Fraser Nelson

Pakistan’s double game in Afghanistan

Pakistan's double game in Afghanistan
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So what is Pakistan up to? Cameron has a point: it is playing a dangerous double game which I once outlined in a piece. But in today's Spectator, it is all spelled out by a writer who is - in my view - the best authority on this mess and by some margin. Ahmed Rashid, whose book Descent into Chaos is the definitive work on the Afghan war, explains that Karzai has effectively switched sides - he's given up on Nato (as, it seems, has Cameron) and now wants Pakistan to preside over talks with the Taliban:

" A few months ago Hamid Karzai would have been thrilled to have confirmation that American officers are speaking openly about how divisions of Pakistani intelligence are helping the Taleban. But after spending eight years criticising the ISI, he recently decided to cosy up to them. This change is crucial to understanding what is really happening in Afghanistan.

Karzai seems to have given up on the ability of the Americans, the Brits and Nato either to defeat the Taleban or even to talk to them. This is why he has turned to Pakistan and Iran: his own freelance attempt to try to broker a ceasefire with the Taleban which would involve a power-sharing deal."

So as Nato moves out, Pakistan moves in. It wants to win the endgame, to make sure the ISI eases a pro-Pakistan administration in Kabul - just as Iran wanted a pro-Tehran power group controlling Basra. Pakistan senses a looming power vacuum in Afghanistan created by the fact that neither the Brits nor the Americans have what Niall Ferguson called the "attention span" to finish the job. Do read the whole piece (subscribers can get it online, or free on their iPad).