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Afghanistan and Trump

Dr. Khurshid Alam

Dr. Khurshid Alam

Since the takeover by Mr. Trump, one is really at pain to find the reason for “no US policy” for

Afghanistan in spite of the immense increase of the interest of the regional players and

operation Mansouri. (Code name for spring offensive). The emissaries are sent to Afghanistan,

some hints are dropped but no concrete policy is declared. One wonders whether the US have

changed the priorities or the problem is too complicated. Where needed Mr Trump did not

hesitate for a moment to use force. Mr Trump after the initial bumpy ride seems to be settling

in his office and has completed 100 days, thanks to his aids, proving Mr Truman right once

again that all the US president needs are the power of decisions the rest of the problems are

solved by hiring good aids.

Gen. McCaster was blunt or to be appropriate to the point. So for all the actions taken by the

US have helped Pakistan but not Afghans at all. The strained relations between the US and Iran

and Russia may be having some fall out on Afghan deteriorating situation. Pakistan is

unpredictability leaves one at lurch but one thing is sure that whatever they may say, she is not

ready to surrender its strategic importance so easily which has been achieved by Afghan war

over 4 decades. The recent statement by Pakistan Ambassador to the US mentioned

government resolve against IS and TTP without mentioning HQN and Afghan Taliban is

testimony to it.

The mother Bomb killed almost 90% TTP fighters who were seconded to IS. Bodies were

brought to KPK and buried quietly. The response was quick with a gruesome attack on National

army garrison in Mazar-e- Sharif killing more than 150 recruits with the help of four implanted

persons of ISI. It shows the inherent weakness of Afghan National army and the security

loopholes in the system. In this year Afghan army losses are above 6500 personnel’s which a

staggering number is.

The US is happy that China is increasing its influence in Afghanistan. They see it to counter

Russia, particularly after Sino-US summit meeting. But I feel when it comes to Afghanistan and

Asia at large China and Russia will stick together to thwart American influence. Almost 3/4 th  US

navy is in the South China Sea and the Far East which is a formidable force to reckon. This will

glue China with the Russian Republic.

An article appeared in the Dawn written by 3 American analysts proposes four points. I agree to

disagree with their prioritization. In my view, the flagship of terror must be jolted first before

any attempt is made to undo the entangled knot of Afghanistan. The Russian Republic is

repairing its torn image at the cost of Afghans. Russian courtship with Pakistan is also a matter

of concern.

Yesterday’s Revisionist Russia love with orthodox China is hair-raising. Iran and Pakistan in one

boat are strange co-sailor. About 40 years ago the Shia-Sunni infighting was there but not so

intense and open as it is now and has assumed international dimension. This antipathy has

destroyed the whole of the Middle East and south-west Asia. Joining of the great so-called anti-

terrorist alliance by Gen Raheel could be used any time against Shia in the name of terror and

will have frightening repercussions. It has already created doubts and further strained the

uneasy relation between Iran and Pakistan. One must not forget that the rulers may be Sunni

but the public is Shia in the land of energy. Raheel is not COAS but an employee.

Baluchistan is host to two insurgencies one is national liberation struggle and the other is the

sectarian up rise of Sunni against Shia Iran. Pakistan and Iran both are interfering and

supporting their respective sects in Afghanistan competing for the stake in Pizza.

In the above backdrop, there is no “Jim will fix it” formula to stop Afghanistan blood let. Sword

and Carrot approach is the only way but iron fist approach will be required. Any halfhearted

attempt will further complicate the situation. Pakistan must be told in the same language and

words as North Korea. The US should release the perks to Pakistan as they have already

released 900 million coalition fund but a vigilantism should be adopted whether the perks are

being used for mutual interest or only for Pakistan. The lack of accountability and pursuance, if

not enshrined, in the mutual mechanism will be lethal. War and tension in the region enhance

the geostrategic position of Pakistan, in the case of peace in Afghanistan she will share strategic

importance which is not acceptable to Pakistan.

Pakistan must be realistic that perks are given to the ally usually without any cash return but

attached with certain prerequisites and unwritten preconditions, while friendship is based on

mutual trade. Friendship is between the two equals and in the unequal equation, the ally has to

toe the line of the super power. For many years when we were following this policy there was

hardly a big upset in our relation with Washington apart from occasional hiccough. After

acquiring nuclear pile and introduction of outfits in the state structure both directly under the

establishment with no check we gradually went to into isolation.

Duality and Deceit are our policy. As we claim that elimination of the menace of terror is our

common strategy then why to mourn the death of OBL, Mansour’s droning and punishment

given to Qadri by a court and lately lynching of Mashaal Khan? What does it indicate?

 I was told by an army officer that to army suicidal bomber or terrorist are more valuable

because it is deadly and spot correct while we were discussing Shakeel Afridi release. He told

me point blankly whatever is the policy of the state on the table but under the table, the fact is

there is no replacement for terrorism. OBL was a very high-value target. Shakeel release will be

equal to torching the country’s streets.

Afghanistan has its own problem as well. Rampant corruption, non-delivering government and

badly infiltrated government by Pakistani agencies all have damned the state. There is a long

list of our own Afghans/Pashtun on both sides who are on the pay list of the Afghan

government that means to say that we serve our motherland on the bribe. Now most of them

are the addicts.

The key to Afghan problem is lying the elimination of stake factor and sincere effort of the US,

China, Pakistan, India and Iran with a clear message that duality will lead to international

isolation and unparalleled action. I doubt that Pakistan can be a facilitator in solving Afghan

problem by peaceful means but we won’t lose anything if we try the deep establishment once

again. I based my assumption it will be a step forward to dislodge them from their key position

in the state structure and will end the nuclear race. There will be profound socio- economic

changes which are not in the interest of ruling elites who come from the Punjab.

Writer: Prof.(Dr) Khurshid Alam

The writer is a columnist with THE PASHTUN TIMES. He can be reached at



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