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Why is the Coalition Losing the “War against Terror”?

An Interview with Hamid Mir

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

San Francisco–Mir is one of the best-known Islamic (Pakistani) journalists, and one of the foremost in the world — probably he is best known as the only writer to have interviewed Osama bin Ladan since September 11th, 2001.

When he was asked whether there is a Clash of Civilizations operating, Hamid replied that actuality the East and West are partners in this battle in opposition to terrorism, for these threats could bring down the structures and religious values in the `ummah as well as those in Western expanses.

The tribalists, in their illiteracy, believe the U.S. is waging a War against Islam. That is a perception only partially accurate. The mountainous clans of the Hindu Kush support al-Qaeda because of the material poverty of their lives. They literally are living as their ancestors did three hundred and more years ago.

There is a 2,400-kilometer border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, drawn up during the British period. It severs a Muslim people in two, the Pushtoons. On both sides of the Durand Line, 90% of the populace supports the Taliban. This is a threat to both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Americans have 40,000 troops on Afghanistan’s segment of the border, and Pakistan has 70,000 soldiers on their own land. Yet the U.S. has outright criticized Rawalpindi for not pursuing the enemy on its side of the frontier hard enough. The Pakistan Army has lost 700 men–much more than NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) who is facing the Taliban north of the Durand boundary–as of six months ago, and Washington’s bombing has only hardened the tribesmen’s resistance.

For the most part you are most likely to find Washington and Brussels’ soldiers in the cities while Islamabad and Kabul’s sepoys hold down the frontline.

Mir guesses that it has been the lack of human intelligence that has prevented Bin Laden from being caught. Both the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the various lesser allies lack a solid strategy for this struggle. Technical and political errors have helped Osama fight against the overwhelming forces opposite him. Probably, the greatest blunder in his favor has been the Iraq War that Al-Qaeda has exploited to the utmost. After the massive attack on the Taliban’s Mountains, Al-Qaeda’s low point was in 2002, but its fortunes have been rebounding steadily ever since.

Last November at least ten of the thirty-four Afghanistani provinces were back in Taliban hands–”The U.S. has no presence there! Karzai and Musharraf are close allies of Mr. Bush [but] they don’t [particularly] like each other. They don’t trust each other. They are fighting each other. This is why we are losing the War on Terror, he says. Because there is a personality clash between the presidents.

Mir concludes, “We are losing this “War” with these irregular warriors because of weak political and military strategy, and the victim is not only the West–also the East. This War is not between religions. We plain need a better dialogue [between one another].” That has been missing.

The solution to this “War” is not merely military, but political and social, but most importantly economic as well. That is, development, and the promotion of individual hope for the Pushtoon people is lacking in our long-range strategy–the same as our errors of the past in that part of the world.

After the Mujahideen–with the help of Pakistani intelligence and American weaponry–tore apart the Soviet Empire in the the1980s, instead of helping the Afghan people rebuild their own rocky terrain, we left them to a five-way civil War in which the young Taliban finally rose up to push their opposing combatants into the northern corner of their nation. The Taliban gained popular acceptance because they brought security to Kandahar and the hinterlands. The Pakistanis were betrayed, too, after the Reagan Administration no longer required them–such as the issue over the F-16s. This answers the common question heard so often five years ago, “Why do they hate us?”

Osama bin Laden’s resentment was such that he declared war formally on the United States in 1998. At first Al-Qaeda attacked two American embassies in Africa.

Mullah Omar, the Chief Executive of the Taliban dominion, was furious, for he knew what the outcome would lead his country towards, and his worst nightmares were fulfilled.


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