Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Back to the Future in Afghanistan

There's a lot of interesting stuff brewing between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, according to the Asia Times' Ramtanu Maitra.

For one, Maitra writes, "the Taliban and al-Qaeda are being nurtured, not in some inaccessible terrain along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border but in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's Balochistan province where the Pakistan Army and the ISI have a major presence." Such developments remind Afghan President Hamid Karzai "of the pre-September 11 days when Pakistan was fully backing the Taliban and exercising ever-more-strident control over Afghanistan."

Even more curious, however, is the American silence over this. Rather than support, Karzai has been offered empty platitudes by American representatives, causing him to express concern that Afghanistan is on the verge of being "sub-contracted" to Pakistan.

Maitra does not view this fear as being misplaced, either. He concludes that the ambitious plans for Afghanistan have likely been scuttled, and Washington has "deemed it time to give up the 'Marshall Plan for Afghanistan' and settle for next best - Taliban rule in Afghanistan under Pakistani control, once again."