Saleem Safi’s Interview with the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani despite asking some relevant questions, missed out on posing some frontal ones as has often happened with Pakistani journalists who keep agitating them in their write-ups but have invariably not reflected the public sentiment while encountering Foreign visitors of consequence, particularly those from Europe and the U.S. There is a whole list of questions in retrospect but only a few here to bring the point home. In the context of Pakistan deciding to fall into the Imperial camp to start with, signing SEATO and CENTO in preference to coming to terms with neighbouring USSR, the country was paid back in the shape of sanctions by its ally after the Indian initiated 1965 War against Pakistan, and in the shape of a ditched behaviour during the 1971 debacle in the then East Pakistan.
The frontal question ought to have been asked as to why sanctions were clamped upon Pakistan instead of coming to Pakistan’s aid and assistance under the Treaties in 1965, and why in 1971 instead of condemning India for its aggression in East Pakistan raising Mukti Bahini together with whom it carried out mass rapes and murders of Pakistan Army ranks and supporters, the US backed off from supporting Pakistan and what recrimination has India faced for its sinister conspiracy causing separation of Pakistan’s Eastern Wing which its leaders have since openly gloated about? Why no punitive measures against India for exploding nuclear devices in 1974 and then 1998 whereas first on mere suspicion of development of a nuclear programme and later upon Pakistan’s response to the 1998 Indian detonations, sanctions were clamped against Pakistan! Why despite due certification of the Pakistani facilities by IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, there is orchestrated hue and cry over its programme but instead of questioning India over its relatively unsafe programme where leaks have been universally confirmed and admitted, the US had chosen to enter into Strategic Development Partnership with India and striving to get it admitted to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group but not prepared to give Pakistan the same status?
Why convulsions in the US camp over Pakistan’s well safeguarded Nuclear Development Programme that its arsenal could get to extremist hands, but no concern ever shown about greater possibility of open-ended Indian Nuclear stockpile getting to wrong hands, whereas US and others in the Nuclear club are free to develop and trade chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction which are easily accessed and being actually used by terrorists everywhere in world? With the Muslim world made the target after 9/11 the reason, why is there no explanation till date 15 years down line about how the impregnable air and ground defence shields of the sole super power were supposedly penetrated by the Osama Bin Laden-led group billed as Islamic Jehadists and hijacked planes with consummate ease and rammed them into twin-towers as well as the Pentagon; a story so completely rubbished by the world press?
Why does not the US realize that rather than acknowledging the supreme sacrifices of Pakistan in men and materials against terrorism by compensating it for over 120 billion Dollars so far in opportunity loss due to instability caused by its mis-adventure, halting part release of its peanut ESAF assistance against Pakistan’s exemplary role in the fight, further alienates public sentiment in Pakistan. Why after over decade and a half of a frustrating campaign in Afghanistan does the US not recognize that in order to avoid making it into another more devastating Vietnam for itself it needs to seek an honourable exit from the quagmire.
Back to Ashraf Ghani’s interview by Saleem Safi, the Afghan President soon after assuming charge had held out great promise with his peace initiatives and sounded sincere as he sounded like extending an olive branch to all stake-holders contrary to his predecessor Hamid Karzai who proved a Mir Jaffer for Pakistan where he was brought up and fed, as he played the pied piper for his masters far beyond his grain and capacity and his writ was never beyond Kabul despite two terms in office. The very first question which was on every mind would have been as to what made Ashraf Ghani back-track to familiar Karzai line pulling away from his initial position and toeing the Indian RAW refrain of Pakistan bashing, ignoring the ground realities. Ashraf Ghani’s naïve demand as also of his mentors, to reign in on the Freedom fighting Afghans, as a quid pro quo to Afghanistan’s quasi-action against the fugitive Pakistani Fazllulah’s group, was a very faulty parallel to draw.
Why cannot Pakistani journalists hammer home to the world community in general but to the US and the minority government in Afghanistan in particular, to recognize the fundamental difference between Afghan Taliban whose legitimate Government had been overthrown by the Allied Forces and who were fighting to vacate foreign aggression over their motherland, and the mercenary Tehreek Taliban Pakistan funded and abetted by foreign Agencies taking up arms against its own country rule and establishment. Ashraf Ghani also cautioned Pakistan against eying strategic depth in Afghanistan and declared India to be its dependable partner. While Mr. Ghani may by all means harness the support of India as is the right of every country to choose, but in discarding or condemning Pakistan in preference to India it must not close its eyes to the historic trading concession granting to land-locked Afghanistan by Pakistan, voluntary hosting of millions of Afghan Refugees and strategic depth provided to Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion in which Pakistan fought shoulder to shoulder with its Afghan brethren to successfully vacate the aggression.
Providing strategic depth to brothers in faith is the requirement of the Ummah in times of trial as was displayed by Iran during Indian assault over Pakistan in 1965, and to expect Afghanistan to do the same was only a natural expectation of a Muslim neighbour if need be. As for Mr. Ghani’s faith in India how about asking him to test the pony by asking it to send in its troops as part of Allied Force, and to take in just one million of the Refugees now required to return from Pakistan which had hosted over 3 million of them multiplied to over 6 million in nearly four decades; this is besides asking him what half a dozen Indian Consulates were doing in Afghanistan! Will someone with facility of language, pluck courage to confront John Kerry when he next visits Pakistan?
— The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran former Director of programmes.