I.M.Mohsin

According to reports, Staff sergeant Robert Bales, who killed 16 innocent Afghan civilians, was very efficiently whisked away by the US high command in Afghanistan to a safe haven in Kansas. Stories have since been afloat in the American media that the killer had been suffering from stress. One account of the assassin links his mental imbalance to his experiences in Iraq.

Being aware of their weak position and the mounting pressure being built up by the Afghans since the burning of the Holy Quran at Bagram base, the US-led forces tried to control the situation immediately. Professing dispensation of justice and following detailed enquiry, the local commanders in Kabul/Kandahar started to pacify the aggrieved families.

For this purpose, the US administration gave $50,000 each to the families of the Afghans, who were killed by Bales. In addition, $11,000 each was given to the families of those who were wounded in the tragic incident. Facing a ferocious fall, the rates of compensation to the victims’ families in such crimes are going up. Such misdeeds, however, not only cost the US monetarily, but also the windfall of goodwill credited thereby to the Taliban by the Afghans is beyond figure work. The Taliban termed the tragedy, according to USA TODAY, as being the atrocity committed by “sick-minded American savages.” Following the Afghan traditions, they promised revenge for “every single martyr with the help of Allah.”

In March, Anne Gearan of The Associated Press in her writing examined the premise that Afghanistan is not Iraq. The basis of her exercise appears to have been the meeting between American President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington DC, wherein political lingo was freely used to fool the Americans.

It, generally, tends to be Obama-centric, while emphasising that the Afghan war is becoming a ‘political baggage’, as the latest polls on the issue indicate that the people are fed up with the stalemate. This is tantamount to disregarding the history and the traditions of the Afghan people, even after 10 years of the unequal battle. It is a fact that the number of US casualties is small; whereas, over a million Afghans have already perished.

Strangely enough, despite possessing the latest war equipment, the US command cannot help the gruesome killing, at regular intervals, of Afghan civilians as well as those employed by the Karzai regime by “friendly fire”. True to history, it is the ‘intruders’, who are seeking an exit strategy and not those who have been at the receiving end during those bad times. Now the majority of the Afghans regard the US and Isaf troops as “occupation forces”. Hence, the Taliban are being helped by their compatriots because freedom surpasses every other consideration in that area.

For 10 years, the US kept on propagating that the Taliban were partners of Al-Qaeda. Now unilaterally, it has cleared them from the blame. For an Afghan, however, all this is generally hocus pocus, as their countrymen have defied the foreign forces to defend their freedom and traditions.

Our American friends, therefore, must learn from history, instead of exploiting their people.

If Afghanistan’s history is examined, all wars, so far, have finally ended by the foreign troops abandoning their calculated missions, at times, amid heavy losses. The Soviet experience is the latest case in point.

The US may be having a bigger stake linked to the Central Asian Energy resources, but it appears to be losing the war as per the ground realities. Its position is compromised by the fact that it is an election-year and President Obama has to blow hot and cold to win the Democratic nomination as well as the election. However, a Pashto proverb underlines: “See! After a 100 years a Pashtun takes his revenge, and he says - ‘still I have taken it quickly’.” Many reports also indicate that the ‘foreign forces’ are generally worried as to what may happen in view of the gathering storm!

Unless and until the USA can negotiate equitable terms for an exit of its forces with the Taliban and apologise for all its sins since 9/11, people like Bales would be haunted by the spectre of Afghan revenge. In the process, even nice Americans may have to pay for the misdeeds of their sick fellow countrymen.

    The writer is a former secretary interior.

    Email: imnor@brain.net.pk