Washington ignored Islamabad funding and supplying the Taliban. Now Afghans are paying the price.
Kabul [Afghanistan], August 17 : C Christine Fair, writing in Foreign Policy said that Pakistan and the US have betrayed the Afghan people. The United States walked out of Afghanistan in 1990 and made Pakistan the custodian of Afghanistan’s future. Today, it is repeating the same mistake. When the Taliban once again transform Afghanistan into a base of operations for modern Islamist terrorist organizations, Washington will only have itself to blame, says Fair.
Pakistan has benefitted handsomely from US emoluments, aided and abetted the Taliban and undermined US efforts. Pakistan is the major force behind the Taliban.
Without Pakistan’s intelligence and military establishment’s unstinting support for the Taliban, the group would be a nuisance rather than an effective fighting force.
The United States has steadfastly refused to do the one thing it could have done long ago: targeted sanctions against those in Pakistan’s deep state who sponsor Islamist militants, wrote Fair.
During the last 20 years, Pakistan has continued to recruit, train, and mission numerous other Islamist terrorist groups operating in India and Afghanistan. It has feted terrorist leaders as national heroes, reported Foreign Policy.
Despite Pakistani authorities claiming Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was not in Pakistan for over a decade, he was found hiding in plain sight in Abbottabad. Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban movement, likely died in a hospital in the Pakistani port city of Karachi. Pakistan’s ties to the Jalaluddin Haqqani network have been known and enduring. Pakistan even requested the United Nations permit Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist, to access his frozen accounts for basic expenses, reported Foreign Policy.
The United States remained convinced Pakistan was too dangerous to sanction, too dangerous to punish, too dangerous to hold accountable.
US pundits rehearsed fears that Pakistan may collapse, provide nuclear weapons to terrorists, or provoke an escalatory and possibly nuclear war with India while it nursed its militant assets, says Fair.
But Pakistan cannot be blamed alone. US capacity-building efforts were always deeply inadequate. The failure to create a functioning state was particularly catastrophic when it came to the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior Affairs, which controls the police.
From the beginning, the United States and NATO partners struggled to develop efficacious training programs. Training concepts and doctrines changed often as different parts of the recruiting and training mission came under different contractors and national oversight.
The United States consistently sought shortcuts, such as opting to train “Afghan local police,” which Afghans more accurately called militias. Unlike training Afghan police, which was more resource intensive and provided by contractors, training these militias was still dependent on contractors but less so, Foreign Policy reported.
Moreover, the US insisted on the country’s security architecture but has retrenched from its willingness to pay for it. Since 2014, Washington has provided about 75 per cent of the USD 5 billion to USD 6 billion per year needed to fund the Afghan National Security Forces while the remainder of the tab was picked up by US partner nations and the Afghan government.
However, for the fiscal year 2021, the US Congress appropriated around USD 3 billion for Afghanistan’s fighting forces, the lowest amount since the fiscal year 2008, wrote Fair.
Even as Kabul has fallen to the Taliban and as desperate Afghans scramble for the last flights out of the country, US President Joe Biden has defiantly asserted he does not regret his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.