Monday, July 26, 2010

Towards Peace in Afghanistan

June 29, 2010
Towards Peace in Afghanistan
By Saeed Qureshi
The kind of skepticism expressed by both president Obama and CIA director Leon E. Panetta about the prospects for an Afghanistan peace deal pushed by Pakistan between the Afghan government and some Taliban militants is a natural outcome towards an unpredictable situation that remains fluid and subject to unforeseen changes. President Obama expressed his views after the Group of 20 meeting in Toronto while Mr. Panetta articulated his point of view on ABC’s “This Week.” Show.
The skepticism of both the president of United States and CIA director stems from their main concern that the “The fundamental purpose, of disrupting and dismantling Al Qaeda and their militant allies may not be hampered by inclusion of Taliban into a power sharing arrangement with the government in Afghanistan.”
If viewed and analyzed logically, the mission launched by Pakistan government is well- intentioned and can be carried out in three phases. The first phase is to make the Taliban agree on joining the government in Kabul. This step should not be difficult to achieve, because even the Taliban should be wanting to end the deadly war raging in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan’s territory for a decade now.
Pakistan with the support of friendly Taliban can even prevail upon Sirajuddin Haqqani faction, the so known supporters of Al-Qaida, to agree to join the peace efforts and to become part of the power sharing in Kabul. This phase might be more bumpy but with the will and consent of Karzai government and with the support and backing of Pakistan, the desired pacification can be brought about.
If these stages are achieved, this should be construed as a stupendous victory for America, because as a result of that rapprochement, the fighting can recede and one can look forward to the next step, which is to hunt down the Al-Qaida militants so that Afghanistan and Pakistan is cleared of their existence and calamitous operations. It would be naive to pre-suppose that Sirjuddin Haqqani group would not agree to the complete annihilation of the terrorist band that was primarily responsible for the deadly attacks within America and prompting the NATO and US troops to come all the way to Afghanistan in their pursuit.
If Taliban, ten years ago, had handed over the Al-Qaida leaders to the United States, the horrendous decade long war could have been avoided. I find it extremely difficult to agree with some Islamic revolutionary ideologues that al-Qaida was fighting for Islam. They could have fought for Islam through media, preaching, peaceful and non-violent means. With their stubborn insurgency Afghanistan and the whole region has bathed in blood and horrifying devastation.
America under no circumstances would budge from its mission of disbanding the Al-Qaida network and break their militancy for all time to come. After all al-Qaida does not represent the Islamic world in matters of Islamic ideology or the faith. There are countless diverse schools of faith in Islam and most of these may not look eye to eye with Al-Qaida’s perception or philosophy of Islam. If al-Qaida was so much in defense of Islam then why it fought in support of the Christian armies against the Soviets who were as heathen and anti Islam as the Christian world is. It means that their love, outlook, or perspective of Islam is not in harmony or in conformity with the other shades and genres of Islam.
If Sirajuddin Haqqani outfit lifts its hands off al-Qaida, then it should not be difficult for the United States to approve the formation of such a coalition administration in Afghanistan in which not only the warring factions including Haqqani faction could join, but which the Pakistan and Afghanistan governments would also safeguard and promote. If this arrangement fructifies then the United States would be able to achieve peace at its bidding, which it had not been able to obtain through a decade long war at huge monetary and human cost. This set up would definitively isolate al-Qaida, which would not be able to maintain its physical presence in Afghanistan and continue its heinous activities all by itself.
Therefore, the central idea is to snatch the sanctuaries that are now available to al-Qaida in the form of Sirajuddin Haqqani and some Taliban factions. As such, the efforts being mounted by Pakistan should be appreciated and encouraged. The indications are that Karzai and Pakistan governments are nearing a tacit understanding on this crucial way-out which essentially serves America better than the NATO coalition partner do.
For the United States, this would spell a diplomatic triumph, which would be more durable, and far reaching than the elusive military victory. Once an American friendly government with the participation of Taliban of various brands, both from Pakistan and Afghansintan come into being, the task of the United States to chase and annihilate Al-Qaida would become much easier.
Still it would be irrational and fanciful to expect that the entire army of al-Qaida would be netted. If America manages to capture arch leaders, it would be a gigantic breakthrough. To the lower ranks and ordinary members, America can offer an amnesty so that they can lay down tbeir arms and also join the mainstream of a civilized life and turn away from their murderous mandate.
If concurrently, a solution to the Middle East tumult can also be found by creating the promised independent land for the Palestinians, there is no gainsaying that the friction that exists between Muslims on one hand and Israel and United states on the other would eventually evaporate. If Muslims, can live along with the Christians and Jews in Spain for 700 years, there is no reason as to why they can’t coexist in the modern times when the world is moving towards a contiguous abode commonly known as the global village.
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