How to win the minds of Afghans?


By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Pakistan’s thirty years Afghan policy bore fruit and last days we saw an anti-Pakistan rally in Kabul and now a strategic pact between India and Afghanistan. Afghans protested against Pakistan’s interference in Afghanistan internal matters. But here in Pakistan our leaders are reminding Afghans to unite against the ‘common enemy’ while Jihadi champions are guiding the people that Taliban are the legitimate and popular force in Afghanistan. I think they have forgotten when Afghans shaved off their beards and displayed posters of Indian movies in video shops after Taliban retreat from Afghanistan.

Still it is not clear who is this common enemy. At present Pakistan’s relations with the US are at crossroads so that common enemy may seem in disguise of US to Pakistanis. But it is a fact – that Pakistanis often ignore – that Afghans as a nation are happy with American presence in their homeland because US gave them freedom from the nightmare of Taliban. Now if Pakistan was pointing towards Taliban as common enemy of Afghanistan and Pakistan so it must be kept in mind that it is Pakistan which is blamed to support Afghani Taliban – the supposed threat to Afghan government and nation. The way we claim that Pakistani Taliban are a small fraction of our society and they do not represent the majority similarly Afghani Taliban are also a small fraction of Afghani society. It is illogical to support them in the hope that they will gain the control of Kabul after US departure and will start lobbying for Pakistan.

Pakistan has forgotten the fact that when we were supporting Taliban during the peak of their regime, we also sacrificed our relations with Iran, India, and Russia. Even China had reservations about militancy in its some provinces. Today again suppose if US leaves from Afghanistan, is it a wise decision to come close to Taliban because today we wish to have friendly relations with Iran, India and Russia. General retired Hamid Gul claims that India has no right of investment in Afghanistan because it does not have common border with Afghanistan. Now can India use the same logic regarding American military support to Pakistan because US has no common border with Pakistan? Can we use the same logic by requesting our Arab brethren to expel Indian workers from their land because India has no common border with Arab countries? General Hamid Gul is a retired general but he is not getting tired to deceive common Pakistanis. When someone argue with these Jihadi champions about the negative aspects of Talibanization in Afghanistan so their argument is that you have never been to Afghanistan that’s why you can’t analyze the real situation of Afghanistan. Now the question is that these Jihadis champions had never been to Pentagon and CIA headquarters so how can they claim that they know the real policies of USA. Lastly if Taliban and Talibanization are so good then why should not we hand over our tribal areas to them for a specific time so that they can impose their self-styled Islam there?  If their way of government is successful then we must adopt their policy at Islamabad level. It will be another example of ‘One country two systems’.

The world is changed and cold war is over. Indian, Russian, Chinese and American investments are welcomed in Afghanistan but in contrast still we have not fulfilled our agreement of bilateral trade with Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a war torn country and it needs investment. Engaging Afghanistan in power sharing crises will isolate us in our struggle in creating space for Pakistan in Kabul. China came forward to show its support for Pakistan against US interference but I am sure China, Iran and Russia will never support Pakistan for promoting the cause of Talibanization in Afghanistan. It is matter of common sense that in the past Taliban were not able to establish friendly relations with China, Russia, India and Iran, so why these powers will support Pakistan’s point of view of presenting Taliban as freedom fighters and the ultimate power of Afghanistan. Taliban believe in arm struggle to impose their point of view. Is it acceptable to Afghanis, Iranians, Chinese, Russians, Americans and Indians because all these powers wish to invest in mineral rich Afghanistan?

The dilemma is that we want to use radicalism to gain control of Kabul and to defeat USA in Afghanistan. We are blind. We are ignoring the fact that radicalism will compel the regional powers to keep distance with us. US was defeated in Vietnam not because of radicalism but because of liberalism. Where there is radicalism US gets strong footings in that region. Pakistan’s effort to gain control over Kabul by promoting Talabinzation will set common Afghans against us. Winning the confidence of common Afghans is the first step to implement our agenda of strategic depth in Afghanistan. India is using the same technique and so must Pakistan.

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