A tight rope walk | By Zaheer Bhatti


A tight rope walk

IT requires a lot of grace to admit and realize one’s mistakes, which is only how you will make amends both as individuals and Nations, and it adds a lot of substance to such realization when it comes to the only super power in the world.

Regardless of what one may think of Donald Trump for his brash manner and overt backing Israel over its consolidation and annexation of Palestinian lands, Donald Trump after the Vietnam withdrawal by Richard Nixon, would perhaps be the second US President to realise the American folly and the horrendous costs in men and materials besides losing face, in trying to create hegemony through force.

There are some striking commonalities between Vietnam and Afghanistan. Joe Biden succeeding Trump despite contemplating to reverse his predecessor’s decision and hang on to Afghanistan, realized within weeks not months that an honourable withdrawal from Afghanistan was the only way out, and that force was no option to create areas of influence or safeguarding American interests in the region.

This was realized after 19 years when Richard Nixon called it a day in Vietnam, and it will be completion of 20 years in Afghanistan as envisaged by Joe Biden, if extension to September eleven, is accepted by the Afghan Taliban.

Nixon soon after Vietnam, embarked upon his mission to break the ice with China which had supported the Vietcong in Vietnam against the US, through the good offices of Pakistan.

Trump followed by Joe Biden more than half a Century later, would be looking to withdraw gracefully from Afghanistan with proactive Pakistani diplomatic support once again, to build bridges afresh with China; this time hopefully to compete rather than confront.

But unlike Vietnam there is a spoiler in the case of Afghanistan, whose well suited game plan of disruption and destabilization in the region, is threatened by the American withdrawal as it would expose the cover provided in the proxy role assigned to it by the US for containment of China.

This was laid bare by the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat when he tried to divert his real concern over the proposed US withdrawal after Joe Biden rejected calls to stay on in Afghanistan for peaceful Resolution of the internal Afghan conflict, by saying that it would create a vacuum in Afghanistan providing space to what he called ‘disruptors’.

The Indian General spilled the beans in foreseeing instability after American withdrawal which he feared would spill over into Indian-occupied Kashmir, and that Pakistan would gain an upper hand in view of its long-standing ties with the Taliban which only reflected Indian guilt over Kashmir besides fearing roadblock on its covert operations against Pakistan.

Bipin Rawat’s proposal urging the US to stay on in Afghanistan to ensure peaceful resolution defies all logic as having pumped trillions of dollars into the campaign, raising an entire Army and giving the Country a tailored Constitution and a Parliament, the US has not succeeded in bringing stability in Afghanistan in nearly 20 years with all the military might of the Allied Forces breathing fire at its command, because no forced setup can ever replace an indigenous dispensation which draws strength from its own self and traditions.

Surely the Indian General cannot be expecting the US to stay till eternity to bring peace in Afghanistan which has to be allowed to make its own choices as to what manner of living and Governance suits them most, just as he would not expect any outsider to tell India or any other Country how to run its affairs.

As a matter of fact India’s main worry is that once foreign forces vacate Afghanistan, it will no longer be in a position to carry out subversion inside Pakistan from its entrenched Consulate positions in Afghanistan in the cloak of checking Chinese influence, from where it was not only launching attacks through the renegade TTP and its splinters but also sponsoring Daesh in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

The proof of the pudding will be seen in dramatic cessation of hostilities once Indian Consulates are dislodged and given marching orders; if not by the US, eventually by the Taliban, who in view of their commanding position despite Allied assaults, no doubt will play a dominant role in Afghan politics after the NATO withdrawal, and should also be weary of the dirty role being played by the RAW-NDS nexus against the Afghan Taliban and supporting the US puppet Regime in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is the sole Country which has walked a tight rope all the way; first serving the Allied Forces against Afghanistan as its frontline non-NATO ally, despite being among the three Countries first according recognition to the Taliban’s Islamic Emirates in Afghanistan and drawing the ire of the Muslim neighbour for having ditched it inadversity, and then having to work untiringly to explain the situation forcing Pakistan once again into the US lap.

As Mujahideen gathered from all over the Muslim world to fight the Soviet invasion were ditched by Washington after Soviet withdrawal, they turned their guns on Pakistan stirring up an insurgency which cost Pakistan seventy thousand plus men in uniform and unarmed civilians besides over 150 billion dollars till date in economic opportunity costs.

Pakistan has faced and fought terrorism like no one else in the world, and worked a long way in re-establishing its credentials in a fractured relationship; so much so that despite insurgencies from within Afghan territory into Pakistan, it has continued to host millions of Afghan refugees for over 4 decades raising a whole generation, facilitated border trade with it and even gone to the extent of allowing Afghan trade with India through Pakistan.

It has been instrumental in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the puppet regime, whose mere sight they were not prepared to stand.

Why would then Afghanistan’s Taliban not be supportive of Pakistan, and settle scores with their detractors; should make eminent common sense.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.