The US withdrawal from Afganistan and its impact on region

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Ramish Mir
Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, a civil war broke between the freedom fighters for power. One of the many groups were Taliban, who seized control of Kabul in 1996 and and implemented their form of strict Shariat Islam where female education was forbidden and set of punishments were announced for minor crimes. The same year Osama bin Laden was welcomed in Afghanistan by Taliban and with the help of his organization, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden helped Taliban gain control of more than 90% of Afghanistan. The dreadful incident of 9\11 brought the world’s attention to Afghanistan, as the accused masterminds were believed to be sheltering in Afghanistan. Americans demanded Mullah Omar to hand over Osama bin Laden, something which was denied by the regime, which was followed by the initiation of War on Terror, the longest and the most expensive war of United States’ history happening till this day. Afghanistan war is considered as an international conflict. Invasion of US and its NATO allies in Afghanistan has accelerated to almost two decade of war in Afghanistan. President George W. Bush announced to dismantling Al Qaeda and ousting Taliban from power. By September 26, CIA officials started working with anti-Taliban elements to overthrow the regime, which was followed by the phase of war where NATO deployed 13,000 troops and 9,800 advisory in Afghanistan. In February 2020 a peace agreement was signed between Taliban and US in Doha to end longest war in the history of United States. As per the agreement, by the end of 2021 majority of US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan. US president Donald Trump has also announced a statement of complete withdrawal from Afghanistan before elections. Furthermore, President Ashraf Ghani and Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary of US issued a declaration which consist of sustainable and comprehensive agreements of peace which they hope may lead towards comprehensive and permanent ceasefire; according to which if withdrawal of troops become successful Taliban will play major role in Afghan politics. Peace negotiator from Afghan officials, Abdullah Abdullah told in an interview that there still might be uncertainty of US withdrawal from Afghanistan as it may be a stunt of US Presidential election, as nobody has given any clarity about the withdrawal of troops and Taliban think they can gain majority of power in Afghanistan, a reality of as such can only possible if and when US president Donald Trump win the elections and windup his troops from Afghanistan. There are many loopholes in the decision of withdrawal due to the fact the Taliban, who welcomed Trump’s decision, will consider Afghanistan as a free state and will reinstall their strict version of Islamist government. Other parties in Afghanistan will also not accept the Taliban government and instigate another civil war in the region. Leaving the administration unstable will  culminate conflicts within the state and other regional powers will play their role in the fuelling of the civil war best in interest to their state and it would be a situation more disastrous than Syria. Geographical location of Afghanistan will attract all regional powers due to which will make them interfere in the intra-state politics of Afghanistan. But the troops withdrawal will shift the dynamic of Afghan relation with other states. India and Afghanistan have strong relation over decades, India has invested heavily on Afghanistan reconstruction. Soft power of India is highly projected in Afghanistan through medical treatment, small business and education. Many Afghan students get scholarship annually to study in India, president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai has also studied in India. But circumstances will change once Taliban regain major part of politics in Afghanistan, as Taliban follow their extremist version of Islamic Sharia which is less desirable for India. Indian believes US should refrain from leaving Afghanistan as India always blamed Pakistan for promoting terrorism in the region via Taliban. India will be the main regional power whose interest will be undermine once the US troops leave Afghanistan. On the other hand, Afghanistan is a neighbor of Pakistan. Both states share common norms, values and deep cultural similarity which is the basic reason of bilateral relation. Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were not good from Pakistan’s independence till the coming of Taliban in power back in 1996, however, with the event of 9/11 and the initiation of War on Terror, relationship became sour once again. However despite that, Pakistan is the only good option for friendly relationship for Afghanistan as they are neighbors, both share common religion. If the US leave Afghanistan and Taliban government takeover the state it will also bring shift in relation between Pakistan and Afghanistan as once the Islamist group comes in power, it will change the scenario of relation between the two states. Pakistan hosts the biggest chunk of Afghan refugees. The growing super power China will also change relation with Afghanistan. China will able to maintain hegemony in the region. The region has faced many humanitarian and economical crisis because of Afghan war for almost a decade. In the end, US must take proper step so that the future of government will be in safe hands.


(-The writer is a freelance columnist.)


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