The geo-historical compulsions of the region suggest that the national security interests of Pakistan and Afghanistan are interlinked. Pakistan itself is the cradle of the Indus civilization, and shares common borders with four great civilizations of the world, namely: Central Asian, Persian, Indian and Chinese. A unique privilege for Pakistan indeed. Afghanistan in the north as the ‘Asian Pivot’ of geo-strategic changes in the region, demands a clear understanding, while analyzing the consequences of 35 years of wars in the country. We must therefore know the truth about the national ethos of the Afghans, the catalyst for emerging changes in the region.
Fact one
Allama Iqbal, the poet of the East, suggested to the enemies of Afghanistan: “You cannot defeat the Afghans by starving them to death, unless you take out the love of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from their hearts. You cannot defeat them either, unless you take out from their hearts, their abiding faith in Deen-e-Islam and remove their sages from their abodes in the mountains.”
The world is witness to thirty five years of war between the two super powers, who tried their best to break the will of the Afghans and failed. The Soviets retreated, accepting defeat. The Americans and their allies now stand defeated, but lack the moral courage to accept it, while Mullah Omar has declared: “You stand defeated. Exit now, so that in a free environment, we take charge to form a broad-based government acceptable to all the Afghans.”
Fact Two
There are forty two recorded invasions into the sub-continent from the north, which determine “the movement of history,” in our region. In most cases, Afghans provided the space for marshalling invading armies. The Afghan and central Asian youth, particularly the Taliban from Madrassas either fought against them or joined them to move south and establish their reign over Indian territories. For example, our forefathers from Ferghana Valley, Uzbekistan, joined Emperor Zaheer uddin Babar, who established his rule over Afghanistan first and then moved down south into the sub-continent to establish the Moghal empire in India, which lasted for over two and a half centuries. One of my elders, Mirza Muslim Beg holding ‘yek-hazari’ rank was assigned security duties, close to Azamgarh city of UP, India. Our relations are still residing in that enclave.
Fact Three
Thus the Taliban are the catalysts, determining the ‘movement of history.’ In recent times, in a short period of three decades, they have humbled two super powers and the European Union, a regional power. The Soviets accepted their defeat and exited, but the Americans are unwilling to grant victory to the winners, and the right to establish the peace paradigm.
Fact Four
The bitter struggle for freedom, which Afghans have waged for over three decades, has turned into a Resistance Movement of the Muslims, with its epicentre, along the Durand Line, inhabited by the Pakhtuns, with 60% of them residing in Pakistan. The Pakhtuns, thus extend from Karachi to the Hindukush into Afghanistan, establishing “the tyranny of the majority,” causing such dread to the occupation forces. Quaid-e-Azam acknowledged this reality and assigned the responsibility to the tribals to defend the frontiers. It is the Pakhtun majority of Pakistan, whose support has been vital and mandatory for the rulers in Kabul. As of now, the imposed rulers at Kabul since the 1970s, have been the cause of much bitter fighting by the Pakhtuns. President Ashraf Ghani has no such mandate.
Fact Five
The Taliban have gained control over 90% of Afghan territory and their law prevails. By the end of this year, as the Americans leave, the Afghan army of over 300,000, raised and trained by them, cannot stand up to Taliban assaults. “In fact, like the Iraqi National Army, the ANA would fall like the autumn leafs” – American Green Beret, General Robert Seals. General Raheel Shareef is now in Washington to explore the possibilities of peace in Afghanistan, which is possible if the peace-seekers approach the problem with an open mind, respecting the “law of nature”, i.e., “to grant the right to the winners, to determine the peace parameters.” This rule was violated in Afghanistan in 1990 and in Iraq in 2012, which has resulted in the rise of the ISIS (Dāesh) in Iraq and the world appears helpless in dealing with them.
Peace in Afghanistan is vital for Pakistan, as its armed forces are deployed against the Taliban and along the borders and that is that much less for our defenses on the Eastern front. This is a weakness that India may exploit. Therefore, the earlier Pakistan reverts to Quaid-e-Azam’s logic and pulls troops out to regain balance in the South, the better it will be. In search of peace in Afghanistan, there is no room for complacency, as it would be fatal, resulting in a chaotic situation, as in Iraq, with forces like Dāesh unleashed in Afghanistan to carry the ‘historic movement’ to the South. Historically, such movements, once having crossed the river Indus, could stop only at ‘Pani-Pat’, to fight the decisive battle. In retrospective, the national security interests of Afghanistan-Pakistan and India get merged into one single thought, that is, a peaceful Afghanistan, which is the guarantee for peace in the entire region.

The writer is a former chief of army staff.