Will peace ever return in Afghanistan ? Some ten years back US-led Western forces embarked on the ambitious mission ridding the land of terrorism and terrorists from its map on the fall of Twin Towers on 11th September 2000. Initial success of spectacular air-strikes made it look a nine-days' operation. But the world has seen over the last decade that task of overpowering Talibans is almost proving to be chasing a mirage!! This mountainous country has a history of bloody feuds and wars. Even Britishers in their heydays were made to bite the dust by the battle-hardened and fiercely independent people of this rocky land. More about that later.afg2

Coming to the events of the past few decades which has made Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world riveting the attention of the entire world. Before we track them, a study of its recent history would make it amply why this poor nation has been reduced to a mere pawn on th large chess-board of world politics. Way back in 1979 , Mohammed Daud Khan was the prime minister of Afghanistan and a Soviet-led invasion led to his ouster from office. It was a little less than a decade  before the end of Cold-War era and triggered off a swift response from the United States of America. Afghans who are known for inter-tribes bloody conflicts and fiercely opposed to any outside intervention reacted very strongly to the presence of Soviet troops on their soil and fled to areas bordering Pakistan. The USA took this grand opportunity to humble its arch rival USSR through its proxy Pakistan. What unfolded was long years of war between USSR- backed regimes of Afghanistan and the USA-backed resistance led by Afghan rebels which ultimately ended up in the fall of Najeebullah regime and he was publicly hanged on the street of Kabul.afg3

But the progression of history in this part of the world was never bereft of drama! If the USSR's ignominious exit from Afghanistan added to the great pleasure of the USA., flurry of events taking place thereafter must have added more pleasure to Russia  to be known as such after the fall of USSR. After Najibullah's departure the control of the country passed into the hands of a section of obscurantist Muslim clergy of Afghanistan and it tried to shackle the country with barbaric medieval rules and dictats through murderous practices. What unsettled the USA was the kind of  ambition the leaders of this new breed of rulers   nurtured in their bosoms! A hydra-headed monster of terrorism was created by no other than the USA. Various terrorists outfits were born under different names all over the globe anf its head was Al-Quida and its unchallenged supremo Osma bin Laden who was killed by US forces much to the relief of the world, was the one who was groomed by America to fight its proxy war against the former USSR. The wheel,indeed, has full circle with the fall of Twin Towers - the symbol of American pride in a horrendous air strike on the soil of the world's only Super Power! And the Uncle Sam along with its Western allies launched one of the deadliest air attacks before their troops landed on this poverty-stricken land. The then US President George declared: We'd smoke them out! It is ten years now that Afghanistan is under occupation of US and Western forces to what results?

Hamid Karzai's who was the consensus choice to lead the land into a semblance of order and peace is tottering with increasing and glaring failures to ensure order even in the capital, Kabul. Large tracts of Afghanistan are off limits for his corrupt regime. Out of the 121 strategic areas identified only 29 areas under effective control of Karzai government. Talibans have been successful in carrying out deadly attacks on US Army armored vehicles.  For the US and NATO forces a kind of skepticism is seeping in and it seems a pullout of Western forces and the US very much in the offing with rising number of casualties. What was originally thought to be a war against terrorism and Talibans is  straying into becoming a full-fledged war against Pushtoons. whose battle-hardened character enforced with a fervid will to defend their land  from their aggressors has robbed the US and Nato forces of their sleep.afg4

Now coming to the cost of this war. Leaving aside what USA has suffered in terms of men and material, a brief account of the losses suffered by Great Britain whose former Prime Minister threw his nation full weight and might behind US decision to invade Afghanistan - a mission which had notes of discordance even in America itself  Donald Rumsfeld - US Defense Secretary was only in favor of a punitive strike, not a full-fledged war by openly declaring that 'America had no dog in the Afghan fight'! Today America is literally bleeding on both counts of money and men. As for Great Britain it has been a revisit of its monumental Afghan folly committed in another century. A loss of  close to four hundred British soldiers so far with a ballooning  compensation amount to Afghan civilians for causing unintended destruction to towns and harm to innocent lives, have left the British press fuming! Domestic opinion too is building strongly for a disengagement. Now we hear a feeble voice of an indicative desire for a negotiated settlement with Talibans!!   Great Britain has already incurred a cool  18.8 Sterling Pounds and it is all taxpayers' money!  And for America it is close to 3.7 trillion dollars!  It is not surprising that a majority of Americans  have started  wondering if the USA's campaign in Afghanistan is likely to meet the same fate as it did in Vietnam.afgan1

The part of history which was alluded to in the earlier part of this article was no other than the armed conflict in  which the Great British power was engaged with local Afghan tribes. It has to be kept in mind that it was during the period when British military held sway in major parts of the  globe. in the nineteenth century. The first Anglo-Afghan (1839-1842) war fought on the soil of Afghanistan resulted in a defeat of the British Army and the historians and the survivors of that war lived to recount the grim and most humiliating retreat terribly hurting the British pride of the Victorian eras! Some 15 million GBP were spent to fund this disastrous war which witnessed decimation of nearly 40,000 British soldiers. The rugged terrains and their higher altitudes provided ideal conditions for the fighting tribal Afghans to launch counter offensive to the utter helplessness of the British troops. The historians saw in the defeat of the imperialist Britain the incipient fall of the empire. From the point of view of India, the first Anglo-Afghan War was important in more than one sense. As many Indians served the British  Army who actually took part in the war and came into intimate contact with the happenings on the war zone. The myth of invincibility of the British military might exploded right before their eyes. It is significant to note that a few years after the first Anglo-Afghan War the Sepoy Mutiny which is hailed as India's first war of Independence, took place in 1957. Events in Afghanistan not only influenced the minds of Indians but also the subjects of other British colonies.afgan2

It is quite evident that history is against the USA and other foreign forces which tried repeated failures to impose their will on the people of Afghanistan. Earlier Great Britain and thereafter USSR and now the USA and its allies are being made to face this cruel reality! Afghanistan has unfortunately been  made the theatre of world power play,greed for which the common people of this country continue to pay with their dear lives and whatever life stands for!

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