This happened circa 1995 during a visit to northern Afghanistan to meet Gen. Rashid Dostum. It so happened that the then Pakistani interior minister Naseerullah Babar also came to town with a Taliban delegation that included late Mullah Rabbani who was number 2 in the hierarchy. (Rabbani died of cancer in a London hospital.) Babar was on a mission to introduce Rabbani to Dostum.
Dostum later narrated that Babar made a nice little presentation about the infinite possibilities of a working relationship between him and the Taliban, and thereafter gently tapped Rabbani with his baton and asked him to say a few words (Babar used to be a 2-star general and always carried a baton) — as if the reputed Taliban boss was a little mongrel on a tight Pakistani leash.
Of course, Rabbani felt greatly embarrassed, but it was obvious to everyone present that the Taliban had no identity and were mere playthings of the Pakistani security establishment.
This little story always came to mind whenever anyone posed the big question regarding Pakistan’s control over the Taliban. A myth has come into being that Taliban are lords and masters of their domain and Pakistani security establishment is helpless. Even knowledgeable, esteemed Pakistani commentators like Rahimullah Yusufzai keep falling
The myth gets a big hand from a commentary in the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine titled “The quiet rise of the Quetta Shura”. It appears Quetta Shura is so openly present in Baluchistan under the watchful eyes of the Pakistani security establishment, even running hospitals to treat young Talibs wounded in operations against the US and NATO forces.
Obviously, Pakistani security establishment has a nexus with the Taliban. But how does it work? The article says: “But there is a difference between all out support and an effort to influence militant organizations… The Pakistan Army… does not have the ability to fully control militias. However, in warfare militaries do try to maintain communication channels with these groups in order to influence them through either direct or indirect means. The efforts of the Pakistan Army to influence the groups are at times taken out of context, and amplified in the media as direct sponsoring and support of terrorism.”
Got it? It’s as simple as that. So, the myth lingers on. The FP article is here
Posted in Military, Politics.
– August 15, 2012