Few Pakistanis would be surprised at the contentions made by the New York Times in a recent report that Americans by and large are being misled by their government about the actual situation in Afghanistan. We have known about this for years while others may have long harboured such suspicions. Over the years there has been a surfeit of reports by repected think-tanks, UN aid agencies and independent watchdogs painting a grim picture of the intractable conflict in Afghanistan and concluding that the US-led western intervention had not budged more than a few centimetres in the effort to bring peace and reconciliation to the war-ravaged country. Washington’s continued use of exaggerated data to justify their troops’ presence in Afghanistan where they have been lodged since October 2001. The New York Times has claimed that Washington just does not want Americans to know the real situation in Afghanistan, citing the oddly divergent conclusions reached by the US government and UN agencies. The Taliban control a little over 50 per cent of the districts in the war-torn country and not 44 per cent of the districts as claimed by Washington in its official data. That threshold does indicate the vast awathe of territory under Taliban control – a figure that obviously rankles US forces. This has been the on-ground situation for years. The US cover-up is aimed at concealing the fact that since 2017 the insurgents hold more Afghan territory than at any stage since the American invasion in October 2001. There are more stigmas which cause embarrassment and shame. The price tag on the unwinnable war in Afghanistan has already cost the United States a staggering $840 billion. In fact, it has poven more expensive than the Marshall Plan – which was drawn up to reconstruct Europe after the Second World War. Such an exercise could still have been explained if the Taliban had been routed or dislodged from the country altogether. But since that has not happened the massive investment is ill advised and hence the need for a cover-up. The most unfortunate aspect of this fudging of data is that a country like Afghanistan and its people would have surely gained much more from the $840 billion investment had there been no US intervention. Tens of thousands of lives too would have been spared. To gloss over this and other painful tragedies is no longer possible for the world or the American people. Time to come out of their stupor and act.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2018.