Last week, the Taliban took over the Afghan capital and with it, they have extended their control to the majority of provinces of the country. Ashraf Ghani, the former president of the country, resigned and fled: he was welcomed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a humanitarian basis. The way that the Afghan security forces have acted in this time has given rise to various lines of speculation as to what compromise was achieved between the different political forces in the country.
There are various opinions regarding the American exit from the country. Some consider that the United States has lost a lot in the conflict-ridden country, whereas according to others, the US has protected its interests in the region by striking a deal with the Taliban. It is quite early to predict what exactly has happened in the region: though the situation will become more clear in the next few months.
Through the prism of foreign-policy realism, it seems that conflict will remain paramount in the region. After all, Afghanistan has an important strategic position and the world powers will continue playing the old Great Game in the region.
It is likely that the rising superpower China will grant recognition to the new Taliban government in the region within months. Along with it, Russia, Pakistan and Iran are in line. These four countries have established good relations with the Taliban but it is highly important to mention that granting legal status to the Taliban regime will only be possible if it adheres to the promises that have made with these countries – out of which curbing terrorists is the most important one. It is quite evident that in this situation, the American interests will be severely undermined in the region.
In Afghanistan, although the Taliban until now have acted quite cautiously on the political and diplomatic front, it seems that the hardliners will impose a Shariah law of their own understanding once they establish a strong government
In the coming months, the US will be left with scant options but to heavily rely on India, as they both see eye-to-eye on various security and strategic matters in the South Asian region. The irony is that India will not be in a position to guarantee American interests in the region, because of the nature of the regime that has been established in Afghanistan. The Taliban movement has divergent views with the Indian government on various key matters. India’s strategic vulnerability in the region is likely to increase: as the current government has serious differences with Pakistan and China on various defense and security related matters.
The pressure on Pakistan is palpable: because the country worked as an ally with the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in War on Terror. With the triumph of the Taliban in the region, Pakistan’s interests are potentially at great risk, as it has been established that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Afghanistan Taliban have close links. The armed forces of Pakistan launched military operations against the TTP, which was involved in a campaign of vicious suicide bombings in the country. With the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, TTP will get a strategic impetus which can prove catastrophic for Pakistan.
In Afghanistan, although the Taliban until now have acted quite cautiously on the political and diplomatic front, it seems that the hardliners will impose a Shariah law of their own understanding once they establish a strong government in the country. The interests of Western countries are in jeopardy with the rise of Taliban in the region: they consider the Taliban as a potential threat for the peace and security of the South Asian region. With the nature of the regime that the Taliban established 1996 onwards, it is unlikely that Western countries will grant any legitimate status to the regime.
With the triumph of the Taliban in the region, Pakistan’s interests are potentially at great risk, as it has been established that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP) and the Afghanistan Taliban have close links
Meanwhile, Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president, has declared himself as the president of the country, based in the Panjshir Valley. Along with him Ahmad Massoud has risen to the occasion: he is the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was known as the Lion of the Panjshir Valley. It is highly important to mention that the Panjshir Valley has remained as a strong foothold of the Northern Alliance which has defied Taliban over the decades. With the rise of Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, it seems that in the months to come, fighting will continue in the region as this resurgent group will resist the Taliban tooth and nail.
The possibility of an inclusive Afghan government headed by the Taliban remains a possibility. But in conflict zones, by their very nature, there is a general tendency for divides to escalate. Stability remains an elusive dream. It seems that in times to come, the Afghan people will be forced to endure much pain and misery – which they have been suffering since the 1980s. Within the cycle of violence, the fighting groups will try to maintain maximum leverage but the people of Afghanistan will be the ones that will end up on the losing side.
The writer is a resident of Pakistan Administered Kashmir. He graduated from COMSATS, Abbottabad