‘Heart of Asia’ Heart Attack

It is yet to be seen who wins out in the power struggle in Afghanistan after the resignation of the resignation of its powerful spy chief, which may make life difficult for the already beleaguered Ashraf Ghani Presidency.

Posted on 12/14/15
By Ikram Sehgal | Via ViewsWeek
Relations between President Ashraf Ghani and the NDS have remaied strained for a while. (Photo by U.S. Institute of Peace)
Relations between President Ashraf Ghani and the NDS have remaied strained for a while. (Photo by U.S. Institute of Peace)

One of the immediate fallouts of the “Heart of Asia” Ministerial Conference in Pakistan over the past few days was the immediate resignation of Rahmatullah Nabil, Head of Afghanistan’s premier intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS). Briefly sacked in 2012 by former President Hamid Karzai before being reinstated, this powerful intelligence chief has headed the NDS for about five years. Leading the few Afghan diehard officials who are not in favor of the reconciliation process, Nabil was reportedly very upset over reports that talks between Afghan government and Taliban could resume soon. His resignation took place soon after he went on record angrily criticizing his boss Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for his remarks at the Opening Session of the conference in Islamabad.

 

Afghanistan has had a series of setbacks against the Taliban in recent months, including the fall of the northern city of Kunduz to the Taliban and an insurgent raid on Kandahar airport in the south on December 8 in which 50 civilians, police and security personnel were killed. These had caught security forces badly unprepared, an inquiry on Kunduz ordered by Ghani blamed it on poor leadership. In fact many blame Rahmatullah Nabil for recent escalation in Taliban attacks in the country because he focusses all his energy and NDS capacity on attacking Pakistan instead of concentrating on internal security. The attacks exposed a huge failure by the intelligence and Afghan security forces. On the release of the enquiry Ghani had dismissed some NDS officials, including the NDS provincial chief. Since then relations between Ghani and the NDS had been strained.

 

Nabil was so powerful that even before his resignation letter was made public, he went on record with an angrily worded post on “Facebook” making clear his frustration with efforts to work with Pakistan, orchestrating the canard that “Pakistan is supporting the anti-government elements in Afghanistan.” His quote to the online Afghan news service Khaama, “Innocent Afghan civilians were martyred and beheaded in Kandahar airfield, Khanshin district of Helmand, Takhar and Badakhshan when the same Nawaz Sharif was delivering his speech calling the enemy of Afghanistan as Pakistan’s enemy”.

 

The resignation highlighted the fundamental disagreement between President Ashraf Ghani and those motivated Afghan elements that have hindered efforts to fight the growing Taliban insurgency. The NDS has in recent times made public its stance on Pakistan. Strongly opposing Ghani’s moves toward a rapprochement with Pakistan, Nabil said in his letter of resignation from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) that there had been “a lack of agreement on some policy matters” in recent months. Nabil said the President had imposed unacceptable conditions on the way he did his job, with “repeated verbal summons” that put him under impossible pressure and forced his resignation. On his part Ghani seemed to take it in his stride saying he had not wanted Nabil to resign because of the difficult security situation but he respected his decision and an interim replacement would be named soon.

 

Coming a day after Ghani attended the “Heart of Asia” Conference in Islamabad, it also clouds prospects for a coordinated effort to resume peace talks broken off this year between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Ashraf Ghani’s official Facebook page was immediately flooded with hundreds of angry comments from Afghanistan’s active social media users, most of them abusing the government including one which said “Shame on the presidential palace, Nabil resigned because he was antif-Taliban and anti-Pakistan”.

 

RAW’s machinations in Balochistan, orchestrated and supported by NDS, RAW-controlled Afghanistan’s Intelligence agency continue. RAW has a proven association with TTP. Latif Mehsud, TTP’s No. 2, escorted by Afghan intelligence agents to meet Karzai, had been captured by US Special Forces and taken to Bagram. Why did (than) President Karzai vociferously demand his release? And who gives sanctuary and support to Maulana Fazlullah? Who were the Uzbek terrorists working for? What about the five NDS agents in telephonic contact with the terrorists in the APS Peshawar attack?  Forgive me for being suspicious!

 

It is yet to be seen who wins out in the power struggle. Nabil is very powerful and has very powerful supporters, not many compared to the “great silent majority” in Afghanistan who want peace and recognize Pakistan being control to any solution, but their presence in very powerful posts in Kabul could make life difficult for the already beleaguered Ghani Presidency. On the other hand, Nabil and his supporters have been badly exposed as the venal minority in Afghanistan fed and reared by RAW which want to continue the conflict at any cost just to spite Pakistan, even if it means Afghanistan degenerating into an abyss of chaos and anarchy.

 

Among the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have lived (and are living) off Pakistan’s dole, ungrateful Rahmatullah Nabil spent his youth as a refugee in Pakistan studying in Peshawar.  Spare a thought to why Europe is so suspicious of the 300000 refugees now on European soil?

 

And we have cared for ten times more, 3 million of them on Pakistani soil for the last 35 years, without complaint and without Afghan gratitude!  How many are like Nabil?

 

 

 

The writer is a leading defense and political analyst of Pakistan. He can be contacted at ikram.sehgal@wpplsms.com

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