This letter is too good. I had to republish it. Makes a lot of sense to me.
*Alexander’s Curse *
*Why Blame Pakistan? *
*By Iftekhar A Khan
October 04, 2011 *- * *****
Hi! This is your most favourite Non-Nato ally Pakistan that has fought your
war on terror since you invaded Afghanistan a decade ago. When you attacked
Afghanistan, many had professed that you would last for about a decade if
history were any witness. The Soviets before you had a similar experience in
Afghanistan. For them, the famous quote by Alexander the Great that
Afghanistan “is easy to march into but hard to march out of” had held out.
Similarly, when you entered Afghanistan almost a decade after the Soviets
had left, your defeat was only a prophesy. Now it’s a reality; a decade
later, it will be history.
The Russians withdrew from the black hole not because they’d run short of
guns and munitions, tanks and aircraft, men and material, but they had gone
broke. If modern military wherewithal could win wars, you wouldn’t have had
a chance to invade Afghanistan because Russia’s Red Army would have been
still around. During the Russian war, you had supported the resisting forces
you then called freedom fighters and mujahideen and supplied them military
hardware, and the Saudis provided them financial aid, matching you dollar
It’s another story that yesterday’s mujahideens are today’s terrorists. It’s
not that the freedom fighters of yore have transformed into present-day
terrorists and insurgents; it’s just that their enemy has changed places.
For “Soviets” read “Americans.”
A University of California-educated engineer insisted on calling the forces
resisting foreign occupation in Afghanistan “terrorists and insurgents.”
When it was argued that the people of a sovereign country had every right to
resist foreign occupation of their land, he wouldn’t understand. But asked
what would he do if a few bandits barged into his house to dispossess him of
it, he replied, “I would pull out my gun…” It’s precisely the situation in
Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Large Muslim populations furiously oppose
foreign occupation of their lands but they are helpless because their
governments are beholden to foreign interests.
Dear ally, isn’t it a pity that despite fighting your war on terror for a
decade, sacrificing more than thirty thousand lives of innocent men, women,
and children, and suffering financial losses worth billions, we now face the
wrong end of your guns? If you messed up in Afghanistan, why should you
blame us for it? If you refused to learn from history and marched into the
Afghanistan trap, ignoring what Alexander the Great had cautioned against,
we’re hardly to blame for it. Wars of occupation have their own pitfalls
that you should face yourself.
What will ultimately force you to withdraw to your own boundaries is your
sinking economy. And it doesn’t make sense to launch wars on borrowed money.
How, for instance, do you intend paying trillions of dollars you owe to
China and Japan? How long is your policy of printing dollars to stave off
economic collapse going to last? Your economy is in a shambles; you don’t
produce items of domestic consumption any more. How long will the defence
industry alone provide job opportunities to unemployed citizens that now
stand one in six Americans?
Surely, you’d continue to have plenty of aircraft and warships, but not many
employment opportunities, nor much social security, insurance and health
cover for your citizens. When the Soviets faced economic meltdown at the end
of their Afghan adventure in 1989, nobody had imagined it would cause the
disintegration of a superpower. Your plight, dear ally, is not much
different from the Soviets at the end of their ten years’ adventure in
Afghanistan. The Soviets, nevertheless, had the integrity not to blame any
other country for their follies.
The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.