Former Canadian Envoy: Pakistan must end ‘its proxy war’ in Afghanistan

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Former Canadian Ambassador to Kabul Chris Alexander tweeted on Thursday saying Pakistan should end its proxy war in Afghanistan as Isreal reaches a truce with Palestine.

Alexander tweeted that “Israel is ending military operations in Gaza: when will Pakistan’s military end its proxy war in Afghanistan”.

The former Canadian envoy said the proxy war would have ended if the thousands of murdered Afghan civilians got a fraction of the attention given to Gaza’s hundreds of victims.

“If thousands of civilians killed by bombs & assassination from Nangarhar to Herat got just a fraction of the attention given to Gaza’s hundreds of victims, Pakistan’s proxy war in Afghanistan would have ended long ago”, Alexander said.

In a report in 2001 human rights watch had detailed the Pakistan history of military support for different factions within Afghanistan as far as the early 1970s, “Pakistan, which was host to more than two million Afghan refugees, was the most significant front-line state serving as a secure base for the mujahidin fighting against the Soviet intervention. Pakistan also served, in the 1980s, as a U.S. stalking horse: the U.S., through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), granted Pakistan wide discretion in channeling some U.S.$2-3 billion worth of covert assistance to the mujahidin, training over 80,000 of them. Even after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, serving and former Pakistani military officers continued to provide training and advisory services in training camps within Afghanistan and eventually to Taliban forces in combat”.

According to the HRW reports many Pakistani volunteers captured by the United Front in 1996 and 1999 who were interviewed by the Human Rights Watch said a special compound in Rishkhvor of Kabul had existed only for the training of Pakistani volunteers for the Taliban militants and that a “guarded area within the camp held the living quarters for Pakistani military and intelligence personnel The camp was large and very active, with twenty to thirty trainers, of whom four or five were Arabs and the balance Pakistani”.

The Taliban volunteer fighters interviewed by Human Rights Watch described their “Pakistani trainers as being in their forties, military in appearance and speech, and frequently multi-lingual, speaking English in addition to Pashtu and in many cases Arabic and/or Urdu.

“Leaders of the fighting groups were younger, usually in their thirties, who identified themselves as former Pakistani military. In some instances, self-described former Pakistani military officers provided specialized forms of assistance, particularly with respect to the maintenance and use of artillery. One ex-Taliban fighter described meeting a former Pakistani artillery colonel who claimed to have volunteered to work with the Taliban artillery forces to increase their efficiency and effectiveness”, HRW report added.

The report indicated that “Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives and the scale of its efforts, which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban’s virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support”.

Following the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989 and the overthrow of Najibullah’s government in 1992 Saudi Arabia’s aid to some Afghan factions was primarily based on countering Iranian influence in the region, the Saudi aid continued when Pakistan established its financial aids to destructive groups in Afghanistan.

“Saudi aid increasingly followed suit. Saudi Arabia was a major financial supporter of the Taliban between the defeat of Hizb-i Wahdat and Hizb-i Islami forces by the Taliban in Kabul in 1996 and the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya by a group of persons who were suspected of being followers of the Saudi expatriate Osama bin Laden. The Taliban’s decision to shelter Bin Laden led to U.S. pressure on Saudi Arabia to terminate its support of the Taliban. Official Saudi aid reportedly stopped, but Saudi money and support have continued to find its way to the Taliban in the form of private contributions”, the report read.

When the Taliban launched its major military operations in 1994, it also secured the support of Pakistan’s trucking cartels based in Quetta and Chaman on the Pak-Afghan borders.

It was reported that about $75 million revenues to the Taliban were coming from drug trafficking, arms transport, and taxing Afghanistan-Pakistan smuggling trade, the released HRW report in 2001 read.

This comes as President Ashraf Ghani in an interview with the Washington Post said that the Afghan government’s priority is to make peace and reach a lasting ceasefire.

“If the Taliban insists on a violent takeover, they will face not just the Afghan security and defense forces, but also the Afghan people. People don’t want the Taliban. Ask people who have experienced their rule”, President Ghani said.

Pakistan and the United States have an important role in motivating the Taliban to get the Taliban to a negotiating table, the Afghan president stressed.

According to Ghani Pakistani-backed Taliban militants’ key goal was the withdrawal of US troops, the United States should decide for not getting anything in return after making such a major concession.

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