Time for America to leave Afghanistan

Maswood Alam Khan
This is the best time for America to declare victory in Afghanistan and withdraw their entire force, instead of waiting till the end of 2014, the deadline announced earlier for withdrawal of US troops.

Innocent and naïve Afghans, who apparently don’t bother themselves with world politics, who are extremely religious and who at times also become furious, are seething with anger and frustrations at the deaths of their compatriots at the hand of foreign soldiers. People across the world are outraged at the way Afghan civilians are being treated by the US-allied forces who in the name of peacekeeping are committing one atrocity after another.

Last Sunday (March 11), a US soldier shot to death 16 Afghan civilians who were mainly children and women. On February 20, US soldiers burned the copies of the Holy Qur’an and other Islamic texts at the US-run Bagram airbase. During the last few months, US drone attacks were carried out indiscriminately that killed only the civilians. A footage showing American soldiers urinating on dead Afghan bodies is in circulation in the Internet. The ghastly and extremely reprehensible 40-second clip shows four men in combat gear standing over three corpses of Afghan civilians – who could or could not be Taliban insurgents anyway – with their genitals exposed as they were relieving themselves. And, there were other grave mistakes US soldiers committed – advertently or inadvertently. These attacking events, ironically, will be used as ‘recruitment tools’ for Talibans to say “Look, Afghanistan has been attacked and offended by non-Muslims” and to motivate their fellow brothers and friends to join the Taliban forces in order to defend their country from invaders and insulters.

President Obama was perhaps right in saying that the latest incident was “tragic and shocking and does not represent the exceptional character of American military.” Many other explanations would possibly be offered by America saying that the American soldier who killed the children was mentally disturbed, that the copy of the Holy Qur’an and other Islamic texts bore some secret and encrypted messages that were sent by Talibans to their fellow Afghan prisoners, that four American soldiers urinating on dead Afghan bodies were too drunken to maintain their sanity, and that the Afghan civilians killed by US drone attacks were unintended collateral damage. A courteous “Sorry”, for sure, will be the answer to all the mishaps committed and to be committed.

America is fast losing the battle for both Afghan and world public opinions if reaction to these latest incidents is any evidence. Sunday’s killing of Afghan children and women may be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back – the latest in a series of bad events that makes it impossible for any conscious American citizen or for that matter any citizen of the world to accept American soldiers’ presence in Afghanistan any longer. It is high time America declared their victory and left Afghanistan.

America has reasons to declare their triumphs. The United States sent its troops to Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy the Al-Qaeda-backed movement that was thought to be responsible in orchestrating the coordinated attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Al-Qaeda has been almost eliminated, and their leader Osama bin-Laden is already killed. Tracing out Osama bin-Laden, after so many years, has been no mean feat for the American President and his military. America may rightly claim that they have sufficiently contributed towards stabilisation of Afghanistan by keeping the Taliban insurgents at bay and giving the country a chance to foster democracy. Moreover, America and its allies have trained thousands of Afghan soldiers and police personnel so that they can guard their country and enforce rule of law when the Western forces are gone. Let the mission in Afghanistan be over, please.

By staying in Afghanistan for a few more years America has not much more to gain, and potentially a lot more to lose: more American and Afghan lives will be lost; more blunders would be committed by drunken or troubled soldiers. And, America’s standing in the world would thus be irreparably tarnished.

E-mail: maswood@hotmail.com


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