The Superpower Slayer and the Afghan War

the United States blame Pakistan for its failures in the Afghan War

They say Soviet Union lost the Afghan war because of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Now they say the combined fire power of the United States and NATO, the greatest war machine mankind has ever seen, have failed in their Afghan war because of Pakistan. Pakistan is such a mighty country, it has single-handedly thwarted two superpowers within a matter of thirty years. It is portrayed as the reason of downfall of the mightiest empires in history. Pakistan; the Superpower Slayer. The absurdity and lie in such a claim cannot be more obvious. Donald Trump and his generals have definitely gone retard.

India has always been Pakistan’s enemy number one. Pakistan’s security; its defence and foreign policies, as well as its political economy is dependent on India’s position towards the country. General Muhammad Zia ul Haq, Pakistan’s 6th President and 4th martial law administrator, used the term “strategic depth” describing Afghanistan’s importance for Pakistan. But the usage of the term was not about countering Indian influence in Central Asia back then, as his country’s policies have been security driven and India centric from the onset. Afghanistan was considered a necessary buffer zone between Pakistan and the expansionist drive of the Soviet Union; hence, the coinage of the term.

It was in October 2011 when I first met Frank Huzur; Imran Khan’s Indian biographer. I was politically active back then, and have been a supporter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Imran Khan’s political party) since its early days. Frank was in Pakistan promoting his recently finished book on Imran Khan titled Imran Vs Imran: The Untold Story. Although we virtually knew each other for some time it was only then we met for the first time. It was almost a day long meeting, and we discussed wide ranging issues over multiple cups of coffee and packs of cigarette. Among the many things we discussed, including Imran Khan’s political future and Indo-Pak relations, Afghanistan and the War on Terror loomed large over our discussion.

I told him that there are people who believe Afghanistan is a graveyard of empires for a divine reason. One wonders why Afghanistan remains of such a strategic value for major powers. The country is mostly a barren wasteland. But still no one has been able to conquer and retain Afghanistan since the days of Alexander the Great. And its not just a conspiracy theory, it is a matter of faith for many people. And these are not just Muslims, these people include Jews and Christians as well, although their interests and beliefs are not identical. There are many Jews and Christians who believe that Afghanistan is home to the Lost Tribes of Israel and God’s battle axe.

The lost tribes play a central role in the wars of the end in both Jewish and Christian eschatology. And there is a huge pile of historical, cultural and now scientific evidence documenting that the Pashtuns in Afghanistan, which make about half the population, have descended from the lost tribes. For Muslims interested in eschatology, Afghanistan is central to the prophecies related to Bilad-e-Khurasan; where the end time Muslim armies led by “Mehdi” are believed to initiate. On more specifics, there is one particular narration attributed to Ali, the fourth Caliph of Islam, who referred to Taloqan as the area where this ‘prophesied army’ will originate. Taloqan is a city in northern Afghanistan and was the last city to fall to the Afghan Taliban in January 2001.

Frank was obviously astounded, he didn’t know such things. I wouldn’t have either if George W. Bush and Tony Blair hadn’t believed that they were bombing Afghanistan and Iraq because Jesus told them to. It was years of study driven by such statements by two Western “protagonists” that led me to eschatological views of Jews, Christians and Muslims. It was the understanding of this dispensationalist, neocon, belief which added this perspective to my views on War on Terror that it is no mere conspiracy theory. It was only then when it dawned upon me why “Jihad” by the same Mullahs was nice and dandy for Washington D.C back in the 1980s, and why it became terrorism now. It was only then I understood that what American policy makers called “Global Terror Network” was once called the “Deobandi Wahhabi Alliance” and celebrated as heroes.

The "black flag of jihad" as used by...
The “black flag of jihad” as used by various Islamic terrorist organizations (since the late 1990s) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What essentially changed was that the utopian idea that religious war they initiated against the Soviet Bear would not come home full circle had a rude awakening. It was their misplaced notion that they will be able to reign in chaos once their purpose was served. Or did they want it to come home, so they could launch their “full spectrum dominance”? Afghanistan was purposefully abandoned following the Soviet withdrawal. It was Pakistan that faced the brunt of that policy all through the years. A third world, weak, and impoverished country was expected to pay for big brothers’ game. Pakistan chose to stand with the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s because it was pragmatic in all that mess left behind thanks to American policies. And Afghan Taliban did bring back order, many times ruthlessly, in a country that was ravaged by war and warlords alike. And it also brought a certain measure of security and safety on our borders.

General Muhammad Zia ul Haq, with all his faults and crimes, was not wrong on that account. Afghanistan was indeed strategic depth for Pakistan, for the country cannot rest if it’s both borders are threatened as Pakistanis have now very well understood thanks to Indian patronization of both Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch rebels.

Americans all along have wanted Pakistan to stop differentiating between the “good Taliban” and the “bad Taliban”. However, irrespective of their popular rhetoric, there remains one major difference that cannot be overlooked. One type of Taliban are hunted by the Americans, and the other are given a free hand and safe passage at the least. One only hunts the American and allied forces in Afghanistan, the other attacks Pakistan’s people and security forces. One is an indigenous motivated insurgency against a foreign occupation and its cronies, the other a sabotage movement handled by New Delhi. For one the US keeps asking Pakistan to fight, while it declines to do the same with the other. The differences are unmistakable.

There are no simple solutions to the Afghan problem, and to present it as such is a deception. And to attempt to present problems of such monstrous nature abstracted from their cultural, religious, political and historical roots is propaganda and a folly.

The War on Terror was a game of long term interest; pure greed, ruthless ambition and mindless religious fanaticism. The Canada based Pakistani author, Abid Ullah Jan, impeccably documented in his book how the War on Terror was the final crusade. The War on Terror was based on lies and deception. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and there were no WMDs as we later found out. And they still remain unable to prove any link of Afghan Taliban with the 9/11 attacks, and there is a very reasonable ground to doubt any connection of Afghanistan with 9/11 in any way whatsoever. General Hameed Gul, Pakistan’s former spymaster who understood these games very well, often claimed that Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal were actual targets of the United States. He was one of the very few prominent Pakistanis who doubted the official 9/11 narrative.

Americans lied about Iraq and there is no reason to believe that they told the truth about Afghanistan or 9/11 for that matter. In April 2002, the then FBI director Robert Mueller accepted that several hijacker identities were in doubt due to identity thefts. He did not just stop there but went ahead making a shocking public pronouncement, which was quickly hushed up and never repeated in the mainstream media:

“In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper – either here or in the treasure trove of information we have uncovered in Afghanistan and elsewhere – that mentioned any aspect of the September 11 plot.” – Sydney Morning Herald, May 1, 2002

So, whatever we have been led to believe about 9/11, Afghanistan, Afghan Taliban, Pakistan, Iraq and the infamous “axis of evil” was a farce; demagoguery lies repeated again and again till they were believed as absolute truth. It was as convenient and deceptive as passports lying around safe and unscathed after several “terrorist” attacks in the US or Europe.

America has no “personal problem” with “mad Mullahs with bombs”, after all, they created them in the first place. They have no reason to hunt Muslims as they have never posed any direct threat to the United States, even if they harboured a deep dislike for American support of Israel’s cruelty. The US is solely and directly responsible for triggering regime change in the wider Middle East and create the vacuum that gave birth to the ISIS. And in the process of this, they had hoped to help Israel achieve the Yinon Plan for the region. There are only three countries they have been so far unable to bend as per the document – Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. As soon as they crumble, full-scale madness will be unleashed.

The objective of this entire decades long game was simple: Full Spectrum Dominance, creating multiple and simultaneous potholes for regional powers and proxies to remain engaged in an endless power feud keeping the United States as sole global hegemonic power. From the Philippines to Venezuela, the United States has unleashed endless social strife, political disruption, regime change, civil wars and outright ruthless occupation destabilising entire regions and threatening global security. The only true state sponsors of terrorism are the United States and its global partners. They are the actual threat to humanity and global coexistence.

Someone once said to me that the best proof of the truth behind a conspiracy theory is future events playing out exactly as the theory suggests they would. Yinon Plan, Blood borders, Bernard Lewis Plan, or Greater Israel, call it by whatever name you prefer, the events in the Middle East and elsewhere have not deviated from the original plan except few minor hiccups such as Turkey and Pakistan. But, the ink is not dry yet on world events, history is still being written.

In early 2008, a year before he died, I met the Lahore based popular Islamic scholar, Dr Israr Ahmed, while I was writing a research paper on prophecies related to Khurasan,  and discussed the many tentacles of this geopolitical madness. I found out that the late scholar was not just an expert on theology and eschatology but the breadth of his knowledge on Dr Muhammad Iqbal’s poetry and philosophy, history and geopolitics was very impressive. He speculated back then how the wheels set in motion by the global super power will determine the future of world events. He believed that the entire South Asia and Middle East regions will be balkanised with converging proxy and civil wars. He also believed that once the convergence will come full circle, it will coincide with power feud within the Royal House of Al Saud. And thereafter, it will only be a matter of time when regional civil wars will come home for Saudis, fuelled by disputes on matters of royal ascension. And when it comes home for Saudis, Pakistan and Turkey will be preoccupied with their own problems to lend any help, as both countries have so often promised.

the Afghan War needs to be seen in the larger regional context or the blood borders as US Armed Forces Journal called it
Blood Borders (US Armed Forces Journal, 2006)

There are already reports of growing uneasiness in rank and file of Saudi princes who number over three thousand. The war on their southern neighbour is consuming their economy on the other hand. The Saudis are growing increasingly paranoid as they relentlessly pursue “free Saudi Arabia from non-Saudis” policy. Their standing in the wider region and their financial might are both crumbling. Their recent standoff with the royals of Qatar and Turkish support to Doha will have long-lasting effects on the region.

The Afghan problem for the United States is not a regional and exclusive one. It has to be seen in the larger context of the global War on Terror and the great game played out through out South and Central Asia as well as the Middle East.

Not even the United States has done and achieved in the War on Terror what Pakistan has. Pakistan gave up on its own security preferences and ditched the Taliban exactly as the United States wanted immediately after 9/11. The country helped them launch the attack on Afghanistan and maintain supplies. It was fighting the Taliban at least as early as January 2002, as confessed in books written by former generals including General Shahid Aziz Khan who was Chief of General Staff back in 2001. It has rounded up Taliban and their sympathisers since then, including going beyond all reasonability in handing over the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdus Salam Zaeef, to the United States completely discarding diplomatic niceties. It has launched successive military operations one after another within its own territory since the first military operation in Waziristan in 2004 costing Pakistan loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars. In return what Pakistan has received, what Donald Trump called “billions and billions”, was even less than “peanuts”. On the contrary, the United States wants Pakistan to keep doing more while it turns a blind eye to documented Indian interference in Pakistani tribal belt, Baluchistan and KPK.

Conspiracy theory or no, time has come for Pakistan to say enough is enough. There will be more wars to come as America keeps stoking religious fanaticism, Islamophobia, white supremacism, and general demagoguery as policy tools in their mindless pursuit of their global ambitions. Donald Trump may be forced to malign Pakistan and escalate Afghan war to look pretty in the wake of Charlottesville. He is also surrounded by generals. But, Pakistan needs to stand its ground, and say no to bullying on baseless accusations while America pursues a demented policy.

Although Hussain Haqqani cited my research paper on “Bilad-e-Khurasan” in his infamous essay about prophecy and Jihad in sub-continent published by the Hudson Institute,  I neither believe that the elites have any real religiosity spare a rare few nor that their policies are driven by eschatology unlike what Hussain Haqqani claimed. And we all know the connection between Hussain Haqqani and the Trump’s policy for Pakistan. That being said, religion is a deeply motivational force and it often drags those who do not really understand it to horrific and extreme acts of human brutality. Religion becomes a dangerous tool in the hands of demagogues.

The great game the global powers are playing while stoking religious fanaticism is driven by deeply material and temporal greed. And Pakistan should not allow foreign powers to use this lethal device to blackmail the country and its people. America continues to label and use Mullahs in any way it suits them, they were heroes once, they are terrorists now. It continues to bomb one brand of Mullahs in one place, and shamelessly props up others when they need a more violent regime change tool such as in Syria.

Time has come that Pakistani leaders pursue policies only according to the country’s interests. It is also imperative that Pakistan develops meaningful economic and defence cooperation with Russia, and not just China, and other regional players especially Iran and other Central Asian countries. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation are two good places to start. This will provide Pakistan with a much-needed strategic envelopment of Afghanistan beyond the construct of strategic depth. The country needs cushions should America comes hard on it or should the wider region further destabilises.

If the United States is genuinely interested in global peace, the only solution to Afghan problem begins with American withdrawal from the region. The solution needs to come from within Afghanistan and not imposed for America’s imperialist interests. But, that is not what the United States is known for, they want a face-saving exit and they want to be repaid for the deaths of US soldiers and expenses over a trillion dollars in the longest war in their history. More wars will come if the US stayed on its current course, and as history has taught more than once, Americans are not invincible after all as General Dwight D. Eisenhower correctly said:

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – its the size of the fight in the dog.”

Feature photo credit: United States Marine Corps Official Page After the Dust Settles via photopin (license)

Author: Bilal Khan

I am a Lahore, Pakistan, based researcher in the fields of Political Science, Public Policy, and Public Administration.