a Someone should care, maybe not you....: PKZ and confusion in War .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Someone should care, maybe not you....

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

23 August 2005

PKZ and confusion in War

I was sitting around today waiting (at home) for my father to go into surgery and messing around on Google and I punched in the name Pacha Khan Zadran. Anyone out there heard of him before? Be honest.
My guess is no. PKZ as we called him in Afghanistan is a WARLORD in southeast Afghanistan. The all caps are deliberate becasue he is an all caps kinda guy. He was a major player for the US in the war against the Taliban and Al Queda there. He rules his tribe (the Zadran) with an iron hand. And he is a fascinating example of why Afghans are different from us.

We in the West have this really strong sense of loyalty to causes. We associate a cause with our people and make them one. Germans and Nazism (old but an example) Americans and democracy, examples abound. Once the cause is accepted we drive and fight to the end for it. Afghans do not have this sense of cause. They have a sense of tribe and people. As soon as it becomes apparent that a cause is bad for their tribe/clan/family they abandon it. We see this as treason and untrustworthyness, they see it as common sense. I was interrogating a commander from the Hizeb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and he was telling me how after fighting against the Northern Alliance for years he (and the rest of HIG) joined with them when the Taliban looked like they were going to win. I asked him how he could expect me to believe that they guys he had been fighting against would accept him so readily. His answer? Because he had changed sides. He couldn't understand that I would doubt him. He informed me that "It is my right as a human to change sides when I need to." This is why if we stick to our guns in Afghanistan the Taliban is doomed. As soon as it becomes clear that they aren't going to win the majority will abandon them. In point of fact, the majority have already abandoned them. And their hardcore remnant is begining to fade away too. (Not that the US press will tell you any of this.)

Now the point of that little diversion is to explain why there is a big seperation in how people in the Army in Afghanistan view PKZ. He is anti-Taliban. He also happens to be anti-Karzai. Or prehaps it would just be more accurate to say he is Pro PKZ and pro Zadrani. He will help us in our casue so long as we are helping him in his. He feels it is his right to rule the three provinces his tribe lives in, Paktika, Paktia, and Khost. (called P2K) He basicly appointed himself boss and has gone to war with the Governor appointed by Kabul over the right to run the area. The US forces are caught in the middle. (Sometimes quite litterally as the two sides are shelling each other with rounds flying over the US firebase outside Gardez) PKZ will stop Taliban and Al Queda insurgents coming from Pakistan unless the US ticks him off then he will guide them. He is quite friendly with many of the US forces, a Counter Intelligence team I know swore up and down that he was the best chance we had to catch UBL. (Usama bin Laden) On the other hand, the part of the US Army that is supporting the reconstruction of Afghanistan, desperatly wants him arrested locked up and taken away becasue he is a destabilizing force in the area. He is directly linked to the intel that led to the US bombing a wedding aprty and a convoy of village elders in the area. (all his opponents) We in the Interogation center saw both sides of this conflict as we read the varying INTSUMS (Intelligence Summaries)coming in citeing all the horrible tings he had done (kipnapping relief workers and holding them hostage, selling weapons to ACM (Anti Coalition Militia) forces, threatening the government)and those citing all the great things he was doing (guiding SF teams through the mountains, providing security for outlying bases, killing Al Queda operatives that tried to sneak in.) He was actively doing both things. And our higher ups couldn't seem to make up their mind as to whether he should be supported or taken out. (arrested preferably) If we arrested him the Zadran tribe would turn against us. But the other tribes in the area that hate him would leap to support the government. There would be at least temporary destabilization and fighting. But we are getting that anyway in his long self serving war against the appointed Governor, and attempts to conquer the city of Gardez. We need to decide if our cause is the long term peace and stability of Afghanistan (in which case we arrest him) or the short term benefit of having him (and his very well armed and experienced troops) help us hunt Al Queda.
My vote: Take him down. It will cause some short term grief, fighting, maybe even a few American deaths, but in the long term, it will help bond south east Afghanistan to the country instead of to the WARLORD.


Blogger Adrian said...

I agree.

Take the guy out.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Miranda said...

"We need to decide if our cause is the long term peace and stability of Afghanistan (in which case we arrest him) or the short term benefit of having him (and his very well armed and experienced troops) help us hunt Al Queda."

Well said. I agree also.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This a good example of the classic dilemma of Realpolitik. And no matter which choice you make, it'll come back to haunt you.

Just look at the current crop of numbskulls, who are simultaneously insisting that the US should avoid "unilateral" action in Iraq, and "engage" existing countries (and their existing leaders), yet will turn around in a heartbeat at sneer that the US was supporting Saddam in '81 in the Iran-Iraq conflict. You can't have it both ways. Working with other countries means working with their possibly unpleasant dictator.

8:07 PM  
Blogger The Zombie Lama said...

Usually better to take the long term view. No reason this guy needs to be in the position he's in.

8:52 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

Allow me to clarify (so as to avoid the Pat Robertson syndrome) when I say take out I mean remove from poser. arrest, or other wise remove. Not asasinate. (Which would be guaranteed way to get the Zadrani to go on the warpath)

3:17 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This was great to read. I love learning history!

5:25 AM  
Blogger The Zombie Lama said...

I kinda figured. Thats why I phrased it the way I did... ;o)

6:31 AM  

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