The takeover of Kabul by Taliban was inevitable, and yet it stunned the world. Afghanistan has once again been dragged into the quagmire and a deepening humanitarian crisis.
The hasty US withdrawal deserves all the castigation, for it has further deteriorated the already delicate situation. It is ridiculous to see the US rushing out without setting any conditions for the Taliban, who have now tightened their grip. The US has also left war jets, night goggles and other advanced weaponry for the Taliban to seize.
The picture of a Taliban-led Afghanistan is still blur. The inclusive government promised by the Taliban never arrived. 11 out of 33 in cabinet ministry position holders are list as ‘wanted’ by the UN.
The Taliban’s victory has brought euphoria among jihadists around the world. There is now the possibility of militants regrouping in Afghanistan. All the neighbouring countries are sceptical about border security and face militant threats.
China is panicking over a potential jihadi terror spillover via Uyghur Muslims. Eastern Turkistan Islamic Moment (ETIM), which seeks to establish a Uyghur state in Xinjiang, is a major headache for Beijing. The Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK), which has already threatened to attack China, is also an enemy of the Taliban. Therefore, the Taliban would be invested in countering ISK’s domestic and regional threats.
India, meanwhile, is whining over the Taliban success. The Indian security authorities fear that the Afghan soil would be a haven for militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which pose serious threats to India, especially in Kashmir. According to a UN report, around 6,500 members of the mentioned groups are present in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, however, should not express jubilation, especially amid the ongoing uncertainty. On the one hand Islamabad is felicitating the Taliban, and on the other, there are calls of terrorism escalation within Pakistan.
The security authorities are alarmed over the possible resurgence of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has carried out around 1,800 attacks in Pakistan over the past decade. The terrorist group has intensified its attacks right after the Taliban takeover.
According to the UN Security Council, an estimated 6,000 trained TTP fighters are in Afghanistan. What makes it more ominous is that the Afghan Taliban have already released hundreds of militants, including senior TTP leaders, from prisons. This will aggravate the volatility in the tribal areas, with TTP also targeting Chinese interests, sites and engineers in Pakistan.
The decades of civil wars in Afghanistan have destroyed the very essence of the country, killing at least 17 million Afghans. Another 5 million became refugees in other countries. Are we on the brink of another civil war? Another refugee crisis is already imminent.
The US has warned that up to a half of a million Afghans could flee Afghanistan by the end of the year. 2.2 million refugees are already in neighbouring countries, another 3.5 million internally displaced. Pakistan and Iran have said they cannot further host refugees. Uzbekistan has closed its main crossing points citing security concerns. The US and its partners should ensure all possible assistance to the Afghan refugees.
Pakistan has always been looked at through the Afghanistan prism. As US interests shrink in Afghanistan, its relations with Pakistan are approaching the brink. But the US will soon pay a heavy price for this shift from terming Pakistan its “best ally” to now dubbing it an “unreliable ally”. US should not forget that Pakistan lost 83,000 civilians in America’s War on Terror, which cost Islamabad $126 billion dollars.
In Afghanistan, the foremost goal is stability. This is only possible when the Taliban-led Afghanistan gets international recognition, which will be followed by aid and economic inflow. Washington has pledged $64 million, but the aid will go directly to the NGOs and UN aid agencies.
To gain global trust, the Taliban would have to safeguard the rights of women, minorities, journalists, and every citizen of Afghanistan. Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid has declared amnesty for those who worked for the previous government. He also asserted women would be allowed to work, study, and participate in society within bounds of Islamic law.
But, as things stand, the ground realities are quite the opposite.