It is not the gun but the gunner that hits the target. A very sophisticated weapon becomes useless when it comes to unskilled and inexperienced hands. Skill and experience joined together with wisdom can do miracles. Wisdom is the only element which is always important from beginning till the end, in all problematic matters of life. In spite of having a lot of strength and a lot of resources, the USA is still not even near the brink of success in Afghanistan; the only reason behind is the lack of wisdom. The situation is going to get more confusing, more entangling if the US authorities don’t stop preferring the use of force to the application of wisdom. They will have to come out of the dilemma of their misunderstandings first if they want their efforts in Afghanistan bear fruit.
The first and the most grievous misunderstanding of USA is about the Pashtuns. It is almost a criminal point of view that all Pashtuns are Taliban. It might be true to some extent that some of the Taliban have their hide-outs in the frontier area surrounding Pakistan-Afghanistan borders, they have their sympathizers and well wishers there but it does not mean that all people who belong to the Pashtun origin, living in that particular belt, are the supporters of Taliban and they must be crushed brutally with the help of drones.
It has been clearly mentioned in different books on the history of Afghanistan that the tribes living in southern Afghanistan, particularly between Herat and Qandhar and who speak Persian are called Afghans while others living in the rest of Afghanistan, NWFP and Balochistan speaking Pashtu language are called Pashtuns. These Pashtuns are in a clear majority in Afghanistan. According to a recent calculation provided by the CIA, the total population of Afghanistan is 28,396,000. This population is a mixture of different ethnic and linguistic groups. Pashto is spoken most widely in the south, east and south west as well as in western Pakistan. The Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group. The Pashtuns and the Afghans have altogether different cultural and traditional values but the US authorities are mistakenly mixing up these two entirely different identities. At present there is a very clear cut division between the Pashtuns and the Afghans. The Pashtuns are aggrieved that in spite of being in majority, they are not given their due share and authority. The US hi-ups and the Indian conspirators are providing full support to the Afghans whereas the Pashtuns are being crushed and maltreated simply because the Taliban belong to the Pashtun origin according to their analysis. More pathetic is the fact that President Karzai is intentionally ignoring them and favouring the Afghans. He has very successfully proved himself a dummy and a rubber stamp. He has ever been trying to stabilize his government by using money to buy loyalties of the Afghan war lords. He is ignoring the fact that this ‘purchase’ of loyalties is a costly affair with limited outcome. As per their tradition, the Afghans may remain loyal to the fund-providers till the time money keeps flowing up to them. When the flow of cash stops the loyalties will shift automatically and the effort will go futile. The Pashtuns are in majority in Afghanistan but the US led Afghan government is never ready to let them play the leading role. The situation can be easily tackled with if the Pashtuns are given a chance of forming a legitimate government in Afghanistan. Such type of government would surely succeed in playing a vital role for a long-term and deep rooted peace in the country.
Taliban are neither a generation nor a race; they are a philosophy. Philosophies are never limited to material boundaries. The US authorities must get rid of this misunderstanding that all Pashtuns are the Taliban. According to a recent survey, the Taliban are losing their popularity in all those areas where just a few years back they were very much popular and lovingly admired. The reason behind this loss of public support is nothing but the cruel terrorist activities going on in the name of Taliban. Suicidal attacks on innocent Pakistanis and Afghanis, the bomb blasts in the mosques and a whole sale massacre of the innocent Namaziz particularly during the Friday prayers have caused a grave loss to the Taliban mission. Moreover as a result of terrorist activities hundreds of Pashtuns living in Peshawar and adjoining areas have lost their lives. If the Taliban were Pashtuns, how could they deprive their own people of their lives in such a painful manner?
In fact the situation is very much confusing and ambiguous. Afghanistan has become a battlefield for various groups of fighters; some of them are striving for the safety of their motherland; some are doing jihad and so many others are taking care of foreign interests. No one is clear what is going to happen next. That is the reason that there are still countless people in Pakistan and Afghanistan who are not ready to accept that Taliban can be involved in such heinous kind of brutalities .They think that all this blood-shed is the artistic work of CIA and Raw and the motive behind is simply to defame the Taliban movement. It is also a fact that the supporters of Taliban are not willing to embrace the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the representative of the original and actual Taliban movement. Be it the Afghan Taliban or the TTP, the USA is measuring all of them with the same yard stick, taking them as Pashtuns. Sometimes US war on terror seems the war against the Pashtuns. USA could have been successful in its war against terror if this war were not ‘the war against Pashtuns’. This prejudice approach of the US policy makers towards the Pashtuns is giving birth to a reactionary disliking and unending anger in their hearts .It is the result of this anger and disliking that most of the Pashtuns go with the Taliban in spite of their ideological differences with them. Moreover the drone attacks are adding fuel to fire.
In such a horrid situation all policies of the USA and the Afghanistan government need to be revised. America is still following the old policy of spending money on warlords and old Mujahideens of eighties. All such efforts will once again go waste unless the Pashtuns are given their legitimate right to form government in Afghanistan. Hence change of present government and change in US policy is imperative to succeed in Afghanistan. Pakistan can play a positive role in Afghanistan but unfortunately the authorities that matter have created an environment of distrust between US and Pakistani leadership to manage affairs in Afghanistan. There is a need to overcome such misunderstandings by attending to Pakistan’s concerns and interests if USA is serious and sincere with reference to its objectives in Afghanistan.
The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on national and international strategic and defense affairs.