Tribes and Policy Between Iraq and Pakistan

Farah Taj is an academic political analyst at the University of Oslo, she is a Pashtun and her interest is in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, recently she wrote an article in response to the position of Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricket player turned politician, who claims that the Taliban and their Pashtun supporters are waging a patriotic war against the U.S. Ms. Taj exposed in her interesting article Musharraf’s double dealings, the dark sectarian nature of Taliban and the true non-sectarian liberal patriotism of non-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen remeniscent of Iraq’s tribal uprising in the twenties of last century.

To me the message is clear: Stop American surgical intervention in the reagion, it is expensive, counter productive and changes the rules of the game to those played by Al-Qaeda. Let the responsibility for destroying Al-Qaeda’s infra-structure to the Pakistan government (how many bullets do you need to kill one man?), help the region heal itself with careful economical and military backing and streangthen government institutions. In other words the message to the U.S. is: don’t try to crack this nut with a remote control sledge hammer, this way you will end up playing in the hands of people like Musharraf.
This message is like what is needed for Iraq, after George W. Bush’s policies Iraq is left with double-dealing politicians in power who don’t see their interest in reforming the constitution and in reconciliation, both of which are necessary for the political process but risky for maintaining those in power. President Obama is trying direct action, basically to induce those in power to accept reform and reconciliation after seeing the stranglehold of Bush era Iraqi politicians over the political process, this re-creates the fear that U.S. policy is playing in the hands of self-motivated Iraqi politicians. Anyway, with impending state-run census and elections later on this year, nobody is likely to listen to long term advice and everybody is focusing on being re-elected or elected anew. The risk is if we get bad (not credible) census and/or elections, it will be very difficult to correct the path of the political process after the election results are declared. Instead of direct influence, I continue calling for U.N. mandated supervision over census and elections in Iraq, In addition to all the benefits of similarity with Ms. Taj’s advice, such a mandate may possibly bring support and unison from countries other than the U.S. and reverse the trend of lone U.S. involvement in Iraq.

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