Pakistan's Policies and Misperceptions

Pakistan's Policies and Misperceptions

Such distortions in perception were shared by Pakistani officials. Theirpolicies were based on an assumption of Pushtun dominance in postwarAfghanistan. The Pushtunistan issue had dominated relations between the twocountries since Pakistan had become a nation. Harboring Afghanistan's potentialfuture leadership offered insurance that once a Pushtun dominated mujahidingovernment was installed it would drop the issue. This goal was linked toPakistan's heavy military investment in the Ghilzai region adjacent to itsborder. Pakistan's involvement in liberating the region was intended to improvefuture relations.

In addition to ingrained cultural traits, resistance politics were shaped bysituational factors. The institutional and operational development of thePeshawar parties was stunted by circumstances they could not control. Pakistan'sfear of Soviet reprisal induced it to oppose the establishment of an Afghangovernment in exile. It also discouraged the emergence of one party or a unionof parties which could have made the resistance less dependent. Pakistan'sinfluence over the parties was enhanced by compelling them to compete forsupport. In walking a tightrope between partiality and caution, Pakistan'spolicies stunted the growth of the parties.

The weakness of the parties was acutely evident in their failure to create acredible shadow government in anticipation of Kabul's fall. Anticipating thecapture of a major city (Jalalabad or, perhaps, Khost) in the wake of the Sovietpullback from the eastern border provinces in the summer of 1988, the partiescreated a "provisional government" based on a constitution that wouldestablish an Islamic Republic. The government was stillborn. No suitable seat toplace it was captured, no prominent leader was placed in charge of it, it wasnot funded, and the parties, themselves, ignored it.

Once it became certain that the Soviets were leaving, the creation of anauthority capable of taking control of Afghanistan was more urgent. Thissituation led to initiatives by Pakistan and the United States, with Saudisupport, to create an interim government which could politically offset itsrival in Kabul, coordinate the final military effort and prepare for theestablishment of a postwar government. A shura (council) of resistanceleaders met on February 10, 1989. Token participation was permitted fromexpatriates abroad, but Shia representatives were not seated due to a disputeover representation. The prospect of transferring power to a separate authorityparalyzed the leadership. It feared political eclipse. An interim governmentmight connect with the commanders who already exercised control over much ofAfghanistan. Only Gailani made an effort to have major commanders participate inthe shura.

After considerable pressure from the ISI--and allegedly some bribing withSaudi money--the Afghanistan Interim Government (AIG) was created. In essence,it was a cabinet consisting of the seven party leaders and their senior deputiesand a few technocrats. The voting was arranged in a manner which assured thatthe weakest parties would get the highest posts. Mujaddidi was named PrimeMinister and Sayyaf, his deputy. The AIG was given the task of creating apermanent government acceptable to popular will. Whether that process would bebased on a jirgah or elections was left open. An effort was made alsoto centralize budgeting, but the parties continued to operate as they hadbefore, with little attention being paid the AIG by early 1990.

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