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Monday, August 13, 2007

Afghanistan-Pakistan joint Loya Jirga Agrees on more Loya Jirgas

QUOTE: “This history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.”

-Willa Cather, ‘Oh Pioneers!”

HISTORY IN THE NEWS: DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

BULLETIN: The border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, never effectively ruled by the Moghuls of India, by the British, by Isamabad or by Kabul, has become a safe haven for the Taliban. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have accused the other of harboring the insurgents. At the present Loya Jiriga, a milestone for the otherwise unfriendly nations, there are declarations of mutual cooperation- but little else is achieved.

IN THE NEWS TODAY: The joint Loya Jirga, held by Pakistan and Afghanistan in Kabul, is the first of its kind. Upon its termination on August 12th, the meeting is touted to be a milestone in the improvement of relations between the two countries. In a joint statement, Afghan and Pakistani delegates agree to efforts at preventing the Taliban from obtaining refuge in the border regions of both countries. They agree to promote development projects in the same areas and to work together on eradicating the cultivation of poppies for heroin. There is a declaration of mutual respect and non-interference as well as a commitment to go on holding a smaller, joint Loya Jirga at regular intervals. However, the meeting is marred by mutual accusations of harbouring the Taliban, by the appearance of Pakistan's General Musharraf only at the last minute, by the meeting's boycott by the Pakistan religious parties, by Pakistani delegates from the Waziristan border regions and by the Taliban.

FROM PAST INTO PRESENT: Historically, the region between northwest India and the Middle East has always been a liminal area, usually controlled from one side or the other. However, remoteness from the centres of government has led to some parts of the region being autonomous if never quite independent. Otherwise, the (modern day Pakistan) region between Afghanistan and India was ruled from Moghul India, from British India and occasionally from Afghanistan. In 1948, Afghanistan protested the creation of modern Pakistan out of northwest British India since the region contained frontier areas on which Afghanistan still had historical claims. Since then, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been open to dispute. The existence of the highly distinct Pashtun people on both sides of the frontier has complicated things, adding to campaigns for regional independence The ruggedness of the frontier territories on both sides of the border has made them difficult for both countries to control. The frontier Waziristan region, for example, has kept its auntonomy both under British and under Pakistani rule. Local autonomy and the difficulty of the terrain has helped to provide a perfect safe haven for the Taliban in its campaign against the government in Kabul.

LOOKING BACK:

1747- Ahmad Shah (of the Saddozai family, Abdali clan) commander of Nadir's body guard, takes the name Durrani, meaning 'Pearl of the Age' and establishes the Durrani dynasty of Afghanistan, unites varied tribes in southern Afghanistan around their common link: the Pashtun language. He invades the Gangetic plain of India conquering and weakening the last Moghul emperor Aurangzeb. The modern Afghan nation begins to take shape. His empire extends from near the Caspian Sea to India.

1826-1863- Afhganistan revives under a Pashtun chieftain of the Barakzai clan , Dost Mohammed. The modern state of Afghanistan begins to take shape.

1849- -in north-west India (present day Pakistan) the British take over the Waziristan Frontier region bordering Afghanistan from the Sikhs. the Deputy Commissioner, Dera Ismail Khan (NWFP)and Bannu controls all political matters in Waziristan- even though the tribes of neighbouring North Waziristan are under the sovereignty of the Kabul government.

1893- the Durand line forms the limit of British territorial expansion into the Pashtun territories of Afghanistan. The Pashtun region, which had once defined Afghanistan, is split by the new boundary with Afghanistan. Western Pakistan is ceded to British India. The Duran line is up for renewal only after 100 years.

The line cuts through both Baloch and Pashtun tribes.

- the Durand line allows for the border territory of Waziristan to be autonomous, outside of effective British rule. Instead, the British ruled by paying subsidies to tribal chieftains.

1919- the Third Afghan War. Pashtun tribes under Afghan warlord Ananullah, on both sides of the Durand line, defeat the British. The British concede nationhood to Afghanistan by the Treaty of Kabul. Ananullah attempts westernizing reforms.

1947- Britain agrees to the formation of an independent Pakistan, separate from India, , with the Durand line remaining as the border between the two nations. The border still cuts through the region of the Pashtun people- despite Afghan claims on the entire Pashtun region, which includes much of the Baluchistan region of western Pakistan.

-on partition of the sub-continent , the tribal leaders of Waziristan agreed to be a part of Pakistan, but with special terms and conditions.

15 August- Pakistan becomes independent, comprising Sindh, Punjab and North-West Frontier with the Durand line remaining as the border between the two nations. The border still cuts through the region of the Pashtun people- despite Afghan claims on the entire Pashtun region, which includes much of the Baluchistan region of western Pakistan. Before departing the British had drawn the frontier between west Pakistan and India in haste, forcing bordering principlalities to join either India or Pakistan.

-North West Pakistan remains restive because of a history of devout Islam and relative autonomy under the British, while Punjab has a history of close participation in the British administration.

1948 -Afghanistan opposes formation of Pakistan, refusing to accept the Durand line- starting rivalry between them.

-Pakistan moves thousands of Pashtuns into the border area as a bulwark between Baluchis and Afghanistan

-Afghan king Zahir Shah claims the Pathan (western Pashtun) state from Pakistan. Meanwhile, he extracts support from both the US and the Soviet Union

--the Waziristan tribes, led by the Faqir of Ipi, receive arms from Afghanistan which agitates for a fully independent Pashtunistan of all pashtun borderlands, including Waziristan.

-but Waziristan frnally becomes part of Pakistan with Pakistani independence. Pakistan still rules Waziristan as the British did, with subsidied paid to tribal chieftains.

1984- the US arms Pakistan to back the Afghan Mujehadeen against the Soviet Union. This escalates the arms race between India and Pakistan.

-Quetta, Baluchstan becomes a base for Afghan Mujahadeen fighting the Soviets.

1993--the British-made Durand line lapses after 100 years.. Tribal leaders don’t recognize it. It is said to be "marked out on water'. Pakistan wants Kabul to accept the line. Kabul is reluctant to lose its claim to "south Pashtunistan." (Balushistan)

-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto encourages the formation of the Taliban, seeing it as a friendly Muslim party that will link Pakistan to trade with Central Asia.

1994- the Taliban, bolstered and supported (and some say, founded) by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) in Quetta, Pakistan,- crosses into Afghanistan and takes Kandahar .

-the Taliban refuse to accept the Durand line that determines the border with Pakistan.

2001- after the 9/11 attacks, Washington coerces Musharraf into supporting the US War on terror. But this gains Pakistan badly needed international loans.

2002- after the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban are pushed into the border tribal areas of Baluchistan.

-Pakistan begins a troop build-up along the border with Afhganistan.

-2003-2004- winter. The Pakistan army launches assaults against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Waziristan.

2004-2005- due to losses in the Waziristan offensive against the Taliban and al Qaeda, Pakistan makes various peace deals with local Taliban-supporting tribes. The Taliba effectively control Waziristan.

2006- 15-17 Feb.- Afghan President Karzai visits Musharaff to ask him to stop Taliban infiltration from Pakistan. Karzai identifies Afghan commaders in Quetta among other areas of Pakistan. Musharraf says Afghan intelligence is unreliable and complains to Karzai about weapons smuggling into Bluchistan.

2007- -January- tensions increase around the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad.

-July- after a week-long stand off, security forces storm and seize the Red Mosque, killing over 80 militants.

-August--in the wake of the assault on the red Mosque, Waziristan and Pakistan erupt in revenge suicide and bomb attacks. In response to the violence and to US threats to pursue the Taliban inside Pakistan, Musharraf resumes the military campaign inside Waziristan.

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