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Rapport key to Afghan peace

Source: China Daily | 2021-08-22

[Photo by Li Min/China Daily]

By Yasir Masood

The international media have been taken aback by the swift takeover of Kabul by the Taliban following the withdrawal of US forces from the country after almost 20 years. It was the United States that sowed the seeds of Taliban militancy.

The US' aim was to train Afghan and Pakistani youths, along with mercenaries and militants who moved to the region from the Middle East, to counter the spread of communism and fight the Soviet forces, which had moved into Afghanistan in 1979, and helped install Babrak Karmal as the leader of the country.

After the departure of the Soviet troops in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the objectives of the US changed. However, what really changed the US' attitude toward the Taliban were the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out by the Afghanistan-based al-Qaida. After the then ruling Taliban regime refused to hand over al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to the George W. Bush administration, US-led forces, with the sanction of the UN, invaded Afghanistan in late 2001.

The US' objectives were ostensibly to liberate the people of Afghanistan from the grip of terrorism and religious extremism; restore "democracy" in the country; and develop the region as a whole. Although the US is said to have spent up to $2 trillion, it could not realize any of these objectives. Instead, the US war in Afghanistan caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghan people and displaced many more.

The quintessential question is: What was the true rationale behind the US' almost 20-year "occupation" of Afghanistan? Perhaps it was to gain the upper hand over China and Russia and spread its influence in the region and beyond, make other regional players including India partners in its regional hegemony, and use the civil war in Afghanistan to halt the economic ascendancy of rival powers.

Pakistan has lost more than 80,000 innocent lives and over $140 billion worth of economic output in terrorism-related violence and other activities. The worst part of the US-led "hybrid war" is that it hindered Pakistan's economic growth and confined the country to its own geostrategic and geopolitical realm.

When China and Pakistan agreed to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and China started investing in the project, some countries used all means possible, including insurgency according to some reports, to sabotage this mega infrastructure project.

Many Chinese nationals have been targeted in Pakistan, with the most recent attack being carried out in Dasu in the northern part of the country. More than 20 people, including nine Chinese nationals, died in that attack.

Some reports even suggest that as part of their bigger plan, the US and its regional partners let the Afghan soil to be used to incite violence and create instability in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region of China in a bid to achieve their objectives which include fomenting an uprising in Xinjiang, and stigmatizing China on the pretext of human rights violations.

The US is known to use double standard, and is notorious for violating human rights across the globe, especially in the Muslim world, by triggering sectarian conflicts with the help of its allies, contractors and mercenaries.

Given these facts, China must be complimented for making unprecedented efforts to curb terrorism, religious extremism and separatism in Xinjiang and ensure that everyone in the region lives in peace and harmony.

It's time the US stopped playing "zero-sum" games and desisted from blaming China for all its ills, and instead supported the efforts of China and other countries that are genuinely trying to eliminate terrorism.

According to Al Jazeera, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that they won't allow the territory to be used against anybody or any country. This is a positive overture on the part of the Taliban.

It is to be seen whether the Taliban forms an inclusive government led by the Afghan people. But the time has come for all regional stakeholders, as well as the US and its allies to abandon their selfish interests and help the Afghan people form an inclusive government that will end terrorism and lead Afghanistan toward economic progress.

The author is an academic and geopolitical analyst based in Islamabad.