April, like the past month, has been marked by the US forces looking the other way. The news from the South, where a major blitz was propagated earlier on to be getting launched, has been marred by small skirmishes which ended up in bad taste, mostly for US. Marjah, the much-vaunted place appears to have become a smokescreen for the whole world. After fighting ferociously for the turf, the Taliban withdrew to other parts of Helmand. Thereafter fighting seems to have been replaced by distribution of money by the army as well as the contractors who make a convenient tool for defying all rules of war and peace. So the new US strategy being experienced by the Afghans lays great emphasis on bribing people to win their 'hearts and minds. This is like buying time for taking the ultimate decision on Afghanistan. Such tactics should be helpful in keeping enemy on peace-trail to cut losses of deployed soldiers in surprise attacks all over the country. However, this is being repeatedly repudiated by the Taliban statements as well as their forays into areas of their choice. So the money being distributed has very limited utility. It buys some time for those who are destined not to die. As regards building goodwill, it is like indulging, generally, in daydreaming. The Afghans are a battle-hardened people who have been suffering since Oct 7/2001 when hellish firepower and the coalition troops including the Russian contingent, as well as the Northern warlords, were let loose on them. In the aftermath of 9/11, US President blamed them to be guilty of harboring OBL who was 'known by US to have got the twin-towers pulled down. While US has no time to think of its actions and the repercussions thereof, the Pashtuns live a very different life, which is riddled with difficulties. Many of them treat it as a grave insult that the US formed a coalition with Russia, which had a grouse against the Afghans due to the discomfiture it had suffered at their hands in the late 80s. Though the US and others collaborated vastly in this venture yet it quickly forgot the recent history to make, what appeared to be, some tentative gain in 2001. To some this reflects the substance of Capitalism, which survives by making gains out of a given opportunity, generally, and ends up with a no-holds-barred approach. Many Afghans believe that the atrocities committed by the Northern warlords were prompted by the Russians besides the CIA. The poorest and most illiterate Pashtun is a master of assessing his enemys moves and, generally, makes his response with surprising precision despite the fact that he may not have heard of a computer or other tools available to a power like US. That is why, Rudyard Kipling was forced to conclude that Euclid formulas or other well-regarded mathematical paradigms failed against these people, particularly, of southern Afghanistan in a fight. His universal advice to his countryman/soldier was to save one bullet for himself to die peacefully if wounded on the fields of Helmand. The British learnt their lessons the hard way. The US, on the other hand, is a superpower, which is focused, since 9/11 particularly on protecting it interests the world over by cutting costs, per se. It has adopted the system of 'outso-urcing of even duties, which are the domain of the State under the International Law. Ostensibly this is claimed to be done to cut costs. Such an arrangement has three implications. First, it shifts the responsibility of a mission to private contractor who could-not-care-less, generally, about laws etc. The grisly details that keep on emerging of the atrocities committed by the US in Iraq are all attributed to the contractors. As things get worse in Afghanistan, more and more contractors are being brought in to the quagmire. So much so that Gen McCrysthal recently complained in a London address to an organization about the proliferation of contractors who are only multiplying US problems. Second, the contractors employ the needy people in the US and nobody, generally, gives much thought if such employees get killed. As against that troop deaths cause concern not only among the families but also the neighborhoods. The media also give considerable coverage to such mishaps, which remind the people of the administrations policy on a specific issue. Such consciousness gets further bolstered by the debates in the houses of Congress and the interaction of the President and the Cabinet etc with the media wherein issues like Afghanistan invite sharp attention. Third, the US being in the driving seat, any aberration of international standards is ignored by the UN etc. See the helplessness of Kofi Annan as the Secretary general of the UN vis--vis the atrocities committed by the neo-cons under the pretext of WMD in Iraq and 9/11-cover in Afghanistan. Being financially dependent on US largesse, it has to pander to the dictates of its major benefactor. With Russia maintaining a low profile and China moving on, US can use the sledgehammer in most cases. The only embarrassing exception is Israel. She has been defying the US, generally, because of the services rendered to act as its outpost which holds the Arab states in terror so that oil keeps flowing. It is a nuclear power, thanks to US, which embarrassed President Obama by refusing to attend his Nuclear Summit in the White House recently. Israeli rightwing government is a great land-grabber in the name of their faith. The occupation of Palestinian territories for more than 50 years has been facilitated by the US policy, which arms Israel with the latest weaponry regularly. A perception prevails in the world, more so the Muslim world, that most US administrations tend to be fearful of the Jewish lobby in the US because of its influence in the financial sector, media and politics. This situation benefits much from the ignorance of the average American about international issues. As the ground realities worsen in Afghanistan despite the huge increases in American forces, its position is getting more difficult. The way Israel insulted President Obama on the land-grabbing issue should be an eye-opener. History proves that the Pashtuns always wait till the foreign enemy escapes and to force that to happen they keep up existential pressures. The writer is a former interior secretary.