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Afghanistan must end state of denial, says leading Afghan daily

Kabul, Aug.11 : An article in a leading daily of Afghanistan has called for Afghanistan to end its state of denial, and to seek the help of the West to scuttle Pakistan’s attempted stratagem of scuttling its ongoing progress towards democracy.

According to the article that appeared recently in the Afghanistan Times, Pakistan’s involvement in developments in Afghanistan over the past decade-and-a-half is glaring to the point of being overbearing.

Citing the secrecy surrounding the delayed recent announcement of the death of the Taliban’s reclusive one-eyed leader Mullah Omar as an example, the Afghanistan Times editorial while accepting of this fact as a “need to preserve the cohesiveness of the group”, questions the “circumstances” and the “mystery” behind how he eventually died.

The editorial touches on the evolution of the Taliban’s march to power in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 very briefly, before moving on to scrutinize the relationship between the Taliban leadership and the Government of Pakistan post-2001.

The article is very clear and upfront about the larger than life role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the Taliban leadership set-up, going so far as to indirectly suggest that it eliminated one of Mullah Omar’s chosen two deputies Mullah Obaidullah in 2010, and undermined the influence of the second Mullah Baradar.

The article also establishes the similarity in the mystery surrounding the deaths of both Mullah Omar and Mullah Obaidullah. Both of their deaths were or have been reported and confirmed years after they actually occurred. If Mullah Obaidullah’s death was only reported in 2012, Mullah Omar’s 2013 death has been confirmed only this year.

In the case of Mullah Baradar, the editorial reveals that Afghan officials were only able to see him in 2013, and that too in a sedated state, and not in a position to converse.

The Afghanistan Times editorial indicates that the reported elimination of Mullah Omar by Pakistan’s ISI was due to his unwillingness to pursue peace talks with the official Afghan leadership on terms laid down by the ISI, despite him being propped up in the 1990s as the sole unifying figure of the group.

Predicting that Mullah Omar’s mysterious death will be analysed in the days and months ahead, the article, however, says that what attracts more attention at this point in time is the “question of Afghanistan’s sovereignty as a nation state.”

“It is about a nation longing to resurrect its identity and take ownership over its destiny, but is held hostage to the parochial interests of its neighbor (Pakistan),” says the editorial ominously.

To substantiate this claim, it cites the hosting of Osama bin Laden (killed in Abbotabad in 2011) and his deputies Ayman al Zawahiri (still at large) and Khaled Sheikh Mohammad (captured in 2003), and several other Al Qaeda leaders.

It says that Pakistan’s insistence of not having any knowledge or information of these leaders residing on its soil stands exposed, but adds that what is even more staggering is the international community’s state of denial about Pakistan’s intentions.

The article is clear that there can be no doubt of Pakistan being in control of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban leaderships.

As it says, “It (Pakistan) strategically identifies those terrorists that it wants to host and cultivate as its assets, and those who can be dispensed with.”

The article talks candidly about the ISI’s “direct” support of Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafeez Saeed , and how he continues to move around freely across Pakistan despite being held responsible for the terror strikes in India in 2008.

The editorial concludes by saying that conversation should be about the “nature of the international community’s relations with a state (Pakistan) that does not flinch in its support for terrorism and terrorist groups, and yet, continues to advertise its helplessness against the same groups that it habours.”

Afghanistan, it says must not abandon its experiment with democracy, nor allow itself to be sunk under a conspiracy from Pakistan. (ANI)