Ominous signs in Afghanistan | By S R H Hashmi

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Ominous signs in Afghanistan

THE very realistic article titled ‘Unholy plot’ by M Ziauddin dated 27 September moti vated me to put my views on the subject.

Of course, seeing what the US, together with its gang, did to Iraq, Syria and Libya, which it invaded unjustly, illegally and brutally, it is a foregone conclusion that it won’t treat Afghanistan any differently.

In fact, it would want much worse in Afghanistan, hoping that the upheaval there also sucks in, and destabilizes Pakistan.

As a close ally of US rival China, and enjoying good relations with Russia, Pakistan could hardly be looked upon as a blue-eyed boy by the United States. I think it is about time Pakistani officials accepted this fact and stopped begging US for ‘strategic relations’.

The plus points are that with the fleeing of the US troops, together with their poodles in Afghanistan including former President Asrhaf Ghani and Vice President Amruillah Saleh, plus instant dissolution of the US-trained Afghan National Army, the Indian agents in Afghanistan also bolted double-quick.

So, India has lost its supporters in Afghanistan and is also not exactly a favourite of the present rulers, who seem to be more friendly and supportive of Pakistan. As such, the capacity of the US to create trouble in Afghanistan has now been substantially curtailed.

However, while relenting a bit in respect of humanitarian aid, the US is still blocking $ 9 billion Afghan reserves held abroad. Luckily for Afghanistan, even some US allies are distancing themselves from the US stance.

The US ouster has definitely created a hope for Afghans, and its neighbours want to turn this into an opportunity, both for Afghanistan and for themselves, to rid the region of extremism and terrorism. And they are willing to extend all possible help to new Afghan government to achieve this objective.

However, just promises by new Afghan leaders of reformed governance are not enough. People want to see them taking concrete steps that convince others of their resolve to gradually move towards a peaceful Afghanistan where government includes all interest groups and gives due rights to all sections of population, including women.

Unfortunately, early signs don’t give much hope. As mentioned by Abdul Sattar in his recent article ‘No change’, the replacement of Kabul University Vice Chancellor, a PhD degree holder having extensive teaching experience, with a graduate having no experience of running a university, is despicable.

Also, announcement of reducing women’s role in various institutions and placing curbs on female education – without repudiation by any senior Taliban official – are shocking, and clearly demonstrate that Taliban have not mellowed down overtime. After all, Taliban are not the only Muslims around on this planet. Moreover, Islam does not.

revolve around the size and shape of beards and hair style, nor does it command depriving women of education, or working in offices, while maintaining a modest style. Islam is about compassion, mercy and enlightenment.

Afghanistan’s neighbours are still demonstrating a fair degree of tolerance towards Taliban, simply because they want a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

And to make that possible, they are willing to offer the new government all possible help. However, Taliban must bear in mind that their patience is not inexhaustible and Taliban must not try to test it to the limit.

The new Taliban government must also realize that it is in a precarious situation and needs help from all possible sources and that it is in no position to command the rest of the world to comply with its dictates, more so when they not only contradict civilized norms but also contravene the real spirit of Islam.

Taliban government must also heed warning over its needless intransigence which could force its neighbours and other well-wishers to slow down or even stop altogether their cooperation with Afghanistan.

Such an eventuality could create serious problems which could force people to rise against Taliban or even persuade them to join their rivals, and that could lead to a civil war.

Of course, Pakistan government is going out of its way to help Afghans despite having limited resources.

However, having lost nearly 80,000 Pakistani lives at the hands of extremists and terrorists, apart from suffering over $ 100 billion loss to infrastructure, Pakistan simply cannot afford to see extremist sentiment emerging and developing in Afghanistan again, resulting in encouraging anti-Pakistan elements – who had fled to Afghanistan – to start their across-the-border terrorism again, either directly or through their agents in Pakistan.

Many of our soldiers get martyred quite frequently through attacks from across the border and this sort of activity cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely.

In view of the above, it is incumbent upon the Taliban government to adopt a moderate style of governance which meets with Islamic requirements but does not include barbarity, or deprives certain sections of the population of the rights which the religion has allowed them to enjoy, while remaining within the prescribed limits.

And if the new rulers do not heed sane advice offered by their well-wishers, and they suffer as a result of their neighbours parting ways, Taliban alone will hold full responsibility for the resulting catastrophe this time, and not the US.

— The writer is senior political analyst based in Karachi.

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