Corps commander interview: ‘Perceptions of Taliban victory dangerous’

Published: April 21, 2012

You kill five, and you’re making 50 more enemies. It’s very clear arithmetic: Rabbani. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWAR: 

The withdrawal of most combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 has raised questions from Kabul to Brussels to Washington about the potential chaos that may follow if the Taliban press to take over again.          

Few people are as worried about what the pullout could trigger next door in Pakistan as Lieutenant-General Khalid Rabbani, commander of the frontline corps fighting militants in the northwest of the country.

Sitting in his office in the heavily-fortified headquarters of the XI Corps in Peshawar, he speaks anxiously about creating the right perceptions as the foreign troop exit approaches.

“If they are leaving and giving a notion of success to the Taliban of Afghanistan, this notion of success may have a snowballing effect on to the threat matrix of Afghanistan,” Rabbani told Reuters in an interview this week.

“On our side, it may give impetus to the already dying down so-called Tehreek-i-Taliban’s effort over here.”

The parliament recently concluded a review of ties with the United States, recommending an end to American drone strikes in the nation’s tribal areas.

Rabbani acknowledged the strikes can be effective, but said they also kill civilians and are counterproductive.

“You kill five, and you’re making 50 more enemies. It’s very clear arithmetic. This is the arithmetic that we’re trying to make them understand,” he said, adding that instead intelligence should be shared so that Pakistan can act.

“They may indicate (a target), we’ll pound it with the precision shooting of our F-16s. So it can be done, it has been done at one or two places. Why can’t this model be followed, we keep on telling them this is a possible model to be followed.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.

Reader Comments (35)

  • Logic Europe
    Apr 21, 2012 - 10:41AM

    The only solution for Pakistan is to cooperate with America otherwise it will be end of Pakistan Remnember this is what America means when it tells you IT IS YOUR WAR

    Recommend

  • Hakeem
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:16AM

    Victory of Taliban or loss of Taliban our military leadership will toe American line
    Pakistan can not simply dare to challenge American interests in the region-

    Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:19AM

    @Logic Europe:
    You are wrong here sir because remember that Taliban have attacked in Kabul and you US’ and NATO’s forces equipped with heavy weapons couldn’t control them.And by Bannu jail’s and Kabul’s attacks Taliban have proven the statements given by Pakistani and US’ leaders on the media in which they are saying/they have said that we have broken Taliban’s backbone and we have weakened them all are false,fabricated and embellished and US’ and Pakistan’s leaders are deceiving and fooling the and the world as well and camouflaging their defeats and demerits from the world also and Taliban have proven it also that they are still strong and united and can easily attack any where any time with hundreds of fighters and most modern/advanced weapons.
    Please correct yourself and see the ground realities with open eyes and stop star gazing.

    Recommend

  • Falcon
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:21AM

    Its good to see Lt. General’s insight on the issue. But I think armies all across the world and through out known history have been good at initiating wars but not that well at ending wars. On one hand, we are seeing such a political upheaval against drone strikes alone, on the other hand, the esteemed General is talking about using F-16s instead???

    Recommend

  • Logic Pakistan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:27AM

    @Logic Europe: Its time America cooperate with Pakistan, enough of playing in the region. Pakistan knows how to live with or without you.

    Recommend

  • Realist
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:30AM

    @Logic Europe:

    Or if Pakistan had stayed neutral instead of playing the role of a NATO mercenary then today it would not be facing the prospect of an angry Taliban focusing their attention on it after NATO pullout. Should have chosen more wisely.

    Recommend

  • vasan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:30AM

    Does he mean to say that F16 is more than a drone in precision shooting. Call the drone as F16 and own it. That is what will happen

    Recommend

  • Bakir Mukeem
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:36AM

    @Logic Europe:

    No i think Pakistan should let America establish “democracy” in afghanistan first so that all countries in the surrounding can benefit from it including Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • gp65
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:45AM

    “You kill five, and you’re making 50 more enemies. It’s very clear arithmetic. This is the arithmetic that we’re trying to make them understand,” he said, adding that instead intelligence should be shared so that Pakistan can act.
    “They may indicate (a target), we’ll pound it with the precision shooting of our F-16s”

    So you are saying that F16 are more precise than drones? Who are you kidding. You just want to ensure that your assets are not targeted.

    Recommend

  • Arijit Sharma
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:54AM

    ” … Few people are as worried about what the pullout could trigger next door in Pakistan as Lieutenant-General Khalid Rabbani, commander of the frontline corps fighting militants in the northwest of the country. … “

    Lieutenant-General Khalid Rabbani should go talk to Hamid Gul for ideas. The later seems to relish the fact that America is getting a “shikast” in Afghanistan.

    Recommend

  • Z.Khan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 11:57AM

    Few points bothering me now.
    1. Did he give interview with prior permission of COAS? Normally such statements are released by ISPR and not directly by Corp Commander. Any way if given by consent of high ups then might be an attempt to air what view point Army has on the matter.
    2. He said withdrawal of US troop might give notion of success to Taliban and may have a snowballing effect on to the threat matrix of Afghanistan. It is questionable. The way NATO troops are pounding still with 2 years at their disposal, one can not say notion of success will prevail with Taliban. Mind you Alqaida seems almost vanished from the area.
    3. Impetus to already dying down Tahrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan can be achieved much quicker if Pakistan Army decides to disassociate itself with all Taliban connected activities and declines its soil to safe heavens for Talibans.
    4. Compared to F-16 precision bombing, drones are much more effective, precise and correct. Between the lines he admitted it. Only courage required to accept this fact and to inform the public also. When real trust will evolve on both sides, with intelligence sharing of Pakistan Army, these drones can prove the most lethal weapon against terrorists.

    Recommend

  • Nabeel
    Apr 21, 2012 - 12:10PM

    “You kill five, and you’re making 50 more enemies. It’s very clear arithmetic. This is the arithmetic that we’re trying to make them understand,” he said, adding that instead intelligence should be shared so that Pakistan can act.
    “They may indicate (a target), we’ll pound it with the precision shooting of our F-16s.

    You what? Foolishness and stupidity at its best. Intehaaa hai.

    Recommend

  • Kallook
    Apr 21, 2012 - 12:54PM

    @Ahmer Ali:
    I am not sure I understand your point in your reply to Logic Europe. Logic Europe did not say Taliban is losing or that the US is winning. He merely said that it is in Pakistan’s interests to cooperate with the US to end the Taliban menace because otherwise, as Lt. General Rabbani has pointed out, Pakistani Taliban are going to be strengthened. Unless Ahmer Ali wants the Taliban to take over Pakistan, I am not sure what beef he has with Logic Europe! And if he DOES WANT the Taliban to take over Pakistan, then he should say so upfront and there will be no further debate. What is frustrating is that many Pakistanis support and sympathise with the Taliban in their fight against the US, and at the same time hope that the Taliban will spare Pakistan itself. What Ahmer Ali doesn’t seem to be understand is that this two-faced approach is hypocritical and is a recipe for disaster, for Pakistan, the region and the rest of the world. Pakistani Army seems to be beginning to perceive this, finally, but it is disappointing that there are many people like Ahmer Ali who do not see the consequences of their sympathy and support for Taliban.

    Recommend

  • Hamda imam
    Apr 21, 2012 - 12:58PM

    @Ahmer ali: they are puppet of a fully loaded agency. They are weak this much that covers their face when comes to media.
    A nature man was telling it seems that when uniformed man come to media its necessary for him to pose himself in plain cloths. Who knows he mula umer is from the folds of our army.. The point is that the zakat sud and drug’s money is strong..
    our army has poly jobs 1 to creat enemy and the 2nd to speak to safe pakistan from fabricated enemys. For the plunder they arranged DPC and af and pk TALIBAN.

    Recommend

  • observer
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:13PM

    @Ahmer Ali

    And by Bannu jail’s and Kabul’s attacks Taliban have proven the statements given by Pakistani and US’ leaders on the media in which they are saying/they have said that we have broken Taliban’s backbone and we have weakened them all are false,

    Its good that you mentioned both Kabul and Bannu.

    Now, do remember that while the Afghan forces managed to kill the 36 attackers, the Bannu forces abjectly surrendered.

    And that Sir, is what the General is warning about. He is saying that the withdrawal of NATO/ US may lead to establishment of the Caliphate of Taliban in Pakistan sooner than in Afghanistan.The Gen says “On our side, it may give impetus to the already dying down so-called Tehreek-i-Taliban’s effort over here.”

    If you find this to be ‘good news’ for Pakistan and its Army, then let me remind you a ‘nuclear Taliban’ will not be tolerated by the world. Not even by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Do you understand the implications of this? I hope to God you do.

    Recommend

  • Ashar
    Apr 21, 2012 - 1:20PM

    Afghanistan should be given to Taliban for the sake of Peace, tranquility, elimination of corruption, elimination of poppy cultivation, restoration of human rights, law and order and everything good that is expacted for the people of the unfortunate land, which is absent in the present government backed by US and allied forces.
    When we will start talking truth about Afghanistan?

    Recommend

  • Mirza Zulfiqar Baig
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:27PM

    Our leaders need money from US, that is the reason that utter consequences post American exit from Afghanistan. This money never reaches to the poor people of Pakistan. These talibans were being called as Mujahideen by US which fought against soviet unions occupation. Now these people are fighting against US led forces. Its like if someone occupies anyone’s house, the owner of the house will fight to take it back. The best way to resolve any issue is to talk and negotiate to settle it amicably. Innocent people are also being killed in drone attacks and there is no media coverage to show their plight. Lets pray for the peace to prevail in this world.

    Recommend

  • Apr 21, 2012 - 2:27PM

    I think this is duplicitous talk. Some in the military must want a Talibani Pakistan, because Pakistan still protects the Taliban militants in North Waziristan.

    Hillary Clinton just this week reiterated her call for Pakistan to take control of North Waziristan, thereby driving out the Taliban in the process. This demand has been on the table for the past many years. Pakistan still hasn’t acted on them. Why? Because of a future possible influence in Afghanistan via the Taliban.

    And, still you say that the Taliban victory in Afghanistan is going to have an effect on Taliban in Pakistan? Hell yeah! What else did you expect?

    You support Terror, Terror is what you get.

    Recommend

  • Apr 21, 2012 - 2:41PM

    Let us put the things in nut-shell !

    What is wrong if:- We bring in methodocally, progressively, systematically, change in our legal and political systems. That is the basic demand of Tabalanism… And that is what our ruling elites and other leaders are resisting.

    And what is wrong if: We do away with our current systems, which provides a paradise only to proponents of western democracy, This system on one hand provides dozens of body-guards for each one of MPA/MNA and their families, and on the other citizens are scared of sending their children to school for fear of kid-napping and rapping.

    Let sane people give this situation a cool thought. Same way as these days talks have started about unproductive, unnecessry stand-off on Siachin. Let not the destructive paradigms keep encircling us; and let us get out of them for the sake of ourselves and our coming generations.

    Recommend

  • usmani
    Apr 21, 2012 - 2:44PM

    General Khalid shooting ball not comprehensible.Shooting the high handed target by F-16which he think more precise than the latest model of say Beast of Kandahar MQ 9 .Not digestible sorry

    Recommend

  • True Muslim Paki
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:28PM

    Lt. General Khalid is really a confused man. On one side, he says if Taliban wins, this is a threat, on the other he says, we should fight them since it creates more Taliban. If you dont want them to win, & you dont fight, then what to do?.

    Recommend

  • Rashed Aurakzai
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:44PM

    “They may indicate (a target), we’ll pound it with the precision shooting of our F-16s.” Yes but the empty compounds evacuated before hand by the terrorists.

    Recommend

  • A Khan
    Apr 21, 2012 - 3:52PM

    @ Logic Europe and Others
    I think we need to understand the complete perspective
    1. US has miserably failed in their pursuit and they want to leave sooner than later
    2. Taliban are the only force who has on ideology and are spread all over the country
    3. All other things are tribal in nature in the whole of Afg. so tribalism will never work because of vested interests
    4. Hence, it is of utmost importance that both CIA and ISI sit together and formulate a Taliban lead government after the withdrawal in 2014 and make sure that these guys are not anti West.
    5. This is the only way to tackle this problem !!!!! neither drones not F 16s are going to do any damage to the cause that Talibans have been pursuing

    Recommend

  • MarkH
    Apr 21, 2012 - 4:21PM

    “You kill five, and you’re making 50 more enemies. It’s very clear arithmetic. This is the arithmetic that we’re trying to make them understand”

    and the simple part you don’t understand is those 50 more enemies are already 50 enemies. They just talk more when distressed. No thanks to Pakistan’s own manipulation of the masses.

    Recommend

  • Super Star
    Apr 21, 2012 - 5:21PM

    “Afghanistan should be given to Taliban for the sake of Peace, tranquility, elimination of corruption, elimination of poppy cultivation, restoration of human rights, law and order and everything good that is expacted for the people of the unfortunate land”
    This is the most bogus statement made ever. All thos who think that after NATO/ US forces withdrawal , the Taliban and likeminded people will take over power in Afghanistan like before are living in a fools paradise. What Taliban did in Afghanistan is completely destroy the social fabric of the nation and its people with their barbaric laws and medieval mindset and of course their welcoming and support of Islamic insurgents all over the world to train and set up shop and attack western and foreign governments. You think US will let Al qaida train in Kabul again, you think China will allow the Taliban to train the Xinjiang/ Uighur extremists again? Also will India be happy to see the so called Kashmiri Mujahideen set up training camps with the wild islamists and come back to J & K again. The threat is paramount to all the world :: Russia – Chechen extremists, jundullah of Iran. Uzbek Islamists and so called fighters of Umma will never be allowed to assemble and make Afganistan the launch pad of terror attacks throughout the world. US and other nations including China will keep an eagle eye through bases and drones to see that no Taliban takeover happens ever again. So….. all those who think a NATO withdrawal means victory for Taliban stop dreaming and come back to reality

    Recommend

  • Omer
    Apr 21, 2012 - 5:35PM

    @ Hakeem. Only an irrational person/and or nation will dare challenge America. This is a real world and not an ideal world – might is right!.

    Most Pakistanies don’t want to live in sanctions and become Libya and North Korea.

    Recommend

  • Logic Europe
    Apr 21, 2012 - 6:15PM

    America will mn ever leave ,it will make a military withdrawal with a right to return any time
    now no body seems to know the fact that Taliban were incharge for many years and what a mess they made. they were fighting northern alloace and at least a million peole were killed before American invasion, They supported UBL and broke international and is
    amic law,and no one thinks about the people killed after Americans came in,,,,,,So,let every body leave Taliban and just don’t make your own afganistan unless you want to live like wild people

    Recommend

  • Ashar
    Apr 21, 2012 - 7:32PM

    @Super Star:
    I think this is the time all the scholars of our age should evaluate and compare the period of Taliban rule in Afghanistan with the present rule under the support of ISAF / US Army. Any unbaised evaluation will easily find its way to the most comparable realities such as the status of poppy cultivation within and after Taliban regime, Law and order situation inside the country and at the borders, and relationship with neighbouring countries. One will realize that during the Taliban Regime things were under control and environment was peacefull for all kind of activities all around the country. Poppy cultivation was reduced to zero. While now a days it is once again touching its hieghts, and no body can travel in Afghanistan without paying tax to worlords in thier respective areas since there is no governance at all. Its only propaganda techniques that has built fake opinion like yours which has no mettle at all. This is the reason you have mixed all kind of Mujahideen activities in one sentence while they are all different according to thier respective circumstances. Any way, the respectful exit is the only solution for the entire ISAF in the present situation of Afghanistan leaving the country in the hands of the locals to decide its future.

    Recommend

  • Concerned
    Apr 21, 2012 - 8:07PM

    Drones are far superior to F-16′s in precision bombing of small targets whereas the latter causes more collateral damage to both human lives and property. US would never disclose its targets in NWA to Pakistan since they dont trust them to eliminate their so called strategic assets. As per Western analysts on Afghanistan, Taleban after coming back to power in this country would pose serious problems to Pakistan by backing TTP and other groups who are likely to join this group.

    Recommend

  • AC
    Apr 21, 2012 - 9:10PM

    @Concerned:
    Not true. F-16s with the sniper pod which Pakistan has is a superior targeting platform than drones. More importantly it gives the decision making back to Pakistan. Of course liberals prefer the current cowardly way of outsourcing the war.

    Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Apr 22, 2012 - 12:51AM

    @Nabeel:

    no need to get so emotional. he’s making a logical point about drones. while these are effective they obv have killed civilians. general rabbani is a good officer and didnt become corp commanders by giving rishwat to someone. the man’s very smart.

    Recommend

  • monafiq
    Apr 22, 2012 - 1:51AM

    The drones are very effective in the Troubled Areas……………….there is no reaction among the Pushtuns.Recommend

  • True Muslim Paki
    Apr 22, 2012 - 4:04AM

    @AC. C’mon man, how much ever sniper pod exist, the drone targeting would be superior due to the low speeds & camera’s mounted. Also, the Laser guided missiles are very accurate compared to bombs mounted on our F-16′s.
    Whatever the case, PTI stand off drones & not going to war is a must for every paki. Soon we’ll establish a caliphate in Pakistan

    Recommend

  • Shahzad
    Apr 24, 2012 - 6:59AM

    @Arijit Sharma:
    Please keep personal attacks to a minimum.

    Recommend

  • Sandip
    May 10, 2012 - 1:46AM

    I wonder what prevents the general from using F-16s to pound targets identified by the ISI? How come we never hear of PAF attacking targets identified by ISI? Or is it that ISI is too busy identifying targets inside Afghanistan and planning attacks on those?

    It’s almost as if PA doesn’t move on its own without a shove from Washington. Is drone intelligence the only way of identifying the targets? And what about using the drones that the armed forces are purchasing from Italy? Why can’t those be used to identify targets for the F-16s?

    In any case, it’s best these generals don’t talk since they only serve to further reinforce the already accepted fact that Pak Army is behind the talibans. If you want to change this perception, please start acting rather than talking rubbish.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan