Lately the US media has been more focused on wildly projecting the military operation in Helmand. Claiming to have wrenched Marjah, a small town out of the clutches of Taliban, the media went poetic in singing praises for the achievement of their forces in collaboration with the Afghans which is defined as 'Operation Mushtarik. This stands for a 'common operation in Dari which would signify that the foreign and Afghan regimes troops are combining to attack the Taliban. Despite the hullabaloo, nothing much was visible to the people it was meant to impress. Of course, the number of forces deployed was big but such things do not invoke admiration from the Afghans, who admire the bravery aspect even in an enemy. Another tradition is that the big forces do not frighten them. It is not the fear that causes people to move out of an area under attack, it is to avoid the hassle of fighting which can be disturbing for their women and children. It is an open secret that thousands of them would leave their families in Pakistan to go and join the fight against the Soviets which brought down their empire. The Taliban took the Marjah concentration of forces as a routine matter on the part of the foreign troops. For about six weeks, they launched grisly attacks on the foreign troops inflicting many casualties. Meanwhile, attacks on foreign forces and their supply caravans also registered a serious increase. Then, as part of their strategy, they withdrew from Marjah but the resistance goes on even now, despite the liberal donations being made by the US forces to win over the goodwill of the local people. Under the new strategy, the troops were trying to interact with the local Afghans and show respect for their traditions, faith and history. This is a small step in the right direction after eight years. In those years, the foreign troops were seen not as friends but as an 'occupation force, even by those among the Pashtuns who disagree with the Taliban version of the religion. However, while disagreeing they could not help respecting the Taliban for honouring their hoary traditions of fighting against an 'occupation force which attacked their country under the cover of 9/11, an event that remains a conundrum till this day. The Pashtuns believe that the whole drama was staged to destroy their country as a revenge for not allowing concessions to the oil lobby. Even in the US, leading intellectuals are connecting the dots to define who benefited most from 9/11 and who would have done it. A broad spectrum consensus is emerging which, inter alia, proves that the Afghans had nothing to do with it. The Afghans, especially Pashtuns, believe in taking revenge for a wrong done to them; even by a foreign enemy. It can be compromised if the offender pleads guilty before a jirga and begs pardon publicly, while offering to pay the damages decided by the jirga. No wonder when George W Bush in his speech on the evening of 9/11 threatened to attack Afghanistan because of its assumed complicity in the attacks on the Twin Towers earlier in the day, Mullah Omar advised him to think twice before making such a mistake as his country had nothing to hide. His spokesman went one step further to warn the US that it may be very powerful but our God is the most powerful. He also told him that the Afghans will take revenge if they were wronged. In the last nine years, they are amply justifying their resolve, as usual, despite the fact that their country has received about $5 billion worth bombs and missiles causing devastation and hardly the same amount of aid, which is now the showpiece, of the new strategy since President Barack Obama took over. Most Pakistanis are moderate Muslims and they do not easily approve of extremist interpretation of Islam but they tend to respect this aspect of the Taliban character, despite having suffered by a spread of terrorist attacks whose source remains hazy. Besides this, the US has been blowing hot and cold as most policy statements appear to be issued to placate the public opinion at home. That remains a compulsion of elected governments, in some way, the world over. As such the US managed to ask at a NATO-ministers moot to reiterate that security in Afghanistan should soon be taken over by the Afghan forces; it sent jitters in the Karzai camp. The latter is visiting New Delhi where sweet talk by Indian PM Manmohan Singh made headlines duly reciprocated by the guest. The reports indicate that India despite feeling uncomfortable about an attempted patch-up with Taliban, qualified as 'good Taliban, and knowing them to have very a traditional approach towards 'Hindus, glossed over that issue just to put paper over cracks. Karzais Ministry of Defence, in response to the NATO recommendation, took the position that the Afghan forces would take about five to six years to be in a position to take over the said responsibility from the foreign troops. This appears to be a statement of fact, as the Afghan regime cannot be sustained in power even if India landed forces in Afghanistan on USAs request. The US must appreciate that it is not possible for it to quit at this stage, like it did in Vietnam. Unlike poor Vietnam, Afghanistan is the gateway to exploitation of huge energy resources which await utilisation and channelling for incredible returns to those who are able to do it. Earlier forays by Enron/UNICAN failed because the US tried to force the pace which was followed by 9/11. The chain of events impels people here to believe that their planning had been done by the aggrieved parties with massive support of lobbies in the US, which presently are seen to be very influential, as the neocons. As a final word, the Kandahar operation is now hitting headlines in the US media. A UN spokesman said the other day that it had asked its local employees to stay in their homes in view of the rising threat to public security. The Taliban are giving reminders by bomb attacks that the US propaganda is without any solid basis. Hence, the US must learn from the Afghan history The writer is a former interior secretary.