Afghanistan: Impunity is Another US Lethal Weapon that Kills SilentlyBy: Masud Wadan
Impunity is another US lethal weapon that kills silently. As of 2001, the US has given a free hand and a shocking degree of impunity and immunity to warlords and vicious strongmen who has slaughtered numerous in the late twentieth century. All these killers encircling Kabul regime today have contributed to Soviet ouster and have eventually set the stage for the US arrival. From the US interest perspective, they deserve survival not just for paid services, rather for a persistent military stronghold in Afghanistan.
The US-watched Hamid Karzai’s government forged a national reconciliation bill which was passed by Afghan Parliament in 2007 and got the shape of law. The Afghan Amnesty Law pardoned warlords for all the atrocities and war crimes committed from April 27, 1978 coup up until Hamid Karzai’s ascendance to power in 2001. Under this law, they enjoy vested exemption from being prosecuted or investigated for the war crimes. The law further elaborates that all those “thugs” who would function in or standing behind Karzai government [and international presence] would go free of investigation. This vividly means they are unleashed and open to carry out any act of crime “thereinafter”.
Amid the US bombardment of the Taliban safe havens in 2001, it rounded up a number of 700 second and third rank of Taliban members and transported them to Guantanamo Bay prison, though a majority of genuine Taliban leaders were immediately immunized and redirected to Pakistan by US and allies [Britain and Pakistan] who ditched of falling prey to the sick personnel of Guantanamo detention center.
In months after the Taliban regime, in the run-up to build a post-Taliban US-led administration, a ballot box was placed for the election of the head of the interim administration where ex-president Hamid Karzai and his only rival were contestants. The later contender won the vote over Karzai, but thanks to a premeditated conspiracy, Karzai had to accede to the office which was pushed through the position by Zalmai Khalilzad the special US envoy and Lakhdar Brahimi the UN representative to Afghanistan, both of whom opposed the voting result.
In the early 2000s, The Afghan Constitution was enacted with debatable topics such as market economy that opened the gate for the Western companies and investments. The other paramount point was the establishment of a “presidential system”, or in plain term, an authoritarian regime where a president is not accountable to any party. This model of leadership is corresponding to that of South Korea, earlier Philippines regime, Taiwan and probably others. In such a government, a president is not just presiding over the executive branch; it is in command of the legislative and judicial branches of a country as well. And in the context of such authoritative government Hamid Karzai turned out as an abundantly affectional and warm leader to a horde of sharks and predators that descended the nation into a near-total mess.
Principally led by the US, Hamid Karzai’s administration gave a blanket amnesty to the Afghan Mujahideens, except for Ahmed Shah Masoud, the only though dominant warlord who saw a fatal fate. He was assassinated on September 9, 2001 just two days prior to 9/11 tragedy. It is broadly believed he was murdered out of his supremacy over other fellow Mujahideen leaders that US feared would defy its military role anytime in the future.
Among hundreds of mass-killing cases documented to support the claim of US impunity, one happened in 2006 on Kabul-Jalalabad highway when American forces opened aimless fires on passersby and locals after they faced a suicide bomber. It killed 20 and injured 30 people, but just like scores of other blatant strikes at civilians, none underwent investigation and punishment.
Sometime in Karzai government, a wedding ceremony in a rural area in Uruzgan province was bombed by the US warplanes which slaughtered children, women and elderly men including the groom and bride. Time and again it faded out without a hitch for those involved.
Nonetheless, in May 4, 2009 a US air attack pounded a village in western Afghan province of Farah and killed 86 to 147 civilians including children and women who had fled the Taliban and Afghan Army crossfire and resettled for safety in the area. In August 2008, the same assailants’ aircraft hit a neighborhood in Aziz Abad village of western Herat province and slaughtered between 78 to 92 people, and the list goes on as they are just a few handpicked catastrophes.
The most disgraceful posthumous compensation during Hamid Karzai administration was a negligible-to-life “blood money” of US$ 1,000 to 1,800 for each martyred and US$ 500 to 1,000 for wounded, only if they were harmed by direct US or NATO strike.
Moving on, the US proclaims it would defend Afghanistan against external threats, which is explicitly stated in the US-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). According to the BSA, the United States has duty to protect the territorial integrity of Afghanistan against foreign aggression. This is while Pakistan has occasionally been firing mortar shells on Afghanistan’s border regions since many years which have killed several people and cattle.
But the US’s posture to the provocations was so mild. It has still continued to approve billions in military aid to Pakistan as well as it chose to donate many fighter jets and an ocean of military hardware it used in Afghanistan to Pakistan after the combat mission ended in 2014, not quite later than Osama Bin Laden’s assassination in a compound near Islamabad.
The Kabul-Washington Security Agreement was inked a day after Karzai’s successor Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as president. The accord bestows, on paper, several concessions to the both sides, where Afghanistan barely seems to extract any profit out of it, while the US got its nine large bases sanctioned and legalized in Afghanistan once and for all.
One more privilege extended to the US side by virtue of the agreement was immunity of its servicemen against legal action within jurisdiction of Afghanistan. The accord states that those found guilty of crimes may undergo trial in the US rather than Afghanistan, and if the Afghan government demands, Washington may keep it abreast of progress made in regard of proceedings.
While in early Karzai presidency, the minimal punishment of US servicemen for mass shooting of innocents was that they would get fired from doing service in Afghanistan and forced back to the United States. The absurd excuse often placed behind the massacres was that the alleged shooters were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The US as the architect of Kabul regime absolutely rules the critical policies of the Afghan government. Gulbudeen Hekmatyar – a war criminal of dark era in early 1990s and assassin of numberless who has reportedly been harbored in Pakistan since mid-nineties –joined the Afghan government last year which was, indeed, beyond and above Ashraf Ghani’s powers to bring him over. The US welcomed Gulbudeen’s deal with Ashraf Ghani and drew world attention into the move as a sole initiative of the Afghan government.
Gulbudeen was vehemently liable for punishment to death in the international tribunal for bearing a murderous background. In a statement released the other day by Gulbudeen’s party, it has voiced support of Islamic State terrorist group against the Taliban.
Moreover, Afghanistan was in no state to get his name removed from the UN blacklist had it not been for the US. This serves the striking example of the West’s impunity policy to its faithful elements.
In 2014, the US administration released five high-profile Taliban inmates from Guantanamo prison in a swap deal with one US soldier who was held captive with the Taliban. The Taliban prisoners were incarcerated for the crucial role in the Taliban regime and heinous war crimes against humanity. Discharging 5 for 1 is unjustifiable and repercussive for the Afghan nation. Throughout US occupation, quite a few times the Taliban prisoners have been cleared of Guantanamo prison and sometime later news has emerged of their resurgence and re-alignment with the Taliban.
The exemptions of the Taliban inmates in the form of swap reflect that they are held as reserve and mobilized for war as need arises. Some Taliban prisoners have even walked free from the prison under guise of efforts to “bring peace”.
In October 2014, two second-rank Haqqani network members were arrested by the intelligence agency of Afghanistan. Anas Haqqani along with another high-profile Haqqani leader, Hafiz Rashid, were detained in the south-eastern Afghan province of Khost. The former is the son of Haqqani terrorist network’s founder, Jalaludin Haqqani and the latter is half-blood brother of Sarajjudin Haqqani, the sitting leader of the terror group.
So far as they are held to no purpose as they confess to mass murder of innumerable Afghans. The US was expected to step forward and determine their fate as it has called for a stern war on Haqqani network and termed the group a “menace” to the American security. Despite being blacklisted by both the West and UN, the US is counteractively so “relent” to the terror group.
Let’s take the execution of Abdul Malik Rigi as an oppositely “relentless” example. He was the leader of Islamist Sunni terrorist group Jundullah who was captured in a wondering way by the Iranian intelligence agents. Rigi was a radical dissident of Iranian regime accused of so many terror crimes against members of Iranian revolutionary guard. While flying from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan in Feb. 2010, his carrier passenger plane – when entered into the Iranian airspace – was chased, intercepted and forced to land in Iranian soil by fighter jets. At the time, his arrest was long used as an exemplary instance by Afghans against Kabul regime’s crippled counterterrorism actions. He was later hung to death in June 2010.