Rustam Shah Mohmand, former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, commissioner for Afghan refugees and former interior secretary, drew a very precise and dismal picture of the situation in Afghanistan, especially as regards Pakistan, while addressing members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), the media and the intellectual elite of the town on Wednesday evening
“Certain superpowers are addicted to warfare,” he said, and in this context cited the case of the destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. He said that it was just because the US wanted to test its just-evolved atom bomb.
Then, Mohmand said, in 1953, the same superpower had the democratically elected government of Mossadegh in Iran ousted despite all its professions of love for democracy. Then, he said, it was the overthrow in Egypt.
He said that there was no visible need for the war that was foisted on Afghanistan in October 2001. Many theories, he said, existed about this war in the US. What, however, could be said with certainty was that the Afghans had nothing to do with it. It was just George Bush’s assertion that the government in power at that point in time in Afghanistan had to be removed.
During this war, he said, 200,000 Afghan civilians were killed, including 300 workers who were suffocated to death in containers. Malnutrition among Afghan children, he said, was to the tune of 39 per cent. Two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people, he said, had so far fled Afghanistan, and the number of those fleeing annually was round 45,000.
“Depleted uranium was used in the US attacks on Tora Bora and the effects of the non-depleted uranium will exist for a long time to come,” said the former ambassador. The drone raids, he said, had driven many to insanity.
People in Iran, Russia and China, he said, were affected by these developments and as such they had decided to mend fences with the Taliban. He said Afghanistan shared 90 per cent of its surface water with Iran, Pakistan and Turkmeinistan. The Kabul River, he said, contributed 21 per cent to the Indus river system.
He said one of the Afghan problems with Pakistan was equitable sharing of the Kabul River waters. There was 17 million acre-feet of Kabul River water entering Pakistan but there was no formal accord on the issue.
He said that Afghanistan requested Pakistan territory between India and Afghanistan for trade with India. “In my opinion, this request should not have been denied.” As a result of this refusal, Afghanistan entered into trade with India through Chahbahar. Allowing the two countries to trade through Pakistan would have in no way harmed Pakistan.
Pakistan and India must jointly work on projects in Afghanistan and Central Asia, he added. The ex-envoy said that Russia, China and Iran were expediting ties with the Taliban because these countries were scared of anarchy infecting them and the threat of Daesh.
Russia, he said, was deeply concerned with the threat of Daesh approaching and China was concerned about Daesh because of religious insurgency in Sinkiang. China, he said, was investing heavily in the gas, petroleum and mineral sectors in Afghanistan.
He said that the fencing of the border with Afghanistan had drawn Afghanistan’s ire because it was seen as tantamount to shutting off cultural and other forms of interaction between the people of the two countries.