The Afghan National Army (ANA) is a service branch of the Military of Afghanistan currently being trained by the NATO forces to take over from them in Afghanistan, when they leave. But the ground reality is somewhat different.
On the ground, ANA and Taliban (both Pakistani and the Afghan) have an unwritten arrangement (specifically in Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Helmand and Ghazni provinces), where if ANA patrol goes into Taliban areas, they are not targeted. The consideration being arms, ammunition or rockets – which is then reported as “lost” while fighting the Taliban. On the other hand, when the ANA catch any Taliban, they ask for money and then release the Taliban guys.
Recently 7 young men were caught by the ANA in Afghanistan. They were from Pakistan and were in Afghanistan motivated by the Jehadi goals. Three of them were Enyatur Rahman (North-West Frontier Province – NWFP), Saeed (NWFP) and Imran (Punjab). There was an alarm in the Pakistani Taliban – and there was a need to get them back lest they spill the beans on the depth and breadth of the Jehadi network within Pakistan.
The negotiations this time were between a Pakistani taliban commander Mansoor and the ANA. ANA wanted USD 200k, but they were countered with USD 25k by Mansoor. The negotiations labored on. And in that time, ANA handed over the guys to the NATO forces.
What these guys said to the NATO officers created shock waves. They spilled the beans on how they were recruited and trained and about the Jehadi network. Also how this Jehadi network had strong affiliations with and ran several religious establishments.
That Taliban is what it is was known.. but here was a conclusive proof for NATO that there is very little, if any, differentiation between Taliban and the Jehadi network. The entire “syndicate”, as Hillary termed it in her hearing two weeks back, is basically ONE large animal! This is the first time I have heard ANY senior US official call it so. Pakistani Commentators like Zahid Hussain and Ahmed Rashid have always termed it in those terms, but external commentators were more charitable.
The movement, the goals and the aspirations between the organizations of this syndicate, are almost seamless! There is an understanding that there is enough, if not significant, backing from the ISI and Army to this syndicate.
So started a vigorous diplomatic offensive from the US. All the government actors were asked to work together – Sharif, Zardari etc. A power sharing formula is being forced between PML-N and PPP where Sharif and cronies will get their pound of flesh. If this duo cannot bury their hatchet, then some ensemble of Pak Army – synced with the US interests will take over.
In all this, it is clear that the Al Qaeda/Taliban/Jehadi network syndicate is not keeping quite. They know it. They are already are preparing for it. As Muslim Khan, Chief Spokesman of Tehrik-e-taliban suggests in this interview.
What we see is a strange situation – Centrifugal (from Latin centrum “center” and fugere “to flee“) forces from within.. and Centripetal forces from outside of the country.. trying to keep the country forcibly (and artificially?) in place.
When the people WITHIN believe and trust the Centrifugal forces MORE than the Centripetal forces, how long would it be before the Centripetal forces from outside lose? THAT is the worry of Obama Administration right now.
1. Exposed jihadis put Pakistan on the spot written by Syed Saleem Shahzad,Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief.