The wolves are at it again. The racket and uproar demanding “do more” is making rounds “once more” for the nth time. The fever is catching up, methodically, across media houses in Washington, Kabul, New Delhi, and some in Pakistan. The think-tanks in Washington are particularly in a state of frenzy, as though it is the season when fortunes are made.
Its “that” time of the year once again when “decision makers” get their heads together to come up with a strategy to “end the war in Afghanistan”, and “bring stability to the region”, whatever that means. Strangely enough, the first item on the list of remedies for Afghanistan is “more war”. As if 16 years were not enough to cause bloodshed, the “powers that be” are calling for more troops, more guns, more airstrikes, and basically more of everything that will wreck havoc on the already traumatized population of Afghanistan. The mind boggles at the argument that more war will somehow bring more peace.
The argument goes that we are “not winning in Afghanistan”, to quote Gen. James Mattis, United States Secretary of Defense, and that these troops will help in winning the war. The question is: What exactly is “winning”? What would a win for the U.S. look like? Does it mean that every single Afghan will shower praises on the great American liberators to prove that he/she is no longer a threat to the U.S., or does it mean that every single terrorist/insurgent/militant/miscreant will be eliminated from Afghanistan? How exactly do you define “win” in Afghanistan? Any milestones, targets, or clearly defined set of objectives? This obscurity about the “win” is one of the fundamental reasons why Afghanistan is in a state of turmoil. There is no vision, no strategy, and no “end game” in sight. A 2013 Vice news documentary titled “This is what winning looks like” is an eyeopener for anyone who intends to get a firsthand account of how disastrously and completely out of sync the U.S. & their appointed Afghan govt is with reality when it comes to “winning”. There are plenty of tactics, but lack of strategy, and it feels as if that all this is by design.
And what do you do when you realize that there is no magic formula for Afghanistan, and that the so called “War on terror” has gone horribly wrong? Simple: Find a scapegoat, which in this case is Pakistan. Close one eye to the faulty strategies of successive U.S. administrations, and close the other eye to the incompetence, corruption and collusion with the “enemy” of the two-headed Afghan govt, and all you are left with is the mantra of “blame Pakistan” to find some semblance of explanation to the mess that is Afghanistan. It’s the easiest play in the book. Sure, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan on an arguably faulty pretext, and sure they envisioned and preferred a military solution to the Afghan conflict, regardless of what they told their people and the world, and sure they gave power and authority to some of the most corrupt, incompetent and outright radical people on earth, and sure the U.S. and their Afghan pawns ensured that no political dialogue succeeds with the Taliban, but hey! why bother with such “trivialities” when you can find an easier explanation. “Blame Pakistan”.
Time and again, and in countless writings in Western media, we are told how after coming into power in the deeply flawed 2014 elections, Ashraf Ghani generously “extended a hand of friendship towards Pakistan, but got no reply”. Wrong! It was Pakistan that brought the Taliban to the negotiations table in July 2015 at Murree. The “Murree Peace Process”, as it was called at the time, was set into motion by the direct and concrete efforts of Pakistan. But soon after, the process was deliberately derailed by none other than the notorious NDS of Afghanistan, which leaked the news of death of Mullah Omar just one day before the second round of the Murree peace process was set to take place, hence delivering a devastating blow to the peace talks.
One has to question the motives behind such a treacherous move that destroyed the peace process, the effects of which can be felt to this day. Perhaps those “motives” are the reason why time and again, and in an orchestrated manner, the unwarranted hue and cry about “Pakistan hasn’t done enough” makes rounds in the news, articles, pieces, hearings & discussions originating in Washington, Kabul, New Delhi, and sometimes in Pakistan. These are deliberate attempts to discredit and malign Pakistan’s genuine efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan. No other country has suffered as much as Pakistan due to the conflict in Afghanistan, and one is compelled to wonder if this was by design too. After all, Afghanistan has a history of fomenting and instigating hostilities towards Pakistan since the later’s birth.
U.S. invaded Afghanistan on the pretext of “War on terror”. After 16 years, there is more war, more terror, & has effectively become a “War of terror”. Terror attacks globally no longer originate from Afghanistan, but they do from Middle East. Ironically, and yet again, the U.S. fingerprints in exploiting internal and regional conflicts for its own “national interests” are all over the place. Continued occupation of Afghanistan and blaming Pakistan for the elusive goal of “peace” hasn’t worked in the past and won’t work in the future. The U.S. will have to “do more” and introspection to find the fault in it’s strategy towards “winning” in Afghanistan, if that is indeed the goal. Blaming others for one’s own sins won’t change the reality.
But then again, “if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.
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Anayat Zeb is an Engineer by profession and an overt enthusiast of current affairs revolving around South Asia in particular and around the globe in general, with special interest in conflicts and military developments.