Tag Archives: Pashtun

Build Economic Strength To Halt Taliban

Hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns and other minorities are returning to their homes in the northwest region of Pakistan only to find homes destroyed and their crops in ruin. Although the Pakistan government claims to have driven out the Taliban from the region, Minority Rights Group International says by failing to address economic development it will only result in the Taliban returning to the area. Mark Lattimer notes about Pashtun refugee camps, “the conditions in the camps are miserable. the sanitation is inadequate. There’s inadequate protection from the weather. and what is more, we’re now hearing reports that there are Taliban recruiters who are trying to operate in the camps.”

The Pashtun area has never been the object of massive economic development which allows the Taliban to build on local grievances against all forms of authority in order to gain recruits. Once again, as in Afghanistan, the United States failed to provide the economic means to achieve success and only focused on military operations. Ironically, according to this group, recent polls in Pashtun areas reveal less support for the Taliban than what is believed by Pakistan government sources. The economic war has to become equal in importance to the political and military wars.

Democracy At Work In Afghanistan?

Eight years ago American forces ripped through Afghanistan in order to end Taliban rule and bring democracy to the land. Four years ago during the 2004 presidential election, President Bush assured the American people US armed forces were in the process of creating a modern Afghanistan army which could maintain stability and handle the Taliban. Like so many Bush statements regarding reality this was simply fantasy in thought and action. Fast forward to 2009 and Afghanistan lacks the semblance of an army and it certainly is far from being a democracy.

President Hamid Karzai, whose family members reportedly are involved with the drug trade, is in the process of making a secret deal with a rival that would result in eliminating any potential threat to his re-election. Karzai’s main rival, Abdullah Abdullah is a Tajik while Karzai hails from the Pashtun group which means if there is a close race, whoever loses will unleash his followers in demonstrations charging the election was a fraud.

Karzai is negotiating with a third candidate, Ashraf Ghania, who is also Pashtun, in an effort to get him to leave the race and avoid splitting the Pashtun vote. Reports indicate Karzai is offering him a position equivalent to that of a prime minister. In reality all candidates are engaged in negotiations and swapping votes for jobs. After all, this is democracy, Afghan style in 2009.

Come to think about it, Afghan style democracy is not that far different from American style, the difference being in that we have lobbyists while they engage in face-to-face negotiations.

Petraeus Urges Army Afghan Tribes

The military situation in Afghanistan is sinking into complete collapse and there is need for new directions in combating Taliban forces. General Petraeus is leaning toward drawing upon tactics used in Iraq when he reached out to Sunni militants and formed the Awakening Council movement to combat al-Qaeda. He noted Afghanistan has over 150 tribal groups although most belong to the Pashtun ethnic group. “So it is essential that, again, the various tribes, of the local communities, indeed oppose the extremism, oppose the insurgents and enable the effort of the afghan government and the coalition.” He wants the Afghan government and coalition forces to involve tribal entities in order to have an effective fighting force against the Taliban.

The real question which has never been answered is why hasn’t the Bush administration been training an Afghan army from day one of the invasion of that country in 2001? Why did it take seven years to finally get around to arming tribal groups?