July 29, 2010

The Lost War

Afghanistan burns. Who will help? (Source: Dawn.com)
You have heard people rant on about the war on terror and what not. You have yourself rambled on about it to countless people. You have made your opinions, and your opinions are either accepted by the people, or rejected by them. Either you’re a for man, that is you want the ISAF to stay in Afghanistan, or you’re an against man i.e. you want the ISAF to get the hell out of Afghanistan and leave it the **** alone. Either way, you have diverse calculated arguments, and over time you have perfected them. In fact, some of you might even be bored with the whole drama that is taking place just across our Western border. You might imagine then what you might gain by reading on.

Simple answer is nothing new. Yes. But there are other things and ideas that haven’t been explored as yet. Such as the one that I am about to put across in the words of Mullah Omar himself:

“...The West may have the clocks, but we have the time...”

And after 9 years in Afghanistan, the prediction becomes truer day by day. The Western forces have been beaten at their own ball game. They are no more game for a war that is only exacting a heavy toll on them without giving them anything in return. Afghanistan was always a bees’ nest. Once rattled, there really isn’t a chance of containing the damage. Every day the ISAF and its foot soldiers grow tired of the war that has been forced onto them. And every day, the grim reality is rearing its ugly head even more. The Taliban’s back might’ve been broken according to official statements (I disagree), but they have all the time in the world to contain their damages and minimize their losses. The Western troops on the other hand don’t have unlimited time, and their resources are running shorter with every passing day.

Sooner or later, an evac order will be sent out to the embattled troops and Afghanistan will once again be left at the mercy of the Taliban. And that is what worries most of us. We Pakistanis tend to forget that India and Iran also hold strategic interests in this hotbed. After America pulls out, this whole region will plunge into chaos with the Pakistani state supporting the Taliban, and the Indian-Iranian axis supporting the Northern Alliance. The other option of course is to make peaceful overtures to all our neighbors but that is unacceptable to everyone in the government and the establishment. What we forget is that once the Taliban are in control, massive radicalization of Pakistan will occur and this time the furor will not be limited to the tribal belt. This time, the fracas has the potential of assimilating the whole country in its wake.

Our policy makers, regardless of whether they come from the GHQ or the Parliament, need to realize the bigger picture. Lasting peace will only be achieved if personal viewpoints and vested interests are left behind, and common ground is found amongst all concerned towards lasting peace. Of course one can only hope this happens as usually personal preferences are preferred when designing and reviewing foreign policy initiatives. Nonetheless, I continue to hope that the cause of the greater good will over rule the short term gains that our tacticians are thinking about all holed up in their cozy offices.