Gen Mirza Aslam Beg

Thursday, June 24, 2010 – The attack on the NATO supply convey near Islamabad and the turmoil in Kyrgyzstan to disrupt the daily supply of over forty five thousand liters of oil daily from the Manas air base, is meant to check-mate the occupation forces. Who is responsible for these acts? Certainly, not the Taliban from Afghanistan or the American haters of Pakistan! Not difficult to make a fair guess!!

The Americans and the allies have to take a bold decision in Afghanistan, same as years earlier, wisdom demanded that timely intervention in Bosnia was necessary to check the spread of jehadism in Europe. In Afghanistan, the Americans themselves have become part of the problem, yet it is not too late to intercede now. Jehadism is a phenomenon by itself, which needs to be understood. It has special message for the believers in the ideology of Islam: “Nothing should stop the believers from reaching out to protect the helpless men, women and children being brutalized, who are crying for help to Allah, to send the redeemers.” The redeemers who converged on to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chechnya, Palestine and Kashmir, will return to their hearth and home, only when brutality comes to an end. Jehadis pose no threat to other ideologies, civilizations or culture.

And yet there is the element of Terrorism, growing out of this movement, over the years, which is the common threat for all, but will gradually fade away, as occupation, oppression and injustice come to their logical end.The momentous decision, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, now have to jointly take, is a comprehensive strategy to revitalize the war ravaged Afghanistan. The occupation forces have no option but to exit, creating a power vacuum, which they will try to fill with the proxy power, like India. This must be prevented at all cost, as our joint responsibility, ensuring that: Afghanistan returns to their people, to let them govern the country as it suits them. Help the Afghans, establish peace, as the prelude to regional stability. Demand from the Americans, their allies and the Russians, to pay for the war damages to the Afghans. Join the world community to rebuild Afghanistan’s basic infrastructures for speedier economic recovery.

At this juncture, Pakistan’s hands are full, dealing with insurgency along the borders with Afghanistan and the turmoil within, between the judiciary and the executive, while the democratic order struggles to find its right bearing. Very challenging times indeed, to carve-out a destiny for the nation. The pressures from USA are mounting to undertake operations in North Waziristan and having failed in their effort, they now have made the crude attempt of blaming the President of Pakistan to have secretly met the Taliban leaders in custody and a charge sheet has been framed against Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, for providing ‘extensive support to the Afghan Taliban.’ These are lame excuses, which betray their frustrations, as they continue to suffer losses at the hands of the Taliban. Defeat is staring in their face. General Petraeus, the hero of Iraq, who was tasked to turn the tide on the Taliban, collapsed and fainted, while briefing the Defence Committee of the Senate, last Tuesday. The Peace Jirga held at Kabul last week also suggested reconciliation with the Taliban, because military defeat cannot be averted. The best option, therefore is to follow the Soviet example – make a clean break and withdraw. The Taliban and Pakistan will provide the safe exit, as they did in 1989-90. And leave Afghanistan to the Afghans, who will take care of themselves. The proxy forces – India or any other cannot withstand Afghan’s absolute love for total freedom.

The year 2010 is a momentous period of opportunity and action, which has occurred after twenty two years since 1988, when conditions were ripe for Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, to form an Alliance, (PIAA), to secure national security interests and to repel aggression. This alliance was to emerge on the basis of strategic consensus, forging unity as the main element of ‘Strategic Depth’ of security interests of the three countries. In 1988, the obtaining conditions were ideal. Pakistan had returned to democracy after eleven years of military rule; Iran has emerged victorious after eight years of brutal Iraqi war; Afghanistan was free, after eight years of Soviet occupation. The dawn of freedom and democracy thus provided an opportunity to PIAA countries to forge unity, but Alas! it was not to be. The idea of alliance, seeking Strategic Depth was ridiculed by foreign proxy scholars and some of our own.

The argument was twisted to mean, that Pakistan needed territorial depth of Afghanistan, to retreat in case of Indian aggression. This was a preposterous and naïve notion because Pakistan’s military strategy envisages no such withdrawal or retreat. Our mission is very clear. “While defending the territories of Pakistan, armed forces will contain the offensive, and carry the war into the enemy territory, to capture and hold vital areas, so as to enable the government to negotiate peace from a position of strength.”Pakistan has won the war on our territory, turned on it by the occupation forces in Afghanistan. Thus the scourge of terror that we faced from the north-west is relatively under control, and soon will be eliminated as the occupation forces leave Afghanistan, because foreign occupation is the “cause of all evil.” For the last thirty years, theAfghans have been fighting for their freedom and have defeated two super powers. As winners, they have been cheated twice in 1990 and 2001, by denying them power-sharing in their country. They cannot be hoodwinked again, and as winners, it is they who would lay down the conditions for peace in Afghanistan. The Iranians, since 1979, have faced foreign aggression, military and economic intimidation, embargos and sanctions, but have triumphed, through national unity, over all such machinations. The very fact that, Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project has been signed and sealed, serves as a rebuff to the powers wanting to forestall this deal.

The destiny repeatedly points towards gravitation of PIAA, to build a climate of trust and forge unity, fortifying their resolve and resilience, to deter and defeat aggression and establish peace in the region. Afghanistan has been badly ravished. Two generations have lost their youth and civilized living. They have seen only war, death and destruction. It is our fault that we failed to provide the protective shield to them. The greed-oriented nations with imperial mindset may now be converging on Afghanistan to seize their mineral deposits, worth trillions of dollars. This wealth belongs to the Afghans and is to beexploited for the good of Afghans and shared with the rest of the world. The dynamics of time demand that we honour our shared responsibility to protect ourselves, against aggression, exploitation and hegemony. —Concluded.

—The writer is former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan.

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