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AFGHANISTAN: Kerry-Kayani Secret Deal Stinks

Paper No. 5515                                          Dated 24-Jun-2013

By Dr Subhash Kapila

“Afghan Revelations: Pak-US Secret Diplomacy Created Doha Roadmap”---The Express Tribune, Pakistan. Headline, June 20 2013

“The Haqqanis are no longer the bull’s-eye of US military operations. They are no longer in the ‘kill or capture and be rewarded’ category. They are part and parcel of the team that would represent Mullah Omar with which Washington is deeply engaged,”---Pakistan Foreign Ministry official quoted in the above Pakistani newsreport.

The United States in its desperation to exit Afghanistan by end-2014 has seemingly let its new Pro-Pakistan US Secretary of State run loose in striking a bargain with Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani without considering the lateral strategic fallouts in the region.

The United States secret deal brokered by Secretary of State Kerry with Pakistan Army Chief stinks of duplicity and backstabbing the Afghan President besides betraying India which has sizeable and legitimate strategic national security interests in Afghanistan.

The Kerry-Kayani deal stinks because in a manner unbecoming the standing of a global power, the US Secretary of State capitulated to all the demands of the Pakistan Army Chief on Afghanistan, namely:

  • Direct US peace talks with Afghan Taliban in Doha, Qatar where the US facilitated the opening of what the Afghan Taliban proclaimed as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
  • US reconciliation with America’s inveterate foes of more than a decade in the Afghan War, namely Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the Haqqani brothers. Both these entities were responsible for suicide bombings and attacks on US Forces in Afghanistan.
  • US agreeing to work towards reframing of the Afghan Constitution to cater for Taliban power-sharing in Kabul, on departure of US Forces.
  • The notorious Haqqani warlords listed by the US State Department as global terrorists would no longer be on the target list. They will be honoured by Washington by allowing them to sit on the high table of negotiations.

In essence what the US Secretary of State Kerry has done through this secret deal with the Pakistan Army Chief is to “Revert Afghanistan to SQUARE ONE”, as it existed on the eve of US military intervention in 2001. “Operation- INFINITE JUSTICE” which was the original name of US military intervention in Afghanistan is now being brought to an ignoble end and this US operation can best be titled now as “Operation- INFINITE STRATEGIC BLUNDER”

In case this secret Kerry –Kayani Deal is not aborted by President Obama and allowed to fructify, it has all the damaging potential for:

  • Hastening the partition of Afghanistan
  • Destabilisation of the entire Af-Pak region
  • Domestic political conflict between PM Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani outgrowing his boots because of Kerry’s patronage,
  • Talibanisation of Pakistan
  • Strategic turbulence on the Indian Sub-Continent
  • Embedment of China’s military in Afghanistan courtesy Pakistan Army and the Taliban being accorded political legitimacy as part of the secret Kerry-Kayani deal.
  • Rendering President Karzai, the duly elected President of Afghanistan, installed by the United States itself, as dispensable in the course of pursuance of US traditional policies of ‘political expediency’. By doing this the United States would lose all political credibility on any future role in Afghanistan’s affairs. Indicative of this fact was the Afghan President breaking off the security dialogue with the United States.
  • Irretrievably damaging the already floundering US-India Strategic Partnership. As I wrote  in a recent Paper of mine that the US-India Strategic Partnership was neither “Strategic” nor a “Partnership”
  • Possible emergence of an alternative grouping to promote Afghanistan’s security and stability of Russia-Iran-India which I recommended in one of my earlier Papers on Afghanistan.

Besides the telling and lasting damage that would accrue to United States strategic image of being labelled as a “Strategic Loser”, nowhere will this adverse image find more resonance than in East Asia where the United States is trying to rebalance its Force Deployments against The China Threat.

Presumably, the US Secretary of State is oblivious to all of the above weighed down by an unseemly hurry to scoot from Afghanistan and to reinvent the role of his long-time friend-the Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani. One would not be surprised as reflected in a very recent Paper of mine on Pakistan that the United States might prevail on PM Nawaz Sharif to give General Kayani a second extension to cover the US exit from Pakistan. Or better still position General Kayani as the next President of Pakistan.

The unseemly hurry which US Secretary of State Kerry exhibited to clinch this secret Afghanistan deal with the Pakistan Army Chief needs to be viewed contextually against the background of Pakistan’s domestic political environment during the period February-May 2013 when Pakistan had a Caretaker Government and all political indicators pointed to emergence of Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister in May 2013.

Was it not incumbent upon the United States to await installation of Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister and then hammer out a US-Pak deal on US exit from Afghanistan? What was the infernal hurry for Kerry to do so unless there were ulterior motives to do so? That is why the Kerry-Kayani deal stinks.

But no, the US Secretary of State wanted to steamroll this diabolical deal with the Pakistan Army Chief, without waiting for the democratic processes in Pakistan to roll out and over the hapless head of the Afghan President. The name of the game is political expediency triggered by US uncertainties on Afghanistan in 2014.

Since Kerry could not meet with General Kayani in Pakistan for obvious reasons, meetings between the two were contrived in Amman, Jordan and in Brussels besides a flurry of US officials to Islamabad to thrash out the details of the secret deal bypassing the civilian government in Pakistan. All of this during the political vacuum in the run-up to Pakistan’s General Elections in May 2013.

India may like to learn some lessons from the Pak Army Chief in terms of leverages used by him to force US Secretary of State to capitulate to Pakistani demands of according primacy to Pakistan Army in its Afghan blueprint designed for exit of UC forces in 2014:

  • The Taliban Card
  • The Iran Card
  • The China Card.

The United States complete turn-around from its declared policies in the hey-day of its much vaunted ‘Global War on Terrorism’ and now seeking reconciliation with the perpetrators of 9/11 besmirches the hallowed memories of the victims of 9/11 and also the thousands of US and NATO Forces who it now seems needlessly sacrificed their lives for a greater cause.

The helpless peaceful civilian population of Afghanistan brutalised by medieval Islamic fanaticism of Pakistan Army -installed Taliban regime in Kabul in the 1990s seem foredoomed to be once more consigned to a similar fate, this time by US policies of political expediency.

Even the people of Pakistan should ponder whether they can trust the Pakistan Army hierarchy which has repeatedly displayed the propensity of striking dubious deals with the United States, without bothering about Pakistan’s national security interests.

The Pakistani people need to ask their Army Chief as to what national security interests of Pakistan are served when as a result of this dubious secret deal with the Americans, all that Pakistan would get on both its flanks are a further embattled and turbulent Afghanistan and an India more distrustful of the Pakistan Army. The heightened tensions on Pakistan’s both flanks would be detrimental to Pakistan’s security and Pakistan reverting to an economic collapse because of exorbitant defence expenditure.

The Pakistan Army Chief and consequently Pakistan would be strategically jolted severely when in the aftermath of this stinking Kerry-Kayani Deal, the ‘Strategic Depth” that Pakistan Army seeks in Afghanistan through this deal would be more elusive than ever before.

Lastly, politics of expediency put in place by the United States through the secret Kerry-Kayani deal would have a strategic blow-back with India, (if not under the present Government, but definitely in the next Government to follow), as the regional power on the Indian Sub-Continent revising its “Strategic Trust” in the United States as a responsible stakeholder in Indian Sub-Continent’s security and parking its strategic preferences elsewhere.