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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Fishermen of Muddy Waters by Rita Anwari

That is Pakistan.

After the defeat of US in Vietnam, the Americans were looking for an opportunity to ground the Soviet Union somewhere in the world and to restore their own prestige by that.

At that time, the influence of Soviet Union had been limited on the borders of Eastern and Western Europe and made it impossible for both sides to initiate any military influence, yet the Cold War still existed on both side borders as well.

In Cuba, there was no potential to contain Moscow. The United States did not have a strong enough front except a political agreement with the Soviet Union.

The only place in the world that could engage the Soviet Union in a war of attrition was Afghanistan. There is also an evidence which has proved that the United States had mysteriously encouraged the Soviet Union to enter Afghanistan, and that the Soviet Union won’t confront any deterrent army against them while entering to Afghanistan.

From here on, Pakistan comes to join this big game. On one hand, it must play its role well for the United States and the West, and on the other hand, it must also serve its own regional interests. On one side, it must had to settle accounts with the Afghan government over the slogan of Pashtunistan, and on the other side with cooperation of the West, it tried to push India – which Pakistan considered it as its historical component- to the sideline as well.

Long ago, Pakistan had paid a heavy price for the Islamic movements, which was more powerful than a nuclear weapon for Pakistan. It was actually like another weapon that could be used against Kashmir and Afghanistan. A minor,  yet destructive game loop was being played inside the big game. The collapse of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was a major game which weakened Afghanistan. It led the army and all the infrastructures of Afghanistan to collapse as well. Pashtunistan movement slogans were fading out in the extremist wake of Islamism. Most of the Mojahedin leaders in Afghanistan became the obeyers of the Pakistani intelligence apparatus. The president, who chanted anti-Pakistan slogans at the Ariana intersection, was now desperately seeking refuge at the UN office in Kabul. The cities of Afghanistan altered into cemeteries, and comprehensive poverty and misery were rampant all over the land. There was no system left for Afghanistan, but Pakistan still did not accomplished what it really wanted.

It wished Afghanistan to be Pakistan’s fifth state. However it was an impossible order, but Pakistan supposed the thoughts of Western politicians to move in the same direction.

It claimed that world must recognize Pakistan’s strategic depth in Afghanistan and accept that no country in the world is capable of influencing the region as Pakistan does. It should have made Afghanistan the sixth finger in the world to spend billions of dollars but still serve Pakistan’s interests.

Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud could not provide such benefits due to their tribal and linguistic ties with Iran and Tajikistan. Ethnicity is a major issue in Afghanistan and the idea of ​​perpetuating the three hundred years of Pashtun domination could pave the way for the elimination of the Tajik and Hazara elites.

In this situation, it was claimed that another group should be formed, one to stay under the shadow of the big game and  work for the benefit of Pakistan. Three years had already passed since the Mujahideen came to power in Afghanistan, but they couldn’t shape their party interests in line with Pakistani policies, or they didn’t form a government that was even Pakistan-approved. The Soviet Union had collapsed in Afghanistan. At the same time, Central Asia had established new and small republics with abundant and valuable mine resources, which led  the world’s major oil companies struggling to achieve them.

Central Asian oil and gas needed the bustling South Asian market, and even large multinational companies’ effort was to gain market share. Yet at the same moment, Afghanistan was burning on the other side in the chaos amid Mojahedin and Islamic State. That is how Pakistan convinced the world that the presence of a strong theocratic government in Afghanistan was better than a democratic and inclusive national government, and that it  made them able to secure the gas and oil pipelines and power lines from Central Asia to South Asia.

In this case, the Taliban was a great option that could play well the role of reserving Pakistan’s interests in this great world political and economical game. The only problem was the impossibility of recognizing such a government as the official lead for Afghanistan. How was it possible for the  values ​​of the liberal world to officially recognize the dark government Taliban?

This move actually made Afghanistan more like a Pakistani backyard. Pakistan started claiming to the world that there is no need to officially recognize the Taliban. It told the world to just let a secure Afghanistan be formed under the shadow of the powerful government of Taliban and serve the great interests of the oil companies in the world, but let extremism be confined to the depths of Afghanistan and its towering mountains.

The Taliban directly supported Pakistan, and in a major global game the Taliban also had the indirect and unofficial support of US. But the game had not yet dried up for Pakistan, which faced the Taliban’s weakness in maintaining full power and proximity to al-Qaeda and its failure in underground mining projects. This defeat led to form a play that which spread beyond Afghanistan.

Throughout the dark history of oil exploration, the United States and the Western world have been concerned about their enormous oil interests in the Middle East. This concern arose after nearly a decade of war in Iran and Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s monopoly policies in OPEC against Western interests.

The United States was looking for an excuse to curb rogue powers in the Middle East. This excuse was provided by al-Qaeda’s attack on the Twin Towers. The whole world was divided into two axes of good and evil. Afghanistan and Iraq should and must be on the evil front. But Pakistan, as in the past, joined the good front very easily. Once again billions of dollars flowed into Afghanistan , and Pakistan was about to play with other cards this time. The United States wanted to experience nation-building in Afghanistan and inject democracy into it. So how could have Pakistan play with such new and dazzling cards?

Would it rather put economical interests ahead of political interests in Afghanistan or, as in the past, manage Afghanistan’s leadership in major world games?

This time a lot of money was poured on the political table. After the theocracy of Taliban, Pakistan must had to control Afghanistan’s immature democracy, support and challenge the elections, introduce the Taliban as a new threat on the battlefield. It had to challenge Afghanistan’s national debates in the light of ethnicity and religion and  challenge nation-building, democracy, human rights and women’s rights all from budget the world has poured in its account for cooperation. Pakistan was also responsible of going to war with the Afghans within their own help, turn Afghanistan into a destructive and fruitless war between the United States and the West, and discredit many of Afghanistan’s young political figures. To introduce Afghan Civil Activists as unsuccessful fundraisers and accuse politicians and the elite members of society corrupt. It also was about to introduce Afghan women and women rights activists as corrupt figures and prostitutes. And to finally let the world define its 20-year presence in Afghanistan as war and not an aid, while the idea of institutionalizing politics instead of war was the greatest achievement of the West’s presence in Afghanistan. Despite many challenges in the election, political leaders started to believe more in politics than in war and even the biggest electoral tensions ended in a political solution.

Women were enthusiastic in parliament as well.  The largest civil movements were formed despite inadequacies and immaturities. The Smile, Enlightenment and Resurrection movement are known the greatest achievement of democracy in Afghanistan. All of these movements were actually a response to the Taliban which still has the back of Pakistan…

Four months have passed since the fall of Kabul by the Taliban. The world abandoned Afghanistan this time and their presence in Afghanistan was described as erosive. This time, the Pakistani Foreign Minister is speaking on behalf of Afghanistan. Another Pakistani, named Malala Yousafzai, talks about Afghan women’s rights. The mayor of Punjab, in a meeting with a representative of a country, asks for help for Afghanistan.

The Ambassador of Pakistan receives and treats many Taliban leaders as his guest in the building of embassy. This time, Afghanistan has literally fallen! The Taliban are once again attacking new values, and Pakistan is openly lobbying them. Pakistan is once again ruling the fate of thirty-six million Afghans. Do the West and the United States want to tell the Afghans that you did not deserve the gifts we gave you and that our greatest gift for you is actually Pakistan?!

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