United States Congressman Charles Wilson wistfully exclaims at the end of the movie version of his biography, Charlie Wilson’s War (2007): ‘These things happened, they were great and glorious, But we F–d up the end game’, These words rang in memories of those who know the region and Afghanistan; and the devastation inflicted on this unfortunate corner of the earth by America’s and the mullah’s last great war against communism. Senator Charlie Wilson was right on many counts!
Spread of small and heavy armament worth 10 billion USD, proliferation of nuclear and fissile material, global heroin trade, rise of Taliban and global terrorism- all the greatest evils of our time- were born and nurtured here. The end game went berserk and spiraled out of control.
And then, in our own times, as if by a great stroke of luck, and if his wish had come true. American’s landed in Afghanistan, and aided by an international coalition fought off Taliban and Al Qaeda their cohorts financiers and sympathizers and rescued the state of Afghanistan from becoming the abyss of vast human tragedies. A great precedent seemed to have been set by international community under the superbly effective leadership of the United States. Bravo! New world.
America’s role as a global cop, ensuring upholding it’s ideals of democracy, human rights, and international law commenced immediately after the drop scene of the cold war ; when American forces intervened to rescue Bosnian muslims from imminent genocide by Serbs. It was indeed a glorious showdown, only if the Chinese embassy hadn’t been hit by American missiles! Because this single incident foreshadowed the nature of patterns of America’s future interventions around the world. Amongst which Iraq’s case can be cited as an irresponsible blunder by Bush administration and connivers who, driven by greed and political ignorance made the lethal decision of attacking a sovereign state under the pretext of severely distorted logic. Perhaps the whole episode was enacted for bilking petrodollars from cyclops of Middle East, as has been wisely purported by Micheal Moore in his famous documentary ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ (2004).
The smouldering fire of Iraq has produced a plethora of Frankenstein’s in the country and its immediate neighborhood which in turn is causing huge flash migration into Western Europe, America and Australia, causing demographic changes of tremendous magnitude for the first time in modern history.
The happy ending to Iraq’s fiasco will (most probably) be Russian intervention in the middle East and elsewhere. The leadership of the world claimed by America in 1990 no longer holds and we will witness the birth of a bipolar world again. However, America and its allies are working out a mechanism to provide China that role. It needs to be seen whether the military giant Russia will make it to a larger role in global governance and policing or will it be the economic prowess of China that will propel it into that slot.
Whatever turns up in that area, the current issue of rise of religious extremist groups in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are going to be the major questions facing world leaders. America being firmly entrenched in its position of the world cop, still enjoys substantial edge over the others vis-a-vis it’s ability to treat the issues mentioned more directly. Out of the three, Afghanistan alone has the potential of being converted into a great success story of America’s world leadership. And it’s quite manifest that American policy makers are doing their best to make it possible. However, the various active players engaged, might only be interested in concocting a phony success valid till the departure of the super power. Real success would be possible only if the passive/ excluded stake holders i.e. Pashtun communities, on both sides of the Durand line are actively engaged in the process which currently doesn’t seem to be the case. On Pakistani side complete evacuation of FATA specially Malakand as well as North and South Waziristan with subsequent infiltration and occupation by massive military presence is tantamount to a makeshift arrangement hastily fabricated in response to arm twisting by American military strategists and diplomats. Given the painfully slow process of rehabilitation, exclusion of communities from development of infrastructure and negation of capacity building of the IDPs, the flimsy arrangement might lose efficacy as soon as the territories are populated again. Also beating up of terrorist outfits in Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan would result in flushing them into the mountains of KPK. Veritably the cursed province would remain a battlefield for decades to come that would invariably affect Afghanistan as well. Professor Hilali of the International Relations department of Peshawar University once noted General Kiyani (then COAS of Pakistan Army) remark that Pakistan’s strategic depth has been shifted from Afghanistan to KPK. If that be the case, there is every possibility the God forsaken Pashtuns are yet be subjected to further strategic experimentations and media manipulation. On the other hand, the central government’s apathy in redressal of easily manageable civic problems in FATA; like provision of drinking water, primary and high education, health and municipal services as well as conferring right of citizenship and representation in state institutions are all going to add to rampant poverty, religious and ethnic radicalization, alienation, and extremism. The classic recipe for creation of another Frankenstein is in the offing again, right under the very eyes of America. United States of America: which in words of Peter Lovell has excelled in crisis making and management. America which has always prized good guyhood but hasn’t embraced it yet. Specially after Iraq and the falling dominoes in its neighborhood, Americans can no more be the good guys but if they sort things out clearly and effectively not only for themselves but also: for afghans and Pashtuns of Pakistan, success in this case is not far to grasp, the key to which is to point out policy outcomes and future implications to active partners and minimize damage to passive partners on both sides of Durand line. America hasn’t made it up to be the good guy in world politics, however:
at last and at least it can be the wise guy!
Opinion: By Jack Frost- The Editor-in-Chief of THE PASHTUN TIMES