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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Afghanistan - Practice What You Preach!

As America grows weary of the war in Afghanistan, Obama administration must be looking at its goals and giving a renewed thought to why they are there. The national mood on the Afghanistan war has soured fast, and it’s not hard to see why. American combat deaths are exceeding by the day, the recent Afghan election was tainted by accusations of intimidation and fraud, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen says the security environment there is “deteriorating.” Antiwar groups are starting to talk about “another Vietnam.” The questions and concerns being raised are legitimate. The initial attack removed the Taliban from power, but Taliban forces have since regained some strength. The war has been less successful in achieving the goal of restricting al-Qaeda's movement than anticipated. Since 2006, Afghanistan has seen threats to its stability from increased Taliban-led insurgent activity, record-high levels of illegal drug production, and a fragile government with limited control outside of Kabul. Clearly, the mission is far from succeeding so far.

The idea of permanent U.S. military bases vexes many people in Afghanistan, which has a long history of resisting foreign invaders. A few examples of such resistance in recent history should be enough for President Barack Obama to learn his lessons for any actions in future:

During the 1800s, British armies from India outright invaded Afghanistan in attempts to install puppet governments amenable to British economic interests. The British seized most of the major cities in Afghanistan with little resistance, but their heavy handed rule soon resulted in a popular uprising by the people which resulted in the massacre of the entire British army of 15,000, save one.

The Soviet Union invaded in 1979. They were able to occupy and hold all of the major cities, just as the British imperialists had been able to the century before, but they were unable to subjugate the countryside. Soviet causalities began to mount dramatically, and in 1989 the Soviets withdrew, leaving the puppet government to fend for itself. It wasn’t until 1992 that Mujahadeen fighters were able to topple the remnants of the government – ending the Soviet attempt to bring revolution to the people of Afghanistan at the point of a gun.

In May 2005, riots and protests that had started over a false report in Newsweek of U.S. interrogators desecrating the Koran and turned into the biggest anti-U.S. protests in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion included demands that the Kabul government reject U.S. intentions to create a permanent military presence in Afghanistan. The deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians caused directly and indirectly by the U.S. and NATO bombing campaigns is also a major underlying focus of the protests.

The U.S. will never have victory in Afghanistan unless it occupies it forever. People will never accept the American democratic/Christian way of life. They would probably never prefer foreign dominance over Taliban presence, and may even think that the Americans are fighting the Afghan people to keep them from owning their own country. For eight years, we've heard leaders in USA talk about setting conditions for a democratic central government in a country — really a bunch of tribes and clans — that's never had such a thing in 2,000 years and seemingly doesn't want one now.

The security of America cannot be equated with the war in Afghanistan. The same argument was made in Vietnam, and it clearly was not true. America does need security, but the Al Qeida groups do not need a whole country like Afghanistan to launch attacks across the globe. The stated goal is to deny any future sanctuary to al Qaida in Afghanistan - but al Qaida isn't based in Afghanistan any more and hasn't been for years. There are several other wild places where al-Qaeda might also set up shop, such as Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, the Philippines or Uzbekistan, besides, of course, Pakistan from where they are presently operating. Ironically, the U.S. Senate this week approved legislation to triple aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for the next five years as part of a plan to fight terrorism, despite the fact that Pakistan's record of diverting international financial assistance to military purposes is well known. Just a few days back former President of Pakistan Parvez Musharraf had admitted to misuse of the aids.

The U.S. clearly cannot afford to wage protracted warfare with multiple brigades of American ground forces simply to deny al-Qaeda access to every possible safe haven. The immediate thing would be for the United States government to end its bombing, withdraw its troops, and respect the Afghan peoples' right to self-determination. As for its security, there is no better way for U.S. than to secure its borders, safeguard its airports and ever remain vigilant inside the country against any attempts to create violence by home grown terrorists of any origin. Isn't this the exact advice U.S. gave to India when it was confronted by terrorists coming from Pakistan soil and even sponsored by it. What is good for India vs Pakistan should be good for the U.S. vs Afghanistan. What is your say on it President Obama? Shouldn't you try to practice what you preach.


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