Contributed by: Nasir Ahmad
Pashtun Peace Forum
Toronto – (March 19, 2010 ) – The United States and Pakistan will hold their first strategic dialogue at the ministerial level in Washington DC on March 24. The significance of this meeting can be assessed from the fact that apart from the prime minister, the foreign minister and government officials, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Kayani, will also be part of the delegation.
The main focus will be FATA and Pukhtunkhwa. The State Department Mark Toner, said “Obviously, we’re talking about … Afghanistan, the situation there, the spill-over into the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and how to really better engage. And in fact, we’ve seen some successes on that front in recent weeks on terrorism.”
However, no representative from the Pukhtunkhwa (NWFP) and FATA areas are included in this critical strategic dialogue on FATA, terrorism and economic development. Even the Chairman of the standing committee on Foreign Affairs, Asfandyar Wali Khan was also excluded from. We suspect because he represents Pushtuns, who have a somewhat different approach towards relations with India and Afghanistan (than the Pakistani Punjabi dominant establishment that historically has been more adversarial). Exclusion of Pashtun would mean that both the US and Pakistan’s Punjabi dominant establishment are unlikely to be in a position to solve the current crisis in these areas and can benefit Taliban and Al-Qaida. Pashtuns consider Taliban a sub-group of Al-Qaida.
Pushtuns demand the inclusion of representatives from FATA, Pukhtunkhwa and other Pushtun representatives in this significant dialogue otherwise Pashtun will denounce any outcome that is against Pashtunn’s intersts and benifit Punjab and Pakistan military establishment only.