By Ishaal Zehra
Forced by the US led International pressure and partly by own security dictates, Pakistan stood with the US led coalition. In the ensuing war Pakistan has rendered unique sacrifices both in lives and in finances in overcoming the spate of orchestrated terrorism. Country has suffered over 62,000 fatalities and a loss of over USD 123 Billion. However, National Armed Forces supported by willing cooperation of entire nation won the war against the menace of terrorism. On the other hand, International coalition as well as newly prepared and equipped Afghan Forces failed to overcome the armed resistance from Afghan Taliban. In the episode, occupation forces have stage managed to bring India as a player in Afghan arena. With Indian arrival and active role in Afghanistan, Pakistan had to be the target of Indian supported propaganda. US support has further strengthened Indo-Afghan Propaganda nexus.
Afghanistan continues to remain in a quagmire. President Trump’s new policy has yielded rather negative results. Taliban are more aggressive than ever before and area under control of National unity Government is ever decreasing to lesser than half of Afghanistan. Enormous causalities are being suffered and morale state of Afghan forces is deplorable. American military leadership in Afghanistan is continuously blaming Pakistan for supporting and harboring Afghan Taliban fighters. Pakistan refutes American stance as an attempt to divert attention away from worsening Afghanistan situation. Pakistan has bluntly criticized US efforts to find a scapegoat. Afghan national unity Government, Anti-Taliban elements and Indian lobby supports US stance on Pakistan and continue to spill beans against Pakistan.
Pakistan has so far been fulfilling the US dictates and has been following the plan of action almost in complete sync with the US military authorities present in Afghanistan. However, in doing so Pakistan has never undermined own national interest. US required Pakistan to carry out military operation in entire FATA including North as well as the south Waziristan, which Pakistan did, but in line with own military capability and national priority. Under the pretext, any blame on Pakistan requires forceful rejection. US context of USD 33 Billion aid amounts to peanuts if Pakistani losses in lives, economy and infrastructure are considered.
Terrorism is being tackled in Pakistan through new resolve of the nation. Successes of Operation Zarb-e-Azb are being cemented through a follow up Operation Rad-ul-Fassad. Radd ul Fassad is not aimed against a specific group but against the entire concept of Terrorism and its sponsors. This new strategic initiativeis being carried to flush out the remnants of the terrorist outfits, their supporters, facilitators as well the sympathizers. Fencing and improved Border crossing mechanism is also an effort to check cross border movement of terrorists. Pakistan has time and again asked Afghanistan for effective border crossing management and closure of irregular crossings through fencing. Pakistan has also taken steps to address the narratives and ideological issues relating to terrorism. Hate Ideology of the IS has largely been rejected by the masses of Pakistan.
A new dimension has also been added to the Afghan issue in shape of threat of Daesh. All stake holders unanimously oppose Daesh and its policies. Recent spate of terrorism unleashed on Pakistan has been sponsored by Afghan based Daesh and supporting TTP elements. New dimension has created alarms in the region and has hence strengthened the need for a comprehensive regional approach, fully supported by Pakistan. Analysts and the regional leadership see the formation and strengthening of ISIS-k with an eye of doubt and suspicion. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused US Forces in Afghanistan of supporting ISIS-K and even transporting them in marking hidden helicopters. Afghan Taliban have also blamed US-Afghan Forces nexus for supporting and protecting ISIS-K fighters from Taliban attacks. Afghan Taliban have even circulated photographs of Afghan Soldiers with ISIS background on social media. Analysts blame US for exploiting ISIS-K threat as an excuse to stay in the region.
Pakistan is being pushed for doing more at a time when its military has already conducted operations across FATA region and purged the areas of the militants. Previously, Pakistan was time and again asked to clear North Waziristan.
Until clearance by Pakistan Army, the agency was presented as biggest sanctuary of Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban. However, successful operation by Pakistan Army silenced the ever critical mouths. But this silencing was just for some time. Trump’s new policy has once again opened this Pandora’s Box. Trump administration has once again put the blame of US failures in Afghanistan on Pakistan alleging to support Afghan Taliban through sanctuaries.
Reasons for US failures in her longest war in the history are hidden elsewhere. US is being blamed for failing to understand Afghan culture. In recent past US Forces dropped blasphemous pamphlets in Afghanistan desecrating Kalama-e-Tayyaba as a classic example of US failure to understand Afghan sentiment. Similarly, US policies are known to be oblivious of the ground realities. Official forces are suffering daily defeats and are likely to wipe out if foreign support is denied to them. Present regime of NUG has serious unity problems and is divided on ethnic and regional lines. Rampant corruption in Government, increased causalities among forces, mounting civilian causalities and threats of ISIS have continuously kept Afghan situation in uncertainty.
Voices from inside Afghanistan have also expressed concerns on Trump’s Afghan policy. Former President Hamid Karzai has expressed concerns over new US policy and is worried for the security and peace in his homeland. In his recent interview to Russian TV in London he blamed US to be behind IS threat. He stressed the need for a negotiated settlement for peace by including the Taliban, US, Pakistan, Russia, China and even India. He feared greater Afghan causalities if heavy bombing and fighting erupt.