Afghanistan the neighboring country of Pakistan has been in war since one can remember. From Mongol Emperors to Russian invasion and now the country is facing war on terror. These wars have shattered the base of Afghanistan and left it in ruins. It lacks proper administration, governance, and communication infrastructure. The Statistics available are not accurate as they should be. The estimated population of Afghanistan is about 31, 900,000 from which 28% are literate.
Where Afghanistan has suffered from wars that has happened from time to time its neighboring countries have also suffered including Pakistan and Iran. After Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, more than 2.8 million Afghan refugees sought shelter in Pakistan and about 1.5 million have fled to Iran. Russia lost almost 15,000 soldiers and many wounded. In 1988 the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union signed an agreement by which the Russia would withdraw its troops, which completed in 1989. After Russian invasion a group of tribal and urban groups arose and all of these known collectively as the mujahidin and afterward they form into now known Taliban. Even after the end of Russian invasion, the Afghan refugees have stayed in Pakistan and caused extra burden on the economy of our country and they prove as cheap labor causing unemployment to local workers. Most of the Afghan immigrants have no documentation of any kind. Hardly any of them have ID or any record to their permanent location. This has given some of culprit’s an edge because they are not afraid to be identified or recognized. Most of the drug dealers, illegal arms dealer, car lifters, or smugglers are Afghan refugees that have made their permanent shops in the borders areas. The easy access to Illegal weaponry has promoted the Kalakov Culture and has made weaponry very easily available even to common person at a very reasonable price. For example, the 9mm pistol can be easily available at the low price of only Rs 3600, US$ 45 that is made in Dara Adam Khail. A point worth mentioning is that the weapons are made legal by puncturing, the original weapon caliber number with new number and then District Coordination Officer sanctions the weapon.
Drugs smuggling and effects on trade
The Taliban’s main source of income has been drug dealing and production. They gathered their resources from Opium cultivation according to data from CSIS (Central for Strategic and International Studies) Opium cultivation has continued to grow but has shifted into Taliban controlled areas. An opium survey was conducted by UN in 2007 which showed production of 185 Metric Ton opium in 2001 and 8200 Metric Tons in 2007. There are more than 20 unofficial border crossing points on Pak Afghan border from where opium is transferred to Pakistan in NWFP and Baluchistan Province. The trade route between Afghanistan and Pakistan has also been affected. Trade Route Torkham Jalalabad highway now considered as a danger zone. Dry fruits that were imported to Pakistan, have now reached sky high prices such as nuts, Walnuts, Almonds etc.
War on Terror
After 9/11 America invaded Afghanistan to end the Al-Qaeda and Taliban Regime but things seem to have gotten worse for both countries. Pakistan is now under pressure by US leadership to wipe out the Terrorist camps in the Northern borders of Pakistan. Pakistan has played a front line allay in the war against terror since 2001. According to a report released by an US Department in 2004, Pakistan had faced a loss of 10 billion by becoming an ally on war on terror. Assuming that in 2004 we were not in as much problems as now then after three years as a front line ally we have lost 40 billion minimum.
Taliban had only one rival group Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. NA was supported by India and Russia to fight against Taliban. When US attacked Afghanistan, Taliban was in great number and their only rival group Northern Alliance leaded by Ahmad Shah Massoud was US main hope. Eventually US supported NA in fight against Taliban. With time Taliban regime began to lose hold but did not end completely. The US army for the time became confident of their victory but their dreams shattered when Taliban rose again with more strength. By the end of 2006 there were more than 123 suicide attacks in Afghanistan and 69 in Pakistan. In assessment report of Pakistan by Institute for Conflict Management Database at least 3,599 persons, including 1,523 civilians, 597 security force (SF) personnel and 1,479 militants, were killed in 2007. These suicide attacks began after the US attack on Afghanistan.
Pakistan had supported Taliban in war against Russia. Russia and India supported Northern Alliance Ahmad Shah but after US invasion against Taliban and using NA to their advantage Pakistan got cornered and had to leave his old allies Taliban. The Taliban consists of people belonging to a cast known as Pachtons. Most Pachtons live in the Pak Afghan Border area. US army used our Air Fields against Taliban such as Dera Ismail and Shahbaz Airbase which angered the Pachtons. Pak Army was also utilized in operations against the bases of Taliban in Northern, southern reigns and FATA. These things with time brought hatred in people of Northern and Southern regions that had a majority of Pachtons. The war on terror in Afghanistan has left us alone in many ways. In an survey of Afghan public opinion it shows that the Afghanis remains supportive of the US and major NATO/ISAF countries but the results showed high level hostility to Pakistan. We had to change our border policies Iran and China were also annoyed when we allowed US to use our land their home security was also threatened by US. We became the welcoming guest of US in Asia. This has caused us isolation from all sides we are in a state of being bankrupt and US has used us and left us as always.
Another dilemma is that our Borders have become unsecured from all sides. Our army which was being used to protect Kashmiri people is now also utilized on Durand line. Kashmir issue is becoming an issue of past and long forgotten even the dotted lines of Jammu Kashmir region is now removed from international maps and that region is shown as part of India. Kashmiri Mujahidin’s were engaging Indian army and kept them occupied but due to our incorrect policies the Kashmir movement is becoming weak day by day. This allowed Indian agencies to interfere in our conflicted regions supporting elements against Pakistan. Pak Intelligence has found evidence of outside meddling in FATA, Northern and Southern Regions. Advance Tactical equipment of foreign built, imported military hardware, digital maps, and many other gadgets which can be only available to army were gathered from taken over militant camps. Other than that we now have to defend from day to day suicidal attacks. Almost 80,000 of our army are being utilized on Pak Afghan border.
Ethnic and Tribal disputes
Growing pressure by US to increase military advancement is also becoming a hurdle rather than progress. The Pashtun’s and Baluchi living in FATA, NWFP, and Baluchistan are not something to overlook upon. Pashtun are living in border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan there are about 42% Pashtun in Afghanistan and 10% percent in Northern areas of Pakistan. Pashtun have blood relations in Afghanistan, after US attack, they became violent. Rage gathered in their hearts and minds that turned into clash between Pak army and Tribe leaders.
We are now standing at a very sensitive point. The recent bombings and gun battles by the Pak army have forced 200,000 people to flee from their homes in Northern Ares. Now and then women and children get killed. The tribal leaders want economic help to eradicate illiteracy and extremism but they have forgotten that economic giants start these wars. The thing we really want is to check our policies whether this war is right? The answer is easy. Wars are fought from slavery to freedom not from freedom to slavery.