Afghanistan: Losing hearts, minds and the war


The events in Afghanistan over the passed few days clearly demonstrate that America and her allies are running out of options to extricate themselves from a hazardous quagmire that threatens to end their occupation in disgrace. The situation has rapidly deteriorated and the recent NATO airstrike which killed scores of innocent civilians not only epitomizes the callous attitude of the crusaders, but sets a new benchmark for measuring West’s sacred ideal of human rights when applied to the Muslims of Afghanistan–”let alone the Muslim world. The indiscriminate killing of civilians belittles the oft quoted mantra of winning hearts and minds; instead it has diminished West’s credibility, appalled the nations of the world and more significantly emboldened the Afghan resistance.

This new dose of realism, has stirred some western politician and military leaders to intensely question the war in Afghanistan. Commenting on Gordon Brown’s recent pledge to remain committed to Afghanistan, Lord Paddy Ashdown said, “Events are still moving against us in Afghanistan…This was the right war to fight but we have made catastrophic errors over the last five years and unless we can turn this thing round very quickly I think things will not get better, they are likely to get worse.” Across the Atlantic, the call for a new Afghan strategy by General McChrystal–”months after the Obama unveiled his much coveted Afpak strategy–” underscores the confusion and mayhem amongst US military planners. After 8 years of ‘preventative war’ and several strategies later, the mighty US military and its partner NATO is fatigued and nowhere near to overcoming a band of rag-tag fighters. Grandiose plans to use Afghanistan as a staging base to counter Russia, China and the resurgence of Islam seem to be wishful thinking at best.

Even the new strategy offers very little solace in the way of fresh battlefield thinking. Proposals such as dividing the Afghan resistance, tempting moderate Taleban into the political process, improving civilian infrastructure, increasing the Afghan army and boosting the number of US/NATO troops have been tried before and have only met failure. One only has to look at Iraq and realize that similar strategies pursued are fast unraveling–”making a mockery of claims that the violence has subsided and the resistance defeated. Last year the Rand National Research Institute conducted a study of the 90 insurgencies that had taken place since 1945 and discovered that on average it takes 14 years to defeat insurgents once they are operational. Unless, the US and her allies are willing to substantially augment existing troop numbers and prepare their populations for a protracted counterinsurgency war, the prospects for stabilizing Afghanistan look woefully bleak. In Europe the momentum is galvanizing towards ending European involvement in fighting America’s ‘preventative war’. Britain, France and Germany are pressing for an international conference to persuade the fickle Afghan government to take on more responsibility. Abdication of European responsibility will put further pressure on the already strained trans-Atlantic alliance.

The only military asset the West’s has in its arsenal to reverse its fortunes in Afghanistan is the Pakistani regime. In the past, America exploited the Pakistani army, the country’s rich resources and ingenuity of its people to help the Afghan Mujahiddeen defeat the Soviets. Later, the US collaborated with Pakistan’s elite and created the Taleban to promote stability in Afghanistan and act as a conduit for the transportation of oil and gas from Central Asia. Today, America is conniving with the Pakistani leadership to confront the Afghan resistance and destroy it, even if this leads to the dissolution of Pakistan’s territorial integrity. If it was not for Pakistan, America’s preponderance in the region would have terminated long ago.

It is precisely this point that anti-war campaigners in the West and those nations that are incensed by America’s unjust war on the poorest nation on earth should concentrate on. They should all lobby Pakistan to withdraw assistance to America and NATO. Any endeavor short of this trajectory is futile and will only prolong the war.

As for the Pakistani people they must realize that the present political and military leadership is stooped in cowardice and blinded by promises of illusionary riches to recognize Pakistan’s immense strength and the opportunity before them to deliver a painful blow to end America’s primacy. Instead, what is required during this Ramadan is for the people and the armed forces to take the reigns of power establish the Caliphate and expel the crusader forces from both countries. Those who doubt their ability to accomplish this feat should ponder on the poorly equipped Muslim army at Badr that overcome the mighty Quraish and ushered in a new age of Islamic rule.