By Hamid Mir
October 24, 2014
Noted philosopher and the poet of the east,
Dr Muhammad Iqbal, had once explained the geo-strategic position of Afghanistan
in a Persian poem in the following words: “Asia is comparable to a living body.
The heart that beats inside the body is one of the homeland of Afghans. The
destruction of Afghans would be the destruction of Asia. In their (Afghans)
progress and prosperity lies the well being of Asia.”
Despite being floated a long time ago, the
abovementioned idea still leaves room to explore Dr Mohammad Iqbal’s thinking
if one would want to discover the future of Asia. Such a paradigm would begin
with an in-depth insight into the past and the present of Afghanistan and its
neighbouring states. Some important events that took place in the last two
decades in this region could be useful to gain the required ‘insight’.
Whenever the origins of the Taliban are dug
up, their creation will always date back to the middle of the last decade of
the 20th century – 1994 to be precise. At that time, Pakistan backed the Afghan
Taliban and an American oil company – Unocal – financed the Talibs to convert their
militia into its ‘pipeline police’.
India was then supporting the Northern
Alliance against the Taliban in Afghanistan and thus Iqbal’s ‘heart’ of Asia
was negligently and indifferently polluted with certain regional and
international bacterium inserted into the very bloodstream of the Afghan’s
homeland, thus depriving it of becoming a fulfilment of Dr Iqbal’s prophecy.
Moving on towards the end of the last
decade of the 20th century 1999, which brought upon us the Kargil war, created
further tension between Pakistan and India. This time around, the Mullah
Omar-led Taliban regime in Afghanistan openly supported Pakistan against India.
This conflict led to a regime change in Pakistan. A few weeks after the
political jostling in Pakistan, an Indian plane was hijacked and the drama
ultimately ended up in Afghanistan with the release of three Pakistani and
Interestingly, this was followed by the
Al-Qaeda attacks in New York and Washington on 9/11, which not only brought
Afghanistan right in the centre of the map of the world but also created
tumultuous changes inside Afghanistan. The Taliban were pushed out of Kabul
which hardly made a difference to their strength as proven by their display of
power and hold during the international war on terror. The toughest war in
history had begun.
One could go on for hours debating the pros
and cons of this war, but the bottom-line would always be the hurtful and stark
truth – the war itself never brought an ounce worth of peace into the region
itself. Rather, the double games played by regional and international powers
created more terrorism and extremism.
Osama bin Laden was killed but Mullah
Mohammad Omar is still at large and now busy in indirect talks with the US.
Al-Qaeda is far from being uprooted, dismantled or weakened. The global
terrorist organisation still seems alive and kicking.
In a recent development, Dr Ayman Zawahiri
announced on September 4 the establishment of a South Asian franchise of
Al-Qaeda led by Maulana Asim Umar to raise the flag of ihad across the
Subcontinent. Asim is an Indian citizen. He spent the last couple of years with
the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Now he is a threat not only to India
and Afghanistan but also to Pakistan.
Unfortunately, despite mirroring each
other’s diverse cultures, sharing geographical boundaries and having sections
of their wider populace with blood and filial relations on the ‘other side of
the border’, these three countries lack a joint strategy to fight common
As things stand, Afghanistan has become a
proxy battleground for India and Pakistan whose security establishments simply
fail to understand that a proxy war there will only benefit their common
enemies. But still decision-makers on both sides of the Indo-Pak border continue
to live in their past.
India produced the Prithvi missile many
years ago. The name of the warhead takes a history student back to the days of
the earliest decade in the twelfth century - Prithviraj Chauhan, a Hindu king
who defeated Afghan ruler Shahabudin Ghauri in 1191. Pakistan got the wrong
message on the launching of Prithvi missile. Within a few years, Pakistan
launched the Ghauri missile because Ghauri defeated Prithvi in 1192 thus
redeeming himself of his fall.
The original Ghauri and Prithvi must have
called it a day after taking turns at victory but to Pakistan and India this
was just a start at throwing historical references at each other. Pakistan
launched another ballistic missile in the name of Sultan Mehmood Ghaznavi – an
Afghan ruler who had attacked India 17 times. Pakistan launched yet another
short range ballistic missile in the name of Ahmad Shah Abdali who is known in
India for his battle of Panipat. While there is no doubt that many great
warriors were born in Afghanistan, the fact also is that many great Sufis were
also born in Afghanistan.
Warriors are controversial in our history
but Sufis are not. Sufis spread the message of peace in this region. Hazrat Ali
Hajwairi (Data Ganj Bakhsh) came to Lahore from Ghazni (Afghanistan). His
follower Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (Khawaja Ghareeb Nawaz) came to Delhi
from Herat (Afghanistan). These Sufis still enjoy respect in the whole region
by the followers of different religions. While many of the warriors are not our
mutual heroes, the Sufis are a binding factor between Afghanistan, Pakistan and
Allow me to stress here that the security
of Pakistan lies in the security of Afghanistan. And it would not be wrong to
say that this formula works the other way as well. Instability in these two
countries is not in the interest of India either. I will not go into the
distant past. We cannot change our history but we can make joint efforts to
create a new history. But the only thing we need as a pre-requisite to such
high aims is peace. War and dirty double games cannot solve our problems.
To be continued
Hamid Mir is the executive editor of Geo TV.
am a Kashmiri Pandit and have grown up listening to the stories of Shah Hamdan
a sufi darvesh (as kashmiris call him) who is believed to have brought Islam to
kashmir valley and Lall Ded a hindu saintess both were revered by the Kashmiri
hindus and Muslims
alike, Lall Ded was a wandering saintess who had renounced her family life and
dedicated it to the paramatma, in many of her divine couplets she has mentioned
about her spiritual connections with Shah Hamdan and his great spiritual
achievements, I feel very sad that such a legacy of the yester years could not
be taken forward for a handfull of power hungry individuals who have ruined the
beautifully intertwined cultural and social fabric of my motherland which was
once called Jannat, my heart cries to go back home to my motherland.