical because NATO has been expanding its mandate and operational milieu ever since the end of bipolarity. Not only has it increased its membership; it has also sought to transform the Alliance in terms of its strategic concept and functions. It has done this through the Partnership for Peace concept (PfP) primarily with Eastern European states and its programme of the Mediterranean Dialogue and most recently the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) — apart from its special arrangement with Russia.

So why should there be an issue of its legitimacy within the context of Afghanistan? Because it is an out of area operation. After all, NATO still remains, in legal terms, a collective defence organization in terms of its legitimacy through the UN system — under Chapter VIII, Articles 52[1] and 53, as well as Chapter VII’s notion of collective self defence as embodied in Article 51[2].

However, regional collective defence organizations need to operate in the specific region of their membership since decision-making is restricted to this membership. Despite NATO expanding its functions and strategic concepts, its essential purpose as stated in its 1999 Strategic Concept remains ‘to safeguard the freedom and security of its members by political and military means’. [3]And this continues to remain the prime focus of NATO as we were informed at all the NATO briefings on our visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels as well as at SHAPE[4].

Given the continuing European-Atlantic membership of NATO, it is somewhat disturbing to see NATO transforming itself from a collective defence organization (Article 5 of the NATO Charter is surely in the context of collective defence?) to a collective security organization to serve the interest of its membership or perhaps future ‘coalitions of the willing’.

There is no legitimacy for any collective security organization other than the UN with its universal membership. Article 51 of the UN Charter provides a very clear and limited framework for collective defence organizations. Article 52 of the Charter relates to regional arrangements in connection with maintenance of peace and security and talks in terms of these organizations coming into being ‘as are appropriate for regional action.’ Also, under Article 53, there can be no action without authorization of the Security Council except against an enemy state as defined in Article 53:2.

So the question that remains unanswered is whether NATO is going to be an alternative to the UN system of collective security, peacekeeping, and so on — just as the notion of ‘coalitions of the willing’ is a direct alternative to the UN and its security Council? That NATO has the military capability while the UN may be lacking this is not the issue here since one is focusing on issues of legitimacy. In any case, the UN can be given more teeth if the members are prepared to do so and make effective Articles 43-47 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, including the provisions relating to the creation of a Military Staff Committee[5].

Even within the context of regional organizations, actions have to have a UN mandate and this is where the case of Afghanistan is unclear. Poist-9/11, the UN Security Council, through Resolution 1386 (December 2001), sanctioned the International security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan. as stipulated in the Bonn Agreement of December 2001, the progressive expansion of the ISAF to other urban centres and other areas beyond Kabul was duly approved through follow-on UNSC Resolutions.

So where did NATO get into ISAF? Did the UNSC initiate NATO’s involvement or did NATO present a fait accompli to the UN Secretary General. Clearly, it was not any UNSC resolution that sought NATO involvement. Instead, what is available on record is that NATO informed the UN Secretary General, through a letter dated 2 October 2003 from its Secretary General, that on 11 August 2003 NATO had assumed ‘strategic command, control and coordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’[6] This was followed by another letter from the NATO.

Secretary General to the UN Secretary General informing the latter of the North Atlantic Council’s agreement on a ‘longer-term strategy for NATO in its International Assistance Force (ISAF) role in Afghanistan. Both these letters Kofi Annan on October 7 with the request that they be brought to the attention of the UNSC. So effectively NATO presented the UNSC with a fait accompli.

It was in the face of these developments that the UNSC passed Resolution 1510 on 13 October 2003 in which it acknowledge the 6 October NATO Secretary General’s letter as well as communication from the Afghan Minister for Foreign Affair and authorized the expansion of the ISAF mandate. But nowhere is there any reference to NATO’s role in Afghanistan. So is NATO’s really in Afghanistan because of UNSC resolutions?

Of course the UN allows regional organization to undertake military missions in their regional spheres but for NATO Afghanistan is an out of area operation — so effectively we now have Europeans and Atlantic states making decisions relating to the Asian region and this has far reaching consequences for all Asian states in the long run.

So, the major question that arises is: how do regional powers see the European entity coming and making strategic decision about Asia?

Certainly Iran will have serious questions. Already some of us are very concerned about the US use of Pakistani base Shamsi which we had given it as part of war on terror, by the Americans.

Seemingly the Americans are more interested in using Shamsi base which is in Balochistan to destabilize Iran rather than the use it in war on terror vis-à-vis Afghanistan.

We also know, that the US is now thinking of bringing India into AfghanistanIndia. India has began to has some sort of token military presence in Afghanistan, that itself is burdened for the region because, it will be a source of greater instability for Pakistan. There are already suspicions of India having a hand in destabilization in Balochistan. and the president Karazai is also flatting militarily with

So, there is nothing stabilizing at all about the NATO presence in Afghanistan if you have less political organization in the form of UN blue braze as was suggested by ambassador Rustam Shah. The question which arising now is that this whole Pakistani Taliban and other Taliban where did emerged from?

It is the ISI has been accused that has links to these people, a decade earlier, can we forget the links that the CIA has with these people also? If Americans are keen to destabilize the Tribal Areas and the Frontier province, would they not use these contacts equally affectively?

Some journalist friends of mine who has been used to be in Swat, have been talking about the Serena Guest house for the last two years and how a number of American seen to have sign on there. We also know that Maulana Fazlullah who was detainee with the US when he released with the particular agenda to destabilize Pakistan. And a very crucial question here is why the CIA-ISI fall out now? Nothing has changed tyrannically in the structure of ISI over the last six months or a year. Whey is this suddenly been this out bus of propaganda and writing in the American media about the ISI?

Is for that the agenda of CIA was not acceptable or tenable for ISI in Pakistan’s interest? Did the CIA actually wants to target the people who were helping a sort of state of Pakistan? Did they want to weaken the presence of state of Pakistan in these areas? These are the questions that the people are not asking but they are needs to be asked.

Also, where is the sophisticated weapon system coming for the extremist? And who are these extremists? What is the linkage between the American regional agenda and what is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan know?

Let me end by saying this that NATO’s presence in the region has increased the long term instability from Central to South Asia.

If you look at the neighbors of Afghanistan especially Iran and Pakistan, they are now sandwiched between extra regional land forces to the north of them and extra regional see based forces to the south of them and wherever you have such a huge presence of extra regional forces to the north of them and extra regional see based forces to the South of them and wherever you have such huge presence of extra regional forces you can not have a stable region by definition. Because, of a huge military presence every little incidence get blown up into a crisis situation.

So, the rising number of extra regional forces is not in the favor of regional peace and stability and one should not rule out long-term Chinese fears of the presence of the United States and NATO on its borders. This is a strategic shift that is happened. The Chinese may not be saying anything right now, but I am sure they have questions about what will be happened to their security. Especially with the US and its allies including regional one like India are also going towards Missile Defense Program (MDP) that totally shift the dynamics of China’s strategic nuclear consideration, that has shift the dynamics Pakistan’s strategic consideration, and of course would had a pressure on Iran to build up a strong military capability.

You have seen Russia’s reassertion very clearingly in what happened in Georgia. I think Russians are now trying to reclaim the space lost in Central Asia, especially in post 9/11. My hunch is that we will see more of that happening rather than anything else. The Russians may have been compel to move in, because again forward surreptitious intrude that was been made by a number of extra regional powers in that region.

A war against transnational terrorism which had an international mandate is passed become being built as American’s war in Afghanistan because of use a collective defense organization like NATO, rather than it continuing with the UN mandated international force that was ISAF. The agenda is altering in the neighborhood and instead of being part of the coalition to fight transnational terrorism, Iran and increasingly Pakistan are going to find themselves as targets of the US and NATO, for an agenda that is very little to do with terrorism and everything to do with energy and a redrawing of the region into a form, suited the US ambition. Let us not forget, our trual side so easily the notion that was put in the US by a retired American Intelligence officer Ralf Peters when he wrote the article ‘Blood Borders’. There is much real in that article and we should take it more seriously than we do.

Speech by Mr. Rustam Shah Mohmand, former Pak Ambassador to Afghanistan:

Before I discuss the implications of NATO’s presence in Afghanistan, I would like to go further backward in time and start from 2001. What were the motives of the US or the coalition forces’ intervention in Afghanistan? It is true that there was a UN Security Council resolution which authorized such intervention, but whether the intervention or presence of the coalition forces was aimed at arresting the illusive enemy who has not been arrested in seven years or whether the motives were more comprehensive, more permanent. I think that the motive and the intention may have been to punish those people who were responsible for the attacks in America on 9/11. But, I think it goes much further, much deeper than that.

The attacks were planned in Hamburg in Germany, not in the tribal areas or not in Afghanistan. The warnings administered by NATO to the American intelligence and by the United Kingdom were completely ignored. And this fact was substantiated and was confirmed by the 9/11 Commission which was sponsored and set up by the US Congress. At the time when this attack or the invasion or the intervention or the arrival of the US coalition forces was being planned, the neo-cons totally dominated in the United States in Washington. Some of the top official of the Bush administration are of Jews origin, some even having Israeli citizenship and having been the election campaign managers of Mr Natinyahu, and being the top advisers to President Bush at the time when the whole architecture was being planned.

The world was being reshaped according to the grand designs of these neo-cons in order to make the world more consistent with the American global view in the 21st Century. What were the principal US objectives? The principal US objectives in intervening in Afghanistan were four. Number one was the destruction of the Islamic state so that the waves don’t travel to beyond of the Central Asia. Because in the calculation of Zionism, these four countries: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are very prominent. So, first it would be Afghanistan then to remove a threat permanently. It was not for oil but to remove a threat which Israel might face at some time in future. Iraq, then isolate Iran and broke beat Pakistan into submission. So, first was the destruction of an Islamic state in Afghanistan. The second was to force a change of policy in Pakistan being the only nuclear Islamic state. Third was to establish a foothold in Central Asia making Afghanistan a base. And fourth was encircling Iran should that in some time future be necessary. These were four principal objectives of the intervention which commenced in after 2001 and continues to this day. From these objectives, it would follow the American presence in Afghanistan is going to be for a very long time, it’s going to be a very long hall process and they are not going to withdraw anytime soon. Casualties are no casualties unless a few things happen that I think we will discuss later.

As far as the implications are concerned, let me clarify that 75 percent of the implications of the US-NATO presence in Afghanistan are of our own making. They do not flow directly from the US-UATO presence in Afghanistan. Those were called by our own lop-sided policies. Because in the wake and the face of the attack Pakistan aligned itself totally irrevocably and firmly with the US-led war on terror. No holds barred, no conditions attached. And I think we went overboard and we went to the extent that I think even the Americans were surprised. Most of the time people ask, what were the options? Well, the options would have been many like Pakistan would not allow any hideouts for terrorists to exist within its territory. Pakistan would not allow any training camps on its territory. Pakistan would not allow any infiltration, any people going across challenging the government or the dispensation or confronting the coalition forces. But, we went beyond that. We said take our bases. Forty-four thousand US crafts were flown to destroy the pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan.

US $ 10.5 billion is said to given to Pakistan, although in the first place nobody knows where the money has been expended. Because it doesn’t seem to be reflected in most of the government documents and secondly, we forget that Turkey being a NATO ally of the American refused to allow aircrafts to fly over the Turkish territory, and refused to assistance of 12 billion dollars and referred the matter to the Turkish Parliament which said ‘No’ and the matter ended there. But, we said, Pakistan is at your disposal so are our whole resources including manpower, intelligence, and bases!

Consider this now, 10.5 billion on one side, some loan having been rescheduled and nobody is taking into consideration the appalling cost that Pakistan has to pay. That cost of the destabilization of the whole country, the insurgency in the tribal areas, a raging insurgency in which so far more that 1600 soldiers have been killed, more than 6000 tribesmen have perished, more than 1,50,000 people have migrated from South Waziristan Agency alone, more than a 125,000 people have been made refugees from North Waziristan Agency. Pervasive lawlessness from Karachi to Peshawar and from Lahore to Quetta, frustration is written large on the face of every Pakistani, people being driven to the state of despondency and state becoming irrelevant.

An environment has been created where terrorists would breed and then we track down those terrorists in the name of counter terrorism. It has become a vicious circle. This policy was formulated not for the sake of Pakistan or not in the supreme interest of the people of Pakistan but for two reasons: to gain legitimacy and number two, to prolong an unconstitutional, illegal rule and put everything at stake. And when thing went out of control, then we would say this is Pakistan’s war because there is militancy, there are militants, there are terrorists. We have to defeat them. We have to confront them. We have to hit them. Then it becomes our war. So, people forgot the rationale of the background what caused this insurgency.

At the time of the American intervention in 2001 and in 2002, there was no insurgency, whereas the coalition forces were right there in Afghanistan. But, tribal areas were peaceful. NWFP and Balochistan were peaceful. The insurgency began after 2003 when in order to implement somebody else’s agenda, we inducted more than 100,000 troops in the tribal area, not only on the border, if it is argued that it was necessary to block the infiltration. So, five years have gone by and according to the Afghan government or the coalition forces, infiltration has not stopped, which means that the deployment has not really delivered. But more importantly, deploying troops on the border was one thing but then deploying troops in the hinterland to administer the tribal area was a monumental blunder.

It is now the bottom of the system of administration in the tribal areas. The political agents were totally marginalized, Maliks were totally sidelined and institutions became totally subordinate to the security forces. Shots were being called from Peshawar. There was no local administration like there is no local administration today in Swat or in Hangu. You will be surprised to know that the Nazim of one district which is hit by insurgency is in Islamabad for the last 15 months, so much for the reforms agenda. The local administration was totally sidelined and administration was concentrated in the hands of very few in Peshawar. And then people lost hope in the ability and capability of the local administration to redress their grievances.

There are 72 thousand foreign troops in Afghanistan today, fifty or 52 thousands belong to ISAF which is commanded by NATO and another 21 thousand troops are with the operation which is called ‘Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)’, which is a counter insurgency operation. NATO’s mandate is stabilization and reconstruction. But that is in theory. In actual practice, the NATO is also called to combat, confront and challenge the militants. So, the NATO is also battling the insurgency and the Operation Enduring Freedom is also battling the insurgency. The Americans are mostly in eastern Afghanistan, Germans in northern Afghanistan, Italian, Spanish in western Afghanistan, British, Canadian in southern Afghanistan and Dutch in the province of Uruzgan.

Of course, these are the provinces which are hit by the insurgency. So, seven-and-a-half year down the line now, thousands of people have been perished, many people have become totally uprooted, infrastructure destroyed. Where are we today compared to 2004, 2002 or to 2001? Opium production went down to 50 tons in 2001 and has short up to 8000 tons now in Afghanistan. Insurgency is rising in eastern and southern Afghanistan. Now, it is [taking roots] in western Afghanistan and also affecting parts of northern Afghanistan.

Other ethnic groups like Tajiks and Uzbeks have joined insurgency. So, it is no longer confined to the Pashtun ethnic group. It is becoming multi-ethnic, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and has spread to other than a few provinces in central Afghanistan, it has spread to the entire country despite the huge resources, the technology and 72 thousand troops and 50 thousand of the Afghan National Army and more than 50 thousand of the Afghan National Police who have been created and trained and supposedly have been motivated also.

What will be the implications for Pakistan if the situation continues and if the NATO/US forces remain present in Afghanistan?

Number one, it would continue to erode our sovereignty, because we would continue to acquiesce to a situation where our airspace is violated. The latest violation took place yesterday killing eight people in South Waziristan Agency. Our air space [is being] violated, people are hit, killed, maimed, disabled; houses are demolished and we look the other way. So, Pakistan would continue to surrender or compromise its sovereignty.

Number two, lawlessness would spread. The provinces of Balochistan and Frontier (NWFP) would not stabilize.

Number three, the secessionist movement in Balochistan would gain strength.

Number four, the separatist movement in Balochistan would get strength and momentum.

Number five, there would be an angry population, and I think this is the most tragic, [a population] which will have no stake in the future of this country and no faith in the destiny of this country. There are talks of reconstruction by US in FATA but that is still before the [US] Congress. Those funds haven’t been materialized. We talked about a huge sum of money but those funds are not in the pipeline as yet. But, unless there’s a conducive environment, I think any investment in the tribal areas, from the rehabilitation point of view, would not really deliver. You have to have peace and in that environment of peace and tranquility you can then launch a very ambitious infrastructure development project which could benefit people on the border line, on this side of the border and on the other side of the border.

Number six, as a corollary of the fifth, there will be a brain-drain from Pakistan causing capacity problem.

And number seven; there would be continued military dimension of our politics.

And number eight, which is linked to this, institutions would continue to be weakening in this country.

These would be the very awful and dangerous implications for Pakistan of the continued presence of NATO as long as there’s a government which is ready to compromise, to surrender, which is ready to barter away our freedom, like it was bartered away seven years ago on a mid-night telephone call.

So, this is a very grim scenario. Either you have a government in Pakistan which says that we will continue the ‘war on terror’, we will continue to fight militancy, we would also continue to deny sanctuaries, we would carry out operations in the tribal areas, we would try to establish our writ as effectively as it is possible. But, we will not and cannot underwrite the security of the government in Afghanistan. As long as you have a government which cannot say this, I think we will have to be on the receiving end.

It seems very unlikely that US-NATO forces would have any plan to leave Afghanistan in the foreseeable future. Because that after Iraq, Iran also [needs to be] be tackled and the Central Asian states also are needed [by the US]. So, Central Asia is also important and for that Afghanistan is also of critical importance. China is also important in this broader picture.

There are solutions to the problem only if there’s a change of thought. The solution to the problem would be to replace the coalition forces with forces drawn from countries which have no stake in Afghanistan. Having brought those forces into Afghanistan, mainstream the resistance, hold free and fair elections, allowing everybody to participate, let the Afghans determine their own destiny in accordance with their own values and let the elected parliament, elected government and after the Afghan institutions such as the army, the police and the judiciary have taken hold, the forces brought only under a UN mandate begin to gradually pull out in phases.

But, that is wishful thinking because that is not going to be acceptable to the powers that be. So, I think we are going to be stuck. But we leave for the Afghans to resolve, we have to resolve our own problem in Pakistan. And unless the whole policy of “War on Terror” is presented before the parliament and unless a new consensus could be obtained, a consensus that can be sold to the people of Pakistan and to the people of tribal areas that this is a policy that has the endorsement of the parliament, your elected representatives and this policy is not being designed in the behest of a superpower or for advancing and promoting the global agenda of the super power then the people also would assume ownership of that policy and the insurgency in the tribal areas then could end swiftly. Unless that happens, I think, we would remain bound down.

Concluding Remarks by M. Akram Zaki, former Secretary general, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and member national Academic Council, IPS

I just want to make one brief observation that there’s much talk about the so-called 10 billion dollars that the United States has paid to Pakistan for participating in the so-called War on Terror. But, our former prime minister and the then finance minister Mr Shaukat Aziz, who was certainly not unfriendly to the United States and to the policies of NATO, calculated and announced that the losses to Pakistan for cancellation of our contracts, for allowing our force to be used for purposes of the allies and denying it to normal commerce and for the logistic support to our loss was ten billion [dollars]. And that amount has been totally forgotten and nobody mentioned it since, for which there was some compensation in the form of rescheduling of loans.

In terms of international legality, there was no proper basis or authorization for the NATO operations in Afghanistan. But, with the collapse of the bipolar world we had entered a period of continued international illegality. The UN Charter has been violated. The basic principles were disregarded under the new theories of uni-polarity, unilateralism, new security doctrines, and the right to prevent any other country from emerging as a potential rival in the future, the preemptive strikes. So, when this is the policy then we are on very weak ground seeking legitimacy. It is a period of international illegality and therefore, in terms of real politic, when NATO lost the only justification, it was formed to face the Eastern block led by the former Soviet Union, they collapsed and many of the members of Warsaw Pact, which was dissolved, were taken into the NATO and a new doctrine was adopted. It has been referred to in terms of ‘red menace’ and ‘green menace’. But, NATO specifically said that our new threats are security, terrorism, international trafficking and weapons of mass destruction and the target is ‘Islamic radicalism’. They used the word ‘Islamic radicalism’ at that time.

So, from a purely political or defensive organization, NATO enlarged itself to a politico-military organization. They have assumed the political role also. Why NATO took over the command in Afghanistan? Because ISAF was legally authorized and it has 37 members, they had divided different areas and they had no coordination. Different delegations were working at cross purposes and harmonization of policies was being difficult. So, I think the dominant power, the United States persuaded the alliance to assume the responsibility in order to ensure coordination between 37 countries, many of which were members of NATO.

NATO, from 2003 to 2006, has expanded its role and assumed the entire responsibility of battling the Taliban. But the irony is that they don’t understand what they call Taliban. They have coined the universal phrase Taliban and everybody is branded as Taliban. There are many elements which are remenants of the former Taliban regime which are putting up resistance. But, there are also Afghan nationalists who naturally are against foreign occupation and the resistance therefore, whether you call it Taliban or national resistance and national liberation, has its foundations in the people of Afghanistan. And any resistance which has foundations and roots in the people cannot be defeated by foreign occupied forces. So, defeat of the NATO mission is written in history. How long will it take? That is the question.

Pakistan is really a victim of the resistance in Afghanistan and not an instrument for promoting the resistance. We know the consequences! Our responsibility is to ensure peace and security within our territories. And NATO’s expectations that we should help them in curbing the resistance against them in Afghanistan, is unrealistic. Pakistan neither has the capability nor the intention; and it does not suit its national interest to interfere in Afghanistan.

Now, what happened in our areas? It was a fallout of the resistance. People moved over to our side, rather they were pushed over to our side. And, in fact, the Musharaf regime was encouraged to provide them shelter by the United States.

There was a system in FATA which functions very well. Although, it was not a democratic system, it was not an authoritarian system. It was the Frontier Crimes Regulations of 1901, under which FATA’s seven agencies with a population of 45 lacs or 4.5 million were governed by seven political agents in these seven agencies and six assistant political agents in the tribal belts of six southern districts. There were about 35,000 elders. Some were called Maliks, which were hereditary and some were called Lungi holders which were for personal services.

The entire authority was in the hands of these political agents and these Maliks. The people were not relevant and had very little rights. There was stability throughout jehad against the Soviets and this was the transit route. People were recruited both by ISI and CIA jointly to fight against the Soviets. The Maliks don’t get recruited, it is the ordinary people who get recruited. So, the masses which had nothing or no rights were armed, financed and trained to fight. When the Soviet war ended, there was a new element with guns and no policies were made to absorb them back into the normal life.

Their export to Afghanistan and potentially to Kashmir was also not allowed. So, what did they do? They became a factor of instability and when the NATO or international forces came into Afghanistan, Pakistan was pressurized not to rely on the traditional system to control these people but introduce armies. Some hundred thousand troops were introduced into this region and the system of political agents, which was functioning, collapsed; and a new one was not created.

They used force and there was a counter force. These people who were capable of fighting became the resistance in the tribal areas. There were some criminal elements amongst them also who took advantage. But, majority of them did not want to fight Pakistan. They did not want to fight the PakistanPakistan army was used against them. There was the introduction of the 100,000 troops and they used the force which converted these people who were just wanderers with guns into resistance movement and they named them all Taliban. army. But, the situation was created in a way that that

Now, it’s a major problem. Now, it is a real threat to the security of PakistanAfghanistan, the Americans have themselves estimated that they need at least 400,000 to 600,000 troops to control Afghanistan. But, they have 72,000 and not all combatants. Hundred and fifty thousand Russians failed. The 72,000 NATO forces are destined to fail. They have no future and they should reflect on it.

The political situation within Afghanistan is such where people consider themselves deprived because only a small minority has been chosen to give political power and the majority has not been given their due share. Unless a new dispensation takes place in which proper representation of various tribal groups, especially the Pakhtuns, things will not settle down in Afghanistan.

Similarly, in our area, now that resistance has started, there has to be a triangular policy, with these three elements:

Number one, open dialogue and negotiations with those who are dissatisfied and who are challenging the government. Number two, a long-term constructive program for development of the area in which the creation of alternate employment should be the first priority. [Number three] Absorb them into the system. And the use of force should be restricted to only those situations where it becomes absolutely necessary. When there is an attack, it has to be responded. If the use of force the primary instrument, unfortunately, the trouble will spread to the whole of Pakistan. There will be destabilization of the region.

I know people have reservations about the current leadership. But, I think that the nation has become active, intellectually, in the last year or so. Since the 9th of March 2007 (the day, Chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was deposed by the then President Musharraf] there has been a social mobilization of the entire population. People have become vocal and active. So, even if the present leadership is not willing to change policy in a major way, if the matter is brought before the parliament and there is public expression of view of national interests, I think a creative change can take place.

There has been massive use of force which is counter productive and is bound to fail and the NATO is bound to fail in Afghanistan. We have no objection to India playing a role in Afghanistan and in the region. Thirty-seven countries are playing a role. But, why is there an objection to Pakistan also being able to allow play a creative role. We are the most directly affected country and it is our declared policy that we want peace and stability in Afghanistan. It is our declared policy that we want to secure our part of country and we don’t to interfere in their part of the country.

Pakistan has 1,000 posts along its border. On the other side, there are only 100 posts. We offered that if you have feelings that we are sending people to your side, we will fence the border. But, it was not acceptable to Afghanistan. It was not acceptable to the United StatesAfghanistan into our territory so that our soldiers die and our people die. and NATO. Why was it not acceptable? Because, they are actually pushing people into our area. Since, they don’t want to risk their lives; they want to shift the battlefield from

Our wisdom lies in stopping the battle at the frontier and keep peace in our region. We are committed not to allow foreign elements to make their sanctuaries in our area. They are being sent through open channels. Who is sending them? Who brought them first against the Soviet Union? Where were they brought from all over? There was a dual, triple objective at that time of bringing all the Muslim radicals into this area. One, to oppose the Soviet occupation, second, to divert their attention from attacks on Israel in the Middle East; and third, to eventually use them against Iran [ as an element of sectarian strife]

Now, this problem (sectarian violence) has been created in Para Chinar, especially. There was no Shia-Sunni conflict. After the theory of dividing Iraq into Shia and Sunni zones, this theory has been brought to the FATA areas. We should keep these theories out and I think it is our problem. The terrorism threat has to be contained, but all our people, all the FATA [residents] are not terrorists. We have to isolate the few who have got involved with their patrons from abroad and integrate the others. And the parliament is the final authority to judge. I think, we are in the process of making a new beginning and let’s hope that our leadership will come up to the mark and face this issue.

[1] Article 52

1. Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

2. The Members of the United Nations entering into such arrangements or constituting such agencies shall make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements or by such regional agencies before referring them to the Security Council.

3. The Security Council shall encourage the development of pacific settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements or by such regional agencies either on the initiative of the states concerned or by reference from the Security Council.

4. This Article in no way impairs the application of Articles 34 and 35.

Article 53

1. The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority. But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council, with the exception of measures against any enemy state, as defined in paragraph 2 of this Article, provided for pursuant to Article 107 or in regional arrangements directed against renewal of aggressive policy on the part of any such state, until such time as the Organization may, on request of the Governments concerned, be charged with the responsibility for prevgenting further aggression by such a state.

2. The terms enemy state as used in paragraph 1 of this Article applies to any state, which during the Second World War has been an enemy of any signatory of the present Charter.

[2]. Article 51

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

[4] Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

[5] Article 43

1. All Members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.

2. Such arrangement or agreements shall govern the numbers and types of forces, their degree of readiness and general location, and the nature of the facilities and assistance to be provided.

3. The agreement or agreements shall be concluded between the Security Council and Members or between the Security Council and group of Members and shall be subject to ratification by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.

Article 44

When the Security Council has decided to use force it shall, before calling upon a member not represented on it to provide armed forces in fulfilment of the obligations assume under Article 43, invite that member, if the Members so desires, to participate in the decisions of the Security council concerning the employment of contingents of that Member’s armed forces.

Article 45

In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined within the limits laid down in the special agreement or agreements referred to in Article 43, by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

Article 46

Plans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

Article 47

1. There shall be established a Military Staff Committee to advise and assist the Security Council on all questions relating to the Security Council’s military requirements for the maintenance of international peace and security, the employment and command of forces placed at its disposal, the regulation of armaments, and possible disarmament.

2. The Military Staff Committee shall consist of the Chiefs of Staff of the permanent members of the Security Council or their representatives. Any Member of the United Nations not permanently represented on the Committee shall be invited by the Committee to be associated with it when the efficient discharge of the Committee’s responsibilities requires the participation of the Member in its work.

3. The Military Staff Committee shall be responsible under the Security Council for the strategic direction of any armed forces placed at the disposal of the Security Council. Questions relating to the command of such forces shall be worked out subsequently.

4. The Military Staff Committee, with the authorization of the Security Council and after consultation with appropriate regional agencies, may establish regional sub-committees.

[6] . UN Document S/2003/970 Annex 1.

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