Afghanistan-wild assumptions | By Dr Farrukh Saleem


Afghanistan-wild assumptions

ASSUMPTION number 1: There’s a political solution to the Afghan quagmire. This, most probably, is a wild assumption.

Of the 32 million Afghans, 42 percent are Pashtun, 27 percent Tajik, 9 percent Hazara, 9 percent Uzbek, 4 percent Aimak, 3 percent Turkmen, 2 percent Baloch and 4 percent others.

In 2004, the American occupying forces colored Afghanistan in America’s own colors turning Afghanistan into a ‘Unitary Presidential Islamic Republic’.

The Americans have now been defeated and the Taliban, the most powerful fighting force within Afghanistan, do not want an ‘Islamic Emirate’. How can there be a political solution?

Assumption number 2: There’s a diplomatic solution to the impasse. This, most probably, is also a wild assumption.

The US, Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, India and the Central Asian Republics all claim interests in Afghanistan-but they all have conflicting interests. The ground reality in Afghanistan is that the US and India have both been defeated.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the United Nations, insists that “we will use our full diplomatic, economic and assistance toolkit to support the peaceful, stable future, the Afghan people want and deserve.”

The fact remains that the Americans have been at it for the past two decades. Now that the Americans are exiting, how can they force a diplomatic solution?

On June 22, Linda thomas-Greenfield told the Taliban that there is no “military solution” in Afghanistan.

On June 23, The Wall Street Journal, reported that “American intelligence agencies re-vised their previously more optimistic estimates as the Taliban swept through northern Afghanistan last week, seizing dozens of districts and surrounding major cities.

The US intelligence community con-cluded last week that the government of Afghani-stan could collapse as soon as six months after the American military withdrawal from the country Assumption number 3: The Taliban would agree to a ‘power-sharing formula’. This, most probably, is a wild assumption.

According to Deutsche Welle, the German state-owned international broadcaster, “Since the beginning of NATO’s official troop withdrawal from Afghansitan on May 1, the Islamist militant group has taken over at least 27 districts from Afghan forces, and the number is rapidly in-creasing.” Power has its own dynamics-and not just in Afghanistan.

Why would the Taliban agree to a ‘power-sharing formula’ when they are on a win-ning streak?

The US feels that “everyone who can influence the parties involved, including Afghanistan’s neighbours, should step up now to secure the region and promote peace and stability.”

Question: Can a power-sharing formula be imposed on the Taliban by outside forces? Perhaps. Will it be sustainable? Probably not because a winning streak also has its own dynamics. Assumption number 4: The Taliban will need eco-nomic assistance from the outside world.

Top Biden administration officials claim that
“the Taliban might govern less harshly than feared after taking partial or full power-in order to win recognition and financial support from world power.” Yes, the Tali-ban would want recognition but financial support is another matter.

According to a confidential report commissioned by NATO and later obtained by Ra-dio Free Europe, “In the fiscal year that ended in March 2020, the Taliban reportedly brought in $1.6 billion.” The four major sources were: Opium ($416 million); Mining ($464 million);
Donations ($240 million) and exports ($240 million).

The Afghan government, on the other hand, survives on foreign dole outs of over $5 billion a year.

To be certain, Afghanistan has been at war with itself for a long time-and there are half a dozen lay-ers of conflict. There’s the ethnic conflict that has long been pitting Pashtuns against other ethnic groups like Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks.

Then there’s  the intra-Pashtun conflict largely between the rural Ghilzai tribe and the ‘elitist’ Durrani tribe.

Then there’s a conflict between the ‘urban progres-sives’ and the ‘rural conservatives’. Then there’s the Pakistan-India proxy battle in Afghan territory.

then there’s the top layer where the Afghans have been fighting the American occupiers for the past two decades.

On June 24, Sergey Shoygu, Russian Defence Min-ister, warned of a “civil war in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops.”

The probability of a civil war in Afghanistan is high unless the Afghan government falls in the near future.

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