The Failures of ‘War on Terror’ Speak
Seven years after American forces ousted the extremist Taliban regime from Afghanistan to get the world rid of terrorism and extremism, and just before the historic event of Barack Obama stepping into the White House, a war of accusations broke out between the leadership of Nato forces and Afghan government. Both camps pointed their fingers at each other for the failures. The amazing thing is that both accepted ‘failures’ but took each other responsible for them.
‘An honest assessment of Afghanistan must conclude that we are not where we might have hoped to be by now,’ wrote Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary General of Nato forces, in an opinion piece published in Washington Post on Sunday, January 18, 2009.
The ground facts indicate that Taliban are back in control in many parts of southern and eastern provinces with more strength and unity and people are angrier than ever due to the high number of civilian casualties that occur during the operations carried out by Nato and Coalition forces.
Two provincial assemblies, of southern Zabul and eastern Laghaman provinces, have closed their offices in protest against the civilian casualties and threatened they will collectively resign if the killing of innocent Afghans continued anymore. Besides this, a Canadian TV, invited by Taliban to the areas under their control, recently reported that the insurgents have their own government, they have established their own courts and prisons, in southern Kandahar province. They have similar control in many districts of Ghazni, Zabul, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Helmand, Nimroz, Farah and Nuristan provinces.
Corruption in government offices, involvement of officials in drug trade, ineffectiveness of the government to answer people’s demands and resolve their problems and revamp the government institutions are other causes of disappointment among Afghans who hoped in 2001 that the international forces would bring stability and good governance but now think that their presence is the mother of all problems.
Contrary to what the Nato commander wrote, Afghan officials have been complaining for a long time that foreign forces did not cooperate with them in matters relating to security and insurgency. Operations are carried out without consulting the local authorities, warlords are backed against the Karzai government and international agencies arbitrarily do what they like, the officials often blame.
The same was the tone of government’s response to the recent Scheffer stance. ‘Afghanistan and the international community are equally responsible, both for the gains and problems of the past seven years,’ said Sultan Ahmad Baheen, Afghan foreign ministry spokesman, on Sunday in Kabul.
On the internal problems like corruption and drug trade, he said, ‘Afghanistan’s government is committed to fighting corruption, but this is a long struggle and takes time.’ While on the failures in the war on terror, his reason was that, ‘Afghanistan has been insisting for the past seven years on the existence of terrorist bases across the border, where the militants are being equipped, financed and recruited.’
Fortunately, as the administration change in the United States is in its final stage, and the incoming President has promised to focus his attention on Afghanistan, a change in Afghan leadership is also expected in the upcoming election likely to be held in next few months.
With this, the policy of war on terror should be changed altogether if the Obama administration wants a success. The planned troops increase is not the only solution as many Afghan politicians and intellectuals also have suggested. Both international forces and the Afghan government have their responsibilities in their respective fields: the international forces should focus only to contain terrorism inside as well as outside the country and the Afghan government should launch an all-out war against corruption and drug trade.
Besides this, both should spend most of their resources on security, reconstruction, education, reconciliation and building health facilities to win the hearts of common people. Only the providing of these five facilities can bring peace and a hope for better future to the country.