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West Asking Pakistan to Control Taliban — Hypocrisy & Empty Talk

America never really had a problem with the Taliban. It only wanted to degrade Al-Qaeda.

Published
Opinion
5 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The West expects Pakistan to ensure that any future Afghan government safeguard human rights and <a href="https://www.thequint.com/news/world/too-big-for-pak-to-swallow-or-taliban-to-rule-afghan-caretaker-president-amrullah-saleh">rule of law within Afghanistan</a>.</p></div>
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It is for a reason the West, as denoted by General Secretary of NATO Jens Stoltenberg’s statement, is placing the burden on Pakistan of ensuring that the Taliban behave now that it has overrun Kabul. Stoltenburg said Pakistan has a “special responsibility” towards Afghanistan as it has “close relations” with the Taliban.

The West expects Pakistan to ensure that any future Afghan government will abide by the country’s international commitments and safeguard human rights and rule of law within Afghanistan. This expectation would make me laugh, if I were not as angry as I am. Anyone with an iota of conscience already knows, and always knew, this to be a ludicrous expectation of both the Taliban and of the Pakistan army that sired it. The difference now between the two is merely that one outfit is a whisky swigging uniformed one, and the other a more barbaric looking one.

When the West spouts such sanctimonious sounding and profoundly hollow expectations, does it ever consider Pakistan’s, and particularly, its army’s (which runs the country) record on rule of law and human rights?

The state of the rule of law is that the Constitution of Pakistan is being held in abeyance for all practical purposes and a so-called hybrid regime is in place. It has broken all previous records of violation of principles of democratic norms, and all fundamental rights, from freedom of speech and the press to the right to life.

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Pakistan Army’s Exploits

This is the outfit that has supported, and finally managed, to install itself in the “village boy” image in Kabul. Pakistan army is a fascist, uniformed, terror organisation the West has been happy to work with, believe in, and support. Always. Afghan Taliban are committing atrocities inside the country. Pakistan army, by comparison, is hunting down dissidents even in western jurisdictions. And this is no secret. It is documented in United Nations’s reports, in Pakistan’s legislatures, and in news reports the world over.

In his years-long parleys with the Americans and Brits, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa finally “convinced” the war-wary American presidents that his outfit would be able to manage a sanitised and acceptable Taliban-dominated regime, which would be broad-based. Whether convinced or not, the US agreed and signed the fiendish deal with the Taliban, selling the Afghan people down and undermining the Afghan government. It is now trying to hold Pakistan to a promise it most likely never believed in. This is optics to look good by comparison. The beauty of it all is that the US and its western allies can now dump all their own mistakes, weaknesses, and crimes onto the whipping boy: Pakistan.

The US Wasn't 'Deceived'

This is not at all to deny Pakistan’s role but to identify the hypocrisy, dishonesty, and cruelty of the US and its western allies. For twenty years, it kept its eyes wide shut to Pakistan, with sporadic claims of being deceived. But the deception part is not really true. Even if Pakistan meant to deceive, the U.S. was not deceived — its intelligence apparatus kept it perfectly informed of what Pakistan was doing. But for some incomprehensible reason, Pakistan was allowed to support the Taliban fight the Americans whilst retaining the status of “major non-NATO ally”.

Occasionally, western officials have admitted they knew all along what Pakistan was up to, but insist they didn’t know what to do about it. That sounds patently incredible. Pakistan, throughout these twenty years, has remained an aid-dependent country. The US had real leverage on it. The generals in charge enriched themselves on that very aid, besides funnelling it to supporting the Taliban. Therefore, why the US remained timid and unable to figure out what to do with Pakistan remains a mystery.

Bill Emmott, former chief editor of The Economist, correctly wrote recently that “the blame for the return of the Taliban to power lies largely with Pakistan and America’s inability to bring the country onside”. I would go further to say that it identified and fought the wrong enemies all along and willfully turned a blind eye to the actual culprits, for reasons best known to itself. Admittedly, the Afghan Taliban harboured Osama bin Laden, but the Afghan Taliban were spawns of the Pakistan army, helped into power 1994 through 1996, and recruited from madrassas funded by the Saudis.

It is a documented fact that the lead hijacker of 9/11, Atta Mohammed, was sent $100 million by Omar Sheikh on the instructions of the then Pakistani ISI chief General Mahmud Ahmed.

When this fact was exposed back in October 2001, Ahmad was merely forced to retire and America dementedly chose to continue to work with General Pervez Musharraf, God knows in what hope.

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Missing the Reality

Why the Pakistan connection was ignored then, and throughout the twenty years until now, despite the period being littered with evidence like Osama Bin Laden being found in Abbottabad, known Afghan Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan, free Taliban movement across Af-Pak border etc., is a question that needs serious scrutiny.

Dumping all blame on Pakistan is dangerous, as it misses the dark reality of America never really having a problem with the Taliban or its terrorising and violating the people of Afghanistan per se. It only wanted to degrade Al-Qaeda.

There exists sufficient evidence of America playing footsie with the Taliban on numerous occasions, such as the “airlift of evil” from Kunduz in November 2001, the refusal to allow then-President Hamid Karzai to hand over the former Taliban Aviation Minister to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government for involvement in the Indian Airlines hijacking in December 1999, the proposed invitation to Camp David to the Taliban by former President Donald Trump, or the Doha dialogue and the “peace deal” itself truck in February 2020.

Bill Emmott correctly identifies the key “mistake” of the period in “Bush’s State of the Union Address when … he described America’s enemies as an axis of evil. None of the three countries he accused of being state sponsors of terrorism – Iran, Iraq, and North Korea – is responsible for America’s failure in Afghanistan and for the return of the Taliban”.

Willfully ignoring the Saudi and Pakistani connections and allowing violent Islamist terrorism to rage through the region makes America and its allies the bigger culprits. They could have reined in these countries. They did not. The responsibility for Afghan blood, crushed hopes, crushed lives as a result of Kabul’s fall now lie squarely at America’s feet. Sanctimonious calls to respect human rights are as hollow as an empty drum. The U.S. plotted and handed over the fate of the Afghans to the monster, together with Pakistan’s army and the ISI.

(Gul Bukhari is a Pakistani journalist and rights activist. She tweets @GulBukhari. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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