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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Afghanistan: Mission Unaccomplished

It took four American presidencies (Obama’s double term, Trump and Joe Biden) to finish Bush’s initiated 20 years long War in Afghanistan despite their best efforts during respective tenure to do so. Obama’s announced draw down from Afghanistan was quickly followed up by surge and looked more like one step forward and two steps backward. And Trump’s consistent obsession with concluding all the endless wars remained a non-starter due reasons unfathomable by the American politicians….of course under the garb of anti-terrorism campaign. POTUS Joe Biden’s wise decision in the face of domestic political, economic and socio-psycho realities exasperated by disenchantment of NATO and other allies notwithstanding, the U.S. Deep State including influential U.S. intelligence veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan remain obsessed with their unfinished agenda.

American military and more particularly the Intelligence takes a lot of pride in taking down some big AQ terrorists responsible for 9/11 tragedy, without giving due credit to Pakistan’s sincere and most costly military and Intelligence cooperation. Ironically, some major incidents of double/ triple crossing by the U.S. intelligence community went down in the history of bilateral relations as unforgettable debauched moves e.g. Raymond Davis incident exposed spread of covert private intelligence/ sabotage network in Pakistan by CIA, taking down OBL in Abbottabad by relegating Pakistan’s counter terrorism cooperation, Killing/ shahadat of two dozen Pakistani troops and officers at Silalah post along Pakistan-Afghanistan borders during the year 2011 and killing of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour Akhtar on 21 May 2016 ( Mansour was killed in a U.S. military drone strike on the N-40 National Highway in Pakistan near Ahmad Wal, not far from the Pakistan–Afghanistan border; Mansour had crossed earlier that day from Iran into Pakistan through the Taftan, Balochistan border crossing). The said major and dozens of other incidents of bungled U.S. intelligence activities in Pakistan dumped the political and diplomatic bilateral relations in the deepest pit, which the White House and State Department partially rescued with two years long hectic efforts.

The exit from Afghanistan executed on orders from President Biden hasn’t been taken well by the Deep State. Nevertheless, the change of mode and techniques of covert operations are already in play as witnessed by quick and successive visits by CIA chief to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan in addition to visits and call on by other American Allies’ Military and Intelligence chiefs and foreign ministers. The transit, passage through and stay of Afghan informants in Pakistan who served for CIA and other intelligence services in Afghanistan besides other nationals, is considered very ominous in this regards. Without going into specifics, suffice to say as a pointer that the refreshed narrative will once again be woven around Pakistan’s nuclear capability with fear of a nuclear weapons falling in Taliban, AQ or ISIS/ISK hands and projecting Pakistan as a vulnerable state that is sympathetic to or allied with rogue Taliban state of Afghanistan. In the words of an intelligence veteran who served in Pakistan, “The U.S. now has no embassy and no military troops in Afghanistan…But the intelligence community’s essential mission will remain the same…The Taliban, ISIS, and AQ are still at war with our nation. Pakistan might be allied with the Afghan Taliban but AQ and the Pakistani Taliban are ruthlessly focused on targeting Pakistan’s nuclear program and its civilian population….The CIA will carry on with the recruiting of spies and the stealing of secrets within this terrorist mosaic but with a new, far riskier, and more dangerous operational paradigm, one which no longer benefits from U.S. military bases and an official embassy in Kabul…The Biden administration has been characterizing their new counter-terrorism strategy as “over the horizon,” an otherwise pleasant-sounding phrase, but one which obfuscates Afghanistan’s transformation into a terrorist state and the simultaneous degradation of our find, fix, and finish counter-terrorism capability”. The said veteran goes on to say, “Our citizens might want to acquaint themselves with the rogues’ gallery of terrorists we eliminated in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region during the past 20 years and ask their elected representatives to hold the Biden administration accountable for a real plan to carry on this sacred mission in defense of our nation”.

The thoughts of above cited intelligence veteran vindicate my perception as well as analyses expressed in a number of articles that can be visited on my website. Nevertheless, despite granting space to professional take by the quoted American intelligence wizard, Pakistan as a Nation, Government, Military and Intelligence services have to remain abreast with the evolving situation in the backdrop of embryonic Taliban government in Afghanistan, reinvigorated narratives and somewhat malicious diplomatic overtures. Once bitten twice shy, under no circumstance should Pakistan allow any dubious foot prints on Pakistan’s soil in the garb of temporary refugees, transit facilities, enhanced embassy staff, NGOs/ humanitarian workers, and military or intelligence cooperation traps without strictest scrutiny and subject to approval by the Pakistani parliament. Not only Pakistan has to further harden all its borders especially with Afghanistan and Iran to stop the inflow of refugees and covert insertions, simultaneous efforts must be undertaken to move out all refugees and undesirable footprints lurching in our society since decades.

Since hostile agencies are refocusing on massive recruitment of informants/ traitors inside Pakistan, therefore, attention also needs to be focused on the potential foreign moles and Trojan Horses in every department of the government with a view to get them and their networks terminated. The prime minister of Pakistan and Military/ intelligence chiefs should remember that “A traitor only becomes one if their plot is discovered. The imposition of guilt means nothing to those who feign loyalty. More skilled conspirators wield treason as a clinical tool of regime change and political expediency. Then, writing history with their own hands, such traitors may wear the clothes of patriots”; attention is drawn to my piece published in June 2019 titled, “No Mercy for the Traitors”. The decision making in Pakistan has traditionally remained “a day late and a dollar short”. The lack of foresight and inability to forecast and take timely and right decisions in the political, economic, law and justice, religious, health, education, agriculture, food security, sports, culture and even in security fields has cost Pakistan too dearly. In this regard, interested readers may like to read another article titled “Responsibility to Predict and Prevent published in November 2020. After all, how long people of Pakistan will continue to hear that the ‘weather forecast for tonight is dark’.

While for the American political elite strategic failure to ruin Chinese BRI project or at least check mate China in Asia-Pacific, South-Asia and Central- Asia by betting on a lame horse India and weaning it away from Russia may be of great concern; yet for the U.S. deep state nipping Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the bud and above all denuclearization of Pakistan by any means remains an unfinished and priority agenda on behest of Zionist lobby. Hence, the American Deep State is likely to prevail upon President Joe Biden’s administration to exert even more pressure on Pakistan to cover up their failure in Afghanistan on all fronts, to hide their mega corruption and follow up both on failed as well as incomplete malicious agenda. While Pakistan Armed Forces and Intelligence Services are well poised to defeat the ever evolving threats both from outside as well as from inside, the Government of Pakistan may also like to pay some heed to suggestions proffered in “Pak-US Relations: How to Bridge the Widening Gap” and “Lessons from Afghanistan Conundrum” both published in August 2021, in order to counter hostile intelligence agencies’ treacherous moves through proactive diplomacy.

15 September 2021

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