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Hamid Karzai is not an idiot

Published May 10, 2012 09:01pm


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Afghanistan wants firmer US commitment on funding
Afghan President Hamid Karzai — File Photo by AP

THE much-underrated and maligned Hamid Karzai is after all not such a dunce. On May 1, the Afghan president pulled off a major diplomatic deal to give Afghanistan an edge it had never enjoyed over Pakistan. Nominated at Bonn more than a decade ago as Afghan chief and ‘elected’ twice in ballot exercises of doubtful validity, Mr Karzai must now be scoffing at Pakistan to his heart’s delight.

The 10-year Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), signed by President Barack Obama and Mr Karzai a day before the first anniversary of the SEALs’ Abbottabad raid, has brought about a radical shift in the regional balance of power, with Afghanistan emerging in a stronger position vis-à-vis Pakistan in terms of security guarantees from America.

Because Islamabad failed to satisfy the US that it was acting in a way commensurate with Pakistan’s status as a ‘major non-Nato’ ally, Washington has had the pleasure of twisting Islamabad’s arm by deciding to give the same status now to Afghanistan. As the SPA’s sub-clause 3 of article III says, America will designate Afghanistan a major non-Nato ally to “help provide a long-term framework for mutual security and defence cooperation”. In short, while Pakistan is no more America’s ally, Afghanistan is. The agreement expires in 2024, a long time, and has enviable room for Mr Karzai’s friends in New Delhi.

Another clause — 9 of article III — has immense and frightful implications for Pakistan: it recognises that Afghanistan’s stability contributes to the development and stability of South-Central Asia, and therefore the United States affirms that “it shall regard with grave concern any external aggression against Afghanistan. Were this to occur”, America and Afghanistan will “hold consultations on an urgent basis” to develop “an appropriate response, including … political, diplomatic, economic, or military measures …”

Who is suspected of having committed or who may commit “external aggression” against Afghanistan? Most certainly no other neighbour save the one on the east of the Durand Line. The agreement by implications is Pakistan-specific, and to expect any Kabul government not to use this agreement to its maximum advantage against Pakistan is to be naïve. Pakistan’s newly developed foreign policy mechanism is ponderous — ponderous not because it is inherently so, but because it is new, untested and is in the process of evolution. The parliamentary committee’s recommendations and its adoption by parliament took five months. In these five crucial months we stood motionless while Mr Karzai had the common sense to move with speed. While he clinched a deal with the superpower, we continued to lament Salala and expected the world to shed tears with us. Nobody bothered to.

The gravity of a crisis that perpetuated itself in various forms — Raymond Davis, Abbottabad and Salala — had required a quick response acceptable to both Pakistan and the US. Instead, if there was any activity that was visible, it was the ‘religious’ mobocracy whose howls and shrieks occupied centre stage. The brains behind this street demagogy did not realise that at stake was the future of Pakistan’s relations not just with the superpower but with 49 other nations, including EU countries, Canada, Australia, Japan and many others.

Pakistan’s non-Nato ally status had a potential — but a potential which Islamabad never had the wisdom to exploit. Mr Karzai exploited our stupidity with remarkable success and may now adopt a stance much tougher than he ever has towards Pakistan.

All said and done, Mr Karzai is not an idiot.


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Comments (21) Closed

GM Malik May 11, 2012 10:48am
The article paints a best case scenario for Afghanistan and worst case scenario for Pakistan. There is lots of middle ground, thing change along the way. Both countries if smart need to think what is best for their people and not be enemy of each other. Being America’s ally is not always the best thing as history tells us.
Ahmed May 11, 2012 06:05pm
!00% accurate and perfect analysis.
butt May 11, 2012 12:24pm
Well the agreement and understanding are given by the Americans, we have had a long history how they pan out. Good luck to Karzai.
Ajmal May 11, 2012 03:29pm
This decision was smart one by Afghan govt, we really needed support to Maintain our security forces and let Afghanistan be a peacefull neighbour and let them enjoy stability.
@hammads May 11, 2012 09:43am
This is one of the best piece! I wonder if someone from Pakistan Government is going to gain inspiration from this!
Zoro May 11, 2012 06:33am
Pakistan has fallen from the eyes of international community ...because of its constant lies ... dulicity and decite... Once liar is always a liar ... as they say ...
Farhan May 11, 2012 06:35am
I am not sure if the doomsday scenario painted by author is realistic or imaginative. He has not at all bothered to explain what wrong can go if Afghanistan can be a non Nato Ally. How will it play to its advantage because clearly Pakistan has no intention of invading Afghanistan. How will this security guarantee play to our disadvantage? Afghanistan is a sovereign country and can have guarantees from anyone (at least we should be more bothered about Indian guarantee) . In my opinion, the author has failed to qualify his remarks. He may be right but he needs to explain more clearly, what he has in mind?
Iftekhar Mahmood May 11, 2012 07:47am
Karzai is an American stooge... do you really think he has the power to dictate terms to the US? It is all a US game... think clearly please.
farhan May 13, 2012 10:16am
long live peace and stability....Pakistan failed state.
zalmay May 11, 2012 07:08pm
its true now we are trid of pakistan duble play gam we ned to mak ower country peacfull but pakistan as one muslime contry had to help us but thy didint cuz thy think if in afghanistan war pakistan wel be peacefull but thats wrong
Babu May 11, 2012 08:56am
Highly accurate analysis of SPA. After 10 long years of protracted conflict in Afghanistan, Americans realises the stability of Afghanistan is vital to the world peace at large. Now Americans can keep an eye on pakistan's nuclear weapons, Iranian's activities and China's so called PEACEFUL rise. Last paragraph and the last sentence of this article are hard hitting truth for Pakistan's establishment, but good news for the long suffering people of pakistan and Afghanistan.
Ammar May 11, 2012 09:27am
let us see which way the wind blows. Author has painted a very frightful picture as if Pakistan is nothing without the status of non Nato Ally. Moreover, Pakistan had been non-Nato ally for a long time but an ally with embargoes on its trades in US and Europe. It is just the game of interests, if America has any dire interest tomorrow, may be we are non-Nato ally again. Any way, One have to take advantage of ones position. In this manner, Pakistan never made the most out of it. We must hold our ground now as we have taken a step so as many countries of North America.
Ikram Khan May 11, 2012 09:32am
LOL.....the author should know that Karzai's authority depends only on the presence of foriegn forces..US cutting deal with as man whose existance depend upon the presence of US forces in Afghanistan seems like bad joke.
hazrat wali kakar May 11, 2012 09:05pm
AS IN START one has write his position in front of international community because of her dual approach. now it is the time for Pakistan to gave up all those policies such " strategic depth"in Afghanistan. while it is not possible to apply it practicably. Pakistan have to support a neutral and stable Afghanistan which is in fact in the interest of Pakistan. the Afghan president had used the chances at the right time that why he is not an idiot.
S Raza May 11, 2012 10:34pm
Pakistan should once and for all start developing some self-respect and stop all co-operation with the Americans. It should concentrate on developing relations with neighbouring countries - especiall India, with whom it is in a state of war, which it cannot win and cannot sustain. It should also extend a friendly hand to Russia, which at least stands by it's friends. USA at best can be considered only a fair wheather friend.
Omar Rawi May 12, 2012 04:31am
read comments of Ammar, Farhan, and Ikram Khan, perhaps written from the same computer :-)
syed baqar ahsan May 13, 2012 04:53pm
Neither Karzai nor Pakistan is idiot,its the Americans idiots against all odd feeling happy on a peace of paper the so called 10 years pacts,Afghanistan has no commonality with Americans or Indians,if at it has that too with Iran,Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbek, Russian and Chinese being neighbour has historical influence in every sphere of Afghans.Americans will face lot of problems it will be very very difficult time ahead,not a single neighbour is comfortable with the monster.Author has a very rosy picture about pact completely ignoring ground realities in and around Afghanistan.To me it appears that writer has been paid to write and create some kind of psychological depression on Pakistanis which large number of media channels already doing for last 5/6 years.
Qutbudin Andish May 12, 2012 05:31am
its completly true
JJM May 12, 2012 05:48am
the tide has just turned the other is just the beginning....picture abhi baaqi hai mere dost...
syed baqar ahsan May 13, 2012 05:12pm
for GOD sake,white skin person bluff,cheat and lie smartly,this all mass in Afghanistan is self created first Russian and then by Americans to invade and choke all and around including their resource put under his control.Al Qaeda, Terrors,suicide,IED, OSAMA,TTP,Jundullah are created by them being friend and ally called double gaming by those who don't lie but Pakistan do as you have said leave it to your imagination.
King Afghan May 21, 2012 05:36pm
This is a clear message to every wise person on both sides and specially the Pakistani side as they have to create an atmosphere of friendship with afghanistan to establish themselves in all aspects of life as they are the closest in all parts of life to afghanistan and are linked ethnically and Religously. I will give an example of the Transit deal which pakistan is always creating problems for the Afghan Transit Deal stopping their goods and imposing huge Damridges once they are cleared after 8-9 years and even more ..... and the result is the Business is diverted to Iran who is giving all kinds of facilities to afghanistan and also that pakistan is losing a market in Disparate need to everything and pakistan being the closest point to the capital city Kabul should not forget to work on this Home work which is trribbley destructed by themsleves and that should be fixed by them only and afghanistan Must forget about India against the favour of pakistan as we are religiously linked to pakistan which is our islamic duty too to prefer dealing with muslims instead of Hindus and also not to forget that afghanistan has to avail the benifits of the road link to pakistan .... Their must be Good work from both sides not to let others detoriate the situation anymore and there shouldn't be chances for Strangers to interfere .......... I hope many will agree with my thoughts and should reach the Officials in both sides to act on it not talk as Practice makes a man perfect.....