Help Kabul, Muslim countries bordering Afghanistan urged
*This article written by Minderjeet Kaur covering Bait Al-Amanah’s recent webinar was published in Free Malaysia Today.
Muslim countries bordering Afghanistan must help their troubled neighbour and realise that Kabul’s peace and prosperity will ensure their own well-being, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
He said the Afghan peace process should be intensified, especially with the Afghans now knowing fully well that the future of their nation and people lie solely in their hands, he said in his keynote speech at the “Afghanistan Post-US Military Withdrawal: The Prospect of Peace” webinar co-organized by Bait Al-Amanah (House of Trust) and Afghan Peace Mediation Team.
“The stakes are no doubt very high but it is an opportune time for the Afghans and the Islamic nations to step up and find solutions to problems and issues that have been there for decades.
“We are at a very important juncture in the modern history of Afghanistan. It should lead to new promising paths, open up new horizons and chart a direction befitting a proud and powerful nation,” he said.
He said US President Joe Biden’s announcement in April that he would pull out the US military from Afghanistan after two decades was followed by predictions that it would lead to a devastating civil conflict.
“While there are opinions that point towards Afghanistan being thrown into protracted civil strife post-withdrawal, there are opposing opinions that it has had enough of American occupation and it is time the nation is returned to its people for them to chart their own future,” Mahathir said.
He added that he was all for peace, peacekeeping and strategic withdrawal of military forces from any war-ravaged nation, but acknowledged that the American military presence in Afghanistan over the past two decades had left “a very bitter taste”.
“I am fully aware of opinions that if the Americans had not invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban would have continued to subject the nation to its kind of harsh, and at times brutal, brand of Islam.”
But Mahathir said there had always been the justification by invaders whenever they wanted to affect regime change, which in this case, came about as a retaliation to the 9/11 attacks on American soil.
“The justification for the invasion was to target the alleged mastermind of the attack, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was said to be protected by the Taliban, then helming Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the invasion did not get a mandate from the United Nations.
The Americans also invaded Iraq on grounds that it had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and were supporters of al-Qaeda.
No WMDs were found, he added, but by then, Iraq and Afghanistan were already devastated and the casualties among their citizens throughout the period of occupation numbered in the millions, he said.
“All these point towards an invasion made in bad faith, based on lies, deceitful manoeuvrings and strictly self-serving, be it for the benefit of the Americans’ economic or geo-political advantage,” he said.
Mahathir said he had told Afghans that as long as they bicker among themselves, they will never be their own master.
“Neither will they be able to build and rebuild their nation if they succumb to tribal and sectarian conflicts that are fuelled by different interpretations of Islam.”