Lis­bon Con­fer­ence and re­gional peace in Asia

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Am­jad Ayub Mirza

It would be a great, and prob­a­bly the most valu­able, achieve­ment of the Zar­dari govern­ment to bring all concerned par­ties to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble to chalk out a peace plan, not only for Afghanistan but for the whole re­gion

With the re­cent claim made by Gen­eral David Pe­traeus, com­man­der of US forces in Afghanistan that "spe­cial forces are tak­ing out up to six Tal­iban tar­gets a day", the fu­ture of the Afghan war might seem to bring favourable re­sults for the 47 nation-strong war coali­tion whose mil­i­tary per­son­nel are wrestling to de­feat the in­sur­gents in an at­tempt to help the neo­cons in­stall a fun­da­men­tal­ist (Fried­manic) mar­ket econ­omy with its full fe­roc­ity.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view given to the de­fence edi­tor of The Times, a London-based daily, Deb­o­rah Haynes, who hap­pens to be one of the few priv­i­leged cor­po­rate jour­nal­ists who have ac­cess to the for­ti­fied head­quar­ters of NATO's In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity As­sis­tance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Gen­eral Pe­traeus sounded more op­ti­mistic than one would nor­mally ex­pect of an army chief em­bat­tled for nine years whose en­emy re­mains elu­sive, fe­cund and seem­ingly at one with the ter­rain.

This has left the gen­eral with only one op­tion, namely, 'tar­geted killing' of the in­sur­gents with the help of a wider net of lo­cal in­form­ers. The gen­eral, strangely but fan­ci­fully, refers to this as the 'jack­pot' scored daily by his spe­cial forces. To draw a par­al­lel be­tween killing a hu­man be­ing and win­ning a jack­pot at a fruit ma­chine is typ­i­cal of a colo­nial men­tal­ity where na­tive pop­u­la­tion is con­sid­ered be­long­ing to a lesser sub-species than the invader.

As the de­sire of the western democ­ra­cies to bring the fifth Afghan war to its con­clu­sion intensifies, they tend to make mil­i­tary er­rors that might cost them close al­lies in the so-called 'war on ter­ror'. One such blun­der came dur­ing the first week of Oc­to­ber when, while chas­ing high-value tar­gets, NATO en­tered the Pak­istani ter­ri­tory and killed sev­eral Pak­istan Army sol­diers in what has been called an in­ci­dent of 'friendly fire'.

In Bri­tain, the Bri­tish Na­tional Party (BNP), the far right party, whose chair­man Ni­cholas Grif­fin holds a Euro­pean par­lia­men­tary seat, has launched a na­tion­wide cam­paign de­mand­ing the im­me­di­ate with­drawal of the Bri­tish troops from a war he calls "un­winnable". Stalls have mush­roomed all over the coun­try, even in re­mote towns such as Eastbourne on the south coast of Eng­land, where peo­ple queue to sign a pe­ti­tion to de­mand bring­ing of their 'boys' home.

The rise of the Right in Europe, es­pe­cially the re­cent loss of the so­cial democrats to the right-wing for a sec­ond time in Swe­den, is be­ing termed as a wor­ry­ing sign for a West that is feel­ing the pain of the fail­ure of the at­tempts to in­stall neo-con cap­i­tal­ism through pros­e­cut­ing wars from the banks of Ti­gris to the val­leys of Bamiyan. Europe is faced with se­ri­ous threats of re­newed trade union and civil so­ci­ety re­sis­tance due to im­mi­nent heavy pub­lic spend­ing cuts and so elites will have to pay more at­ten­tion to­wards do­mes­tic un­rest; ac­cord­ingly, the war in Afghanistan will have to be brought to a 'log­i­cal' con­clu­sion. The sooner the bet­ter. Hence the an­nounce­ment at NATO's Lis­bon gath­er­ing by Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron to end Bri­tain's com­bat role in Afghanistan by 2014 come what may!

Pak­istan, whose own elites blithely have bartered its sovereignty for a slav­ish al­le­giance to NATO, is now faced with a dilemma of its own. If it pulls out as a war part­ner, the role it em­braced as a front-line state, then the In­dian lobby in that coun­try will earn even greater in­flu­ence since they are al­ready in­volved in devel­op­ment projects on a large scale. On the other hand, if Pak­istan, un­der the pre­text of gain­ing strate­gic depth against In­dia, de­cides to con­tin­ues to play the role of front-line state against threats to the neo-con agenda in the re­gion and in re­turn for its al­le­giance de­sires to con­tinue prob­ing into Afghanistan for a pro-Pak­istani Afghan govern­ment, then its de­pen­dence on the ji­hadist pawns in the war will in­crease. A lose-lose sit­u­a­tion, then. How­ever, per­haps a more prac­ti­cal ap­proach to this para­dox would be to help Afghanistan build an army of able civil ser­vants who could pro­vide the much-needed civil ad­min­is­tra­tion per­son­nel to run that coun­try. It is in the in­ter­est of Pak­istan that po­lit­i­cal unity in Kabul, com­pris­ing all eth­nic and re­li­gious sec­tions of Afghan so­ci­ety, is achieved at the ear­li­est.

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