One would agree with Prime Minister Imran Khan that the USA really messed it up in Afghanistan. According to Mr Khan, the best time for negotiations was during the surge when there were as many as 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. Why the USA miscalculated the Afghan rebels’ strength is not difficult to understand. Leaders having big armies are confident that they can easily suppress a hostile populace with the military might at their disposal. This is how Gen Pervez Musharraf saw things when he warned Nawab Akbar Bugti, saying, “This time you won’t even know what hit you.” Over-confident of its being the sole military superpower , the USA failed to draw lessons from the defeat of the two empires at the hands of the Afghans.
The USA was unconcerned about the deadly impact of its covert military operations on Pakistan. It was for Gen Ziaul Haq to realise that the operations would force millions to seek shelter in Pakistan, bringing with them criminals selling modern weapons and deadly narcotics. Ziaul Haq helped the USA in return for recognition and funds. As he had overthrown an elected government, imposed Martial Law and hanged an elected PM, Zia was treated as an outcast by countries that mattered. By rendering full cooperation Zia made himself acceptable to the West and received millions of dollars in aid. General Musharraf too faced international isolation after the overthrow of an elected government. While earlier the USA had supported the mujahideen, it wanted them to be arrested or taken out after 9/11. Forgetting that the USA had left the region and abandoned Pakistan after achieving its aims, General Musharraf bargained with Washington, handing over suspects and allowing the USA to set up military bases in the country. The establishment ensured that the security policies of the two military rulers were followed by the elected governments also.
The chickens have to come home to roost now. Neither the USA nor the Taliban trust the government in Islamabad. The Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, which once nominated Imran Khan as one of its negotiators for peace with the PML(N) government, is showing its true colours. TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud has hailed the Taliban’s advances in Afghanistan, vowed to fight Pakistani troops and occupy KP’s tribal districts . It is for the policymakers to take the country out of the cul de sac into they have brought it.