Daily Times, May 5, 2006
US not interested in peace in Afghanistan: Kathy Gannon
"Osama was not brought by Taliban. Northern Alliance brought him to Afghanistan"
By Mohammed Rizwan
LAHORE: The United States and its western allies have no interest in a stable and peaceful Afghanistan as the ravaged country continues to worsen under the Northern Alliance rule, who have big stakes in drug businesses and civil strife, says Kathy Gannon, a veteran journalist and Afghanistan expert.
“It’s business as usual in Afghanistan. The people who killed thousands, who patronised the drug business are in charge of the country,” she said. “The Afghan story is going back to square one. Nothing has changed. The same anarchy, the same tribal strife and the same warlords and drug lords with private armies,” said Gannon, who has followed the Afghan story for 18 years, from 1986-2005.
"Osama was not brought by Taliban. Northern Alliance brought him to Afghanistan. He shifted to Taliban later and his influence increased."
"The people who killed thousands, who patronised the drug business are in charge of the country."
Gannon said Pakistan was supporting the Pashtuns fighting currently in Afghanistan as it had stakes in the country due to the rising Indian influence over the Northern Alliance regime. “Due to its India-fixation and out of desire to counter a hostile government in Kabul, Pakistan continues to support the elements who we call Taliban now, although this phenomenon is different from the earlier Taliban phenomenon. I think Pakistan, in fact, never disengaged itself from Afghanistan,” said Gannon adding, “the result is going to be no different this time, as I see Army getting stronger in Pakistan and their alliance with the right-wing grow.”
“Ever since the US, NATO and ISAF troops entered Afghanistan, I believed that the country never had a long-term strategy. It remained a short-term goal for the West and the reasons might be US military and financial constraints as it is already engaged in a conflict in Iraq,” said Gannon.
“The current dispensation in Kabul has marginalised Pashtuns and promoted their vested interests based on drug dealing. This hassled to an environment where the West has perpetuated the cycle of conflict,” said Gannon who is heading to Iraq now after serving a short stint in Iran.
“The American interest in the region never went beyond ousting Taliban and getting rid of Osama Bin Laden,” she said.
She said when Pakistan’s former ISI chief Lt Gen (r) Mehmood went to Kabul days before the coalition strikes would start in the fall of 2001, the general encouraged Mullah Omar and Taliban to stand in front of aggression.
“General Mehmood didn’t really pursuade Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden. He kept quite while the mullas he brought along tried their bit,” said Gannon who wrote a detailed account of the meeting which ‘virtually sealed the fate of any possible reconciliation between the US and Taliban'.
“Osama was not brought by Taliban. Northern Alliance brought him to Afghanistan. He shifted to Taliban later and his influence increased. The first manifestation of his increasing power came at the time of the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas and then later it was evident in the Saudi-style executions on Fridays,” she said.
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