TALIBAN’S sweeping advances in Afghanistan soon after the US withdrawal have made the world sit up and take note. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has told a US television channel that they are watching the developments in the war-torn country “with deep concern.” He said they are encouraging their partners in Kabul to “step up” and defend their country amid the pullout of American forces. Taliban are claiming that they have taken control of 85 percent of Afghanistan, which the US government officials dispute.
But it is true that over the last two weeks Taliban are taking over one district after another. What is more shocking is that the Afghan forces are hardly putting up any resistance. Taliban are almost having a walkover in most places. The US exit seems to have demoralized the Afghan forces. It seems now a matter of time before the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan. A Pakistan brokered negotiated settlement between Taliban and the Afghan government for a power-sharing arrangement seems now more elusive than ever. Having won the war, the Taliban seem in no mood to compromise with the US-backed government in Kabul and want entire Afghanistan for themselves.
Taliban has fought for twenty years to get to where they are now. After failing to wipe out the militia, the US has found it pointless to continue staying in the country. And after fighting the US military, the world’s most advanced war machine, to a standstill, the Taliban are not inclined to share power with the government in Kabul. The situation in the country is likely to get worse in the weeks and months to come before it stabilizes.
The prospect of a Taliban government in Kabul has also alarmed the neighbouring countries including India which anticipate a debilitating fallout of the development on the security situation in the region. So, some countries have started working to prevent the takeover of the Taliban. India’s recent efforts to reach out to the Taliban have apparently come to nought. The Taliban have reportedly rejected India’s overtures considering the latter’s longstanding support for the government in Kabul. This threatens to unravel the country’s two-decade long investment – both diplomatic and material – in the country.
But the mutually contradictory objectives of the neighbouring countries is unlikely to contribute to the peace in Afghanistan. This threatens to turn the country into a battleground for the neighbours out to secure their interests. Peace in Afghanistan, therefore, would require regional cooperation to ensure, as much as possible, an alignment of the interests of the neighbouring governments. So, more than an internal power-sharing arrangement between Taliban and the Afghan government, the peace in the war-scarred country has to be a broader regional exercise.
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