Afghanistan: Pakistan's Friend or Foe?
The open hostility of successive Afghan governments toward Pakistan begs the following questions: Why do Afghan leaders scapegoat Pakistan for their own failures? Is Afghanistan a friend or an enemy of Pakistan?
Carter Malkasian, former advisor to US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dunford, has recently talked about how Afghan governments have scapegoated Pakistan for their failures. He said: "Let’s take Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is a powerful factor here. But on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else".
In another discussion, Malkasian explained the rapid advance of the Taliban and the imminent collapse of the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. Here's what he said:
"Over time, aware of the government’s vulnerable position, Afghan leaders turned to an outside source to galvanize the population: Pakistan. Razziq, President Hamid Karzai and later President Ashraf Ghani used Pakistan as an outside threat to unite Afghans behind them. They refused to characterize the Taliban as anything but a creation of Islamabad. Razziq relentlessly claimed to be fighting a foreign Pakistani invasion. Yet Pakistan could never fully out-inspire occupation".
Afghanistan has been governed by secular Pashtun Nationalists and their Tajik and Uzbek allies for much of the 20th century. These Afghan rulers and their secular Pashtun allies on the eastern side of the border have been hostile toward Pakistan since 1947 when it became independent. Afghanistan's was the lone vote against the admission of the newly independent state of Pakistan to the United Nations. Since then, the anti-Pakistan campaign by Pashtun Nationalists on both sides of the Durand Line has received support from New Delhi.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as the Frontier Gandhi, led the secular Pashtun Nationalists' opposition to the creation of Pakistan before 1947. Their efforts to stay with India failed when they lost a referendum and the majority of the voters of then Frontier Province chose to join Pakistan.
After the humiliating loss in the referendum, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, his son Abdul Wali Khan and their supporters decided to seek an independent nation of Pakhtoonistan. When Ghaffar Khan died, he was not buried in Pakistan. Instead, he was buried in the Afghan city of Jalalabad according to his will. His son Wali Khan then carried the movement forward.
After the creation of Pakistan, Ghaffar Khan and Wali Khan launched Pakhtoonistan movement that sought to create an independent state of Pakhtoonistan with the eventual goal of erasing the Durand Line to unify it with Afghanistan. Slogans such as "Lar o Bar Yaw Afghan" (Afghans are one on both sides of the Durand Line) and "Loya Afghanistan" (Grand Afghanistan) signify the aims of this movement.
The central government in Pakistan has responded by assimilating Pakhtoons in civil and military services from the early 1950’s. By the end of 1960’s, the Pakhtoons were holding many top positions in the civil and military bureaucracy. At the time Pakistan was ruled by Ayub Khan, himself a non-Pashtu speaking Pakhtoon. Pakistan's current Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan is also a Pashtun.
Both the Afghan and the Indian governments continued to back the Pakhtoonistan movement in the1960s and 70s.
In 1960, then Afghan Prime Minister Daoud Khan sent his troops across the Durand Line into the Bajaur Agency of Pakistan to press the Pashtunistan issue, but the Afghan forces were routed by Pakistani Tribals. During this period, the propaganda war from Afghanistan, carried on by radio, was relentless.
Daoud hosted Pakistani Pakhtoon Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Ajmal Khattak, Juma Khan Sufi. Daoud started training Pakhtun Zalmay and young Balochs and sent them across the border into Pakistan to start a militancy.
In 1961, Pakistan retaliated against Daoud's support to militias in areas along the Durand Line by closing its borders with Afghanistan, causing an economic crisis in Afghanistan.
A former RAW officer RK Yadav has, in his book "Mission RAW", confirmed that Indian intelligence officers met Khan Wali Abdul Wali Khan in Europe on several occasions to provide support and funding for the Pakhtoonistan movement.
In 1975, then Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ordered Pakistan's intelligence agency to respond to Afghan provocations. Pakistan ISI trained Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as their Afghan proxies.
The Soviet troops rolled into Afghanistan in December, 1979 to assert control after several coups and counter-coups in the country. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States responded to it by recruiting, training and arming a resistance force referred to as "Mujahideen". India supported the Soviet invasion and occupation in a United Nations vote in January, 1980.
Soviet troops were defeated and forced by the Mujahideen to withdraw after 9 years of occupation. The Americans also decided to leave the region with Afghanistan in complete chaos as various Mujahideen factions split along ethnic lines fought for control of Kabul.
Pakistan was the most affected as a result of the Afghan war and instability. Millions of Afghan refugees poured across the border in Pakistan. Many were radicalized, trained and armed to fight. The "Kalashnikov Culture" spread across Pakistan causing instability.
In the1990s, Pakistan supported the Taliban led by Mullah Omar to try to stabilize the situation. The Taliban defeated all other factions and warlords and took control of most of Afghanistan. The only part of Afghanistan that remained beyond their control was the Panjshir valley in northern Afghanistan that was controlled by Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud.
The Taliban hosted Al Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. The United States accused Al Qaeda of carrying out the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. When the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden to Washington, President George W. Bush ordered the US military to invade Afghanistan to force the Taliban out of power.
The US invasion of Afghanistan forced the Taliban out of power and drove them and Al Qaeda fighters across the border into Pakistan. Pakistani military arrested most of the Al Qaeda leadership and many of the Al Qaeda fighters and handed them over to the United States. Bin Laden was found and killed by the Americans in a raid in Abbotabad, Pakistan in 2011.
Indian intelligence agency RAW has established its presence in Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan since the US invasion and the installation of a Kabul government that includes pro-India members of the Tajik dominated Northern Alliance.
India's Covert War Against Pakistan:
Fomer US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said back in 2011 that "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan". Secretary Hagel was speaking at Cameron University in Oklahoma. Direct and circumstantial evidence of India using Afghanistan to attack Pakistan has grown to the point that even Indian analysts and media are beginning to acknowledge it:
1. Bharat Karnad, a professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, recently acknowledged India's use of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group against Pakistan in an Op Ed he wrote for Hindustan Times.
2. Indian journalist Praveen Swami said in a piece published in "Frontline": "Since 2013, India has secretly built up a covert action program against Pakistan."
3. India's former RAW officers, including one ex chief, have blamed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested by Pakistan in 2016, for getting caught in Pakistan as a "result of unprofessionalism", according to a report in India's "The Quint" owned and operated by a joint venture of Bloomberg News and Quintillion Media. The report that appeared briefly on The Quint website has since been removed, apparently under pressure from the Indian government.
4. A story by Indian journalist Karan Thapar pointed out several flaws in the Indian narrative claiming that Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested in Pakistan while engaging in India's covert war in Balochistan, was an innocent Indian businessman kidnapped from Chabahar by Pakistani agents. Writing for the Indian Express, Thapar debunked the entire official story from New Delhi.
British Afghan war veteran Major Robert Gallimore says he saw no presence of Pakistan's intelligence service ISI in Afghanistan. The Afghan Army saw the " imagined nefarious hand" and "bogeyman" of Pakistan everywhere but he never saw it. He "saw not one piece of evidence" of it. It was all in their minds.
During his three tours of duty in Afghanistan, he could hear all the radio conversations going on but never heard any Pakistani accent. He did, however, see "buckets and buckets of money" and rising Indian influence in Afghan Army that blamed Pakistan for all their problems. Pakistan is their bogeyman.
The Afghan Army says they'll feel good when they can "invade Pakistan". They do not blame the British but the Pakistanis for the Durand Line that they do not recognize.
Major Gallimore sees the emergence of an India-Pakistan 21st century "Great Game" similar to its British-Russian predecessor. Many Afghans support creation of Pashtunistan by annexing northern part of Pakistan into Afghanistan. They blame Pakistan for the Durand Line, not the British or their own leaders who agreed to it. As a result, Maj Gallimore warns that Afghanistan has become much more volatile and dangerous than ever before.
Recent scapegoating of Pakistan by the Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul has been criticized by Carter Malkasian, former advisor of US General Dunford. Malkasian has said, "...on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else". The animosity of secular Pashtun Nationalists and their Tajik and Uzbek allies against Pakistan is not new. It didn't start with Pakistan's support of the Taliban in the 1990s. Their hostility against Pakistan dates back to the creation of Pakistan. Afghanistan's was the lone vote against the admission of the newly independent state of Pakistan to the United Nations in 1947. Since then, the anti-Pakistan campaign by Pashtun Nationalists on both sides of the Durand Line has received support from New Delhi. A former RAW officer RK Yadav has, in his book "Mission RAW", confirmed that Indian intelligence officers met Khan Wali Abdul Wali Khan in Europe on several occasions to provide support and funding for the Pakhtoonistan movement.
Here is a video discussion of spillover of Afghan instability into Pakistan:
South Asia Investor Review
Trump's Afghan Strategy: Will Pakistan Yield to US Pressure?
Why is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?
Karan Thapar Debunks Indian Narrative of Kulbhushan Yadav
Coll's Directorate Demonizes Pakistan ISI
Gen Petraeus Debunks Charges of Pakistani Duplicity
Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan
Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan
Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?
Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan
India Ex RAW Officer Documents Success Against Pakistan