Pakistan: A new GCC-EU FATA Friendship Fund and Double Strategy to Contain Terrorism and the Taliban
In the famous Hotel Adlon at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the independent non-profit World Security Network Foundation launched a fresh fact-finding FATA Round Table and a concrete initiative to stabilise the fragile situation in the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan on the border to Afghanistan.
More than 50 high ranking experts, generals, ambassadors and politicians from Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Germany, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the U.S. discussed the situation and its relationships to Afghanistan, and out of this process, a new double strategy of development and containment for this very important hot-spot in the world took shape: the GCC-EU FATA Friendship Fund (see the presentation here).
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The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with its 3.5m inhabitants of several fiercely independent Pashtun tribes are important for three strategic goals:
- Homeland Security: Containment of the recruitment and training of new terrorists and activities of Al Qaeda elements which threaten Europe, the United States, the Gulf Countries and other states. Osama bin Laden most probably hides here with other Al Qaeda leaders.
- Stabilization of Pakistan: Neutralization of the increasingly destabilizing effects of terrorism and radicalization for the democratic government of Pakistan.
- Stabilization of Afghanistan: Reduce the cross-border threat by the Taliban forces to the military missions of NATO and stability in Afghanistan which use this area for recruitment and refreshment.
The tribal areas are the most important hinterland of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban and therefore crucial for homeland security and a successful NATO mission – they are also a bleeding wound for Pakistan which suffers most directly and continuously.
Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Negroponte named his latest excellent testimony on May 20, 2008 at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee “Pakistan’s FATA Challenges: Securing one of the World Most Dangerous Areas” (see his testimony here).
On June 10, 2008 the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen told reporters: “I believe fundamentally that if the U.S. is going to get hit, it is going to come out of the planning of the leadership (of Al Qaeda) in FATA. That is the threat to us that must be dealt with.” (see Militants from Pakistan most likely authors of future U.S. attacks, in Daily Times June 11, 2008 )
The threats are precise but still the messages from civilian and military decisionmakers in Washington, Europe and at NATO engaged in homeland security and the war in Afghanistan are unclear: Should you bomb the radicals or build up trust in the tribal areas? Should Islamabad sign peace treaties, or does this constitute appeasement vis-à-vis the Taliban and terrorists?
More than six years after Operation “Enduring Freedom” started in Afghanistan, the U.S. had neither transfered any money for FATA development – as promised by President Bush to Pakistan President Musharraf two years ago – nor shaped an overall political FATA Plan to contain terrorism and the Taliban - nor did NATO or the Europeans.
There is still no FATA strategy of the West and no funding has been provided – a deadly vacuum used by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This dire situation may change now in the U.S. administration and also needs much more attention and support by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the EU states as well.
In his testimony John Negroponte promised again a $ 750m support package with $ 150m spent per year to fund economic growth and education. But this money is still blocked in the long legislation process on the Hill. In fiscal year 2007 the United States government has started to spend $ 100m each year for implementing the separate Security Development Plan as a six-year multi-faceted program to enhance Pakistan's ability to secure its border with Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Washington has many times criticized ceasefires and peace treaties by the new Islamabad government with Taliban elements, and also used more U.S. Predator strikes against suspected terrorist hide-outs, there. Unfortunately, there are strong indications that such air strikes have not been conducive to a counter-insurgency strategy that engages the local population. Fifty civilians have been killed by U.S. air strikes this year alone, among them 11 Pakistani soldiers in the most severe incident in the Mohmand tribal area, June 10, 2008.
It is time now to find a solid new strategy of the U.S., NATO and Europe for the FATA in order to address the three important issues involved: the ongoing anti-terror campaign and the stabilization of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
During this first international WSN FATA workshop in Europe it became clear that the war in Afghanistan and the development in Pakistan and its border region are inseparably linked to each other. There can be no isolated solution for FATA without progress in Afghanistan and no stability in the FATA and Pakistan without peace in Afghanistan. This aspect was underlined in Berlin by the German Lt General (ret) Götz Gliemeroth, who served as one of the first ISAF Commanders in Afghanistan 2003/2004 and is a member of the WSN International Advisory Board.
The several high representatives of Pakistan participating in WSN’s workshop emphasized that the war in Afghanistan has had negative repercussions for Pakistan for 30 years since the Soviet invasion in 1978 and Pakistan had to bear the main burden of it until now – not the West. About six million Afghani refugees had to be absorbed, of which 2.5 million are still in the country as largest refugee community in the world. Not Pakistan but Afghanistan, they argue, is exporting terrorism and destabilization. The Afghani government is not doing enough to seal the border to the FATA and has too few troops near it, while Pakistan, with 100,000 soldiers deployed, has a 40 times higher troop concentration in the tribal areas than the Afghani government and ISAF have opposite to it. The Afghanistan government is even against measures such as sealing the border or instituting modern biometric passports. The Pakistani representatives thus say: do not blame Islamabad for infiltration but the responsible forces in Afghanistan.
The audience agreed that the blame games between Washington and Kabul on one side and Islamabad on the other must end and are counterproductive for the tasks at hand. The open criticism in the U.S. to do more is only weakening the position of those elements who want to do exactly this and inflames anti-Western emotions.
At the same time the Pakistani government must continue to contain the militants with intelligence operations and military power as otherwise the vacuum will be used by the radical forces.
Therefore the workshop was about formulating a double strategy for the FATA, a combination of power and reconciliation like the successful Harmel Report in 1967 of NATO which was the base for winning the Cold War by combining deterrence with détente and arms control with strong defence capabilities.
A consensus emerged that the main strategic task and top priority is to isolate the vast majority of 83 percent of peaceful inhabitants from the only one percent of fighters and maximum 17 percent of potential radicals, as done late but successfully in the Anbar province in Iraq.
Everyone also agreed that the containment of terrorism and the Taliban cannot be done by military means alone but requires carefully planed political and development approaches.
The FATA are crucial for the success of NATO and the U.S. in Afghanistan and the containment of terrorist threats. A new double strategy of power and reconciliation is needed not only for the FATA but also for Afghanistan to counter the Taliban and terrorism with more success.
The historically independent tribal areas – which are a part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan – are still one of the world’s poorest areas, far below the average of other parts of Pakistan. Because of the Western military action in Afghanistan in 2001/2002, the Taliban and other extremist groups – like Al Qaeda – infiltrated the FATA and are now destroying the historically grown tribal structure by executing militant command and control in large parts. More than 500 maliks, the tribal elders, have been killed until now by them.
The high rate of unemployment – especially among young people – along with the high rate of poverty, the propaganda against the so-called “occupation forces” in Afghanistan, and finally the so-called “collateral damage” inflicted by US air strikes on locals, made the FATA a perfect breeding ground for the “Neo-Taliban” and other extremists groups.
It has therefore become easy for the “Neo-Taliban “and other terrorist groups like Al Qaeda to recruit new fighters and even suicide bombers by offering incentives – such as jobs and payment – and allowing the financial support of the poor families while appealing to fight the foreigners. The participants of the workshop came to the unanimous conclusion that much more has to be done to tackle the problems of unemployment and lack of education now and that the West has now lost more than six years without a credible FATA strategy.
Lt General (ret) Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai was the governor of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) until January 2008 and the FATA Administrator for the Pakistan government as well as Corps Commander in Peshawar, and had also negotiated the North Waziristan peace agreement in 2006. (see the manuscript of his speech at the WSN FATA Round Table here) He informed the audience about the recent developments and the efforts in FATA to build up political and administrative structures. Before 9/11 the tribes lived in peace with each other and their neighbours. In December 2001 the tribesmen for the first time ever opened inaccessable areas of more than 5,000 square kilometres for the Pakistan Army and joined in fighting Al Qaeda, who fled from Tora Bora during operation Enduring Freedom. 8,000 troops from Pakistan sealed the border and killed more than 200 core Al Qaeda fighters. Since then 700 militants have been killed including 240 Arab fighters, while Pakistan has lost 1,800 soldiers with 3,000 wounded. Now there is a post every two kilometres at the border to Afghanistan and patrols. Yet many more Afghani troops should be deployed at the border with a real sharing of intelligence and military leadership. Pakistan has now 100,000 troops in the FATA, but the Afghanis and the West have far too few troops on Afghani soil to contain and stop the Taliban.
Lt General (ret) Ali Aurakzai,
Governor of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Peshawar, Pakistan until January 2008 responsible for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), about the developments in FATA
Ali Aurakzai went on to say that in order to win the hearts and minds of the tribesmen one should know their mentality of chivalry, honour, revenge, social equality and humanity. The tribesmen are conservative but not fundamentalists. They have been suspicious of foreigners for more than 1,000 years and have fought all invaders in history with much success. Therefore there is a strong anti-Foreigner and anti-Western and especially anti-U.S. feeling. When air strikes were introduced by the U.S. in the FATA the early support of the tribes was lost and their trust as well. When only one tribesman is killed, the entire tribe is obligated to revenge. They started to turn against the West and also the Pakistani forces. Problems are usually solved by the very effective system of tribal meetings, the Jirgas. Therefore this system and peace contracts should be used.
The Pakistan government and the West did not pay attention to development in this strategically important region. In 1999 and 2000 only $ 14m were spent each year to support economic development. For the first time ever in 2006 governor Aurakzai asked the tribes what they need and want to develop their region. Out of this came the Sustainable Development Plan (SDP), which envisions aid and investment of $ 2.06 bn to stimulate education and development. The target is to bring up the literacy rate from the current level of 16 percent to more than 50 percent in nine years, and to explore the area for rich minerals and coal. But although the U.S., the European states and the Gulf partners have a strategic interest in the FATA, until now “we haven’t got anything yet”.
FATA expert Ali Aurakzai recommends: do not see the FATA in isolation but look for a solution in Afghanistan where the problems come from. Renew the Grand Peace Jirga of Pakistan and Afghanistan, open the doors for a dialogue with all elements in the Jirgas, sign a ceasefire during the negotiations, start a massive development program to win the hearts and minds, strengthen the traditional institutions and support elements of democracy which fit to Afghanistan, significantly increase support to Pakistan as this country has suffered for 30 years, give the peace treaties a chance and be more patient with results. Only selective military operations are useful not massive air strikes and no withdrawal of Pakistani troops should take place. The man in the villages of the tribal areas must benefit from the program. The SDP needs full support to ensure its implementation. The core group are the young men between 15-17 years looking for jobs. Education must be given a top priority.
General (ret.) Ehsan ul Haq, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Pakistani Military (2004-2007), Director of ISI (2001- 2004), Corps Commander in Peshawar in 2000 and a WSN Advisory Board member – (see the manuscript of his speech at the WSN FATA Round Table here) argued that Pakistan paid the price and became a victim of the Kalashnikov culture and the largest refugee problem in the world. The security forces are under attack and the country has been destabilized by the turmoil in Afghanistan. More than 35,000 Mujaheddin were in the FATA in the 1980s fighting the Soviet Union, with massive support from the West and the Gulf states. The Madrassas were foreign-funded to recruit more of them. Today the cultural ethos has deteriorated, as seen by suicide attacks against mosques and funerals. The radicals are highly mobile, well trained and equipped, and funded with foreigners as technical support. There can be no military solution for the FATA but only a strategy to win the hearts and minds of the people. We have to address the roots of the problem, which are political, and isolate the negative elements with a clear understanding of their mindset. The local administration has to be strengthened with an urgent need for healing.
It was German General (ret) Dr. h.c. Klaus Naumann, former Chairman of NATO Military Committee and Chief of Staff of the German Bundeswehr, and also a Member of the WSN Advisory Board, who asked to integrate the new FATA module into a wider concept for the region. A two-track approach of development and implementation of counterinsurgency strategies which will be accepted by the people is imperative. We all have to look for objectives and interests of the parties involved to find a solution. The development has to come from the wish list of the people – and can not be imposed on them – and needs to focus on the young generation. Too much money has been eaten up by international organizations in Afghanistan with little progress. Unfortunately many NGOs and international organizations are more interested in their own jobs than quick progress and building lasting structures embedded into local society and institutions.
For the former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan (2002- 2005) Riaz Khokhar, “Human Resource Development” is the key for any progress. Education has to get first priority. The people wish to get education, as shown recently when 5,000 students, including 1,500 girls, turned up in Peshawar to get one of 200 scholarships for education. One focus should be simple training for jobs like plumbers or electricians. Those qualified craftsmen could work in the Gulf states, make money there and thus support their families in the tribal areas. Health and water management should also be addressed. He has no concerns about the capacity of the FATA Administration. The successful Earthquake Authority in Pakistan can be used as a best practise. The accountability should rest with the FATA Development Authority and not with new organizations. He proposed to keep the U.S. out of the FATA development because of strong resentments of the tribes and focus on support by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Europeans under the umbrella of the Pakistan FATA Authority.
Saudi entrepreneur Abdulaziz Sager, Founder and Chairman of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai (see www.grc.ae) argued that the West has failed in Afghanistan. The power of Afghani President Karzai is limited to Kabul and his own security apparatus is infiltrated by the Taliban, as shown recently by the attack on him. The GCC should, hand in hand with European countries and the EU, support Pakistan and the tribal areas. In her presentation Pakistan expert Faryal Leghari, researcher at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, offered detailed proposals for FATA projects in the economic, energy, agriculture, health care, energy sectors as well as proposals how to improve the “transport” infrastructure. In her view implementation should go through Pakistani officials at all levels. (see the manuscript of her speech at the WSN FATA Round Table here)
Sir Paul Lever, Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute in London, mentioned the dramatic threat of terrorist from the tribal areas for the United Kingdom. 30 conspiracy plots with 2,000 individuals potentially involved and 200 individuals on trial have been counted in the UK, with most of the plotters being of Pakistani origin and some having trained mostly in the tribal areas. Therefore the UK has an enormous interest to eliminate the virus of terrorism by helping the development in the FATA.
He was seconded by Dr. August Hanning, State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Interior, and former Director of the Federal Intelligence Agency (BND), who argued that internal and external security cannot be left separate any more. (see the manuscript of his speech at the WSN FATA Round Table here)
In July 2006 the so called “Sauerland” bombers wanted to blow up two trains in Germany with connections to training in the tribal areas. He sees risks that young Muslims in Europe will be radicalized and may be trained there. Dr. Hanning argued: "Germany too has a potential for home-grown terrorism, as in the case of the suspects arrested in the German area of Sauerland: A year ago, who would have thought that a suspected Islamist terrorist would go by the typically German name of "Fritz"? The recent Internet video by a suspected jihadist from Germany is especially unsettling: In the video, a young man from Saarland, who was also in contact with the Sauerland terrorist suspects, calls for holy war. We can assume that this video was filmed in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region."
The German political point of view was presented by Eckart von Klaeden (see the manuscript of this speech at the FATA Round Table here), young and influential Foreign Affairs spokesman of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union in the German Bundestag and member of the CDU Presidential Committee. He stressed the point that there is a direct threat through terrorist attacks in Germany and an indirect threat via Afghanistan.
Dr. Rainer Stinner (FDP) an influencial member of the Defence Committee of the Bundestag agreed and stressed the need for a dual strategy for the FATA and a fresh approach for development: "There is no security without development and no development without security !"
The World Security Network Foundation presented its new plan for a GCC- EU FATA Friendship Fund (see the presentation here) to help to improve the situation of the 3.5 m poor people living in the FATA:
- A new FATA double strategy of Pakistan, the U.S., the Europeans, NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council to address the issue of homeland security and stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a combination of power and reconciliation combining hawk and dove with the clear focus to separate the few radicals from the majority of peaceful inhabitants in the FATA
- Embedded into an overall peace approach for Afghanistan, Pakistan and India with a focus on strengthening joint interests in stability and limiting the impact of contradictory national interests. Promoting of a Grand Peace Jirga of Pakistan and Afghanistan hosted by the GCC and more India-Pakistan talks orchestrated by the EU and the U.S.
- End of the blame game and public pushing by the U.S.; build-up of better working relations with Pakistan intelligence and military and more effective cooperation at the Afghanistan border region including maybe fencing and more troops on the Afghan side
- Very low profile of the U.S., low profile of the EU, and higher profile by the Islamic GCC and full support for the Pakistani government and FATA Authority
- Quick start for a GCC-EU FATA Friendship Fund with € 1 bn to support the development in the FATA and the SDP Plan of the Pakistani government. Financed with € 100m per year each from GCC and EU for five years embedded into the expected U.S. funding of $ 150m per year
- Focus on projects for education (schools and handcrafts) and economic growth (agriculture, small businesses, micro credit). GCC should invite many thousands of craftsmen to work in the Gulf countries and bring money back with them
- Quick results for people in the villages needed with first projects to be identified in 2008
- Full integration into existing SDP planning and empowerment of the FATA Authority including a new technical team of experts there to control results and funding. Supplement to U.S. funding for FATA
- Homeland Security: additional funding (more than $ 100m per year) to strengthen the Frontier Corps in Pakistan, intelligence and military capacities versus the radicals and better results in cooperation with the Pakistanis
- Silent unofficial freeze of U.S. air strikes as they produce more radicals than they may kill and are counter-productive to the main aim of separating the majority of the peaceful tribesmen from the few radicals. Focus on better cooperation with Pakistan counter insurgency and intelligence. Keep the Predator strike option as a rare exception open for deterrence
- Give the peace treaties a chance and integrate them into on overall strategy. They must also take homeland security and stabilization in Afghanistan into account
With such a fresh approach, peace in the tribal areas has a chance and the national interests of the Gulf states, the U.S., the Europeans as well as of Pakistan and Afghanistan are served better than in the past. A new double strategy could address the three problems emerging from the FATA effectively.
With the imminent assumption of the EU Presidency by France, a country that has many troops in Afghanistan and has recently committed to send even more, such an initiative should be placed where it belongs: at the top of the international security policy agenda.
More informations about FATA you may find in the following documents:
- GCC-EU FATA Friendship Fund
- FATA Sustainable Development Plan (SDP) 2006-2015
- Facts about FATA
- Presentation on Development in FATA
- Presentation FATA Development Authority
- Presentation of the Implementation of Peace Plan in NWFP
- Presentation Overview of the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones for Afghanistan and border areas of Pakistan
- The GCC- EU FATA Friendship Plan - Gulf Research Center Dubai
Meeting the Challenge of Militancy and Terror in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan