By : M. Usan
THE wheel comes full circle. After 9/11, it was Bush who was fuming with rage and revenge. His administration gave only one choice to Pakistan with loaded pistol on its head either you are with us or against. If you chose latter, will be bombed to Stone Age. Time was with US. Pakistan had to cave in and consequently suffered immeasurably in blood and goods. Now it is Trump who spoke callously with no less in content and command. At Jeddah Summit, Trumps listed Arabs countries, Afghanistan and India which have suffered grievously horror and terror. Name of Pakistan was conspicuously absent and intriguing. In case of Arabs, it is Iran which from Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups. He called upon vociferously to stand up to isolate Iran until it becomes partner in peace. In case of Afghanistan and India, it was just matter of time when he names the accused.
The omission of Pakistan from list of victim of terrorism was deliberate. Trump knew what he has to do next. It was his first formal address to nation as Commander- in- Chief when he lambasted Pakistan for providing safe havens to agents of chaos. He minced no word to charge Pakistan directly for harboring terrorists that US is fighting. Pakistan has to change and change immediately. Contrarily, it has to pay price. Pakistan has much to gain in partnering with US’s effort in Afghanistan – a carrot and much to lose from harboring terrorists and criminals – a stick. Besides, he said adieu to his previous criticism of 16 years old Afghan while taking refuge behind desk in Oval office as things looked different from there.
US would stay in Afghanistan because consequence of a rapid exit are predictable and unacceptable, leaving a vacuum that terrorists would instantly fill however, security assistance to Afghanistan won’t be a blank cheque. We are not building nation again. Trump called upon India particularly to help them more in Afghanistan especially in area of economic assistance and development nevertheless, he also left a window for eventual political settlement including Taliban but not before effective military effort is successful by their own specifications. US vice President, Mike Pence took no time to second what Trump said. President has put Pakistan on notice. Rules of engagement are being changed to enable US commanders on ground to make real time decisions to target safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This all is much awaited Trump’s policy to South Asia. One is baffled by its content, method and blithe. It is no recipe for peace. It is cordite for violence, instability and disaster. Situation in Afghanistan does not admit military solution. Few thousand US troops cannot achieve what over 140000 NATO troops could not achieve in 16 years. It will only prolong agony, harden the attitude and pose more serious hazards to peace however, it will provide alibi for US to stay in Afghanistan. It is not only US which has stakes in Afghanistan.
There are China, Russia and other regional countries too. They will not fold their hands and allow US to sit happily and call the shots. Afghanistan is a war torn country. It needs reconstruction, rehabilitation and development. The refusal of US to build nation will alienate Afghanpeople further and reinforce their impression of being under foreign occupation. It is needless to remind that Afghanistan has reputation of graveyard for foreign occupation forces, no matter how long it takes. Taliban’s successes are clear pointers. One could only ignore this at own pearl. The dream of Trump to talk to Taliban at gun point may remain elusive.
The raising and maintaining a professional Army of around 350,000 strength need time and resources in abundance. Trump is money aversive and has asked Afghan Government to pay its share of defense bill. Afghan government has no money. This would keep Afghan Army under strength, ill-trained and poorly equipped thus, unable to restore writ of the Government. Resultantly chaos, anarchy and instability continue to stalk landmass of Afghanistan. Announced rash policy portrays US a posturing bully. One cannot win war by gestures only. It entails heavy price in blood and treasure. Trump is averse to both. Half measures gain nothing but pain.
Main charge against Pakistan is harbouring terrorists who kill US troops. Afghan Taliban are killing Americans. They are not terrorists but freedom fighters. To the contrary, Pakistan is fighting terrorists who are housed, financed and directed by Indian RAW and Afghan NDS on Afghan soil under tacit approval of US. Allotment of high profile role to India in Afghanistan is an abject insult to deep injuries, inflicted upon Pakistan in way of international cause of peace. Only insanity could fail to acknowledge great sacrifices of Pakistan.
US has done it. India does not deserve any role because it shares no border with Afghanistan. It has never worked worthwhile for cause of Afghanistan. It is only there to fuel fires of all kinds against Pakistan. Neither Pakistan could sit mute on this score nor could fight Taliban for sake of keeping US in good humour. In wake of new US policy, possibility of more drone strikes inside Pakistan would aggravate the situation further. Probably it is time to act differently, as time is not entirely with US. New winds are blowing in the region. All above would cause more instability in region. It suits to US to contain China and Russia. CPEC is real contention.