afghanistan

The best way forward on the new Afghanistan

Most of US congressional hearings on Afghanistan have leaned towards blaming Pakistan for the US’s failed twenty-year presence there. Worryingly, there is still no acknowledgment of Pakistan’s sacrifices as a US partner in the War on Terror – despite the route of Allied forces from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Cannot be won Militarily

Since 2001, rational Pakistanis have consistently informed their US officials that the Afghan conflict cannot be won militarily. It took decades to accept this fact.

This belief has a long history, which can only be understood by Afghanistan’s neighbor and a nation with comparable ethnic groupings.

Just as a recap, Afghanistan have a reputation for never allowing foreign forces to stay in their country for an extended period. Even their neighboring Pakistan cannot influence these people’s national character.

Pakistan’s grievous self harm

The irony of the issue is that Pakistani government leaders were more interested in catering to the USA’s erroneous attitude to the whole campaign in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks – thereby damaging both their long-term interests.

Ethically acceptable thing to do here would have been to de-emphasize the militaristic method to attaining goals, but that never occurred, and for good reason.

Instead of talking sense to the leaders of the allied nations, one such leader, Pervez Musharraf, consented to all of the USA’s ridiculous demands, to the detriment of everybody concerned.

He did so since it was in his personal best interests to do so.

Afghanistan is a wasted opportunity

This debacle had a long time coming.

General Musharaf desperately needed personal legitimacy and worldwide approval. The logical result was that both countries, the United States and Pakistan, paid a high price.

As neither party’s goal was to reach a well-thought-out solution, the inevitable conclusion was a tragedy, as it finally did occur.

When things began to go wrong within Afghanistan, with greater instability, the US, rather than adjusting to building an inclusive administration, attempted the hammer once more.

Pakistan was instructed to crack down hard on the unseen terrorist war machine within its borders, which alleged both the CIA and the ISI had trained to battle the Soviets in the 1980s.

The error of Short Term Goals in Afghanistan

Not long ago, these hard-line fighters, or mujaheddin, were regarded as “holy warriors” and were feted at the White House by President Ronald Reagan, who referred to them as “moral equals of the founding fathers of the United States.”

The big reversal occurred with the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Not only did the US abandon Afghanistan, but it also slapped sanctions on Pakistan’s already damaged social and financial situation.

Pakistan, which was reeling from bombings and assassinations as a result of a clandestine war with the Soviet Union, had to deal with four million destitute and furious Afghan refugees who had spilled over into the country.

These violent groups, with no apparent agenda or future direction, spiraled into civil conflict, exacerbating Pakistan’s instability.

Emergence of Brutal Taliban from the Rubble

The Taliban emerged from the ashes of chaos, as a disciplined paramilitary force that had received some education and stability in Pakistani refugee camps and won great acceptance among Afghans.

Instead of expanding on this miracle of God-given stability, Pakistan was consigned to the status of “most sanctioned friend of the United States” for more than a decade.

Events after 9-11

Then came 9-11, and the US dug out their phone book to call Pakistan’s ruler Pervez Musharraf, who went all out by offering up logistical and air bases to the United States.

The CIA’s foothold in Pakistan grew significantly, as US drones poured down wrath on Pakistanis.

By proxy, Afghanistan’s existing dangerous situation extended into Pakistan.

To settle the perilous situation at the suspected terrorist staging camp, Pakistan’s army had to penetrate the semi-autonomous tribal territories on the Afghan-Pakistan border for the first time in Pakistan’s brief history.

This riled up Pashtuns with tribal links to the Taliban to both sides of the line and allowed other Islamic extremist organizations to enter the conflict on the side of criminals, compounding Pakistan’s troubles.

Not just Islamist but moderate people too believed Pakistan was a collaborator with the invading troops of the United States, but especially the Pashtun ethnicity as a whole on both sides of the divide.

Drone strikes in Pakistan were a disaster

To make matters worse, US drones performed over 450 strikes on Pakistani soil, which was ostensibly their friend. Without a reliable method for assessing post-strike bomb damage, these strikes were bound to result in civilian fatalities, exacerbating anti-US and anti-Pakistan army sentiment.

As a result, the attacks spread far and wide over the border and throughout the country deep into the heart of Pakistan.

Resultantly between 2006 and 2015, drones swooped down from the air and terrorist struck on the ground.

The Terror unleashed upon Pakistan

Fifty terrorist organizations declared religious war on the state of Pakistan, resulting in over 16000 terror acts, many of which targeted civilians. The battle resulted in 80,000 fatalities and a $150 billion loss to Pakistan’s economy. Then, 3.5 million internally displaced individuals joined the ranks of Pakistan’s refugees, while the original Afghan refugees remained.

Towards the end, Insurgents were forced to flee Pakistani territory by Pakistani security forces, but it was a pyrrhic victory of sorts.

The fleeing militants were sponsored and backed by Indian and Afghan intelligence services to retaliate even more harshly against Pakistan.

Pakistan’s meltdown

No country can deal with an ongoing conflict, internal insecurity, financial meltdown, refugee influx, and political dysfunction all at the same time like Pakistan did during this decade.

It is not an exaggeration to claim that the CIA’s Kabul station head sent an internal report in 2009 stating that Pakistan is “starting to fracture under persistent pressure pushed directly by the US.” However, the United States insisted on “doing more” in the Afghan conflict.

Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Harry Reid were clearly explained in 2008, this perilous game of maintaining military pressure in Afghanistan.

Poor Leadership inside Pakistan

Out of selfish political motives, manufactured leaders who followed after Musharraf, including Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, never attempted to reverse this destructive trend.

At one point, Pakistan’s President Asif Zardari informed an American diplomat that collateral damage hitting Pakistanis “worries you Americans, but it does not bother me” – a statement that summed up the collective insanity of the moment.

Pakistan’s steel backbone – the Military

However, Pakistan survived whereas Afghanistan did not.

Pakistan’s military is not only the steel backbone, but also the anchor that is taking the ship down

It was not just due to the discipline of Pakistan’s security forces that they were able to restore order in Pakistan when Afghans could not.

The solution is found in the perceived legitimacy of security.

In the view of the general public, Pakistan’s Army, Intelligence services, and administration possessed what Afghans lacked.

The Afghan Government’s perceived legitimacy

Afghan government’s persistent problem of perceived lack of legitimacy in the eyes of all ethnic groups, particularly those in rural regions, has always been the major reason for it being a basket case as a viable nation.

The worst-case scenario is when Afghans believe a foreign force is backing up a corrupt regime. The most recent Afghan administration to leave did not help their case by allowing pervasive corruption, inefficiency, and unnecessary hostility against neighbors.

Instead of accepting responsibility for its mistakes, the Afghan administration sought to redirect the blame against an already beleaguered Pakistan – using hate campaigns.

Scapegoating Pakistan

Because Pakistan was a handy scapegoat, it suited Western powers to double down on the Pakistan-centric blame game.

The generally used stick was that Pakistan was providing safe havens for extremists within its borders. No one ever questioned this allegation since no one was stopping the United States from launching drone strikes in Pakistan.

Pakistan went one step farther and proposed joint border inspections, biometrics, fencing, and evidence-based investigations, but none of these were approved.

What should have been done was to talk to the Taliban early in the military battle, when the tides were in favor of the Western-backed government.

Weak Afghan Army Stucture

We didn’t have to wait for the Afghan army’s 300,000-strong army to fall and its commander, Ashraf Ghani, to flee overnight for this fact to set in.

All those eager to blame Pakistan would agree that the Afghan army is disintegrating cannot be pinned on the country.

We are now back in Afghanistan, where we were 20 years ago, with the option of providing a constructive blueprint for the future or leaving them to the mercy of nature.

We’ve all heard about what occurred the last time Afghans were abandoned.

The only path ahead is to engage the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan to bring peace and stability to this terrible war-torn country.

Aside from resorting to war, there are other ways to persuade and compel compromises on ethnic inclusion, universal education, gender standards, and permanently eradicating terror.

Conclusion

Increasing Taliban collaboration via help, development, education and Humanitarian help will provide the necessary leverage if things go wrong.

After all, arm twisting has failed terribly, so there’s no use in trying again.

Isn’t that exactly what the Doha Agreement aimed to achieve?  That Afghanistan no longer is a menace to the rest of the globe.

If we make a mistake this time, there is a high risk of organized international terrorism, regional instability, poverty, and mass migration.

نو تاسو پوهیږئ

So, do you understand?

Questions on Afghanistan

Since there are so many unanswered questions on Afghanistan, I thought I should give it a separate section

Afghanistan Map

Afghanistan Map
Afghanistan Map

Afghanistan Flag

Afghanistan has changed 19 flags over the century and the last one is the Muslim Shahada prayer on white.

Current Afghan Flag of the government of Taliban.
Current Afghan Flag of the government of Taliban. Afghanistan has changed 19 flags

The Afghan flag while the US Coalition was there has black, orange and Green vertical lines.

Afghan Flag while the US led coalition was there
Afghan Flag while the US led coalition was there

Who won the Afghan War?

Afghanis have always one every single war in the last century, but at great loss to their people and society.

Time in Afghanistan

You can calculate the exact time in Afghanistan by adding 4:30 hours to GMT time.

Language of Afghanistan

The Language of Afghanistan is 77 % Dari (Persian) and 23% Pushto

Afghanistan News

The only news coming out of Afghanistan is about women not being allowed to study and grinding poverty, poor healthcare and bombings. Then there is also news about protocol averse Taliban ministers doing pretty well organizing trade across borders.

Also read,

The fall of Panjsher Valley Afghanistan

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