The long awaited US policy regarding Afghanistan is about to follow in next few weeks’ time after the recent testimony of the officials of Pentagon and state department before the arms committee of the house of representative. The realisation that the choice for pentagon is narrowing down on the battlefield which has resulted in the loss of incentive on the part of Taliban to come to negotiating table. Taliban is in possession of 30 % area of Afghanistan and the inability of Afghan National army to stem down their offensive Mansouri has resulted in desperation and loss of faith in the US strategy regarding Afghanistan. The Afghan army is too stretched, ill-equipped and the theatre is too vast.
Comparatively freshly raised a force, yet to be hardened to face such a strong entrenched force, is an enormous task. Taliban are using the tactics of Guerrilla and conventional warfare and are battle hardened. Fatigue is sitting in both NATO force and Afghan due to a deadly stalemate with the staggering losses on the battlefield.
Gen Nicholson wants few thousand men to break the stalemate and then think of long term engagement to take Afghanistan to stability she deserves in this trickiest part of the world with only one allied ally of the USA. Whether this position of Afghanistan is by default or otherwise but now American believe that it is a must that stability returns to Afghanistan and it should be supported to its full potentials. Its strategic location is too important for American besides the credibility of the sole super power which is badly at stake. I am not sure whether few thousand men will do this job or not?
It is believed that after an initial break of stalemate $26 billion will be invested per year. Gen Nicholson did disappoint Senator McCann by not divulging much information but said that he agrees with the assessment of the Defense Secretary and his commander. One thing is for sure some action must be taken before the beleaguered Afghans succumbed to the onslaught. They have been bled a lot in last four decades. Big powers don’t usually make a mistake, thanks to their think tanks but when they do it is bigger and unimaginable. If the area is tricky Afghanistan’s problem is riskier. It has reached this stage when the USA threw them off cuff after the withdrawal of USSR followed Mr Bush military action against Taliban who was punished for OBL. Had they waited for the stabilisation of the situation it would have been a different scenario. Either they were too naïve about Pakistan’s designs or they just turned its blind eye to the ground realities.
It will be a much better option if an intra-Afghan mechanism comes into play and usher an era of peace and stability in this part of the world where four nuclear powers meet. But the hope is fading as three American presidencies failed to achieve it. But I feel if Taliban’s incentives are reduced to a bare minimum they may opt for the dialogue. Unfortunately, Pakistan and Saudi are still fanning the sparks to be flamed. As for as there is fuel, there will be fire.
Any halfhearted attempt if made will further entangle the knot. The resolute force is no more working it requires resolute action preferably over the table or otherwise. Terrorism is a threat to the whole world. It knows no borders. France is living under an emergency so is Brussels. In Pakistan, it is the veritable arm of the state and being used to bridge any and every gap. Many states use state terrorism for their nefarious designs either export it or support it. This plague must be eradicated for the sake of overall prosperity of the mankind, particularly the weaker.
Before launching the new policy the USA must realise that though terrorist is divided into 82 groups but this division id based on strategies and priorities, not ideology. If it comes to the defeat of one they all stick together. They believe in all or none law. Out of them, 19 are operating in AF-PAK adjoining area. Afghanistan has similar demography to the FATA region of Pakistan. Fata is comparatively a smaller area under the protective wings of Pakistan’s establishment if it is not manageable what would be the consequences if whole Afghanistan becomes the safe haven for the terrorists along with FATA and Baluchistan, with a rogue state on its back. Afghanistan is a truncated state unless it is restored to its original shape it will be an easy prey for any bellicose and coercive authority. The terrain is heavenly made to suit terrorism. It owes its tribalism to its mountains. As David Oven, the foreign secretary of the UK said, that USSR was defeated by the tall mountains of Afghanistan apart from the resistance of the people. Moscow is preparing itself with new found ally, Pakistan.
All channel must work parallel and simultaneously but must not be dragged to another stalemate. All regional players must be taken on board. There is no place for failure or complacency or another attempt. The Afghan government must root out the corruption and must be a deliverer. It will push up the dwindling morale of the people. The delivery will give the feeling to own the state and government. Afghanistan is a beleaguered nation and with the help of friends it can smash the shackles of disappointments and despair but it is imperative that we all approach as if their no second chance. It we think that this chance will not repeat itself we will realise the value of this attempt.
Writer: Prof.(Dr) Khurshid Alam
The writer is a columnist with THE PASHTUN TIMES. He can be reached at
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