Sunday, February 7, 2010

Afghanistan: Back To The Future?

One of the most thoughtful pieces about the recently held London Conference on Afghanistan has come from BBC Urdu's Wusatullah Khan, published on January 31.

Here is a translation of the piece, done by yours truly. Worth reading.

Create A New Problem!
Wusatullah Khan Islamabad
For the last few days, I have been remembering slain Afghan President Najeebullah intensely.
In 1989, when the last Soviet troops had crossed the River Amo, to save Afghanistan from further destruction, Najeebullah’s national reconciliation plan was on the table. Under it, the Mujahideen groups had been appealed to think only as Afghans, now that the Red Army that they had been fighting against was gone. Najeebullah’s government said ‘We will not take up arms, you too should lay down your guns. Let us call a Loya Jirga [Grand Meeting], sit across from each other and instead of indulging in a destructive blame game, let us make a government that represents all segments of Afghans. This government can then make a constitution and conduct elections as well.’
But Najeebullah’s plan was scornfully rejected by the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Mujahideen groups. Najeebullah was taunted, saying ‘you yourself are a remainder of the Soviet occupation, how can there be any reconciliation with you?’ The result was that the destruction that had occurred in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, much worse was visited upon the country after it, and has continued since.
The reconciliation strategy that 60 countries have endorsed as practical at the London Conference is almost a photocopy of Najeebullah’s national reconciliation plan. If there is any difference between the two, it is that 20 years ago the same plan was considered impractical because it was put forward by a Soviet puppet Afghan president. Now the same plan is considered kosher because the US and NATO are behind it. And because Hamid Karzai is touted as an elected leader rather than a Western puppet.
Najeebullah was accused of many things. But he was never accused of financial corruption, of encouraging warlordism or of overseeing drug trafficking. Hamid Karzai’s reputation is entirely different and these allegations against him have come – and continue to come – not from his enemies but, in fact, from circles within the US, NATO and the United Nations. According to Transparency International, Afghanistan is the second-most corrupt country in the world. And the level of misgiving is such that even the Afghan parliament itself has twice rejected most of the nominees put forward for the cabinet.
In such a scenario, to expect the Hamid Karzai administration to honestly oversee disbursement of the promised US$500 million fund set up to bring the Taliban into the mainstream of Afghan social life, is like putting a cat in charge of protecting milk.
Whatever else the London plan may have accomplished, it is certainly reinforcing the perception that within a year or year-and-a-half, Afghanistan will once again be left at its own mercy. But when the US and NATO take their leave, their place will once again be taken by militants backed by Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and India.
They say one way of addressing a complicated and complex problem is to create a bigger problem. It looks like this is exactly what is in store for Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is sad.