President Donald Trump has blamed Pakistan for failures in the continuing conflict in Afghanistan. Image: iStock/Juanmonino
Image: iStock/Juanmonino

Because of what they read and hear in the media, it may seem far-fetched to most US and other Western readers, but the fact is this – it is India that is lying to and cheating the US in Afghanistan, not Pakistan.

First things first. The belief in the doctrine of “American supremacy” runs deep in the culture and history of the United States. American troops quite often underestimate their foes, and such is the case with the Taliban in Afghanistan. They believe that they possess better weaponry, training and tactics than any other nation they may face as an adversary.

Such a perception has often directly led to disastrous results in US actions in Afghanistan. Believing themselves to be superior to any threat they might possibly face, US forces often throw caution to the wind during their operations. To support my arguments, I recommend viewing in full the documentary Operation Anaconda: The Battle of Roberts’ Ridge, about a three-week-long US sweep against al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Unfortunately, the Indian lobby is exploiting the US military’s mindset and further misleading the Americans by scapegoating Pakistan for the US failures in Afghanistan. India wants the US to remain entangled in Afghanistan for larger Indian interests. As a result, Afghanistan continues to bleed, Pakistan remains under pressure and most of Pakistan’s army is tied up on its western borders.

India wants the US to continue fighting the Afghan Taliban and keep arming India to “contain” China. If history is any guide, this is a target India will never be able to reach. India cannot check the rise of China.

Engendering mistrust

India is continuously endeavoring to create mistrust between Afghanistan and its neighboring country Pakistan. It is also exploiting the Afghan government’s unpopularity to defame Pakistan to generate more pressure from the US on Pakistan.

The contours of the US-India multidimensional assault on Pakistan are now taking concrete shape. Recently, a new campaign on social media in Afghanistan is being sponsored against Pakistan. Old pictures of Afghan leaders in Pakistan are being circulated to mislead the US Central Intelligence Agency. It is an effort to malign Pakistan by alleging that its Inter-Services Intelligence agency is harboring Afghan Taliban in the country.

India’s policy of encircling Pakistan with the help of anti-Pakistan elements present in Afghanistan is seriously disturbing the strategic environment of the region. Despite Pakistan combating terrorism on its western border and curbing militants in a mission spanning the whole country, immense pressure is building up as India and Afghanistan continue to accuse Pakistan of perpetrating terrorism inside their territories.

To simplify the complex issues of terrorism in Afghanistan, the United States has repeated India’s vile disinformation mantra that Pakistan is harboring Afghan Taliban on its soil. Pentagon press secretary Colonel Rob Manning demanded that the Afghan Taliban not be able to operate from Pakistani soil. Later, however, he assured, “We stand ready to work together with Pakistan to combat terrorist groups without distinction.”

This is welcome news if the US finally agrees to target the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan leadership, which is based in Afghanistan and is creating mayhem in Pakistan. Loyalty is not a one-way street. The sooner the US administration understands this, the better.

However, the US has a long tradition of not learning from past mistakes, and of never admitting that it has been in the wrong. Such an institutional culture of covering up mistakes can only lead to the same erros being repeated and resulting in yet more needless loss of life. The Americans perceive the admission of mistakes as being potentially damaging to the image of the US as the invincible superpower, thereby missing valuable learning experiences that could prevent similar errors and losses in the future.

Pakistan has been an energetic and willing partner of the US for a very long time, until recently when US understanding of the region was shaken up by the Indian lobby. The lobby appears to have been successful in creating mistrust and painting China and Pakistan as enemies of the United States. The newly released US defense strategy also indicates the commencement of great-power rivalry in the region. Regrettably, the US considers Russia and China bigger threats than the menace of international terrorism.

India has turned Afghanistan into the base for a proxy war against Pakistan. Until the US see the realities without the Indian prism, Afghanistan will remain another failed battleground for the US and a source of misfortunes for millions of people in the region.

Atta Rasool Malik

Atta Rasool Malik hails from the semi-tribal areas of Pakistan. He holds an MPhil degree in International Relations from the National Defence University in Islamabad. Apart from horseback riding, his interests include reading and writing about the security of South Asia and the Middle East.

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