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'Mother of all bombs' in Afghanistan

Karzai lambasts Afghan President for bowing to US military adventures.

Mother of all bombs in Afghanistan

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai snapped fingers at his successor Ashraf Ghani for committing treason by permitting the US military to drop the largest-ever conventional bomb in combat operation against Islamic State militants in the violence-ridden state. According to Afghan defense sources, the US military dropped the 9,797-kg GBU-43 on 9 November in the eastern province of Nangarhar and killed about an estimated 100 suspected militants.

At a public meeting in Kabul, Karzai, who has considerable influence among the Pashtun ethnic group comprising the majority in the country, stated in a questioning tune, "How could you permit Americans to bomb your country with a device equal to an atom bomb? If the government has permitted them to do this, that was wrong and it has committed a national treason." The GBU-43, a non-nuclear Massive Ordnance Air Blast is a large-yield bomb, developed for the US military by Albert L. Weimorts, Jr. of the Air Force research, nicknamed the mother of all bombs and GPS-monitored arms. The mega-explosive was first tested in 2003 but was first used in Afghanistan last week. Karzai's concern is real since its destructive power is equivalent to 11 tonnes of TNT. This pales in comparison with the relatively small atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945, whose blasts were between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of TNT. But magnitude is not the whole truth.
President Ghani's office issued a press release stating 'Every Afghan has the right to speak their mind. This is a country of free speech.' Top American commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, backed President Ghani, stating that the bombardment was 'based on military needs, not political reasons'. The President makes no bone of his unflinching support to Trump and in a speech to his troops in Southern Kandahar; he extended his support to President Trump by stating that America was "with us, without any time limit. In a statement, he directly called out to the Taliban in hopes of a parley to end the insurgency by saying "You cannot win this war".
Ghani's openly pro-Trump stance was clear in his press statement of August 22 this year. "I am grateful to President Trump and the American people for this affirmation of support for our efforts to achieve self-reliance and for our joint struggle to rid the region from the threat of terrorism" the policy continues. Karzai, who stepped down after being at the helm became almost openly critical of airstrikes by alien military forces and drew flak from not only the US but other Western nations. He has coined a call, 'stand against America', a distinctly different stance of his earlier years of dedicated opposition to the Soviets and subsequently the Taliban regime that made him then a favourite of Washington. But his antagonism to the USA is unprecedentedly pronounced. "I decided to get America off my soil. This bomb wasn't only a violation of our sovereignty and disrespect to our soil and environment, but will have bad effects for years" he said.
Nonetheless, the former head of state's discreet jihad against the present incumbent is fraught with political risks. Residents near the site of the blast are reportedly happy with the Afghan and US troops for pushing back the IS militants and support Ghani, who too is a Pashtun, despite the latter's condescending posture of welcoming US President Donald Trump's 'enduring commitment'. Trump ridiculed Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos" and described the 16-year-old policy as a waste of time and money reminding all that thousands of US troops were killed, at the cost of US taxpayers' hundreds of billions of dollars.
In all of this, Karzai seems to have a tactical advantage. The US-brokered power-sharing deal between Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah is too fragile for the Kabul government to keep Karzai at bay. Then the proportion of Afghans allergic to the US soldiers staying in Afghanistan is on the rise as the latter's image is far from that of peace-keeping which helps Karzai win support from those compatriots.
Among US diplomatic and strategic experts are a section for whom 'Trumpism' is destructive in the not-so-long term. Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based conservative think tank, is worried over the changed attitude towards Pakistan as part of Trump's Afghan policy. The President "is willing to call Pakistan out for its sponsoring of terrorist groups, which is a radical
shift in US policy, Previous presidents have been unwilling to do so." However, he wants Trump to be given a chance and see it becomes a "game-changer inside Afghanistan. The Taliban just wouldn't exist as a potent insurgency without the support of Pakistani military and intelligence establishment".
(The views expressed are strictly personal.)

Sankar Ray

Sankar Ray

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