By Haider Abbas
Isn’t it ironic that when US withdrawal from Afghanistan is nearly complete as around 95% of its army has already vacated, leaving behind around 1000 of its army personnel, then why has US given the deadline (on July 9) for its complete withdrawal by August 31? Why a fortnight of July and the whole month of August is to be taken for complete vacating from Afghanistan? There is of course a million-dollar answer to it. US will be using its military bases in Gulf to fly its fighter-jets and drones from over Pakistan, violating the Pakistan airspace, and if Pakistan allows, its good or else Pakistan may have to taste a war on it by US.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan has announced ‘absolutely not’ to US military bases inside Pakistan but Pakistan is yet to cancel the agreements forged between the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and US which guaranteed the use of Pakistan air and military bases to attack Afghan Taliban (AT), and no wonder Pakistan, according to South China Morning Post on June 1, allowed its airspace be used to attack AT. It reported that, ‘Pakistan bends again as it grants US warplanes access to its skies. Furore over speculation Islamabad may have secretly agreed to lease an airbase to Washington comes after American jets used Pakistani airspace to bomb Taliban forces’. Will Pakistan show some spine to refuse US now? Will it cancel the Musharraf agreements? This is the biggest question which stares into the face of Pakistan as AT are learnt to be making more and more advances with every passing day.
US tried its best to convince Pakistan for military bases but Pakistan is too deep with China as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is what has become the prime-most objective of both the counties. China wants its goods to reach to the world through its most ambitious project which US and ironically India just does not want to see it happen. US through its military bases want to keep an eye on Afghanistan as well as on China. Pakistan, therefore as yet, on the back support of China stood to US pressures and has refused to eat-the-US bait, but, US under its new President Joseph Biden, after exhausting all its avenues, is perhaps never expected to ‘leave the theatre’ to Pakistan and Afghanistan maneuvering, and will surely, attack AT by virtue of violating Pakistan air-space, which if Pakistan desists, then it may warrant an attack from US forces stationed inside Afghanistan as well! So Pakistan may be well prepared to take on US.
Pakistan may stand or may succumb, but if some recent events may be put into perspective, then, the possibilities of Pakistan going by the side of US cannot be ruled-out, solely for its dominant dependence on Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as its crown Prince had welcomed Imran Khan on a purple carpet, promised millions of jobs to Pakistanis, while the international powers saw, at the same time, that Israel waged a war on Palestine. Imran Khan remained muted even as his comrade i.e. Turkish President Taiyyip Erdogan also could not summon his traditional rhetoric on Israel. The war ended after Russian intervention. Therefore, Imran Khan paving-way for US, may be clandestinely is on the cards, as it hasn’t been that late when Imran Khan had played chauffeur to KSA Crown Prince on the latter’s visit to Pakistan in 2019. This would help thwart the KSA Crown Prince, the accusations levied against him for his involvement in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoghi, and also, therefore help keep Joseph Biden placated as Biden had conveyed his reservations towards the Crown Prince. Needless, to remind the formation of the touted separate Islamic bloc against KSA run OIC by Pakistan and Turkey etc. to have as yet vanished in the thin air.
US will never leave Afghanistan even after ruining it for 20 years. US is desperately trying to seek military bases from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan which has prompted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi make a dash for his three nations visit i.e. Turkmenistan. Tajiskistan and Uzbekistan on July 14 while Pakistan Foreign Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Indian counterpart S Jaishanker are also to come face-to-face on Shanghai Co-Operation Organization (SCO) meeting in Tajikistan, and the Afghanistan situation and its implications are surely to hog the agenda, in the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who has thrown his weight towards AT. Pakistan PM Imran Khan is right now on his visit to Uzbekistan to counsel Uzbekistan not to ‘take-on’ the fights initiated by US. May be perhaps Pakistan will be holding to KSA maneuvers as KSA and ironically Israel have been the biggest allies of US in the past 70 years!
Meanwhile, AT spokesperson, Suhail Shaneen, in an elaborate interview to News 18 has conveyed that ‘India should remain impartial on Afghan issue.’ The Indian stand is all known for Ashraf Ghani government which AT are battling against and owing to AT capitalizing on Ghani forces India has abandoned its Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad consulates. There is a growing chorus on media in India that India should send its troops to the rescue of Ghani’s government, although there hasn’t been any official request from Afghanistan.
After 20 years of ruinous war of US in Afghanistan US succeeded into quelling any attack on it from Afghanistan, which was done on September 11 2001, but had to negotiate with AT which showed US look like a lame duck, but surely it will not let Afghanistan have the last laugh. Will Afghanistan be left to the wolves? Will it enter into a civil war and a ensuing bloodshed? Perhaps yes, as Ghani forces and AT will fight it out for the battle for survival and US will just have one alibi. Pakistan! For disallowing military and air bases. This will frustrate Ghani forces to no end.
There is now an obvious new churning going inside US which is to violate Pakistan air space and bomb Afghanistan and see to any Pakistan response? As Biden has already made it clear that US in Afghanistan was not with any notion of ‘nation-building’! Pakistan, with all the wherewithal of CPEC, will have China stand by it, but on July 14, there has been an IED blast in KPK province in Pakistan in which 13 people including 9 Chinese have been killed. May be Pakistan is now entering into its worst test forever.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and a political analyst.