Afghan President Karzai and Canada’s Defence Minister MacKay both made unrealizable statements this weekend: Karzai in threatening to retaliate against incursions into Afghanistan across his country’s border from Pakistan; MacKay by suggesting there was any possibility of a “diplomatic solution to the dispute.”
The Afghan National Army (ANA) is a creation of the United States and other countries, whose presence in Afghanistan maintain Karzai in office. The threat of ANA units without support carrying retaliatory attacks into Pakistan territory is just that, a threat incapable of being effectively acted upon.
MacKay’s “diplomatic solution” is even more improbable. While units of the ANA could cross into Pakistan territory, should Karzai be foolish enough to do so, Canada has no possibility of negotiating an end to incursions. The tribal territories have never been effectively under Pakistan government control. The Pashtuns are one people. They do not recognize the arbitrary Durand line drawn by foreigners in 1893 as dividing them into 25 million Afghans and 15 million Pakistanis.
The current Pakistani government ridden by disputes among its coalition partners and with President Musharraf is unable to act. Rather than sealing off the border it is entering into treaties pacifying those it would have to war with to do so.
Canada would be better served if MacKay’s diplomatic skills were employed in seeking to convince the Americans their continuing violation of Pakistan by air attacks was counterproductive. As Eric Margolis writes “Widening the Afghan War into Pakistan is military stupidity on a grand scale, and political madness.”
President Karzai’s bravado, unfortunately, may be based on his being a shill leading up to just this U.S. action. As for the possibility, let alone probability, of the Government of Canada seeking to rein in the Pentagon and the White House the thought is pure fantasizing.
Niagara Falls, Ont.