2 years, 5 months ago
From The Washington Post:
Peace talks with the Taliban will lead to disaster unless the insurgent group is disarmed first, Afghanistan’s former intelligence chief said Thursday.
Amrullah Saleh, who headed Afghanistan’s spy agency from 2004 until earlier this year, said the key to peace with the Taliban is cutting off their support from Pakistan and disarming and dismantling the group before allowing them to operate as a normal political party.
“Demobilize them, disarm them, take their headquarters out of the Pakistani intelligence’s basements,” Saleh said. “Force the Taliban to play according to the script of democracy,” he added, predicting the party would ultimately fail, “in a country where law rules, not the gun … not the law of intimidation.”
Saleh said the United States should give Pakistan a deadline of July 2011 to pursue top insurgents inside their borders or threaten to send in U.S. troops to do the job.
Saleh, who headed the Afghan National Directorate of Security until he resigned last June from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, warned an audience at the National Press Club that failure to cut off Pakistani support would allow the Taliban to only pretend to make peace, then sweep back to power after NATO troops leave.
The former spy chief’s comments display the dissension at the highest levels of Afghan political society over whether to engage the Taliban in talks, or keep fighting them. His criticism of Pakistan also highlights the widespread suspicion among Afghanistan’s elites that the neighboring power continues to allow militants to flourish inside Afghanistan.
U.S. officials have said that such a deal is key to drawing down U.S. and NATO troops, starting in July 2011, with eventual handover to Afghan forces in 2014.
Saleh said this year’s surge of U.S. troops had accomplished a “temporary effect” of securing some territory, but failed to change the “fundamentals.”
“The Taliban leadership has not been captured or killed,” he said. “Al-Qaida has not been defeated.”
He added: “The current strategy still believes Pakistan is honest, or at least 50 percent honest.” Still, he predicted Pakistan would continue to support the Taliban and other proxies to try to maintain influence in Afghanistan.
Saleh ran Afghanistan’s intelligence service after serving in the mostly ethnic Tajik Afghan Northern Alliance, which battled the Taliban before the U.S. invasion. Many members of Tajik regions together with other Afghan minorities have warned of another Afghan civil war if Karzai makes a deal with Taliban.
Not much talk here of digging wells, handing out candy to the children and providing governance to the people. Much talk of killing Taliban and al Qaeda, incursions into Pakistan and disarming and dismantling the insurgents.
What a breath of fresh air to hear honest analysis from someone on the scene and who should be “in the know.” As for killing or capturing Taliban leadership, he refers – it seems to me – to senior leadership. That would be a good thing of course, and my lack of admiration for the HVT campaign has been primarily associated with mid-level commanders. I applauded the killing of Baitullah Mehsud (TTP).
Still, I believe that the best way to handle the insurgency and marginalize the leadership is from the bottom up, not the top down. Either way, Saleh deals with the whole of the insurgency when he discusses disarming, dismantling and killing. That about covers it.
As for Pakistan, there is no hushed, reverent tone in his missive in respect for their being a nuclear power. There is no respect for an imaginary Durand line. There is only knowledge that the Taliban and al Qaeda live in the Hindu Kush, Nuristan, Kunar, Helmand and surrounding areas. They must be killed. Would that our own strategic thinkers were so clear-headed.