What had been cooking up all those weeks in the United States before Presidents George Bush, Pervez Musharraf and Hamid Karzai sat down to take Iftar-dinner in Washington on September 27? Hardly anyone is interested in the real menu. The world is more eager to know about the political menu as suddenly some unusual developments have taken place on both sides of the Hindukush. Why is it that the Presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan are coming face to face so frequently recently when the relationship between the two countries is far from cordial? And who is behind this whole exercise?
Besides, is there no other work left for them in their respective countries. Even the chief minister of any Indian state – or for that matter province of any other country – does not spend so much time in the capital city (New Delhi, in our case) than Presidents Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan spent in the United States. Musharraf, it seems, has no work to do in his beleaguered country. He is away from his land for about a fortnight and that too at the most crucial time of its history. He went to attend Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Havana and from there flew to the United States where he stayed for more than a week before reaching the United Kingdom.
Karzai matched his performance. In Havana he taunted Musharraf for supporting Taleban and then rushed towards Uncle Sam for support. After addressing the General Assembly he took time off to cross the international border and went to Canada, whose army is also deployed in Afghanistan, and then again returned to Washington to share Iftar-dinner with Musharraf and Bush. The Pakistani President on the other hand made a stop over in the United Kingdom, a prominent member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which is facing the brunt of the renewed Taleban activities. Three days after the much-trumpeted Iftar-dinner, that is, on September 30, a huge suicide blast took place outside the interior ministry office in the high security zone in the heart of Kabul killing over a dozen and injuring more than 50.
The whole Bush-Mush-Karz drama started in the first week of September. The Pakistani President was in Kabul hours after signing a peace agreement with Pakistani Taleban in Waziristan. Be it Kabul, Havana or Washington every time Karzai expressed his unhappiness with the way his eastern neighbour is dealing with the Taleban problem.
Musharraf appears to be totally cornered as Karzai seems to have the backing of the Uncle Bush. But to divert the attention from his embarrassment he had got in handy the issue of Kargil War. But one must not go by the public postures of the three clever-by-half leaders.
Nobody can deny that something big is really being cooked up in the region. If Afghanistan flares up again, as it seems to be now, it may be much more difficult to contradict it. While there is no vocal supporter of America in any of the neighbouring countries surrounding Iraq – even Kuwait and Saudi Arabia now have become silent – it is lucky to have Pakistan on its side when it comes to dealing with Afghanistan.
But the landlocked Afghanistan has a long history of throwing out super powers: the Soviet Union in 1980s and the British in 19th and early 20th centuries.
While Iran is taking keen interest in the developments in Iraq for obvious reasons, the Ahmedinejad establishment, unlike that of his predecessor Ali Khatami, would now no more remain indifferent to the affairs of Afghanistan too. The China factor is very much in the mind of the United States. China does not want to antagonise Bush-II – his father Bush-I had served as the ambassador to Beijing for a long period – yet it wants Uncle Sam to bleed in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. The US, on the other hand, would never like to lose Afghanistan, the country which it occupied to checkmate any future Chinese move in the region.
The name Hindukush means the death of Hindus. In fact Hind or Hindus in the past stood for India and not for the followers of Sanatan Dharma as it is understood now. The extreme climate of this high mountain range worked as a wall for the Central Asia. In the human history we find very few examples of the army from the plains of India crossing over to that region. They perished in the cold climate. On the other hand it was always easy for the invaders from the cold climate to come and settle down in the Indian subcontinent.
But Hindukush had in the past proved as Britishkush and Russiankush. Now it may prove as Americankush or Natokush. To prevent this ‘kush’ George “Butler” Bush invited Musharraf and Karzai to the cushy atmosphere of Washington to have a taste of his cuisine. Whether it tasted sweet or bitter only they can reveal. If they prefer to remain silent, the coming time only can reveal it.