Asif Haroon Raja
The steep decline in America’s image and standing after 9/11 is a direct reflection of global distaste for the instruments of American hard power: the Iraq invasion, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, torture, rendition, and Blackwater’s killings of Iraqi civilians. – Shashi Tharoor
Unforgiving attitude of the losers
The Taliban’s meteoric victory has dejected the USA, Europe, India, Israel, Iran, liberals and seculars all over the world but has pleased the Islamists. Countries governed by parliamentary democracy and dictatorship are also upset.
The victorious Taliban after giving general amnesty to the collaborators, have neither carried out any retributions, nor demanded trials of those who had indulged in massive war crimes as was the case with the victors of the 2nd world war carrying out Nuremberg trials of the Germans, or sought war compensations.
The losing US-NATO are however, in black mood, and seem to be primed to avenge their defeat through means other than the military to teach a lesson to the Taliban as well as the convenient scapegoat Pakistan, which was first held responsible for the instability in Afghanistan and now for the victory of the Taliban, and for supporting the new regime.
Ironically the losers are trying to dictate terms to the victors and no one is asking them as to who has given them this right.
Governed by Islamophobia, Islamic Emirate is unacceptable to the prejudiced West, and is therefore finding faults in every good or bad act taken by the new regime in Kabul and is trying to unsettle them. They want them to fulfill their promises immediately. It is like asking a one-month old baby to start running.
The US controlled UN has not fulfilled its commitments given to the Palestinians and Kashmiris 74 years ago. Did the Kabul regime, the Afghan Army and India live up to the expectations of the US, or did the US fulfill its promises made to the Afghans in their 20-year rule?
The US after forcibly occupying Afghanistan chose to keep the heavy majority Afghan Pashtuns out of power and handed over the reins of power to the minority ethnic communities. Idea of an inclusive regime never occurred to the occupiers.
The two puppet regimes were responsible for fomenting subversion in the region, deepening cleavages within the Afghan society and for creating a big mess. And yet the US tolerated the puppets and richly rewarded them simply because they governed the country as a so-called Islamic Republic under the US tailored constitution.
Ill-intended demand of inclusive regime
The interim set-up in Kabul has not pleased the US, its strategic allies, and the neighbors of Afghanistan. All are insisting on an inclusive regime not realizing that how can revolutionary Taliban accommodate collaborators who aided and abetted foreign occupation, undertook mass killings and inflicted cruelties upon them. Traditionally, the revolutionaries undertook mass killings of their opponents.
The Northern Alliance elements are though Muslims, but have a secular bent of mind and are predisposed to the western civilization and not to Pashtunwali code. They had extended their loyalties to the invading Soviet forces and also to the western forces and served them loyally. They showed no mercy to the oppressed Afghan Taliban.
Interestingly, none has insisted on selecting honest, upright and capable persons from various ethnic communities on merit.
There is no room for liberal political philosophy in Islam which had given birth to pro-rich and anti-poor deceitful modern democracy.
Continuation of hostile policy
Yes, war is hell. It is awful. It involves human beings killing other human beings, sometimes innocent civilians. That is why we despise war. – John O. Brennan
The US is miffed with Pakistan on account of refusing to provide a military base for counter terrorism purposes, its new policy of defiance and Imran Khan’s brashness to show mirror to the West. The US has got addicted to the pliant leaders and cannot tolerate defiant leaders.
While Daesh-K has been activated to carry out acts of terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, other hostile measures undertaken so far are freezing of Afghanistan’s $9.5 billion in the US banks, suspension of financial assistance by the World Bank and the IMF, and pushing the Taliban regime to grant more freedom to the women and to induct bigger number of women in the parliament.
Hybrid war has been intensified to vilify Pakistan and to disconcert the new regime in Kabul.
The US know that since the Taliban cannot be browbeaten, purchased, tricked, or humbled, the only way to have a toehold in Afghanistan is to include the lackeys from Northern Alliance in the interim as well as in permanent set-up who can be easily manipulated to act as fifth columnists and to help in sabotaging peace and stability.
To punish Pakistan, the TTP, BLA and Daesh-K have been brought under one umbrella to accelerate terrorism in former FATA and Baluchistan, sword of FATF hasn’t been removed, and cricket teams of New Zealand and UK have cancelled their tours on account of invented insecurity. Australian and West Indies teams are likely to follow suit. Indian hand in the cricket racket has been traced and proof sent to ICC.
Political polarization and terrorism have been further intensified by the detractors to project Pakistan as politically unstable and an insecure country in order to block foreign investment.
Instability in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan suits the spoilers since it will impede the progress of CPEC and will also prevent Afghanistan getting connected with it for which the Taliban have expressed their readiness.
Much to the chagrin of the spoilers, the Taliban are giving right signals to elicit support of the international community. They want to expand trade ties with other countries and have expressed willingness to induct more Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and also women in the cabinet. After operationalizing the badly damaged Kabul airport, they are seeking restoration of international flights. Their amiability will however be not at the cost of making compromises on Sharia laws.
The Taliban have forgiven their internal and external enemies, but have not forgotten their treachery. They have agreed to cooperate, but not at the cost of losing Islamic identity, Islamic culture and values. They have no intention of falling into their honeycombed trap promising moon and are taking measured steps sensibly.
Since problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan are interlinked, the latter is keen to restore stability in Afghanistan at the earliest. It is right in saying that the Afghans having gone through four decades of turmoil need healing. Apart from dispatching humanitarian assistance, trading in local currency and lowering tariffs on import of fruits and vegetables, Pakistan is lobbying hard to convince the international community to send all possible assistance to stabilize the new regime.
In its view neglecting the Taliban would be disastrous for the region in particular and the world in general due to financial, food and health crises and rising poverty in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is making strenuous efforts to bring all the six neighbors of Afghanistan in one loop to tackle Afghanistan’s socio-economic issues regionally and has made good progress.
Terrorism major worry of Pakistan
Apart from economic woes, Pakistan’s major worry is continuing acts of terrorism. Reportedly, bulk of the TTP elements and its affiliated groups have moved into Pakistan and are regrouping in Loralai and Zhob. The TTP leader Noor Wali Mehsud is dreaming of bringing back former FATA under his sway and to make it an Islamic Emirate. To win over the locals, the TTP is targeting law enforcement agencies only.
The Baloch groups led by BLA have teamed up with Dr. Allah Nazar’s Lashkar Baluchistan group. They are targeting security personnel and Chinese in Quetta, Awaran, Kharan, Turbat, Gwadar, Mastung, Sibi, Mach, and Bolan. BLA-Daesh-K terrorists are operating jointly from Nago hills in Mastung and are in contact with dacoit gangs in interior Sindh. A cell of Baloch rebels is functional at Sheerzan (Chahbahar) led by Rasool Bux. With the closure of Spin Boldak main supply route, the terrorists are receiving funds and weapons from India via Sindh, Mekran coast and Sistan.
Several intelligence based operations have been conducted in Waziristan and Baluchistan, and good results achieved. Several militant leaders were gunned down and large caches of arms recovered. Speedy completion of fencing of southwestern border along with improved border management has become necessary.
China is keen to fill the power vacuum in Afghanistan and has developed good understanding with the Taliban. Its flagship project of CPEC cannot perform optimally without stable Afghanistan and getting connected with CPEC through Peshawar-Kabul Highway. It has extended 200 million Yuan aid to Kabul, which includes 3 million corona vaccines. China’s foreign minister told his counterpart in Washington that it was unethical to freeze accounts of war-torn countries and advised him to unfreeze Kabul’s cash assets and to extend humanitarian assistance.
The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, and Member CWC PESS & Think Tank.