Should we rejoice or repent?

There is a big question mark as to which direction our country is heading towards?


Haroon Rashid Siddiqi October 13, 2021
The writer is a retired professional based in Karachi

We are either rejoicing Taliban’s victory over a superpower or celebrating the ignominious and chaotic withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan. It may indeed be a rapturous event for the bullied and bulldozed nations in the Muslim world to see the hubris and arrogance of a superpower crumble like a cookie. But there is a lot of devious intent in this apparently disgraceful pullout as there is a method to their madness. It points out to a well-planned strategy to let the Taliban get discredited and disgraced for not being able to provide food, shelter, security and other basic necessities of life to an already petrified and impoverished population at large. Within a short span of time there has been a spate of bomb blasts in Afghanistan, the most recent being in a Shiite mosque killing more than hundred worshippers and leaving scores of others injured. Daesh has already claimed the responsibility. Merely the actors have changed otherwise the theatre of war in Afghanistan is in business as usual and the blood spilling game is most likely to continue unabated.

What has Pakistan gained from the US pullout from Afghanistan is rather an inexplicable question. Right now, we are sailing in a battered ship and have to carry the burdensome baggage of our western neighbour also till we chart out of the stormy waters which appears to be a tall order at the moment as the rest of the Western world wishes to keep Pakistan in the eye of the storm. But let us rely on Ghalib’s wisdom expounded in this verse: Raat din gardish mein hain saat aasman, ho rahega kuch na kuch ghabrayen kya.

Economically, the US and other Western countries have turned their backs on Afghanistan and severed all economic assistance to the country. In fact, the US has frozen Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves and left the entire mess in the backyard of Pakistan to deal with it. Consequently, Pakistan which is facing an acute economic meltdown in the country will come under huge economic pressure due to Afghanistan which will now have only one cornered country (Pakistan) to by and large rely upon for their survival. Countries like China and Russia can fill in some vacuum but they will not rescue Afghanistan until their terms and conditions are met unwaveringly by Taliban through their demonstrated conduct. But Afghanistan despite being in dire straits is not willing to change its anachronistic outlook and extremely rigid ideology. As a matter of fact, the entire world is anxiously waiting to see Taliban take all segments of Afghan society on board if they wish to be recognised by the world. The British in the nineteenth and early twentieth century have fought many battles with Pathans both in Mohmand Agency in Pakistan and the same recalcitrant and rugged race across the Durand Line in Afghanistan. They suffered the worst kind of massacre at their hands in a number of military expeditions. History is replete with savagery, tyranny and ferocity of these primitive but fearless fighters who are brave to the extent of being rash and foolhardy.

Imran Khan is in the ceaseless habit of giving unpleasant surprises to an already bewildered and beleaguered nation. The sagging economy and soaring prices have become a routine occurrence that has badly devastated the masses. As if these rude shocks are not enough, the PM gave an interview to a Turkish television and unnecessarily dropped a bombshell by disclosing that his government is trying to broker a peace deal with some factions of TTP in Afghanistan through TTA. This was like putting a horse before the cart, to say the least. There is a big question mark as to which direction our country is heading towards? Let me quote the punchline of a famous English poem Vitai Lampada (a Latin title which means: The Torch of Life) idealising both cricket and war by Sir Henry Newbolt {1862-1938} ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2021.

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