Trilateral meeting on Afghanistan!
The second round of Trilateral Summit of Pakistan,Afghanistanand theUKwas held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. President Asif Ali Zardari, President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed their commitment to work for the goals of regional peace, stability and development; and for the elimination of the scourge of terrorism.
President Zardari, while highlighting the importance of durable peace and stability inAfghanistan, underscored the need for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process inAfghanistan. People ofAfghanistanandPakistanare bound together by faith, cultural heritage and shared values; andIslamabadrightly views a strong and stableAfghanistannot only in the interest ofPakistan, but also in the interest of the region.
Unfortunately, the Pak-Afghan relations were marred by decades of mistrust in varying degrees under different shades of government, due to lack of vision and ineptness on both sides. However, continuous contact and dialogue between Pakistani and Afghani high officials has removed a lot of misunderstandings, and now both sides understand each other’s point of view, difficulties and compulsions more clearly.
As recently as onAugust 13, 2012, President Karzai confessed: “The US-led war against terrorism had not been fought the way it should have been, and has brought only misfortune and grief toAfghanistan.” It appears that he has realised the flaws in the policy pursued by theUSand its allies, but he continues to live under the hallucination that roots of terrorism lie outside and not inside his country.
In fact, the US had relied on air power bragging about ‘shock and awe’, and did not put enough boots on ground when it launched an attack on Afghanistan, with the result that some al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders crossed over into Pakistan and Iran. Thus,Pakistanhad to fight against them; arrested scores of al-Qaeda leaders and killed many operatives. But in the process, it has lost more than 5,000 security personnel and about 35,000 civilians.
President Karzai had sat listlessly, as the occupiers packed up the new power structure with members of theNorthern Alliance, grouping up the Afghan minorities of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. Being a Pashtun, he could well imagine the disastrous repercussions of sidelining his (Pashtun) community from power dispensation. The community of kings and kingmakers was surely not to take kindly to this raw deal dealt to it.
If he dispassionately examines the situation, he would surely know that what is now blightingAfghanistanso horrendously is not the Taliban insurgency, but in reality a rising Pashtun nationalism. That is taking in its sweep not only the country’s east or south, but also the north and west. He should have put his foot down and told the occupiers that no fiefdoms would be tolerated and that it isKabul’s writ that would run across the country. But he did not!
The warlords now entrenched in the country’s northern and western parts zealously guard their principalities. This, of course, was done with the tacit, if not explicit, acquiescence of the occupiers, who strengthened their favourites amongst the warlords by providing weapons and money.
All said and done, it is due to his own weaknesses that President Karzai today finds himself in a soup andAfghanistanin a pickle. He should have spoken up when he did not, and he should have demanded what he did not.
The time has come that he should stop makingPakistana punching bag of his own infirmities and lackadaisicalness. Over the past nearly four decades,Pakistanhas suffered colossal loss because ofAfghanistan. It is a fact thatPakistanbruised its back sorely during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet invaders. Who could know better than the Afghan President? He was then handling the PR job of a mujahideen faction based inPeshawar; whereasPakistanhad become a frontline state.
President Karzai must come to terms with the ground realities obtaining inAfghanistanand admit that both he and the occupiers have let down his country badly.