Spring in the time of war

Spring is in the air despite the war against Pakistan. In a time of national distress, should we ignore it? Should we go around with the dark cloud of death and destruction hanging over our head and disregard the beauty of life thriving around us, the scent of its will to survive in the air? Or should we thank God for this season and all the good things that neither the sponsored brands of terrorists attacking us nor their scheming sponsors can ever stop from happening?

It’s not only spring and nature that are unstoppable. All man-made schemes and plans are helpless against the tide of time. It washes away lofty thrones of power and drowns kings and courtiers with their fancy suits and silk ties. What we are witnessing today is the unmistakable fall of Uncle Sam’s unipolar empire. Obviously, all the military might and cunning schemes, every hybrid weapon in the imperial arsenal, is not enough to stop the march of history.

Amidst the recent spate of terrorist attacks across the country, talking of spring and a turning tide might sound a bit out of place. There are friends who think we are going round and round in circles. They don’t see the tide turning for our country. Stuck in the imperial narrative, they don’t see the ‘post-West’ order rising rapidly from the horizon. They say how can you sing the praises of spring at a time when our people are being killed in terrorist attacks? How can you talk about turning tides?

Let me explain. We must view the happenings in Pakistan in the larger context. The terrorist attacks might remind us of our earlier nightmare, but they are unfolding in a different regional environment. The tide of time is pushing us towards the solution of our Afghanistan conundrum. We are being presented with stark options, and we seem to be progressively making the right strategic choices. The full-throttle terrorist onslaught is a punishment for upsetting the imperial plan.

Surely, there would be no substantial turning of the tide for us until Afghanistan is stabilised. Not long ago, this goal seemed unattainable but something positive is taking shape in the region with the potential to make it possible. Afghanistan’s neighbours are waking up to their responsibility for security in the region and are unwilling to leave it to the whims of the US. This is only natural since their security is threatened by lawlessness across their borders.

Countries in the region are converging to the consensus that the prospects of peace in Afghanistan would remain slim under US occupation. In fact, there is a growing understanding that the US is using its presence in Afghanistan to actively foment terrorism and export it to the neighbouring countries. A regional nexus is shaping up with China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran at its core. Central Asian states form a part of this architecture for regional security.

While it is true that the Trump administration is yet to announce its policy on Afghanistan, there’s no point guessing about it. As with everything else he does, it’s hard to say which way he is headed. Analysts can’t figure out whether he would announce a surge or a drawdown of troops. Whatever he decides, he will have to deal with a growing regional alliance with a shared perspective on settling Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, it is becoming apparent by the day that Trump is merely the new mask of Uncle Sam wrapped in hollow populist rhetoric. The new president has adjusted the foreign policy tune of his campaign days to sing the same old song. By the look of things, Uncle Sam’s new puppet would not give up his regional foothold in Afghanistan so easily. How would the US destabilise the region through its ever-changing brands of proxy terrorists then? Like a spoilsport, Uncle Sam would not leave the field after being bowled out. He would drag his feet and throw a fit.

Uncle Sam’s war on the world for global hegemony might not be over yet, but the days of his unilateralist badmashi have definitely ended. The exceptional bully has been called out and his power to police the world has been effectively challenged by the China-Russia nexus and its growing list of multipolar partners. He is losing his grip on his allies and vassals. When was the last time you heard the term ‘sole super-power’ used seriously?

The challenge in Afghanistan boils down to affecting a smooth withdrawal of US occupation forces from the country, and filling the vacuum of power that Uncle Sam leaves behind with the help of an alliance of regional countries. Unlike the self-perpetuating imperial presence of Uncle Sam that has brought Afghanistan to the state it is in today, the involvement of the cooperative regional alliance could actually help the transition to a stable and sovereign Afghanistan.

Reconciliation among Afghan factions under the umbrella of a regional alliance would be a lot easier than trying to find a solution under US occupation. After all, for it to be successful, it is imperative that the initiative is driven by sincerity of purpose. And who would be more sincere to a peaceful settlement of Afghanistan than its immediate neighbours.

The much-needed change of security guards in Afghanistan will have to be pursued with a lot of patience, wisdom and strength. We should prepare to defend ourselves from not only terrorist proxies spawned in Afghanistan but also other hybrid weapons of war being fired in our direction. The Nawaz government has backstabbed the National Action Plan through its inaction but it can’t get away with it anymore. The tide is turning even within the corridors of our national power.

Finally, the government announced the release of 1.4 billion rupees to make the National Counter-Terrorism Authority operational, something it should have done when it assumed power three years ago. And an across-the-board counter-terrorism operation in Punjab is in the offing. Even a compromised corrupt government can only delay good things from happening. It can’t stop them.

The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be contacted at hazirjalees@hotmail.com

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