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Differences between US blunders and Pak empathy made in the Taliban game

WebdeskAug 18, 2021, 10:05 AM IST

Differences between US blunders and Pak empathy made in the Taliban game

                                                                                                                                                                          Nirendra Dev


Many in the Bush administration were happy to launch a war against Iraq and Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden had given them the window of opportunity.


New Delhi: Of course, looking back, it could be easy to find fault in Pakistan for extending all sorts of logistic and moral support and healing touch to the Taliban, but it also goes without saying that the Americans ought to look inwards for ignoring such warnings.


Moreover, many in the Bush administration were happy to launch a war against Iraq and Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden had given them the window of opportunity.


It was reported at later stages by various US military experts and retired officers that the fact that the Taliban always had a place to 'go back' to put them outside the reach of NATO airstrikes and get a 'healing touch' in Pakistan has in the ultimate proved a crucial turning point in the battle against terrorism.


These views are endorsed by Indian experts and former soldiers, too.


"By going deep inside Pakistan and being able to stay with their families and enjoy other hospitality for months showed the Taliban had a place to hide and recover from injuries and adversaries. These have proved game-changers in a real sense," said one of them in the knowledge of things.  ”




One Indian official says that if Osama bin Laden's intention to attack Twin Towers was to precipitate a confrontation between the West and the Islamic world, the "launching" of these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Americans kept the confrontation alive.


"Robin Cook, a former British Minister resigned from the cabinet of Tony Blair on March 17, 2003, in protest that he could not be part of a war based on false prospectus. If today, the US got a bad taste of handling things badly, they have to blame some of their bad decisions," he says.


Others say the US was arrogant and 'overconfident' initially, little realising that while they had weapons and economic support, the Taliban as a fighting force and other regional chieftains were 'warlords'.


Fighting has been an in-thing among Afghan young men. So when the Bush administration and even Barack Obama initially opposed the idea of building a 'professional' Afghan army, it was clear that an erroneous policy had been adopted.


The military strategy seemed to have been drawn out on the assumption that military prowess would prevail and that after Al-Qaeda, the Taliban would be weak. At the same time, America could justify all actions claiming that they were still a threat.


The confrontation between US-led West and Taliban-Al Qaeda were also seen as 'civilisational war'- Jihad.


Like any self-respecting nation, Afghanistan, too, did not entertain the idea of seeing foreigners 'dominating' on their soil. This attitude sharpened a little bit worse when two sides are not from the same religion.


So, the Taliban campaign that the government of Ashraf Ghani was a government of 'puppets' had overwhelming acceptance even among those Afghan civilians who did not approve of the Taliban.


Some problems the Americans and NATO forces faced were peculiar and typical to Afghanistan and the society.


Many natives were antagonised in the Taliban's rural strongholds because of the US-inspired administration and authorities who rely heavily on opium poppy cultivation to survive. The US had pushed for drug 'eradication' programmes. This did not go down well with vested interests and powerful lobbies.  




There was yet another technical fault line as the Americans promoted a powerful federal government in Kabul, but Afghanistan is a country where, for centuries, the tribes enjoyed local autonomy.


Moreover, there were strategic lapses and more with the timing.


The move to invade Iraq diverted attention. Instead of working to secure Afghanistan against a resurgence of the Taliban, the Bush administration had diverted its military resources, time, and personnel to prove that Saddam Hussein's authoritarian government had illicit weapons of mass destruction.


"The United States did become distracted by the war in Iraq for several years," said Lisa Curtis, a former CIA analyst.


In the ultimate, as Taliban men hoist their white flags and even the US embassy was shut down, one can go back to what Robin Cook told the British parliament in 2003: "History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition".




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