Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf is making a major mistake by not joining Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Pashtun jirga now convened in Kabul. Musharraf is continuing to show considerable disrespect for the Pashtunistan political and cultural leadership when he should be demonstrating his commitment to work with them.
More than six hundred leaders from Pashtunistan (Pashtun territories on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border) are meeting in Kabul and this is the time for the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to recognize and respect the powerful Pashtun country that bestrides their state border. With more than 21 million inhabitants living under Pashtun laws, neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan can afford to ignore the importance of such a country. Since it is patently the case that Karzai can be seriously said to have governing authority over only the city of Kabul and Musharraf has actual governing authority over the Punjabi eastern portion of Pakistan, neither can afford to anger the Pashtun. Their territorial control far exceeds the political reach of either Karzai or Musharraf as this map (Pashtunistan in red) illustrates.
The US based Washington Post article by Pamela Constable and Debbi Wilgoren (both good reporters I am sure) fails to reflect the importance of this balance of power–the center of which is Pashtunistan. The fact that leaders from Waziristan are not participating in the jirga should signal Musharraf that he should extend his respect to the Pashto and build closer bridges.
This mistake will reverberate in the form of greater instability for Musharraf, the region and countries like the United States and its military may decide to unilaterally intervene in the region–expanding violence and further destabilizing the already volatile area. Such intervention by the United States government aimed at particularly the eastern part of Pashtunistan invites the prospect of a bitter war not unlike the ten-year mess the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics got stuck in during the 1980s. The Pashtun won that one, just as they fended off such invasions over the past thousand years.
(c) 2007 Center for World Indigenous Studies
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