Friday January 28, 2022

Afghanistan in retrospect

October 05, 2020

Harold McMillan, prime minister of England, a classic alumnus of Balliol College Oxford, predicted to my mentor Sir Anthony Kenny, Master of Balliol College, long years ago in 1980, that the Red Army would be compelled by the Afghan Mujahideen to a shameful retreat from Afghanistan, just like the British officers led Indian Army following the capture of Kabul in the first Afghan war of 1938.

If you do not digest history, it tends to repeat itself. At least, US President Trump has the good sense to negotiate with the very Taliban the US had overthrown, and to agree to a retreat of the American forces from Afghanistan after an 18-year occupation of Afghanistan following the Osama bin Laden-led massacre of innocents in New York and Washington on 9/11.

Even his critics will agree that President Trump is not a war-happy president. He who opposed the totally unjustified invasion of Iraq, the result of a collusion between Bush and his poodle Blair, which was based on fake evidence, and supported by Senators Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Unlike the criminal conspiracy between Bush and Blair, which later led to the unjust war against Iraq, it can be argued that the Afghan government paid the price for an unwise invitation to harbour known terrorist Osama bin Laden. What is incredible is that Obama raised the presence of the US Army to the highest figure of 100,000. After Osama bin Laden had paid the price of terrorism with his life at Abbottabad, Obama ought to have declared ‘Mission Accomplished’.

“Justice has been done”, declared Obama after the death of Bin Laden at the hands of US Special Forces. Pakistan has, however, paid a heavy price for collusion in the two Afghan Wars during the reign of two dictators; namely generals Ziaul Haq and Musharraf.

This lasted for four decades, from the US-funded Afghan Mujahideen resistance, known as the biggest CIA operation in history, which ended with the Geneva Accord sponsored against the wishes of the worst dictator Pakistan has seen, Gen Ziaul Haq. After using the mujahideen, successive American administrations consigned them to the dustbin of history, having settled the score with the Soviet Union, under Comrade Brezhnev for backing Asian Hero Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam.

Prior to the CIA-sponsored first Afghan War of the 20th Century, we in Pakistan were not even familiar with the automatic weapon known as ‘Kalashnikov’. Pakistan has paid a heavy price for the induction of Kalashnikovs, despite the warning conveyed to Speaker Illahi Bux Soomro that we have left behind so many weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan that it will take several generations to clean up the mess. This was the time during which the Kalashnikovs fell into the hands of tyrannical parties and mutating clerical-led terrorists, which wreaked havoc in Pakistan from 1979 to 2009.

Thus, we in Pakistan should celebrate the peace deal between the Pashtun Taliban and the Tajiks led by Abdullah Abdullah. It is therefore all the more difficult to comprehend a recent statement by PM Imran Khan, pleading with the Nato forces to not withdraw from Afghanistan. That is not doing Pakistan any favours. The sooner the unwelcome Nato quits Afghanistan, the better it will be for Pakistan and the rest of the world.

The writer is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, and a former governor of Sindh.