Since the very beginning of our coverage of Af-Pak (August 9, 2008), we have argued that the conflict in Af-Pak is essentially a struggle of the Pakhtun against the Pakistani-Panjabi occupation of their land. The current conflict has its roots in the 1893 Durand Treaty that partitioned Afghanistan into North Afghanistan (today’s Afghanistan) & South Afghanistan (the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or Pakhtunistan provinces occupied by Pakistani-Panjabis).
This partition divided the Pakhtun people into two countries separated by the Durand Line, the current line of control between Afghanistan & Pakistan. The Afghanistan Government officially rejected this border in 1949. The Pakhtun tribesmen reject it today. The Pakhtun Taleban do not accept this border and they cross it in both directions at will.
The Pakhtun do not accept the occupation or the domination of Pakistan over their land. But the Pakhtun Taleban needed Pakistani Army’s support in their fight, first against the Soviets and then against the Americans. So they tolerated Pakistani Army’s activities in their land.
Now as America prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Pakhtun Taleban are getting less dependent on the Pakistani Army. This independence is showing up in increasing battles between the Pakhtun Taleban and the Pakistani Army. The center of this conflict is the Kunar province of Afghanistan. Pakistani Army has, according to media reports, fired up to 750 rockets into Kunar since May and the Pakhtun Taleban have attacked Pakistani Army outposts along the Kunar border.
A prominent figure in the Pakhtun Taleban is Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, or “Radio Mullah” as he is often called. According to an Associated Press article published in the Washington Post, Radio is a weapon used by Pakhtun Taleban against the Pakistani Army. As the article writes, “Mohammed was one of the most prominent militant radio personalities before the army invaded his enclave early last year in the Bajur tribal area, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.“
He slipped across to Kunar last year. As the American troops have moved out of Kunar, Maulvi Mohammed has resurfaced and with a vengeance. Last Monday, “around 60 Pakistani Taliban militants sent by Mohammed stormed a paramilitary checkpoint, killing one soldier and wounding three others“, according to the Associated Press article. What does Maulvi Mohammad want?
“Just like the Americans were defeated in Afghanistan and are withdrawing, the Pakistani army will soon leave Bajur,” said Mohammed over the radio, according to the article.
In other words, the Pakistani Army is a foreign occupier in Pakhtunistan as the Americans are and as the Soviets were. So when the Americans leave and the Pakhtun Taleban take control of Afghanistan, the Af-Pak conflict will move south into Pakistani-occupied Pakhtunistan.
Just like the war between the Taleban & US forces in Afghanistan, the Pakhtun-Pakistani conflict will be a vicious war of attrition resulting in covert, terrorist type attacks and orchestrated violence through out Pakistan & Pakhtunistan. Then Pakistan might look like Afghanistan looks today. If you doubt us, look at this week’s violence between the immigrant Pakhtuns and the local Mohajirs in Karachi, the commercial capital of Pakistan.
This is what we expected in our article on February 13, 2010. Based on the comments by Maulvi Mohammad, its chance of coming true are increasing.
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