A lost war

It is time to concede defeat and salvage whatever we can. Talks can then be held with real leaders of the Taliban.

Khalid Munir October 11, 2011

Standing beside Afghan President Hamid Karzai, US President Barack Obama claimed that the US was responsibly ending the war from a position of strength. President Karzai, whose country and people are at stake, had a different view. He admitted the failure to provide security to his people, putting the blame on international partners and then went on to blame Pakistan for providing sanctuaries to the Taliban in its tribal areas. On this side of the border, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani after getting consent from the recently held All Parties Conference, declared that Pakistan will hold talks with all factions of Taliban including the Haqqani network. The Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, reportedly declared that Pakistan has done whatever was required to be done. Former Nato commander in Afghanistan General McChrystal painted a dismal and pessimist picture of the prevailing situation in Afghanistan. Without declaring defeat, the blame game is on pinning it on Pakistan.

This is the position of strength which President Obama was talking about. A look at the ground situation on both sides of the border will refute this claim. Afghanistan’s Pashtun dominated provinces are under the influence of the Taliban, some being completely controlled by them. Their strategy of attrition has paid dividend and all opposing forces are tired and weary of the war. Their attacks, during the last few years were limited to occasional raids, suicide bombing and planting road side bombs. Initially soft targets were attacked. Now they have gained the courage to attack heavily guarded targets. Insurgencies are going on in almost every province barring a few in the extreme north and north west. Provinces bordering Pakistan are virtually under control of the Taliban. On our side of the border though, the situation has improved a lot as compared to 2007, yet almost every agency has to be reclaimed with repeated operation.

From this position of strength, everyone is desirous of negotiating with the Taliban. Militarily and politically, we are exactly at the position where we should not have been. The Taliban sensed victory the day President Obama made public his troops withdrawal plan. This came as news to Pakistan, but it has now been revealed that much before the announcement was made, behind the scene negotiations were already going on. In a war, the one who reaches out first for truce is the loser and has to agree to the terms of the opponent. Due to the tension between Pakistan and the US, over the last few weeks, a lot has been conceded to the Talibans without fighting.

It is time to concede defeat and salvage whatever we can. An immediate declaration of ceasefire will stop hostilities and may save precious lives getting lost. Talks can then be held on a fast track with real leaders of the Taliban. Pakistan, unlike the US has to bear the after-effects of the war for long. With the Taliban victorious in Afghanistan, it will be a matter of time before the religious right and the extremists try to win Islamabad as well. They may not use the kind of force that we have seen so far. They do not need to. The constitution of Pakistan provides everything required for a theocratic state. Pakistan, through these talks has to ensure that a comprehensive agreement is reached where all foreign militants leave Pakistan and no attempt is made to import the Taliban brand of Islam in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2011.


Mirza Naseer Ahmad | 11 years ago | Reply

@Sohail: Statistically we are divided into Deobandis, Barelvis, Wahabis, Hanfis, Shias, Ahmadis, Ismailis, Bohras etc etc. And you want to impose Fiqah e Hanfia asuming that it will be acceptaable. You are totally mistaken.

Rizwan | 11 years ago | Reply

i think the author has intentionally or unintentionally left out the TTP in the whole picture..for smeone like me..TTP is still a big mystery..nd in my humble opinion..it is the biggest issue or hurdle in the way of interior security..US will never ACTUALLY leave afghanistan....taliban have proved to the world they can take care of americans quite well..we on the other hand may survive like this for another decade but not any longer than that..i think we are still living in denial..that the moment of chosing between being a proxy state or and idealogical enemy of the west is knocking on our doors..nd so i await the brave and the courageous smeone from likes of V for Vendetta to take upon this nobel responsibilty..to set the direction. a war for peace is inevitable!

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