Feb 21, 2024
Feb 21, 2024
Since last morning, I have come across umpteen posts of proclaimed writers, thinkers and strategists on Afghanistan take over by Taliban. Kabul fall to Taliban apparently without any resistance or firing of a bullet. While most people are clueless about the whereabouts of Afghan President, cabinet ministers and other influential people; nearly, everyone has concluded the development as US President Biden’s strategic failure and America’s Himalayan blunder that would cause enormous danger to regional and international security now. Personally, I have neither been any great follower nor ever held any high opinion about the abilities of aging President Biden to lead US and it’s role in the world as a leading superpower in the current challenging environment. Yet I feel it would be grossly unfair to put entire blame on President Biden or US for the current nemesis of Afghanistan.
Many of us have short memories and perhaps distorted vision too. This was President Trump and NATO allies who agreed in February 2020 to formulate a deal with the Afghan Taliban to enable a formal withdrawal of US combat forces from Afghanistan in a time bound manner. Under the negotiated terms of the agreement, the Taliban promised not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control. As per the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan", US and NATO forces were to ensure complete withdrawal of US forces by May 1, 2021. However, the then President Trump had kept open the scope of renewed intervention if the Taliban violated the terms of the agreement. In fact, in his characteristic style that many people do not endorse, Trump had made it clear, “if terms were broken, US will go back with a force like no-one's ever seen." An agreement was signed on 29 February 2020 that US will withdraw forces in 14 months provided the Taliban upheld the terms of the agreement.
If we look back the history of US intervention and control of Afghanistan since 2001; in fact, US was preparing for withdrawal for the last 10 years. President Barack Obama had announced as back as in 2011 that the US would withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, after Operation Enduring Freedom. However, the constant troubles from the extremist elements of Taliban and continued terrorist incidents kept the decision pending and postponing till 2020. It is also true that Biden's July 2021 assessment of Taliban's motive and moves as also Afghan government’s and armed forces' strength and resolve to defend has already proved wrong. It’s a pity that the world’s only undisputed superpower has seldom made or succeeded a successful political planning and strategy beyond ten years. It is largely due to these gaps that in 1990s US actively helps in funding, training and strengthening Taliban through proxy (Pakistan) to fight against Russians, fights with it to take back the control in Afghanistan and again in a way handed it over to same Islamic outfit.
But the moot point is: Should we expect a foreign country to control and continue in another country draining own manpower, money and other resources for an unlimited period, and, if so what for and at what cost? Should 20 years be not good enough for maintaining peace, law and order, development, and so on of any country in enabling it to stand on own feet for the self-sustenance? How long US should go on spending trillions of moneys, loss of the lives of thousands American soldiers that to within continued non-cooperation, deception and deceit from the neighbouring countries like China and Pakistan. In short, the nation building doesn’t come from outside; the countrymen have to rise and do this own at whatever cost. Afghan Army with a strength almost four times combined with Air Force could not hold the Taliban fighters much less in numbers even for a month and surrendered without any struggle in Kabul and many other places.
And Taliban were fighting with whom? According to the vision and definition of this “Religion of Peace”, Afghanistan is already Dar-us Salam with about 99.7% population of Muslims achieved over the years. According to a PEW Research Centre report in 2013, Muslims in South Asia are the most fervent supporters of strict Sharia based Islamic rule: Afghanistan (99%), Pakistan (84%), Bangladesh (82%) and Indian Muslims (74%). So, one does not need to stress mind too much to find reasons why Afghan army and government gave up so easily.
People seldom bother to see or analyse where the real problem lies. My only worry and pain is about the plight of women in the country in general, already very disturbing reports have started pouring in, the plight of about 10% minority Shia population and residual minorities of other communities like Hindu, Christian and Sikhs stranded in the country. Moderate Afghans with progressive thoughts would certainly face problems which might generate a considerable number of say 3-4 lakh refugees over a period. In world view, it may be curious to watch if any volunteers come from 57 Islamic countries to give shelter to refugees in next few weeks or the countries like India, Canada and Western Europe would bear burden hitherto fore. One only hopes that the second regime and stint of Taliban will be more tolerant and accommodating of their own people.