Washington: The Pakistani military has
ousted the civilian government from the role making strategic
decisions and has taken virtual control of the foreign policy,
a noted and award-winning Pakistani journalist said today.
"Pakistan`s military has virtually taken control of
foreign policy and strategic decision making from the civilian
"Thus Pakistan`s foreign policy reflects the military`s
obsession with India," wrote Ahmed Rashid in The Washington
A well-known columnist, Rashid is author of several books
including "Descent Into Chaos: The US and the Disaster in
Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia".
His book "Taliban" was updated and reissued this month.
Rashid said Pakistan is convinced that Afghan President
Hamid Karzai is allowing India to undermine Pakistan`s western
border regions through its four consulates in Afghanistan and
has demanded that Afghanistan close the consulates.
"For a sovereign Afghanistan, this is an impossible
request, but it is just the opening gambit in a looming test
"Pakistan`s maneuvers have prompted India to try
reactivating its 1990s alliance with Iran, Russia and Central
Asia, which supported the former Northern Alliance in a civil
war against the Pakistan-backed Taliban regime," he wrote.
Rashid said Pakistan holds many of the cards as Taliban
leaders and their families live in Pakistan and are in close
touch with the military and its Inter-Services Intelligence
"Some Taliban allies, such as the network led by
Jalaluddin Haqqani, are even closer to the ISI.
"Although the military is finally hunting down the
Pakistani Taliban in the Northwest tribal areas, the Afghan
Taliban and Pakistani extremists in Punjab province are being
left alone," he said.
The January arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No
2 Taliban leader in Karachi, he said demonstrates to Kabul and
Washington the Pakistani military`s clout.
"Karzai and most Afghans fear that if Washington waits
too long to decide about talking to the Taliban, control will
fall to the ISI as happened in the 1980s and 1990s -- when
Washington abandoned Afghanistan to Russia and Pakistan but
the ISI played favourites and was unable to end the civil war
among Afghan factions," he wrote.
"Almost all Afghans, including Karzai`s Pashtun
supporters, the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance and even the
Taliban oppose any major role for the ISI, as do most regional
powers, particularly India, Iran, Russia and the five Central
Asian republics," Rashid wrote.