You can ask people to make sacrifices based on values and principles, but when you ask them to make sacrifices based on wanting to have your cake and eat it too, they feel cheated.
The most valued ally – Pakistan is as desired as a partner by the common man in America as the alliance with US is desired by the common man in Pakistan. Both don’t trust the other. This strange topography created by Bush is what has everyone confused (including Taliban) and the war extending infinitely. American’s can’t understand why Afghanistan was invaded and Pakistan was not – other than dishonorable reasons like fear or greed for regional influence.
The Taliban had seized power in Afghanistan and were proxies of Pakistan. Our of 45,000 Taliban slaughtering the local Afghan population, only 14,000 were estimated to be Afghans. Pakistan, Saudi and UAE were the only three countries that recognized their rule of Afghanistan. Pakistan was known to have contributed about 28,000 troops to the Taliban militia, out of which 20,000 were bona fide soldiers and only 8,000 were from madrassas.
Yet, someone thought it a bright idea to call Pakistan allies! As though, once you call someone an ally, their whole being gets replaced by what you desire! Pakistan was never an ally. Any leader when faced by the might of the world threatening to bomb it to the stone age will do what is asked of them rather than devastate the country. It is like the Taliban holding knives to someone’s throat and asking them to speak for their videos. That doesn’t make the hostage a Taliban supporter, and expecting them to handle a part of the camp is not going to be done.
Yet, somehow Americans believed that they could not only bully Pakistan into killing their own people (which it turns out they actually will, for the right price), but worse undermine their own well planned strategic advantage in the region. Like a hostage is unlikely to cooperate more than is necessary to keep themselves safe and drag their feet as much as possible, it was unlikely that Pakistan would do anything more than absolutely essential for their safety from the US and they are dragging their feet as much as possible too.
While it is not noble that Pakistan does this, Pakistan has never been a noble state and wars shouldn’t be based on expectations of an ally, but on their reality.
For a long time, America has fooled itself that India and Pakistan are quite same, just different in size and religion. Its global aspirations saw the opportunity in having a base in the region, and Pakistan was the only country that could be it. Consequently, it brought in its arms and money in order to make said base stronger. However, Pakistan is a country, not another Diego Garcia. It has its own agendas. And top priority was destroying India.
What the US saw as strengthening its base in the region, as recipient of the results of all that generosity, India correctly identified as arming Pakistan against India. That was not the US objective, but it didn’t bother the US as much, specially considering how it saw India as a Russian proxy.
The map was simple. The US wanted a base in the cold war to ‘deal with’ Russia. It never cared about Pakistan – as Pakistan knows, even though they played along, because it aided their objctives. Pakistan served another purpose. To make ‘friends’ with China.
After the fall of the USSR, the game changed. Now, the biggest threat in the region was China. Pakistan was coming into its own. It was redesigning the power structure in Afghanistan to taste based on its enimity with India. An idea that had worked before – the US idea of the Taliban against USSR was now useful in the same region against the government itself. Now, check out the power dynamics in this snapshot.
The government of Afghanistan was essentially uprooted because of its relations with India. Government was largely Shia. Taliban largely Sunni. Iran didn’t want Taliban coming into power. Saudi Arabia did. In comes money. Political recognition. Everybody except Massoud and Dostum is happy. These two created the United Front (Northern Alliance) to resist the Taliban within Afghanistan. Refugees poured in from the atrocities in the rest of the country as the Taliban set about systematically altering the alliance of the country through the simple process of killing those who resisted and minorites. Iran and India supported the Northern Alliance. Massoud appealed to the world for aid at the UN. Didn’t achieve much. Everyone was comfortable. He provided information about a large attack on the US. Hmm…. okay.
The US has this beautiful way of ignoring all evil that doesn’t interfere with its ambitions and micromanaging what does. So, things have these lovely opportunities to fester under US protection. No one could have provided external intervention to the Taliban at this stage without earning US wrath – the Taliban were a creation of the US branch office in Asia. Touch a hair on the heads of these noble warriors who saved the world from Russia, and answer to the US.
Unfortunately, the Taliban had many parents. And, like they say, the parent who raises and nurtures is usually dearer than the parent who pays. The flood of Saudi influence came with its own thought processes about the US, and its other branch office in Israel. Pakistan’s ego was such that historically, while it has called the US a friend on and off, it has never acknowledged the vase amount of military and monetary support that has meant. Thus, the Pakistani common man is not aware of any good the US has done other than using them against the Russians and enabling the brave warriors to free Afghanistan (which too, the common man perceives as a Pakistani victory with some friendly support from the US), which is all well and good, but there is no emotional bond there.
So, if these people from the West (who are already set up as evil right from their childhoods through outright brainwashing in text books) are harming Muslims, they must be destroyed. Not too difficult to convince for the Saudi motivators, with their status as the seat of Islam.
Thus, big plans made by Al-Qaeda in this nice, fertile place. US bombing happens.
US outraged. Our for blood. Want Osama Bin Laden. NOW. Taliban asks why. No answer. NOW. Taliban asks for proof. US bombs Afghanistan, and we’re in business again.
Now for the fun part. Obviously, one sub-asset of the US has gone rogue (not that the US gave it much of a chance for changing their mind). With Pakistan gone, the US doesn’t have a branch office in Asia! So, the US cuts its losses in its imagination. It bullies Pakistan into somehow, suddenly attacking the Al-Qaeda (which was distasteful, but not such an impossible thing) and Taliban (their own flesh and blood).
The branch office was once more taking orders from headquarters, only that headquarters wanted it to cancel all deals made from the last contact till now. That would be a total destruction of local business and its own agenda. Unacceptable.
And so on, endlessly.
The bottom line remains that the US cannot win this war, because Pakistan’s policies on Afghanistan will never match with theirs, and they simply set up this war wrong when they made Pakistan an ally and put the lifeline of the campaign in their hands. There is no way Pakistan will not leverage support in Afghanistan. It is impossible for Pakistan to leave Afghanistan’s government open to the traditional relationship with India. Therefore, Pakistan will never allow the Taliban to be totally wiped out. Not possible. Flat out.
To win this war, the US will have to take on Pakistan, which is not possible with the current set up. In essence, it will be a new war.
But stay tuned, Pakistan seems determined to destroy itself for some reason. In that case, many problems will be solved and many new ones will come up.