The World Vacates Afghanistan Mentally & Physically!
Newspaper: Avenue Mail
Date: 21st August, 2021
“The Taliban has now taken nine out of 34 provincial capitals in less than a week. % of the country they control: 65%” tweeted political scientist Ian Bremmer drawing urgent attention to the speedy events taking place in Afghanistan. Four days after this tweet, the Taliban not only took over more cities but captured the capital city of Kabul and the Presidential Palace. Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Vice President Amrullah Saleh fled the country to ‘avoid bloodshed’ leaving their citizens in the lurch.
American President Joe Biden announced a complete troop withdrawal from the decades-long war against the Taliban and its allies. Announcing the dreadful news that had severe consequences in store, Biden remarked on the 9th of July 2021 “How many more, how many more thousands of American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan, with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.”. Biden’s statement set in motion, the sequence of events for the U.S. troops' withdrawal by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.
The United States of America had invested over twenty years since the 9/11 bombings to snuff out the Taliban strongholds and install a democratic and stable government for the Afghan people. The USA spent billions of dollars to end the war in Afghanistan and bring it back to sanity. 2300 American soldiers died in the war against terrorism but their death could not achieve self-reliance, prosperity, or democracy for Afghanistan. Today, the withdrawal from Afghanistan is considered the biggest foreign policy disaster of the United States post Vietnam.
Taliban which was waiting in the wings sprang back to life with the announcement, swiftly taking the control back from the democratically elected government of Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan. The ever-changing territorial map of the war-torn country shows the horrifying account of the capture of Afghan towns by the Taliban since April 2021 against the areas occupied by the government.
As of 11th August 2021, the Taliban had captured the towns of Zaranj, Farah, Sar-e-Pul, Sheberghan, Aibak, Pul-e-Khumri, Kunduz, Taloqan, Faizabad, and the latest city of Herat. With news breaking in Kabul and the pilgrimage city of Mazār-i-Sharīf have fallen to the dreaded Taliban. On the same day, Joe Biden called for unification and asked the people of Afghanistan to “fight for themselves” even as the latest intelligence by the international community assessment alerted that Kabul could fall within 90 days. Joe Biden sincerely believed that Afghan forces will not allow the Taliban to take over the country though the exact opposite has occurred.
Taliban on the other end wants to talk peace but on one condition- It wants President Ashraf Ghani to be fired and a fresh talk to be resumed under a new head of government.
Europe is worried about refugees fleeing Afghanistan and landing on their shores much like the Syrian refugees of 2015 however there is a lack of unity in the European Union while Turkey offers to run and guard the Kabul airport against being over overrun by the Taliban despite Taliban warning Turkey to keep out of it. Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan has suddenly gained back its relevance and has resumed interfering in Afghan issues. The Pakistanis are concerned about the possible refugees arriving from Afghanistan but they do not want to offend the Taliban and are keen to keep them in good humor. China on the other hand assigned a Chinese delegation led by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a delegation of nine Afghan Taliban representatives on July 28, 2021.
Over the decades, though uncomfortable, the Chinese have cultivated a relationship with the Taliban and have engaged with them at various levels. China publicly announced that the “Taliban is a crucial military and political force in Afghanistan that is expected to play an important role in the peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction process of the country” though President Xi stood firm with the Afghan government saying “China’s firm support of the Afghan government to maintain the nation’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity”, thereby riding on two boats at the same time. The other superpower Russia is cautious in its approach.
The Russian defense minister said that “The Taliban leaders promised no attacks on neighbouring countries after taking control of frontiers.” (The scars of the Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, left 15,000 dead thousands wounded). Though Russia is secretly delighted about America’s decision to vacate Afghanistan as it signified the biggest superpower on earth had lost another war after Vietnam, Russia has its risks and investments to protect. The borderline countries in Russia’s influence Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan have a real danger of being disturbed by the Taliban.
A bright light in the darkness was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a bold step and announced “The situation in Afghanistan is continuing to deteriorate, and Afghans’ lives are under threat. To help them, we’re expanding our resettlement program - we’re going to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Afghans and expedite processing timelines”, a program which was mainly tailored towards women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, persecuted religious minorities, LGBTI individuals, and family members of previously resettled interpreters.
The Indian Government policy asks all its staff to catch a special Air India flight and return home as soon as possible. It is to be duly noted that the war in Afghanistan recently killed India’s celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui which was not condemned strongly by New Delhi. Russia, on the other hand, has refused to invite India into the ‘extended troika’ meeting that it had organized in Qatar on 11th August 2021 which was attended by Pakistan, the US, and China. Russia has signaled to India that it has no role to play in Afghanistan. India is yet to establish a working relationship with the Taliban and New Delhi is yet to take up a diplomatic project to rejuvenate ties with the new key stakeholders of the country. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that New Delhi has been in touch with everybody concerned. “We are in touch with all stakeholders, different stakeholders. I would not like to add anything further”, hinting at India’s participation at a regional meeting in Doha on the Afghan situation.
The unfortunate people of Afghanistan deserve much more than financial assistance. They need love and support from the global community to rebuild their country, leaving them in the cold is inviting a dark blind winter which the Afghans will find difficult to restore. This a human tragedy waiting to unfold.