Twenty years in grief but for what ? | By Bahri Karam Khan

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Twenty years in grief but for what ?


ONE really falls short of suitable words to explain in how terrible conditions did we, the dwellers of this country, live during the last couple of decades.

It was the period marked as war-on-terror what the global superpower launched in reaction to the tragic 9/11 attacks in 2001 and we fought as a frontline state.

Militancy and terrorism, the main feature of the period, though was branded as an international issue, yet concentrated on our soil that wrought havoc with our life and property.

The menace had turned into a ‘dreadful monster’ that snatched from us the night’s slumber and the day’s hustle and bustle.

There was no single day or night passed without sorrow, grief, pain, fear and what not.
But why were all such miseries to us? Unfortunately, we haven’t learnt lessons from history.

In the early 1980s, we fought the US’ war against the (former) Soviet Union as ‘frontline State’ and defeated the cold war’s superpower splitting it into pieces.

Fallout of the war however was absolute change of the global panorama with the US emerging as lonely superpower.

Thus, it was the US that turned victorious in that war while we merely celebrated but were on losing side. We did so because we had strategic alliance with the US for that particular purpose and she accordingly encashed it in her favour.

For the post-cold war, the lonely superpower came up with the changed agenda and our case stood no exception to that agenda. The 9/11’s episode was starting point of the new game. Consequently, the US launched global war-on-terror.

Interestingly, the US sponsored the militant outfits in Afghanistan so long as they were fighting against the Soviet troops. However, once that war was over, these outfits rendered redundant.

Osama bin Laden was alleged as the mastermind of the terror attacks and, through an overwhelming onslaught on Afghanistan, overthrown the Taliban’s regime for having given shelter to him.

Simultaneously, we too were made part of the war and, since then, have been fighting it as a ‘frontline state’.

And, this is how she once again tactfully waged its own war on us.
Painfully, the US, for which we fought this war, was nowhere for healing our wounds.

Instead, we got accustomed with hearing their ‘do more’ mantra. Alongside, a chorus was also echoed that we were sponsoring militancy.

The chorus eminently included voice of our traditional adversary India which, for the obvious reason, was not strange for us. But, when the US too included her voice in the chorus, it sprinkled salt on our wounds. Not only this, she also engaged her China-specific partner, India, in Afghanistan.

It thus meant nothing other than to create unrest in the region to hinder China’s economic initiatives. And, the result was what we witnessed and fell victim during the last twenty years.

Then, eventually, came the landmark occasion when the US, in an amazing move, withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in terms of the agreement they had inked with Taliban.

What the world got surprised with was the chaotic manner in which the last batch of their troops left Afghanistan.

Followed was the swift march of Taliban to capital Kabul with no resistance from the US backed Ghani government, whose well trained and well equipped Afghan National Army proved mere house of cards before them.

Ghani himself fled away from the capital in the night’s darkness. Consequently, the Taliban were back in power. Whatever lenses this astounding event be seen through, the calculation is quite simple.

For the US, when it has trillions of dollars spent on this military expedition what, during the course of operation, have caused massive human losses and devastations also, but its ultimate outcome is fall of Kabul to the same Taliban whom they had once dethroned from power, then it definitely sums-up in what is termed as ‘humiliated defeat’.

The unexpected event is likely to cause a far-reaching impact on the global vista. True, its fallout may not be at par with the erstwhile superpower’s defeat in the same Afghanistan for the US still enjoying power in both the economic and defence areas.

Politically, however, it suffered a severe jolt that, in turn, will hardly leave it in position to carry on dictating to the world on global affairs.

Instead, Washington will essentially have to resort to the ‘persuasive policy’. Beyond doubt, bringing an end to the cold-war was a blunder that the world has been paying for quite heavily.

Thus, realizing that mess, the world is already on the way back to fill up the vacuum created by the (former) Soviet Union. China’s rise both economically and politically is already an irritant for the US.

Similarly, Russia too is in a bid to re-assert itself globally. All these are indeed positive developments which, with these new events, will certainly gain fresh impetus.

On our perspective, the desperate US, at the moment, is in search of a scapegoat for her face-saving. Yes, it is imperative for her own interest. And yes, it is we that have best served her interests in the past.

On the score, we have got many titles from the superpower, ‘most allied of the allies’, ‘not enough doer’ and ‘militancy breeder’ being a few of them.

Hence, no matter if yet another posthumous is conferred on us by throwing to us the responsibility of its defeat in Afghanistan.

The bill that already is under process in the US Senate has special mention of our role in the conflict.

Thus, sanctions are what could be imposed on us as a penalty for our only fault that we dreamt peace not only in our land but in our close neighbour’s also.

Now, it is for our haughty and mighty in the foreign office to be well in the know of what is going to happen and what pre-emptive measures are warranted and taken to counter the same.

Then, the bitter experience of our relation with the US in the past clearly suggests revisiting the same. For this, however, no suitable time could be had in the past.

Now, when the formation of the new global alliances are on the card, therefore, no occasion better than this can be had for us to seek a space where we may be able to reap in the post-US defeat global landscape.

—The writer is a retired officer of Provincial Management Service, KP and currently engaged in research work.

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