The Afghanistan shockwave | By Imtiaz Rafi Butt


The Afghanistan shockwave

ON 15 August, the Taliban swept across the whole of Afghanistan and Kabul fell without even a bullet fired. The Europeans and the Americans in particular were in disbelief.

This is the project that the American military, NATO and European armies had been building for the last 20 long years. It is the longest war in American history but with a result similar to many other wars.

The Afghan army surrendered, the air support was not even engaged. The military equipment worth billions, supplied to the Afghan army fell right into the hands of the Taliban.

India-supplied weapons and gunships against the Taliban were ironically used by them to take over Kabul as the final piece of victory. The Taliban took over and announced a peaceful takeover but the panic overtook Afghanistan.

Kabul airport was flooded with foreigners and Afghans who wanted to leave Afghanistan leaving everything behind.

The whole world witnessed scenes of violence, destitution, abandonment and hatred. The image of an actual person falling off a US war plane will forever haunt the history of the United States, a grim reminder of Vietnam.

Amid the chaos, the militant organization ISIS made things worse by staging an attack that killed 13 American troops and scores of Afghan civilians.

The US Government retorted through a drone strike that killed 10 civilians, the American Government apologized later on, and confirming that the operation was based on incorrect information and that the persons killed were collateral damage.

American policy is in a shambles from all around. The American Government has now been plagued with internal as well as external turmoil, and with it blame game has begun.

Senior American Government official has held multiple press conferences. In one of the most significant briefings, Blinkin came out and blamed Pakistan for the Afghanistan failure.

Ironically, it was Donald Trump that had paved the way for Afghanistan withdrawal and negotiations with the Taliban. The process was facilitated by Pakistan Government. The change of Government after Trump had confused the issue even more.

With the disaster of Afghanistan, after 20 long years of human and financial losses, the Americans have lost face in international diplomacy. They are now the most unreliable partners in global cooperation.

In Afghanistan, the Americans have left their allies and supporters to the mercy of the Taliban and mercy they have been shown, as a surprise.

Even President Ashraf Ghani had to flee Kabul on his own without any support from the American masterminds of the Afghan Government.

Panjshir Valley inhabitants who were the first allies of the US forces and NATO after the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan, have been left without any support from the Americans against the Taliban.

The Taliban have luckily shown restraint and with fewer causalities have taken over the valley and dialogue is in place. All points support the argument, the Americans are not reliable allies.

India, in a similar fashion, is in shock and mostly resorting to blame-game against Pakistan. Billions of Indian Government investment and funding in Afghanistan has been lost.

Indian support for the Afghan Government and fomenting anti-Pakistan rhetoric inside Afghanistan has back lashed.

The Indian embassy in Kabul has been shut and officials have been called back. The Indian armaments supplied to be used against Pakistan and Taliban have exchanged hands.

Foreign policy and intelligence of both US and India have failed in Afghanistan On the other hand, Pakistan and China are embarking on a new venture.

After the fall of Kabul around 15th August, the chief of Pakistan Intelligence Lt. General Faiz Hameed made a surprising and historical visit to Kabul.

He held meetings with senior Taliban leadership in a cordial environment and when multiple questions were posed to him by the media, he replied with, “Don’t worry, everything will be okay”.

It is significant to note, that the ISI chief is the first intelligence chief and diplomat to visit Afghanistan after its fall to the Taliban.

It was as if signifying to the global and regional power that Pakistan has emerged as a regional power without a doubt.

In September, it appears that the fruits of Pakistan partnership with Taliban have begun to surface. The trade at Chaman border and Spin Boldak has been initiated.

The Taliban have committed to cooperation and that Afghan soil will not be used against Pakistan. As a statement, the trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan will be done in Pakistan Rupees instead of US Dollars.

Aid and humanitarian support is being sent to Afghanistan and a protocol is being devised for refugees flowing in. Everything seems to be alright, as per ISI Chief’s iconic statement.

In continuation of this project, the Intelligence Chief held a historical summit of Intelligence Diplomats from Russia, China, Iran, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in Islamabad to devise a strategy to contain the fallout of Kabul and the impending humanitarian crisis.

After 20 years of destruction, the Americans were even a part of the meeting to decide the future of Afghanistan because from now on, the decision lies elsewhere.

Chinese Government with the assistance of Pakistan is set to include Afghanistan in the grand plan of Asian economic and regional connectivity.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor can readily include the vastness of Afghanistan and its lands rich with mineral resources and untapped potential.

After decades of warfare, a superpower of the world has decided to work with the people of Afghanistan instead of invading them through economic incentive and prosperity.

Afghanistan has a potent geographical disposition that can strengthen the Chinese footprint in the region and its connectivity to Central Asia. One Belt One Road project has no alternatives or equals in the world.

There is a long journey ahead for Kabul with its economic, social and infrastructure backwardness but as they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

The Americans came out as the victors of the Second World War. They claimed themselves to be the champions of the free world.

Justice, Freedom and Democracy was the vision of Abraham Lincoln and Washington-based governance but only in a few decades, the situation has taken a drastic turn.

Since the 1980s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Americans have fallen prey to the same old vice of arrogance, short-sightedness and division.

In foreign policy, the Americans have continuously failed and have defunded the NATO alliance of any credibility. They lost the war in Vietnam.

They lied to the whole world about Iraq about Weapons of Mass Destruction and violated International Law and UNSC resolutions over twenty times. They left their allies in turmoil.

They sided with the rebels in Syria and Libya and caused havoc causing loss of lives in thousands. They have sided with Israel even in the face of huge violations of human rights against Palestine.

They have resorted to the worst form of Black, anti-feminist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic policies and are now more divided than ever.

All this lends support to the Chinese argument that the American Government is no longer leader of the world and nor are they reliable for the world. Afghanistan is a shockwave and a conclusion of many struggles.

Chinese dominance is on the right path and they are securing their victories while the Americans and its allies are encountering defeat one after the other, even when it is the UK or India.

Pakistan, China and their new alliance in the form of Russia, Iran and Turkey and they are the possible answer to riddle and disaster that is Afghanistan as of today.

—The writer is Chairman, Jinnah Rafi Foundation, based in Lahore.

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