Afghanistanâ€™s predatory neighbours make the situation even murkier. Diverse geopolitical interests increasingly drive a wedge between Pakistan and the West. Despite its denial, Pakistan has a high strategic stake in the Taliban. In Pakistanâ€™s thinking a hard push against the Taliban means its tribal Pashtun minority might give up its present religious extremist doctrine for a nationalist fervour. In that event, 28 million Pashtuns in Pakistan might begin edging towards an outright secession from Pakistan like Bangladesh in 1971. Pashtuns have no history of living together with Punjabi majority. Pakistanâ€™s fear of losing control over its restive and largely ungoverned Pashtun tribal belt reached a fever pitch when General Pervez Musharaf began building a fence along the Durand line, which will make the tribal areas even more safe for its hostsâ€” the Islamic terrorists and the Taliban leaders.
By using warlords of the Northern Alliance, Iran is mobilising extremist Shiite ideology among its old proxy. Although it failed to transplant a Hizbullah-like militia in Afghanistan, Iran selected a cultural invasion of Afghanistan. Russia is also keen to resume its flirting with the same warlords belonging to the Afghan ethnic minority in the north of the country for fear of Taliban resurgence. The militia of the Northern Alliance has already begun to remobilise itself to counter Talibanâ€™s rise.
This also points up the corrosion of President Karzaiâ€™s effectiveness, who is threading a tightrope between dealing with the dominance of warlords and the demands of the Pashtun majority. He is growingly becoming a cover for the warlords of the Northern Alliance, which following the overthrow of the Taliban were propelled to power.
The ethnic groups of the alliance are pursuing their sectarian agenda of undermining attempts by Pashtuns to restore their traditional political authority in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance minimised Pashtun influence in state beaurocracy, and also dumped Pashtu as the national language of the country. While Afghanistanâ€™s history bears witness that no government in Kabul survives without an active Pashtun support.
Using Western military presence as an insurance policy for their new-found power and ill-gotten wealth, chiefs of the Northern Alliance pry on Western aid. There are fears that the US new pledge of a further $10.8 billion for Afghanistanâ€™s security and reconstruction might not reach its targets. Although at the outset of invasion the alliance played a positive role in helping to oust the Taliban, its sectarian agenda is becoming increasingly intractable.
In such dire circumstances, there is one thing worthy of trying: detach the Taliban from their fanatical hard core faction loyal to al-Qaida. But this can only be done if Taliban is to be divorced from Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) first, whose obscene gamble is directed to keep Taliban relentlessly radicalised to serve Pakistanâ€™s geopolitical aims.
Mr Karzaiâ€™s call for negotiation with his opponents has never received wholehearted support from Pakistan. A national reconciliation which guarantees the emergence of a strong and stable Afghanistan is seen as a threat for Pakistanâ€™s strategic depth in the region. Pakistani ISI knows that the only way to march towards Kabul is on the Talibanâ€™s back.
Copyright Â© Ehsan Azari