Interview with National Security Advisor (NSA) of Pakistan Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua
By Agha Iqrar Haroon
“Unending Afghan conflict may not be won with vengeance or mere power but through seeking closure of conflict instead of winning it. Sometimes prolonged use of force gets diminishing returns. Closure of conflict can, however help to end sufferings of Afghanistan and its poor people who have seen nothing else but war since decades.
Stakeholders of Afghan war are taking time to understand that Afghan conflict needs its closure which is easier to achieve option rather than winning the conflict”.
This was expressed by National Security Advisor (NSA) of Pakistan Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua during a frank conversation with Dispatch News Desk (DND) News Agency here in Islamabad.
Conversation covered a range of regional issues including the future of Afghanistan and options to bring peace to Afghan people, Pak-Afghan relationship, US criticism against CPEC project and alleged relations of Islamabad with Afghan Taliban.
During conversation, Gen Janjua expressed his view that sometimes military conflicts enter into a phase where use of power gets saturated and cannot bring results. In such situations, however, seizer or closure of conflict can provide a way forward to find political solution.
“Military history testifies that sometimes closure is not a face saving rather easier than winning and more enduring,” commented Gen Janjua.
It is pertinent to mention that Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua in uniform fought relentlessly in Swat Valley and in Baluchistan against terrorists, extremists and separatists before assuming his role as NSA of Pakistan after his retirement from Pakistan Army in 2015.
During his tenure in Balochistan as Commander of Southern Command, Gen Janjua demonstrated that peaceful solution of a conflict is achievable through non-kinetic means and alternative strategies instead of use of unnecessary force. People centric measures, working on the root causes, healing the wounds instead of inflicting them and seeking political solutions by dialogue and peaceful means can work better than use of force alone. He resumed his assignment in Baluchistan in August 2013 when burning of Pakistani flags were front page stories. He connected with the people and made them the centre of all his endeavors. He valued, respected and honored people and resultantly upon his departure in October 2015, Pakistani flags were seen everywhere. Now, one can see Pakistani flags flying at rooftops and children carrying national flags in their hands in areas previously known as “areas of insurgency”. Today all functions and schools take a start by signing National Anthem which was forgotten. Nearly 2000 militants have already surrendered.
When asked to explain proposal for establishing a political authority to resolve Afghan crises, he recently placed to US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale, Gen. Janjua elucidated that setting up an empowered “US Political Authority” can help to seek political solution for unending Afghan war. “Military mindset engaged in Afghanistan may have a reorientation from within”, stated Gen Janjua. He was of the view that poor governance and excessive use of power are (were) major impediments to resolve Afghan issue. He believes that US Political Authority will focus to win the war politically where resides the solution of Afghanistan. The Authority can also oversee political and administrative demands and can have an advisory role to bring better governance in Kabul.
“War in Afghanistan has actually turned out to be a war of two cousins i.e. Afghan Taliban and the sitting government. World is funding the government and fighting their opponent cousin, Taliban. Therefore, it looks that reconciliation is not the priority of government.” said Gen Janjua while explaining dynamics of Afghan war.
When asked to comment on future of Pak-Afghan relations, Gen Nasser Janjua stated that
“I believe that Afghanistan has a great future rather Pakistan and Afghanistan have a great joint future if war is over and peace is brought to Afghanistan. I say this because both these countries have a potential to become a massive trade corridor of the region” commented Gen. Janjua.
He, however, felt sad for people of Afghanistan who were into a perpetual war for no fault of their own since last 40 years. Praising Afghan youth, he said.
“Afghan youth is very resilient, talented and intelligent and it (Afghan Youth) deserves a promising future and opportunities but constant war is the biggest impediment on their way to prosperity. Therefore, there is every reason to seek the closure of conflict in Afghanistan rather than winning it.”
When asked to comment upon allegations that Pakistan was housing Haqqanis and Afghan Taliban, Gen Janjua called such allegation only a part of blame game. He stated that unfortunately failure in Afghanistan has resulted in such blames on Pakistan. Afghan conflict has (had) become perpetual due to wrong prosecution of war, absence of political solution and untimely drawdown of Forces by the previous administration; creating a vacuum of Force in Afghanistan and Taliban got advantage of the situation. That’s how today they have control of 40% of Afghanistan. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is fighting with the State of Pakistan because it sees Pakistan supporting the infidels forces (anti-Muslim).
Gen Janjua asked a question, if we were housing Haqqani / Afghan Taliban who are Muslim, then why TTP is fighting us?? This means, we are siding with muslims and not infidels. He reiterated, if we were supporting Afghan Taliban, we would not have lost 60,000 lives. We could have neutralized TTP by using Afghan Taliban which the world fails to understand.
He was of the view that we want peace in Pakistan and the world should understand peace in Pakistan is (was) inevitably linked with peace in Afghanistan.
When asked to comment on US statement against China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Gen Janjua stated that CPEC is (was) a project that will bring prosperity not only to this region rather to the entire world.
“Pakistan and China are connected through Karakuram Highway since 1960. Why this passage is under US criticism now? ,” Gen Janjua raised a question.
“While opposing CPEC project for favoring India, United States has actually once again accepted that the “Kashmir Dispute” indeed US has glorified the dispute. Peaceful solution of Kashmir crises will bring durable and lasting peace to the region. US should rather help to resolve Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions instead of becoming a partner of India that is committing large scale human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, settlement of Kashmir will make the region peaceful and will end forever the reasons of war between India and Pakistan.” added Gen Janjua.