OBAMA HAS BECOME PART OF THE PROBLEM
Obama announced the New Strategy for Afghanistan, and “has come to the determination through a series of deliberations, and getting a strategy for how to go forward in Afghanistan” with the intention “to finish the job.” He has thus ordered a surge of 30,000 troops, increasing the total US commitment to about 100,000, bolstered by 45000 NATO troops. He hopes to finish the job in three years time and then withdraw. He defines the objectives as under: “Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.” The new mission will last at its peak for a period of 18 months after which “our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.” And then proceeds to say that nothing would succeed in Afghanistan without the help from Pakistan: “We will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.” And “there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.”
On the face of it, this strategy is flawed, because the 30,000 troops surge will not help win the war. Rather, they would need ten times more troops to achieve a semblance of success. Since they cannot afford such a large mobilization of troops, therefore, they can, at best maintain the no-win-situation, with 30,000 troops; “to hold the existing important population and communication centres, while the airpower will be used to flush-out the Taliban.” Paddy Ashdon, rightly comments: “We are not succeeding in this war, but failing at an accelerated rate, failing both at political and military level.”
The second flaw in this policy is that of perception, that “we are fighting a common enemy.” American and their allies are fighting Afghan freedom fighters, who are not our enemies, whereas Pakistan Army is fighting our own angry tribals, who are not our enemies either. They have fallen-out with us because of the wrong policies of our previous regime. We will be able to settle the issue with them, Insha Allah, through the politico-military strategy, being enforced now.
The third flaw is the unfounded fear that Taliban will over-run Pakistan, if they are allowed to form their government in Kabul, and the entire region will get disturbed. This kind of obsession, since 1990, had done great damage to Afghanistan and regional peace and must not be repeated again. On the contrary Taliban rule over Afghanistan will bring peace and stability in the country and the region as a whole.
Fourthly. Obama himself is the problem, showing lack of qualities of a leader of substance of the past successful presidents of the United States, who took bold and timely decisions, uninfluenced by the lobbies, which seem to have swayed Obama in a direction which leads him nowhere. No doubt the new strategy is moving in a wrong direction. Foreign occupation will not be vacated and state sponsored terrorism will continue and peace in Afghanistan and the region will remain hostage in the hands of the oppressors.
In his recent visit to Washington, Man Mohan Singh has shown much concern over new Afghan policy; Washington’s ties with Beijing, as well as ostensible importance accorded to Pakistan, which India considers as betrayal, “driven by the fear of a re-hyphenation with Pakistan and a threat to its global ambitions.” India therefore, thinks, USA has “tended to use Pakistan as the fulcrum of South Asia, and sees India as one knotty strand in the Afghan tangle.” – Indian Express. Indo-US relations since 2004 hpw have come a long way, since they entered into the strategic partnership with declared objectives “to contain and curb the rising threat of Chinese military and economic power and Islamic extremism.” Therefore, the defeat of the Americans and their allies in Afghanistan would also mean defeat for India and its hegemonic designs over South Asia, – “a ‘defeat of all defeats’ – Shikast-e-Azeem and the victory of the Taliban, Fath-e-Mobeen. It is a momentous event, and a turning point of history, which offers great opportunities to Pakistan, and the possibility of friendly relations with India, but unfortunately, there is a deadlock with India on the Kashmir issue. In fact India is on the retreat as it failed to recognize the geo-strategic shift and opted to join hands with the American hegemon, to establish influence over Afghanistan and South Asia, which betrayed its colonial ambitions. The resistance in Kashmir is growing rapidly and after the withdrawal of occupation forces from Afghanistan, it will assume new dimensions in support of the right of self-determination, which India cannot continue to deny for long.
The ‘institutional forces’ in Pakistan, have emerged to correct the course of national security interests, threatened by the machinations of our enemies. The judiciary, supported by the lawyers, judges, media and the political opposition has regained its freedom and authority. The armed forces have corrected the course giving a strong message to the nation, that “the armed forces of Pakistan are fully conscious of the threat posed to national security and have the resolve and the capability to defeat such threats.” The media has kept the level of awareness of the nation high, exposing the designs of our enemies and the waywardness of our power-brokers. Thus the job, which a sovereign parliament should have performed, has been taken-over by the institutions, and corrective actions are in hand to ensure that the parliament would soon regain power and prestige.
The United States of America and their allies are faced with a situation in Afghanistan, similar to the one, Soviets faced in 1989. Having suffered defeat, the Soviets asked for a safe exit, which was provided by the Mujahideen and the Pakistan government. Obama’s new strategy in fact, is a veiled request for their safe exit. “It is a gamble. The price of victory will be high and the price of failure is incalculable.” Simon Tisdold. Exit they will, along with their allies and peace would prevail over the entire region. Thus the foreign aggression now is on the retreat, which has continued unabated, since 1979 – killing over six million Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon, Kashmir and Pakistan. Times have changed and such brutal state terrorism against the world of Islam, must come to an end. And, to safeguard our interests, the first major step that must be taken is, to form the Union of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, as the bastion of power, to repel aggression and establish peace, as a gift of Unity – the Strategic Depth, of the Muslim World. It is surprising that, in a recent interview with Farid Zakria, Holbrook vehemently opposed the concept of Strategic Depth and suggested that Pakistan should first put its own house in order and then talk about creating the three nations union. This is the strange logic, working since 1989, against this concept and purporting to create dissensions and doubts to forestall the movement.
Maulana Jalaluddin Roomi, the founder of the Whirling Dervishes, says: “Giants come forth from Afghanistan and influence the world” (extract from Idries Shah’s famous book ‘The Sufis’). His prophecy is coming true. He quotes Doctor Johnson, who was not favourably predisposed towards Islam, but had to acclaim about Roomi. “He makes plain to the pilgrims, the secrets of the Way of Unity and unveils the Mysteries of the Path of the Eternal Truth.” The Unity is in the offing and in a quiet moment, one can hear the rustling sound of the wind of change, sweeping the region.
General Mirza Aslam Beg is former Chief of Army Staff, founder Chairman of FRIENDS, a research organisation bsed in Rawalpindi.