Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq
“The United States has confirmed it is asking Pakistan for help in facilitating the Afghan government’s direct peace talks with the Taliban insurgency”— Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Had there been no 9/11, it is doubtful that American soldiers would have ever invaded Afghanistan. Their mission was to apprehend the architect of the September. 11, 2001 attacks, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was being harbored by a separate Afghan terrorist group called the Taliban—Why Trump must explain goal in sending troops to Afghanistan, The Inquirer, September1, 2017
As a candidate, President Donald J. Trump denounced Afghanistan as a “total disaster” and railed that the costly conflict in Central Asia drained enormous resources at a time of more pressing needs at home for American taxpayers. On coming to power, he decided to further commit to America’s longest war that he had long dismissed as a waste of time and resources. The vital question is what changed his heart on August 21, 2017 when he said: “Our troops will fight to win. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over the country, and stopping mass terror attacks against Americans before they emerge”. After one year, the USA if far from “victory” as claimed by Trump, so once again it wants to have talks with Taliban for enduring peace in Afghanistan and needs help of Pakistan in the matter.
Since assumption of power, Trump has been saying that “his strategy would include pressuring Pakistan to do more to stop terrorists from finding safe haven within its borders” and that “India would play a greater role in providing economic and developmental support”. He acknowledged that his approach “is a departure from his campaign”, but added: “I will prioritize American security over attempting to dictate to the Afghan people how to live”. Pakistan as expected reacted with anger and disappointment that after giving great sacrifices in ‘war against terror’ (sic) it received a raw deal from Donald Trump. What our policymakers failed to understood was the hidden agenda of United States in Afghanistan.
On September 9, 2001, seventeen years ago, after wanton attack on twin towers of World Trade Centre, without admitting and investigating massive security lapses, then American President, decided to attack and occupy Afghanistan. It was alleged that the Taliban regime was adamant in protecting the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden—once a staunch supporter of Western-sponsored holy waragainst Soviet infidels.
While America troops are in Afghanistan for seventeen years war, the terrorists, warlords, drug barons, oil and war industry tycoons are minting money and flourishing. This should be the point to ponder for the citizens of the world. The answer to this perplexing question can be found in Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. This and many others, written by investigative journalists and scholars, provide reliable evidence that the champions of ‘Free World’ have been clandestinely supporting terrorist organisations. The real beneficiary of ‘war on terror’, many authors allege, is the military-industrial complex. The rulers in America and the West are captives in the hands of tycoons of war and oil industries. Arms manufacturers earn billions by selling weapons to different governments, militants, criminals and drug barons. Trump’s decision to continue phony war against terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere is nothing but continuity of agenda of American military-industrial complex.
It is a matter of record that much before 9/11, America and its NATO allies decided to invade Afghanistan. The decision was taken in Berlin during the joint meeting of Council of Ministers in November 2000. 9/11 was just an excuse for invading Afghanistan. The real cause was apprehensions regarding Turkmenistan Gas Pipeline Project in which powerful corporate entities had financial interests. It was not the existence of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan that led to the invasion of Afghanistan but corporate interests of America and its allies. This was the reason behind appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as special envoy to Afghanistan nine days after the US-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai took office in Kabul. That appointment underscored the real economic and financial interests at stake in the US military intervention in Central Asia. Khalilzad was intimately involved in the long-running US efforts to obtain direct access to the oil and gas resources of the region, largely unexploited but believed to be the second largest in the world after the Persian Gulf. As an advisor for UNOCAL, Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis of a proposed gas pipeline from the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. He participated in talks between the Oil Company and Taliban officials in 1997, which were aimed at implementing a 1995 agreement to build the pipeline across western Afghanistan.
UNOCAL was the lead company in the formation of the Centgas consortium, whose purpose was to bring to market natural gas from the Dauletabad Field in southeastern Turkmenistan, one of the world’s largest energy reserves. Khalilzad also lobbied publicly for a more sympathetic US government policy towards the Taliban. The real motive behind ‘war on terror’ was exposed by Frank Viviano in San Francisco Chronicle of September 26, 2001: ”The hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil. The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world’s principal energy sources in the 21st century…. It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America’s Chevron, Exxon, and Arco; France’s TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.”
The reality stated by Mr. Viviano in 2001 was well understood in official Washington, but the most influential corporate-controlled media outlets—the television networks and major national daily newspapers—maintained silence that was politically motivated self-censorship. The sole exception was an article that appeared on December 15, 2001 in the New York Times business section, headlined, ”As the War Shifts Alliances, Oil Deals Follow.”
The subsequent invasion of Iraq using the bogey of weapons of mass destruction and appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as US Ambassador there proved beyond any doubt that the reality of ‘war on terror’ was nothing but quest for OIL. Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele [TIME, May 19, 2003] remarkably exposed the dark side of American oil policy from classified government documents and oil industry memos, involving a pair of Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Afghanistan.
Donald Trump is bound to follow faithfully the policy of his predecessor, Barrack Obama who followed that of Bush. Contrary to his earlier vows, Trump has now promised more military operations in the war-ravaged country to please the war industry tycoons. No US President has ever been interested in countering terrorism. The US and its allies just launched “oil and war bonanzas” around Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with multiple objectives: ensuring continuous enormous profits for war industry; control over oil and gas rich countries and containment of China by physical military presence in its vicinity— see details in The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity by Michel Chossudovsky.
This is the ugly reality of ‘war on terror’. United States has never been concerned about uprooting terrorism. There are hidden hands that support the warlords and militants. Trump, Obama, Bush, et al have been levelling allegations against Iran and Pakistan of supporting militants, whereas CIA till today is covertly supplying aid to these elements. It unveils the hidden agenda of US to promote war industry, grab minerals, oil and gas resources, and exploit religion to threaten governments and impose economic policies benefiting multinational corporations that finance and control the Western ruling elites.
The writers, lawyers and authors of many books and articles on terrorism, arms-drugs-trade, are Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).