The US and NATO, Global War on Terror (GWOT) and the Afghanistan-Pakistan Issue
The Obama Administration is re-thinking its Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy these days. Firstly, the Obama Administration must consider the sentiments of the people in the region and ask why it is so unpopular with the masses. This unpopularity stems from the fact that the US is unwelcome now after eight years of trying to end the al Qaida strongholds. Clearly, the US was tolerating poor governance, corruption, even criminal behavior among its regional allies like Karzai and Musharraf. This has been going on for some time. The people had not benefited much from the assistance flowing into the two governments. Afghanistan is a mess. The recent elections were disappointment. Unfortunately the elections were rigged by President Karzai. What will the US and NATO do about it now? Most probably nothing will be done about the matter. So much for US-NATO support for democracy in the country! The main issue is bas governance in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two states in question have simply not delivered. Poverty is now at alarming levels in both countries. Poverty shall breed extremism surely. What has the US and NATO done about ending poverty in these countries? Not much in reality. Just promises to do so. Corruption is endemic and overall poor governance makes sure that money does not trickle down to the poorest of the poor. People are desperate for better livelihood, even the basic necessities of life. As expected, frustration at the inability of the states to deliver basic public services is fueling radicalism. Finishing off al Qaida will not end the radical phenomenon.
This state of affairs had earned the US and NATO a bad image in the eyes of the people. Plus, an exit strategy was missing. When will the US and NATO leave Afghanistan? The sooner the better for all. Let the Obama talk about an exit strategy like Iraq. The time is now. The Global War on terror is the most important issue of our times. We must strive together to win this war. It is agreed that an exit strategy alone will not work as the two countries are likely to mess up with the funds allocated for reconstruction and development by the international donors. Still remains as a regional; problem and is basically the responsibility of the local powers not US and NATO. Let the locals do the job it is their problem not the responsibility of US and NATO. Certainly, it is not the business of the US to police the world. The problem of al Qaida did not begin in West Asia. The roots of al Qaida are in the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia and Yemen not in West Asia. The al Qaida came here only when it was ousted from Sudan, and other Arab countries. The Taliban gave it refuge which was a mistake. The Taliban paid a heavy price as they were forced out of power in Afghanistan and later from the regions of the country as well. The victory over the Taliban and al Qaida was achieved by the end of 2001, soon after 9/11. The current comeback is the result of NATO and US presence in Afghanistan and the borders of Pakistan and the GWOT not its cause. The point must be understood clearly by all. The simple fact of the matter is that the NMATO and US combine have run out of their welcome. The people do not want them to stay here forever. All available evidence suggests this public resentment. The 9/11incidents were tragic indeed but they are now distant memories and what needed to be done by the US had been done i.e. a fatal strike at al Qaida and its Taliban supporters. The GWOT must end now. This can only be done when NATO and US pull out their militaries. Otherwise, this will remain an open-ended war which will never end. Is this what the US and NATO want? If and when, the US-NATO do pull out it will create a power vacuum for sure. This power vacuum can be easily filled by UN Peacekeeping forces like in other different hot spots of the world. The United Nations Peacekeepers would be welcome not the NATO and US. The history of colonial rule by Western powers is firmly etched in the psyche of the people in the Middle East and West Asia. The people are reacting to new Western military presence in the region. It is well-known that this exit is not going to be easy for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. These countries are not prepared for it. That is exactly the point. A declared exit strategy by NATO and US will force them to get their act together like in Iraq. They will not be able to count on Western firepower to sort out their own Islamic radicalism problem. The Western media has created hype about al Qaida. It is simply not the great global monster it is portrayed as. The al Qaida global network is widely exaggerated. Some sort of disinformation campaign is at play here. This much is obvious. Reluctantly, the Zardari government decided to use force against the Islamic extremists in Swat and FATA region and has had some visible success in this fight against terrorism. Let the US and NATO supports this operation fully. The Government of Pakistan estimates that the GWOT has cost the country some $35 billion while the US assistance has been much less than warranted. Why is the US reluctant to pay the costs of this GWOT to Pakistan? Why is the US not hard on the corruption issue in both Afghanistan and Pakistan? Knowing fully well that this massive corruption is fuelling extremism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan? Only lip service is paid to governance issues. Unless and until, the US and NATO tackle the governance issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the GWOT cannot be won. Simple as that. Finally, the question that now needs to be asked is whether the US and NATO really want to end the GWOT? People in the region are now openly apprehensive about the whole GWOT issue. It is hoped that NATO and US realize their mistake and come up with an exit strategy that works. The sooner the better. Otherwise, the West Asian region is going to descend into further turmoil, instability and bloodshed. The whole world is losers then. Therefore, the time to act is now. Let US, NATO and both Afghanistan-Pakistan governments parley immediately to work out a reasonable exit strategy for Western troops in the region. Let this matter be discussed in the United Nations Security Council so that a new Peacekeeping mission is formulated for West Asia. Time is running out.