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Pakistan’s Trillion Dollar Problem

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The good news surrounding recent discovery of a trillion dollar mine in Afghanistan provides another blow to Taliban’s supporter. The Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and its accomplices must process this information with serious gravitas.

While at the same time a few high-risk investors are sufficiently intrigued by Afghanistan’s potential to take an early look, the ISI sees a bigger stake in the market value of this mine. The ISI had been well-known for their prolific and ambiguous practices and their double standard policy in Afghanistan. The Inter-Service Intelligence which was created in1948, in order to strengthen the performance of Pakistan’s Military intelligence during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, it was formerly in the Intelligence Bureau, which handled intelligence sharing between the different branches of the military as well as external intelligence gathering, but with a puny civilian government in Islamabad, ISI has emerged as the executive branch of Pakistan’s government.

Since its inception, ISI has appended numerous colorful acts to its resume. From beating up a French ambassador to Pakistan in 1979, to lionizing and protecting A.Q. Khan, the founding father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, who has covertly passed on sensitive nuclear material to North Korea and, of course, in the 1980s, the ISI had substantial financial benefit in supporting seven Afghan Freedom-fighter groups in their resistance against the Soviets, and was the principal conduit of covert US funding. At the same time, ISI played one faction against other for the survival of their strategy which led to the creation of the Taliban regime.

In a recent discussion paper Matt Waldman of Crisis States Research Center wrote: “Pakistan’s apparent involvement in a double-game of this scale could have major geopolitical implications and could even provoke US counter-measures. However, the powerful role of the ISI, and parts of the Pakistani military, suggests that progress against the Afghan insurgency, or towards political engagement, requires their support.”

While there is no doubt that ISI subsidizes the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Afghan leadership must seize this opportunity of new found riches to deter Pakistan with a strong Afghan National Army (ANA) and to “Afghanize” the Afghan war.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. has provided more than $10 billion to develop the Afghan National Army between 2002 and 2008, and 46 NATO and non-NATO nations have provided $822 million in equipment to the Afghan National Security Forces, this considerable investment has a slow pace of achieving the desirable goal. While the debate in Washington D.C and Kabul is more about sustaining an army that will eventually cost 3.3 billion per annum, its outlook certainly worries the ISI leadership.

Mr. Karzai, whose file was first introduced by ISI in the historic Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in 2001, should not commit the horrendous mistake of former Afghan President Mohammad Daoud (1973-1978) who looked towards the Soviet Union for military aid-after Pakistan joined the U.S.-led Cold War alliances- in the process Mohammad Daoud lost insight and ceded the way for the Soviets to became the principal donor of military aid, with the balance of external influence converging decisively toward the Soviet Union. The Afghan army and air force subsequently came under strong Soviet influence, leaving a lasting imprint on Afghanistan’s defense posture. Intrinsically, Mohammed Daoud’s poor judgment escalated Afghanistan into three decades of chaos.

Mr. Karzai who insisted last year to remain in power by all means, even at the extent of rigging the election with massive fraud, must prove to Afghans that he has the interest of Afghanistan and his fellow Afghans first. He must, for his own good, depart from his tantrum fit of whether he wants to be a Talib or someone that history will judge as a dynamic leader. If at this juncture, with July 2011 approaching around the corner, Karzai wants to come out of the closet as a Talib and gain the blessing of his ISI friends then, surely, the Afghan people will distinguish his pursuit of power and wealth that has already bankrupted his credibility, with his sense of responsibility and patriotism.

The United States must also play its part with Pakistan productively. Only last December President Obama affirmed that ‘we are committed to a partnership that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual trust.’ This mutual respect and trust were rebutted by then the US national Intelligence director Dennis C. Blair, on his ‘Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community’, testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: “Indeed, we have elliptically acknowledged that Pakistan, maintains historic support to the Taliban.”

Since 2001 America has provided Pakistan with $11.6 billion in security-related assistance and $6 billion in economic aid. It is due to provide at least $7.5 billion dollars of aid over the next five years. Nevertheless, Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of appalling scale. The conflict has led to the deaths of over 1,000 American and 700 other foreign military personnel; thousands of Afghan soldiers, police, officials and civilians.

As the US ponders an exit strategy out of Afghanistan, it should assist Afghanistan to develop its natural resources as a legitimate source of income.  Military commanders have recognized that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won militarily and that economic development is crucial to sustainable peace.  This approach will alleviate US’s financial obligation of footing the bill for Afghanistan in the long run.  However, it must be done in a way that is not misperceived as having been America’s end game in Afghanistan, i.e. that natural resources were the cause of the U.S. presence in the country.

That misperception, which would only serve to strengthen the insurgency, can be handled by working through multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to provide the technical assistance to the Government of Afghanistan so that it can set a transparent regulatory process for the mining sector.  A good law already exists, but monitoring and oversight are needed to make sure that it is not ignored.  This model did work with the telecommunications sector through the help of the World Bank and today, there are six major mobile carriers in Afghanistan who paid for their licenses through a bidding process.

Afghanistan’s leadership must come from within, but given the lack of systems and structures to maintain checks and balances of power, international oversight is crucial to creating an even playing field. The recent elections should remind donor countries in putting money into a process that is then controlled by those who seek to benefit from it. The Afghan people need the international community on its side as the country can become a successful development story such as South Korea or Singapore or if the status quo of putting money into programs and projects with little oversight or monitoring, it is likely that Afghanistan’s mineral resources will follow the African “blood diamond” path.

That would only provide another source of revenue for Warlords and terrorists and fuel new conflicts.  If the U.S. wants to begin to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in the near future, it must invest its dollars wisely through development and rule of law programs. By using its smart power, the U.S. and other donors can guide the process in a way that helps address poverty and injustice in Afghanistan, the ingredients for the fuel in the current conflict.  History has provided us with models that show it can be done, with the right leadership and will.

Wahid Monawar is former Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Governor of Afghanistan to the IAEA, and the founder of the Neo-Conservative Party of Afghanistan. He is currently an associate of Zurich Partners.

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7 Responses for “Pakistan’s Trillion Dollar Problem”

  1. abrar says:

    The article unfortunately nothing but tirade against Pakistan and its military intelligence. when you use words like double game. As much as Afghans need to strengthen their country both econimically and militarily,bashing your neighbour is not the right way to go about doing that.

    Pakistanis would want nothing better then afghans building their country and institutions,after all its 30 years burden of palying a host has tested them severely. Specially for an economically weak country. Yet their are still millions of afghans who prefer to stay in Pakistan.
    Pakistan was a much more stable and cohesive nation till they threw their lot for the sake of Afghans who were trampled by the soviet military.

    These type of Afghans have to stop using Pakistan as a shelter (when needed ,if they prefer to abuse it as well. The author falls in the same category.

  2. Sami says:

    This is truly absurd. Pakistan ISI and military lost more soldiers than americans plus other countries. Pakistan gave refuge to Millions of Afghans. Thousands of Pakistanies killed in terrorist strikes within pakistan due to war on terror.
    Do you think ISI would want to play a double – game huuhh? Without ISI you would not able to live in Afghanistan. You should thank ISI for giving your country back.
    You should be thankful to Pakistani people, who sacrificed their lives for Their Afghan brothers

  3. Faheem says:

    RAW which has expanded its clandestine networks everywhere in connivance with the Indian army and additional consulates which are also working covertly. India has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip. New Delhi which wants to get strategic depth against Pakistan, and has also been acting upon anti-China policy—is determined to keep its security agencies there permanently under the cover of the US-led allied forces. Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, India has already been fulfilling its secret stragic goals by supporting insurgency in Pakistan’s Frontier Province and Balochistan. RAW has been sending militants along with arms to Pakistan so as to attack the security personnel including western nationals. During the Swat-Malakand and South Waziristan operations, ISPR spokesman, Maj-General Athar Abbas has shown to the media, huge cache of arms and ammuniton, entering Pakistan from Afghanistan. Recently, Pakistan’s prime minister and foreign minister have disclosed that India is backing the militancy in our country.
    Open Your Eyes, Mr Wahid Monawar

  4. Judy Walsh says:

    Some of the previous posters left out a fact or two. Let’s not forget they also took in osama bin laden.

    They also fail to mention the abuse the Afghans had by their taliban, especially the Afghan women.

    chimpy had a chance to help Afghanistan, but decided to focus on Iraq of all places. Had chimpy had half a brain we might have helped the Afghans and our military could all be home by now.

    Another fact people neglect to mention.

  5. Marty Martel says:

    US has to worry more from Pakistan
    General McChrystal reported in his August, 2009 assessment to the President:
    1. Most insurgent fighters in Afghanistan are directed by a small number of Afghan senior leaders based in Pakistan that work through an alternative political infrastructure in Afghanistan.
    2. The Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) based in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, is the No. 1 threat to US/NATO mission in Afghanistan. At the operational level, the Quetta Shura conducts a formal campaign review each winter, after which Mullah Mohammed Omar (Afghan Taliban Chief) announces his guidance and intent for the coming year.
    3. Afghanistan’s insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups (QST, HQN and HiG) are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan’s lSI. Al Qaeda and associated movements (AQAM) based in Pakistan channel foreign fighters, suicide bombers, and technical assistance into Afghanistan, and offer ideological motivation, training, and financial support.
    All American officers in southern Afghanistan know that they can not prevail in the ongoing military operations, unless Taliban strongholds across the Durand Line in North Waziristan and Baluchistan are neutralized. Adm Mullen and Gen Patraeus evidently do not want to acknowledge that hard options have to be considered if their soldiers are not to die at the hands of radicals, armed and trained across the Durand Line. This is where rubber meets the road for the famed General.
    According to Afghan Taliban commanders’ interviews with Matt Waldman, a Harvard Professor, the Pakistani ISI orchestrates, sustains and strongly influences the Taliban insurgency movement. The Afghan Taliban commanders also say that ISI gives sanctuary to both Taliban and Haqqani groups, and provides huge support in terms of training, funding, munitions, and supplies. In the words of these Afghan Taliban commanders, this is ‘as clear as the sun in the sky’.
    After having denied existence of Mullah Omar’s QST umpteen times on its soil, now Pakistan suddenly finds a way to bring about reconciliation between QST and Afghan government!
    The most breath-taking part of this sordid saga is that US is NOT holding Pakistan responsible for sheltering, protecting and supporting Haqqani’s HQN network and Mullah Omar’s QST network all these years while those networks have been causing daily deaths of US/NATO soldiers ever since 2002 even though Pakistan was SUPPOSED to have joined US fight against same Taliban back in 2001!
    The ISI is said to compensate families of suicide bombers to the tune of 200,000 Pakistani rupees, claims the report by Matt Waldman. Thus US aid to bankrupt Pakistan goes directly to finance the death of US/NATO soldiers in Afghanistan. So US it self is the silent partner of Pakistan in the death of US/NATO soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002.
    All American officers in southern Afghanistan know that they can not prevail in the ongoing military operations, unless Taliban strongholds across the Durand Line in North Waziristan and Baluchistan are neutralized. Adm Mullen and Gen Patraeus evidently do not want to acknowledge that hard options have to be considered if their soldiers are not to die at the hands of radicals, armed and trained across the Durand Line. This is where rubber meets the road for the famed General.
    According to Afghan Taliban commanders’ interviews with Matt Waldman, a Harvard Professor, the Pakistani ISI orchestrates, sustains and strongly influences the Taliban insurgency movement. The Afghan Taliban commanders also say that ISI gives sanctuary to both Taliban and Haqqani groups, and provides huge support in terms of training, funding, munitions, and supplies. In the words of these Afghan Taliban commanders, this is ‘as clear as the sun in the sky’.
    After having denied existence of Mullah Omar’s QST umpteen times on its soil, now Pakistan suddenly finds a way to bring about reconciliation between QST and Afghan government!
    The most breath-taking part of this sordid saga is that US is NOT holding Pakistan responsible for sheltering, protecting and supporting Haqqani’s HQN network and Mullah Omar’s QST network all these years while those networks have been causing daily deaths of US/NATO soldiers ever since 2002 even though Pakistan was SUPPOSED to have joined US fight against same Taliban back in 2001!
    The ISI is said to compensate families of suicide bombers to the tune of 200,000 Pakistani rupees, claims the report by Matt Waldman. Thus US aid to bankrupt Pakistan goes directly to finance the death of US/NATO soldiers in Afghanistan. So US it self is the silent partner of Pakistan in the death of US/NATO soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002

  6. Ahmad says:

    I should remind Mr. Minawar that when the Taliban came first to power Khalilzad was writting white paper in support of the Taliban. Can you explain us why, your uncle, was doing that? Don’t you think that your uncle, Khalilzad, is the one to be trialed over his consiperacies? Khalilzad’s ethnic centric approach and his involvement in fuel business, and his wrong advise to US, set the wrong foundation from the very begining in Afghanistan. How do you judge yourself and your family business and wrong doing in Afghanista?

  7. Khaleeq Farhai says:

    There is no doubt that ISI is Afghanistan ENEMY. We, Afghans, must take responsibility to rebuild Afghanistan and offer a peaceful future to our citizens. It will certainly inflict our honor as Afghans, for Pakis to rob us of our peaceful future.

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