No, Fareed Zakaria, you cannot blame Pakistan for the mistakes made by the US in Afghanistan

Published: October 15, 2015
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Considering your reputation, I was disappointed by your 800-odd word opinion piece on The Washington Post. PHOTO: AFP

Dear Fareed Zakaria,

You are certainly a titan of journalism. Your CNN show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, is watched by countless worldwide, while your footprint can be found in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, Slate, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

The career trajectory you’ve taken is nothing short of incredible. After leaving your home in Bombay where you were born to Rafiq Zakaria, an Islamic scholar and a politician associated with the Indian National Congress, and journalist Fatima Zakaria, a former editor at Mumbai Times and the Times of India, you eventually made your way to the US, where you graduated from Yale University, and later Harvard University. From here, you never looked back, striking one milestone after another.

Considering your reputation, I was disappointed by your 800-odd word opinion piece on The Washington Post. In ‘The key to solving the puzzle of Afghanistan is Pakistan’ you laid the entire blame of the failure of the 14-year American military campaign in Afghanistan, on Pakistan’s double dealing with the Taliban.

Your faulty cause and effect analysis was not only overly simplistic but granted far too much credit to Pakistan for Afghanistan’s problems. Yes, Pakistan carries a long list of issues, but to paint the nation as an all-powerful bogeyman dilutes the gravity of Afghanistan’s home-grown issues.

Now, before I continue, I’d like to clarify, I am not another Pakistani nationalist peeved by a journalist who still maintains strong ties with India. If anything, I find patriotism to be an entirely stupid emotion. My recent blog, which was eventually taken down, questioning Pakistan’s blind love for a national hero during a war, where they were the aggressors, was received more negatively than a teetotaling dwarf would be at a Dwarven pub in Middle Earth.

Yet even I was put off by your article.

Let’s start with when you say:

“Why, after 14 years of American military efforts, is Afghanistan still so fragile? The country has a democratically elected government widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally. And yet, the Taliban always come back.”

It is as if you are about to start a fairy tale in which the US armed forces, along with the Afghan army and the new national government, created a utopia in Afghanistan, where unicorns fart rainbows and candy grows from trees. This was, as you say, until the Taliban, backed by the evil and jealous Pakistani neighbours, came back, leaving the heroes in turmoil.

In reality, the Taliban have been welcomed back by many Afghans due to the incompetence and corruption of their own government and law enforcement officials.

Take for example, the town of Marjah, where nearly 15,000 NATO troops alongside Afghan forces fought against the Taliban, promising the locals good governance as motivation to shun the brutal militants. Unfortunately, they did not live up to these vows. According to Associated Press, Marjah residents believe the ‘counterinsurgency experiment has failed’.

Huffington Post:

“Nearly three years after US-led forces launched the biggest operation of the war to clear insurgents, foster economic growth and set a model for the rest of Afghanistan, angry residents of Helmand province say they are too afraid to go out after dark because of marauding bands of thieves.

And during the day, they say corrupt police and government officials bully them into paying bribes. After 11 years of war, many here long for a return of the Taliban. They say that under the Taliban, who routinely punished thieves by cutting off a hand, they were at least safe from crime and corruption.

‘If you had a box of cash on your head, you could go to the farthest part of Marjah and no one would take it from you, even at night’, said Maulvi Daoud, who runs a cubbyhole sized-shop in the town of Marjah. ‘Today you bring your motorcycle in front of your shop and it will be gone. Now the situation is that you go on the road and they are standing in police and army uniform with weapons and they can take your money’.

Many claim the US-funded local police, a type of locally sanctioned militia, routinely demand bribes and threaten to accuse those who do not comply of being members of the Taliban. Good governance never came to Marjah, they say.

Daoud, the Marjah shop owner, said there was more security under the country’s Taliban regime that was ousted by the US-led invasion in late 2001.”

Reuters explains how the billions of dollars spent on fighting the Taliban are all for nothing when the new government is so corrupt. Having taken advantage of this, the militants have gained control of two out of seven districts in Kunduz, and are spreading their dark fingers fast across others.

Tell me Fareed, is Pakistan to blame for this as well?

“Sardar, a 23-year-old working in his brother’s barber shop in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, said local officials had asked for bribes to resolve a long-running family dispute over land.

When the backhanders failed to have their desired effect, he turned to the Taliban, the austere Islamist movement that has been fighting foreign forces since it was ousted from power 13 years ago.

‘They came to our home in Chahar Darah and took two days to solve the problem’, he said.”

Huffington Posts says the Afghan government is not the saint you describe it to be:

“The Taliban has since charged that Afghan intelligence purposely gave the US the hospital’s coordinates. Even the possibility that such an accusation is true — and the duration of the sustained attack suggests that something unusual happened — points toward the reason that Afghanistan is headed back toward Taliban control: The government is thoroughly corrupt, and the US has been unwilling to take measures to address the situation. While a handful of civilian and military leaders identified corruption as an existential threat to the country, the problem remains unsolved.”

The New York Times weighs in:

“Over the past few years, faith in the government and the warlords who were allied with the government, never strong, has rapidly diminished. Militias and Afghan Local Police forces installed by the American Special Forces were largely unaccountable. They extorted protection money from farmers, and committed rapes and robberies. But because they had guns and the backing of local strongmen close to the government, people’s complaints were ignored.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan army you write in favour of is led by some commanders who are partial to sleeping with children. Bacha bazi was something the otherwise deplorable Taliban stood against, which is why so many frustrated Afghans are turning back to the militants. I am sure you’ve read the report from The New York Times on American soldiers forced to ignore Afghan commanders involved in child sex abuse.

According to The New York Times, Afghan village elders are frustrated by the freehand given to commanders involved in child sex abuse.

“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

The Washington Post:

“Like it or not, there was better rule of law under the Taliban,” said Dee Brillenburg Wurth, a child-protection expert at the UN mission in Afghanistan, who has sought to persuade the government to address the problem. “They saw it as a sin, and they stopped a lot of it.”

National Public Radio (NPR) journalist Sarah Chayes has written a book, Thieves of State, on the matter. I suggest you should read it.

Fareed, next you say:

“The answer to this puzzle can be found in a profile of the Taliban’s new leader, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. It turns out that Mansour lives part time in Quetta, The New York Times reports, ‘in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders… have built homes’. His predecessor, Mohammad Omar, we now know, died a while ago in Karachi. And of course, we remember that Osama bin Laden lived for many years in a compound in Abbottabad. All three of these cities are in Pakistan.

We cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan without recognising that the insurgency against that government is shaped, aided and armed from across the border by one of the world’s most powerful armies. Periodically, someone inside or outside the US government points this out. Yet no one knows quite what to do, so it is swept under the carpet and policy stays the same. But this is not an incidental fact. It is fundamental, and unless it is confronted, the Taliban will never be defeated. It is an old adage that no counterinsurgency has ever succeeded when the rebels have had a haven. In this case, the rebels have a nuclear-armed sponsor.”

Strong words, with just the right amount of fear mongering thrown in.

Let’s assume this is true, and for some reason Pakistan is sponsoring the Taliban. As has been pointed out earlier, the Taliban have been gaining momentum due to the vacuum in justice felt by the Afghani people. If this is resolved, with or without Pakistan, Taliban would find it difficult to gain a foothold.

Also, in your assessment, Pakistan has been deceiving the American military for decades.

I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in Pakistan, but we aren’t as clever as you think. We are a country where scores, instead of seeking shelter, flock to the beach when there is a tidal wave warning, where the populace trusts and passionately defends a fraud who claims a car can run on water, where a popular politician and his drones only believes a free and fair election occurs when he wins.

Recently, a fraudulent multibillion dollar company called ‘Axact’ was running under Pakistani noses for years until it was busted, thanks to investigative journalism from The New York Times. Axact rose from obscurity to riches by selling fake diplomas, and no one in the government considered it odd that the Pakistani version of Microsoft wasn’t actually creating any notable software to speak of.

And you think this government has been outsmarting the US military?

More importantly, Pakistan has paid an enormous cost since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan post 9/11. The Taliban increased their presence in Pakistan after working their way in from across the border. Finally, after developing a consensus to use force, the army has all but squashed the Pakistani Taliban.

So why would Pakistan nurture them back to health in Afghanistan, where they can develop into a threat again?

“The Pakistani army has been described as the ‘godfather’ of the Taliban. That might understate its influence. Pakistan was the base for the US-supported mujahideen as they battled the Soviet Union in the 1980s. After the Soviets retreated from Afghanistan in 1989, the US withdrew almost as quickly, and Pakistan entered that strategic void.”

Fareed, as you say, Pakistan slept with the Taliban in an intoxicated stupor when the nasty new Soviet neighbours became unbearable, and yes, the US was more than a willing partner in this ménage à trois:

Reagan sitting with people from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in February 1983. Photo: Wikipedia

Those are just a few mujahideen visiting Ronald Reagan at the White House. According to Business Insider, the photograph is from 1983. Soon after this, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) set up training camps in Afghanistan where the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden later began their careers.

If Pakistan was at fault for ‘filling the void’, then was the US not at fault for creating one?

Instead of abandoning men trained in the art of killing with advanced weaponry, should it not have invested in an alternate future for them?

To appreciate the deep flaws in your cause and effect argument, let’s examine the horrible events of September 11th. There were 19 men who acted as hijackers on this terrible day. Reportedly, the first two arrived in January 2000. The next three arrived in the middle of 2000. Others came later. These men had apparently trained in jihadist camps in Afghanistan.

The first two men to arrive, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, spent nearly two years in the US, training in flight school in America, and boasted previous terrorist activities. According to journalist James Bamford, this duo was known to the National Security Agency, yet action wasn’t taken against them.

Was it a conspiracy?

No, of course, it wasn’t.

It was a security lapse, pure and simple.

The 19 men who conducted this terrible attack on American soil remained unhindered until they carried out their crime, yet Fareed, you don’t claim the US government was involved, do you?

It would be stupid to do so. So how does your mind turn towards conspiracy theories when it comes to Pakistan without presenting an inch of evidence?

In Pakistan, countless terrorists escape unhindered after committing heinous crimes. This is partially because in terms of infrastructure and population density, Pakistan is a very different environment than the US.

For example, we all watched in admiration as the two Boston bombers were captured after an entire town was sealed down by law enforcement. Such an operation would be very difficult to execute on the teeming streets of Pakistan.

It is certainly not an excuse. The most wanted man having been found on Pakistani soil is a source of embarrassment. But it should be considered to be a security lapse as well, unless proven otherwise.

You finally conclude with:

“Pakistan is a time bomb. It ranks 43rd in the world in terms of its economy, according to the World Bank, but has the sixth largest armed forces. It has the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, and the most opaque. It maintains close ties with some of the world’s most brutal terrorists. By some estimates, its military consumes 26 per cent of all tax receipts, while the country has 5.5 million children who don’t attend school. As long as this military and its mind-set are unchecked and unreformed, the US will face a strategic collapse as it withdraws its forces from the region.”

More fear mongering.

You say Pakistan has the sixth largest armed forces, yet you also warn of Pakistan being a time bomb.

Let me ask you, Fareed, considering Pakistan’s fast growing nuclear arsenal, would you not prefer the army be large, powerful, and well-fed? Or would you rather hand this dangerous weaponry to a smaller more disgruntled military?

Your points about Pakistan’s low budget allocated towards education as compared to the exorbitant military spending are well made though. Education can help fight the Taliban, but at the same time, so can a quick, free, and transparent justice system. As Malala Yousafzai wrote in her book, the Taliban were initially welcomed by her people because they brought a swift end to corruption. It is only then they began their own brutality, revealing themselves as wolves rather than sheep.

Haroon Ullah, ‘a senior State Department advisor and a foreign policy professor at Georgetown University’, has an interesting opinion. He believes that rather than literacy and poverty, the real issues driving extremism are lack of law and order, and social injustices.

If the Afghanistan government is to repel the Taliban, it must win the heart of its own people. Similarly, its allies such as the US have to take a deeper interest in local policies. Shoving atrocities and corruption under the rug isn’t nearly as harmless as the Americans think. This vacuum in justice is what the Taliban feed on before they take their final form.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mudassir

    Fareed has some serious issues with Pakistan . This is not the first time he has Blamed Pakistan for everything that happens in Afghanistan. He is non believer, he has a problems with the practicing muslims.. Our Dumb media should counter his allegations with proper reasoning rather than getting TRPs for the preposterous programming on NA-122.Recommend

  • Vish

    Pakistani establishment and the USA share a very special relationship. The US is the only country, in the world, that is allowed by the Pakistani establishment to kill Pakistani citizens.Recommend

  • IndianDude

    So, a Noman thinks a well known scholar of international repute, who knows the south asia as much, if not more than Noman, is wrong. Hmm..who should I believe.Recommend

  • Sami

    Afterall he is Indian so he will blame Pakistan for everything. Secondly as far the Afghans are concerned i want to say that I have found Afghans as the most racist after Pushtoons in this entire region. Secondly i want to say that racist people never ever accept their mistakes.. So kindly do not expect that they will ever accept any responsibility. They will always blame others for their own shortcomings.

    As a Pakistani we should not take these accusations with seriousness. Afghans will always live in the past with fake tales of galore and Indians will always try to sting us. As far as Americans are concerned they are nobody friends and they have their own agenda to the fore.

    Just be strong in the military, innovation, equality, liberalism and the economy and this is the only way to counter the enemies.Recommend

  • Raghu Reddy

    Half hearted effort. Yes, lot of arguments were true about afghn govt ,its police etc. their behaviour encourages Taliban which is what Pak is taking advantage of. Pak calls itsself a victim. Why isnt it attacking Haqqani network? Why should it give rescue to new Taliban leader?If musharaf can send missiles onto Baluchistan rebel leader ,why cant he do same against Taliban leader?
    Afghans are giving space to Taliban because they exist and are nourished by Pak. If there is no support externally, they are dead meat against Afghan forces.Remeber whole world is against them.
    Its true,Afghan govt should do a lot. That doesnt mean, Pak isnt to be blamed for supportingTaliban.Recommend

  • u961133

    why paying attention to plagiarist??

    Running a show in CNN or writing in these journals is no more a status symbol…..You will find many Plagiarist writing in those media outlets or running programs.

    Just ignore Fareed rhetoric………he is a true face of today’s ignorant journalism.Recommend

  • Biased

    Well said Noman. What most Pakistanis do not realize is that Fareed aka Freddie Zaks has an inborn “distaste” for all things Pakistan. This subliminalized distaste is informed by his Congress-walla Mommy. Such folks believe Pakistan was and is and abomination which diminished India as a great power but more importantly diminished the profile of Indian muslims who were promised “equal” status by Congress Party leadership in an “unpartitioned” India. Noman one can try but it is often impossible to change a “believer” mindset. The timing of this newest outburst is due to Ignatius leaking the news about an impending Nuclear Understanding between Obama Administration and Nawaz Sharif Visit. Expect more turbulence ahead.Recommend

  • abhi

    This blog comes more from emotional side rather than facts. While there could be some law and order problem in Afghanistan it is certainly exacerbated by non state actors assisted by Pakistan. Thinking that Osama bin Laden’s location was not known to security apratus in Pakistan is just neivety. Recommend

  • ZeeCarolina

    Well said Noman. I live in the US and listen to Farid on sundays on CNN. When it comes to India and Pakistan he cannot and will not hold back his bias. He is truly a mouth piece of the Indian government. He complains of Pakistani military’s support of taliban often but never talks about the Indian involvement in Afghanistan to create violence in Pakistan which forces Pakistan to take sides. Fact is probably there are taliban supported by India and Pakistan. He accuses Pakistan of terrorist attacks in India but never ever mentions the millions killed by India in Kashmir. Recently he paid lip service by mentioning the deteriorating “tolerance” in India never mentioning actual incidents and the lynching of muslim men for eating beef. He may be a renowned journalist but when reporting India and Pakistan he is a propaganda artist, not worthy of being called a journalist, far from it I would call him a trash journalist.Recommend

  • ZeeCarolina

    Further to my point of Zakaria being a mouth piece of the Indian government, consider the timing of his article when the Pakistan PM and more importantly the army chief are about to meet with the US govt to provide them proof of Indian involvement in creating violence in Pakistan. He is an advisor to Obama on foreign affairs. I would advice Mr. Obama to ignore this biased man.Recommend

  • Fawad Ali

    instead of finding who is at fault, or who made bigger mistake, it is clear that Pakistan made huge error in past. So, take from their and rectify mistake, don’t just bury head in sand, do something about it. Till now, the steps taken to correct the mistake is insignificant compared to huge problems created. Still politicians and army fail to take action against assets created decades back.Recommend

  • M M Alam

    Fareed Zakaria is no titan. He may be relatively better known of the non-white anchors because he talks what ‘they’ would like to hear. He is more loyal than the king. Period.Recommend

  • Seth Levin

    Mr Ansari, a very good response to Mr Zakaria’s oped, I didn’t read the article but i did watch his program on CNN sunday morning. I used to follow Mr Zakaria, but i found him to be a typical western writer who blames all ills on others, if you read his articles going back 4/5 years, the conclusion in my opinion in every article somehow ended up blaming Saudi’s and wahabism. Now just because US had pretty much lost everything in both of the war theaters-the writers like Mr Zakaria and his peers are blaming other nations for the ills instead of pointing out the mistakes of the US govt, leaders and its decision makers. I wouldn’t call him a stooge of the Israeli lobby but one cannot survive and leap up in their careers without their blessings.Recommend

  • Karachiwala

    very good response to the bogus journalist… Kudos from Houston, USA. Every one knows that Indians are trying every inch to win back USA or turn the tide against Pakistan. Indian infested media through their jingoistic nature and yoga classes where they mostly seduce and entice people into physical relationship, so that they can extract maximum benefit. Fareed Zakariya types are known here as “false flag”Recommend

  • Aamir – Toronto

    Fareed Zakaria is a hypocriteRecommend

  • maynotmatter

    @Noman … To begin with, am always fond and eager to read your articles. The genesis of the Afghan trouble started with Charlie Wilson’s covert operation where he proposed using mujaheeds as instrument to fight Russian. Pakistan becomes equally if not more responsible when it decided to join the America’s proxy war against Russia, under Zia’s leadership.
    Russian invasion in Afghanistan was to support it’s ally warlord against another warlord in Afghanistan supported by USA, and not an intent of occupation.
    It was a proxy war between USA and Russia. Pakistan should have stayed out. Contributing mujaheeds by radicalizing it’s own civilians is where Pakistan made a grave strategic mistake. USA filled the pockets and armory of Pakistani generals and in return got free warriors radicalized beyond repair to fight against Russia.
    USA knew the mess which awaits once Russia withdraws. The process of radicalization is almost always irreversible. USA knew it, but had nothing to fear since it is thousands miles away from these breed. Pakistan’s own failure to understand the effects of radicalization is where it has land itself and Afghanistan in this perpetual mess.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Noman ansari is no one (or should I say no man) to criticize Mr zakaria who is one of best in American media
    And everybody knows Afghan Taliban is Pakistan’s baby.Why was Pakistan one of the 3 countries to recognize the Taliban government from 96-2001????
    The Taliban are terrorists not freedom fighters,wake up Pakistanis, people who kill your neighbors just because you hate them are not good terroristsRecommend

  • Kashan Ahmed

    Actually, I had a bad experience when I went to Afghanistan , 2012. Me and my friend were stopped outside Kabul Airport, were labelled as ISI agents, although I belong to a Nobel profession. We had to bribe Afghan police 200 USD to let us go on our way. Imagine any body can bribe them and can carry out what ever he may want to do.Recommend

  • Zaheer

    Yes I read the article by Fareed Zakaria and I was equally disappointed.I happy that some one has come forth and put the record straight. I thought Fareed Zakaria , having Indian background is festering a grudge against Pakistan by being so cruel anti-Pakistan. That was hurting me.Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    Good piece Noman!Recommend

  • Aslam Khan

    Silly and childish. Noman Ansari, you will have to come up with a lot better.Recommend

  • imti

    fareed zakaraia is right..Pak has war hysteria while thousands are dying hungryRecommend

  • Parvez

    Noman that was brilliant……..Fareed Zakaria is smart and as an American of Indian origin he has a tendency to be ‘ more loyal than the king ‘. America has messed up big time in Afghanistan starting from their ( utterly irresponsible ) early exit from the region after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan…….and the American media ( highly visible people like Zakaria ) plays its part ( without government prompting ) in spinning the narrative so that America takes as little flack as possible……while making Pakistan the ‘ whipping boy ‘ which is quite the fashion.Recommend

  • Humza

    A very detailed piece that shows the specious logic and disinformation willfully spread by the likes of people like Fareed Zakaria. Most Americans know exactly that the Mujahadeen were funded by the West to fight the Soviets. The Taleban came from the same fighters when there was a void but what Indians like Fareed Zakaria need to remember is that they are responsible for taking Afghanistan down the path to anarchy. Ever since 1947, Afghanistan has served as a lackey for India to do cross border intrigue against Pakistan – whether in KPK or in Baluchistan but they failed. In the process Afghanistan regimes ignored their own people and created instability in which Sardar Daud exiled his cousin the King. Instability in Afghanistan is as much India’s fault as it is the fault of the Afghans themselves. It’s easy to blame others but I suspect both Indians and Afghans know the real truth. There are millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Pakistan suffered billions of dollars and untold misery due to the situation in Afghanistan. People like Fareed Zakaria should be ashamed of himself. He fools no one and I am sure he is not fooling himself given his access to the complete history and details of the region.Recommend

  • intellectual.pseudo

    Farid Zakaria has this devilish look in his face, since I have ever been reading him in the last 10 years, he has always upheld the popular rhetoric to gain quick fame being the “muslim” anti-muslim sympathizer…Recommend

  • Saira Khan

    Brilliant article, Noman. Amazing retort to a person who just wants to make his bosses happy. Farid Zakaria has always had an anti-Pakistan motive, but if it has anything to do with his father’s background, God only knows that.Recommend

  • SA

    What else do you expect from an indian? He can be anywhere, doing anything, but he is stuck with pakistan, and sadly, he never gets what he wants to be done with pakistan. So, all the policy makers know, this is irrelevant.Recommend

  • Rajesh

    The author seems be only providing a counter narrative to all real facts presented by Fareed, and trying to potray a picture where Pakistan stands as a victim..utter non sense..Pakistan brags about how thier military taking on the Taliban…this operation is just a smokescreen to give an impression to the US to justify the monies they have been recieving from them over the years..and killing thier own unassuming citizens in far off remote places..since they don’t matter much in thier mainstream. Recommend

  • sakali

    No doubt Fareed Zakaria has exaggerated the role of Pakistan and its
    influence on Taliban. Northern Alliance folks have put out this narrative.
    Abdullah Abdullah was in New York for UN meeting and was a guest on
    Charlie Rose show. He narrated the same points Zakaria has rattled off.
    Kunduz is so far from Pakistan border that a sizable group of Taliban
    won’t be able to move unchallenged all the way to take Kunduz. While Zakaria
    is full of praise for the loyalty and fierce fighting skills of Afghan army, American
    military officials have expressed great disappointment on the fighting ability
    of the Afghan army they trained. Zakria has never been to either Pakistan
    or Afghanistan to understand the ground reality. His column in Washington Post
    is based on the feed from the likes of Abduallah Abdullah and few others of
    similar ilk.Recommend

  • mogambo2000

    Nobody is saying Afghanistan will be like Switzerland if not for Taliban. All you need to understand is that most of the bad asses that he mentioned including Bin Laden were happily living in Pakistan. Most of the Indians also know that Pakistan is just letting people who planned the infamous india’s 9/11 massacre out of the jail.

    So you can keep your mouth shut for now. What did you expect Fareed to do? Your fundamental problem is that you don’t want the truth, you just want your religion protected.Recommend

  • marik

    Because afghan society is corrupt does mean that Pakistan’s wannabe imperialist meddling in Afghanistan is justifiedRecommend

  • zafar iqbal

    I would like to add the
    simple fact that all US administrations since 1970s were well aware of the corruption
    and the culture of lawlessness in Afghanistan. In fact, this corruption was
    used as an asset and the warlords and local official were extensively bribed by
    both US and Pakistani officials till the corruption and bribery became a normal
    aspect of doing business in Afghanistan. Now when the whole thing has returned
    to bite the US in the ass, I do not think that they have any right to complain!Recommend

  • Freeman

    Two people and one concept: Zia-ul Haq, Pervez Musharraf, and “strategic depth”. While US and Nato’s failure cannot be denied, Pakistan’s role cannot be exculpated, either. Who helped create and provide succor to the Taliban in the first place? Who took American aid and played a double game (Musharraf).Recommend

  • Samir

    what a useless write up ..whole world knows Pak created Taliban and supports it…as pointed by Abullah abdullah Pakistan has been arranging facilitation talks with Mullah over several yrs …which they realised later had died several yrs ago….

    so its funny to say or believe that Pak is not responsible for Afgnistan’s condiion..Pak has destroyed Afganistan with terrorism …

    dont play victim card as Hillary Clinton said that Pak thought that snakes raised in its backyard would bite only its neighbours !Recommend

  • PatrioticSoul

    Brilliant article. Recommend

  • JP

    Hogwash. “Russian invasion was to support a warlord.” Bullpucky.
    A full fledge country,[communist at that time] DOES NOT invade
    another country just to support a two bit, dime a dozen, puny warlord.
    Russian regular forces with tanks aircrafts, helicopters invaded Afghanistan.
    We are talking at least two armored divisions, at the start. The intent was
    to get access to a warm water port. Which the Russian did not have. And
    STILL do not have.Recommend

  • Ali

    Fareed’s artciles and his mindset depicts nothing more than an Indian tout with a bullhorn. Fareed and other Indians commenting on Pakistan need to look at the atrocities being committed over minorities in India. Just the mere fact that people are killed over eating beef is dispicable. Any human being/race/nation that considers to kill others over eating an animal needs to reevaluate their entire existence and need not speak up on any forum till they figure out the basics of humanity!! India’s terrorist activites in neighboring countries are not hidden also and need a punishing response from the world community.Recommend

  • Sami

    Why Pakistanis should care about the opinion of Afghans. Afghans know very well who equipped and laid the foundation of Taliban in the first place. But they will never ever mention their daddy’s name ( America ) along with Saudia Arabia. The easiest scapegoat is Pakistan for them.
    Anyway I have Learnt the history of Afghans. They was no country named Afghanistan before the 15th century. This rugged land is full of nomads who looted the neighboring lands in search of food and valuables. Also they always lived in the stone age with their racist ideologies where they think they are superior to others.
    Sometimes Afghan nomads fought with each in search of food and sometimes they did with others. Tribal warfare is going on for centuries. But the primary aim is simple and that is survival without morals. The same story is repeating and history will repeat itself in the future.

    Afghans have always and will always blame Pakistan for their shortcomings. So Pakistanis should not care and Afghans can whine as much they want to.Recommend

  • Vinod

    The world knows which country is epicenter of terrorism.Recommend

  • Vinod

    Yes good one Noman. Pakistan is very innocent no terrorist in this land of the pure.Recommend

  • tariq saeedi

    And, yes that Quetta Shura under One’s noseRecommend

  • Sane

    The country has a democratically elected government
    widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban
    are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally.

    Really?!!Recommend

  • Sane

    I also know and everyone knows. That country is India. Mystery solved.Recommend

  • Sane

    Ali: Very true and absolutely correct.Recommend

  • Anique

    Farid Zakaria hates everything Pakistani.Recommend

  • Sane

    Pakistan has war hysteria; this could be debated. But, by Grace of ALLAH, people in Pakistan have much much better life stye and living than Indians. People do not die hungry here. In contrast there are 40% of Indian population have empty stomach and naked bodies.

    Do not be ostrich, you need to give food and clothes to your very huge population (which will make your GDP nil for years and years) Stop boasting about your economy and technology. Your population is dying of hunger. Who will benefit from falsely claimed economy and technology boost?Recommend

  • Sane

    You must not hurt. Since many years he is ploy of all forces against Pakistan and even Muslims.Recommend

  • talat

    Bravo Numan…..wonderful….. On your face zakaria Recommend

  • kdp ukp

    Do you know this man you use as your identification face was Jew? Shame on youRecommend

  • NS

    You can only speak for yourself and the sane people of the Land of The Pure. Everybody is neither as believing nor as pious.Recommend

  • kdp ukp

    It was mob violence just like mob violence in Pakistan that has killed human beings one at a time for being Ahmedi or Shia Or ChristianRecommend

  • Skywalker

    Why this personal attack on him? Further he is American. If you can’t defend what he says keep your silence. No point of ad hominem. It just shows immaturity on your part.Recommend

  • umm Sarah

    yeah right,Mr Zakariya who was caught plagiarising and had the nerve to claim it a trivial issue.Does this guy have any moral values,his only job and the one that makes him very popular esp with Indians–write against Pakistan.Recommend

  • Skywalker

    Why drag India into your argument? How sure are you that “into” is not Pakistani?Recommend

  • Vish

    There was no country called Pakistan 70 years ago. No country called USA 500 years ago. No country called Saudi Arabia 100 years ago. So not sure what your point is.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Zakarias personal misdemeanors does not absolve Pakistan of terrorism, something which Pakistan is addicted to and is practicing till dateRecommend

  • Sami

    My point is that most of the Pakistanis are not living in the past land we do not portray any racist ideologies. On the other hand Afghans are living in the past. Also We do not despise others by making fun of their history, color or made up warrior stories. Our eyes are on the present and the future. From the past we learn and that is all that matters.
    Also most of us will not blame others for our own shortcomings. As Pakistanis we do agree that we do have problems and we do not hide behind the concept of superiority to run away from the responsibilities.Recommend

  • naveed rasheed

    This article highlights major issues regarding Taliban, i bet u can’t write even 50% of it,
    It was the US / saudia that wanted Taliban to be established as govt( 1st ambassy) i bet u didn’t knew that.
    U think US don’t know who are funding / supplying aresenel to Taliban or US can’t stop it, they can and did to IRAN , what Afghanistan is today is a mess and no one else but US is responsible for it….Recommend

  • sterry

    Abdullah Abdullah is a mouthpiece for India. If his household plumbing is clogged, he will blame Pakistan which is why non one in the international community believes anything he says ! Funny thing is that Afghanistan is responsible for its own sad state because they have been working against Pakistan for decades. Even former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel revealed India uses Afghanistan as a base to do cross border trouble in Pakistan. India and Afghanistan are both to blame for fact that Afghans are smuggling themselves all over the world to live as refugees and begging in neighboring lands and Western countries.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    The whole world is in chaos because of USA’s foreign policy. Ron Paul says this all the time. But fareed will not call him. The more blame we take of the evil USA does the more we will be in trouble.Recommend

  • abhi

    Vinod didn’t put the name of country but still you are outraged. That is the reality dude.Recommend

  • abhi

    Your comment is correct. My only question is why Pakistan is naming their missiles after these nomads an looters.Recommend

  • abhi

    How come Russia will have access to any warm water port by invading Afghanistan as it is a land locked country. Russian wanted to have a communist gov. in Afghanistan.Recommend

  • vasan

    Is it your “sane” argument. Even that is debatable. Pakistan is no better than India in terms of poverty, hunger, lack of toilets etc. On infant mortality, education etc, India is way ahead. Read some nonpakistani nonindian news sources.Recommend

  • Abbas

    Ok then don’t allow Taliban to enter Afghanistan and don’t give them space in ur society. Afghanistan and ur problem will be solved….
    Regards
    Recommend

  • Kamath

    Yes, the author writes a silly colomnist. He does not know the fact that there were only three countries that recognized Talibani govt after fall of Kabul. They were
    1. Pakistan
    2. UAE
    3. Saudi Arabia.
    How do you explain that?Recommend

  • Tombraider

    See the irony,mate!Recommend

  • Tombraider

    Osama? Mullah Omar?Recommend

  • JP

    Er,..see..well,..they would have gone down to Gwadar,..in Pakistan,..A little Pak border would not have stopped them.
    You see it now? Does it help? Hope it does.
    Iran was having problems too. with the Shah deposed….Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    Clearly my friend, you did not care to read history, but just decided to believe word of mouth. Since you do have internet access as I see, please try simply googling up about Afghan War and the reason behind Russian foot on Afghani ground. I can help you bit here

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Afghan_War

    Read this thoroughly and also read Pakistan’s involvement in this war which is the cause of about every problem what Pakistan is facing right now.Recommend

  • M M Alam

    1838-42 – British forces invade Afghanistan , install King Shah Shujah…..Blame Pakistan ?

    He is assassinated in 1842. ……Blame ISI ?

    British and Indian troops are massacred during retreat from Kabul……Blame Pakistan ?

    1919 – Emir Amanullah Khan declares independence from British influence……Blame Pakistan ?

    and the list goes on ad infitum …. read on…..

    1926-29 – Amanullah tries to introduce social reforms, which however stir civil unrest. He flees.

    1933 – Zahir Shah becomes king and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next four decades.

    1953 – General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister. Turns to Soviet Union for economic and military assistance.

    1963 – Mohammed Daud forced to resign as prime minister.

    1964 – Constitutional monarchy introduced – but leads to political polarisation and power struggles….

    and the spin goes on….. 2015 and beyond…..

    Give me a break….

    India , Abdullah Abdullah , Karzai and company can do their best to sabotage the peace process between Afghan government and Afghan Taliban. However their father and our Uncle Sam knows that there can no peace without talking to Afghan Taliban.

    Rest is waste of time and some more billions of greenback.Recommend

  • SA

    Why don’t you guys go ahead, and stick with your country’s shitty newspapers instead of wasting time here? Ohh wait, let me guess! they are not worth it. Poor masses.Recommend

  • abhi

    ok so they would have invaded Pakistan to capture Gwader, please note that there was no Gwadar port at that time. In effect you are saying that Russia would have invaded Pakistan then build the port there? Also remember that Pakistan was part of CENTO and invading Pakistan would have resulted in a war between US and Russia.Recommend

  • Gullu

    Because Hindustan is part and parcel of this whole equation.
    It is because of Bharat’s hate for Paks, support of terrorists,
    extremists, that we have these everlasting never ending problems in Afghanistan. If Bharat minds it’s own business,
    concentrate on it’s destitute population, build toilets for 58%
    of it’s population, create jobs…then everything will be fine.
    [No need to play the pseudo regional hegemonic power. See,..
    ‘Bharat ain’t got it’. no charisma, no diplomacy, every neighbor including Bhutan have a problem…with HindustanRecommend

  • Sane

    I 100% agree what you say. Specially the last sentence.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    That was a very good one.Recommend

  • Sane

    No. Why should I be outraged? I just answered a quiz. My answer is correct.Recommend

  • abhi

    and your world is Pakistan.Recommend

  • shanu khan

    how r u buddy?Recommend

  • stevenson

    Do Zakarias personal misdemeanors absolve India of terrorism which India is addicted to and practicing to date?Recommend

  • Rohan

    India hasnt been practicing any, it is just your paranoia and magnificent delusionsRecommend

  • Abdul Mojeeb Tawqeer

    Very good analysis.Recommend