What do the Pashtuns think of the border?
The Pashtuns don't think much of the border. They go back and forth between it. I'll give you an example.
There is this Pashtun, Jalaluddin Haqqani, who's from the Khost-Miram Shah area. Khost is the Afghan side of the border; Miram Shah, North Waziristan, is the Pakistan side of the border. In the 1980s, back in the day when I was reporting on the mujahideen, Jalaluddin Haqqani used to give interviews to me and other journalists. He was the recipient of U.S./CIA aid. He was a big, fierce fighter against the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan, and that's why we supported him.
Fast-forward a little bit: We neglected the region after the Soviets fell. We pulled out. Haqqani is a man of utter realism and pragmatism. He eventually allied himself with Al Qaeda, with Osama bin Laden. Haqqani stayed in the region, and lo and behold, he's now one of the most wanted people on the FBI files, or he's up there with the bad guys, all because of our neglect in a way. I don't believe that Haqqani, unlike other mujahideen leaders, was implacably anti-Western. I think he was out for the highest bidder, always.
But anyway, Haqqani and his troops -- and Haqqani is very sick now. His son is really in charge. Haqqani, I believe, has Parkinson's disease. Haqqani's people, his troops, which reputedly were involved in the Indian Embassy bombing in Kabul, move back and forth over this border as if this border doesn't exist. The border is their region of control essentially, both the Afghan side and the Pakistan side. And Haqqani is just one of these figures who's been around for 20 years or more and is a testimony to our neglect and, in [a] way, to our failure in the region.
The other is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who, unlike Haqqani, has always been implacably anti-Western, implacably pro-Arab, pro-Wahhabi, pro-radical Saudi. Even in the 1980s he took money from the U.S. via the Pakistani intelligence people, but always was very clear in his hatred of the West. Hekmatyar has a presence in Kunar province near Nuristan. He has a presence in Logar province. In these places he's liked; he's respected by the people. He has real territory with tunnels, with tree cover. It's a place where bin Laden might theoretically [be in] hiding if he isn't on the Pakistani side of the border.
Then there's Abdul Razul Sayyaf, again from the 1980s, mujahideen leader, got support from the United States, but implacably anti-Western, implacably anti-American, implacably pro-Wahhabi, pro-radical Saudi, who is, again, still active.
So it's much more complex than just the Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the Karzai government -- the good guys and the bad guys, so to speak. There are a lot of players in this thing, and unless we start breaking off the pieces, dealing with some of the bad guys who are willing to be dealt with, if the price were right, we're not going to make progress.