In the Slavery of Hatred and Fondness

(Hamza Ali, )

Prof Khurram Ali Khan

Against the backdrop of the rising Taliban attacks within Afghanistan, it is time for the world to assess the continuing dubious role of India and the ambiguities of US policy in the region. With all its vigour and several overtures, a peaceful coexistence in the neighbourhood has become a mere woolgather for Pakistan. The ambition was further distorted when five UAE officials were among 60 people killed in a string of bombings across the Afghan cities as the Taliban militants step up a deadly winter campaign of violence.

The Emiratis were among 13 people killed when explosives hidden in a sofa detonated inside the Governor’s compound in southern Kandahar on January 10, while the UAE’s ambassador to Afghanistan escaped the attack with injuries. The carnage underscores growing insecurity in Afghanistan, where around 10,000 US troops are helping the struggling Afghan forces to combat a resilient Taliban insurgency as well as al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban Spokesman, claimed the responsibility of Kabul explosions, adding the victims were mostly Afghan intelligence agents.

Later, a demonstration by scores of supporters staged on January 13 outside the Pakistani embassy in Kabul further grimed the security panorama. General (retd) Esa, deputy to the former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, led the rally to protest against the recent bomb attacks in Kabul and Kandahar. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack but denied hand in the Kandahar bombing, which depicts the involvement of more characters playing their part to aggravate the conditions.

Mr Saleh has been a hoarse critic of Pakistan during his tenure as the head of National Directorate of Security (NDS) and more recently as a politician with a single-point Pakistan-specific agenda of blame supplanting. The fact, though, that agitprop pushed from India has taken such a strong bridgehead amongst the masses in Afghanistan that they conceive any adverse incident that befalls in Afghanistan is patronized by Pakistan.

Despite being supportive of the peace process in Afghanistan, Pakistan incurred unjustified criticism. Extra regional elements such as India, US and the dubiety impelled by volatile Afghan approach towards Pakistan are yielding unfounded tensions. Secondly, the region is in a flux and uncertainty is on the increase in view of the ongoing readjustment of alliances among the stakeholders. Stability versus instability theories are defining reality, perceptions and misperceptions, firming up national positions in the region. But under these complex circumstances, whenever a leaf falls on the Afghan lands, the blame game is ignited against Pakistan putting behind its yeoman services for world against the spate of terror.

The world, currently does not address the substantial gains that have been engendered during the Zarb-e-Azb operation as anticipated since it is invariably prompt to pick apart and obtuse to concede efforts. Pakistan has most definitely made a valiant effort to clear out all the non-state actors in the FATA; it does not permit the terrorists from banned outfits to use its soil to set up assaults against other countries. The twin suicide attacks near the parliament in Kabul were inflicted by the Taliban from within Afghanistan’s territory and it is high time it takes responsibility for its own debacle. Kabul’s frustrating claim that the existence of safe havens in FATA allowed terrorists to carry out attacks inside Afghanistan whenever they want is totally bias based on Indian hoodwink.

I must quote from the farewell address of George Washington who says, “The nation, which indulges towards habitual hatred, or habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.”

This comes true on Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani, dismayed by the fiasco of his government to constitute its writ, and the backsliding of the Afghan forces to effectively curb the onslaught of the Taliban, finds it convenient to darn Pakistan of plying sanctuary to the Haqqanis who, according to him, are indulged into terrorist acts in Afghanistan. The US, which had rendered the security of Afghanistan to the Afghan forces two years ago, also feels perturbed having been effete to attain its goals. The Afghan President’s expectations from Pakistan are quixotic. He considers that the Taliban will forego on Pakistan’s demand. The Afghan government and the US seem unsure about whether to fight the Taliban or to have a dialogue with them.

Pakistan has time and again conveyed to the UN, the United States and other regional stakeholders that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) are patronizing terrorists groups to attack soft targets in both the countries, and no words have been said to condemn these subversive activities taking place in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The double game of igniting carnage on both lands brews mistrust between the two countries especially Kabul heeds the alluring tunes from Indian media without analyzing and investigating such incidents. The philosophy is quite similar to the Indian trails of reactions on the terror attacks there.

The United States has to switch gears and acquire from Russian and Chinese foreign policy vis a vis Pakistan, if it desires to alter this hostile acquaintance and make any advance in terminating this regional terrorism. A new, meaningful Afghan policy with ameliorating political stability and governance; shoring up counterinsurgency efforts; and restarting a peace and reconciliation process may only ameliorate this chaotic episode. The US and the rest of world must understand that Pakistan is one of the key stakeholders regarding the policies that mater in Afghanistan.

Sixteen years since the commencement of the UN-mandated, US-led war in Afghanistan; it is apparent that even the most sensible of policies on Afghanistan will not straightaway and inevitably bring forth the intended terminations. Pakistan certainly, in recent years, has performed an outstanding contend to castigate its overture towards Afghanistan. From underlining better border management to prodding the Taliban towards talks with the Afghan Taliban, Pakistan has arguably preferred an outstanding conduct of what was postulated of it for several years. But between an impatient Afghan government and a desultory US administration that has not really seemed invested in the peace process, Pakistan’s efforts have largely gone unacknowledged and unappreciated.

The elimination of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike last year and the scuttling of an incipient Murree peace process the year before were acts that greatly set back the possibility of talks — and were carried out ostensibly over the objections of Pakistan. The incoming US administration and the rest of world ought to study the recent past of Afghanistan and recognize that merely demanding Pakistan to ‘do more’ will not help deliver a stable, peaceful Afghanistan.

Pakistan has sacrificed thousands of its citizens and endured economic losses of over $100 billion due to terrorism. The country is doing its best to overcome myriad of internal problems that is both deep rooted and complex. Afghanistan should not become the hostage of malefic Indian desires to become a regional superpower. This is a time where the country is in a transitional but fragile state and new understandings of political relationships are beginning to mould. It should not enslave itself to “a habitual hatred, or a habitual fondness of neighboring countries” as aforementioned. (ENDS)

(The writer teaches at the Gujar Khan College, writes freelance as newspaper columnist)

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