By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
A few months ago a distinguished Think Tank; the Carnegie Endowment published a well researched report regarding the current situation in Afghanistan. The report entitled, “The Afghanistan at the Breaking Point was written by a famous scholar of the think tank, Gilles Dorronsoro. The crux of the report is that coalition forces under United States are unlikely to win in Afghanistan. The report says, “The current strategy of defeating the Taliban militarily is unrealistic. The coalition is on the defensive across much of Afghanistan and, with current troop levels, can at most only contain the insurgency. On present course, the coalition is swiftly heading toward an impasse.”
The think tank opines that, the US military commanders in Afghanistan are indeed misperceiving the situation there. These military commanders portray to the Obama administration as if they are gaining against the Taliban by pursuing unrealistic objectives. Contrarily, the fact is that, these coalition forces, “cannot defeat the Taliban militarily.” The maximum they can do is to fleetingly contain their gains in some of the areas they have under their occupation. Taliban on the other hand are really gaining day by day. The think tank thus advises the Obama administration to go for a political solution; ceasefire and better negotiate with the Taliban insurgents “rather than be boxed into dead-end military logic.” The rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan warrants a quick action as, every passing day strengthens the position of the Taliban viz-a-viz the coalition forces. Pakistan has long been emphasizing upon the US and NATO to realistically pursue a political solution, rather a military one. That indeed could have given US and its coalition partners an honourable exit from Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, US military commanders in Afghanistan like a surgeon consider that military surgery as the only way out to tackle the Afghan imbroglio. After ten years of the military engagement, US military commanders are perhaps sceptical that, if they now resort to a political solution, the US people back home would question them, as why did they made so much military expenditures over these long years, causing considerable debit to the US treasury. Indeed the U.S. has spent billions of dollars to sustain its forces in Afghanistan. Over ten years of occupation, U.S has developed many secure bases for its own forces stationed in Afghanistan. Had this money been spent on the rehabilitation and collective welfare of Afghan people, rather strengthening its military bases and security of its own men and material, US forces could have earned respect for themselves in the eyes of Afghan masses with a security guaranteed for them.
Now once the writing on the wall is absolutely clear, and U.S and NATO forces have a strong feeling that they cannot win the war against Taliban, they have started looking around for some magic wand. Finding it almost impossible to have a military victory, they are in search of a scapegoat to apportion the blame. In the same milieu, Chairman Joint Chief of US Forces, Admiral Mike Mullen, during a recent statement in Pakistan accused Pakistani spying agency of its alleged relationship with the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan Agency. The top US military officer said, “It is fairly well known that ISI had a relationship with the Haqqani network and addressing the Haqqani network from my perspective is critical to the solution set in Afghanistan. … That’s at the core — it’s not the only thing — but that’s at the core hpw that I think is the most difficult part of the relationship.”
Astoundingly, US military commanders have gone off balance and are behaving irrationally while making such accusations. Global analysts including its own think tanks questions US as; who is actually running the Afghan affairs?
- Is it not true that, 150,000 NATO and US troops are occupying Afghanistan since 2001.
- Is it not true that US enjoy an absolute power in Afghanistan? Besides, through the use of its latest surveillance equipment and weaponry, US forces can see and engage even a very small object on ground and then can hit it hard.
- Its forces are deployed all around including Pak-Afghan border. If at all Haqqani people are operating in Afghan territory, they should be using some ground route, which should have been under US heavy surveillance.
- Why cannot US stop them from doing this all with its huge military force? Surely Haqqani men would not be an unseen creature, crossing over to another heavily guarded country without having been seen. Otherwise, stopping the infiltration from one agency (North Waziristan) should not cost them too much, if it is affecting their military gains too seriously.
US must realize that this globalized world has gone wise enough and do not believe in such unsubstantiated accusations in the presence of latest information and awareness.
Another question boggling the mind of global acumen is that have the US and NATO forces defeated all other Taliban and warlords in Afghanistan, the country they have physically occupied for the last ten years? If one group (Haqqani) is supported by Pakistan what big difference does that make? Or else is Haqqani the only one operating in Afghanistan against US and NATO forces? If Haqqani, a non-state actor, with only few hundred people is really defeating the Coalition forces and Afghan National Army and Police in Afghanistan, then he deserves to rule that lawless state and the US, NATO and Karazai must surrender to him.
Let us accept the fact that, over the years, US and NATO coalition could do nothing against Afghan Taliban, who indeed resides inside that country. Rather subduing them, they become powerful and more popular among the Afghan masses over the years. They are using the weapons and equipment as being held by coalition forces. In most of the areas, coalition forces are living with the tacit approval of the Taliban, who are being paid in return.
Pakistan’s Military hierarchy rejected these accusations and feels that, it is indeed the, “negative propaganda of Pakistan not doing enough". ISI had linkages with all Afghan factions including Hamid Karazai and Northern Alliance besides Haqqani during 1980s, against Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. Now, Pakistan and its premier intelligence agency; ISI wish a peaceful Afghanistan in its neighbourhood. It is a negative propaganda against the security forces and its spying agency. Indeed, this is being done to defame the agency as it wants that, Afghanistan should be free from foreign occupation and its people must be allowed to decide their future as per UN charter.
Pakistan cannot wish for Afghanistan anything which it does not wish for itself. It only wants peace and stability in its brotherly Muslim country. US together with its South Asian partner desire to sow the seed of hate between Pakistan and Afghan people. It is indeed a unrewarding country. Should not it be obliged to Pakistan for supporting its cause in 1980s and now as a front line state against terrorism? Therefore, US military officials should be realistic, appreciative of Pakistan and thus must stop this unfounded propaganda against Pakistan, just to hide their incompetence.