• Monday, February 20, 2017

Afghans push for Taliban ‘safe zone’ to outflank Pakistan

Discussion in 'Afghanistan Defence Forum' started by Zarvan, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Zarvan

    Zarvan ELITE MEMBER

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    KABUL: Afghan officials are pushing to create a “safe zone” for Taliban insurgents in a bid to wean them away from traditional sanctuaries inside Pakistan, in a radical and contentious strategy to de-escalate the conflict.


    The plan underscores desperation in Afghanistan for out-of-the-box solutions to tackle the 15-year insurgency, as peace bids repeatedly fail and US-backed forces suffer record casualties in stalemated fighting.

    If implemented, the strategy — aimed at undercutting Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban — could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn nation where ceding territory to insurgents is seen as tantamount to partition.

    “I urge the Taliban to return to Afghanistan. We should make a safe zone for them and their families,” Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq told a gathering of religious scholars and tribal elders last month.

    “We can no longer rely on foreign governments and embassies to end the war. The Taliban belong to this country, they are sons of this soil.”

    That Raziq, arguably the most powerful commander in southern Afghanistan and long one of the staunchest anti-Taliban figures, would suggest such an idea amplified the shockwaves it created.

    “The government shouldn’t be giving safe zones to terrorists,” warned former Helmand governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, while some observers dismissed the strategy as “illogical” as the Taliban already control vast swathes of Afghan territory.

    Raziq did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but a senior security official told AFP the government’s goal “is to bring the Taliban from Pakistan to Afghanistan”.

    “We will separate a territory for them to come with their families. Then whether they want to fight or talk peace, they will be relieved from the pressure of Pakistan,” he said, speaking anonymously.

    – ‘Double game’ –
    Pakistan began supporting the Taliban movement of the 1990s as part of its policy of “strategic depth” against nemesis India.

    Seen by many Afghans as the biggest obstacle to lasting peace, Islamabad has long been accused of playing a “double game” in Afghanistan: endorsing Washington’s war on terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, while nurturing militant sanctuaries.

    After years of official denial, a top Pakistani official in 2016 admitted for the first time the Taliban enjoys safe haven inside his country, which Islamabad uses as a “lever” to pressure the group into talks with Kabul.

    However, Pakistan has hosted multiple rounds of talks ostensibly to jumpstart a peace process — without result.

    The “safe zone” strategy appears to have taken shape as prominent Taliban figures call to make the insurgency independent of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, which they accuse of manipulating the group.

    “The presence of our movement’s key decision makers and institutions inside Pakistan means they can impose things that are against the interests of our movement and Afghanistan,” Sayed Tayyeb Agha wrote in a letter last year to Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.

    “To be able to make independent decisions, our leadership… should leave Pakistan,” the former head of the Taliban’s political commission added in the letter seen by AFP.

    Afghanistan’s National Security Council did not officially confirm the government strategy, saying only: “The Taliban are allowed to relocate to Afghanistan under state protection.”

    The Afghan security official said the government was in contact with Taliban leaders over the proposal, a fact corroborated by militant sources in Pakistan.

    He refused to specify the potential location for the safe zone, and whether it will be immune from aerial bombardment or ground assault, but insisted no areas with military installations will be handed over.

    – Flawed strategy? –
    Speculation that the government was furtively trying to cede territory recently grew when local media cited secret military documents revealing Afghan forces were planning to retreat from two Helmand districts during a winter lull in fighting.

    Afghan officials dismissed the report, while also rejecting longstanding claims that the Taliban leadership council -– Quetta Shura -– has relocated to Afghanistan.

    But multiple insurgent sources told AFP that prominent members, including the Taliban’s military chief Ibrahim Sadr, recently moved to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

    “Ibrahim also urged Haibatullah to come to Afghanistan but he refused,” a top Quetta Shura member told AFP.

    Obaidullah Barakzai, an MP from Uruzgan province, argued that giving the Taliban a permanent address in Afghanistan would make it easier to convince them to participate in an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace dialogue without interference from our neighbour”.

    However Timor Sharan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the strategy was flawed.

    “It’s like asking the Taliban to leave their brick-built houses and settle in a tent in the desert with half-hearted guarantees that they will not be bombed,” Sharan told AFP.

    “The Taliban need to receive a strong assurance from coalition forces, in particular the US, before making the move.”

    But the Afghan security official insisted there was no military solution to the conflict.

    “If this plan does not work, Afghanistan will be ready for another tough year of fighting,” he said. –AFP

    https://www.samaa.tv/international/2017/01/afghans-push-for-taliban-safe-zone-to-outflank-pakistan/
     
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  2. war&peace

    war&peace ELITE MEMBER

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    Talibans are not fool enough to fall into their trap. The plan is to get them into a place and after they opt for non-militant struggle, disarm them and get them killed one by one by the terrorists of ANA and NDS
     
  3. pakistani342

    pakistani342 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Soon Taliban will be good terrorists.

    Afghanistan is now a hall of mirrors -- nobody knows what is happening.
     
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  4. SUPARCO

    SUPARCO SENIOR MEMBER

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    So basically, Afghanistan is looking to cede some territory to the Taliban.

    Good luck.
     
  5. pakistani342

    pakistani342 SENIOR MEMBER

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    One thing is probably true -- the situation in Afghanistan is increasingly more desperate
     
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  6. saiyan0321

    saiyan0321 SENIOR MEMBER

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    They are changing their positions very quickly. I think 2016 was more disastrous then they let on. First of all this is a 180 degree turn from their previous notion of Taliban being former fighters and not a civil war. In fact they went out of their way to shout that its not a civil war. However this statement showcases that its a civil war ( often when the word civil war is spoken, thoughts of armies, death and cities destroyed follow but that's not entirely true bcz civil war can be of any scale like any war. Smaller and larger).

    Then we go to safe zone. So basically they agree to the once touted in 2012 division of Afghanistan based on sphere of influences which were the NUG government and the Taliban ( words like talibanistan were uses for the division of the Taliban area) and Afghanistan responded negatively with many saying a second Durand line and hue and cry was raised. Now they themselves are suggesting a division based on sphere of influences where they won't engage each other.

    Frankly its a solution but the Taliban with capturing more territory each year and inflicting so many losses may not take Take offer.

    Plus there is a massive trust factor as the Taliban just don't trust the US and the NUG.

    As for good Taliban I thought they already were considering how well hekmatyar is being treated. They accept the deal and they are all good Taliban.
     
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  7. pakistani342

    pakistani342 SENIOR MEMBER

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    yes the Taliban seem to be really stubborn SOBs -- they're probably overplaying their hand -- anyhow conflict and destruction will continue for a few decades it seems in Afghanistan.
     
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  8. saiyan0321

    saiyan0321 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Agreed. They are confident and considering their funding ( the opium from Helmand and urzugan and the mine of badakshan not too menion other taxes from their controlled and contested districts as many contested districts mean not having taken over government buildings), they are in it for the long run. They must have some basis for their confidence.

    Maybe or maybe they don't trust the govt. Thinking if we enter like this we may be attacked however they should pursue this. It maybe the best option for the Taliban should bring in powers like China and Russia and stake holders like pakistan to make sure the deal is followed. The creation of "talibanistan" which does not wage war maybe the beat option.

    I am not even sure if its few decades. I think longer and the reason is the messed up fabric of the afghan society. Its completely and horribly based on war lords and war lords always go to war due to their power and economy being dependent on war. There was this news that the NUG was supporting a new war lord to fight against the Taliban and they gave him 100s of millions of dollars for his militia only for the media to discover that he is not interested in fighting rhe Taliban but a govt allied war lord whom he considers his true enemy. The society is extremely based on this primitive system and they will always find themselves clashing against each other and many may clash against the government in power.

    The nation was has been at war for 40 years and a generation has died without seeing a united Afghanistan ( as always portions of the country were away from state writ fighting each other and nor accepting the other's authority) and yet there is no end at sight. Its only getting worse.

    No action has been taken against them. Infact they have been empowered.