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(by Matthew Rosenberg, The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com) - Pakistan is lobbying Afghanistan’s president against building a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S., urging him instead to look to Pakistan – and its Chinese ally – for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the economy, Afghan officials say.
The pitch was made at an April 16 meeting in Kabul by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who bluntly told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the Americans had failed them both, according to Afghans familiar with the meeting. Mr. Karzai should forget about allowing a long-term U.S. military presence in his country, Mr. Gilani said, according to the Afghans. …..
With the bulk of U.S.-led coalition troops slated to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the country’s neighbors, including Pakistan, Iran, India and Russia, are beginning to jockey for influence, positioning themselves for Afghanistan’s post-American era.
Pakistan enjoys particular leverage in Afghanistan because of its…role in fostering the Taliban movement and its continuing support for the Afghan Taliban insurgency. Washington’s relations with Pakistan, ostensibly an ally, have reached their lowest point in years. …
Pakistani officials say they no longer have an incentive to follow the American lead in their own backyard. “Pakistan is sole guarantor of its own interest,” said a senior Pakistani official. “We’re not looking for anyone else to protect us, especially the U.S. If they’re leaving, they’re leaving and they should go.” …
…Afghans in the pro-U.S. camp who shared details of the meeting with The Wall Street Journal said they did so to prompt the U.S. to move faster toward securing the strategic partnership agreement, which is intended to spell out the relationship between the two countries after 2014. “The longer they wait…the more time Pakistan has to secure its interests,” said one of the pro-U.S. Afghan officials. …..
Some U.S. officials said they had heard details of the Kabul meeting, and presumed they were informed about Mr. Gilani’s entreaties in part, as one official put it, to “raise Afghanistan’s asking price” in the partnership talks. That asking price could include high levels of U.S. aid after 2014. The U.S. officials sought to play down the significance of the Pakistani proposal. Such overtures were to be expected at the start of any negotiations, they said; the idea of China taking a leading role in Afghanistan was fanciful at best, they noted.
Yet in a reflection of U.S. concerns about Pakistan’s overtures, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Gen. David Petraeus, has met Mr. Karzai three times since April 16, in part to reassure the Afghan leader that he has America’s support, and to nudge forward progress on the partnership deal, said Afghan and U.S. officials.
The Afghan president, meanwhile, has expressed distrust of American intentions in his country… Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistani are similarly fraught, though Mr. Karzai has grown closer to Pakistan’s leaders over the past year. Still, many Afghans see their neighbor as meddlesome and controlling and fear Pakistani domination once America departs.
Formal negotiations on the so-called Strategic Partnership Declaration began in March. Details of talks between U.S. and Afghan negotiators so far remain sketchy. The most hotly contested issue is the possibility of long-term U.S. military bases remaining in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to buttress and continue training Afghan forces and carry on the fight against al Qaeda.
U.S. officials fear that without a stabilizing U.S. hand in Afghanistan after 2014, the country would be at risk for again becoming a haven for Islamist militants seeking to strike the West.
The opening of talks in March was enough to raise alarms among Afghanistan’s neighbors. Senior Iranian and Russian officials quickly made treks to Kabul to express their displeasure at the possibility of a U.S. military presence after 2014, Afghan officials said. The Taliban have always said they wouldn’t sign on to any peace process as long as foreign forces remain.
Yet no other party has been as direct, and as actively hostile to the planned U.S.-Afghan pact, as the Pakistanis. Along with Prime Minister Gilani, the Pakistani delegation at the April 16 meeting included Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] spy agency. U.S. officials accuse the ISI of aiding the Taliban, despite it being the [CIA]‘s partner in the fight against Islamist militants in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the accusations. …..
Mr. Gilani repeatedly referred to America’s “imperial designs,” playing to a theme that Mr. Karzai has himself often embraced in speeches. He also said that, to end the war, Afghanistan and Pakistan needed to take “ownership” of the peace process, according to Afghans familiar with what was said at the meeting. Mr. Gilani added that America’s economic problems meant it couldn’t be expected to support long-term regional development. A better partner would be China, which Pakistanis call their “all-weather” friend, he said, according to participants in the meeting. He said the strategic partnership deal was ultimately an Afghan decision. But, he added, neither Pakistan nor other neighbors were likely to accept such a pact. …..
Although a U.S. ally, Pakistan has its own interests in Afghanistan, believing it needs a pliant government in Kabul to protect its rear flank from India. Pakistani officials regularly complain of how India’s influence over Afghanistan has grown in the past decade. Some Pakistani officials say the presence of U.S. and allied forces is the true problem in the region, not the Taliban.
-Siobhan Gorman contributed to this article.
Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. Visit the website at wsj.com.
1. Name the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
2. When and what did the president of Pakistan tell the president of Afghanistan regarding the U.S.?
3. What additional motive does the Pakistani government have for convincing Afghanistan to end their alliance with the U.S. and form a partnership with Pakistan?
4. a) How does the Afghan president view American intentions in his country?
b) How do many Afghans view Pakistani intentions for Afghanistan?
5. What concern do U.S. officials have for Afghanistan after 2014?
6. The U.S. has given Pakistan billions of dollars in military and economic aid over the years since 9-11. While working with the U.S. to capture terrorists, the ISI (the Pakistani equivilent to the CIA) is known to have also aided terrorists including the Taliban. Recently, Pakistani officials have spoken out against the U.S.’s use of drones that target al-Qaeda and Taliban militants hiding in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, and have even threatened to deny the U.S. access to their air space.
a) What do you think about President Gilani’s attempts to convince the Afghan government to end their partnership with the U.S. and form a partnership with Pakistan and China instead? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question, and also how he/she thinks the Obama administration should handle this situation.
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U.S. AID TO PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN:
Pakistan received nearly $11 billion in direct U.S. aid (between 2001 and 2008)
The U.S. Census Bureau states that in 2008, the U.S. gave the following in economic and military aid (U.S. taxpayer dollars) to Pakistan and Afghanistan:
2008 aid to Afghanistan: $8.9 billion
2008 aid to Pakistan close to $1 billion
- The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist movement that stated it wanted to “to set up the world’s most pure Islamic state” when it effectively ruled over 90% of Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001.
- The Taliban is currently engaged in a protracted guerilla war against NATO forces within Afghanistan, and also a war in Pakistan with the Pakistani government and military.
- The Taliban implements the “strictest interpretation of Sharia law ever seen in the Muslim world” including the complete ban of education for girls, and is widely criticized internationally for its treatment of women.
Pakistan’s remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (the tribal lands) have been a training ground for insurgents and a focal point for terrorism fears, particularly since the 9/11 attacks.
The semi-autonomous tribal lands consist of seven parts called “agencies” … There are also six smaller zones known as Frontier Regions in the transitional area between the tribal lands and the North-West Frontier Province to the east. The harsh, mountainous territory of the tribal lands runs along the Afghanistan border, drawn during colonial times by British Diplomat Sir Henry Mortimer Durand as a means to divide and weaken the eleven major Pashtun tribes and turn Afghanistan into a buffer zone between the British and Russian empires. (from GlobalSecurity.org)