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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Afghanistan put on the back burner?

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali

Has the world forgotten Afghanistan? The developments recently in Libya seem to have diverted world media to America’s new play field. The old one lies, ravaged, raped, destructed and now, ignored like yesterday’s newspaper.

Libya was attacked by America, as in Iraq, and Afghanistan, it was first preceded by an avalanche of propaganda against it’s ruler. Eric Margolis, in an article, stated and I quote,” America’s glaring double standard in the Mideast and Muslim world is a major reason for growing hatred of our nation. America would be hailed as genuine liberator of long-suffering Libyans if it also intervened in Bahrain and Yemen — and perhaps Saudi Arabia — to protect civilians from the ferocity of their despotic governments and promote real democracy. But it’s only oil-rich Libya that is getting the “humanitarian” treatment from the US and oil-hungry western European former colonial powers”.

Coming to Afghanistan, America & her allies, must have by now realized that the physical invasion of a country is a far cry from subjugation of the will of the people of the country and holding that country as captive. Superior technology, well developed war toys, can make invasion the easier part, it is what follows thereafter is the difficult part.

Karzai is not a person the Afghans trust. He is seen as an American front man and someone in a position for the sake of serving American interests. The increasing corruption of his government does not help either.

A report of February 28th, 2011 states that Maj. Gen. John Campbell, commander of NATO coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan, said he has been repositioning some of his troops since last August to make them more effective in the region that borders Pakistan.

The terrain that is the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is the toughest in the world. Also, impossible to man, owing to the area, geography and weather conditions.

The question, Obama must ask of himself , is, what gains have been attained after invading Afghanistan. Have the terrorist attacks ended? The answer, is a resounding No. Afghanistan, invaded by US and British forces in direct response to the September 11 attacks, saw a rise from very few before 2003 to 802 since then. The “war on terror” seems to have made the world a more insecure, a more dangerous place to live in.

What then, should the USA and her allies do, to bring peace to the region, if, that is the objective?

Killing and attacks is not the answer as the years of their presence in Afghanistan has already proved.

The answer lies in reverting to the Rule of Tribal Balance. There are many tribes in Afghanistan and FATA/NWFP areas. But all, subscribe to the code known as “Pashtunwali”. It may be interpreted as the “way of life of the Pashtuns”. Those who digress, face the repercussion of being denounced by their tribe. One principle of the code, is revenge from the wrong doer, committed in any date, even 1000 years ago. An invasion of their homes, thereby taking away their honor, is definitely considered as a wrong doing. America’s presence in their homeland will thereby, always be opposed and resisted by this race.

Historically speaking, it is the Pashtunwali that made the system of “jirga” successful with the Pashtuns. . A Loya Jirga(Tribal Jirga), is a mass meeting to choose a new king or, discuss an emergency of mammoth proportions. It is a forum unique to Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan, bringing the tribal elders together. However, all tribes are given equality within decision making, hence the success of Rule of Tribal Balance.

The Barakzai clan, successfully ruled Afghanistan from 1826 to 1929, or 1973 after the end of the rule of Mohammad Zahir Shah.

America has not understood the cultural norms and the local traditions of the country she purports to rule. The traditional western solution of Presidential rule will fail in Afghanistan. History has proved, anything that is forced upon a nation, in contradiction to their code of life, will fail to hold.

Any solution that is based away from the one respected, understood and followed by the Afghans, will and must, fail. What America needs to do, is to feel the pulse of the nation. And not to foist an individual, a system that may have worked in America, but instead, to put a system in place that is acceptable and workable with the local people of Afghanistan.

Yasmeen Ali is a lawyer teaching in a university in Lahore. You may visit her website at: .

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