Gulbadin, a former warlord and nicknamed as “Butcher of Kabul” returned to Kabul from his 19 years of hiding out to a glorious welcome, leading of a mammoth vehicular procession from Jalal-Abad to Kabul. He was given stately reception by the people who applauded him, standing on both sides of the roads. The previous warlord claimed to be the ambassador of peace with a mission to build a peaceful Afghanistan for all. He promised the cheering crowd that he has returned to bring peace to this peace-thirsty land. His return was the culmination of a long and exhaustive behind the curtains dialogue between him and the Afghan government.
Gulbadin group may be the second biggest organisation after Taliban but during the war against the USSR HIA was second to none. His organisation was the backbone of the war. He is the most battle hardened commander and so were his followers. So far what he has uttered are an unambiguous and clear indication that he means to do what has he apologised for to his nation.
Kabul left no stone unturned to give him a stately reception. But it is too early or premature to say with authenticity about his designs because of his long association with Rawalpindi. He was one of the first three to come to Peshawar and was the top trusted person of the Punjab army. We all still remember his stately protocol inside Pakistan and outside. He is known for elimination of intellectuals from Afghanistan.
In this background there opt to be many narratives and counter-narrative about him. There is a school of thought that believes it is nothing else but ISI drama. It is a must to have a right man in right place to take the doctrine of strategic depth to its ultimate conclusion. While the others give the credit to American to deal with Taliban. The majority of the young analysts feel that it is a genuine change in the man himself after introspective self-reading. They think it is the result of intra-Afghan dialogue and realisation of one’s own follies. After all Mr Noble became the icon of peace after seeing the destructive effects of his self-invented grenade. They augment their logic by sudden fall in love of the Russian Republic with Pakistan and peace in Afghanistan.
Those who postulate the last narrative are of the view that Afghan stalemate could no longer is affordable. Secondly, the Kabul establishment was too imbalance and Mr Ghani was on a much weaker pitch. The third factor that someone was needed to talk to Taliban in their language. The last but not the least someone who knows the mentality and mindset of Rawalpindi. He was the need of the time. They feel that he has put down all the cards on the table unless he has one trump card in his pocket.
Though hesitantly I would go with the last narrative being an abysmally wrong optimist. I honestly feel that Afghanistan is in a siege. If it works their way the siege will be broken otherwise things can’t be worse than the existing circumstances. It is a gamble worth playing. A strong Ghani with some strong arms may change the situation. Afghanistan wants peace at any cost it is the least importance how it is achieved without losing its sovereignty.
It reminds me of Wali Khan at this juncture when he told me in the UK after a meeting with Americans that he is optimistic. He further said that the reasons are that the world has recognised us as a nation and our enemy has lost the trust. While going through the foreign policy statement of the US in the Dawn I felt we have a respectability in the League of Nations. While torn by war we are being considered as a formidable and trustworthy nation.
But ultimately peace is an intra-Afghan issue friend can just help. I do realise Mansouri offensive is taking staggering no of lives but ultimately its fate will not be different than offensive Umri. Internationally Afghanistan is standing on a much higher pedestal than most of its traditional rivals. International backing does play a vital role in war and peace both. Pakistan deep-seated establishment is activating western border aiming at two targets to weaken the civilian government and to thwart the developments in Afghanistan after American policy announcement and arrival of the HIA. With renewed courtship with Chinese, she has adopted maniac attitude without realising that it may be counterproductive if instability persists. Genetic poking can also backfire sometimes there is a limit to our taking.
In the most favourable international circumstances if stability comes to Kabul establishment and imbalance is restored an intra-Afghan mechanism can be developed to stop Rawalpindi and make peace a reality. Let us be optimistic that our warlord is on a hunt for peace after a long introspective analysis and Afghan wisdom will prevail to stop the fight for others.
Writer: Prof.(Dr) Khurshid Alam
The writer is a columnist with THE PASHTUN TIMES. He can be reached at
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