It was beyond the world’s imagination that a day would dawn upon Afghanistan when Kabul falls back to Taliban after protracted bloodshed with the US and NATO forces for twenty years. History is showing again that material and money cannot always fetch victory. Twenty years of warring and military onslaughts have only proved to be a wild goose chase for the US-NATO sponsored war on terrorism in Afghanistan. The unabated onslaught of Taliban all over the various provincial capitals surrounding Kabul is seen as such a winning strategy that it has earned admiration even from Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. The rebels are also enjoying the fullest diplomatic and logistic support from the regional giants Beijing, Moscow and Islamabad.
In the ongoing great game in Afghanistan, China and Russia and Pakistan are ostensibly emerging as winners while the sole world power, the US, is a loser. It is no less than a terrifying nightmare for America which she could not have imagined twenty years back when the war on terrorism was initiated. However, she has of late reconciled with the fact that President Joe Biden stated in a policy statement that Washington could not afford to control Kabul any further with more bloodshed of her next generation of troops and draining of her economy for the sake of her collaborators in Afghanistan.
China had earlier shocked the West by hosting a delegation of Taliban led by Mulla Ghani Baradar in Beijing; the gesture was tantamount to recognising a pro-Taliban future government in Kabul. Keeping eye on the mineral, metal and oil resources in Afghanistan, Beijing has initiated her designs to take over infrastructure projects through the construction of a motorway from Peshawar to Kabul in the near future. President Putin’s long cherished dream of retribution of 1990s defeat of the erstwhile USSR and settling scores with America is seemingly fulfilled. Moscow had continually been blamed by US authorities of sinister relations with Taliban over the past many years. New Delhi has apparently lost a huge investment of 23,000 crores in Afghanistan that was spent on developmental projects like dam construction, education sector, and building of some roadways and perhaps airports too. All these projects are now under Taliban control.
As the murky situation in Afghanistan is becoming clear, the Taliban leadership seems to have changed a lot, showing diplomatic sobriety in every measure and a mature political rapprochement to deal with future issues. In this context it is highly likely that the Taliban-backed future government in Kabul would not leave out New Delhi in her diplomatic relations. The Taliban top brass is in knowledge of the fact that problems accosting India and Pakistan have practically nothing to do with them. This was reflected by Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen recently while talking to The Times of India and the NDTV correspondent proclaiming his organisation as neutral between the two hostile neighbours. Shaheen had made it crystal clear that Taliban were not partisan in Indo-Pak issues and that they strive for constructive engagement with both the countries. Observers believe that this time the new breed of Taliban surfacing on the horizon are more political than the militant one and that New Delhi has quite a fair opportunity to re-establish her diplomatic ties with Kabul sometime in near future after Taliban take over.
This has vehemently ruled out any possibility of the Taliban of getting mired in the Kashmir tangle as feared by many analysts in the region. If at all a new Taliban government in Kabul is recognised by New Delhi, which may not be a remote possibility, it would for sure bridge gaps between the two countries. Tehran’s anti-Taliban stance as witnessed in the late nineties has been effectively neutralised by the Taliban by her inclusive policy of taking onboard the strong Shia community of Hazara. This forms a sub-group of Taliban now. Moreover, newly inducted president Ibrahim Raisi is preoccupied with the hybrid cold war with Tel Aviv and US. China’s entry in Tehran’s economic rebuild is strongly expected to play a key role in averting possible sectarian rift with Taliban in Afghanistan. Taliban’s vision is clear by now in the international arena. They want to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan and give peace a chance to thrive at par with the other developing nations of Central and South Asia.
Even though the entire Western media is ringing bells of civil war in Afghanistan, majority of the provinces have been captured without bloodshed and a great deal of clemency has been shown towards the captured Afghan troops. There has been no vengeance, brutal onslaught and annihilation of men of opposite groups. This has been the only driving force, perhaps, motivating the regular armed forces of Kabul regime to have surrendered without fighting. Astoundingly, the Taliban is bracing for a broad-based interim government in Kabul involving the erstwhile warlords and even Hamid Karzai, the former President, according to reports. Karzai had been an important member of the Afghan team with whom Taliban had interacted for the first time in Moscow.
As the dust settles completely, the world may witness a new Afghanistan. The gullible people of Afghanistan have suffered horrendous pain and affliction while having been run down by two world superpowers for none of their faults. They deserve peace and stability more than anybody else in the region. Let the world give peace a chance in Afghanistan.
—The writer is a Professor at SKUAST- K. [email protected]