By Ali Sukhanver
December 17, 2018
A school going Afghan boy would simply remain silent rather dumb if someone asks him what he is going to be when he grows up. The reason behind this silence and dumbness would be nothing but fear of uncertainty. More war, more injuries, more casualties; what is the future of the war-torn country Afghanistan; certainly there must be an answer to this painful question. Decades have passed but the situation in Afghanistan is still the same. The people of Afghanistan are leading a life full of uncertainty, insecurity and anxiety. What did the US planners get out of the war in Afghanistan? Did they succeed in winning the hearts of the Afghan people or they succeeded in conquering the Afghan lands; surely they did nothing but wasted a lot of time and a lot of money. The Taliban were the basic target of the US and NATO forces from the day one but the US planners badly failed in ‘crushing’ the Taliban; they even could not make Taliban unpopular in spite of a very well organized media campaign against them. The Taliban are still there, playing a very active role in Afghan politics. Time is strengthening them day-by-day; their strengthening means defeat of all the forces hostile to them.
We see today US is left with only one option; to bring Taliban to the negotiation-table. A few weeks back General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while said talking about the Taliban at a security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “They are not losing right now; I think that is fair to say.” He further said, “While there is no military solution to peace in Afghanistan, Washington and its allies in the NATO military alliance are trying to use all their military, political and economic strength in a bid to convincing the Taliban to come to the negotiation table. The key to success is to combine all the pressure to incentivize the Taliban to negotiate.” It is a very strange contradiction that on one hand Gen. Dunford is claiming that Washington has no military solution to the Afghan problem but on the other hand U.S. President Donald Trump is in favour of designing a strategy for a long-running war which focuses on bringing more troops and use them to force a political resolution to militant groups. Under this new strategy, President Trump last year announced an increase in U.S. troop levels, bringing the total number of foreign foot soldiers in the country to about 14,000.
Efforts for peace-talks and adding more troops to an already war-torn territory; these two actions are going opposite to each other. President Trump must try to convince himself that war is never a solution to conflicting issues. War gives birth to new conflicts. Moreover, at present it is out of question to pressurize the Taliban by sending more troops to Afghanistan because with the passage of time the Taliban have become expert in tackling with the foreign troops. They are now the ‘experienced-targets’. The most feasible way to resolve the Afghanistan issue is to concentrate only on the peace-talks with the Taliban; threatening them with more troops would simply distort the situation.
Recently a report was published on the pages of the Albawaba News with the title ‘US Officials Admit Taliban Are Not Losing in Afghanistan. The report said, “The Taliban are gaining strength as the Afghan government in Kabul struggles to keep ground. The US government’s overseer for the military push in Afghanistan warned in a report earlier this month that the Taliban had cemented their position by taking control over larger chunks of the country while the Afghan government had seen its control shrink to about 56 percent of the land — down from 72 percent in 2015.”
Contradiction in US’ approach towards the settlement of the Afghan issue is simply adding to the gravity of problem. On one hand the Trump Administration is seeking Pakistan’s help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiation table and on the other hand Pakistan is being continuously blamed for ‘patronizing’ the Taliban. In a recent interview with the ‘Atlantic’ Washington’s envoy to UN, Nikki Haley has repeated allegations against Pakistan. She is the first Indian-American ever appointed to a Cabinet position in any US presidential administration. She said, “The US did not need to give money to countries that wish harm to America, go behind its back and try and stop us from doing things.” She further said, “The one example I’ll give you is, look at Pakistan. Giving them over a billion dollars, and they continue to harbour terrorists that turn around and kill our soldiers —that’s never okay. We shouldn’t even give them a dollar until they correct it. Use the billion dollars. That’s not a small amount of change.” Could someone ask Nikki Haley if she has given this statement as Washington’s envoy or as an Indian-American?
Ali Sukhanver is freelance columnist based in Multan.