HISTORY may repeat itself too soon in Afghanistan. Nearly three decades back, when the last Soviet soldier left the Afghan soil, the events that unfolded then may get replicated exactly with NATO exit too. Afghanistan famously considered as a graveyard for foreign invaders due its rocky treacherous terrain, often gives undue strategic advantage to local Afghans to overpower their opponents, who are not acclimatized to fight amid such tough and testing conditions. Who would have thought then that the euphoria of Soviet exit was just an illusion for the landlocked Afghan nation as the worst was yet to unfold for them in the form of a bloody civil war that started between the local warlords from different provinces to conquer the fortress of Kabul. Historical records are testimony to this fact that more casualties of civilians were reported due to infighting between these warlords on Afghan soil than the war with Soviet forces. That ultimately paved the way for Talib’s (Arabic word for students), then studying in Islamic seminaries of Frontier provinces of Pakistan to come together under the banner of a new organization called Taliban to wage a brutal war of aggression with the aid of Pak-Saudi alliance jointly funded by CIA against these warlords just to tighten its grip on the whole afghan affairs.
What followed after this was the beginning of the infamous Taliban regime. Afghanistan was rechristened from “republic” to Islamic republic of Afghanistan. Religion was forced on people under the guise of shariah law, the world was squeezed for women to four walls, public hanging for crime was endorsed and Afghanistan became the new breeding ground for many Islamic fundamentalist organisations like Al Qaeda to flourish.
Post 9/11 attack on the twin towers of America, which the US blamed on Al Qaeeda forces operating from Afghanistan, turned the world upside down for Afghanistan as America with its NATO allies invaded Afghan territory to quench their thirst of revenge. Since then, US has been caught in a quagmire of a no win war in Afghanistan , after spending billions of dollars on sustaining its army on foreign soil and training local Afghan army in combat warfare skills and building civilian infrastructure. However, they are back to square one again by deciding to call it a day and leaving Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and leaving it in the hands of divided mainstream politicians, poorly equipped and with the amateur ANSF(Afghan National Security Force).
With the intra Afghan talks between the civilian government of Afghanistan led by Ashraf Ghani and Taliban interlocutors yet to reach a final agreement over prisoner’s swap deal and removal of UN economic and trade sanctions, one can speculate only two scenarios arising out of these intra afghan talks scheduled to be held in Istanbul in near future. One positive aspect is that if both parties agree on some common minimum peace programme for a better future of Afghanistan and Taliban agrees to be a part of a pluralistic government, then in that case it will be a win-win situation for the whole of Asia. But there are spoilers as well. If peace talks fail and Taliban considers using force as a way forward, then the world might see a Deja vu moment of the 90s yet again. The situation in Afghanistan might plunge into another humanitarian crisis.
Many experts did not appreciate the decision of the US president to pull out its forces, as by doing so they have thrown the field open for the next civil war to unleash after hastily signing a face saving exit deal in the name of peace deal without giving any due consideration to the peaceful future of Afghanistan. The US has already accepted it as fait accompli that Taliban is going to take over Afghanistan again after their exit. Instead of handing over military infrastructure, arms and ammunition to ANSF, they are destroying most of it. This is a clear sign that they don’t trust the capabilities of ANSF and they fear ANSF might surrender before the might of Taliban post NATO exit just as they did post the soviet exit.
With the Taliban already enjoying control over 30% of the area in Afghanistan, it is only going to increase its base when ANSF finds itself weak after the NATO exit. As per the recent report of Washington post, fighting has intensified from past months with battlegrounds shifting from local to urban areas now. This has set alarm bells ringing for mainstream Afghan politicians and bureaucrats about their uncertain future. The coming months are going to be very challenging for Afghanistan. The world might have to witness a civil war crisis yet again in this war-torn nation in the absence of ideal peace negotiations between parties in conflict.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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