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Afghanistan: That Is The Way


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March 12, 2020:

Abdullah Abdullah, the loser in the September presidential election, insists he is the legitimate president and is issuing orders to government officials who are caught in the middle of a power struggle between the election winner, the Taliban and the United States. The Americans are trying to get an Afghan government to cooperate with negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban, This would enable the U.S. troops to be withdrawn. This situation is complicated by the fact that the elected Afghan government in general does not trust the Taliban and refuses to do what the Americans want because the U.S. has gone along with Taliban demands that negotiations between the Taliban and the U.S. exclude the Afghan government.

Most Afghans see the Taliban offer to negotiate as a scam because the Afghan Taliban are doing whatever Pakistan wants. The Pakistani Taliban, who have no Pakistani support are basically at war with the Pakistan government and are much smaller than their Afghan counterparts. The Afghan Taliban has always enjoyed a sanctuary in Pakistan, across the border from Helmand province, where Afghans produce most of the world heroin supply. Pakistan, or at least the Pakistani military, support the Afghan drug gangs as well by allowing, for a large fee, raw materials for turning opium plan sap into Heroin to go from Pakistan to Helmand and for most of the heroin to be smuggled through Pakistan to the port of Karachi where the illegal drug can be smuggled to markets worldwide. The Afghan drug gangs pay the Afghan Taliban to protect the drug operations from foreign or Afghan interference. This is how most Afghans see the situation, as well as the millions of Afghan addicts made possible by availability of so much opium and heroin in the country. While most of this stuff is exported some of it is sold locally, at much lower price than for foreign users. There are equally large numbers of addicts in Pakistan and Iran and the people in all those countries agree that the drug problem exists because of unofficial Pakistani support. That Pakistani support is justified by the Pakistani obsession with “controlling “Afghanistan even if it means supporting an Islamic form of government that would not be tolerated in Pakistan and the heroin production that is condemned by the people and governments of Afghanistan and all its neighbors.


The American attitude is that it will trust the Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani patrons only so far as the terms of any deal are observed. The Pakistani generals think they can play all this to their advantage. That would change if there were a change of government in Iran. The religious dictatorship there is losing control because of decades of misrule, corruption and bad-behavior towards its own people. A new Iran government would probably be less anti-American and more willing to work with the Americans and Indians to reduce or eliminate Pakistani influence in Afghanistan along with the Afghan drug production. That would be very bad news for the Pakistani generals.

The U.S. believes that the Islamic terrorist threat to Pakistan would encourage Pakistan to prevent the Afghan Taliban from again, as they did in the late 1990s, provide sanctuary for international Islamic terrorist organizations. The Pakistani government has always supported some of those inside Pakistan, but only as long as these groups only attacked targets that Pakistan military approved of. These usually included India and Afghan government forces and their foreign allies.

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