The US is finding the war in Afghanistan a little too hot for its liking and why not; it was a war that remained in search of strategy and failed to find it. It’s not that I wish to gloat, nor that I want to say ‘I told you so’, but that one is forced to respond when confronted with accusations that the US failed in Afghanistan on account of Pakistan.
- That we were a tricky two-faced partner. Since I was closely associated with this conflict for a number of years and since I am aware of the things that happened, it is only right that people such as me must speak for Pakistan just as we fought for Pakistan.
- That a hundred and fifty thousand NATO troops have been overwhelmed by the imagined hoards that Pakistan sent across the border, challenges my professional understanding of the situation.
- That this is the same border that neither Afghanistan recognises and resists its management or fencing, of course, cannot have escaped US attention.
- That Pakistan has seven times the number of posts than Afghanistan and the US combined does not seem to make any headway.
- That Afghan communication systems are functioning despite Pakistan’s repeated requests that they be shut down while Pakistani SIMs are down and out is another moot point.
- That three Generals of the US Army promised additional border deployment with a US brigade across the North Waziristan Border remains a promise unfulfilled and forgotten.
- That the US unilaterally up-staked and left Nuristan and the Kunar Valley, one of the most dangerous areas on the border, creating a vacuum is a question that only they can answer.
- That Pakistani dissidents were given safe havens in this vacuum and encouraged to attack Pakistan is for all to see and take note of.
- That the MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) accounted for 14 Indians from Kerala amongst the causalities was never a surprise for us.
- That India is permitted to have so many conciliates along the Border, and none are processing visas is an obvious aberration.
- That Pakistan suffered horrendous terrorist attacks from Afghanistan through these bands of militants organised and facilitated in Kunar is a no brainer.
Pakistan has been a so-called “ally,” although we have:
- captured the maximum al-Qaeda operators than all countries combined
- have lost 70,000 of our citizens
- have the highest military causalities
- our officer dead and wounded to troop ratio is the highest in the world
- our generals to troop causalities is unprecedented
The cost of war has devastated the infrastructure, caused millions of citizens to be displaced and has affected the economy to the tune of $ 100 Billion. It has cleared 48,000 sq kms of its soil, secured 3,500 kms of lines of communication (LoC), re-established the writ of the government in these areas, allowing people to return home, the armed forces are popular and the borders controlled. But then even as I narrate this, it also saddens me.
Do the Americans not know this? Are we just a victim of not having a narrative, a victim of a bad image or slanderous Haqqani shooting off his mouth? Could it be as simple as that? No, that is not possible and I am convinced, that no amount of logic, no amount of reasoning will change the US posture towards Pakistan.
The bias and the prejudice is despite what the US knows; the posture taken is premediated and deliberate and we must have been factored into some distant objective the US may have in mind and, therefore, action initiated against us must be a way to arrive at that objective.
The story of the safe havens we are accused of nurturing is so close to the engineered narrative about the weapons of mass destruction that were allegedly discovered in Iraq and now such a predictable US method to madness i.e. create a false casus belli, broadcast it, respond to it with physical force.
However, at the moment, I still feel that US is going through the motion of the good cop-bad cop routine and if we can stare them down effectively, they may back down. Remember, the US is a bully and the bully can never be appeased; the more you please, the more arrogant he gets. So, we are warned in the first part of the new US manoeuvre, while in the second part, we are to expect a troop surge of 4,000 troops to make a total of 12,000 men. In the confused and tentative objectives of this two-pronged strategy, the US is looking for its relief, its coup de grace, and conclusion to its military adventure in Afghanistan.
Author: General (R) Tariq Khan