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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Debunking myths about the Afghanistan debacle

Dr. Aalia Sohail Khan, a former Vice-Chancellor of Rawalpindi University in Pakistan talks about the myths that are surrounding the current situation of Afghanistan and explains the issues that need clarity, therefore, squashing the myths. She further talks about changing the international paradigm and the western media approach towards it.

15th August 2021 is a landmark in the history of Afghanistan. Afghan people have broken the chains of slavery, remarked Prime Minister Imran Khan. Twenty years of American occupation that had ravaged the towns as well as hearts of Afghan people ended in the humiliating exit of Americans. Taliban won the war. Their victory was anticipated but the astounding speed with which they stormed the capital of Afghanistan took the world by surprise. A range of different views and emotions were expressed from diverse corners across the world.

American and British veterans felt disappointed, disillusioned, betrayed, and frustrated. Young American soldiers, who had earlier on thrown away their medals awarded to them for war on terrorism as a gesture of protest against being duped into believing in the myth of a just war, that in reality was an act of terrorism against Iraq and Afghanistan, felt relieved. UNO and UNICEF have shown concerns over a looming economic and humanitarian disaster. As the Taliban celebrated independence, they announced an amnesty for all the people.

Read more: Women in Afghanistan banned from cricket, sports

The changing paradigm in the international arena

Nevertheless, fear and uncertainty gripped the country. Some panic-stricken people, especially the collaborators who had worked for the Americans and the English, madly tried to flee from the country. The Russians and Chinese made very calculated and subtle observations on the change of the game in the international arena. In this tug of power, American high command was numb and ashamed that despite having invested trillions and billions in building up the Afghan army, it melted like chocolate in one week.

Some Western journalists and media lamented NATO forces’ defeat as a tragedy. In the face of a furor of criticism of faulty planning, hasty decision, an abdication of moral responsibility, Joe Biden was adamant in justifying his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.

However, what is strange is that in this array of diverse and contradictory opinions and views, Indians expressed their fear that the Taliban will retaliate brutally like the Pakistan Army. They made a very bizarre and brazen analogy between the Taliban and the Pakistan army that had fought bravely in erstwhile East Pakistan in 1971. An important question is raised here.

Read more: BRICS summit discussions center-stage Afghanistan

What is the purpose of concocting this comparison?

Western media has stereotyped the Taliban as terrorists, as brutal warriors. This perception of savagery was fabricated to justify American military intervention in Afghanistan. A negative stereotype is an exaggerated, distorted mental image that is not based on facts.

It springs from bias, prejudice and is used to spread hatred, stigmatize, ostracize and dehumanize. Once a community is dehumanized, it becomes easier to justify and rationalize the use of violence against it. Members of this community can then be attacked, tortured, and killed with impunity. Mercy, kindness is suppressed, feelings of guilt are allayed and the beast lying dormant within every human being is unleashed to take over in the guise of a judge who condemns and punishes in the name of law signing the death warrant; or the guise of a priest is donned to slaughter to purge society.

“Many myths have been created around the severance of erstwhile East Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh but none as deadly and inaccurate as the allegation that Pakistan Army carried out atrocities against Bengalis in 1971, massacring 3 million Bengalis and raping 200,000 women”, writes Sultan M. Hali. Sarmila Bose in her book, Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War, terms this myth as “a gigantic rumour” and exposes the absurdity of this bogus claim.

Read more: Qatar discusses Afghanistan with Iran post-Taliban govt announcement

Dr. Junaid Ahmad, the renowned historian, writes in his book Creation of Bangladesh; Myths Exploded, “this myth has been repeated ad nauseam over the years by various Bangladeshi and Indian political personalities to undermine and shame Pakistan and its armed forces.” This myth was fabricated, reiterated, and given wide dissemination by the Indian propaganda machinery.

Exposing the made-up myths 

The Bangladesh government headed by Sheikh Mujib ur Rahman set up two inquiry commissions to probe into this falsehood. Chowdhary Abdul Mumin in his book Behind the Myth of Three Million reported that these Commissions failed to locate any evidence of these allegations. These lies were further exposed when even the international media and the Indian generals like Gen. Manekshaw and Gen. Aurora dismissed the figure as an exaggeration.

Despite the unveiling of this falsehood, the myth of the Pakistan Army’s so-called atrocities became the opening song of Indian statements on anything about Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the same myth is parroted on different occasions through different platforms and forums. The recent use of this myth by Indians to create an analogy between the Taliban and Pakistan army demonstrates the application of hammering strategy, that is, maneuvering to give credence to a lie using different tactics. The lie is repeated again and again to hide and minimize the truth.

Read more: The West owes Qatar a favor over Afghanistan

The objective behind India flogging this dead horse for decades is to hide its role in supporting American backed Afghan government, and maligning Pakistan, thereby alienating international support for Pakistan. Dehumanizing, aggression provoking myths impact negatively human attitude and behavior, therefore they must be exposed and condemned.

 Dr. Aalia Sohail Khan is a former Vice-Chancellor of  Rawalpindi University Pakistan. She has 33 years of experience in teaching English literature and language at the postgraduate level. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.