|Laman Webantu KM2: 6401 File Size: 10.0 Kb *|
IHT: US Confused Where To Go Next - Taliban's Retreat Worries Pakistan
By Nusrat Javeed
22/11/2001 3:49 pm Thu
[When a military delegation from Pakistan went recently to see
Mullah Umar to persuade him to hand over Usama bin Ladin,
warning that otherwise the Americans would go to war against
Afghanistan, he listened to them patiently. When they had finished,
he replied: "We have tasted defeat in our long struggle and we may
taste it again, but you have never seen victory in your entire life."
Then he got up and left the room, leaving his Pakistani visitors
Zafar Bangash - Muslimedia]
US confused where to go next
By Nusrat Javeed
WASHINGTON: Though extremely pleased with the stunning rout of
Taliban, policy planners in the USA are utterly confused where to
go next. "Policy papers written in the morning are obsolete by the
afternoon," admitted a state department official, working on South
Asian affairs, while talking to a noted scholar, Stephan Cohen.
The confusion is so profound that Washington is yet not certain
whether Taliban are running for their lives like the "headless
chickens." Or, they abandoned city after city with a design. Some
analysts suspect the application of well-thought-out "strategic
retreat". While the Pashto speaking Afghans appear discreetly
"melting with the crowd" or retreating to the security of their
ancestral villages and tribes, "foreign legions" of their supporters
keep putting a deadly defence on the front lines of Kunduz and
Most of the Taliban's 60,000-strong fighting force and its weaponry
in Afghanistan is believed to have escaped with low casualties
from the heavy US bombing strikes and the lightning Northern
Alliance offensives. Many analysts in Washington strongly feel that
not more than 900 Taliban fighters have been killed. And, their
arsenals of between 250 and 300 Scud missiles remain intact.
They can still be used against cities captured by the Northern
Alliance. Yet, the US is pleased. For, its bombers and the Northern
Alliance apparently made greater inroads on groups, perceived as
"core units" of Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Between 2,000 to
3,000 Pakistanis, Chinese, Chechens, Saudis, Egyptians,
Yemenis, and Jordanians are estimated to have died while
"covering" the Taliban retreats.
Intelligence sources claim that the Taliban command, though
ordering its own forces to retreat, instructed Al Qaeda fighters to
hold the line, fight until the last man and not surrender, so as to
cover their pullback.
Al Qaeda men obeyed the order and most were killed. Still, military
sources note that Osama Bin Laden's primary fighting force,
Brigade 55, retreated with the Taliban and escaped virtually
unscathed, although elements of the brigade remained in the
besieged city of Kunduz.
Though wild estimates are made regarding the Taliban losses, no
one cares to discuss as to how many troops of the Special Forces
of the USA and its allies might have died on the ground.
A firm news blackout has been imposed on the casualty count in
Washington. Much more intriguing is the silence Moscow maintains
about its role. Most analysts The News talked to in Washington
admit that the Russian Spetznaz, Special Forces, and Uzbek
commandos spearheaded the Northern Alliance offensive on
Mazar-e-Sharif. And, took the greatest number of casualties.
But no one is yet willing to count and admit them. Officially,
Washington keeps pretending as if it was caught unaware by the
stunning advances of Northern Alliance. Hardly a day before the
fall of Kabul, President Bush jointly addressed a new conference
with the visiting president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf,
in New York. His remarks suggested that Washington was not
willing to let the Northern Alliance walk over Kabul. He wanted its
forces to wait.
Till, the nitty-gritty details of a 'transitional government' for
Afghanistan are negotiated under the UN umbrella. Apparently, the
anti-Taliban forces didn't care listening to him. But the WorldNet
Daily (WND) has claimed Friday that President Bush fully knew
what was coming. Quoting "intelligence sources" it reports that
moment before the US president was leaving for addressing the UN
General Assembly on November 7, Russian President Putin talked
to him on the phone. Putin reportedly urged President Bush to let
the "Northern Alliance off the leash and signal the attack on key
northern city of Afghanistan, Mazar-e-Sharif."
According to WND, the Russian president was confident that
anti-Taliban forces can take over Mazar-e-Sharif "within hours" of
the American nod. Kabul would then be only a few days away.
What Putin had reportedly suggested to Bush ran contrary to all the
diplomatic and military planning, the US secretaries of state and
defence had done for Afghanistan.
They pursued a cautious, step-by-step, campaign to reach Kabul
by the end of winter in April 2002. But WND report insists that
"Bush responded with an on the spot decision to go with the
Russian plan" without consulting his aides. "Had he done so," says
WND, "Rumsfeld would have warned him the new proposal would
place at risk all the military preparations, deals and understanding
the United States had put together over the past weeks. Powell
would have warned him that letting the Northern Alliance go would
amount to ditching Washington's chief war ally, Pakistan...and
damaging the special relations with Pakistan President Pervez
Musharraf, who was then in the USA."
The sudden fall of Kabul was really embarrassing for General
Musharraf. Close to his boarding a plane to Pakistan on November
13, he talked to a select group of Pakistani journalists. Too
confident he appeared and sounded while insisting, "Pakistan was
becoming the real opinion builder regarding Afghanistan." His
remarks indicated that Washington and its allies were now willing to
assuage Islamabad's concern vis-a-vis Northern Alliance walking
over Kabul. Not only that, Pakistan also appeared set to savour a
bigger role in setting up the post-Taliban scenario in Afghanistan.
His confidence may now appear ill founded.
Susan B. Glasser and Kamran Khan
Washington Post Service Thursday, November 22, 2001
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan More than a week after the Taliban retreat
from the Afghan capital of Kabul and other cities, Pakistan is reeling
from the rout of the strict Islamic militia it helped create.
Pakistan remains the only country in the world that still recognizes
the Taliban, and it is unwilling to sever those ties. Pakistan also is
not on speaking terms with the Northern Alliance, which now
controls most of Afghanistan.
According to high-ranking political, military and diplomatic officials,
Pakistan has seen its influence in Afghanistan evaporate as the
future of the country is being plotted by the United Nations and the
Northern Alliance, among others.
Unable to wield power in Afghan affairs, Pakistan fears that it is now
sandwiched between two hostile countries: India to the east and
Afghanistan to the west. Pakistan's military is on high alert, fearing
trouble and instability along the 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) border
it shares with Afghanistan.
Although Pakistan enlisted as a key ally in the U.S.-led coalition to
oust the Taliban after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, even top officials
in President Pervez Musharraf's government have expressed alarm
in recent days at the outcome of the coalition's efforts.
Television screens here are flashing pictures of angry Afghans
shouting "Death to Pakistan!" and Pakistan's regional rivals are
advising the new rulers of Kabul. A senior Pakistani Foreign Ministry
official pronounced his country's policy "a strategic debacle." A top
military official called the situation a "quagmire" for Pakistan, while
several other senior government figures spoke bitterly in interviews
of what they called a U.S. promise to keep the Northern Alliance out
of Kabul - a promise that was not kept.
The Northern Alliance, made up of Tajik, Uzbek and other ethnic
groups in the northern part of Afghanistan, grew out of the mujahidin
who fought the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.
After the Soviet pullout, the guerrillas fell into a civil war. In the
mid-1990s, Pakistan nurtured and supported the Taliban, whose
members are mostly from the large Pashtun ethnic group in the
south. Pakistani officials saw the Taliban as a counterweight to the
fractious, chaotic rule from 1992 to 1996 of the Kabul government,
whose members are now largely back in control of the country.
Despite the enmity, Pakistan has signaled a willingness to open
back-door talks with the Northern Alliance through Turkey and Iran,
both of which have supported the alliance. Pakistani sources said
top Foreign Ministry officials have also told the U.S. ambassador,
Wendy Chamberlin, that they would welcome U.S. help in bridging
Officially, Pakistan supports the creation of a "broad-based,
multiethnic government" for Afghanistan and says the Northern
Alliance occupation of Kabul should be replaced by an international
peacekeeping force. But Pakistan's diplomatic contortions in recent
days suggest how tentative and confused the government's policy
On Monday, Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar told reporters that Pakistan would allow the Taliban's embassy here to remain open. But he also offered this confusing formula: Pakistan has not decided on the "de-recognition of the Taliban government," he said, but that "does not mean that we continue to recognize it."