Monday, September 21, 2009


The Generals are saying that without more troops war effort in Afghanistan will be lost. What they cannot visualize is that with more troops, failure will come sooner.. Many military and independent observers admit that 80% of Afghanistan is already lost to Taliban and this, after eight years of military effort!

Those of us old enough to remember early days of Vietnam war, remember well that troop levels were around 50,000 at first, then 100,000, then 250,000 and still the Generals wanted more, saying that we can only defeat the enemy if we have more troops. President Johnson listened to them and increased troop levels to over 400,000. United Sates still lost the war and to this day, hasty retreat of U.S. troops from Vietnam haunts many a mind.

Afghanistan is no different, same scenario will be played out again if troops are increased, only more American young men and women will die, more Afghans will be bombed and the resultant hatred against the U.S. will last for another 20 to 30 years. It is time to learn a lesson from history. "Nations who do not learn from past mistakes are bound to repeat them".

It is no fault of the Generals that they ask for more troops. This is what they know - have strength to fight the enemy. Generals are no politicians and it is not in their purview to think politically, that is the job of the politicians and the President.

It is still not too late to achieve a reconciliation in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders have hinted more than once that they are willing to talk. U.S. has the means and the motive to accomplish a reconciliation. What is needed is an immediate ceasefire and a conference of all Afghan players, Northern Alliance, Hazaras, Pashtuns, Taliban and all others. U.S. and NATO should tell them that if you want foreign troops to leave, they have to reconcile and get along with each other.

Annul the Presidential elections and hold fresh elections after a peace conference so all parties can freely participate and if the people of Afghanistan want an Islamic Government, let them have one, only do not isolate them like before, so they go to bed with terrorists. Bring the new Afghan Government into the fold of international community and let them realize their responsibilities to the international community.

Afghanistan and its people have suffered a great deal in the super power rivalry. It is time this country was at peace and started rebuilding its infrastructure, an education system and created job opportunities for its young so they don't follow religious extremists. A Marshall style reconstruction plan for Afghanistan and Western part of Pakistan could change the political landscape of that part of the world and yet, it would cost a great deal less than extending the war.

President Obama, do not send more troops to Afghanistan. Start a reconciliation process in that country and bring all American troops home from Afghanistan within a year.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Vote rigging, ballot box stuffing, duplicate ballots, validity and final outcome of elections in doubt, no we are not talking about Iranian elections but Afghan elections supervised by U.S. and NATO. In one District alone, not a single vote was caste and yet all 38,000 votes showed up in one candidate's column. Where is the outrage? Why are the U.S. leaders not raving and ranting about it and why is Mr. Fareed Zakaria not blowing hot and cold on CNN's GPS Program?

Before the elections, NATO's representative in charge of overseeing the elections foolishly claimed an expected 80% voter turnout. The actual number seems well below 30%. Even in India, a country with perpetual 62 year democracy and frequent election history, voter turnout has not yet reached 80%, it is usually around 60%.

Obviously NATO does not understand Afghanistan where half the population i.e. women are not allowed by their husbands/fathers to go out of their houses let alone participate in elections. This shows a complete lack of understanding of Afghan culture and realities on the ground. It begs the question, if after eight years of presence on the ground, U.S. and NATO still do not understand Afghanistan, then what are they doing there?

The West is trying to succeed in Afghanistan by pinning its hopes on two men with tainted background. Mr. Hamid Karzai's is alleged to have enriched himself through corruption and by giving free reign to his brother, reported to be the biggest drug czar in Afghanistan. Mr. Abdullah Abdullah represents the Northern Alliance, a group with criminal history. When Kabul fell during the civil war under Alliance's control for a couple of months, they looted every house, murdered many able bodied men and raped as many women as they could. Also, a component of the Alliance headed by Rashid Dostum of Mazar-e-Sharif, who after the U.S. invasion is alleged to have killed over 1,000 people by locking them in cargo containers for months on end without food or water. Mr. Abdullah Abdullah may not himself be involved in any killings, but he is supported by these criminal elements. Hoping that people like Karzai and Abdullah can bring renaissance to Afghanistan is like handing over power to the I.R.A. in Northern Ireland and the Mafia in the U.S.

Afghanistan needs reconciliation and new leadership. It needs new faces and until new leadership is developed, civility and peace is not likely return to that country. The West's efforts of nation building are doomed to failure as long as it continues to provide oxygen to leaders with criminal background in Afghanistan.