WASHINGTON: For 20 years, successive Afghan governments laid the blame for every problem in Afghanistan on Pakistan’s doorstep. Javid Ahmad’s op-ed “How Pakistan Won in Afghanistan” (Oct. 27) betrays the same breathtaking lack of introspection and refusal to accept any responsibility that was the hallmark of the government he represented until Aug. 15, when former President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul.
Contrary to Mr. Ahmed’s claims, Pakistan vigorously supported (and still supports) an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan. On at least two occasions, Pakistan joined China, Russia and the U.S. in categorically opposing any government installed by force in Afghanistan.
The problem, as former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and other senior U.S. officials have confirmed, was that Mr. Ghani refused to seriously negotiate a power-sharing agreement with the Taliban and believed that American talk of withdrawal was a “bluff” (something Mr. Ahmed also acknowledges). Even so, the violent chaos that marked the end of the Ghani regime could have been avoided if the former president had not reneged on an agreement that would have allowed for a more orderly transition.
Mr. Ahmed doesn’t bother to back up some outlandish claims about Pakistan’s role in the Taliban’s military offensive this summer with any evidence. He doesn’t explain why the vaunted Afghan security forces and intelligence services were unable to interdict a supposed “deluge of militant fighters” that entered Afghanistan.
How was Pakistan responsible for the rampant corruption within the Afghan state that led U.S. officials to privately describe the Kabul regime as VICE or “a vertically integrated criminal enterprise”? Was Pakistan to blame for the stunning collapse of the demoralized and unpaid 300,000-strong Afghan army that had been built with $83 billion in American taxpayer money?
Answering these questions would require a degree of honesty and courage to own up to their mistakes that former Afghan government officials remain unable to muster.
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