As reported in The Nation (Feb. 27) in an interview from Kabul on CNN’s “State of the Union” US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker has urged the authorities not to hasten departure from Afghanistan due to tensions prevailing there because of burning of Holy Quraa’n at Bagram airbase. He has suggested that the Americans better wait for things to cool down and then get on with the business, though he did not define exactly what business he was referring to. He says “This is not the time to decide that we are done here. We have got to redouble our efforts. We’ve got to create a situation that Al-Qaeda is not coming back.” “If we decide we are tired of it, Al Qaeda and the Taliban certainly aren’t,” he added. He conveniently ignored the fact that there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq and it was the presence of invaders that attracted them there. With Americans gone, Osama bin Laden dead, Al-Qaeda leaders having moved elsewhere, and Taliban having learnt their lesson, his fears of Al-Qaeda return are unfounded. It is just that the Americans want to stay in Afghanistan not basically for Afghans but to have safe havens from which they could stir up trouble in Pakistan and Iran and encircle China in partnership with India, only they won’t say that.  Grabbing the mineral wealth of the region would be an added bonus, of course.

Also, if in a period of over ten years, the Americans have not been able to develop even an understanding with Afghans, it is time to throw in the towel, cut the losses, pack up and go home, instead of pretending things will improve, which won’t. Like all empires, America’s time is up now. Also, after illegal, immoral, brutal and costly invasion of Iraq, American public is sick and tired of such misadventures and soldiers are battle-weary. Moreover, America’s non-Afghan partners are not willing to stay there beyond 2014. Americans agreed to the surge only after Obama gave a withdrawal time-frame and they will not allow this to be reversed or even slowed down. However, mentally sick among the Americans can’t see it all and are convinced of their grandeur, which they want to maintain at all costs, and can’t see the stupidity of it all.

As a result of enflamed passions, four Americans got killed and another seven injured. This dents in a big way the US strategy built around plans to replace large Nato combat formations with small teams of advisers who will live and work alongside their Afghans ‘partners.’ Afghans suffered 25 dead and hundreds wounded and it is unlikely that Afghans will get over it soon. In any case, beastly, thuggish and sometimes drunk Americans will create some new situation to infuriate Afghans, which means this ‘partnership’ is definitely off. Americans better start packing.  Returning on their own two feet would definitely be preferable to being taken back on stretchers or in body-bags.

S.R.H. HASHMI,

Karachi, February 28.