• =?UTF-8?Q?The_Real_Winner_of_the_Afghan_War=3F_It=E2=80=99s_Not_Who_Yo?

    From (David P.)@21:1/5 to All on Fri Aug 27 00:47:51 2021
    The Real Winner of the Afghan War? It’s Not Who You Think.
    By Jane Perlez, 8/26/21, New York Times

    Though Pakistan was supposed to be an American ally, it
    always worked toward its own interests, as nations do.
    Those interests did not include a large American military
    presence on its border, an autonomous Afghanistan with a
    democratic government it could not control, or a strong
    and centralized military.

    Rather, Pakistan’s goal in Afghanistan was to create a
    sphere of influence to block its archnemesis, India. The
    Pakistanis insist that India uses separatist groups like
    the Balochistan Liberation Army, operating from havens in
    Afghanistan, to stir dissent in Pakistan.

    “The Pakistani army believes Afghanistan provides strategic
    depth against India, which is their obsession,” said Bruce
    Riedel, a former South Asia adviser to the Bush & Obama
    admins. “The U.S. encouraged India to support the American-
    backed Afghan govt after 2001, fueling the army’s paranoia.”

    The Pakistanis were incensed that former President Obama
    visited India in 2015 but conspicuously boycotted Pakistan,
    he said.
    “The Afghan Taliban would not be where they are without
    the assistance of the Pakistanis,” Mr. London said.

    Washington’s relationship with Pakistan cooled after Navy
    SEALS killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 at a safe house
    located near a Pakistani military academy. Top American
    officials stopped visiting Pakistan & assistance was reduced.

    But the Obama admin never said publicly what it suspected:
    that the Pakistani military knew all along that bin Laden
    was living with his extended family in Abbottabad, one of
    Pakistan’s best-known garrison towns.

    If Washington had declared that Pakistan was harboring
    bin Laden, then Pakistan would have legally been a state
    sponsor of terrorism, and subject to mandatory sanctions
    like Iran, said Mr. Riedel.

    That would have forced the Americans to end its support
    for Pakistan and that in turn, would have led Pakistan to
    stop American war supplies from transiting Pakistan,
    increasing the cost of the war.

    The bin Laden raid played into longstanding fears within
    the Pakistani military that the Americans wanted to
    dismantle Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and would violate
    Pakistani territory to do it.

    Despite the strained relations, the U.S. continues to
    work with Pakistan thru the Dept of Energy to help provide
    security for the weapons, & fissile material, said Toby
    Dalton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the
    Carnegie Endowment.

    But Pakistan is also agile in its alliances. China, a
    longtime patron of Pakistan — they call each other as
    “close as lips and teeth” — is investing heavily in
    Pakistani infrastructure.

    Publicly, China says it is cheered to see the Americans
    exit Afghanistan, and is ready to step into the void,
    expanding its Belt and Road initiative into Afghanistan,
    where it hopes to extract minerals.

    But privately, the Chinese are wary. Chinese workers in
    Pakistan have been killed in terrorist attacks, which
    could presage a rough ride in Afghanistan. And the Taliban
    prefer isolation to roads and dams that could serve to
    loosen their control on the population.

    China is counting on Pakistan to serve as its facilitator
    in Afghanistan, said Sajjan Gohel, International Security
    Director of the Asia-Pacific Foundation in London.

    “The Chinese appear confident that they will be able to
    secure more security guarantees from the Taliban,” Mr.
    Gohel said, “because of their mutual ties with Pakistan.”


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