Appearing as a testing battlefield to check the balance of power during Soviet invasion, the war-torn Afghanistan afterwards plunged into the vicious whirlpool. In the aftermath of Geneva Accord of 1988, Afghanistan suddenly fell into wrecked isolation by the dereliction of the global centers of power, coupled with indefinite internal paroxysm leading to protracted civil tug amongst the unarmed war-lords – mostly dominated by the Taliban factions. The consequent scenario wreaked endless havoc with the already weakened Afghan state institutions, fragile infrastructure and flimsy civic bodies. The resulting bloody fiasco with large-scale loss of human lives and displacement of masses led to the abrasive culture of deepening ethnocentricity and sectarian rifts, thus sharply dividing the illiterate and heterogeneous Afghan societal fabric along linguistic and racial lines. The chaotic isolation of Afghanistan poses question to the international observers that had there been engagement with, rather than isolation of, the Taliban despite their reprehensible human rights’ records, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist outfits might not have been able to establish themselves in Afghanistan and still debatable 9/11 would never have occurred.
To uproot the Talibanization of Afghanistan without any concrete evidence of the Taliban’s involvement in 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration’s ‘hard power pre-emptive strike” strategy resulted in protracted military campaign against terrorism with no peace and stability in the region, except establishing fledgling democratic government confronting immense challenges with complete failure to extend its writ beyond the capital, what to say of forging the national unity.
Still paradoxes encompass the counter-terrorism phenomena as observed in the contemporary world today, and it could be seen in the President Barack Obama’s Afghan policy, which tries to do several things, in a piecemeal and inchoate way. The Obama’s axiomatic, visionless and perceptionally diverse Afg-Pak strategy suffers from contradictions by not prioritizing Afghanistan as the insurgencies’ centre of gravity, something also validated by empirical evidences. It has overlooked several aspects, including a concrete political strategy with specifics on how the civilian surge will occur and how democracy and institution-building will be supported, and a plan that distinguishes Al-Qaeda from that of the Taliban insurgency. Relying merely on the hardcore physical military means to achieve quick results because taking the developmental path, in Afghanistan’s circumstances, is likely to take a decade or more to produce substantive results, this miscalculated muscular approach tactically aimed at eradicating Al-Qaeda, has further deteriorated the situation rather than reversing it. It risks miring the US in an un-winnable war without end, amounting to international humiliation and huge domestic backlash.
The extra deployment to Afghanistan is being observed against the US fears to avoid getting bogged down as in the escalating Vietnam War, while putting to secondary-rating the foremost goals of nation-building and reconstruction of the devastated Afghanistan with the consent of Afghan diasporas also including the politically reconcilable Talibans. In fact, the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily unless they are not defeated politically.
Karzai’s somewhat positional strength in Afghanistan does not lie in the reason that the people love Karzai or are happy about his performance. Rather, he is a symbol of real disappointment for the Afghan people because of his poor administration during his last eight years in office which is characterized by deep-rooted corrupt state-craft, ever spiraling drug-trafficking flourishing under official patronages with indefinite insecurities and an environment of misery where even ordinary Afghans cannot find jobs just earning $1 a day. Suffering extreme rates of illiteracy, pervasive ignorance, lowest standards of living, devastated economy mostly flourishing on narco-capital inflows, on the humanitarian front also, Afghanistan has some of the world's worst health indicators, with an average life expectancy of 44.
Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes, who make up about 38% of the population, remain excluded from power. Afghanistan is a three-legged ethnic stool. The Pashtun tribesmen form over the near half of Afghanistan’s population but have been largely excluded from power by the Western occupation. Taking away the Pashtun leg, stability is impossible in Afghanistan as the Western powers cannot run Afghanistan by using the minority segments ethnically comprising 25% Tajiks, 6% Uzbeks, 19% Hazaras and 12% others.
No government in Afghanistan can function without the active participation of the Pashtuns. The Afghans are fiercely independent society, depicting utter dislike towards an imposed government. The history of Afghanistan is studded with examples proving how the Afghans resisted such efforts and were eventually able to drive the imposed elements. Invariably those who tried to install their own people in seats of power, they eventually had to pay heavy price.
It should primarily be a struggle for winning hearts and minds, in which dialogue and development must be the most potent tool. Based on Cultural-Building-Measures bridging internal gulfs, only a broadly-envisioned Afghan government founded on reconciliatory power-sharing formula, proportionally represented by all ethnic factions of civic society including Pastuns, implying adequate military, political, bureaucratic and institutional bases of all major as well as minor factions in government paraphernalia could only bring long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan. Reflecting all the ethnic shades of Afghan society and various warring factions including the Talibans, this broadly represented state-craft is probably the best option, but the major impediment is how to get them together and secure the much-desired agreement. To realize this objective, an all-encompassing step-by-step strategy needs to be evolved duly coordinated by mutual efforts of both the UN and OIC, working together in consultation of all tiers of the Afghan civic entities, to be ultimately followed by a meeting of all the neighbouring states (primarily bordering countries) held under the aegis of both the UN and OIC, having the recognized mandate to mobilize diplomatic channels in minimizing interests’ incompatibilities of the regional and global players vis-a-vis USA, Russia, Iran, India, China and Pakistan.
Finally, a mini Marshal plan-type plan for the reconstruction, rehabilitation and institution-building of Afghanistan needs to be devised by all regional and global stakeholders with prime consent of the Afghan populace.
Muhammad Nawaz Khan (Ex Police Officer)
Researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute Pakistan.
Peace and Conflict Monitor
Non-State Conflict Management: Opportunities and Limitations of NGOs Engaging Non-State Armed Groups
Muhammed Nawaz Khan
December 09, 2010
Muhammed Nawaz Khan provides a comprehensive analysis of opportunities and challenges for interaction between non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Afghanistan. If such interactions are approached strategically and in a principled way, Khan argues, NSAGs…
Immersed in typical cyber paranoia, the online release of US top secret sensitive compartmented intelligence leaked on July 26 by WikiLeaks.org - a website run by anti-war activist Julian Assange –
have caused a flurry for web-surfing making the international readership
pop-eyed with amazement how the anti-war operators of the website succeeded in