The American Senate Armed Services Committee examined the Defense Secretary Lyod Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of Joint Chiefs Of Staff and General Frank McKenzie to find the truth about the hurried and rather humiliating withdrawal of the American Forces from Afghanistan and future counterterrorism operations.
The American Defense Secretary said that the Pentagon was surprised by the sudden collapse of the Afghan Army. That amounts to trivialising serious intelligence and strategic issues since it was no secret that the Afghan army would not fight even a token battle against the Taliban once the Americans left. “You can’t measure the human heart with a machine, you have to be there” stated Gen Milley. The Afghan army knew their position well and knew the Taliban better than the Americans. The Americans also left them with no other choice after what they did in Doha by entering in a secret deal with the Taliban. When the Americans had declared the Taliban the de facto government of Afghanistan over the elected government of President Ashraf Ghani, it should not have caught the Pentagon by any surprise. Expressing “surprise” over the expected development amounted to throwing dust in the eyes of the public.
Was it because the Pentagon obeyed orders without being allowed the full freedom to plan the withdrawal simply to meet the deadline fixed by the Executive? America lost its longest war and the Taliban won it. However, it would be premature to judge at this stage if the decision was right or wrong. Only time will determine whether it was a wise political decision, though at a huge cost. But peace established at any cost is better in the end than any long war. As American withdrawal has failed to establish peace or guarantee it, the other gain has been to leave the Afghan people to manage their own affairs whichever way they want to do so. The Taliban have American weaponry which they can use for their national security and army or use it for terrorist purposes.
If anybody was caught by surprise about the suddenness of American withdrawal, it should be the Taliban, who never trusted the Americans. They perhaps thought the Americans would seek extension of time and they would refuse to grant any extension and consequently the logjam would drag on indefinitely. Even Pakistan, Taliban’s mentor, seemed to be of the same view going by the level of unpreparedness for the transfer of power. There was almost no government in Afghanistan for weeks and there is still no proper government in Afghanistan after months.
The Defense Secretary and the Generals stated that the ties between the Taliban and the ISI of Pakistan could be discussed in closed doors. This is a revelation of great significance. The entire blame cannot go to the Taliban for the 20 years of war in Afghanistan. It could have concluded in less than a year or two had Pakistan not played a dubious game with the American Establishment. It kept America entangled in the search for Osama Bin Laden while providing him sanctuary in the Abbottabad army cantonment. Had Pakistan tried to bring the Americans and the al Qaeda to the negotiating table and brokered peace, Afghanistan would not have suffered the misery of the war for 20 years and rise of global terrorism. But it fooled the American government and people for full 20 years and exploited the innocent Afghani masses by its guiles, intrigues and plots. In essence, the Afghan war for 20 years was perpetrated by Pakistan using the money, men, machinery and material resources of other countries, primarily America and NATO. There is no other instance of a small nation fooling the world’s Superpowers for 20 years without betraying an inkling of its true mission. It was Pakistan’s grand success and most ignominious failure for America, UK, France, Germany and other big powers. Had they taken benefit of India’s experience of counter terrorism and Pakistan, they would have hugely benefited. The world would have been spared of the several terrorist attacks in those 20 years of the Afghan war and the aggravated terrorist threat after the American defeat and Taliban victory. It has only emboldened terrorists.
Gen Milley admitted of future threats to America if the al Qaeda or Islamic State’s Afghani affiliate under the Taliban could consolidate power. He was upfront in saying that the Taliban is a terrorist organisation which has yet to break ties with al Qaeda or IS. He submitted that even a civil war could start in Afghanistan. The world would expect the Taliban to renounce terrorism so that peace can be restored and humanitarian assistance could reach the needy Afghani masses.
General Frank McKenzie informed the Senate members that the world and America are in a more dangerous situation than they were in September 10, 2001. He said that the Jihadist terrorists are not only growing in numbers, more confident and richer, but are also becoming more destructive. The weapons left behind will be shared among over 20 US-designated terrorist organisations in the terrorist ecosystem across Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was frank in admitting that some of these groups have already turned against Pakistani Army and government and that they would soon get access to the most destructive weapons on Earth, hinting at the terrorists gaining nuclear weapons which they have been looking for so long.
Pakistan is not only the nursery of terrorism it is also the terrorists’ training school and factory. Richard Armitage, former State Department Deputy Secretary told the lawmakers that Pakistan provided food, sustenance, and everything else to the Taliban. “I’m speaking specifically of ISI, that culminated in the fact that Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad for so long, not fathomable that the Pakistanis didn’t know about it,” he said.
The proceedings before the lawmakers betrayed superficial sentiments for the neighbouring countries and the Uyghur Muslims in China. America knows of the strong ties between Islamic Pakistan and communist China and yet it never questioned the silence of Pakistan on the Uyghur problem.
If Pakistan genuinely practices Islam and mentors others like the Taliban about promotion of Islam through violent means, it ought to have shown the same zeal for the suffering Uyghur Muslims in China.
The US uses the Uyghur problem for whipping China on human rights whenever it suits American interests or geo-political policies.
The other countries professing human rights in poorer countries or developing nations or least developed countries too have demonstrated a selective approach to the Uyghur problem or similar problems elsewhere in the world.
In fact, they have jumbled up human rights violations in China with misplaced notions of liberal democracies paying a very heavy cost in defending their sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom by fighting the terrorists, who carry out bomb blasts cruelly in places of public gathering like markets, temples, mosques, churches, beaches, schools, theatres, hospitals, railway stations, buses, trains and civilian airplanes on their own mission or largely as mercenaries of nasty countries creating law and order situations in developed civilized countries governed by laws and independent judiciary.
Thus, they end up encouraging terrorism and the terrorists.
Terrorism is the most powerful WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction) if they would like to acknowledge.
This is a faulty approach to threats from terrorism. Can America and other countries advocating human rights in the name of Uyghur situation in China guarantee that the hyper propaganda they have been pursuing will not lead to creation of another Taliban or IS in future?
Or is it the policy to create newer territories for terrorism of the IS, al Qaeda or Taliban vintage?
It is affecting even a country like Bangladesh where terrorists have grown enormously threatening peace and progress of the country. Killing minorities in hateful crimes has become normal in Bangladesh.
Terrorist view of an Islamic country has threatened to exterminate all other religious communities by killing, attacking houses, shops and places of worship of the minority communities.
They practice blasphemy towards other religions but behead the minorities on false charges of blasphemy:
if insulting one religion in any manner is considered blasphemy, the same applies to all the religions. By that standard the terrorists have no right to kill minorities anywhere.
It falls on the shoulders of the religious leaders to deliver the message of peace and peaceful co-existence to its followers and not instigate them to senseless violence.
If the Islamic scholars decide to end terrorist violence, it should not take them more than a few months to achieve the goal.
The same pulpit can be used to give the sermon of peace and peaceful co-existence from where the call for war in the name of religion is given and human vanity of “guarding” God is displayed arrogantly, whereas the fact is that it is God alone who protects the universe of which human beings are just one of the millions of species, like a particle in the dust in a vast sand or snow desert, a drop in the ocean, a seed in the countless and yet not known full count of all the seeds, the uncountable stars in galaxies, one ray in the spectrum of light…
How hollow is the claim of human beings fighting bloody battles in the name of God?
The world had suffered destruction and re-birth in the millions of years of its existence. Religions had been born and died natural death due to expiry date, but God has neither changed nor died nor born again and again. He merely materialises in physical form at will at the needful time.
It stands proved now that neither the Taliban nor IS nor any other organisation can justify terrorism in the name of Islam. There are strong voices from the Muslim community also which condemn terrorism and terrorist violence in no uncertain terms. But they do not constitute the majority of Muslims and it encourages a handful of terrorists to malign the whole community and religion.
If one country suffers, others will not be spared. For China bashing the Uyghur issue should not be blown out of proportion.
The world community has to first decide whether it considers it the right of the minority to indulge in terrorist activities against the majority in any country, capture power by violent terrorist means, destabilise a lawful government, dislodge an elected head of government or threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation?
The western countries were unmindful of the problem till the arrival of unprecedented numbers of migrants to those countries in recent years, making them suddenly feel threatened by the minority, as they fear getting reduced to a minority in their own country in a few years. Migration has brought to these countries a new clash of civilisations merely because of their approach to religion and secularism and adherence to lawful living and terrorist violence. The international community has to take the bull by the horns.
But before taking any hasty action, the western countries will have to revisit their own methods of attacking religions other than their own and before the birth of Islam.
Did they welcome the Buddha? He was born much before Christ and his message reached far off countries beyond the borders of his country. It remains the same. It is appealing to all those who want peace.
Those who do not understand meaning, significance and benefits of peace alone talk of violence of the terrorists.
Are the western countries ready even in this twenty first Century to welcome and respect Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism as they are ancient religions of India and the world which continue to be widely practiced after more than 5000 years?
If not, they must prepare to face the terrorists alone. Historically speaking, the kind of violence the Taliban, IS or al Qaeda etc. employ for spreading Islam or imposing Sharia is merely a grade deadlier than another religion preceding Islam.
The world will have to devise a new code of conduct for mankind sanitizing it of religion. No country or community will be allowed to resort to violence or war for furthering any religion.
An important change of perspective has informed the present Taliban leadership in that it has witnessed both the last quarter of the twentieth century and the first quarter of the twenty first century.
It means they have been profusely exposed to the outside world and the modern age of science and technology and multi-dimensional development in most countries. They have been exposed to religious practices outside the limited space of the Sharia. They have had a better understanding of Islam as practiced in other Muslim countries. In that context, the Taliban stand out as the most inflexible practitioners of Sharia.
Such exposure brings attitudinal change and individual opinions tend to get influenced by the facts on ground. One develops a better understanding of things and people. Whether it would translate in to a reformed and modernised Taliban giving the Afghani masses a truly constitutional government can legitimately be only expected.
An individual once emancipated can’t revert back to the pre-emancipation mental state.
The Taliban are indeed an emancipated, empowered and aspirant lot today.
The Moscow Format Consultations took place in the Russian capital on Wednesday October 20, 2021 and brought together special representatives or senior officials from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The interim Afghan government was represented by a high level delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi.
A statement, but no joint communique or agreed minutes or summary, issued after the meeting says that further practical engagement with Afghanistan needed to take into account the new reality, that is the Taliban coming to power in the country, irrespective of the official recognition of the new Afghan government by the international community.
While Moscow did not extend recognition to the Taliban government it suggested that the Taliban government in Afghanistan ought to form a truly inclusive government to take care of the interests of all major ethno-political forces in the country to provide a good government.
The participating countries were assured by the interim Afghan government of its earlier assurances to prevent use of the Afghan territory against its neighbours, other states in the region and the rest of the world.
It exactly reflects the dilemma superpowers face today after the Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan. It says much without saying anything truly.
The developments in Afghanistan concern the entire comity of nations. But no country is prepared to recognize the Taliban government of Afghanistan.
The Taliban have to understand this phenomenon. They have to come to an understanding with the world community, comity of nations, international agencies and win their trust that human rights as also women’s rights will be honoured by them in Afghanistan.
Without such an understanding even humanitarian assistance will be difficult to reach the people of Afghanistan.
Every day counts as such havoc and transition of regime bring only untold misery and suffering to the poor people.