FREELY Broken dreams and Green
Berets By Muhammad Bilal
In the wee hours of Sunday
morning, an armed onslaught on villagers in
Kandahar province resulted in the massacre of 16
Afghans, including nine children.
of savagery was not committed by ruthless Taliban
insurgents, but purportedly by a "veteran" US
staff sergeant stationed at a US base who had
served under the operational command of a Special
Forces detachment in Panjway. However, the real
number of troops involved in this barbaric
incident remains contested.
"I don’t know
why they killed them," uttered Abdul Sammad, 60,
with tearful eyes full of pain and anger. Sammad
lost his wife, eight young children and two
relatives in the rampage.
This incident is
a manifestation of the battered fabric of Afghan
society. About a month
ago, it was Parwan province where copies of the
Koran were dumped in trash incinerators at Bagram
Air Base by US servicemen, giving rise to a
widespread public outrage.
Prior to this,
nine boys out collecting firewood were killed by
US helicopter gunships in Kunar, while there are
routine bombings of wedding parties and targeting
of funeral ceremonies.
Then there are the
unchecked night raids by "Green Berets" that have
resulted in hundreds of deaths and appalling
atrocities such as those depicted in the video
footage of uniformed US troops urinating on dead
These trends reveal the
bitter reality and myriad, glaring security
challenges engulfing Afghanistan. Ironically, US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while
commenting on recent killings of civilian in
Kandahar, remarked that "This terrible incident
does not change our steadfast dedication to
protecting the Afghan people and to doing
everything we can build a strong stable
Afghanistan". This "steadfast dedication" has
resulted in more than 40,000 civilian casualties
in Afghanistan alone in the last decade, while
drawing the whole region into a geo-strategic and
economic predicament. Yet Clinton reasserts the US
goals even when the sanitized, euphemistic
mainstream Western media has fallen behind in
rallying public support for war.
Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted before
Sunday's killings in Kandahar, found that,
"overall, 60% of Americans believe the war not
been worth the loss in life and expense". Though
the conflict has cost the US about US$400 billion
since 2001, Afghanistan has made little headway
towards becoming the "strong" country that the
secretary of state refers to.
is rated as the fourth-most corrupt country in the
world, with purchasing power parity per capita
hardly touching $1,000, ranking 212th among the
225 nations graded by the CIA World Factbook.
With 68% of the population below the age
of 25, unemployment is touching a whopping 35%
mark while 36% of people live below the poverty
line, according to official figures. This is
empirical evidence of the kleptocracy prevalent in
GDP has shrunk from $21 billion in 2001 to $17.9
billion in 2011, as the US ups the ante of its
"dedication" towards a "stable" Afghanistan. With
empty bellies, broken dreams, and eyes flaring in
hopelessness, Afghans are seeking refuge from the
atrocities of war.
While hopes rise of an
end to this unfortunate war as America plans its
"phased withdrawal" of troops from Afghanistan by
end of 2014, Washington is busy hatching plans to
retain control by triangulating its
counter-insurgency strategy (COIN) with a
counter-terrorism strategy (CT).
of these both strategies and staged transition
from COIN to CT, as advocated by both US National
Security Advisor Thomas Donilon and US Vice
President Joe Biden, will result in significant
enlargement of the Special Forces, commonly dubbed
as Green Berets, stationed in Afghanistan.
These Green Berets, together with being
responsible for the infamous night raids, are also
architects of black ops inside Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal of other combatants by
2014 will be perceived as the conclusion of a war.
America will attempt to retain a
formidable indirect military presence under the
guise of training and assisting roles while
keeping operational permanent military bases in
the country. These plans should be seen as an
extension of war and as a threat to regional
America, in collusion with
Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki government, has already
succeeded in maintaining hundreds of troops in
that country after the formal withdrawal, under
the pretext of training and assistance. It has
retained up to 16,000 embassy employees and
contractors in Iraq even after the pullout, as
reported by AFP.
All of these 16,000 US
personnel are stationed at world’s biggest
embassy, commonly dubbed a "mini-pentagon" in
Iraq. Replicating this formidable American
military presence in Afghanistan will spark
chronic instability in the war-torn region.
This US plans also allow for the presence
of forces with diplomatic immunity as in the
current bilateral agreement between Washington and
Kabul, according to which US troopers are only
subject to US military justice.
barefoot as he spoke in a quivering voice on the
phone to President Hamid Karzai, Abdul Sammad
said, ''Either finish us or get rid of the
Americans. We made you president, and what happens
to our family?''
Qureshi is currently completing an M.Phil in
International Relations from the National Defence
University, Islamabad. He can be reached at: