Abraham Lincoln once said, “There is no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy, there is nothing good in war, except its ending.” The last United States flight boarding American troops took off from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on 31st August 2021, ending the 20 years long war, which resulted in pretty much nothing for those who waged this war. The swift overtake of Kabul by the Taliban didn’t allow the western forces a good face saving which they would have longed for. What went wrong? is the primary question that has been bugging everyone’s mind.
If we go a couple of years back, we can recall United States terming Pakistan as its biggest non-NATO ally. However, the situation changed over the years, Pakistan became lesser of an ally and more of a concern to the United States, it was that approach which led to the debacle that we are witnessing today. A suspicion regarding Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan was created, mainly by India, which led to the United States in finding newer allies. The newer allies however, had very least stakes in Afghanistan which is quite evident by their quick escape from Afghanistan in the aftermath of the fall of Kabul. Both, the Ghani and the Modi regime wanted to exploit United States’ presence for their own vested interests. India utilized United States’ presence to destabilize Pakistan as much as it could by activating its proxies through Afghanistan, while the Ghani and his cronies were busy riding on all the dollars pouring in during the United States’ stay. On the other hand, in its thirst to find a scapegoat and to hide its failure, USA deemed it perfect to start blaming Pakistan for the never-ending war that it chose to fight in Afghanistan. Pakistan, as a result became a victim of United States’ usual cold eye which it lends to its non-western partners.
Indian propaganda machinery worked well all those years in projecting an agenda-oriented picture of Pakistan. It presented Pakistan as a terror breeder just to paint the indigenous Kashmir struggle in the same color, which Pakistan has supported since its inception. India without any surprise, was all talks and no walk in its support for the United States in its Afghan war. It claimed of training a powerful Afghan military which would counter the Taliban and resist its advancement after the United States’ withdrawal, but then that proved to be nothing but a bunch of overloaded fancy promises which were never kept. It resulted in a total collapse -a result of gross miscalculations by the unholy troika of India, United States and the then Afghan Government, which led to a vacuum that we all are witnessing today. Instead of supporting USA with the evacuations, Ghani and India were the first two groups to run away from Afghanistan. Leaving the visuals of humanity falling down their planes for the world to witness. That still did not shake the conscience of many in those power corridors. However, despite of all their ill planning, fate had the final laugh when thousands of Western troops and diplomats were left on Pakistan’s compassion for a safe passage from Afghanistan.
It does not end here, the current Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan was ridiculed and name-called as “Taliban Khan” for his idea of peace talks with the Taliban. Had United States listened to such voices instead of ridiculing them in its arrogance, things might not have looked that ugly which they appear to be today. However, they did not learn much. Pakistan was snubbed once again by the Biden regime, mad in its usual arrogance for merely demanding the equal footings with the United States. The offer might have allowed a decent face saving to the losing United States which appear to be nothing but a complete loser at the moment. Today, I wonder how many of the same western and national critics would call Imran Khan as, “Taliban Khan” after coming to the same conclusion which his vision proposed decades ago and which west considered good enough to ridicule only.
Removing the Taliban, losing trillions of dollars and then hastily running back by giving power to the same Taliban is not making sense to any international observer at the moment. It is a mess that would go black in United States’ history for the times to come. There are lessons for United States to learn, it must learn to pay respect to its allies. USA had one ally in this Afghan War and they misjudged, miscalculated that partner all along. Instead of partnering with that ally they chose to scapegoat it. Pakistan, however, is still standing tall by not only leading the evacuations of the stranded western diplomats and troops but also by reaching out for the humanitarian work that the people of Afghanistan need at the moment. While the incumbent allies of USA with USA itself are on a run- leaving a disastrous mess behind, for the region to tackle.
*Aadersh Hamza, Research Officer, Balochistan Think Tank Network, (BTTN) Quetta.