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Archive for category Afghanistan-Hell for Western Troops

US QUAGMIRE IN AFGHANISTAN: The US  is Reviving Talks with the Afghan Taliban without Pre-conditions By Sajjad Shaukat

The US  is Reviving Talks with the Afghan Taliban without Pre-conditions

By

Sajjad Shaukat

When first time the US decided talks with the Afghan Taliban in 2012, the same was conditional, as America had demanded that before any deal, violence against Afghan people must stop and the Taliban must cut ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. She seeks to distinguish between Al-Qaeda-related fighters and Afghan insurgents—good and bad Taliban.

 

Afterwards, with the backing of the US, an office of the Taliban was opened in Qatar. After the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, held in earlier July 2012, efforts to convince the Taliban for talks with the Kabul government had been expedited and Pakistan was requested to play an important task. In this regard, during the tripartite meeting in Kabul on July 19, 2012, the then British Prime Minister David Cameron and the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai met Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and reiterated Islamabad’s assistance for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. They fully backed Pakistan to help arrange meetings between Afghan officials and Taliban representatives.

 

 

 

 

There were also reports that the US and the national security adviser to the Afghan President Karzai contacted the Taliban and had a secret dialogue with them. However, in a bid to win Taliban’s support for reconciliation, President Karzai had called upon their leader Mullah Omer to take part in the elections. On the other side, the Taliban were willing to resume talks with America but had refused dialogue with Karzai whom they consider colonial puppet.

 

Earlier, the Qatar-based talks with America were suspended because the ex-US President Barack Obama did not release five Taliban detainees to participate in peace negotiations as a pre-condition by the Taliban.

 

However, America along with other Western countries was fully supporting Karzai-led regime to commence peace deal with the Afghan Taliban with the help of Pakistan. While on the other side, top officials of America, Afghanistan and India, including their media continued blame game against Pakistan by accusing its security agencies of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan—and support to the Taliban. They set aside the fact that US-led NATO forces had failed in coping with the resistance of the Afghan Taliban who is fighting a war of liberation against the occupying forces. In fact, America and other NATO countries wanted to make Pakistan a scapegoat of their defeat in Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, when any terror attack occurs in Afghanistan, America, India and puppet rulers of Afghanistan shift the blame game towards Pakistan. The US has also accused Iran and Russia of assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Particularly, the main purpose of Washington was not only to pacify their people and justify the unending war in Afghanistan but also to fulfil the secret strategic designs against Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

 

Notably, on May 31, 2017, a massive truck bombing of the Afghan capital’s diplomatic section killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others, including foreigners. Taliban denied responsibility for the terror attack. But, Afghanistan’s intelligence service accused the Haqqani network by saying that a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan, carried out the attack. Addressing the conference-the “Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation”, held in Kabul on June 6, 2017, which was attended by representatives from 26 countries and international organizations, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani criticized Pakistan for a lack of cooperation in promoting Afghan peace and alleged that Taliban insurgents are using sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to wage the insurgency in Afghanistan.

 

In the same speech, President Ghani offered peace talks to the Afghan Taliban by reiterating his preconditions such as recognition of the Afghan constitution, continuity of the reforms of educating and advancing the rights of women, and renunciation of violence and linkages with terrorist groups.

 

A Taliban spokesman rejected Ghani’s offer of a peace dialogue by stating that it is another attempt to endorse and prolong the foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

 

In the recent past, when the US-led NATO forces failed in coping with the stiff resistance of the Afghan Taliban in wake of the continued attack on their installations and Afghan forces, they have decided to revive peace talks with the Taliban without pre-conditions.

 

At present, the Afghan situation is witnessing new trend as all sides favour dialogue option and agree that there is no military solution. Pakistan has long been insisting on dialogue as only viable option to end Afghan quagmire.

 

In this respect, the US State Department has recently appointed experienced statesman Ambassador Khalilzad as an adviser for Afghanistan. During the recent visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to America, Zalmay Khalilzad has also held a meeting with him. Both the leaders expressed positivity about a dialogue based Afghan peace process.

 

Pakistan has assured the US of its full support for peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, as this was in line with the policy of the government and in the best interest of Islamabad. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was addressing a news conference after having talks with the US delegation which was led by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

 

In this connection, the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on October 3, this year: “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed Afghanistan’s Taliban to come to the table to end the long-running war as he called on Pakistan to play a supportive role. Pompeo met in Washington with the foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in the latest US outreach to the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, a longtime advocate of a negotiated settlement with insurgents. Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s support for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and for peace in the neighbourhood…The top US diplomat, who met PM Imran last month in Islamabad, “emphasised the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan Pompeo “agreed that there was momentum to advance the Afghan peace process and that the Afghan Taliban should seize the opportunity for dialogue”.

 

On the other hand, there are also reports that the Taliban have held talks with the Afghan Government in Saudi Arabia. Reported talks were related to a ceasefire during upcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, to be held on October 20, this year. It is considered that the peaceful elections cannot be conducted in Afghanistan without the Taliban’s cooperation. Taliban have refuted the talks. Saudi Arabia is seeking a role to replace Qatar where the Taliban hold a political office. Russia has also emphasized for an Afghan solution based on negotiations between all sides.

 

Again, it is notable that Islamabad has long been insisting on talks to end the Afghan crisis through dialogue. All the regional players including Russia, Iran and even China have also been favouring this approach. In these terms, the visit of the Foreign Minister Qureshi to the US has been a success in which he has assured the international community about Pakistan’s pragmatic and positive support on all issues including that of Afghanistan. The visit has also resulted in melting the ice between Washington and Islamabad.

 

In this context, under the caption, “Study Finds Americans Feel U.S’s Involvement Has ‘Failed’, Afghan-based website Tolonews said on October 7, 2018: “A Washington-based research centre Pew has found that most American’s feel that the US’s second longest war–Afghanistan, after 17 years has failed…On the 17th anniversary of the US’s involvement in Afghanistan, 49% of Americans say their country has failed to win the war. The report is an eye-opener for those who have been supporting Trump’s policy of increasing military pressure to win the war in Afghanistan. In fact, the policy has resulted in a huge spike in losses of both Afghan defence forces as well as in the civilian causalities. The reverses in battleground have forced Trump administration to pursue the option of dialogue with Taliban which was advocated since long by Pakistan….Pakistan has given clear stance in recent days declaring an Afghan-led dialogue as the only option to bring peace in the region. Pakistan has offered its fullest cooperation in pursuance of peace. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has strongly rejected the military option and advocated dialogue to end the Afghan quagmire. A new survey by Pew also supports Pakistan’s stance for a durable solution. New development has once again indicated about positive Pakistani role” (Afghanistan Times and other news agencies also reported).

 

Reuters reported on October 8, 2018, “The Taliban directed Afghans to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections and demanded a complete withdrawal of foreign forces as the only solution to end the 17-year-old war as they ramped up attacks in strategic provinces. The statement from the hardline Islamic militant group coincided with the visit of top U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad {Rabidly anti-Pakistan}, who has been appointed to lead peace efforts with the Taliban. Khalilzad met President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul to discuss ways to hold Afghan-led peace talks with the Taliban…With less than two weeks to go before the long-delayed elections, the Taliban and Islamic State have stepped up attacks across the country…“Peace is a holy process, and the U.S. government and people are united with the Afghan government and people in this process,” Khalilzad was quoted by Ghani’s office in a statement as saying. Khalilzad is scheduled to visit Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week as he seeks to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.”

 

Nevertheless, in the recent past, after the visit of the US Secretary of State Pompeo to Islamabad and visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi to America, positive change has occurred between the strained relations of the US and Pakistan. Now, ties between the two countries are improving rapidly. Positive change in Pak-US relationship has resulted in positive change between Afghan-Pakistan ties. Therefore, Kabul has re-opened Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad.

 

These developments clearly show that now the US has realized that without Islamabad’s help, she cannot achieve durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Otherwise, the US-led NATO forces will remain entangled in that war-torn country. Hence, with the support of Pakistan, unlike the previous conditional dialogue, the US is reviving talks with the Afghan Taliban without pre-conditions.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

                          

 

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Afghanistan: The War That Shames America By Eric Margolis

Afghanistan: The War That Shames America

By Eric Margolis

August 20, 2018

 After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.

There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers. No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.

Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation’s legitimate government. Withdraw foreign troops and the Kabul regime would last for only days.

The whole thing smells of the Vietnam War. Lessons so painfully learned by America in that conflict have been completely forgotten and the same mistakes repeated. The lies and happy talk from politicians, generals and media continue apace.

This week, Taliban forces occupied the important strategic city of Ghazni on the road from Peshawar to Kabul. It took three days and massive air attacks by US B-1 heavy bombers, Apache helicopter gunships, A-10 ground attack aircraft, and massed warplanes from US bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the 5th US Fleet to finally drive back the Taliban assault. Taliban also overran key military targets in Kabul and the countryside, killing hundreds of government troops in a sort of Afghan Tet offensive.

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Afghan regime police and army units put up feeble resistance or ran away. Parts of Ghazni were left in ruins. It was a huge embarrassment to the US imperial generals and their Afghan satraps who had claimed ‘the corner in Afghanistan has finally been turned.’

Efforts by the Trump administration to bomb the Taliban into submission have clearly failed. US commanders fear using American ground troops in battle lest they suffer serious casualties. Meanwhile, the US is running low on bombs.

Roads are now so dangerous for the occupiers that most movement must be by air. Taliban is estimated to permanently control almost 50% of Afghanistan. That number would rise to 100% were it not for omnipresent US air power. Taliban rules the night.

Taliban are not and never were ‘terrorists’ as Washington’s war propaganda falsely claimed. I was there at the creation of the movement – a group of Afghan religious students armed by Pakistan whose goal was to stop post-civil war banditry, the mass rape of women, and to fight the Afghan Communists. When the Taliban gained power, it eliminated 95% of the rampant Afghanistan opium-heroin trade. After the US invaded, allied to the old Afghan Communists and northern Tajik tribes, opium-heroin production soared to record levels. Today, US-occupied Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, morphine and heroin.

US occupation authorities claim drug production is run by the Taliban. This is another big lie. The Afghan warlords who support the regime of President Ashraf Ghani entirely control the production and export of drugs. The army and secret police get a big cut. How else would trucks packed with drugs get across the border into Pakistan and Central Asia?

The United States has inadvertently become one of the world’s leading drug dealers. This is one of the most shameful legacies of the Afghan War. But just one. Watching the world’s greatest powerbomb and ravage little Afghanistan, a nation so poor that some of its people can’t afford sandals, is a huge dishonour for Americans.

Even so, the Pashtun defeated the invading armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the Mogul Emperors and the mighty British Raj. The US looks to be next in the Graveyard of Empires.

Nobody in Washington can enunciate a good reason for continuing the colonial war in Afghanistan. One hears talk of minerals, women’s rights and democracy as a pretext for keeping US forces in Afghanistan. All nonsense. A possible real reason is to deny influence over Afghanistan, though the Chinese are too smart to grab this poisoned cup. They have more than enough with their rebellious Uighur Muslims.

Interestingly, the so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ supposedly found in Afghanistan in 2001 were actually guerilla training camps run by Pakistani intelligence to train Kashmiri rebels and CIA-run camps for exiled Uighur fighters from China.

The canard that the US had to invade Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden, alleged author of the 9/11 attacks, is untrue. The attacks were made by Saudis and mounted from Hamburg and Madrid, not Afghanistan. I’m not even sure bin Laden was behind the attacks.

My late friend and journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave shared my doubts and insisted that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to a court in a Muslim nation to prove his guilt or innocence.

President George Bush, caught sleeping on guard duty and humiliated, had to find an easy target for revenge – and that was Afghanistan.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun-Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. ericmargolis.com

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No Difference between A Pashtun or An Afghan By Sajjad Shaukat

No Difference between A Pashtun or An Afghan

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

US-led entities continue endless propaganda against Pakistan, as the latter is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. Besides destabilizing Pakistan through terror-related attacks, these entities keeping alive propaganda campaign against the country to complete the Zionist-agenda.

 

For the purpose, they have launched a controversial and heated debate in Afghanistan whether the term ‘Afghan’ designate, a ‘nationality or ethnic’ group.

 

This controversy delayed the issue of national identity card for people of Afghanistan for years. Influential ethnic groups of Afghanistan which are currently heading the government do not look at the word ‘Afghan’, a nationality for people of Afghanistan, but an ethnic group.

 

On the other side, history provides ample evidence that the word Afghan has been interchangeably used for Pashtuns. The people who initially inhibited in the south-east of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan, to the west of the Indus River in Pakistan are Pushtuns. The Pashtuns or Afghans primarily speak Pashto language and follow Pashtunwali code of conduct. They are primarily found in Afghanistan and Pakistan and form the world’s largest tribal society, today. Throughout the South Asian subcontinent, they are often referred to as Pathans.

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Today, the Pashtun tribes with over 65 million people live in Pakistan, while approximately over 28 Million people in Afghanistan and another 1.5 million or more live in Iran. There are 1.8 million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees who are living in Pakistan, a majority of which are Pashtuns.

 

As regards Pakistani Pashtun, over 26 million live in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), 9 million in FATA, and around 7 million in Karachi alone, 9 million in Punjab, 3 million in Sindh and 6.5 million in Baluchistan. The figure does not include the Niazi tribe of Mianwali who are also Pathans, but fewer speak the Pashto language.

 

Undoubtedly, Pashtuns are very well knitted in Pakistani society and enjoy power positions in government, civil and military bureaucracy. They also enjoy vast connectivity due to inter-marriages with other ethnic groups. So, it is not difficult to grasp when Pashtun tribes suffer tyranny and ill-treatment in Afghanistan; a large number of Pashtuns and their friends are saddened all over Pakistan.

 

It regrettable that Pashtuns in FATA are suffering due to drone attacks and Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) which is an outdated and cruel system of collective punishment. Hence, for the first time, they have desired to move away from the concept of “illaqa-e-ghair” (Outsiders Land) and to completely integrate into Pakistani state, including its legal system.

 

However, the anti-Pakistan forces which always manipulate the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the pretext of Pashtuns are extremely worried over the new development in the FATA and KPK.

It is the misfortune of the country that the current government of Pakistan is also showing apathetic and sluggish approach to the new development and is not meeting the demands of Pashtuns.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, in Afghanistan, primarily Pashtuns are resisting American occupation and are, therefore, facing the wrath of the US-led NATO. Hence, in frustration, America and India which are in connivance with the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) are behind this new move to differentiate between a Pashtun or an Afghan in order to malign Islamabad.

 

Besides, as part of the propaganda campaign, these hostile forces are using few politicians and political activists and social workers to slow down integration of FATA into mainstream Pakistan.

 

In this respect, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a noble student initiative which was launched in 2013 for the purpose of clearing landmines in Waziristan has been de-tracked. The movement rightfully protested the extra-judicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud by the police force in Karachi. A long march followed by a sit-in in Islamabad was organized by the movement and the same was supported by many patriotic citizens of Pakistan. Nevertheless, later, key personnel of PTM started making radical speeches against Pakistan Army and its security agencies in Baluchistan.

 

Apart from the Afghan top political leadership, few crooks of Awami National Party (ANP) and ultra-liberals are also misleading Pashtuns. As part of the propaganda, anti-Pakistan speeches of PTM workers are also attracting wide publicity by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a United States funded organization. Another website Gandhara, and Mashaal Radio is found cultivating suspicion between Pakistan military and Pashtuns. The real aim behind these sinister designs is to create a rift between Pashtuns and Pakistan Army.

 

In this context, Saira Bano Orakzai, a proud Pashtun at Research Fellow at Harvard University in her recent article says that the time is ripe for the people of the tribal areas to make a clear choice; to struggle to restore rights and peace or to struggle against this country’s institutions and ideology, only to get entangled in a perpetual conflict.

 

Notably, PTM instead of articulating and moving towards a solution for the problems of FATA has stretched its ideology to an unknown “La La land”, and thus, it is derailing an already fragile reforms process for FATA’s future.

 

These internal and external hostile elements do not want developments in FATA, which can result in progress of their people in various fields. These elements want to continue the past system of the colonial era at the cost of Pakistan.

 

It is a good sign that in the budget 2018-2019, the government has proposed Rs.24.5 billion for FATA. To bring FATA in the mainstream, a ten-year FATA development plan with a total outlay of Rs.100 billion has been approved. During 2018-19 Rs.10 billion are proposed to be provided.

  

 

But, it is the right hour that without further loss of time, the government of Pakistan should immediately merge FATA with KPK and implement FATA reforms.

 

Moreover, the alleged killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud by Rao Anwar be immediately resolved, because inquisitive forces are exploiting the situation.

 

Furthermore, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) must monitor and check the hostile propaganda against the unity and interests of Pashtun people on national and international media.

 

It is also crucial hour that Pashtuns should identify their enemies and friends. Pashtuns should not pay attention to the controversial debate which has taken origin from Afghanistan to differentiate between Pashtuns and Afghans, while they should know that there is no difference between A Pashtun or An Afghan.

 

 

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Future Expects Tougher Times for Afghanistan by Ishaal Zehra

Future Expects Tougher Times for Afghanistan

Ishaal Zehra

 

 

 

In the changing geopolitical scenario, President Trump’s Afghanistan policy signifies tougher times for an already fallen regime.

The US urgency for an exit from this decades’ old Afghan war is being felt by the policy thinkers and onlookers though there is no working timeline given by President Trump. Determining the cost and productiveness of the troops in Afghanistan, the businessman turned President of the United States is now interested in withdrawing those troops from this costly war. The uncertainty produced in the region thus has translated into a situation where the other regional actors are responding to the reservations by aligning their own interests.

For these countries, there is no uncertainty about the bottom line. The White House is looking for an exit with the shortest considerable timeline. This has also been confirmed by the departure of ex-trump advisor on Afghanistan, H.R. McMaster, and the appointment of Iran and North Korea focused, John Bolton as his successor.

The US military commanders are seen moving quickly to finish the job. The situation has become so obscure that the other powers in the region — the two influentials, China, Russia and neighbouring Iran, India, and Pakistan — have started recognizing their security options, threats and opportunities once the United States fully withdraws, while minutely weighing in the limitations of the Kabul government.

The US is building up the strength of Afghan units with a re-energized air campaign and new advisory units emplaced with Afghan army battalions while the administration pushes for talks with the Taliban in order to bring a negotiated end to the conflict. China has made it clear that it will support Afghan government-led efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict with the Taliban – an approach which is supported by the United States. It has also signed a defence agreement with Afghanistan to build a base in northern Afghanistan and set up a trilateral contact group with Afghanistan and Pakistan to combat terrorism.

Moscow, on the other hand, has heightened cooperation between Russia and Pakistan that is empirically visible. In February of this year, Moscow appointed an honorary consul in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Moreover, the addition of Russian language signage in the tribal belt and even around Islamabad also reflect upon the camaraderie both the countries are enjoying. Iran’s concern about ISIS spillover beyond her boundaries can be seen as a reason behind its move to cement relation with Pakistan. In the past Iran and India have traditionally worked together at many visible times, however, as India has now moved closer to the United States and Israel, Iran has begun to take on a more adversarial tone vis-à-vis India. This became quite visible in 2017 when Iran rejected Trump’s call for greater Indian engagement in Afghanistan and criticized Indian military actions in Kashmir.

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Other small non-aligned countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have joined Russia and China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) thus putting their weight behind these big regional powers. Apparently, India seems to be the only odd man out in the aligning of interests in the region. It has a long and most of the time troubled relationship with both China and Pakistan having a history of hostile conflicts with both. Her relations with Iran have become more difficult in recent years as New Delhi deepened her relations with the United States. This new friendship with the US has actually dismissed the chances of allying with her long-gone love of the past, Russia also.

Russia is the dominant military partner for Central Asia while China takes the lead in economic activities. Owing to the changing US policies in Afghanistan, both the countries, for varied reasons, are concerned about the ability of the Afghan government to keep control of its territory and its capability to fully contain the radical elements without the support of US army. Besides, they also recognize the importance of the role Pakistan is playing in reigning in the militants. And this recognition has made them adopt a two-track policy: providing support for the Afghan government while trying to get Pakistan on board vis-a-vis the Taliban.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is coming at a time when the United States has relegated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan conflict culmination strategy and blocked the military assistance funds to Islamabad on the pretext of not doing more. The inability of the Afghan government to address the prevailing security situation is having a negative impact on her economic development consequently leading the major regional powers to look for other options to stabilize the region. Moreover, India will never put her boots on the ground because she is still been haunted by her failed experience with intervention in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. Also, given the uneasy relationship with Pakistan and Iran, the geography of the region precludes an easy way to do this and Indian army is neither trained to nor have the courage to go for a war in this terrain single-handedly.

Stakeholders in Afghanistan need to understand new ground realities. Any viable regional mechanism for taking on the Afghan cauldron cannot seem possible without having Pakistan on board. Especially at a time when both Pakistan and Afghanistan are on the course of redefining mutual relations. For a peaceful and economic exit plan, the US also cannot deny that Pakistan provides unmatchable logistic routes for the foreign forces engaged in the Afghan war. Routes through Pakistan are the shortest and cheapest and presently are the safest owing to the Pakistan army’s resolve to ascertain peace in the country. Another exit option could be through aligning the SCO with US exit policy since all the major regional powers are available under this one umbrella. Interestingly, and quite contrary to the US beliefs, the members of the SCO also trust Pakistan of being the lone brave lion to handle this menace impeccably. A better understanding of regional sensitivities will help the US to better grasp the situation in Afghanistan if she really wants to end this decades-old deadly conflict.

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FOOL’S WAR in AFGHANISTAN – by Eric S Margolis

Image result for Afghanistan Swamp

FOOL’S WAR  in AFGHANISTAN 

by 

Eric S Margolis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifteen years ago this week, the US launched the longest war in its history: the invasion and occupation of remote Afghanistan. Neighboring Pakistan was forced to facilitate the American invasion or ‘be bombed back to the stone age.’

America was furious after the bloody 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration had been caught sleeping on guard duty. Many Americans believed 9/11 was an inside job by pro-war neocons.

Afghanistan was picked as the target of US vengeance even though the 9/11 attacks were hatched (if in fact done from abroad) in Germany and Spain. The suicide attackers made clear their kamikaze mission was to punish the US for ‘occupying’ the holy land of Saudi Arabia, and for Washington’s open-ended support of Israel in its occupation of Palestine.

This rational was quickly obscured by the Bush administration that claimed the 9/11 attackers, most of whom were Saudis, were motivated by hatred of American ‘values’ and ‘freedoms.’ This nonsense planted the seeds of the rising tide of Islamophobia that we see today and the faux ‘war on terror.’

An anti-communist jihadi, Osama bin Laden, was inflated and demonized into America’s Great Satan. The supposed ‘terrorist training camps’ in Afghanistan were, as I saw with my eyes, camps where Pakistani intelligence trained jihadis to fight in India-occupied Kashmir.

Afghanistan, remote, bleak and mountainous, was rightly known as ‘the graveyard of empires.’ These included Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur, the Moguls and Sikhs. The British Empire invaded Afghanistan three times in the 19th century. The Soviet Union, world’s greatest land power, invaded in 1979, seeking a corridor to the Arabian Sea and Gulf.

All were defeated by the fierce Pashtun warrior tribes of the Hindu Kush. But the fool George W. Bush rushed in where angels feared to tread, in a futile attempt to conquer an unconquerable people for whom war was their favorite pastime. I was with the Afghan mujahidin when fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980’s, and again the newly-formed Taliban in the early 1990’s. As I wrote in my book on this subject, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ the Pashtun warriors were the bravest men I’d ever seen. They had only ancient weapons but possessed boundless courage.

During the 2001 US invasion, the Americans allied themselves to the heroin and opium-dealing Tajik Northern Alliance, to former Communist allies of the Soviets, and to the northern Uzbeks, blood foes of the Pashtun and former Soviet Communist allies.

Taliban, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, had shut down 90% of Afghanistan’s heroin and opium trade. The US-allied Northern Alliance restored it, making Afghanistan again the world’s leading supplier of heroin and opium. US occupation forces, backed by immense tactical airpower, allied themselves with the most criminal elements in Afghanistan and installed a puppet regime of CIA assets. The old Communist secret police, notorious for their record of torture and atrocities, was kept in power by CIA to fight Taliban.

Last week, Washington’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Relief (SIGAR) issued a totally damning report showing how mass corruption, bribery, payoffs and drug money had fatally undermined US efforts to build a viable Afghan society.

What’s more, without 24/7 US air cover, Washington’s yes-men in Kabul would be quickly swept away. The Afghan Army and police have no loyalty to the regime; they fight only for the Yankee dollar. Like Baghdad, Kabul is a US-guarded island in a sea of animosity.

A report by Global Research has estimated the 15-year Afghan War and the Iraq War had cost the US $6 trillion. Small wonder when gasoline trucked up to Afghanistan from Pakistan’s coast it costs the Pentagon $400 per gallon. Some estimates put the war cost at $33,000 per citizen. But Americans do not pay this cost through a special war tax, as it should be. Bush ordered the total costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars be concealed in the national debt.

Officially, 2,216 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan and 20,049 were seriously wounded. Some 1,173 US mercenaries have also been killed. Large numbers of US financed mercenaries still remain in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Noble Peace Prize winner Barack Obama promised to withdraw nearly all US troops from Afghanistan by 2016.  Instead, more US troops are on the way to protect the Kabul puppet regime from its own people. Taliban and its dozen-odd allied resistance movements (‘terrorists’ in Pentagon speak faithfully parroted by the US media) are steadily gaining territory and followers.

Last week, the US dragooned NATO and other satrap states to a ‘voluntary’ donor conference for Afghanistan where they had to cough up another $15.2 billion and likely send some more troops to this hopeless conflict. Washington cannot bear to admit defeat by tiny Afghanistan or see this strategic nation fall into China’s sphere.

Ominously, the US is encouraging India to play a much larger role in Afghanistan, thus planting the seeds of a dangerous Pakistani-Indian-Chinese confrontation there.

There was no mention of the 800-lb gorilla in the conference room: Afghanistan’s role as the world’s, by now, largest heroin/opium/morphine producer – all under the proud auspices of the United States government. The new US president will inherit this embarrassing problem.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016

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