President Trump visited Afghanistan for three hours to address the US troops last week. He hinted at his intentions to pull the troops out of Afghanistan and resume talks with the Taliban. The peace talks on Afghanistan came to an abrupt end last September as the Trump government decided to call off the proposed meeting at Camp David for bringing an end to the Afghan conflict, the longest war in the history of the US.
It is only after the complete withdrawal of the US forces that the actual figures on the war casualties can be compiled. So far, 2,400 US soldiers have died in combat missions in Afghanistan. In a recent interaction with the US coast guard officers, General Kelly informed the audience that he had ordered the killing of thousands of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison as they hated the US values and society. He highlighted that those arrested from Afghanistan had refused to reconcile with what he termed as American values such as letting the women move without properly covering their body parts.
At present, talks are stuck because the American establishment thinks that it is their system, which is the best and should be implemented across the globe. Even the Chinese communist system is not considered acceptable to them. Afghanistan is 10,000 kilometres away. It does not matter at all which system is running in that country. Unfortunately, despite facing a checkmate at the hands of the Taliban, the US leadership is calling it a stalemate. The outcome of the non-realistic approach has brought the talks to a grinding halt after nine rounds at Doha, Qatar. Yesterday’s terrorists have become diplomats for negotiations. The prize money announced for the capture of Taliban leaders has converted to the acceptance of credible statements from them. There are visits to China and Russia to further the peace process.
What is the impact of the conflict on Pakistan? It is bringing instability in Pakistan. The law and order situation has improved but the Indian sponsored events occur occasionally as India is continuously interfering in Pakistan through its proxies from Afghanistan. The famous Indian spy, Kulbushan Yadav, was operating from Iran to create destabilisation in Balochistan. Its 14 consulates located along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border are continuously causing a disturbance to create instability in Pakistan. According to a historian on Afghanistan, Stephen Tanner, across the centuries, Afghanistan has been an easy country to enter for the foreign armies. The problem arises when they try to remain or leave the country.
The exit of US forces should be announced and command should be handed over to the public representatives of Afghans
People in Pakistan are bothered at this time to resolve the Afghan issue on a priority basis so that the government can focus on the Kashmir cause. Conversely, Indian authorities are continuously suggesting the US authorities stay back in Afghanistan. This situation is providing benefit to Indian-sponsored miscreants. It is necessary to bring the ground realities to the US government. When the USSR realised that it had been defeated in Afghanistan, it was too late and the process of disintegration of the Soviet Union had started. President Gorbachev stated that fighting the Afghan war was like playing a match. As the match prolonged, the other players (nations) got involved in the conflict. He termed the Afghans as a dangerous nation. Pakistan must candidly convey to the US that it should leave Afghanistan as this match has been played for an unprecedented period. Civil casualties in the form of drone strikes are a violation of human rights. In a recent attack, in Khost, two women and two infants died in the drone strikes. The spokespersons of human rights organisations are silent on the issue.
Recently, an American presidential candidate announced that he would shift the US troops to Pakistan to avoid casualties while controlling the states of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hence, the term AF-PAK policy was coined; giving the regional maritime security responsibility to India as the US moves in the Asian pivot to control China in the South China Sea and Strait of Melaka. In this scenario, the CPEC is also being opposed tooth and nail. Even an alternate alliance for trade with Japan, Australia, India and the US is being pitched against CPEC. The government of Pakistan must put its foot down to thwart these proposals. A face-saving scenario can be worked out in the form of a joint parley with all major powers as guarantors for implementation of the peace accord. The exit of US forces should be announced and command should be handed over to the public representatives of Afghans.
Indian announcement to annex Kashmir illegally appears to be at the behest of the US as there has been a continuous pressure on Pakistan to avoid FATF sanctions and not move for a military solution despite atrocities of the Indian security forces on the Kashmiri Muslims particularly women. Amendments in the Indian official maps is a threat to the existing lines of communication between Pakistan and China. Instead of the pro-India approach, the US needs to adopt an ambivalent approach to enable its safe and respectable exit from Afghanistan.
The most important of all the arguments in favour of quitting Afghanistan proposal is that the announced raison de etre of invading Afghanistan is changed. There is no Mullah Omar or Osama bin laden. There has been no further attack on American soil and there is no such intelligence report. Moreover, Taliban are willing to negotiate peace talks and they have also proved it. There is no justification to stay adamant and speculate unnecessarily against an unknown enemy. Who is the known enemy of America? If it is the Taliban, then despite being on a winning spree, they are willing to negotiate. If it is the objective of the US to change the social values of Afghans, it is a tall order for which another 100 years of war may be required. Similarly, dictating democracy in a country where a centuries-old established Jirga system is working according to the satisfaction of its inhabitants, is an unrealistic objective. This is time for Pakistan to bring out practicable proposals to the US. Further delay in pull-out is neither in the interest of Pakistan nor the US.
The writer is a freelancer