Perhaps no other nation in the world has undergone such diverse shock therapies and a topsy-turvy ride as Afghanistan – from monarchy to socialism to a barbaric medieval Emirate to free-market economy under US occupation and again back to a retrogressive fundamentalist regime – all in a span of just 40 years. A tribal society, moving at its own slow pace, has been subjected to horrendous experiments and indoctrinations by global and regional powers through direct interventions and proxies. From Monarchists to Communists to Jihadists to Neo-Cons, all have claimed to represent the ordinary Afghan people without their consent and driven them into bloody wars.
The internecine conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions as a result has always been inspired by outsiders (Russia, US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) with the help of a small local elite/clergy internally. Are the proud Afghans paying a heavy price for not letting their country ever be under colonial rule? The hapless Afghans, who have not had much say in the whole affair have watched their country going down the drain in bewilderment. Their plight does not seem to be any different from that of Sisyphus, who was condemned by the Greek gods to an eternity of ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, then helplessly watching it roll back down again.
From their humiliating military defeats – starting with Vietnam and ending with Afghanistan – it is time for the US government to realise that they need to move away from the war economy, forced on the ordinary Americans and the world by a powerful military industrial complex. They have to consider moving towards a welfare economy for their own people and the world at large or be ready to lose their global leadership position. With the failure of US military interventions worldwide, China’s economy surpassing US economy and pro-welfare economy leaders like Bernie Sanders gradually gaining political support in the country, the shifting of US policy focus may not be a far- fetched dream.
The initial gestures made by them of claiming to abandon their earlier draconian practices is still viewed with skepticism by most observers and only time will tell if the reformation is genuine.
Initially raised and trained in the madrassas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, laced with Saudi Wahabi ideology and funded by the US, Taliban are now trying to impose an alien ideology in Afghanistan for a second time, just like the Russians and the United States tried to do before them. However, years spent in wilderness has taught them a few lessons. It is not surprising that Taliban are negotiating directly with the world powers, instead of involving any of their old patrons.
The initial gestures made by them of claiming to abandon their earlier draconian practices is still viewed with skepticism by most observers and only time will tell if the reformation is genuine. It will remain a minority government introduced by force, if it fails to include other segments of political representation to form a national unity government. It must restrain the temptation to export Taliban ideology beyond its borders to Pakistan, China and the Central Asian Republics. By all accounts, the rapid developments of the last few weeks give rise to suspicions of another Great Game on the cards, which may be a continuation of Afghanistan’s miseries.
The euphoria over the Taliban victory in our right wing establishment circles is highly disingenuous, distasteful and misplaced. With their hands stained in the blood of 75,000 Pakistanis through acts of terrorism including the APS massacre, Taliban cannot be trusted to be our friends, especially when they are also allied with a terrorist outfit like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The duplicity of the Pakistani State in siding with the US in the war against terror and been rewarded financially for this cooperation and also providing sanctuaries to extremists to fight against the US backed regime, is not a secret to anyone. In all likelihood, the victory of Afghan Taliban will embolden their brethren on this side of the border and extremist organisations like TTP and TLP will strengthen by posing a direct challenge to the writ of the State.
Like the US, it is perhaps time for Pakistan also to reimagine its destiny and shift its focus from Wars and Conflicts to peace with neighbours and resultant prosperity for its people. It is unfortunate, that out of five neighbours of Afghanistan, only Pakistan did not maintain its neutrality and in search of an elusive strategic depth policy, decided to involve itself so deeply in the Afghan quagmire at the behest of an imperial power like US. It has suffered hugely in the 80’s and now for the last twenty years. It must abandon the temptation to flirt with Afghan Taliban and dissociate itself from future involvement in the Great Game of Super Powers. Pakistan has a once in a life time opportunity to fully focus on its economy and catch up with our neighbours in economic progress.