Afghanistan: Awaiting withdrawal of US forces
It is a vexed question as to what will happen after the departure of US forces from Afghanistan on 11 September 2021. A geopolitical vacuum of power appears to be forming in that region, which will be filled by cyclonic instability caused by winds from multiple directions.
China is certainly the most ambitious and capable power in this region, but after becoming an economic power, China was not seen fighting the war of others like America.
The options for sugar are limited. They would not want to go with the Islamic Taliban because of the Uighur episode in Sinkiang. Obviously, China will favour the Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan.
Here there is a difference of interest between China and Pakistan.
- Pakistan would like to follow its old strategy while supporting the Taliban.
- China can provide economic and technical support to the Afghan government but will stay away from any kind of military involvement. Like moneylenders, China is adept at enslaving governments to capital through financial agreements, but this policy of China will be fruitless in countries like Afghanistan of uncontrolled war.
- Economic exploitation of any country is not possible in the absence of political stability, so China’s effort will be to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan.
- As far as Russia and India are concerned, both are distant countries out of the power equation. Now the question is of Pakistan. Pakistan, which has been sceptical of India, has been considering the Afghan region as a zone of its strategic expansion and religious unity.
This is the only way for them to stop the wave of Pashtun nationalism. The Taliban would expect active cooperation from Pakistan in their campaign for total supremacy in Afghanistan.
In the past, we have seen that about one lakh Pakistani officers and soldiers have been participating in Taliban operations in disguise. But Chinese interests will expect peace in Afghanistan from Pakistan.
The big problem now is whether there is any possibility of adjustment and reconciliation of power rights between the Afghan government and the Taliban for political stability.
If so, what would be its outline?
The Taliban consider themselves the masters of Afghanistan.
They have declared their victory after the US withdrawal agreement.
Now that there is not even a remote possibility of a compromise on the division of power, what will be the result of it?
As the situation is taking shape, according to them, there are strong fears of civil war in Afghanistan like in 1996. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces, America handed over Afghanistan to Afghanistan by giving them a tremendous dose of religion-mujahideen.
During this time, the religious armies of Mujahideen were actively establishing Nizame Mustafa. The Taliban was victorious in this long civil war, but as a result of continuous wars, Afghanistan had almost reached the Stone Age.
The Taliban established Islamic power by defeating war-chiefs like Ismail Khan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Abdul Rashid Dostum, but despite all this, the Taliban’s complete supremacy over the northern region of Afghanistan could not be established until 2001.
After the US departure, when the Taliban’s military conquest will march towards Kabul, it will have elements of ISIS, Al Qaeda in addition to the disguised Pakistani forces.
It should not be surprising if Turkey’s President Erdogan also cooperates in the hope of becoming the new caliph of Islam. On the other hand, the Afghan government forces, which have an abundance of Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara soldiers along with Pashtuns, are better trained and better equipped.
They are not ones to give up easily. There is no doubt, therefore, that the horrors of a protracted civil war stand before Afghanistan.
Now America needs military bases outside Afghanistan for Afghanistan. Even if US military bases are built, Afghanistan will have to fight this coming war on its own.
The Pashtun region of Pakistan will also not remain untouched by the ill effects of this war. This region of Pak-Afghan will face a civil war, the possibility of which will not end soon.
It is not that Afghanistan can’t avoid this civil war. Everything will change if the Taliban leadership awakens the conscience and leaves the path of violence and follows the path of democracy, taking lessons from the example of the violent communists of Nepal. But is it possible for them to do so?