Whither Afghanistan

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After virtually being abandoned for some months, the US and Taliban have in recent past returned to negotiate the deal to pave  way for the US to pull out its troops from the  country. US president Donald Trump has always wanted to bring to an end the US war in Afghanistan, the country’s longest such engagement. It was one of Trump’s prominent campaign promises and in the last year of his presidency he seems to be eager about fulfilling it.  The US president is currently also facing impeachment investigation for seeking a quid pro quo with his Ukrainian counterpart in lieu of helping the country. Trump had allegedly urged the Ukrainian leader to launch investigation against his Democratic contender Joe Biden. Congress has already okayed Trump’s impeachment proceedings. So, the US president will be hampered by the progress of the impeachment trial against him. A successful negotiation with Taliban leading to end of America’s war would certainly go someway to shore up his frayed public image among his people.

That said, Taliban is also playing for time. They have fought the war for the past nineteen years and brought the US, also the history’s greatest military power, to a standstill. And even now they aren’t ready for a deal except it satisfies their terms. In the negotiations so far, they have sought complete withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan. They have refused to negotiate with the current government in Afghanistan whom they term as the US puppet. Until early this year negotiations were going on nevertheless and were close to a breakthrough when killing of a US soldier during a Taliban strike in Kabul brought them to a sudden end. Now the two sides are again trying to  pick up pieces. And it remains to be seen how far they will go this time.

And if the US is able to strike some sort of a deal with Taliban in near future, it will be a momentous geopolitical development. This will again pave  way for a Taliban ruled Afghanistan, albeit this time the group will probably be persuaded to share power with the Northern Alliance. Will this finally bring peace and stabilize the country after forty years of war? Also, how will Taliban’s return to power alter the regional geopolitics. These are moot points. So, for an enduring stability in Afghanistan, a Taliban-US deal won’t be sufficient, regional powers who have great stakes in the future of the country will too have to play a constructive role.

 

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