Amid the media noise about Afghanistan, it becomes mind numbing for ordinary people anywhere to form an informed opinion as to who is good for Afghanistan and who is not. Decades of western media propaganda has labeled the Taliban as barbarians and modernity-hating, rifle-wielding, bearded men. Another propaganda labels India as the benign nation that wants to make XL flags for Afghanistan and help the nation.
The propaganda machinery swings the most when it comes to Pakistan, which is always labeled as the country that is responsible for all the instability inside Afghanistan. It is quite funny because the same propaganda noise never talks about the one factor responsible for the devastation and instability inside both Afghanistan as well as Pakistan: the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
The first and the most essential step before a nation embarks on a journey for development is for it to be free. America became what it is today after it achieved freedom from England. Freedom comes before development, not the reverse. And the most elementary requirement for a nation to claim freedom is for it not to be occupied by some foreign forces. There can be ballot, a legislature, a judiciary, an executive, and an army in a country but if all of that is manufactured and run under a military occupation against the wishes of the citizens, and if the heads of those institutions are on constant life support from the foreign occupation, then the nation is anything but free. No wonder the executive and the army of Afghanistan had to run away without putting up any resistance against the marching Taliban.
Now, let us examine what it is that the different nations and players want for Afghanistan. The previous president and vice president, Ashraf Ghani and Amrullah Saleh respectively, wanted for the foreign occupation of their land to continue because it was ensuring their jobs and corruption. They wanted their soil to be occupied by foreign forces and they were happy with an election where the turnout was record low and mass approval was even lower.
Only the exit of the occupation forces from Afghanistan means a free Afghanistan, despite the imperfections today. But that freedom is mourned inside India. There is always noise that terrorist groups would thrive in a violent swamp that Afghanistan could become. The fact is that the interests of India and their puppets thrive inside an unfree and a devastated Afghanistan. Beat that.
The American war hawks share their urge with the Indians to keep Afghanistan from becoming free. Their sponsors who are in the business of making and selling weapons are the sole winners of this war because regardless of whoever has emerged victorious here, they have sold their product.
Pakistan is the only country in the region and one of a few in the world that not only wanted the war to end in Afghanistan but also facilitated the peace process. Pakistanis made the peace deal possible between the United States and the Taliban. They finally saw their stance validated and vindicated that the only solution inside Afghanistan was talks, not guns.
Lastly and most importantly, the only people inside Afghanistan who wanted the foreign forces to leave their land were the Taliban. They have changed their many stances such as female education, their urge to engage the world in diplomacy rather than chronic isolationism, and so forth. However, what they have not changed their stance about was that the foreign forces must depart from their land.
If Afghanistan was the country the West cared about then the Taliban would have been hailed as genuine and patriotic citizens. The majority of the Afghans who were ferried to America were actually traitors. Think about it. They had joined the people who came to occupy their land militarily and worked against their own people who fought to liberate their land. They will now be part of the citizenry of the “home of the brave”.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2021.