Did US promise Haqqani network role in Afghan government?

In an interview with the BBC’s Pashto service, a key leader of the Haqqani network denied that the group is responsible for killing Burhanuddin Rabbani, or that it is receiving aid from Pakistan’s ISI. But Siraj Haqqani asserted that he’s been approached by the US to join the Afghan government as part of a peace deal with the Taliban. “Right from the first day of American arrival till this day not only Pakistani but other Islamic and other non-Islamic countries including America, contacted us and they [are] still doing so. They are asking us to leave the ranks of Islamic Emirates,” he said referring to the Taliban leadership. He said that the outsiders have promised an “important role in the government of Afghanistan.” (BBC News, AP, Oct. 3

Whether this claim is true or not, it points up the lack of good options for the US in Afghanistan after 10 years of war and occupation. A power sharing deal with the Taliban (and their cohorts such as the Haqqani network) would make a mockery of everything the West has ostensibly (please note emphasis on ostensibly) been fighting for in Afghanistan for a decade now—like a semblance, at least, of women’s rights, democracy and secularism. On the other hand, a continued NATO-directed struggle against the Taliban and their allies will inevitably mean more civilian casualties and outright atrocities by the Western forces—which will only play into the Taliban’s hands, providing them with more cannon fodder by angering and alienating the peasantry.

The heroic Afghan women’s rights advocate and former parliamentarian Malalai Joya was recently asked by an Australian audience if a NATO pull-out would result in a bloodbath. Her response, as reported on the website of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA):

The people of Afghanistan are besieged by three enemies: government warlords, the Taliban and the US/NATO forces. If the latter leaves Afghanistan, our people would face only two internal enemies who will be weaker. Their backbone will break when US/NATO stops funding and supporting them. As you’ve stated, a bloodbath might ensue but the situation right now is catastrophic and cannot get any worse.

When the US/NATO invaded Afghanistan, people were optimistic about the promises made to them. Now, after 10 years, the US/NATO forces have killed tens of thousands of innocent children, women and men, and they support the fundamentalist regime of Karzai. People cite the US/NATO as their worst enemies, and there have been many uprisings against their blind bombardments and aerial attacks.

No nation can liberate another nation. It is the responsibility of our own people to rise and free Afghanistan from terrorism and fundamentalism. The US/NATO forces neither want to nor can bring freedom and democracy to Afghan people.

We sure hope she is right that the situation cannot get any worse. And that a Western withdrawal would make the Taliban weaker rather than stronger. In any event, how to bring about such a withdrawal by some means that excludes handing power over to the Taliban remains the tricky question.

Ideas, anyone?

See our last post on the struggle in Afghanistan.

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  1. Haqqani network: “good terrorists”?
    Pretty funny. Bloomberg reported Sept. 28 that the White House is weighing whether to officially declare the Haqqani network a “foreign terrorist organization.” The reluctance seems to be due to fear of a backlash in Islamabad. We can also assume it may have something to do with the power-sharing deal reportedly offered by the US in exchange for peace.

    Now AP reports Oct. 21 that Hillary Clinton rebuked Pakistan: “No policy that draws distinctions between good terrorists and bad terrorists can provide long-term security.”

    File under “take with the proverbial grain of salt”…