By Dr. Haider Mehdi
“This war is going to leave [us] in [absolute] chaos…He leaned forward in his chair. There’s young men dying in their thousands, men who had lives to look forward to, and dreams…and know how they are dying? With their guts spilling out in the mud and their faces blasted away – the war had taken a terrible toll on the village; fifteen dead, four of them brothers. Twelve children had lost their fathers.” from Deborah Moggach’s novel In the Dark
This is how we have to understand the consequences of the terrible war that Musharraf and the post-Musharraf regime in Pakistan have been waging against their own citizens on the behest of America and its Western allies who are in pursuit of their own dubious interests. This explicit political incorrectness in Pakistan’s foreign policy and its military-political strategic output has to be replaced by a nationalist foreign policy management initiative and doctrine based purely on our own cultural-religious values and its fundamental compassionate and humanitarian foundations.
Let us examine the entire issue of the so-called “war on terror” in a dispassionate manner: The fact is that our enemy is not the Taliban, but our contemporary allies, who have a history of indiscriminate use of power, lethal brutality and moral-political policy contradictions that have been exposed time and again.
There is not a corner of the world where American duplicity and its support by the former Western colonial powers has not been demonstrated by vicious violence, militarization of political issues, and disproportionate use of military power against their fabricated enemies. After years of being on the bandwagon together to crush socialism and communism, the US and its allies now have demonized us, the Muslims and Islam, as their late-20th and 21st century enemies. Viewed from a historical perspective, this is simply a new ploy, a fresh incendiary investment in the inception of the incessant expansion of corporate America and Western colonial neo-imperialist designs. If global-military-political conflicts cease to exist, where would the US and the West sell its arsenals of weapons? How would they run their military-industrial complex? How would they become rich? How would they maintain their policing of the entire world politics?
We, in Pakistan, at this crucial stage of our national existence, need to fully understand the motivational forces behind the present political behavior of our so-called friends and allies. We need to wake up to the ground realities of global politics—we need to look deeper than meets the eye and we need to restore sanity in our own political conduct. Be mindful, Obama’s re-election takes precedent over killing thousands in Pakistan’s northern part as well as in Afghanistan – history warns us that US presidential-centric politics is not restrained by anything whatsoever. It is going to be a hugely ugly prospect when it comes to the use of lethal military power against Pakistan and Afghanistan until the next presidential election is held. Drone warfare is going to accelerate, civilian casualties increased, more destruction, more mayhem, more fatherless children, more spilling of blood, more tragedies: It is so because our so-called friends observe no boundaries, no limitations, no humanitarian ideals when it comes to the pursuit of their own interests.
So wake up: We are already at the verge of an absolute existential threat and political abyss.
The key to peace in Pakistan is peace in Afghanistan. And peace in Afghanistan is not possible without the end of military-political occupation by the US and Nato. And that will not happen unless the Taliban comes to power in their country. And that will not occur unless Pakistan supports the Taliban and helps them return to mainstream politics. And that will not happen unless Pakistan speaks to the Taliban leadership and sets into motion a process of reconciliation amongst different political segments in Afghanistan.
For Pakistan, it is not a matter of choice anymore: It is the only option we have that will save the country from utter chaos and eventual disintegration (and do not discount India’s agenda). Pakistan’s political decision-makers should be cognizant that for the US-West’s global interests, Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s eventual disintegration would be an obvious opportunity to control South Asia and expand their imperialist reach into the Central Asian Islamic States. We must not afford them such a possibility.
So then, the important question is: Why don’t we talk to the Taliban openly and publicly as a matter of Pakistan’s fresh foreign policy initiative? Indeed, India has stated in no uncertain terms that it will continue pursuing its regional interests in Afghanistan relentlessly, hasn’t it?
Let me attempt to put the entire Taliban issue in its proper perspective: James Fergusson, a British journalist who has covered Afghanistan for 14 years, in his recent book Taliban: The True Story of the World’s Most Feared Fighting Force, so convincingly argues the case for the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan. Fergusson states that the West’s reaction to the Taliban has been over-exaggerated. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal, the Taliban brought solidarity and peace to the country, they were culturally relevant, they implemented swift enforcement of tribal law and improved life for Afghans, they liberated the country from corruption and warlords and they were not against schooling girls (they simply wanted segregated schools) but they did not have enough money to set up too many girls schools at that precise moment in history.
Western media and political establishments deliberately presented a distorted picture of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan and finally brought about its demise by military invasion and occupation. Fergusson further illustrates that the present US-installed government’s corruption has disgusted its people. The continued massive use of airpower for nearly a decade with resultant civilian casualties has alienated the masses. The destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the assault on its cultural heritage has violated the core values of the Afghan people. The never-ending mantra of secularization has further eroded the Afghan masses’ trust in the American version of democracy and its covert anti-cultural, anti-religious agenda.
Fergusson concludes that the Taliban are too important to be ignored in the Afghan peace process and its viable prospects.
The US-West’s incessant focus on imposing political secularization on Pakistan and Afghanistan is also a fundamentally flawed approach to political and conflict management. Pankaj Mishra, in a recent article, has so brilliantly illustrated the West’s political incorrectness on the said subject: “Few 19th century ideas have been as unexamined as the one that secularization is inevitable, indeed imperative for all non-Western people… But then Islamic groups and parties in Indonesia were crucial in democratizing the country after decades of a corrupt, pro-West military dictatorship.”
In Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey and several other Muslim nations, Islamic ideals have invoked challenges against poverty, corruption, and foreign domination and have breathed a fresh lease on life to the process of democratization.
Why will it not work in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
Only a steadfast adherence to our socio-cultural-religious values will save us from the clutches of imperialism – and Turkey is leading the movement now!!
Or they will spill your blood, blast your faces and tear you limb from limb …many more children will be fatherless!!
This is how imperialism works…Make your choice. NOW!!
The writer: a professor, published author, political analyst, and conflict-resolution expert