Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’
Have to agree with Thomas Ruttig that it may be early to figure out ALL the implications, but I also have to agree with Joshua Foust saying it IS a big deal.
More, as I let it cook a bit in my head.
Let’s look at a bit of the history of Canadian “special envoys” for things Afghan.
11 Feb 09: Responding to a question in the House of Commons by Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon rejects idea of Canada getting its own “Special Envoy” for Afghanistan.
Maclean’s has learned that the Harper government is on the verge of appointing a member of the Canadian government who will work as part of Holbrooke’s Washington team. “Canada is currently considering potential candidates for an assignment in Mr. Holbrooke’s office,” Jamie Christoff, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman, wrote in an email.
19 Oct 09: Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert, during discussion in the House of Commons, AGAIN calls for a Special Envoy. Response from Jim Abbott, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation:
“We on the government side are less concerned with the actual title our officials carry than we are with the actual work they carry out and the quality of our assistance in Afghanistan.”
27 Jan 10: The Liberals call for, you guessed it, a “special envoy to lead Canadian efforts to work on governance, on a reconciliation process and a post-2011 future in Afghanistan.”
Where I stand:
1) Just a reminder – we have
- a Representative of Canada in Kandahar, **
- an Ambassador to Afghanistan,
- a High Commissioner to Pakistan,
- a Cabinet committee looking at Afghanistan, and
- a Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan.
** – Who knows how long this will last, though, given Canada leaving Dodge Kandahar by end of 2011.
Do we need anybody else, public servant or political appointee, to do this as well?
2) If Canada’s departure is going to be as complete as the latest from the Prime Minister, it doesn’t appear we’re going to have any significant level of “Canadian efforts to work on governance, on a reconciliation process and a post-2011 future in Afghanistan”. Given that, this special envoy would do what, exactly, and with what?
Finally getting around to sharing a few thoughts on this piece (PDF here in case link doesn’t work, and a link to a French-language version), based on an interview with Afghan senator Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, a former Minister for Religious Affairs under the old “Taliban In Charge” days.
The latest on the “how close are AQ & the Taliban”? Rahmani suggests they’re not indivisible:
He believes that the time has come for the guerrilla movement to dissociate itself from his “friend Osama.” But are the members of Mullah Omar’s choura (council of notables), with whom he is in contact, ready for that divorce? In his opinion, it’s not impossible.
He also suggests there’s some leeway in the Taliban’s management regime to allow under-bosses to talk to the Afghan regime:
For, in spite of their military “success,” the Taliban, like all soldiers, would like to be able to go home. Moreover, and contrary to what has been suggested in Mullah Omar’s communiqués, it is sometimes the guerrilla leaders, and not the Afghan presidency, who take the initiative for these meetings, Maulvi Arsala Rahmani assures me. Last year, Mullah Baradar led a Taliban delegation to Kabul to talk with Karzai’s older brother, Qayyum.
That last line intrigues, if only because of its conflict with the “there’s no such thing as a moderate Taliban” line Baradar took in a statement attributed to him late in October:
The terms of moderate (Taliban) and extremists are American-invented terms, which have no physical existence.
Then again, there’s also been in statements early November attribued to official Taliban spokespersons suggesting that some mediated discussions may have taken place:
“There are some people who are conveying each others’ (Taliban and US) messages. But there were no direct talks between us and America,”
A critique of the “bribe the tribes” approach comes from another Taliban “intermediary”, Pir Mohamed, reportedly a former university president under the Taliban (non) Salad Days:
Afghanistan is not Iraq. The Taliban come from very different origins. Mores come from Uzbekistan, Kandahar or Khost. And one may neither set the tribes against one another nor buy them: there are too many of them!
Here’s one vision of what the Taliban Head Shed would like to do:
The rebels would like to install themselves somewhere, then form a government-in-exile to elaborate the conditions for a negotiation with the Karzai government. Why not in Saudi Arabia where Mullah Zaeef, former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, has already tried to organize a meeting between the enemy sides? Then from Riyadh, the Taliban leadership could negotiate its own neutrality in exchange for a right to return, amnesty and participation in political life after the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Rahmani closes with how Pakistan’s Taliban bosses have to be brought into the tent as part of a solution:
“As long as Pakistan’s vital interests, such as the future of the Durand Line, are not taken into account, all discussions will fail,” explains Rahmani. According to him, the key to potential negotiations is in the hands of the Pakistani mullahs, themselves under ISI – the Pakistani secret services’ – control. As are Mullah Fazel Rahman and Sami ul-Haq, who lead the coalition of Pakistani fundamentalist religious parties. “Before the Taliban, it is they who must be convinced to make peace, because today they control al-Qaeda and bin Laden and hold the future of the region in their hands …”
More grist for the mill.
Here’s why I warned you to take a deep breath before believing all the latest rumblings – from a Pakistani media outlet:
During the talks, the representatives of the US and the Karzai regime had their own preconditions, the most important being that the Taliban militia should accept Afghanistan’s new constitution and join the political mainstream under the existing system of governance.
The Americans also wanted the Ameer of the Afghhan Taliban Mullah Mohammad Omar to ditch Al-Qaeda and help arrest Osama bin Laden. The talks eventually failed due to the obstinacy of the Taliban representatives who wanted the withdrawal of the US-led allied forces from Afghanistan before initiating a formal dialogue with the US and the Karzai administration.
The sources? Unnamed Pakistani Foreign Office sources and “well informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad”.
Move on folks, nothing to see here.
The Tailban Info-machine is in overdrive when it comes to issuing statements and op-ed pieces. The latest (Voice of Jihad English here – albeit a bit slow loading – and PDF at non-terrorist site here) seems to cover old message threads, with some reference to recent events. Here’s a quick haiku summary:
Bad Blackwater folks,
Bombing crowded market squares.
NATO shoots from schools.
The Blackwater mention appears to come from other events in the neighbourhood, with the Taliban borrowing the “PMCs are bad” meme from their Pakistani colleagues:
Recently, they are resorting to some other devilish tactics, like detonating bombs and mines in congested places where common people are shopping. This is a heinous effort by CIA-related agencies like Black Water in order to create hatred among the common people against Mujahideen. Black Water was renamed Xe after its flagrant human rights violations in Iraq.
Enjoy the lies!
Let me just make note of a few things in this terribly researched Canada.com story. The author, “Jane Seyd”, seems to interview only a few people for the story, but the main source is a close friend of Beverly’s named Glen Cooper.
Any person who was close friends with Beverly Giesbrecht will also meet one or more of the following criteria: very stupid; on the Leftwing fringe; a terror supporter; or the kind of person who finds it necessary to befriend the crazy old lady with all the cats down the street.
Besides the source, here are the two major problems:
1) Nowhere does the article mention that Jihad Unspun was an objectively pro-terrorist and pro-Taliban publication.
2) The friend tells us that Beverly went to Pakistan to make a documentary. What it does not mention is the fact that the documentary was meant to portray the Taliban as the good guys in the war.
Accurate, brief and clear – the ABCs of good writing.
Glen Cooper, whose friendship with Giesbrecht spans more than two decades, said he spoke to her by telephone two months ago …. Cooper said he’s had several conversations with the kidnappers, though the number of direct calls has slowed in recent months.
“I did speak to her in the summer so I knew she was alive then,” Cooper said. “I have not heard from her since and I don’t know what her status is.”
Cooper has been reluctant to speak out on Giesbrecht’s abduction in the past while officials worked to secure her release. But as the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping approaches, he said government officials aren’t telling him anything and he’s worried his close friend won’t last much longer.
“I have her phone number,” he said, speaking of Giesbrecht and her captors.
“I could just phone her but I don’t because that gets in the way of what other people are doing.”
In the weeks following Giesbrecht’s abduction, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Monette issued a statement saying, “Canadian officials continue to engage with Pakistani authorities in seeking her safe and early release.”
This week, when asked to update the situation, Monette issued a near-identical statement, saying, “Canadian officials are engaged with Pakistani authorities in seeking her safe release.”
Monette declined further comment.
“I’m sure that you can appreciate that we will not comment or release any information which may compromise our efforts or jeopardize the safety of a Canadian citizen,” she said.
John Weston, a Conservative MP for the West Vancouver riding that Giesbrecht used to call home, confirmed he’s familiar with the case but declined to provide further details.
“I look forward to a day when I can discuss with you more openly what hopefully will have been a successful release of Ms. Giesbrecht,” he said.
“This is a peculiar case where we’re relying on the local government (in Pakistan) to assist in the release of Ms. Giesbrecht.”
A spokeswoman for the High Commission for Pakistan in Ottawa also declined comment on the case.
I hope for her safe release, if only to see what she has to write about her hosts now that she’s been a guest for so long.
Under the mainstream media radar this week, the Liberals are asking, again, for Canada to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan, something I’ve disagreed with in the past.
The United States, Great Britain, France and the EU have all assigned a special envoy to the region. Given the importance of Pakistan, particularly with regard to the Taliban and the current situation in Waziristan, et cetera, it is important that we have an envoy on the ground and certainly subject to our resolution …. We want to build better institutions there with the EU and the United States. Because of the changing strategies that President Obama announced back in March, this needs to be done …. Even in General McChrystal’s assessment recently, that was done in August for the president, he indicated very clearly the need for this type of strategy, the fact that the Taliban are in Pakistan, that there is a porous border and they go across …. The special envoy, as I say, is something others have clearly done. They recognized the need. The EU does not even have any troops, obviously, because it is a political organization, yet it found that this was necessary. Certainly the British, the French and the United States have found it necessary. We need to be there to be a major player.
(Nitpick: The bit in red is technically correct, but let’s not forget the EU’s police training mission EUPOL, which includes civilian and paramilitary police trainers from across Europe in Afghanistan.)
- An Ambassador to Afghanistan,
- A High Commissioner to Pakistan,
- A Cabinet committee looking at Afghanistan, and
- A Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan.
I’m not convinced that having one more “envoy” would improve the process. And if the people already in place are not communicating and co-operating, I don’t think having one more in the line diagram won’t fix that, either.
A bit more history: the then-Senlis Council even suggested the idea in 2007 (h/t to The Torch for this tidbit).
UPDATE (1): From Mark at The Torch – maybe the American Special Envoy will get a Canadian sidekick?
This, from Pakistan’s The News:
The Pakistani militants based in South Waziristan Agency committed the terrorism acts in the past couple of weeks or so with the help of the Afghan Taliban, The News learnt here on Saturday.
“Leaders of various militant groups active in Pakistan under the banner of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have succeeded in winning support of the Afghan Taliban for committing terror acts in Pakistan,” a source in the security forces disclosed on condition of anonymity.
“They have mounted the deadly attacks in Peshawar, Bannu, Rawalpindi and Lahore with the help of Afghan Taliban,” he said.
The source said the top leaders of outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have established links with the Afghan Taliban and all its operatives who have been operating in the Punjab have reached South Waziristan or Afghanistan to evade arrests as the law-enforcement agencies have launched a crackdown on such elements in the Punjab province.
“Initially, this group was involved in sectarian violence and has been targeting people belonging to a particular religious sect but now it is targeting the security forces,” the source said.
But the Taliban is a LOCAL threat, right?