Caliph Hazrat Ali (KW) counseled: "If you truly wish to understand a person, see him in his state of anger". The 11th September American tragedy triggered terrible rage and anger. Immediately there was a call for revenge:
- Osama bin Laden is the real culprit, and is wanted dead or alive.
- Afghanistan would face unprecedented punishment as it has provided shelter to Osama.
- Those who side with USA will be the friends, and those who do not, will be the foes.
- The Taliban tyrannical rule must come to an end.
These need be analyzed to determine the gravity of the situation, and the challenges posed to Afghanistan and Pakistan, in particular and the region in general.
To pronounce a judgment on Osama that he and his organization Al-Qaida are conduits to terrorism, without any proof, defies all norms of justice. It does, however, establish that USA was well predisposed to unleash aggression on Afghanistan and was only waiting for an excuse, provided by the New York and Washington tragedy, to achieve the Strategic Objective, expounded by Brezezinski, the former advisor to President Carter, in his book "The Grand Chess Board", that in order to maintain American Primacy, it was necessary that USA consolidates its hold on the Southern Front of Eurasia, i.e., Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, to preempt the possibility of collusion between Russia and China. Preparations are therefore being made to implement the plan for the fulfillment of the Strategic Objective.
The Anti-Terrorist Resolution has been passed by the United Nations, Security Council. The strategy has been worked out with the NATO countries and Friends and Foes are clearly identified. The operational plan is ready for implementation. Since Pakistan is not prepared to offer space for the ground forces, therefore, on the basis of intelligence gathered, targets have been selected for punishment. The US air force operating mainly from Indian Ocean and the air fields in Uzbekistan would target the hide-outs of Taliban and other vital areas, and after softening up, the heli- and airborne troops may land to undertake quick flushing operations and return to their bases. In other words, selective destruction of sanctuaries of the terrorists would be effected based on a well-coordinated intelligence acquisition net work. The purpose of launching low intensity operations, instead of massive retaliation would be to avoid creating undue fear, lest it triggers sympathetic reprisal in Pakistan.
Taliban have deployed their ground forces comprising nearly thirty thousand soldiers, having the experience and skill of fighting for over twenty years. A fairly sizable chunk of this force is placed to fortify Kandhar, Ghazni and Jalalabad region. Their Headquarters is located near Khost, and its command is under Jalaluddin Haqqani, a very experienced, brave and a relentless fighter. To assist this force a large number of tribal and Pakistani fighters are only waiting for the call for Jihad.
One of the objectives of USA is to establish a broad-based government, in place of the Taliban regime. The UN Secretary General for Afghanistan Affairs, Francis Vendrel, has spelt out its contours. The Six plus two i.e., Afghanistan and its six neighbors along with USA and Russia, would ensure that all minorities get representation in the government and a person having wide popularity would become the ruler of Afghanistan. The Ex-king Zahir Shah fits into this slot. This, in nutshell, is the harmonized version of Washington and Dushanbe plans, which they contend would be the harbinger of peace in Afghanistan and terrorism would be eliminated. But if history is any witness to such efforts made in the past, the British East India Company in 1939, did establish a regime of their choice at Kabul, but what happened subsequently, is a sad story to tell. Similarly, in 1979, the Russians installed a pro-Moscow government at Kabul and deployed over 120,000 Russian troops to protect it, which turned out to be a nightmare and a shameful retreat. The Americans can repeat the same mistake, if they are not prepared to learn from others mistakes.
However, if the broad based government plan is implemented it would result in the emergence of several autonomous regions.
The areas now under control of Northern Alliance, including Mazar-e-Sharif would be for the Uzbeks. Bamyan would be the abode of Hazara tribes. Herat and the adjoining areas would be under Ismail Khan, representing mainly the Tajik minority, and the land, which spreads in the South from Kandhar to Jalalabad, would constitute the Pakhtoon autonomous region, finally merging into the Pakhtoon belt of Pakistan, thereby actualizing Bacha Khan's dream of Pakhtoonistan into reality.
The Master Plan thus envisages dissecting Afghanistan into autonomous regions, pitched against each other, vying for influence and power, and working under a loose federation - a fulfillment of Washington and Dushanbe plans. It is rightly said that between idea and reality falls a shadow. The experience of the past indicates that such measures may ignite a fresh wave of civil war. Russia's access to the Indian Ocean would be blocked. Pakistan also would be deprived of trade routes to Central Asian states.
There are also apprehensions that the sensitive intelligence gathering instruments would pick-up information about Osama and his organization, as well as the activities of various Jihadi Groups cooperating with Taliban. Pakistan would thus be compelled to take punitive action against these as per UN resolutions. On the Indian side, with Indo-Israel cooperation, the intelligence acquisition system would identify Jihadi Groups operating in Kashmir. Pakistan will therefore be obligated to take action against them as well, thus creating the dilemma.
The exigency warrants that Pakistan be prepared to face this situation. After all, who could foretell that before 11 September calamity, the Americans watching the flames of fire raging in others' dwellings in other parts of the world would be witnessing the same gory drama at their own door steps.