The final battle of Afghanistan: Not yet

Published: July 9, 2010

The Afghans have a history of fending off invading armies.

Let us forget for a moment what happened with the imperialist forces in the past centuries of their adventurous planned invasions in this region, and their outcomes.

The longest war has apparently come to its much awaited conclusion as expected. Until today, 70 per cent of Afghanistan is still under the control of the militants who are ethically, morally, and religiously motivated to defend themselves from invaders, while only 29 districts are under the Karzai government, which is also not 100 per cent secure. For the Afghans it is not the first time that they are brutally kicking out the foreigners. This, however, will be the toughest attempt ever. To many in the region, it would be great to see the Nato/Isaf forces go “up” either by helicopters, airplanes or a bullet to the head.

Nato supplies are being disturbed and attacks on the convoys are becoming a norm which again not only gives hope to the fighters, but also allows them to tighten the circle around the government controlled areas and regularly bombard them with rockets and light or heavy ammunition which they somehow manage to get hold of regularly. Out of billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan in the past 10 years, it is known that the major chunk has been used for the forces, private armies, and foreign consultants, while the infrastructure of Afghanistan remains in a dilapidated condition, rather worse than when this all started 10 years ago. There is zero security for civilians, and sources of income are burdened and slashed by mischievous offers for substitute income, which had not materialized until now, and so it is always better and secure for the civilian to submit to the militants, better known as “freedom fighters.” Comparatively, Pakistan Army has completed 70% of reconstruction and rehabilitation work in South Waziristan operation started last year. Swat is back to normal and recently enjoyed thousands of tourist. The region is however still under the army’s watch, because Pakistan is still in a state of war, and fear of local militants returning prevents the army from leaving it unattended.

Since the change of government in UK, the situation has gone from bad to worse. Sixty-five per cent of the English want their troops out of Afghanistan without any ifs and buts, and their new PM has reciprocated the public demand by telling off the Americans. Other small countries working on development projects are also morally dead and the will to remain and fight the fighting networks in Afghanistan is at its greatest low. After 99 casualties since 2001 the 1,000 British troops stationed in Sangin, in Helmand province will start moving out and be replaced by US troops, under the “re-deployment” strategy. But the 312 total dead of British military, made this place the deadliest of all.

The US sees this, and is seemingly concerned about the exit strategy they had in mind which “may” start from July next year. This all depends on how effective they are at handling the next 12 months of rigorous fighting with the locals, as by the end of August the total strength of the US forces will reach to 150,000 personnel.

The recent discovery of minerals, gas and oil by the US geological survey released by the permission of the Pentagon is mind boggling, and the pieces of the puzzle has confused everyone a lot more than it just being ‘good news’ for Afghanistan. The lowest conservative estimates are a trillion dollars which may vary up to $3 trillion. The series of events right after this breaking news cast doubts in everyone’s minds.

Now, that is a lot of money to pay back Nato expenses incurred during the war and also re-build Afghanistan to a peaceful and a flourishing country, if the coalition is able to strike a deal with the fighters with help from Pakistan’s ISI. This is something that looks impossible and carries a great deficit of trust, between the Nato forces.

Richard Holbrooke acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts and promised us that this time they will not turn away and leave us looming with disaster and refugees like they did after the Soviet occupation was crushed during CIA’s Jihad. He also gave a hint that it is impossible to strike a deal with the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, while maintaining the pressure on us sublimely over the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline as Iran is awarded with more sanctions, which are again useless and could not stop Iran from carrying out its nuclear energy ambitions.

A well known British Writer and Historian William Darlymple compared the events that took place in Afghanistan against the British forces (the private army of East India Company) along with troops from India in 1842 to 2010 when 40,000 troops lost their lives during the first Afghan invasion. This war resulted in humiliation of the West where less than 100 soldiers survived and made it home in one piece. He labeled the Afghan warriors as ruthless, brutal and utterly motivated, and also confirms that the events occurring now in Afghanistan are shockingly similar to what led to the collapse of colonialism in 1842 from the Anglo-Afghan war. According to Mr Darlymple, the Nato forces do not stand a chance of safe exit from Afghanistan. This is what the majority of the population from around the world would like to believe as the eventual fate of the occupiers during the “Final Battle of Afghanistan.”

All of a sudden we hear that the top commander General McChrystal screwed up somewhere and is relieved of his duties a few days later because of a verbal vomit of opinion about the Obama Administration which happen to be in presence of a reporter from a well known American Magazine. He is quickly replaced by the most trusted General Petraeus within days. This was a shocker to all as in spite of the current situation, changing the top army man at this stage because of a slip of the tongue, from the champions of democracy, is really astonishing to digest. There has to be something more behind it, even though the General is very sorry about it. Not much happens, and very calmly all the stake holders accept this dramatic change after assurances given by the US.

Few days later General Petraeus after taking charge as the commander of operations in Afghanistan tells the US Senate’s armed services committee that the deadline of July 2011 for withdrawal of troops should be registered as “highly flexible.” He also informs the American people that in the coming days the fight may get worse, and it will take many years before the Afghan forces are fully trained and equipped to carry on the responsibility of policing their own country. As usual the American public is again bombarded with mixed messages from their own officials, and it is not clear if they are really interested in leaving the country. Is this because of the new found mineral wealth or do they really care about the security of the country so that America can remain safe from attacks from Afghanistan?

President Karzai has come to terms with the situation after losing faith in the West’s abilities to bring peace and is very much interested in shaking hands with the fighters who were originally installed to counter invaders. He appears to have convinced the Americans to use the muscle and might of Pakistan’s ISI in negotiating a power sharing formula with the different networks in Afghanistan. The statements coming from his law makers for Pakistan, criticizing its internal control on militants, as the proposal for opening a trade route via Pakistan to India was rejected, are not so encouraging for ISI to really “help” them out anymore. Look who’s talking.

CIA’s director Leon Panetta, however, is not sure of this deal and does not believe that there can be a table solution to this mess created 10 years ago. As the Indian friendly head of the spy agency and the interior minister of Afghanistan resign, it is becoming clear what Karzai is desperately aiming for. The Tajiks and the Hazarawals are also not included in the count and may have to suffer the wrath of the Haqqani networks once the deal is done. While Pakistan may not be able to influence the Taliban networks, it may result in Tajik-Pashtun violence in the coming days which has the potential to spill over to other areas.

As Admiral Mullen works to regain the lost trust of the Pakistan, he has a long road ahead in building the confidence which lacks between the US and Pakistan, while requiring help from Pakistan to dismantle the Al-Qaeda and Taliban networks to bring peace to this region. Maybe the US should look at the history and origins of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, instead of cornering Pakistan every time and find the people who are funding them, before killing the fighters.

So far it appears that it will be a very hard next 12 months for Afghanistan and Pakistan. In case the US is beaten and has to evacuate from a miserable defeat, the secular Pakistan needs realize what it will be facing. And then, for India, as they continue with the media campaign to defame Pakistan, this is all what I can say for our neighbors:


Syed Ali Raza Abidi

A businessman who writes on politics and civic issues. He completed his masters in business administration from Boston University. He tweets @abidifactor.

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

  • Saif

    Good Shot!!Recommend

  • Ferya Ilyas


  • Alan

    this is absolute stupidity, an article supporting the terrorist organisations that dwell within Afghanistan, since when did war stop war anyway, when did violence stop violence, both sides of this war are awful and both sides will suffer, its just a huge loss either way Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    Alan: think from an Afghani perspective… they are fighting invaders. Yes, war does not stop war.. but it was not Afghanistan that started it? or did it?Recommend

  • http://n/a Waleed Ashfaq

    I would say it’s awesome :)

    @ Alan : Don’t call it violence. Say it Resistance against the violence and resistance can perhaps end up this violence. take the example of Vietnam :) Recommend

  • Rehan

    Amazing article, good going. Recommend

  • Alan

    do two wrongs make a right? a resistance that’s stained in blood? you could say that that’s what a resistance is but it isn’t, a peaceful resistance is what’s needed, and of course i see it from an Afghanistan perspective but revenge is never the answer, yes the Americans started this war, but in there eyes the Taliban did, so you have both sides killing each other and both sides will not win Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    But the Americans were wrong.. not they are suffering. You are right Alan, but please understand, what mistakes they may, which they will automatically have to pay for. Its not the best of the senario’s but there is no other choice man :) I wouldn’t want it to end miserably, however it appears that it will. Unfortunately. Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    I personally think any nation trying to “clean up” Afghanistan (or Pakistan, for that matter) is wasting it’s precious youth on a hopeless situation. Of course, in the Muslim context of killing and murdering and maiming such a scenario is not hopeless but rather commonplace. But we in the West despise such malefic anarchy. Hence, when Muslims impose their culture of hatred and violence and racism (against Western non-Muslims), the West goes to war with you. Dahhh. What other choice do we have? Of course, you can accuse the Western powers of being “imperialists”, but just remember that wherever Islam is now a perponderant religion, it became so only as a result of Islam’s imperialist/expansionist tendencies. The West regards this part of Islams history as a sign of culpability and a danger to our future. If you hate war, if you value that peculiar religious anarchy synonymous with Islam and Muslims, keep your terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the West will leave you to kill each other as much as you like. Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    I notice nobody here wants to broach the subject of the Arab Muslim invasion of Afghanistan. It’s ok for Arab Muslims to invade Afghanistan, and purely for imperialist designs back then (it wasn’t because of being threatened by a hostile power that Arab Muslims invaded Afghanistan). Ditto for Arab Muslim’s invasion of Israel.

    It’s amusing to read countless Muslim tirades about the State of Israel (and I’m neither Christian or Jewish) and how Israel is an “occupying power” when it is known by everyone who has a firm grasp of Middle East history that Arab Muslims also invaded Israel long ago and that Jews have been there even longer than Arab Muslims. Arab Muslims violently imposed themselves into that region. And then to have the audacity to build a mosque atop the Jewish Temple in Israel and pretend to the modern world that Solomon’s Temple does not exist beneath it is also ludicrous and indicative of the Muslim world’s tendentious habit of obfuscating history as a means of apologizing for Islam’s aggressive and malefic mythos.

    And then to hear Islam’s clerics excoriate the Western world’s social norms and values, as if our Judeo-Christian heritage is inferior to Islam’s racism and violence, is simply perplexing to people like me. We cannot comprehend such grotesque dishonesty.

    And above you talk of who is to blame for America’s presence in Afghanistan. Look who is calling the kettle black, as they say in the West. My personal opinion is also that Western armies should not be in Afghanistan: it’s a waste of time and a shame that our soldiers are dying for a country whose preponderant religion (Islam) teaches its inhabitants to hate everyone (but especially Jews) who is not Muslim. Democracy is not wanted by a people who throw acid on young women’s faces, who murder young girls because they want an education, who treat their women like so much garbage. How does anyone or any Western army re-invent a religiously inculcated people with such egregious cultures? What incenses me is that my hard-earned tax dollars are being used to pay for this imbroglio. And we’re talking about a lot of tax dollars. We’re even giving Pakistan tax dollars, and for what? So you people can go on hating our guts simply because we are not Muslim? You love our money (as do the Saudis), but you want not to reciprocate our kindness. Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    @Michael: Firstly you are generalizing too much. Islam and Muslim live amongst you in the US and around the world. Not everyone is a terrorist, like not every Jew is a Zionist. However, there is extremism prevalant in every country almost in its different forms. You have the KKK or had them, and you had the white black issues in the past. The Europeans had fought and lost 50 million lives, and then eventually shook hands for peace. So we all have a black spot with us or behind us. 9/11 was carried out by Arabs, tell me which Arab country except for Iraq was destroyed under false pretext? Pakistan is not an Arab country, rather the Arabs look down upon us, as we may be inferior to them, or it is the stupidity of our people to be looking up to the Arabs for religious examples.

    Afghanistan invited trouble when they refused to give up Osama Bin Laden, but few years later it was proved that Iraq did not have the WMD’s and Osaman was not in Afghanistan. Since 10 years the coalition has been actively engaged with the Muslims as oppressors and invaders and until now the NATO has not gained anything.

    Vietnam was an example but pot makes you forget early or realize that oops! we have made a mistake and now need to get out of it after killing thousands and destroying other’s land.

    The American people need to get out of the media influence, which is really not fair or free to tell you what the realities are on the ground. Pakistan inherited this war from Afghanistan because of our “friendly” policies with the Americans who have been in Pakistan since long, and have used us to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 80, when in fact Osama was one of CIA most strategic asset, just like Saddam Hussain when Iran was the opponent.

    DO you not realize this hypocrisy and chain of events are enough to develop an opinion about the west?

    Maybe its time you have put your house in order and do away with the doctrine of pre-emptive strike on a nation that you somehow do not like. Saudi Arabia is your worst friend, and your worst enemy, but it is not possible to realize that now, because they are full of something that you want so dearly to keep your economic engine running. If Saudi Arabia is looked into and its operations in secretively supporting the insurgents with finances and equipment, we would have identified the root cause of terrorism and then eliminated it.

    But you dare not use your tax money on them … or would you?Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    “…not every Jew is a Zionist”??

    I am not of the opinion that Zionism is wrong. Who says that Zionism is wrong? Zionism is part and parcel of Judaism. Judaism does not refer to non-Jews as “the descendants of swine and monkeys”. Islam does. So why is it wrong for Jews to desire to live in their ancestoral homeland?

    I am also not of the opinion that Saudi Arabia is an innocuous country. It certainly isn’t. Nor did I describe Pakistan as an Arab country.

    I am not an American, I am a Canadian.

    Not everyone is a terrorist. No. And not everyone is an axe-murderer. You are being simplistic. But the numbers indicate that every terrorist (or just about every terrorist) is a Muslim. This is a problem for the rest of the world too, whether we like it or not.

    I did not say that Muslims have not been victims of Islamist terrorism, because they have, more than anyone else. Iraq and Afghanistan have made this visible to the Western world.

    Saudi Arabia is full of what? Oil? That is so droll, and it makes you sound of less intelligence than what you actually are, I’m sure. Everyone needs oil, my friend. But just remember, the Saudis need to sell oil to the West more than we need to buy it.

    Again, the issue of Islam: I just read today that a couple are to be stoned in Pakistan for committing adultery. In the West such people have the option of divorce or just leaving their unfaithful partner. In Pakistan you stone them to death. You see here how we in the West might develop this negative opinion of Islamic countries? As I wrote earlier, you love Western money, but you run and hide at the first sign of culpability. Instead you blame all your imprudence and stupidity on the West. Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    @Michael: you have a stereotype, which keeps you from learning from history! If Zionism is not wrong? then why is a large number of Jews against it? No, Islam teaches respect for one another, and like I said earlier, its a tiny minority that is influenced by a sect of Islam, which is at war with every other religion including the different sects of Islam it self.

    This is the wrong notion that Islam refers to non-muslims as descendants of the Monkey. Even this animal is made by God, so you may have an ill impression about them, but not the Muslims.

    The Islam Al-Qaida, and the Taliban promote or wish to enforce has its origins from Saudi Arabia and was created a lot later than Islam was originally introduced. It is more of a cultural Islam, where they believe they are right and the rest are wrong.

    If you think that Saudi Arabia needs you more than you need her, then you are wrong, because North America is not the rest of the world. SA has many buyers of their natural resource as Industrialization is a global phenomenon and not a regional one anymore.

    Take a look at Sri Lanka (Tamil’s), India (Maoists), numerous countries of Africa .. are they all Muslims killing each other and carrying out civil disobedience in their own countries. But you wouldn’t see that because they are not Muslim countries.

    Check out news abou acid trowing in Phillipines, Burma, India, and most of the South Eastern region, it is only Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq which you know about.

    Moving forward without identifying the different sections of Islam, will confuse you even more. Its is better you find out the difference between the real Islam and the Islam of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    “Its is better you find out the difference between the real Islam and the Islam of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

    We in the West have been waiting to see the “real Islam” instead of veridical Islam, the only Islam that exists in the world. I am not talking about the Islam your apologists promise us, the Islam that does not exist but only in the minds of sophists. I am talking about the Islam that does not precipitate hatred against Jews and non-Muslims.

    Because some Jews are against Zionism does not qualify Zionism as “wrong”.

    “It is more of a cultural Islam…”

    The above is pure sophism. I could list you scripture after scripture found in the Quran that denigrates non-Muslims. You surely believe I have never read the Quran. I have. I have been reading about Islam since I was in my teens. I am now approaching 60 years of age. If a culture, an egregrious culture, is a by-product of Islam, then Islam proper is at fault for that egregious culture, don’t you think, Ali?

    A very good point about Maoists and the Tamil Tigers, I admit.

    S. Ali Raza, I appreciate your good manners (except for your anti-Jewish bias, for which I blame the Quran). Islam needs more Muslims like you. This is the first time I have ever had a discussion with a Muslim where I am not being called all kinds of names.Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    @michael: If my religion or the holy book was to preach terrorism and murder, then I am certain, there would have not been a lot of non-muslims alive, and we would have been aggressively fighting against the ‘infidels’ since the last 1425 years. However, thats not the case.

    We sometimes also call Islam as the religion of convenience, which can be interpreted as per one’s understanding and needs. Its just like the law book, where you can get a possible convict out on technical knockouts. This is how some of people, who are normally not educated neither civilized to face the world, and derive meaning which would allow them to commit the crime or have protection from it. An empty mind is criminal!

    I am sure you are aware of the Beduins and their oppressive culture, which may appear alright when seen, but deep inside it is filled with extremism and no regard for life or property.

    But Sir, I tell you, not all Muslims are like that. It is a tiny few who push the rest to the corner, and believe me we are fighting them. We are hitting them hard and trying our best to get them to stop committing such atrocities.

    9/11 was Arabs, and 7/7 in London was their local citizens, bred and born but had family in Pakistan. If we were to trace back origins, then it should actually be India suffering, as Pakistan is after all created from India 63 years ago.

    Patience and continued support for this infant country will help the world get free of terrorism, but constant bashing of the primary effectees will not help it, rather create more enemies of the West. I just hope we can understand this.

    Thank you for the appreciation, and I look forward for a better understanding from you what Islam really means. Take examples of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunai, these are major Muslim countries, but are more peaceful and democratic than any of the Western states. Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    Ali, please answer me one simple question: Why are Jews forbidded from praying on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem yet Muslims can enter and pray there (in the mosque that was built atop it)anytime? Are the Muslims who control the Mosque there from that Saudi extremist sect you mention above? Can anything be done to accomodate the observant Jews of Israel? Or is it too late for that sort of accomodation?

    I am not baiting you, Ali. I am, honestly, wondering why this issue of the Temple Mount is such an obstacle in the way of peace between Arab Muslim and Jew. It seems like it will never be resolved. Why can they not share this religious site? Recommend

  • S. Ali Raza

    There are some religious and political issues that appear that cannot be solved, just like we have Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Restraint and patience is required from both sides in order to come to a conclusion. When that happens? we do not know! Recommend

  • Rehan

    the Palestinians shared their country with the Jews, and it came back to bite them. Michael, you should be asking this question to the people who are in control of Jerusalem, when it was under the administration of the Muslims, all places of worship were equally open to all the people of the scripture with all freedom to worship in their own manner and style. Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    “…all places of worship were equally open to all the people of the scripture with all freedom to worship in their own manner and style.”

    That’s my question, Rehan. Why is worship at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem now severely restricted to Jewish patrons? Is it because of Jewish control (I’m guessing you’re inferring to Israeli government authorities) of Jerusalem that Jews are severely restricted from even saying prayers at the Temple Mount? That doesn’t make any sense, Rehan.

    “…the Palestinians shared their country with the Jews, and it came back to bite them.”

    But the Jews were just as much “Palestinians” before Yaser Arafat transmogrified the meaning of the term “Palestinian”. Many historians who published books about he Middle East on a variety of subjects (not just religion) refer to Jewish inhabitants of the area at that time as Palestinians. Jews have had a continual presence in that region longer than Muslims. Islam interpolated its “religious inheritance” into the area by force of arms (if you remember that particular history), and now the Jews have been subsequently denigrated into the lesser existence by terrorist entities as merely “occupiers”. It doesn’t seem fair to me, Rehan. Are Jews less “Palestinian” than are Muslims? Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    “…when it was under the administration of the Muslims, all places of worship were equally open to all the people of the scripture with all freedom to worship in their own manner and style.”

    Rehan, your statement above is totally false. I leave with you a statement, as recorded at The General Muslim Conference (Nov. 1, 1928), by the Mufti of Jerusalem where he urged limits to be placed on Jewish worship at the Wall. The Mufti asked the British…”to immediately and perpetually to prevent the Jews from placing under any circumstances whether temporary or permanent any objects in the area, such as seats lamps, objects of worship or reading, and to prevent them also from raising their voices or making any speeches…” Recommend

  • Rehan

    Michael, sorry for the late reply. Anyhow, since the time of Salahuddin people of the scripture have been totally free to carry on their religious obligations, when you are referring to the Mufti of Jerusalem who himself was in exile at that time due to Jewish Hagana militia, who killed thousands of Palestinians and Muslims in the Jerusalem mosque in the first ten days war of 1948. For reference please see this BBC documentary as to who was and is the aggressor in this whole drama ( Yes, there were a few Jews living in Palestine before the creation of Israel but it was when the British left Palestine and the UN unjustly partitioned the country, that is when Jewish migration picked up. My point here is not to get into an argument as to who is correct or wrong, the point is to simply co exists as humans and let live. Please do see all the eight parts of this documentary I am sure it will answer or get you to ponder as to the Jewish/ Zionist stance on Palestine. Recommend

  • Rehan

    BTW what does this got to do with the topic of this particular blog. What do you think will the American’s be able to achieve their ultimate goals?Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    It began with my post about Islam’s malefic tendencies, how that these same tendencies (one of them anti-Jewish hatred) will prevent any denouement to not only Afghanistan’s ugly social norms (all of them the fruits of Islam), but also the same social norms evident in all predominantly Muslim countries.

    The Mufti was exiled for inciting pogroms against the Palestinian Jews. That was long after 1928, the year of the Muslim “conference” I refer to in my post.

    I will not post another blog. You’ll just keep denying Islam’s violent tendencies and Islam’s anti-Jewish hatred. All discussions with Muslims end this way: with denial of the real history and veridical Islam (the Islam that exists, not the Islam promised by history revisionists and sophists. Recommend

  • Michael Devolin

    Ali, I’m sorry to hear about the devastation in Pakistan. My condolences to all the victims of this disaster. I pray that help will reach everyone in time.

    I don’t know what else to say, Ali. Again, I’m sorry to hear about this.

    Michael Devolin Recommend