Zalmay Khalilzad, Donald Trump’s pointman for Afghanistan, is a dangerous man. The Afghan-born Khalilzad, a member of the neocon gang, a nominal Muslim, is also extremely hostile to Muslims. Since his appointment last September, he has made a number of visits to Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. He has also held three rounds of talks with the Taliban, the latest in Abu Dhabi on December 17 at which Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were also present.
At the beginning of December, Khalilzad proposed a ceasefire in Afghanistan before April 19, 2019. Why this date? On April 20, Afghanistan is supposed to hold presidential elections. Given that the Taliban have made steady military gains controlling some 60% of the territory and holding considerable sway in the rest, elections under such circumstances would be well nigh impossible. The Taliban of course dismissed the ceasefire proposal, reiterating instead their demand for the release of Taliban prisoners and timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Aware that the US has lost the war in Afghanistan — it has become a graveyard for another empire — the Americans have started saying that the Taliban cannot win militarily. Really; so who is begging the Taliban for talks? Soon after the Abu Dhabi talks, it was reported in the US media (Wall Street Journal and others) that Trump has decided to withdraw 7,000 of the 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan immediately. This was a clear signal to the Taliban that the US is willing to surrender provided the former give some assurances that the retreating troops would not be attacked!
Khalilzad has come up with his own harebrained ideas that border on lunacy. He has proposed turning Pakistan’s northern border region with Afghanistan into an investment hub where world-class medical facilities would be provided. Further, there should be opportunities for education, employment, and tourism. The Afghan-born Khalilzad then spoke about a “confederation” between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
If Khalilzad and his white masters in Washington were truly serious about such proposals, they should not have attacked Afghanistan in the first place. The Taliban had caused them no harm. Since invading Afghanistan, the US has spent more than $1 trillion in its war on one of the poorest countries in the world. Had this amount of money been distributed among the people they would be eternally grateful. Instead, the dirt-poor country has been bombed beyond the Stone Age but the people remain defiant. The Afghan death toll, unaccounted for, runs into tens of thousands.
Khalilzad’s investment and confederation proposals are actually meant to undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistani decision-makers should be extremely wary of such ideas. America is no friend of Pakistan, it has never been. At the most critical moments, the US has repeatedly betrayed Pakistan and its people.
Islamabad should help facilitate talks between the US and the Taliban to secure the withdrawal of American and foreign troops but it should entertain no other ideas. Instead, Pakistan should tell the Americans that if they are serious about their investment proposals, they should reimburse Pakistan for the $120 billion in losses it has suffered to its infrastructure. What price tag can be placed on the 70,000 killed in America’s so-called war on terror?
Similarly, the US should be made to rebuild Afghanistan by pledging $1 trillion for peace and reconstruction. Let us see if the US would put its money where its mouth is. Nobody should hold any hope of this materializing.