It was good to see US Deputy Secretary of State Ms. Wendy R Sherman in Pakistan. Though the agenda of her visit looked to be unannounced, however, it is clear that she has come after her visit from India and the Indian media is claiming her it was a very successful visit as she has signed several MOUs between the USA and India. I wish she had also arranged a meeting with Afghan Taliban in Pakistan to understand the issues being faced by the Afghan people.
The situation in Afghanistan is getting worst by every day as just yesterday at least 100 worshippers have been killed and many injured in a suicide bombing that targeted a Shia mosque in Afghanistan during Friday prayers. Is it Islamic to attack fellow Muslim and Afghan brothers, shed their blood mercilessly in the mosque, and that when they are praying? If not controlled Afghanistan will become worse than Iraq which gave birth to Daesh and the international community immediately develop an actionable Afghan Peace Plan to act fast on it for the sake of humanity. Pakistan, while facing an allegation of prompting the Afghan Taliban to take over Kabul before an agreed date, is false and Indian propaganda.
How could one stop Taliban from entering Kabul once they were near their destination and moreover Afghan trained forces welcome them instead of resisting them whereas unfortunately, President Ashraf Ghani fled away with many of his cabinet ministers including his vice President Amrullah Saleh contrary to their tall claims of resistance and staying in Kabul to their last breath but they all left the people of Afghanistan at the mercy of Taliban.
The withdrawal of the American forces was in haste giving a clear way to Afghan Taliban to enter Kabul and make an interim government of their own will. In the given situation where is the fault of Pakistan and moreover USA neither consulted Pakistan before invading nor about withdrawing its forces so Pakistan cannot be blamed for the failure of the then Kabul government or faulty planning of the USA for Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been very sincerely working for peace in Afghanistan and it could manage to bring many Afghan Taliban factions to the table during the peace process. Pakistan played a significant role in Afghan peace process as a good mediator and tried its best to hold peace talks between the Taliban and the US administration.
US cut off security assistance worth billions of dollars to Pakistan alleging Pakistan into harbouring Taliban militants, yet Pakistan did its best to bring peace to Afghanistan. Since 2001, the process continue to face failure sometimes for political reasons, such as the United States’ restraint to talk with the Taliban or sometimes due to breaking down of discussion out of miscommunications or a lack of political consensus.
There have been several tries to bring peace in Afghanistan by the world but Afghans remained determined to first oust the American troops. It was October 2018 when the newly-appointed US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad traveled to Doha to explore the potential for peace talks in a meeting with the Taliban after Pakistan agreed to finally release former Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar upon request of USA after nine years of detention.
The Taliban Emir then appointed Baradar to lead peace talks and the group’s political office in Doha. Hence the US and Taliban began overt bilateral negotiations in Doha, agreeing to discuss US/NATO military withdrawal, counter-terrorism, and a ceasefire while the talks continued for over the next eight months.
In February 2019, negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Doha entered their highest level with a condition for the United States to withdraw its 7000 troops (about half of the total) from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban pledging to block terrorist activities on Afghan soil. The Taliban again stressed the group would only hold direct talks with the US – not the Kabul government. In 2019 August, US and Taliban signed an “agreement in principle” on counter-terrorism and military withdrawal and an eventual ceasefire. But in Sept 2019, President Trump abruptly broke off peace talks all of a sudden for a US soldier was killed in Taliban attack. To defuse the deadlock, Pakistan mediated again and finally, in February 2020 the US and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha in which all foreign forces were supposed to quit Afghanistan by May 2021, and the credit of the agreement goes to General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The major reason behind US invasion of Afghanistan was 9/11 which was a mistake and faulty strategy against the Taliban government as Taliban had agreed to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country for trial and the said offer of Mullah Omer was ignored and USA and NATO forces took the control of Afghanistan by force.
We are facing troubles because of our help to the USA in good faith and what is the reward from USA for our sacrifices? In March 2019, a coalition of Democratic lawmakers backed a veteran organization’s pledge to end the “forever wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the congressional sponsors of the pledge were Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and lawmakers Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ro Khanna.
It is always Pakistan that has come forward to the rescue of the USA in bad situations although every time the US has stabbed Pakistan in the back. Just like post-Afghan war US is targeting unreasonably and alleging Pakistan of harbouring terrorism. It had already stopped sending aid and managed Pakistan to place in FATF grey list and it is because of USA complaint with the help of India. It seems that all of it is because of Pakistan’s friendship with China and the CPEC, as China is potentially the next super economic power.
It is evident that USA and India have been propagating against CPEC from day one hence, every new statement and conspiracy by US and India against Pakistan should not be a surprise rather we should expect some more adverse moves from them against this economic corridor.
Pakistan has always favoured USA even at the cost of its national major interests as no country other than Pakistan has suffered that much because of the war on terror. Earlier, Pakistan had jumped into the USA war against USSR to please USA after a meeting of William J. Casey Director CIA with General Ziaul Haq and then DG ISI General Akhtar Abdul Rahman Khan in the annex of Army House. After suffering in the first war and losses, later we again jumped into USA war on terror and went through worst suffering of human lives and economic losses but all these sacrifices have not been recognized till today and we are still treated by the USA as suspects.
USA has best chance now to work with Pakistan to bring peace in Afghanistan instead of counterproductive blame game as Pakistan can play a great positive role to work a solution by bringing in a doable proposed agreement between USA and Afghanistan. I hope President Joe Biden takes this advice and initiative to halt Afghanistan from becoming a hub of international terrorists and let us hope the world does not see yet another 9/11 or any other similar act of terrorism.
President Joe Biden has got a God gifted opportunity to act to settle the Afghan crisis to save the world from terrorism. The defeat perception should be ignored and remember that achievement is in saving humanity and not defending false egos to take revenge of defeat. I will not call it as the defeat of USA as the withdrawal was volunteered from a foreign occupied land and sons of the soils were more expert in the local war games as compared to the aliens. I hope USA will look into the past cooperation and favours extended by Pakistan during this war on terror and will consider stopping the blame game.
I propose an International Reconciliation Commission to be constituted with its members from USA, Pakistan, UK, China, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan to give a reconciliation plan to resolve the ongoing row between the stakeholders.
The solution of Afghanistan crisis lies in the joint strategy and efforts between Pakistan and USA. I wish the Wendy R Sherman takes back home the message that international row will further create miseries for the people of Afghanistan. Pakistan also needs to find out what are the real reservations of US against it and needs a strong lobby in US to advocate its narrative and the struggle and sacrifices of Pakistan for world peace particularly towards peace in Afghanistan.
The writer is former interior minister of Pakistan, author of five books, Chairman Institute of Research & Reforms (IRR) Islamabad/ Global Eye. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, WhatsApp +923325559393