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Fleeting moments

September 14, 2020

Will the peace endure?

Opinion

September 14, 2020

The handshake between US Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad with the newly appointed head of Afghan negotiating team Abdul Hakim Haqqani in Qatar had hardly ended when a deadly blast took place in Kabul. Whenever peace talks begin, such blasts occur at one site or the other in Afghanistan. What a way to welcome the talks!

The recent blast targeted Vice President Amrullah Saleh who had also served as chief of the Afghan intelligence services. He had been targeted several times in the past but survived, including the one last year when twenty people in his office were killed. He maintains a hard line against the Taliban, terrorists, insurgents, Al-Qaeda.

The stage for peace talks has once again been set up in Qatar. Zalmay Khalilzad and his team will join heads with Abdul Hakim Haqqani and his team of senior members. What are the chances of success of peace talks from the viewpoint of ordinary Afghan people? Not promising. They want the Americans to pull out unconditionally without leaving behind proxies in power.

The Americans too are desperate to vacate Afghanistan for two main reasons. First, it is election year and Trump doesn’t want the nation to hear about deaths of US troops in foreign lands. Second, the Americans have conclusively lost the war in Afghanistan and they want to quit without looking back, as did the Russians years ago. Afghanistan is characteristically distinct. The superpower must have learned after sinking $2 trillion and costing the lives of 2,200 of its soldiers that Afghanistan is indeed a hard place.

It is time for the superpower to control its overwhelming addiction to wars that devastate small defenceless nations. This hubristic power has inflicted untold miseries to many countries and driven millions of their citizens homeless. The Brown University report, ‘Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars’, stipulates: “Wars fought by the US have displaced at least 37 million people since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on America. That is more than those displaced by any war or disaster since the start of the 20th century, except for World War II.”

“Top countries include Afghanistan (5.3 million), Iraq (9.2 million), Pakistan (3.7 million), Yemen (4.4 million), Somalia (4.2 million), the Philippines (1.7 million), Libya (1.2 million) and Syria (7.1 million)”, says the report reveals. Contradicting this report, a Rhode Island-based institute went further by claiming that “Thirty-seven million (refugees) is a very conservative estimate. The total displaced by the US post-9/11wars could be closer to 48-59 million.”

US wars are launched in corporate interests to benefit the select few. Recently, Donald Trump openly attacked the US military and accused it of ‘waging wars to boost the profits of defence manufacturing companies.’

Maj Gen Smedley Butler (1888-1940) of the US Marines Corps held the same opinion about the US military more than a hundred years ago. He elucidated his views in his famous book ‘War as a Racket’: “War is just a racket. A racket is best described as something that is not what it seems to majority of the people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the very few at the expense of the masses.” Unfortunately, the masses are always the last to know the truth.

Assuming that the peace efforts that have gone on for some years succeed, but will it be a lasting peace in Afghanistan? Not likely. The Afghan people will like to see some of their own at the helm, not the ones the occupation force leaves behind. Even the Afghan army may face desertions after the foreign troops leave. The nation will be reborn after almost two decades of draconian foreign occupation. The Afghan people could rightfully demand for free and fair elections to make a new beginning as an independent nation.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]