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THE LONG GOODBYE.

Byline: LABBABA JAHANGIR

The Americans are taking a long time to withdraw from Afghanistan. US departure would be a solution to Afghanistan's long-drawn problems as it would be in the interest of the Afghan people to stand on their own feet.

Afghanistan was a graveyard for the Soviets and the Americans will meet the same fate. For years now, they have been planning a withdrawal but that seems impossible in the prevailing situation. How did the USA, being a superpower, lose the war against the tribal Afghans, is a question that needs serious answers. Was it a lack of strategy on America's part or the shrewdness of the enemy or maybe a bit of both? Perhaps the Americans expected that the flimsy Afghans would be simply trammelled under US boots.

Pakistan has always played a vital role in wars fought in Afghanistan. Recently, when some US war veterans wrote and listed the reasons for the failure of the US in Afghanistan, they termed the duplicity of Pakistan as one reason. It is a common belief among the Americans, that a victory in Afghanistan was impossible so long as Pakistan controlled the supply routes, providing safe havens for Afghan terrorists.

There is also the view that the American senior leadership had, after 9/11, emphasized the means over the ends in Afghanistan and, in the urgency to respond to the attacks, had never strategized this war properly. Even now it appears as if the USA has no framework through which it can withdraw from Afghanistan. It seems the US officials didn't fully understand how to align their objectives with proper planning so that they can leave behind a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

The first and foremost priority of a state is always its national interest. The war that the USA and its allies started in Afghanistan under the slogan of war against terrorism was in their national interest. The decisions that Pakistani governments have taken over the years have also been aligned with Pakistan's national interests.

Pakistani has said on various occasions that the US needs to work with it to end the war in Afghanistan. The doubts regarding Pakistan wanting peace and stability in Afghanistan are based on assumptions and speculations. The world fails to realize that peace and stability in Pakistan largely depends upon the situation in Afghanistan. For years the people of Pakistan have suffered tremendously due to the unsettling situation across the border.

The Pakistan economy suffered a loss of $126.79 billion in the war since 2001 while over 70,000 Pakistanis lost their lives. The overall security situation in Pakistan has remained volatile in all these years. People coming to Pakistan cancelled their trips, sports teams refused to play on Pakistan's grounds and the tourism industry suffered and the economy was affected in a major way and all because Pakistan was fighting a war that was forced on it.

Pakistan has never supported any terrorist activity on its land. It does not allow use of its territory against any country though it has always been a target of proxy wars on various fronts. The USA has used Pakistan as a scapegoat on numerous occasions. Hillary Clinton regarded Pakistan as a training ground as well as a place to dump weapons and launch forces against the Soviets in 1980s.

There is talk about the longest war the USA has been fighting in Afghanistan and the causes for the US's failure in that war are being deduced. But there is no concern about the helplessness of the Afghan people who have been subjected to an endless war and sufferings for over 4 decades. Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been caught up in the power struggle between world powers. These states are punished because of their locations and their people suffer at the hands of external powers.

The United States is now faced with the embarrassment of losing an 18-year long war. It seems though that it doesn't seem to have any plans for a complete withdrawal. It is a fact that the American people are now tired of squandering money and losing their precious lives in a war that seems to have no end. For them, the sooner the US forces leave Afghanistan, the better. The talks that had been initiated between the US government and the Taliban had raised some hope that the withdrawal process would be accelerated but it now seems things are back to square one as the US president some time back called off the talks with the Taliban.

It seems the US is now looking for someone to put the blame on for its long military engagement in Afghanistan and the fact that the whole effort has been a fruitless one. Its high time they acknowledge their shortcomings and learn from the experience. The Americans should be happy that they have succeeded in at least gaining a foothold in a part of the world that overlooks Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia and China. Now it's time for them to end their long goodbye - though it is obvious that it will not be a hundred percent US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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Author:LABBABA JAHANGIR
Publication:South Asia
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Jan 31, 2020
Words:923
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