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Inglorious End

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That the twenty-year military (and every other) intervention of the West led by the United States in Afghanistan has experienced an inglorious end is quite clear. No matter how (although well instructed) special reporters from Kabul try to convince everybody that what is happening (already happened), and that is that the Taliban took control over the whole country, was ‘not the imaginable’, however the masters of (dis)information might even try to present the obvious defeat to the public even as a victory, the facts cannot be changed.

 And the facts are these. Following the attacks on New York’s ‘twins’ (World Trade Center skyscrapers) in September 2001, the United States embarked on a ‘crusade’ against global terrorism, primarily against Al Quaida and its leader Bin Laden. Taking a leading role, meaning the United Sates are the one who commands, while all the other just obey. Because it was America which literally created Al Qaida with the task of creating for the Soviet troops that held Afghanistan under occupation ‘another Vietnam’ (having in mind its own defeat in South Vietnam), it was in a way logical to strike first of all Afghanistan (and the organization which targeted those who created it). It also could, if not justified by international law, be understood as a defensive reaction from a state under attack. But, sending troops to Afghanistan was another story. This meant the occupation of that country (the Soviets, albeit painful, understood and organized their withdrawal from Afghanistan years ago) and entering in the process so favored by US strategists, the process of nation building, in other words imposing a model of Western neoliberal democracy to a country where there were no conditions for it. But such ‘little things’ do not bother Washington. The main thing is to establish a government of occupier-friendly people and hold multi-party elections. It will prove, however, that this is not enough .

 In the occupation of Afghanistan, the Americans were obediently followed by the Atlantic Pact, an organization that has already – though no one in the West will dare to admit it – turn from a defense alliance limited to Europe into a iron fist of American politics in the whole world. Rather than reach for a model of Afghanistan (in that time and in that region an advanced country) from the time of King Mohammed Zahir Shah, when – for example – education of girls and the active role of women in society was something perfectly normal – they started ‘from the beginning’, as if nothing had existed before. They did restore above mentioned values from the royal period, which is persistently insisted upon as something sensational and new, they sent instructors who – and again on the American model – formed and trained the police, army and special forces, delivered a huge amount of military equipment and arms, they formed – on paper at least – the construction of a democratic Afghanistan, adequate (note: only in theory) to every democratic country of the West. But all this was functional, or – better to say – created the illusion of functioning only under the protection of foreign troops.

None of strategists and politicians who in collusion ‘created’ new Afghanistan, did even think about Afghanistan as a country with its own history and its traditions, and certainly no one tried to apply a formula known in international relations from not so distant past, namely that every country has the right to develop in accordance with its specific conditions. Instead, to Afghanistan a model of internal organization that is completely strange to that  was imposed . In addition, it was imposed by the occupiers by military coercion. And as the key goal of the occupation was not nation building (it was a side task, ‘just to show’), what was stated as the primary goal at the time when, twenty (20!) years ago, the intervention began, and that was the destruction of the Taliban and Al Quaida has been pushed into the background, especially after Osama bin Laden was assassinated in a film-like operation, which President Obama and his associates followed on screens like a video game. 

Interventionists concentrated on gaining control, though never complete, over the land which is located at the position very interesting, to sy the least, to those strategists preoccupied by the project of American hegemony of the world (no, this is not a conspiracy theory, it is a reality for which there is too much concrete evidence, from almost 800 military bases scattered on all meridians and parallels, through the ‘installation’ of ‘its’ people in key positions in the former socialist states, to overt or barely covert destabilization or overthrow of regimes Washington considers as unsuitble from the position of preserving and defending the interests of the US.

So the Taliban remained present, although at first defeated and forced to the sidelines. Over time however, they began to strengthen again, but as Americans were no longer overly interested, their growth was not suppressed at the root. In parallel, the process of spreading corruption and crime took place, which is in this particular case of special interest (but also dangerous), because Afghanistan has become the main exporter, illegal of course, of opium, ie poppy, which is used for drug production. America was officially pushing the government (which was as much its own, as Afghan) to put an end to it, which proved impossible. First, without poppy farming, half of Afghanistan would have starved and – second – private companies involved in the entire Afghan operation were often involved in drug smuggling at their own level , because it was – what elese – a lucrative business. Drilling ‘a la Marines ’ and modern combat techniques will prove insufficient to create domestic forces capable and willing (this ‘willing’ is especially important!) to take control of the country at the time of the departure of the Americans and NATO allies.

And when Donald Trump last year hastily announced the withdrawal of US forces, and his successor also hastily approached the realization of that promise, there was no one in NATO (which is now, in the words of its Secretary-General ‘deeply disturbed’) who would dare tell the Americans that they all are leaving without finishing the job. Instead, as soon as the ‘boss’ rised from the table, they all hastily follow his example. Declaring confidently (led by President Biden) that it was ‘not inevitable’ for the Taliban to take control of Afghanistan and, in particular, that any comparison to the US fleeing from South Vietnam was totally unfounded. Now, no one can doubt the Taliban rule over the entire country and the burning of documents at the US embassy and helicopters hastily evacuating Americans from Kabul to the airport where military transporters are waiting for them must, simply must remind anyone who still remembers those events of the American departure with the ‘twisted tail’ from Saigon.

So this is the end, an infamous end indeed. But it is, in the long run, much more than that. It is the destruction to dust and ashes of all illusions that the democratic West, led by the United States, brings, as it was once said, a better tomorrow. This is the collapse of moral values, which are so often mentioned, and which – clashing with the interests and calculations of capital – seem to be totally irrelevant. In the past two decades, the Americans and allies have managed to tie tens of thousands of Afghans to their, basically, occupation apparatus, from logistics and translators, domestic staff in embassies, through members at all levels of the administration to members of the military and police forces. These people, along with their families, are ‘marked’. In the eyes of the Taliban, they are helpers of the occupiers, enemies, they are collaborators. What will happen to them, what will happen to girls and young women, those still in school and those educated, what will happen to emancipated women, hardly anyone cares about that. Except, of course, that everyone is ‘very worried’. Desperate Afghans apply to enter countries whose armed forces they have helped, but these applications are slowly being resolved, or rejected. Only some countries in the EU suspended (for now!) deportation to Afghanistan of refugees from that country; most did not, with the explanation that the acceptance of already arrived Afghan refugees could might be interpreted as a signal to potential newcomers to set out for Europe. And they will set out, no doubt about that. And it will not be the migrants, as Europe is naming them hypocritically, but war refugees brought into the situation to seek refuge somewhere ‘undder the sun’(like millions of his compatriots who have already done) just because of the policy waged by America and its European allies.

US President Biden sent additional troops to Afghanistan, but only to protect the evacuation of Americans and he threatened swift and violent response to the Taliban, but again only if they endanger US interests. And that move, better than anything else, exposes all the misery of today’s West. Winners in the Second World War knew (but not forgetting their interests) to create the basis for the existence of Germany and Japan whose ambitions would not endanger world peace. But since those days, capitalism has ‘progressed’. In those days capital used policy, today it rules the policy. And a policy whose sole goal is to pursue the interest of capital, or those owing it, disregarding the interests of others, or grossly violating them, a policy aimed solely at making a profit, no matter how, can lead to only one result: a military, political and moral breakdown such as me we are witnessing in Afghanistan.

If this author, a journalist with half a century of experience in monitoring international relations, could have predicted a little over a month ago in an article entitled ‘Already seen’ what would happen, it is simply not possible that no one and nowhere in Western capitals could not do the same. Of course they could, if they were not blinded by the illusion of their own omnipotence and the arrogance on which stupidity grows, which inevitably leads to collapse, to an inglorious end. And only one question remains: will at least that and at least now be understood by some of those who decide, by those responsible for the tragedy of the people of Afghanistan ?

South Asia

“Haqeeqi Azaadi” or “Political Invasion”?

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You call it a “Long March” or an “Azaadi March” or a “Haqeeqi Azaadi March” and lastly according to some people “Political invasion of the capital”; whatever attempt it may be, the impact of this “Long March” will not be “Short” at all. Seems like history is repeating. Yesterday, it was PTI, later it was TLP, then JUIF, PDM & now again PTI. This reminds us about a Supreme Court’s historic judgment on Faizabad Sit in by Supreme Court, which is quite relevant again in these crucial times. The historic judgment of Supreme Court on Suo moto quotes that “The leaders of the dharna intimidated, hurled threats, abused, provoked and promoted hatred. The media provided unabated coverage. Inflammatory speeches were delivered by irresponsible politicians. Some unscrupulous talk-show hosts incited and provoked citizens.” Isn’t the situation once again similar? Doesn’t it seem like history is repeating? Few analysts consider it to be a worst kind of situation.

Supreme Court writes in its judgment that “the freedom of speech and expression and of the press are fundamental right. However, these rights cannot be used to denigrate or undermine the glory of Islam, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, or commission of or incitement to an offence.  He categorically mentions that “PEMRA Ordinance mirrors the restrictions as set out in Article 19 of the Constitution and further prohibits broadcasts which are, “likely to create hatred among the people or is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order or is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility.” So, Supreme Court has already given clear instructions that if some event is likely to disrupt peace and tranquility, media broadcasts can be prohibited.

Insiders say that we are in a dead end and this is the most crucial time of history for Pakistan, especially when the economic fate has to be decided by IMF on 25th May when Imran khan marches on Islamabad. So let’s playout the possible upcoming scenarios which political stakeholders may have to consider;

  1. Marching towards Islamabad with huge crowds is one thing but forcing a government to dissolve assemblies with this crowd is another thing. Imran Khan very well knows this is a do or die situation for his political career as well. He knows his March will only succeed if he can force an early election.
  2. Bringing larger mobs to Islamabad will only be fruitful if there is some kind of disruption by the present government or by the PTI itself. IK knows that a prolonged sit in without happenings in the red zone won’t be impactful.
  3. PTI leaders have been repeatedly convincing people including government employees, Army officers and police to bring their families in their Haqeeqi Azaadi March. The question which arises is that “Why IK doesn’t bring own family members to join the “Jihad” or “Haqeeqi Azaadi”?
  4. IMF has to take crucial decision on Pakistan’s economic fate. Without an IMF Package, a Srilanka type scenario may arise. The decision will come on the same date as of long march, on 25th May. This is a do or die situation for Pakistan’s economy. So the leaders of this March should definitely come with a futuristic economic plan and tell the masses how will they get rid of this dire economic situation.
  5. While Srinagar Highway will be full of Marchers led by the so-called Ambassador of Kashmir, a big decision is expected to come from Srinagar about Yasin Malik. Unfortunately, it is expected that his sentencing maybe announced on 25th May as well.

The government also has limited options. They are arresting leaders of PTI. They are raiding houses in their own panic mode which will further incite the situation. The removal of fuel subsidiary has become inevitable and when it happens it will be the most unpopular decision. Rising, Inflation will cut purchasing power. Finalization of IMF program has brought them to a dead end.

The dread is in the air. 25th May is around the corner. It is Crucial. It is Do or Die for Pakistan. We must fear!!

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South Asia

When Politics turns Personal; The Toxic Allegations & Accusations become a Norm

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Image source: timeofpakistan.com

There is something happening beneath this political turmoil which is NOT looking good!!

Whenever Political landscape turns into a Personal battleground, defeats become unacceptable. These past few days are a perfect case study to see that how Political elite in Pakistan has done whatever it took it to stay in power. In this power grab scenario, there could be numerous losses including the integrity of institutions. We have unfortunately entered into a very dangerous phase, where some political stakeholders have put all stakes at risk, where they have stretched their limits beyond a constitutional limit, all to gather mass support, all to stay in power and avoid defeat. Is it a threat of losing power? Is it a double game? Is it a practical hybrid war we are fighting?  Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be good. All is at stake, all is at risk and all is toxic.

As if the political temperature was not noxious enough, Shireen Mazari Saga took place. Once again, accusations, allegations and assumptions started pouring in against the state institutions. Soon after her arrest, her daughter, a lawyer herself Imaan Zainab Mazari alleged that her mother was beaten by male police officers during the arrest. But few minutes later, a video clip surfaced that showed clearly that her mother was arrested by Female Police officers in broad daylight and as per the law. Lie number 1 of the daughter stood exposed. Within moments, without any cogent evidence the lady, known for many controversies in the past targeted state institution for such an act, although the anti-corruption already had taken responsibility of her arrest.

Abuse of power can never be tolerated, regardless of who it targets or from where it emanates. This mantra is true and everyone has an equal belief on it but let’s take a deep dive to see that how politics turned dirty in this case, how blame game took place and how this entire episode was used as a tool to churn propaganda against Army leadership and Armed Forces.

1. The anti-corruption police had arrested Shireen Mazari and she herself accepted that Prime Minister and Interior minister were responsible for my arrest. But the mother daughter nexus brazenly started blaming institutions without any solid evidence. Shouldn’t there be an inquiry on this too?

2. PTI was always of the opinion that why courts were opened mid night to send IK packing while he wasn’t listening to anyone however when same court gave a verdict in favor of PTI ex minister, late night, it was celebrated and much appreciated by Shireen Mazari & IK who have been spearheading anti judicial tirade until recently. Isn’t it blatant hypocrisy? Judicial inquiry has been ordered by the Court which is a positive sign, but the serious allegations which Mazari nexus have raised must also be inquired during this newly formed judicial inquiry. Should the Judiciary not question them on hurling these baseless allegations?

3. The present government, whose Police itself arrested Shireen Mazari disowned this attempt. Attorney General displayed his ignorance about the matter in front of the court. So, somehow the government created this impression in the public eye that they are not to be blamed for the arrest of Shireen Mazari. Was it a double game? Or a deliberate effort to discredit institutions?

Pakistan is already facing serious economic downfall, political uncertainty and civil strife. PTI has also announced Long March to Islamabad on 25th May which is likely to further exacerbate already fragile political and economic instability. It has become quite evident now for achieving petty political ends, our political elite has no serious resolve to address the crisis confronting the country. Country is being deliberately pushed to limits of economic and political dead end. The political immaturity and lack of vision to handle the crisis situation is also hurting the repute of institutions amidst internal political wrangling. If political leadership doesn’t come to grips of the critical situation prevailing which is likely to aggravate further in coming days, people of Pakistan in particular and the country in general are likely to suffer unprecedented damage. Political elite must put its acts together and steer the country out of prevalent political and economic crisis by showing sagacity and political wisdom until it’s too late.

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South Asia

Accusations to Acknowledgement: The Battle of Article 63 A

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The weather is heating up. As the May is ending, Political temperatures are soaring. The fate regarding the country’s political and economic stability will be measured in the upcoming days. Earlier, PDM built momentum by taking on institutions. Maryam Nawaz raised the temperature by targeting key personalities and institutions. Allegations were bursting against the institutions in all dimensions. Today, we witness reversal of roles. Accusations have been outflowing in every Jalsa by PTI. But now suddenly, the “accusations” turned into “acknowledgment”. “Complaints” started transforming into “Compliments”. Is it the change of narrative? Is it another U-turn? Or is it the restoration of confidence in the institutions? Where will this chaos end?

The Supreme Court’s “decision” or as they say “opinion” or “binding” on Article 63 A has raised some pertinent questions on the status of CM Punjab election? In the interpretation of Article 63 A of the constitution, the Supreme court categorically condemns the practice of horse trading by calling it “a cancer afflicting the body politic”. Supreme Court in its decision of 3-2 rejected the vote count of these dissident members against the party directives. So the future of the Chief Executive of Punjab is now under threat because it is contrary to what happened in National Assembly. The political instability continues and the situation is messy.

In light of this verdict, Hamza has a support of 172 MPAs in Punjab assembly but at the same time, he also has 4 dissenting members which draws the figure to 168. Now further moving ahead, PTI and alliance also has a collective figure of 168 votes minus 21 dissenting members. The situation here in Punjab is way too complex now. A support of 186 members is required for a clear majority in Punjab assembly to formulate a government. This current Punjab government can either fall through a governor led vote of no confidence or a Supreme court order. The governor even has a right to dissolve the assembly with his discretionary powers according to Article 112 (2) of the constitution. Supreme Court has already made its decision on cross voting against Party fiat.  Now legal experts are interpreting the decision in their own dictionaries. What will happen in Punjab? What will happen on the federal level? Will there be an election call? If so, what will be the care taker setup? Will there be a fresh mandate? Who will make the hard economic decisions?  Lot needs to be answered in these crucial times.

From “My judges disappointed me” to “Thankyou Supreme Court”, a lot has happened and a lot is ready to take place. Islamabad is full of gossips, interpretations, whispers and predictions these days. There is something seething under this political turmoil. The Red zone is under a lot of pressure whether politically or economically. Pre – Elections, Elections and then Post elections, we have a lot of consequences of a lot of hard decisions. But hard decisions need to be taken. Question is who is ready to make the hard choices? Be Afraid!!

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