Imran Jan |
The end of the Afghan war may look no different than its start. Chaos, killings, devastation and so forth. Victor Hugo told us that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Let us try and remember the stances of Rawalpindi and Washington in the days and weeks after 9/11.
General Mahmud Ahmad, the then director general of the ISI, met ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, Defence Intelligence Agency representative Dave Smith, and a visiting Pentagon team at the US Embassy in Islamabad. They all gathered in the conference room in the chancery basement, which had shelves filled with books about Pakistan.
Now, peace talks, as opposed to fighting, have been wrapped in Stars and Stripes and everyone is expected to internalize it. Now, the Washington-imposed anti-terror and pro-peace credentials require being pro-talks (with Taliban).
General Mahmud tried to calm down the Americans who were seething with anger and hell-bent on revenge. He reminded them of Sun Tzu’s aphorism that the supreme art of war involved winning without firing a shot. The General said, “You need the help of the Afghan people while the US forces are assembling. I beg you… I implore you not to fire a shot in anger. It will set us all back many years. Don’t let the blood rush to your head.”
The Americans in the room listened while the General made the case for achieving the end without going to war. But he also added, “Whatever decision you take, Pakistan will stand by you.” That elicited a response from Chamberlin who finally said, “The most important sentence you spoke was the last one. The time for negotiating is over.” Talks and negotiations were curse words back then just like communism was a profanity before it. Invasion, blood, bombing, and revenge were the favorite words of the civilized world.
Not long ago, advocating negotiation with the Taliban was considered a pro-terrorist mentality. That stance earned Prime Minister Imran Khan titles such as ‘Taliban Khan’ and ‘Taliban sympathizer’. Is Trump now a Taliban sympathizer? A Washington Post editorial on July 26, 2018, described Imran Khan as someone who had “antipathy toward the United States and its war on terrorism; he has endorsed the Taliban cause in Afghanistan”. The US media does a good job at acting as the government’s mouthpiece. People become loathsome characters when they don’t buy into Washington’s narrative. Not sharing Washington’s mindset is a crime by default.
If Victor Hugo were living today, he would have said that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come in Washington. Or am I too late to grasp the new reality, which is that in order to be acceptable and scholarly, I have to advocate America negotiating with the terrorists of the erstwhile? When Bush declared a global war on terror in front of the US Congress, he said, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Had Bush been making that speech today, he would be saying, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us and the Taliban, or you are with the enemy.”
General Mehmud must have had an I-told-you-so moment. Needless to say, Washington is not in the mood for retrospection. Now, peace talks, as opposed to fighting, have been wrapped in Stars and Stripes and everyone is expected to internalize it. Now, the Washington-imposed anti-terror and pro-peace credentials require being pro-talks (with Taliban).
It wouldn’t surprise me to read in The New York Times at some point in future something like this: “The moderate fighters of the Free Afghanistan Army (Taliban) are struggling to hold ground against the terrorists (IS) in the absence of substantial US financial and weapons support. Pakistan has refused to allow their land to be used for supplying guns to the moderate Taliban fighters, raising a question mark on their anti-terror credentials. Washington has to ask itself a hard question — Is Pakistan really an ally?”
Imran Jan is a political analyst, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The article originally appeared at The Express Tribune and has been republished with author’s permission. The Views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.