China, Russia, Pakistan and India' competing for 'Taliban's favour'
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His comments come in the wake of the Taliban’s spectacular reconquest of Afghanistan which brought to an end almost 20 years of US and NATO involvement there and attempts to build a Western-style democracy. Chris Alexander served as Canada’s first resident Ambassador in Kabul from 2003-2005, arriving to take up his post shortly after the defeat of Mullah Omar’s regime. The 53-year-old blames the resurgence of the Taliban on Pakistan, and in particular on the country’s top security agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
He argues that the ISI is committed to global jihad and has sought over decades to foment instability in Afghanistan and the wider region through the creation and support of a plethora of terrorist organisations – of which the Taliban is just one.
He told Express.co.uk: “Pakistan is the only country in the world that has had a high level sustained sponsorship of terrorist groups over decades that has not been held to account for its said sponsorship.
“The Taliban were created by Pakistan, the Islamic State in Khorasan was created by the same intelligence service (ISI) in Pakistan – similarly al Qaeda, and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.”
He added: “Any review of the list of terrorist groups who have been on everyone’s radar for the last 10 or 20 years leads back to two countries – Iran and Pakistan.
“If this recent disaster in Afghanistan caught everyone by surprise; if 20 years of high quality NATO effort in Afghanistan has come a cropper; if the United States has failed to prevent 9/11, failed to prevent attacks on three continents and is still facing threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups – it’s mostly because of the failure to act with regard to the prime mover behind all of them.”
Recently, Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan’s national security adviser, told the Conservative think tank Policy Exchange, the West should engage with the Taliban to help prevent another wave of Islamic militancy overwhelming the region and spreading to the West.
Mr Alexander dismissed the idea that the Taliban could bring stability to Afghanistan or act as a firewall against Islamic militancy.
On the contrary, he claimed that the militant group was specifically conceived to prevent Afghanistan developing strong institutions, which would allow it to flourish as an independent nation state.
“The Taliban regime is not there to govern. They have never prepared to run a country,” he said.
“They are a military machine that is designed to deliver violence and intimidation and I would also argue that they are largely a wrecking ball as in their creators do not want strong Afghan institutions to emerge and so if they fail to govern Afghanistan effectively, as they will, that is all to the good in the eyes of their masters across the border.”
“I think we really need to not buy into this idea that you can partner with terrorists to defeat terrorists,” he added.
The way to bring stability to the region in the long term is to curb the malign influence of Islamabad, by introducing a tough regime of sanctions against top civilian and military leaders in Pakistan.
“The only longer term solution that starts to bring peace to the region is to hold Pakistan to the same standards that we hold any country for cross-border interference, violations of sovereignty on the scale we have been seeing for decades now and indeed invasion.
“That standard should be set at this point by a very far reaching set of sanctions along the lines of those implemented against Putin’s regime for invading Ukraine.”
Mr Alexander rejects the argument that the West must tread carefully with Pakistan and prop up its government to prevent the country and its nuclear stockpile falling into the hands of Islamic militants.
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“I think that argument is baseless because the generals, who are anyway in control of the nuclear weapons, are the ones who are supporting these extremists,” he said.
He believes that the reluctance of the US and UK to call out Pakistan for its support of Islamic terrorism can partly be explained by historical and political nostalgia.
The UK has traditionally been inclined to see Pakistan as an ally ever since partition, which he argued “kind of salvaged British influence in south Asia in the face of Ghandi’s very anti-British sentiments.”
Likewise, America has tended to look favourably on Islamabad due to its support of the US campaign against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, as well as for the role it played in helping to open the door to rapprochement with China under Richard Nixon.
“So Pakistan has always loomed very large in both British and US strategic calculations and that has blinded them – I think blinded a lot of people – to their real role over the last 30 years in this growing threat of global jihad,” he explained.
“I don’t even like calling it global jihad because it has nothing to do with religion – it’s just irregular warfare, but irregular warfare that can hit civilians, New York on 9/11 and can make the world unpredictable and indeed dangerous to a degree that is not necessary and shouldn’t be tolerated.”
Mr Alexander’s analysis of Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban is echoed by leading researchers and academics, in particular Oved Lobel – a political analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
In a recent report published by The European Eye on Radicalization, entitled “The Graveyard of Empires: The Causes and Consequences of American Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mr Lobel writes that there is nothing Afghan or Pashtun about the Taliban “in any relevant sense.”
“The Taliban is simply Pakistan with an Afghan face, one façade of many that shares its personnel, resources, and leadership with the rest of the ISI network in the region,” he argues.
“Pakistan isn’t allied to the Taliban. It doesn’t support the Taliban. It doesn’t have influence over the Taliban. It is the Taliban.”
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