Faith more powerful than military weapons
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Doha agreement signed on Saturday in the presence of leaders from various countries was, on paper, between the United States and Taliban, but in fact it was between the “invader” and the party that “won” the 18-year war by offering such a tough resistance that forced the attacker to agree to a timeline to leave the ravaged country.
According to reports the total US military expenditure in Afghanistan from October 2001 until September 2019 was $778bn. In addition, the US State Department - along with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies - spent $44bn on reconstruction projects. This brings the total cost to $822bn.
(An independent study carried out by Brown University's Cost of War Project says the official US figures for the Afghan war are a substantial underestimate).
(Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said at a news conference in Islamabad on Sunday that more than $1 trillion were spent by the US.
On the other hand, Taliban are among the poorest creatures on the face of the other. While fighting the invaders they had also to fight the successive governments in Kabul, who served as allies of the US.
While the invader had international support, Taliban stood totally isolated. Even when they remained in power for five years before being ousted in 2001 they were recognized only by three countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
The only weapon the Taliban had against their enemy was their unwavering faith in Allah. And that was the weapon Afghanistan had also used against the Soviet Union which had invaded the country in 1979.
The US-Taliban agreement calls for a phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces and also requires the Taliban to initiate a formal dialogue with the Afghan government and other political and civil society groups on a permanent nationwide ceasefire and power-sharing in post-war Afghanistan.
"The United States will reduce the number of US military forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and implement other commitments in the US-Taliban agreement within 135 days of the announcement of this joint declaration and the US-Taliban agreement," the United States and Afghanistan said in a joint statement on Saturday.
A full withdrawal of all US and coalition forces would occur within 14 months of this deal getting signed, if Taliban fulfil their end of the deal, according to the text of the agreement.
Up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be released and the Taliban will release up to 1,000 prisoners by March 10, according to the text of the deal.
The United States will work with the UN Security Council to remove Taliban members from sanctions by May 2020, the accord says.
The signing of the new deal means Afghanistan has defeated two superpowers although it paid a very heavy price for victory. More than four million Afghans had to leave their homes and seek refuge in Pakistan, Iran and even in Western countries. Although many have returned home with the improvement in the situation, millions are still waiting for the day when they would get an opportunity to rejoin their relatives in the war-torn country.
Pakistan’s leadership must be appreciated for saving the country from the kind of invasion Afghanistan was subjected to.
When the World Trade Centre was attacked and thousands of people killed as a result, for US every country was a suspect. It was in a position to target any country to take revenge. No nation on the face of the earth would have raised a finger on such a decision.
Pakistani leadership took a very wise decision of cooperation with the US at the time. Otherwise, the world’s only Islamic nuclear power could have been destroyed like Afghanistan and deprived of its capability.
Some opposition leaders’ criticism that Gen Musharraf had surrendered before the US on a single phone call was totally unjustified. His strategy should be judged keeping in view the sensitivity of that particular situation.
Pakistan continued its nuclear policy even during the US presence in Afghanistan – which is the result of a wise strategy.
After the Doha agreement, Pakistan will again have to play an important role for peace in Afghanistan. It should bring the Afghan government, Taliban and other stakeholders closer so that they rebuild the country in the shortest possible time. The Afghan leadership should be made to realize that their real friend in the region is Pakistan, not India which is slaughtering Muslims on various pretexts.
Together, Pakistan and Afghanistan should create conditions conducive for the return home of some 2.5 million refugees living in Pakistan.