By: The Kabul Times
“U.S. failure to confront Pakistan over its proxy war in Afghanistan has arguably been the greatest blow to U.S. strategic prestige so far in the 21st century, a sin of omission and an act of self-harm on a par with the post-2003 Iraq war.”
Ever since US President Joe Biden announced that his country would pull out troops from Afghanistan by August-end, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sermonizing about the shortcomings of US policy in the region.
Last week, Imran Khan said the US should have started talks with the Taliban when there were over 150,000 NATO troops in the country.
Imran was quoted as saying, “The Americans should have started talking to the Taliban from a position of strength when there were 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan… That was the time to talk with them. Talking to them when there is an exit date given, and when there are few thousand troops left, how do they expect the Taliban would now compromise?”
Not surprisingly, Imran’s comments have not gone down well in the West. On Saturday, Chris Alexander, a former Canadian diplomat who is now a politician, hit out at Imran, describing him as an “utter fraud”.
Alexander tweeted, “This man is an utter fraud: a shameless liar of no ability & a charlatan who has been among the Taliban’s most mindless, kneejerk boosters for decades. A pariah like Putin, he deserves only severe sanctions & one day a docket in The Hague.” Alexander, who served as Canada’s minister for citizenship and immigration from 2013 to 2015, had been Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005.
Alexander has been an outspoken critic of Pakistani meddling in Afghanistan.
In December 2019, he wrote an article in The Globe and Mail that argued the war in Afghanistan was “doomed from the start”.
In the article, Alexander argued, “U.S. failure to confront Pakistan over its proxy war in Afghanistan has arguably been the greatest blow to U.S. strategic prestige so far in the 21st century, a sin of omission and an act of self-harm on a par with the post-2003 Iraq war.”
In the article, Alexander had opined successive US presidents—from George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Donald Trump—could have opted for a new approach to deal with Pakistan but did not do so.
In the article, Alexander noted “Afghanistan needs one thing: a peace settlement with Pakistan.” He also described Imran as being “one of the Taliban’s most vociferous backers”. Alexander noted Imran was “sitting back while the army chief who won him political power extinguishes media freedoms, while orchestrating the Taliban’s new push for power”.
Imran Khan had bitterly opposed continued Pakistani logistical support for US operations in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. He had argued Islamabad’s support to the US had given rise to terrorist groups in Pakistan.
Surprisingly, Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs reacted strongly to Alexander’s comments. The official MoFA handle tweeted late on Sunday, “We strongly condemn the unwarranted comments by former Canadian Minister Chris Alexander, making unfounded & misleading assertions about Pakistan’s role in #Afghan Peace Process. Such remarks betray a complete lack of understanding of the issue as well as ignorance of facts on ground.”
The MoFA claimed, “Now when the world has acknowledged what Pakistan & PM @ImranKhanPTI have consistently maintained abt there being no military solution to the conflict in #Afghanistan &the need for an inclusive,broad-based& comprehensive political settlement, such gratuitous commentary is deplorable.”
Describing Alexander’s comments as being part of a “smear campaign,” the MoFA tweeted, “The matter has been taken up with the Canadian side. We have urged the Canadian authorities to take steps to address this motivated and malicious smear campaign.”
Alexander reacted to the criticism by MoFA. He tweeted, “The ‘unwarranted, unfounded & misleading assertions’ of @ImranKhanPTI @SMQureshiPTI & @ForeignOfficePk are a standing insult to all who have worked for peace & stability in Afghanistan. With their impunity cracking, accountability must follow.”