Afghanistan-KP-China-Taleban-ISIS-Women – Back to a New Great Game?

 

Wow! How much happened in just a week? Let us begin with the China-NaPakistan relationship, described as  “A Friendship Higher than Himalayas, Deeper than Ocean“. And the China-NaPak Economic Corridor (CPEC) does begin at the Khunjerab Pass in the Himayalan range and ends in the Arabian Sea at Gwadar.

Now compare this “corridor” with the ethnic map of NaPakistan below (courtesy of National Geographic).

1.Ocean End of China-NaPak corridor

You will notice that the corridor ends at Gwadar, a strategically situated port near the opening of the Straits of Hormuz, the lifeline of Oil flows from the Middle East to the rest of the world. China is building a major port at Gwadar & hopes to make it a de facto Chinese naval base. Notice however that Gwadar sits inside the province of Balochistan, or the province of the Balochi people. 

Most know the Chinese way of using Chinese fishing fleets to take de facto control of the harbor areas of neighbors & friends. This has been implemented to perfection against the Philippines on the other side of the Indo-Pacific ocean region. But China is learning that Balochistan is NOT the Philippines. Look what happened to the Deeper than Ocean friendship this week:

  • Jeff M. Smith@Cold_Peace_ Jul 15 – “Pakistan has detained five Chinese trawlers on suspicion of illegal fishing near its strategic port city of Gwadar, as a wave of protests swept across the region led by fishers concerned about losing control of their fishing grounds to China.”

The Guardian article titled Pakistan detains five Chinese trawlers for alleged illegal fishing describes the double-dealing by NaPaki Prime Minister Imran Khan:

  • … when the prime minister, Imran Khan, visited Gwadar on 5 July, he assured locals that no Chinese trawlers had been awarded licenses to fish within the 12-nautical-mile limit. But other reports suggest about 100 Chinese trawlers have been granted licenses.”

The issue to the Balochi fishermen is simple as Akbar Raess, a fisher for five decades, told the Guardian:

  • This sea provides us a living. The Chinese trawlers are here to end our livelihood. We will protest against them until the government stops granting them fishing rights,” he said. … “Before the beginning of the CPEC and Gwadar port [deal], we were told that it would change our lives by bringing development and employment for us,” Raees said. “But we are losing our livelihoods and the sea.

Frankly, there is NO ethnic or linguistic reason for the Balochis to remain inside NaPakistan. This province has been within India and within Iran until 1947. And neither India nor Iran want China in Gwadar. The US doesn’t like the idea of Chinese Navy at the entry of the Straits of Hormuz either. 

The trouble is NaPaki army reportedly has a bigger presence in Balochistan than the Balochi people. It might be a different story when Napaki army needs its troops to be elsewhere.  

2. KP & the Himalayan Beginning

The China-NaPak corridor begins in the NaPak-occupied territory of Kashmir and then enters the Khyber PakhtunKhawa (KP) region or “the land of the Pakhtuns on this side of Khyber (pass)“. So KP is Pakhtun land & is Napaki only in name and that too courtesy of a British diplomat named Durrand who partitioned the Pakhtuns in 1893. 

Now focus on the small area north of Abbottabad (where Osama Bin Laden was sheltered) & above the red CPEC corridor line in the top map above. Actually focus on the map below, especially on Dasu. China is building a dam near Dasu on the Indus River in the land of the Pakhtuns.

This week a blast on or near a shuttle bus reportedly killed 9 Chinese who were working on the Chinese hydroelectric projects.  This shocked the Chinese and Premier Li Keqiang demanded answers & action from Napak government. The South China Morning Post described it as a “delicate moment” for China & NaPakistan. 

It seems that the abusive behavior of Chinese is creating substantial anger & friction in Napakistan. A Chinese man was (per News 18, a CNBC affiliate) arrested for allegedly pushing Pakistani worker into furnace for failing to understand orders. 

   

The photograph on the right above is reportedly a brawl in which Chinese workers get angry when stopped from visiting a brothel. And the same search reveals a YouTube clip that shows the Chinese beating up NaPakistani Police. 

So the Napaki Goverment of Imran Khan, a Pakhtun himself, is finding itself in a vice between Chinese demands & the anger of the average Pakhtun. And we haven’t even gotten into Pakhtuns in Afghanistan yet. 

3. Women in Talebani Afghanistan

The first we heard of this horrific edict was from the tweet of a Deputy Asia Editor and a journalist:

  • Rituparna Chatterjee@MasalaBai“All imams and mullahs in captured areas should provide the Taliban with a list of girls above 15 and widows under 45 to be married to Taliban fighters.” Frightening news pours in from Afghanistan which will take women’s rights back several decades

The story was first broken by Dawn, a leading newspaper inside NaPakistan. For a detailed look at this including the Talebani Fatwa & a video of Talebani Court administering 40 lashes to a woman for “adultery”, watch the disturbing YouTube clip below:

 

And the dust left by US planes leaving Afghanistan has not even settled yet. The real question is what did the 20-year US military control of Afghanistan achieve? Zilch, is the answer. 

Frankly (& our stomach turns as we write this), this is very simple. The Taleban fought their fight for their land & their values. They fought against the world’s solitary superpower and won. The Superpower, sensibly, packed up and left. 

What you see above is the conservative Pakhtun way and it has been the same for centuries. Pakhtun commanders invading India often brought their women contingent with them. But if the Afghans lost and had to withdraw, the Pakhtun commander would giver orders for his wives & women to be put to death. That made the escape back to Afghanistan easier & avoided the utter shame of the wives being captured by the enemy. 

This reality is the other side of the fanatical fervor with which the Taleban fought for “their” Afghanistan”, the country of their values & traditions. No tamed modern group of men could have achieved what they did. 

The big question is whether these values remain bottled up inside their Afghanistan or whether they are exported back to Khyber Pakhtunkhawa & Napakistan or up to Tajikistan & Uzbekistan.  

 

4. Taleban and or vs. Napakistan

Whatever might happen in the near future, today Taleban & Napak are allies & partners. Look at what happened this week at Spin Boldak, a major Afghani border post on the border with NaPakistan: 

 

The Taleban have captured this border crossing. It is not only the key to large border tax revenues for the Taleban but it is also sacrosanct given that Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taleban, came from Kandahar. The Afghan government ran this post when US was in Afghanistan. Now Taleban run it. Why don’t Afghan forces take it back?

  • Amrullah Saleh@AmrullahSaleh2July 15 – Breaking: Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas

Mr. Saleh may be the First Premier of Afghanistan Government but he is NOT a Pashtun and the Taleban consider him to be a key enemy inside “their” Afghanistan. And whatever might happen later between Pakhtuns & NaPakistan, today they are firm allies. After all, NaPakistan wants Afghanistan as their own vassal backyard while families of senior Taleban leaders live inside NaPakistan. 

So while Amrullah Saleh might protest and sound off, he & his minorities have little chance unless they get their own foreign backer like Russia.  

 

5. Tehreek-e-Taleban or ISIS

Let’s get back to this week’s order by the Taleban to parents to give up their daughters above 15 to Talebani fighters. Does this remind you of anything? Isn’t that what ISIS did to Yazidi women during their early conquests in Syria? 

The Pakhtuns have always protected their women and to them a woman’s honor is all to the family. That is why the recent order surprised us. That made us wonder whether that group of Taleban in the north was actually an ISIS faction. There have been reports in the past couple of years about ISIS infiltration of Taleban. Apparently, the Afghani Pakhtun Taleban are too mild for the fanatical ISIS adherents in Afghanistan. 

The two might join up in the early period of winning over Afghanistan & consolidating their power. But, given the history of ISIS, the two may not remain allies for long. Also the ISIS-friendly wing of the Taleban, called Tehreek-e-Taleban is an enemy of NaPakistan. 

 

6. A New US-NaPak partership? 

Today, as some analysts argue, US may have a common cause with Russia & China in limiting the reach & power of the Taleban. But let us not forget that Afghanistan is the center of the centuries-old Great Game. 

So is it possible that USA might get back in the game with just an air-borne presence? And if so, where might they locate their airbases? In their old critical-ally-in-the-war-on terror, otherwise known as NaPakistan? NaPakistan knows they desperately need money & a superpower partner of convenience and USA knows they have no other choice except NaPakistan. This partnership becomes more relevant if ISIS gets some say inside the Taleban.

Also if the atrocities against Afghani women continue & it looks like the Biden Administration “ran away” in haste, then this could become a political hot potato. 

  • Newt Gingrich@newtgingrichAs Western forces leave Afghanistan, attacks against women and other persecuted people will rise to barbaric levels.

The tweet links to a potent article this week by Phyllis Chesler titled Learning Afghanistan’s Lessons  in which she asks a potent question:

  • “Granted, the United States has already spent too much blood and treasure in Afghanistan to justify our staying any longer, and yet: What about the women? The children? The dissidents? The gays? The inevitable ingathering of the terrorists?

So we could see the Biden team praising themselves for pulling out troops from Afghanistan but getting back into the bombing Taleban with drones game for the public sake of Afghani women, children & LGBTQ Afghans. 

If that happens, then NaPakistan will come out of its current isolation and bask in the money & glory of being America’s partner for human rights for women. The Napaki guys already have contempt for Americans having fooled & fleeced America since 1979. If you doubt us, watch the frank video of the legendary Hameed Gul, the master of ISI, Napaki military intelligence:

 

 

There is no doubt that Hameed Gul was right in gloating. They did defeat America in Afghanistan WITH America’s help. So why should they stop? Why can’t they play the game again to enable the Biden team defend against the charge of leaving Afghani women & children to evil barbaric terrorists.

And Russia, China may go along because US bombings will keep the Taleban on the defensive and thwart their monopolistic dream of making all of Afghanistan a Pakhtun state. And, in exchange for US help, Napakistan might cut down on the scope of the China-NaPakistan Economic Corridor that is causing such anger among the ordinary Balochis & Pakhtuns. Then both US & NaPak can claim a victory.

That’s why they call Afghanistan the Great Game!

 

Editor’s PS – There is another possibility of a smaller & less lethal “Syria” in Afghanistan. But that is a longer shot & a topic for a later date.

 

 

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