A bumpy road to Afghanistan’s settlement

United State announcement of troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, in the last month of 2018 put a chaos in the national and international politics. Followed by this decision, it was evinced that half of the 14000 troops may be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Trump’s decision revealed a shift from “gunboat diplomacy” to a most beneficial mode. The next step followed by the US was promulgation of peace talk with Taliban, for which Trump’s took the privileges of Pakistan, UAE and Saudi-Arabia to facilitate negotiation with Taliban. Three successful session were held in UAE.

The next session to be held in Qatar was cancelled by Taliban, which was reported as: they wanted the withdrawal timeline and release of prisoners. Despite of the fact that Afghani government being the main stakeholder, Taliban rejected their involvement in reconciliation and future setup for ruling business. This leads a bumpy road to Afghanistan peace.

According to a research carried out by the BBC in January 2018, the Taliban were active in 70 percent of Afghanistan or were in control of 14 districts. They could not, however, make any spectacular advancement after the drawdown of over 100,000 troops in 2014. The over 350,000 strong Afghan National Army, despite defections and heavy casualties, was able to restrain the Taliban from taking over any major city.

I portrayed two possibilities, which may have likely to occur.

Taliban Appetite: From the very day, Taliban wants the complete exit of US from Afghanistan. Further, Taliban considered Afghan government as US’s puppet and hence they seem not in position to allow government administration to future ruling business. India also, wishes relationships with Kabul, which is however possible only in the absence of Taliban government. India is strategic partner to US and China is strategic partner to Pakistan. It is crucial to note that America focuses on China and India focuses on Pakistan. With this simple diplomatic arithmetic, if America do quit in the case, then a civil war may be eliciting in the region which plausibly would invoke the regional players to intervene. This will be “let them fight” –a US policy to emerge steadily in the trade war instead.

Taliban in mainstream politics: If Taliban emerge as political party in Afghanistan, then it is favorable option but still does not trace a peaceful path to Afghanistan settlement. In this case, the political climate will be somewhat like Pakistan. It is hard to evince that who won Taliban or America? Taliban as always wants a country being ruled under the laws of “Sharia” while US do not favor such form of government. US’s sitting over the land of Afghanistan since long, was of ideological confrontation than any other reason. So, Taliban as Islamist political party, with coexistence of other parties will again invite US and Pakistan for interfering in Afgan national politics. However, workable relations may occur in the case among US and regional players.

About the Author
Irfan Khan is an Islamabad based writer. He has written for Daily Time, Global Space Village, Modern Diplomacy, Tuck Magazine, Eurasia Review and CGTN.