What is happening in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is going through a crucial time where US forces have almost vacated the area and Talibans are advancing steadily to take control of the key sites in the country. It is being assumed that the future of Afghanistan is in Taliban hands. Talibans are now claiming the control which they used to have twenty years ago before US intervened. However, as the US forces have now stepped back, the Talibans have taken control of various key cities of Afghanistan including Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, Ghazni and Herat.
Reports also reveal that now Mazar-i-Sharif is also under the control of Talibans. Mazar-I-Sharif was believed to be the last major city in Northern Afghanistan which was being controlled by the Afghan government. Major parts of the country being controlled by Taliban means that they are also controlling all the police headquarters, government institutions, administrative centers and other key offices in the area. It clearly justifies the statement that future of Afghanistan is now in Taliban hands.
Taliban during the presence of US forces in Afghanistan
The attack on World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 led to the entry of US troops along with their Nato and regional allies into the territory of Afghanistan. The purpose was to find out and punish Osama Bin Laden along with other figures who contributed in the success of 9/11 attack. The US not only remained present in Afghanistan through its troops but also ran many projects and took various initiatives in the country. For example, it spent billions of dollars to arrange training for the Afghan government forces.
However, inspite of all these initiatives, Talibans continued their activities in the country. They not only reformed a group and maintained their rule in some remote areas of Afghanistan but, also kept on creating terror and disturbances in Afghanistan by bomb blasts etc. BBC also conducted a study in 2017 which highlighted that Talibans are active in many areas of Afghanistan and are continuing their inhumane activities.
The areas where Talibans were in power constituted of around 15 million people i.e. half of the population of Afghan nationals was residing in those areas. However, now, Talibans are proceeding further without any hesitation. After the return of US troops, Talibans claimed some parts of the country from Afghan forces through the use of force. Nonetheless, in many areas the Afghan government stepped back without fighting or trying to resist thus, putting Afghanistan’s future in the hands of Talibans.
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Is Afghanistan’s future actually in Taliban hands?
It would not be wrong to say that the future of Afghanistan is in Taliban hands recently. Talibans have gained control of almost all of the Afghanistan including the borders. The custom duty of all the goods entering the premises of Afghanistan through borders are being collected by Taliban. On the other hand, Afghan forces have already either stepped back or been defeated by Taliban. US troops are no more there to deal with Taliban on the behalf of Afghan government. President United States Joe Biden had already made it clear that Afghan forces should now fight for themselves.
All these factors put Taliban in a very strong position and provide them an upper hand in the process of negotiation. Therefore, it is not untrue that Afghanistan’s future is in Taliban hands. But the analysts have been discussing that what can be the future of Afghanistan? What possibilities may be taken into consideration while deciding the future of Afghanistan? Analysts believed that there are three possibilities that can lead Afghanistan to any sound or unsound situation.
The first possibility was definitely the defence of Afghanistan by its armed forces. The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani had expressed confidence in the strength and strategies of his armed forces but nothing could be proved. The Afghan forces faced defeat in front of Talibans. Hence, this option automatically got removed from the list of possibilities.
Second possibility is of a ‘Peace deal’ between Afghan government and Talibans. Keeping the current scenario in mind, it is evident that Talibans hold a strong position in negotiations owing to their control over most of the Afghanistan. This option would certainly introduce many changes in the premises and laws of Afghanistan. The approach of Talibans would be more Islamic. But atleast this option would avoid war and civil unrest in the country.
The third possibility is what is actually happening in Afghanistan right now and was termed as ‘worst case scenario’ by the analysts. The third possibility was that Taliban would defeat the Afghan forces and the Afghan forces would disintegrate. The increasing progress in claiming different cities of Afghanistan would also boost the confidence of Taliban. The entire scenario would make the non-Pashtun residents of Afghanistan more concerned about their safety and well-being. The government would collapse.
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The policies of Pakistan about Afghanistan
Pakistan has always closely observed the situation of its neighbor, Afghanistan. Ever since the start of peace talks in September 2020. Pakistan has even tried to play the role as a mutual friend to make Peace talks successful. Unfortunately, they could yield no result. In the current situation, Pakistan is closely following what is happening in Afghanistan. The border with Afghanistan is also being monitored as a number of refugees want to seek refuge in Pakistan.
Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi, owing to the recent situation in Afghanistan, has clearly mentioned in his media talk that Pakistan has no favorite in Afghanistan. The Afghan nationals are the ones who have to decide the future of their country. He also highlighted that there is no armed solution to this issue. Negotiations and talks are the only solution of this situation. Pakistan has again offered its services as a moderator for talks between Afghan government and Taliban.
Where is Afghanistan standing now?
Unfortunately, the third prediction by the analysts proved to be right. The Talibans had gained control of Afghanistan. The government has collapsed. Afghan nationals are trying to seek refuge in safer parts of the world. The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani has also left the country along with his team.
All the forces that were to confront Taliban or create resistance against them have weakened in front of them. At present it is actually true that the future of Afghanistan is in Taliban hands where they can do whatever they want to do. However, the second possibility discussed by the analysts can also be taken into consideration. With the help of mutual friends and peace makers, negotiations can be made with Taliban in order to control the situation of Afghanistan.
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