Since Joe Biden’s announcement of a withdrawal from Afghanistan by 9/11 this year, some Pakistanis seem to have broken out in cold sweat for their worry — over how peace in Afghanistan will be secured in the coming near future, and what new falsities Pakistan will now commit to destabilise the region.
Hussain Haqqani is one among these who have turned into a bundle of nerves at the thought that Afghanistan would be left to the Afghans now. Haqqani, former ambassador to the US, has never returned to the country from the US since the Memogate crisis in 2011, wherein he was accused of writing to Admiral Mike Mullen, requesting the US to intervene militarily on Pakistan. Not because he was not a patriot, but simply because of his castle-in-the-air worldview. Whereas a takeover of the country by the Pakistani military would be suicidal for the country, a takeover of the same by the US military would be like fairies descending from heavens.
Now again, after the 20-year war waged upon the Afghans, wherein millions have been killed, maimed, dislocated and deprived of normalcy — finally when the foreign invaders are to leave, Haqqani and the likes have started rolling in angst, agonised with the thought that the Taliban will be in control of the country now. Not really their fault, because from their worldview, the Afghan Taliban seem to be the same ‘group of foreign militants’ or ‘terrorists’ that have torn on the fabric of Muslim societies around the world for their rent-seeking, and the likes would simply remain blind to the fact that the Taliban are actually indigenous Pashtun freedom fighters that have fought foreign invaders with their blood and sweat for the last 20 years. But let’s not waste our words trying to convince his likes, let’s try to analyse the premise of this worldview.
This worldview is based on a duplicity of going all out for advocating freedom of choice, liberty and democracy, but stopping short if a people makes a free choice of embracing any belief system except western-style liberalism. In this worldview, the only free choice that can come out of a democratic system is the western model, people simply cannot have another choice. It is also a worldview in which treating a people with BLU-82 daisy cutters each weighing 6,800 kilograms, and even 9,525kg GBU-43/B Mother of All Bombs (MOAB), upon the human population and civil infrastructure, is perhaps not a mentionable animosity. Nor is the use of 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 bomblets, by US bombers in 2001 alone, over Afghan villages, killing them with impunity, an act of abhorrence and a crime against humanity. All that is not considered as ‘terrorising a population’ in the eyes of Mr Haqqani. Instead, fighting these occupiers and predators out of their land is considered as the most uncivilised, militant behaviour that will perhaps lead to global instability.
Haqqani’s recent statement is that the agreement between the US and the Taliban has “no element of peace” and is just a “withdrawal pact for American troops” from Afghanistan; and that the Taliban had made “no explicit promise to end violence and will continue to use force to try to replace the Afghan Republic with its totalitarian Islamic emirate”. The question is: why has Haqqani never felt the need to ask the US to end their violence over the Afghans for the last 20 years? And why does he not see that this so-called ‘Afghan republic’ has remained completely dysfunctional in the last 20 years? It has been a failed free-market enterprise that wanted to extract the mineral wealth of the Afghans for free and turn the land into another permanently chaotic land like DRC — a unilateral, totalitarian project of extraction.
The picture he paints of the Taliban being hand in glove with Al Qaeda and that they will keep killing their countrymen with no purpose but to maintain a permanent chaos, is a self-constructed pipe dream. The reason being that the Taliban have disowned Al Qaeda from the beginning. Remember that K Mohabbat, the US envoy to the Taliban “for negotiations for the delivery of Osama bin Laden” just before the US invasion, wrote in his book that “the Taliban had capitulated to all of US’ demands… and the Taliban had house arrested OBL and invited the US to hit him and his men with cruise missiles as early as in February 2001”. But they simply did not reply to that call because the ultimate goal was to wage a war on the Afghans.
The problem in this type of Haqqani worldview is that it maintains a conscience that allows to keep West-initiated wars, that have killed millions in the last decade alone, out of all human rights categories. For them, war is pure bliss as long as the West is waging it, and if the other party tries to resist that war or occupation, that become ‘jihad’, extremism and uncivilised behaviour. What is the difference between the two wars, except that one is by the world’s biggest force and the other by a tiny one; one wears a tie and the other a turban. Is one not an oppressor and one the oppressed, one the occupier and one the occupied? Do these factors measure civility, or does only brute force, power and wealth define civility?
Let’s admit that war is the most undesirable and most heinous act, and that the more powerful have a bigger responsibility to save the world from wars. But the big powers do the opposite — they pride themselves on being the strongest and are not embarrassed to admit their lust for war. In September 2015, president Obama, standing in the UN, said, “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known. And I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies — unilaterally and by force — when necessary.” This was not a precedence. Such threatful trumpeting is a norm for US presidents. In 1983, president Reagan had said, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” And they have been waging wars to protect their ‘interests’ without a timeout, yet, Haqqani would be oblivious to such uncivilised, brute behaviour of the West, and he would keep banging the drum to the tune of his self-chosen masters.
Constant war is not a Taliban obsession, rather an obsession of US and its allies, and perhaps it would be a better choice to bet on the Taliban that they might have learnt from this long war, because the US certainly hasn’t!
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2021.
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