Afghanistan

Daily: The Nation
Date: 20.04.04

The world will never be the same again—in the wake of annihilation of two cities of Japan
and disappearance of two towers of the USA. For the latter, two areas are in fire: one is
Afghanistan and the second is non-Afghanistan.

The borders where the boundaries of Afghanistan end thereafter start the limits of non-
Afghanistan in all its four dimensions—including Guantanomo Bay. Hence, if an Afghani is
in Afghanistan or in the Bay, there is hardly any difference—as the sense of humiliation is
similar. The spirit of the ‘non-Geneva Convention’ is in its full furry. For that matter, an
Afghani will never forget two years. One was the year 1991 when a former superpower
stepped out from it, and the second was the year 2001 when the remaining superpower
stepped in.

The decade of 1991-2001 was full of turbulence and upheavals. The Afghan warlords
denied two famous accords: the Peshawar Accord and the Islamabad Accord. Around both
the accords, two immediate neighbours, Pakistan and Iran, were also actively involved.
Either was vigilant to watch one’s interests—to win over other. The accords failed and
Afghans with new brand name of Taliban came to the forefront mostly from madrassas of
the two provinces of Pakistan: N.W.F.P and Balochistan. The same is the fall out on the
recent elections of Pakistan. In both the provinces, a right-wing Islamist party, MMA, won
overwhelmingly. They are considered only second to Taliban—their lost brothers.

An offensive has been launched in the Southern area of Afghanistan by the US forces from
its East to West direction while by the Pakistani forces, from its West to East direction. Both
have to find Osama in and around the tribal belt so that forthcoming elections could be held
peacefully in Afghanistan as well as plausibly in the USA—the immediate concerns—one
after another. However, both of the forces have also to find another companion of Osama.
He is no one else but Mullah Omar.

Mullah Omar bears two-pronged significance. One, he was the head of the Taliban (student
militia). Second, he is a Pushtoon. The Pushtoon overwhelm Afghanistan by about 43% in
population. Tajiks who comprise about 23% second them. The rest stand below 10%
individually. In the new interim set up, the majority has been sidelined forcefully while the
minority is in the throne compellingly. The existing Transitional Afghan Authority has so far
failed desperately to introduce peace and provide security to common Afghans in non-
Kabul areas, both cities and rural, rather it is itself dependent on foreign forces and guards
for its physical survival—even after the lapse of two long years.

In Afghanistan, an Afghan mind set-up comes first. Then comes an interim set-up followed
by a political set-up. To pollute an interim and the resultant political set-up by one’s
interests or by overlooking Afghan’s interests means failure of any such effort, sooner or
later. Elections are arranged for a workable political system that emanates from a credible
political process. However, where a non-majority interim set-up is in place to hold future
elections depending on due participation of the expected registered voters, both workability
and credibility will hinge on appropriate Pushtoon representation, participation, and voting.
Germany is in the headlines to create such a political environment—by calling meetings
one after another. She, as a convener, still needs to evaluate the reasons of failure of the
two accords convened by Pakistan, if she wants to earn some name.

‘Sky is the limit’ for those who believe to go up. ‘Legitimacy is the criteria’ for those who
believe to go around. Against all canons of law, the alleged have been kept in the
Guantanomo Bay to achieve something. However, no solid information has come out from
there. More than 500 Al-Qaeda members were handed over by Pakistan while more than
500 US army personnel have lost their lives in Iraq. The gain is less significant than the
irreversible loss. Additionally, the detainees in the Bay, so-called Al-Qaeda members are
now irrefutable enemy ever than before!

Shoulders of both the key players of the alliance, the USA and the UK, are under heavy
responsibility for what their respective leaders uttered for going into wars first in
Afghanistan and then in Iraq—‘shoulder-to-shoulder’. Attack on Afghanistan got the UN
umbrella but unfortunately not for Iraq. The recent terror in Spain—irrespective of the
culprit—is enough to terrify common people. To afflict atrocities on a non-homeland is one
thing but to see results of atrocities on one’s homeland is another thing. The latter requires
a lot of brave heart. Similarly, to support one country to carry on inhuman acts on armless
inhabitants of Gaza Strip is one thing but to see the backlash of the same on streets of
Jerusalem is another thing. Both Gaza Strip and West Bank are as important today as
these were in 1917 during Balfour Declaration. Time comes and passes on but a reality
persists— rather stares straight in the face.

History records lessons for the next generations as to what should be done in what
scenario. With this reference, to make an alliance was one thing but to maintain the stature
is another. Spain has just condemned the decision to go into Iraq—without the UN mandate.
The message is ‘no one wants to lay down one’s life for an illegitimate cause’—a cause
where pre-war reasoning and post-war justification stand wide apart. Illegitimate actions
bring morale of the soldiers down to wipe out courage and forbearance.  Illegitimacy of one
provides room to legitimacy of another.

The cries of Anglo-American intelligence agencies can be heard on entry of both Arabs and
non-Arabs from the neighbourhood of Iraq. However, both American people and non-
American people are not going to accept this excuse of the agencies, as it was not
evaluated as ‘a risk factor’ before engaging both the USA and the UK forces in Iraq. That is
why, in the USA, families of the deceased army men have been agitating and have started
demanding pulling out of the US forces from Iraq. Hence, the famous rhetoric ‘if you want to
lay down your lives, it is up to you’ has become applicable to both the engaged parties—the
invader and the invaded.

From the result of the on-going offensive in Afghanistan, if both Mullah Omar and Osama
are not found or found dead, it would be a better situation than to find them alive. In the
latter case, if they have to appear in an international court, it would again be a better
situation than make them to visit the Bay. In fact, both of them have gained ‘symbolic
significance’ in one’s respective region and people of influence.

For that matter, had they been found, dead or alive, immediately after the 9/11 event, the
situation could have been different. Now, their followers see their disappearance as a sign
of victory. However, any sign of such loss may turn the situation topsy-turvy. For Pakistan,
the choice will be hard. That is, internal turmoil, expectedly. While for the USA, the choice
will be harsh. That is, to go in its State election in November without Karzai’s government in
power (with or without election) and with severe unrest in Iraq, probably. Moreover, the
Anglo-American alliance will have to forestall transformation of Iraq—a part of non-
Afghanistan—to the Bay for its forces, as gain of one is loss of another.

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