House Of Commons Committee Confounded By Afghan-Pakistan Crisis!

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THE Conclusions and recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Committee hearings on ‘Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan’ make grim reading for supporters of the imperialist intervention.

On the role of the NATO and ISAF Operation Enduring Freedom the committee concludes that the ‘first ever NATO deployment outside of NATO’s “area” ’ has now become ‘a most critical and seminal moment for the future of the Alliance.’

The Alliance of the all-conquering western powers has succeeded only in showing just how weak and divided it is.

The committee finds that: ‘the failure of some NATO allies to ensure that the burden of international effort in Afghanistan is shared equitably has placed an unacceptable strain on a handful of countries.’

In fact, the Alliance is threatening to blow itself asunder.

The result of eight years of intervention is that NATO’s ‘reputation as a military alliance, capable of undertaking out-of-area operations, is seriously damaged.’

Further, the committee observes that: ‘the use of air power and acts of considerable cultural insensitivity on the part of some Coalition Forces over an extended period have done much to shape negative perceptions among ordinary Afghans about the military and the international effort in Afghanistan.

‘This problem has caused damage, both real and perceived, that will in many instances be difficult to undo.’

Additionally, the committee finds: ‘We conclude that the conditions under which prisoners and detainees are treated once in the hands of the Afghan authorities are a matter of considerable concern.’

And with a note of grim anticipation it states: ‘We will deal with the issue of treatment of those detained by British forces in our forthcoming annual Report on human rights’.

On ‘The role of the European Union’ the committee concludes ‘that the EU’s effort in Afghanistan thus far has not lived up to its potential.’

And on ‘The US and its policy on Afghanistan under the Bush Administration’, the committee finds that ‘The unilateralist tendencies of the US under the Bush Administration, and its focus on military goals to the exclusion of many other strategically important issues, set the tone for the international community’s early presence in Afghanistan.’ (Paragraph 49).

There is however worse news to come in the chapter of the report labelled ‘Where Afghanistan is now: An assessment’.

The committee concludes on ‘security’ that ‘the south’ – where the majority of British troops are based – ‘will remain precarious for some time to come.’

On ‘Governance, Justice, and Human Rights,’ the committee concludes that ‘the failure to create an effective formal justice system as promised in the Bonn Agreement means that many Afghans remain reliant on traditional, informal mechanisms of justice.’

Further, the committee concludes that ‘almost eight years after the international community became involved in Afghanistan, virtually no tangible progress has been made in tackling the endemic problem of corruption, and that in many cases the problem has actually become worse.’

It adds: ‘We further conclude that policy commitments, action plans and all manner of strategies are of little value if they are not accompanied by the political will on the part of the Afghan President and government to drive forward change and tackle corruption at senior levels. Although corruption is a worldwide problem, the situation in Afghanistan is particularly bad and requires an Afghan-led solution if it is to be significantly reduced.’ There is no explanation of what is meant by an Afghan-type solution.

Many say that is what is taking place at the moment, and that the government and its generals are at the centre of corruption and the drugs trade.

The committee concludes that: ‘the proposed “Shia family law” which would have legalised rape within marriage and legitimised the subjugation of Shia women in Afghanistan, represented an affront to decent human values. We further conclude that it is a matter for alarm that these proposals were considered to be acceptable by President Karzai, by a majority in the Afghan parliament, and by significant elements of Afghan public opinion.’

Karzai is the ‘liberator’ whom the US-UK placed in power.

The committee concludes that ‘in accepting the role of Afghanistan’s “lead” international partner in respect of counter-narcotics, the UK has taken on ‘a poisoned chalice’. It adds: ‘The scale of the problem, the drugs trade’s importance to Afghanistan’s economy and its connection to corruption makes any early achievement of the aspirations set out in the Bonn Agreement highly unlikely.’

The committee, recognising complete failure when it sees it, recommends the government accepts ‘our recommendation to relinquish the role of lead partner nation on counter-narcotics’. Drug production and drug running are to be tolerated – i.e. protected!

On the issue of Pakistan’s ‘strategic importance’ the committee finds: ‘that allegations raised during our inquiry about the safety of nuclear technology and claims of possible collusion between Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and Al Qaeda are a matter of deep concern.’

Their ally Pakistan, who was allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, has a secret service that the committee believes is collaborating with Al Qaeda, the supposed enemy, and danger to life as we know it. What a catastrophic mess!

On ‘US attacks on targets in Pakistan’ the committee concludes that ‘the use of US drones to attack Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan may have resulted in serious damage to Al Qaeda’s network and capabilities. However, we also conclude that these attacks have damaged the US’s reputation among elements of the Pakistani population who regard them as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

‘We further conclude that drone attacks remain a high-risk strategy and must not become a substitute for the challenging yet vital task of building a Pakistani civilian government counter-terrorist capacity and army capable of conducting counter-insurgency operations and dealing with extremist threats.’

The committee observes that ‘the UK’s mission in Afghanistan has taken on a significantly different, and considerably expanded, character since the first British troops were deployed there in 2001.

‘The UK has moved from its initial goal of supporting the US in countering international terrorism, far into the realms of counter-insurgency, counter-narcotics, protection of human rights, and state-building.

‘During our visit we were struck by the sheer magnitude of the task confronting the UK. We conclude that there has been significant “mission creep” in the British deployment to Afghanistan, and that this has resulted in the British government being now committed to a wide range of objectives.’

The committee is scathing about the UK deployment in Helmand. It finds that: ‘the UK deployment to Helmand was undermined by unrealistic planning at senior levels, poor co-ordination between Whitehall departments and crucially, a failure to provide the military with clear direction . . . The very clear conclusion that we took from our visit to Helmand is that stabilisation need not be complicated or expensive, but it does require provision of security, good governance, and a belief within the local population that ISAF forces will outlast the insurgents.’

It concludes that the drugs trade should be tolerated. ‘We conclude that while the drugs trade has an invidious effect on governance on Afghanistan and ultimately, through the flow of heroin to the West, has a damaging impact on the UK, the Government’s assessment that the drugs trade in Afghanistan is a strategic threat to the UK which, in part, merits the UK’s continued military presence in Afghanistan, is debatable’.

Further, ‘We recommend that in the immediate future the Government should re-focus its efforts to concentrate its limited resources on one priority, namely security’. (Paragraph 278).

It concludes: ‘there can be no question of the international community abandoning Afghanistan, and that the issues at stake must therefore be how best the UK and its allies can allocate responsibilities and share burdens so as to ensure that the country does not once again fall into the hands of those who seek to threaten the security of the UK and the West.’

It further concludes: ‘that the need for the international community to convey publicly that it intends to outlast the insurgency and remain in Afghanistan until the Afghan authorities are able to take control of their own security, must be a primary objective’. (Paragraph 279).

These are the same Afghan authorities that are enriching themselves out of the drugs trade which the UK is now to tolerate and therefore collaborate with!

Outlasting the resistance of the Afghan people – whose claim to historic fame is that they have always outlasted aggressors – is the lunatic aim of parliamentary cretins who are repeating the failed British policies of the past, solely because they refuse to stand up to the United States.

Attempts at outlasting the Taleban will cost tens of thousands of civilian and military casualties and are doomed to failure.

Trade unions in the UK must mount a massive campaign to aid the Afghan and Pakistani people by securing the immediate withdrawal of all British troops.

That this will involve the bringing down of the Brown government is obvious.