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US Foreign Policy Revisited: The Counter-Funding Of Afghan Curriculum – OpEd


By M. Fahad ur Rehman

The shadowy side of the American foreign policy once again came to the fore, when in a Congressional hearing, Mrs. Hilary Clinton herself acknowledged that America is equally responsible for the quagmire of militancy and extremism that prevails in Pakistan and the region today.

By doing so in April 2009, Clinton became the first U.S official to candidly admit the role of the United States in fanning religious extremism in the region; while talking to the Appropriations Subcommittee, she said, ‘We can point fingers at the Pakistanis. I did some yesterday frankly. And it’s merited because we are wondering why they just don’t go out there and deal with these people,’ said Mrs Clinton while referring to an earlier hearing in which she said that Pakistan posed a ‘mortal threat’ to the world.

‘But the problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for, having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan. Let’s remember here… the people we are fighting today we funded them twenty years ago… and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union.’

Similar incongruous plain display of divergent foreign policy objectives was also vivid in the post 9/11 scenario. During that period the U.S government undertook certain educational initiatives in a counter measure against extremism and militancy. In the period from 2002 onwards the University of Nebraska,Omaha, in collaboration with USAID and Afghan authorities, initiated an educational program to overhaul the educational curriculum of Afghanistan school system. A measure aimed at terminating the objectionable contents from the syllabi that encompassed elements pertaining to violence, hatred and war.

“We removed all references to violence, and changed the alphabet chart which had references to weaponry, for example: T is for Tank, R is for Rocket, K for Kalashnikov, M for Mujahid, J for jihad,” a USAID official said after seven years after his involvement in the revision process.

However, the ironic and intriguing part comes here. The same University of Nebraska was used as a conduit by CIA to fill hate contents in the School curriculum during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This was done to gain support and evoke anti-Soviet, jihadist tendencies and sentiments within Afghan Public, especially among the ranks of the blossoming youth. It was back in those days, when the U.S policy makers were busy in sponsoring the Afghan Mujahideen in compliance with the Pakistan’s military establishment to contain the assumed expansionist ambitions of the Communists from Kremlin.

It is highly condemnable how the U.S has pursued its national security and foreign policy in the last few decades by tempering and playing with the future prospects of a nation viz a viz its youth in order to channelize them according to its whims and nefarious motives.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are still paying the price of these draconian and pitiless policies. The former is fighting an unceasing battle against the remnants of those ill-conceived policies.

And the latter is under the occupation of the same party (US) that master minded and orchestrated the Taliban and sowed the seeds of militancy in the region. Though now the US is using the tag of War against Terror to maintain its presence in the region.

Albeit that, half of the onus also lies on the leaders and incumbent governments of that time in the twin neighborly countries because it was they who in the first place opened the doors and provided a breeding ground for the super power to intermingle in their internal affairs.

Although, this story is known to all man and sundry and it has almost reached to the point being termed as a cliché now yet it is important to remind and prompt those spheres of America, where power is vested, who altogether consider that being powerful means that one can beat around the bush and operate with impunity.

Whatsoever, follies of the past can only be redressed, if all the stakeholders accept proportionate blame and take collective responsibility for the ills they have nourished in the region. Because ex-parte actions from America are not serving anyone’s cause in the region, not that of its own even.

Muhammad Fahad ur Rehman is a Graduate from Peshawar belonging to FR region of Pakistan. With interest in International Affairs and Pakistani Politics, Fahad regularly contributes to various blogs, mainly The Faultlines, on issues such as War on Terror, Central Asia, Syrian and Iranian Crisis, US expansionism and Problems relating to Pakistan.

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