Afghan travails

April 5, 2011 - 0:0

Here we go again. The more sincere efforts are made to heal the rift between the West and the Islamic world, the more it is widened by the actions of a few lunatics on both sides. Both do immeasurable harm to their cause or the religion they claim to speak for. Both deserve condemnation in the strongest possible terms.

So U.S. President Barack Obama was right to condemn the outrage against the Muslim Holy Book by the Florida pastor Terry Jones as “an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry” just as he was justified to term the killing in anti-pastor violence of 12 people including seven UN workers in Afghanistan as “outrageous and an affront to human decency and dignity.” More people have died in protests since. Among the victims are some who are there to help Afghans rebuild their country.
Overwhelmed by worldwide protests and pressure, the pastor had called off his outrageous plan last year. Or so we thought. Jones and his kind indeed represent a growing culture of intolerance and Islamophobia in the West that has turned the freedom of speech into a provocation for murder and license for abuse. By responding to this sick mindset with violence, the Muslims only end up playing into the hands of such extremists. Hatred begets greater hatred and violence only invites more violence
More important, the fact that the anti-US protests have remained largely confined to Afghanistan goes to prove that the issue at the heart of the latest surge in violence in that unhappy land is not just another instance of Islamophobia. This outburst of anger and frustration against America is a symptom and manifestation of a bigger problem -- the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan with all the attendant death and destruction.
Ten years after the U.S. and its ever willing allies invaded Afghanistan and brought down the Taleban regime, chaos and violence rule the Southwest Asian nation. There is no end in sight. The U.S. forces are to start leaving Afghanistan later this year, according to the original plan unveiled by Obama last year. But the way things are now, it looks unlikely that the U.S. and NATO forces will leave the region, let alone quit Afghanistan, any time soon. Less than a year after the U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal was relieved over his candid remarks about the mission, his successor Gen. David Petraeus is finding himself uncomfortable in the saddle. There has been speculation in the U.S. media about Gen. Petraeus following his predecessor into the sunset. Petraeus, who is said to have brought violence levels down in Iraq, has failed to make any progress in Afghanistan.
On the other hand, the Taleban seem to be growing in strength with the passage of time. The Western coalition has tried everything in the book to beat the enemy and spectacularly failed. They are faced with a future that is not very different from what the Russians and before them the British confronted in Afghanistan. The U.S. and Western alliance have no option but sit and talk with the Taliban. Reconciliation and dialogue is the only way forward—or way out of Afghanistan. The longer the Western forces throw their weight around in Muslim lands, the wider and more explosive this rift with the Muslim world is going to be