by Zia Sarhadi
Last December, an agreement for the pipeline from Turkmenistan to India, via Afghanistan and Pakistan was signed without fanfare or publicity despite its immense significance.
With global attention focussed on uprisings in the Islamic East, US officials have quietly announced plans for permanent military bases in Afghanistan. This flies in the face of earlier assertions that the US and its allies have no intention of staying in Afghanistan indefinitely. Such denials were clearly intended to pacify irate publics in the West that are fed up with the never-ending war in which the sons and daughters of ordinary people are being sacrificed for the benefit of the rich and powerful.
On February 19, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that any decision on a permanent US military presence in the country must be made by Afghans and must take into account the concerns of neighbouring countries, especially Iran, Pakistan and China. He said several American officials had talked about establishing permanent bases, presumably without even consulting him. While Karzai did not rule out the possibility of such bases, he insisted any such decision must be made in the context of Afghans assuming greater authority in the country that is currently in the throes of an insurgency, which is getting stronger by the day. According to the International Council on Security and Development, 90% of Afghan territory is now under the control of or in the grip of insurgents. This hardly augurs well for foreign occupation troops or the Karzai government. But this has not deterred the US and its NATO allies from pressing ahead with plans for permanent bases.