Clearing misunderstandings for peace in Afghanistan
Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat
Recently, Pentagon released the summary of an inquiry into the death of a US serviceman, Army Major Larry Bauguess, who was shot dead in an ugly incident at the Pak Afghan border on May 9, 2007.
At that time, officials in the US military had claimed that the killing of the US major was part of a plot allegedly hatched by the Pakistan Army. This, according to them, was done to avenge the death of Pakistan Army personnel who were killed in friendly fire by the US forces.
Reports about the incident said that a trilateral meeting was taking place at Teri Mangal, attended by Pakistani, Afghan and US officials. After the meeting, when the US major was boarding a helicopter to leave, a man in militia uniform opened fire on him. The US troops returned the fire, killing not only the gunman but also six innocent bystanders.
Now the inquiry has found that the US serviceman was killed by a lone attacker, who had no connection to the Pakistan Army or the country’s intelligence agencies. The summary of the report said: “This appears to have been a premeditated event on part of the initial shooter. There is little evidence to support collaboration with the Pakistani militia or military”.
The summary of the inquiry has been welcomed by all elements who want to see better relations between the US and Pakistan and those who are working in this direction. Thus, the importance of the Pentagon’s report in removing Pak-US misunderstandings cannot be overlooked as it presents stubborn facts.
There has been a plethora of charges that have been levelled against the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agencies, which is not surprising given the volatile geopolitical situation in the region and conflicting interests of several countries.
One allegation is that Pakistan Army had sheltered bin Laden in Abbottabad. Considering the consequences of such a move, it is unfathomable why Pakistan would ever do so.
Again, it has been repeatedly claimed that Pakistan Army is supporting the Taliban factions in their fight against the foreign forces in Afghanistan.
No concrete evidence has ever been presented in this regard while statements of disgruntled elements within the Afghan armed forces and Taliban cannot be relied upon.
The charge of sheltering the Quetta Shura also remains unproven. Where is it located? Most experts say in this era of GPS, satellites and sophisticated listening devices, any spot on the face of earth cannot remain hidden for long.
The charges of helping the Haqqani group to attack the US embassy in Kabul have been retracted. It has also been proven that the ISI was not involved in the Mumbai attacks.
Meanwhile, a retired Indian general has praised the Pakistan Army after it quickly returned the intruding Indian helicopter, saying that Pakistan Army was a highly professional institution that conducted the helicopter episode in a responsible manner.
At the root of many allegations is the absence of a clear understanding of regional situation and players. The recent volley of charges against the Pakistan armed forces and intelligence agencies has certainly not been helpful in creating a better understanding between Pakistan and the US. But the Pentagon report will be helpful in removing the distrust.
Both countries should work together to bring peace in the region and that could be done quietly, avoiding the historically negative influence of some neighbouring countries.