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CENTCOM’s two Pakistani ‘consultants’ cause unease in Delhi

* Ahmed Rashid, Shuja Nawaz to advise US Central Command chief Petraeus on war plans in Afghanistan and Iraq

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Two Pakistani ‘security consultants’ – Ahmed Rashid and Shuja Nawaz – picked up to advise US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen David Petraeus, are raising eyebrows in New Delhi.
According to a report in the Indian press, monitored here, “Ahmed Rashid, an acknowledged authority on the Taliban and Afghanistan, and Shuja Nawaz, author of a book on the Pakistan Army, have been named ‘consultants’ at the classified review starting in Florida this weekend. The aim is to review the war plans in Afghanistan and Iraq as the Barack Obama administration considers the wisdom of a troop surge in Afghanistan. About 100 military specialists, known as the Joint Strategic Assessment Team, will help with the wide-ranging assessment and are expected to report in February. They will be helped by policy officials from the participating countries.

India’s concern stems from the possibility that Rashid’s latest recommendation of the ‘grand bargain’ to solve Afghanistan’s mammoth problems of security and terrorism may have found fertile ground in the Obama set. Certainly, the central argument in the article draws the same connections between ‘solving’ terrorism in Afghanistan and ‘solving’ Kashmir that Obama has been advocating for a while, including in the same journal some time ago.”

What is being taken exception to in New Delhi is a recommendation made by Ahmed Rashid and Barnett Rubin in a recent article in the Foreign Affairs quarterly that Pakistan would be persuaded to stop supporting terrorism if India can be persuaded to solve Kashmir, which they argue to be a bigger strategic threat to Pakistan than terrorists on their soil, which ‘can be controlled’. The two Afghanistan experts also suggest in the article the following: Pakistan should not be ‘pressured’, because its security establishment believes that it is threatened by a US-India-Afghan alliance to dismember Pakistan. Pakistan’s military command continues to believe the two-nation theory and wants Kashmir to be incorporated into the South Asian homeland for Muslims. To this extent, Afganistan, is “within Pakistan’s security perimeter”. Pakistan continues to believe that the Indian threat is superior to stabilising Afghanistan. The article goes on to recommend a “contact group on the region authorised by the UN Security Council”. This contact group promote a “dialogue between India and Pakistan about their respective interests in Afghanistan and about finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute”.

According to the article, the rest of the world should be involved in a single exercise – to “reassure Pakistan” that it is under no threat. And the best way to do that would be to “resolve Kashmir”. Only then will Pakistan lift its umbrella of support of terrorists and terrorism. In short, Pakistan should be rewarded for its support to terrorism. They wrote, “A central purpose of the contact group would be to assure Pakistan that the international community is committed to its territorial integrity – and to help resolve the Afghan and Kashmir border issues so as to better define Pakistan’s territory,” the article says. For good measure, the US should consider a nuclear deal for Pakistan and India should “become more transparent” about its activities in Afghanistan.\11\09\story_9-11-2008_pg7_14


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