By: Dr. G. Rauf Roashan
From the perspective of a political observer it is so interesting to look at Afghanistan while you recall the fictitious Jumanji game as depicted in the film of the same name. The result of moves of the pieces on the board could only be destruction.
An observer of the events in the past more than three decades in the land of the Afghans is reminded of the untamed jungles of Jumanji and the unimaginable and mysterious powers of the game. The analogy is strongly there and the wave after wave of invasions created by the toss of the dice, the herds and swarms of dangerous real and imaginary animals and the devastating effects of the invasions are but more than obvious to see. And the players are familiar who here are all extremely self interested neighbors and some regional powers. Among these players are some who are tossing their dice in person and by remote and are also sending agents and activists into Afghanistan. A further look at the scene would specifically recognize Pakistan and Iran and more recently a resurgence of Russian schemes that it would seem is determined to carry on its unending war in Afghanistan. Other regional forces and world powers are either directly involved or serve as observers ever-ready to safeguard their own interests and tking part in regional and global schemes of the game. Jumanji is hot.
To illustrate these let us focus on some of the recent exposures of teaming up of such interests in the land of the Afghans.
Recently a telling article attributed to Bruce Richardson has been posted on the web. The well documented article refers to unmarked Russian TU-160 and TU-95 long-range bombers that are making bombing raids in Southern Afghanistan. “In addition,” says the article, “Russian pilots are flying Northern Alliance combat aircraft in coordination (with NATO) sorties against Taliban troop formations throughout Afghanistan.” The article gives as reference the Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy: Perspective, Vol. XII, No. 9, I September-October 2001. Historic Briefs, December, 2011, Bruce G. Richardson, DAWAT Independent News Center, 6 December 2011. It says: “Russian advisers are openly providing training for Northern Alliance tank crews as Russian troops attached to the 201st Motorized Rifle Division based in Tajikistan serve in a combat support role with Northern Alliance regulars. Northern Alliance commanders are admitting that there are Russian pilots, advisers and other military personnel directly involved in the conflict against the Taliban inside Afghanistan. Moreover, 1500 soldiers recently were airlifted into Tajikistan to reconstitute shrinking 201st Motorized Rifle Division detachments, a result of deployment to Afghanistan.” The relationship between the Soviet invaders and elements of the Northern Alliance today is but an open secret.
The article claims that the United States is well aware of all of this as the Russians are providing certain facilities for the US forces operations in Afghanistan and the Russians are helping the Northern Alliance in fighting the Taliban that pose a threat to the Russian interests in Central Asia. This is a reminder of strange bedfellows teaming up in Afgahnisstan.
On the other hand, India has also established closer ties with the Northern Alliance for the same reason that Taliban could prove a threat to Indian security. Iran is openly anti-American and would like to use its closer ties with the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance in order to gain a stronger foothold in Afghanistan and an easier access to Central Asian Republics, an idea that Iran has been dreaming of for quite some time now. The prospects of Afghanistan becoming the central stage for the silk road to Central Asia especially considering the first step of the extension of a 47 mile railway track from Hairatan in Uzbekistan to Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan sharpens the interest of all three countries namely Iran, Pakistan and India in Afghan affaris. Afghanistan could easily and rather pretty soon become the hub for an extended trade route between South Asia and Central Asia.
The Afghan government that is mostly in the hands of the elements of Northern Alliance as is evident from the key positions they hold in the military and the police, is either unaware of the enormity of the problem of foreign interference in Afghan affairs or incapable to do anything about it or both. An atmosphere of the need to defeat Taliban militarily, on the other hand, prevails among the ranks of the government notwithstanding the price of the undertaking or a thorough consideration of alternatives. An important and often overlooked alternative to military excursion or even controversial peace talks is education of the public as to the fallacy of the Taliban’s policies. Another alternative would be provision of justice, eradication of corruption and providing of security and economic opportunities to the people. It is to be considered that if Taliban could be defeated militarily they would have after the strongest presence of international military forces in the country boasting the most sophisticated war machinery.
This scribe has consistently advised non-interference in the affairs of Afghanistan in such a way that it is guaranteed by international circles and approved of by the United Nations Security Council. Only then Pakistan, Iran, Russia, India and other regional and international forces could be prevented from muddying the waters for their own fishing in Afghanistan. There is no doubt whatsoever that Taliban are composed of reactionary elements that would like to turn the wheels of history backward and prevent Afghanistan from advancing into the 21st century. The people of Afghanistan deserve such an advance and even this could materialize when their own government, provided it is legitimate and truly democratic, would have the reign of power in its own hands and that Afghan leaders are not used as puppets for nefarious designs of self interested regional and global powers. 12/23/11