United States cannot blame Pakistan for failure in Afghanistan – The Diplomat


As the Taliban inflict a humiliating defeat on the United States after 20 years of nation-building efforts, with the rapid collapse of the Afghan government, some are desperate for a scapegoat. Since the announcement of the withdrawal of American forces, a vicious propaganda campaign has been launched against Pakistan, as the leaders of the United States, Britain, Canada and Europe are unable to explain the loss of precious lives and billions of dollars over the past two decades. to their audience. Now that it is clear that these countries have accomplished nothing in Afghanistan, who will they blame? This is where Pakistan comes in.

The argument is simple: the Taliban have beaten the United States and Pakistan supports the Taliban. In this story, Pakistan is the juggernaut that helped the Taliban defeat Afghanistan. The narrative intentionally ignores the role of other neighboring countries, such as Iran, which supported the Taliban in Helmand to control the Helmand River, which provides water to a million people in Iran. Instead, the Taliban are described as a creation of Pakistan, which Pakistan continues to fund with the roughly $ 30 billion it has received from the United States since 2001. Ironically, the $ 1 trillion spent by the United States in Afghanistan during the same period failed to reverse the effect of the $ 30 billion given to Pakistan.

This fairy tale propagated in the Western media aims to mask the real causes that fueled the resistance movement, which point to what was previously called the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. ISAF was commonly referred to as “I Saw Americans Fighting” by American forces, because the other countries of the Western Alliance never believed in the American project and never engaged in combat. The British tried for a short time but quickly backed down, handing all responsibility for the response back to the United States, as their withdrawal from Sangin in 2010. symbolized as these foreign soldiers dreamed of returning home thousands of miles away far away, for the Taliban – a local and indigenous insurgency – Afghanistan is their home. This lack of engagement in combat, further compounded by the “green-on-blue attacks” by Afghan forces, has resulted in non-US ISAF forces spending most of their time inside their bases. . This is one of the many reasons the West was never going to win.

Another factor that contributed to the defeat was the United States’ local Afghan partners, according to the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR), an office established by the United States Congress to monitor spending. Americans in Afghanistan. SIGAR’s annual reports often contained scathing criticism of the Afghan government. He said the corruption of US Afghan partners was key to undermining US strategic goals. Washington had allied itself with criminal warlords who committed heinous crimes against the local population, but they were allowed to behave with impunity simply because they were America’s partners.

A classic example was Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On the CIA payroll, he was the epitome of corruption and criminality, as he ravaged the local population. Warlords like Wali Karzai allowed the Taliban to take control of the rural districts, which are home to the majority of the Afghan population. Local population saw the Taliban as a better alternative to the rulers imposed on them by the United States. Even before the announcement of the US withdrawal, the Taliban controlled much of Afghanistan, running their own shadow government. According to US estimates, in 2018 the Afghan government controlled only 54% of Afghan districts.

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When it comes to funding the Taliban, the West continues to focus on the $ 30 billion given to Pakistan over 20 years, ignoring the $ 144 billion spent on rebuilding Afghanistan, some of which has instead benefited governments. Taliban because of corruption in the Afghan government. In addition, the Taliban collected tax revenues in areas they controlled and financed their resistance through drug trafficking. Due to the localized nature of the Taliban, they were adept at developing and maintaining their own sources of funds, without the need for significant outside assistance. Despite the availability of this information, the focus seems to be on financing Pakistan.

However, the single most important factor behind the Taliban’s success was the occupation itself – the presence of people on Afghan land who did not belong. This fact alone made ordinary Afghans join the Taliban. The occupying forces brutalized the Afghans in nocturnal raids, despised them and regarded them as belonging to an inferior culture. For the imperialist, the occupation is their gift to the “uncivilized”. Such men can never understand the unworthiness of the occupation or the real cause of their failure: their very existence as armed invaders in a foreign land, where they have never been welcomed. The United States gave itself an impossible mission in Afghanistan and when that failed, they looked for every excuse, when they only had to look in the mirror. It took two decades for Americans to realize they were the fuel for the fire, and the only solution was to back down.

Unfortunately, Pakistan cannot withdraw as it shares a border of over 2,600 kilometers with Afghanistan. He doesn’t have the luxury of packing up and leaving like the Soviet Union or the United States. Instead, Islamabad must strive for the best possible outcome for itself, given the actions of the foreign invaders who have devastated Afghanistan. Indeed, over the past five decades, Pakistan has reacted only to the realities created by the world superpowers, first with the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and then later by the United States. United. He had little choice in either case, for his politics were dictated by existential concerns.

If the Soviet occupation of landlocked Afghanistan had been successful, Pakistan would have come next, providing the Soviets with access to warm waters. Pakistan had no choice but to support the Mojahedin resistance. Likewise, when the United States invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan lent assistance, leading to an early victory. But then the United States opened Afghanistan to India – Pakistan’s deadly enemy – before signing a nuclear deal with India, signaling it as the United States’ new strategic partner in the region. Pakistan now faces the threat of strategic encirclement. Once again, the choice of Pakistan had been made for him, by another superpower.

In response, Pakistan has increased its cooperation with China and has never looked back. The United States must have understood that Pakistan is not going to act against its own interests, creating an existential threat by empowering India in Afghanistan, at the behest of a superpower that abandoned Pakistan after the Soviet withdrawal in the United States. 1990s. Ironically, the consequence of the abandonment of Afghanistan by the United States in the early 1990s paved the way for the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

Contrary to popular opinion, Pakistan did not create the Taliban, only deciding to support the group after they seemed likely to succeed against the Mujahedin. The Taliban put an end to the brutal civil war of the 1990s. Their only demand in Pakistan at the time was not to support the Mujahedin against the Taliban and not to disrupt their supply lines. Pakistan accepted the request, asking the Taliban to ensure that India is not allowed to use Afghanistan as a base to attack Pakistan under Taliban rule.

This was exactly the request made by Pakistan to the United States after the invasion of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, after the initial success in Afghanistan and Iraq, as the United States began to focus on China, it decided to ally with India to counter China and their relationship with Pakistan was damaged. the victims. Washington continued to ask Pakistan to “do more” while rewarding India, and thus lost Pakistan as an ally in Afghanistan. The United States has made its most important ally in Afghanistan a rival, albeit implicitly. Just as President George W. Bush lost Iran’s support for Afghanistan by calling them the “axis of evil,” so the United States lost Pakistan by failing to maintain balance in the country. their relations between India and Pakistan.

Despite the above, a $ 20 trillion economy continues to blame a $ 300 billion economy for its own failures. It might help American politicians to generate support for the policies against Pakistan, but it will not change the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan was a factor, but by no means the most important, in the early Taliban takeover. The main reason for resistance had always been foreign occupation, and even without Pakistani support, the Taliban would have survived and prospered. However, a true alliance with Pakistan would have allowed the United States to withdraw sooner, at a lower cost in terms of lives and money, and with a significantly better post-war arrangement in Afghanistan.

In conclusion, it is time for the United States to realize that it cannot force Pakistan to act against its own interests or hold it accountable for its own failures. And if it continues down this path, its relationship with Pakistan could only worsen, as the United States focuses its attention on its Chinese competitor, having eliminated the distractions of Iraq and Afghanistan that have allowed China two decades of unhindered growth. As China’s closest ally, Pakistan will continue to challenge the United States for decades to come.

However, if Washington is to change the math, then it must start by ending the propaganda campaign against Pakistan and accepting the consequences of its policies, which forced Pakistan to recalibrate its position on Afghanistan and pushed it. in the arms of China. Continuing to slander Pakistan has not worked for the past two decades. Expecting that to change would be the definition of insanity.

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