Regional

The ICC and justice for Afghanistan

Nov 6, 2017
So, it’s official. Pakistan has finally arrived. We are now firmly on the US radar as meriting a bashing alongside regional big boys Iran and Russia. Truly, we are touched. And if we were to make an acceptance speech, NATO would top the list of those whom we absolutely had to thank.
 
For an official with the Alliance’s Resolute Support Mission, which is charged with training and assisting Afghan security forces, has gone to town sticking it to Iran, Russia as well as little old us. The point of concern appears to be a collective growing influence in Afghanistan, which the US treats as its own personal warring fiefdom. Just as it tends to view the NATO war machine as a supplement to American military might. All of which means that when the Alliance speaks of as yet unconfirmed reports of Tehran and Moscow arming Afghan insurgents — we would like to ask Washington to explain why it continues to scapegoat Pakistan alone over the quagmire of its own making.
 
As always with these things, timing is key. For this latest ‘bombshell’ comes just as the International Criminal Court Prosecutor has requested authorisation to investigate the possibility of war crimes and crimes against humanity having been committed during the US-led war next door. And while the jury is still out, as it were, it means that Afghanistan could finally be on the long road to delayed justice.
 
This can only be a good thing.
 
Those who will potentially stand in the dock have yet to be confirmed. Yet on the basis of a report from the prosecutor’s office last year, the usual suspects are likely to be: US troops and Afghan government forces. These two groups could be tried for war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment. And while Trump Town has already brushed off any such possible moves as unwarranted and unjustified — it is only right and proper that it the court’s jurisdiction.
 
But here comes the tricky part. The Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network could face war crimes and crimes against humanity charges. The implications for Pakistan would naturally be extremely grave. For we could find ourselves effectively on trial for the same given the claims that we harbour these bad guys. It also places Washington in quite a bind. Meaning if it remains boorish on the question of US soldiers not going before the court — it could lose the chance of triumphant vindication at recent calls for us to do more, more, more.
 
The question therefore remains whether Donald Trump will bite the bullet. And while the Brits might be conspicuous by their glaring absence (thus far) — the bigger question is why there has (again thus far) been no mention of Al Qaeda; the original Afghan-based baddies.
 
Sixteen years and still counting. 
 
Daily Times, November 6, 2017

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