What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Two takes on the Karzai-Musharraf meeting

MStFB Spillover Monitor Report Update No. 8:2 The original report and its previous update
Two identical takes make up three together with mine - at least three sources, cited for you here on MStFB, that expect nothing too significant to come out of the April 30 meeting in Ankara between President Karzai of Afghanistan and President Musharraf of Pakistan.
In the run-up to this meeting Pakistani President Musharraf, speaking in Spain, said such things like for instance that "Those who say that the ISI [Pakistani military intelligence] helps the Taliban because we want a weak Afghanistan are liars", and that "Those who do nothing against terrorism, like Karzai, are also the ones who criticize those who are fighting, like us". Also, as the leader of a country that did a lot to get Talibs organised, and from the direction of which radical streams of thought such as Deobandism have reached Afghanistan, he says that the Taliban were 'imported' from Aghanistan. That certainly doesn't indicate any opening.
Neither is there anything like that in connection with the issue of fencing along the Afghan-Pakistani border by Pakistan. Pakistanis say they'll raise the fence no matter what, while Afghans say they'll stop that from happening no matter if Pakistan says no matter what. (Most sources doubt if fencing could really be of use against Talib infiltration across the border, given that Pakistani army personnel would be needed to fire at anyone held up by the fence, should such people try to break through it. As I pointed out in an earlier post, a tribal jirga in Wana, which according to the International Crisis Group normally acts as a loyal voting machine for Pakistani state authorities, has given its backing to the idea of fencing, while it hasn't backed the harsher possible measure of mining the border area. Assuming that the jirga, even if it really is a voting machine, can't really act against the most basic wishes of the community it supposedly represents, especially now, with militants having gained significant ground in places like the two Waziristan agencies, fencing probably can't hurt the interests of the Pashtun tribes that much, and such interests of course include the chance to move relatively freely across the Afghan border.)
So, as to the views I promised to deliver to you:
Péter Wagner wrote today on his blog that 1) the last time the two Presidents met was in Washington towards the end of last year, when they even failed to shake hands, despite being encouraged to do so; 2) the two take totally opposing stances regarding who's to blame for the Talib problem - there would thus be much ground to cover to get to a common position; 3) both leaders are hostages in the turmoil of their respective domestic politics - Musharraf is facing all sorts of protests (including ones because of the controversial removal of the Pakistani Supreme Court's chief judge by Musharraf, at the beginning of March) and Islamists 'testing' his rule even in the capital more and more.
Nevertheless Péter does note certain developments that are favourable to the Afghan side as well as to ISAF, such as e.g. that Talib units are known to have been attacked in recent times shortly upon having crossed the border into Afghanistan, which might suggest ISI assistance to ISAF forces involved in these instances; or that Pakistan has used its tribal clients against foreign militants, such as Uzbeks, in the tribal territories with some success recently.
(I would call the latter a kind of internal proxy war - I will in future posts pay more attention to that subject.)
The Safrang blog also concludes that the meeting could turn out to be worse than a vanity fair, recalling that at the already mentioned Washington meeting the two Presidents have, according to one eyewitness account, even kicked each other in the shin under the dinner table (shouldn't have been seated beside each other, apparently). The Safrang also notes, however, that Turkey could actually be an ideal location for something meaningful to take place. On the one hand, for Musharraf, who loves to present himself in the West as a pro-Western, almost democratic (hindered by the circumstances), and definitely secular-minded and thus indisposable kind of friendly strongman, Kemal Ataturk and Turkey's lasting secularism are examples to look at with admiration. He has also, actually, spent part of his childhood in that country. On the other hand Turkey has been in previous times a key contributor to ISAF in Afghanistan, and back before 2001 it supported Northern Alliance commanders such as Rashid Dostum, against the Taliban. So it won't be the choice of location to blame for any outcome the US wouldn't appreciate.
As to the role played by the US, the Safrang has this to say: "the real common denominator for all three countries can be found in the three capital letters: U.S.A.".

1 comment:

hamesha: said...

Nice summary of the run-up to the Ankara meeting. I should briefly point out that the kick-in-the-shin incident witnessed by a WH valet was more the stuff of my imagination than reality -it was meant as a joke, but apparently I should have tried to make it more clear.
I will be posting again about the results of the Ankara meet soon on Safrang.
Glad to have found your blog MStFB - I have posted a link on Safrang.