Shut Indian missions in Afghanistan: Pakistan Army chief

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, whose forces sponsor a large-scale guerrilla war through Afghan proxies to keep New Delhi out of Afghanistan, wants Indian consulates in the war-torn country to be closed, says a Canadian diplomat and former deputy head of the UN mission in Kabul.

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Chris Alexander, who was Canada’s ambassador in Kabul from 2003 to 2005 and later deputy of the UN mission until 2009, said Gen. Kayani is calling the shots on Afghanistan and prepared to support suicide attacks in Afghanistan’s cities.

The Pakistani general has even told President Hamid Karzai that he can broker a peace deal with the Taliban – only if Indian consulates in Afghanistan are closed.

Writing in the Globe and Mail under the title ‘The huge scale of Pakistan’s complicity’, Alexander said: “The Pakistan army under Gen. Kayani is sponsoring a large-scale, covert guerrilla war through Afghan proxies – whose strongholds in Balochistan and Waziristan are flourishing. Their mission in Afghanistan is to keep Pashtun nationalism down, India out and Mr. Karzai weak.”

“The principal drivers of violence are no longer, if they ever were, inside Afghanistan… ISI is the main driver of the conflict… Gen. Kayani and others will deny complicity. But as the WikiLeaks material demonstrates, their heavy-handed involvement is now obvious at all levels,” the Canadian diplomat said.

Because of this policy, he said “reconciliation has failed to get off the ground: the Pakistan-based Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the official name for the Taliban and its allies – clearly prefer to fight”.

Without Pakistani military support, “the Islamic Emirate’s combat units would collapse like a house of cards. Peace and reconciliation would prosper”, he said.

Giving many examples of how Gen. Kayani controls the principal drivers of the Afghan violence, the Canadian diplomat said: “First, in February, Pakistan’s security forces began arresting a dozen or so Taliban leaders – whose presence on their soil they had always noisily denied – presumably because these insurgent commanders had shown genuine, independent interest in reconciliation.

“Second, the chief of Pakistan’s army staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, this year once again successfully resisted US pressure to launch military operations in Balochistan and North Waziristan, where the Islamic Emirate is based.

“Third, Gen Kayani told Mr. Karzai this spring that the condition for peace in Afghanistan would be the closing of several Indian consulates, while offering to broker deals with Islamic Emirate leaders, whom he considers a `strategic asset’.

“Fourth, Gen Kayani blithely told a Washington audience that he remained wedded to `strategic depth’ – that is, to making Afghanistan the kind of proprietary hinterland for Pakistan, free of Indian or other outside influence, which it was from 1992 to 2001.”

He said the Pakistan army’s interference in Afghanistan violates the UN Charter and poses a threat to world peace. “It deserves serious discussion in multilateral forums, including the UN.”

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])