Afghanistan: the Great Name Game

February 10, 2009

Afghanistan is beginning to accumulate cliches. If it’s not “Obama’s Vietnam”, then it’s the “graveyard of empires”.  (The British press, never one to be bamboozled by the big picture, says it’s the end of bully beef for the troops.)

It is perhaps a measure of how little people really know about Afghanistan after more than seven years of war that such a complex conflict has to be simplified into labels.  Afghanistan’s history of defeating the British in the 19th century and the Soviet Union in the 20th century certainly lends itself to dramatic comparisons. But they are not entirely accurate. Britain’s failed Afghan campaign in 1838 was not the graveyard of the British empire — it went on to defeat the Sikhs and rule India for another 100 years.  And the Soviet Union’s disastrous occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 may simply have accompanied rather than precipitated the collapse of an empire that had been rotting from within years before Soviet troops reached Kabul. 

What the 19th century British and the Soviets had in common was in the extent to which Afghans did not want them there. And that’s where the comparisons become not only inaccurate, but potentially misleading.

According to this BBC survey  of more than 1,500 Afghans carried out in all of the country’s 34 provinces, 63 percent support the presence of U.S. forces. That is down from 71 percent in 2007, reflecting uncertainty about where the country is headed and resentment about civilian casualties in U.S. air strikes, but still a sizeable majority.  The survey also shows that the public is still very much opposed to the Taliban, with 58 percent judging them to be the biggest threat to the country.

If the survey is accurate (a difficult challenge in a country at war), then you have to wonder where the wishes of the Afghan people fit into the new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan ordered up by President Barack Obama.  Much of the discussion recently has been on what the war in Afghanistan will mean for the United States. But what will U.S. success or failure mean for the Afghan people?

5 comments

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Myra

—The Colonial British interest in Afghanistan was solely to halt the communist expansionist – It’s anybodies guess whose expansionist agenda the Americans are halting…

Posted by Anup | Report as abusive

Myra,

The Pashtuns and Afghans are quite a rugged and tough people battle hardened by centuries of invasions by many nations. They are a warrior society with very direct and simple laws to settle disputes quickly. These people never really had liberality or pluralism in their society, they just never had the moment of peacetime to explore other avenues of politics and existence, to their continual war-like existence. Their focus has always been to repel invaders and to a large extent, this has shaped their mindset and culture.

It is this mindset, which has been hijacked by extremist Islam, the Taliban. The Taliban are in fact, the first invaders to successfully attack and occupy all facets of Afghani society. Extremist Islam has parasitically taken Afghanistan as host and infected it. The extremist ideology almost exists in parallel with the existing Afghani cultural mindset.

It is why this weakness was exploited by Extreme Islam.

Since 911, some of its perpetrators and planning, started from Afghanistan, the world community has a duty to help Afghanistan unlatch the claws of extremism. It is the U.S. and Soviet Union, which caused radicalization and influx of Expatriate muslims to fight a Jihad in the 80′s. Pakistan was also a player, using its influence to fight the Soviets. In many ways, Pakistan has been intending all along to use Afghanistan to do its dirty work of Terrorism. In fact, Pakistan was hoping all along to use the Jihadis and the Terrorist Network from the Soviet era to destabilize India, while at the sametime, the Pak Military didn’t have to get its hands dirty. These guys were battle hardened and bored, unemployed if you will.

These Wahhabi Extremists from Saudi Arabia tried for years to sell their extremis ideology in African countries and many other Arab nations, where they were forcibly kicked out. They found a victim in Afghanistan. There is a low literacy rate, the Afghans could use their old friends in Pakistan to help Al-Qaeda, why not, its a marriage of convenience.

The only way to sever this disfunctional relationship between Pak and Afghanistan is to cleanup Afghanistan and contain Pakistan, from a terrorism point of view.

Pakistan will have free reign always, to promote terrorism for its proxy wars with India, as long as Afghanistan is unstable.

The Regional Strategy should be to ultimately contain Pakistan, to destroy its terrorist network.

Use of the US Military Drones is a good start.

This is the only good way to keep a dishonest, deceitful, double talking, lying, terrorism promoting country like Pakistan sincere.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Myra:
@But what will U.S. success or failure mean for the Afghan people?
–First off, US has not provided a clear cut definition of success or are they keeping room to save their faces? Originally US talk has been about defeating Al-qaida—hard to Know AQ is defeated? AQ defeat by any definition is crap unless each and every militant group, including Taliban is not permanently eliminated. A clear definition of success by US and allies will itself provide its use for Afghan people. Taliban has been the most victorious/successful force in Afghanistan. They previously formed the govt in Afghanistan, supported by 3 countries we all know, and are now controlling large area of Pakistan. Unless Taliban is rendered non-existent in Afghanistan and Pakistan and any other –stan, US victory is phony victory. Any ridiculous ideas of short cuts in the form of deals with Taliban will do no good to Afghanistan and the region. A complete elimination of militants–AQ and Taliban etc.-by US/allies will be great victory for them and Afghanistan and will help stabilize Afghanistan. A stable Afghanistan govt with real control over Afghanistan will only then happen. later the re-builiding etc. at large scale is necessary. India is already helping Afghanistan in a big way. No monkey play in the form of saving some militants for later use by someone after the war is over (if at all it is over). We know the consequences of such exploits, even Pakistan knows by now.

Right now the situation is murky- Taliban, ISI, CIA, US/NATO are too many factors and it is not clear who is using whom.

Thank you,

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

NATO/US should ignore Indians whose main desire is to target Pakistan through NATO/US.

Union of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Only solution to present problem of Instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the Union of Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on the basics principles of Democracy in which Government should be composed of representatives of all sections of society and regions, No one will be dominant to each other, and that country will be easily governable by Government, In history Durani Empire was composed of all areas in which today Pakistan and Afghanistan are located, During Mughal Empire both Afghanistan and Pakistan were a single country, During initial period of British Empire they were also same country, During British Empire, some vested interest forces kept at distance to both these lands from each other , Due to which borders between these two countries have become hiding place for criminals of both countries and theft automobiles and others stolen assets are stored in this region, this large uncontrollable region is basis of many evils , Narcotics are grown in these areas ,and addiction of which is destroying youths and humanity and due to poverty and non development, people are going towards extremism and militancy, Union of both countries will make the single government of this region more responsible in stabilizing the region and in satisfying the nationalistic pride of people and people will be able to serve humanity as other large nations of world are serving the humanity, other wise this region will always remain as a nuisance for world, as this region already has destroyed Soviet Union it may also take down to western world which will be a great blow to development of Science and Technology specially Medical science.

Advantages to world.
Control of Terrorism:
Instability in this region is causing great damage to humanity, soldiers of USA and NATO are sacrificing their lives just to eliminate Terrorists from these countries, while by unification it will become sole responsibility of the people and government of unified nation to control terrorists and it will be more convenient for that government to administer as there will be unity in chain of command.

Control of Extremism:
As unified nation will be composed of multiethnic groups such as Punjabies,Sindhies,Baloachs, Pukhtoons,Urdu speakers,Tajiks, Persians and Hazaras and will be composed of multisectarian society such as Sunni and Shiites it will become impossible for any ethnic group or religious sect to find any future in extremism

Stabilization of Region:
Although now a days in this region there is problem of terrorism but infact from a long time (about 50 years) this region is suffering from instability, reason is that people of this region are finding no hope and future for themselves due to division of this region and interference of large nations such as Soviet Union, USA, China and India but when the people of this region were unified at the time of Durani Empire this region was stable and same was case during Mughal Empire..
As there are three main groups in Asia i.e. Chinese, Hindues and Muslims. Chinese and Hindues are satisfied with their Dominion states of China and India, but as there is no large state of Muslims in Asia while their numerical population is greater than Chinese and Hindues, therefore Muslims are suffering from distress which is causing instability and irritation in common Muslims, therefore by creation of a unified state of Pakistan and Afghanistan a sense of satisfaction and respect with the existence of a national state will be achieved

Solution to Economic Problems.
At present both countries are burden on other countries and in fact are a barrier in exploring the resources of Central Asia by world. After stabilization it will be useful for not only for Central Asia and World but also for the new unified nation itself

Advantages to Pakistan:
It was the vision of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam to unify region of West Pakistan with Afghanistan and East Pakistan with Malysia and Indonesia and that is still the need of time.
• By unification with Afghanistan, areas which are included in Pakistan will be stabilized, and migration of people from disturbed areas will be stopped,
• Law and order situation due to smuggling of weapons from Afghanistan will come to an end.
• Similarly illicit drug trade will be minimized.
• Whole areas of Pukhtoons speaking population will become unified and which will be helpful for development of culture and language of that group which is now divided in two nations.
• Security measures expenses on borders will be minimized which may be used for welfare of people.
• Interference of other nations in this region will be stopped.
• Due to historical and unique region and having importance for Buddhism and Hindues religion, tourism industry will be flourished and business activity in the region will be increased,

Advantages to Afghanistan:
• By unification status of Afghanistan as land lock country will come to an end, and Union will increase the freedom of people of Afghanistan for travel and economic activity,
• Extremism and terrorism will come to and end, as the people will become more engaged and involved in adjusting themselves in new union. it will increase the utilization of raw products of Afghanistan ,
• Security and military expenses will be minimized,
• Doors of job for people of Afghanistan in Pakistan will opened ,the desire of unification of people of Afghanistan with people of Pakistan will be fulfilled.
• Shortage of food products in Afghanistan will be decreased and it will increase the utilization of raw products of Afghanistan in the region.
• Due to linkage of central Asia via Afghanistan, will cause extraordinary development in the whole region.

From all above points it is clear that unification of Pakistan and Afghanistan will be fruitful for every one and for world at large by each and every angle.

Written By:
M.AKRAM KHAN
Email:akrumniazi@hotmail.com
Baldia Town,Karachi.Pakistan.