By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-03-02 12:09:31
The United States of America sent troops into Afghanistan (it was the wrong country to enter in the first place) because it wanted to fight and end terrorism, particularly the kind that resulted in the 9/11 terror attack on the US. After more than 18 long years, the US has signed a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban that, despite the liquidation of several al-Qaeda commanders did not achieve even a minuscule percentage of the objective. It fought the Taliban with all its might all these years. Yet, now when it is leaving the country, the Taliban is in a stronger position then it was when the US entered Afghanistan.
The irony of the situation cannot escape even the most casual person who has followed the development in the war-torn country. Here is the strongest military nation in the world that is signing an agreement with a terrorist group that it had set out to liquidate in a small country, bypassing the legitimate government of that country because the terrorist group does not recognize the elected government. Apart from Donald Trump fulfilling his election promise of ending the Afghan war, bowing to public opinion in the US and getting out of an unwinnable war that was lowering its military prestige, this agreement has no positives for the Americans, especially nothing of the geopolitical kind.
On the contrary, the withdrawal of the US troops is likely to open a Pandora's Box of problems for Afghanistan. The first and biggest problem will be that the country is most likely to once again slip into a civil war. Since the Taliban does not recognize the elected government, it is now going to try and gain control of the country. It already controls large parts where the writ of the elected government supported by the US and many other countries, including India, does not run. How is that going to bring peace to the country, which is the stated objective of the agreement the US has now signed with the Taliban? One fears that given the propensity of terrorist groups to split at the smallest provocation, Afghanistan will see splinter groups taking control of different areas of the nation, maybe under the unified command of the Taliban. That would be extremely dangerous for the rest of the world as it will be the breeding ground of terrorists who can then proceed to anywhere in the world and target almost any country.
India will immediately become a target for such groups because of the involvement of Pakistan. The US and the Western countries consider Pakistan the bulwark against Islamic terrorism and they provide it with funds and arms to contain it. It will once again become indispensable to these countries as they will expect it to keep peace in Afghanistan. Once Pakistan is able to convince them of the need to fund terror groups that will help it keep a check on the Taliban, it will escape FATF scrutiny also. But Pakistan is playing a dangerous double game. While it shows that it is fighting the Taliban (which admittedly targets Pakistan too because of its proximity to the US) it diverts a large part of the funds and arms to terror groups within its own country that are waging a war against India. With the US to withdraw completely from Afghanistan in a few months, it is likely that this funding for Pakistan will be increased substantially. This means that Pakistan will renew its proxy war against India with greater effort and with increased resources. India has to watch out for a spurt in cross-border terrorism and activation of sleeper cells within the country in the wake of the US-Taliban agreement.