Published on 12 Sep 2010 at 03:30
Interviewer: Jamaluddin Temori
An Interview with, Ahmad Saeedi, Political Analyst and Former Afghan Diplomat in Pakistan
Q: President Hamid Karzai’s relations with the West deteriorated after last year’s controversial presidential elections; but, by contrast, his relations with Pakistan are getting better by the day. Though the remarks made against Pakistan recently by President Karzai ‘s security advisor, Rangin Dadfur Spanta, show that those relations are now cooling. What do you think?
A: The stances taken or remarks made by President Karzai, his security advisor or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs change with the season; we cannot consider them to be reflective of strategic policy. Afghan officials adopt such stances or make such remarks as a special tactic, dictated by certain individuals for some specific purpose. President Karzai’s relations with the West have become fragile, so he tries to have close relations with the neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, to frighten the West to some extent.
President Karzai wants to warn the West that he will turn to Iran and Pakistan if he is pressured by the West. But adopting such a position is a temporary measure, and driven by specific aims. These are not strategic or logical policies. For instance, President Karzai sometimes calls his opponents “my brothers” and at other times calls them terrorists. I think Spanta chose his position on orders from above.
Q: According to some analysts, President Karzai knows that the West, particularly the United States, will leave Afghanistan as soon as possible; but Pakistan, as an effective country engaged in Afghanistan’s issues, will stay beside Afghanistan. This has made Karzai rely on Pakistan. What do you think?
A: Pakistan has strategic depth in Afghanistan, and wants a weak government in this country. If there is a strong government in Afghanistan, it will develop the country’s economy so that there will be no good market for Pakistani products in Afghanistan. Where will Pakistan export its products if Afghanistan stands on its own feet and becomes self-sufficient? Pakistan also wants a weak Afghanistan so that they feel no danger from this side if it engages in a war with India.
On the other hand, Pakistan is a regional gendarme and a strategic friend for the United States in the region. Americans may leave Afghanistan’s destiny to Pakistan if they become more pessimistic about the situation here. President Karzai has realized this fact, so he prefers to have close relations with Pakistan. Karzai does not consider national interests while developing the country’s foreign policy; he considers his own interests in such circumstances.
Q: Foreign soldiers, particularly, American soldiers, are being killed in the fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Even though the Unites States knows that the Taliban are supported by Pakistan it takes no action against Pakistan. Why is this?
A: The United States is pursuing a double-faced policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. Americans did not come to Afghanistan just to fight terrorism; they came here to achieve their long-term goals. The United States creates problems rather than solving them in Afghanistan, but tries not to lose control of the situation. The United States has been helping the Afghan government’s opponents several times, but not to the extent that they can succeed. Why do Americans help the opposition? The United States wants to extend the current crisis in Afghanistan to Iran, China and the Middle East. The United States wants to get some benefit from this war and take control of oil in the region.
Pakistan is the implementer of British and U.S. policies in the region and it became a regional gendarme after the collapse of the Shah’s Regime in Iran in 1979. The United States knows that Iran is its enemy, India has no joint border with Afghanistan, China itself is a superpower and Afghanistan cannot do what Pakistan can. On the other hand, Pakistan has a population of more than 174 million people and it has a relatively developed economy. Over all, it is a nuclear power in the region and has a standing army of more than 600,000 soldiers. How will the United States be able to supply its war in Afghanistan if it ignores Pakistan? Pakistan will join the Shanghai Treaty if the United States abandons it, which is a big threat for the United States. What can the United States do in the region if Pakistan joins in that treaty with China and Russia? Considering the abovementioned issues, the United States is obliged to be gentle with Pakistan.
Q: You have said that Americans create problems in Afghanistan and the roots of the war in Afghanistan are in the hands of Americans. If we accept such an assumption, we arrive at the conclusion that there is no will to end war in Afghanistan. Would you agree with that?
A: There is a will to end the war in Afghanistan but not in the short-term. The war should be extended in order to deter China’s economic development. This war should extend to the Middle East to put pressure on Russia and Iran. But above all, the management of the war is under the control of the United States.
Q: American soldiers have had greater casualties in the war in Afghanistan than any other Western country. That is why the U.S. government is under such heavy pressure at home for what is called the failure of the war in Afghanistan. Does the United States tolerate such sacrifices to reach its goals in Afghanistan?
A: The United States has a similar policy for Afghanistan and the region. It will never permit the economic development of China to affect the Middle East. As a superpower, America wants to lead the world. The United States is ready to sacrifice in order to achieve its goal.
Q: President Karzai’s security advisor, Spanta, has said that the United States committed a strategic mistake in Afghanistan by not adopting a harsher stance towards Pakistan. What is your opinion?
A: How will the United States supply its war in Afghanistan if Pakistan stops its cooperation? The United States cannot pressure Pakistan easily. Where do the U.S. airplanes land if Pakistan closes its airports to them? If you think that Russia can provide such facilities to the United States you should understand that Russians want to benefit from this situation. They may agree to let the United States use their airports but in return they may want the United States to stop installing its missile defense system in Europe. So the Americans cannot pressure Pakistan even if it opens fire on Afghanistan from the presidential palace.
- Peace talks on tap between Taliban, Afghanistan - CBS News
- 4 Americans killed at US base in Afghanistan; Taliban claim responsibility - Fortune
- US, Taliban to meet in Qatar for 'key milestone' toward ending Afghanistan war - NBCNews.com (blog)
- 4 US troops killed at Afghanistan air base - CBS News
- US Military Deaths in Afghanistan - New York Times
- Afghanistan peace talks: no surrender behind the Taliban's white flowers - The Guardian
- Is Peace and Stability Possible in Afghanistan ? - PBS NewsHour
- US to join direct peace talks in Qatar with Taliban over Afghanistan's future - The Guardian
- Taliban agree to peace talks with US over Afghanistan – full statement - The Guardian
- After Gunfire, Politicians in Afghanistan Trade Accusations - New York Times