Naveed Aman Khan
HAS America achieved its objectives in Afghanistan? Can America claim its win in Afghanistan after 17 years? With sudden surprising decision of Trump of partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Syria, will history start repeating agony very soon? Mikhail Gorbachev did same sort of decision of evacuation from Afghanistan and met disintegration. America hasn’t faced that fate yet, but things now have started slipping from it’s grip. After GB and USSR, USA is the third mighty country facing same fate in Afghanistan. After invading Afghanistan none-three of these very powerful countries could celebrate war win like situation here. Partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has more dangerous and torment implications than those of the erstwhile Soviet Union because SU left Afghanistan completely but the US would retain its half number of troops back in Afghanistan. For years Afghanistan remained at the mercy of Pakistan and other neighbours when the SU left it. Now with the partial withdrawal of US troops Afghanistan will again be left prey to several muggers.
At the departure of USSR troops from Afghanistan Dr Najeebullah government had been much stronger as compared to this of already distorted Dr Ashraf Ghani’s. At the departure of USSR, Afghanistan had been divided between Afghan government and Afghan ‘Mujahedeen’. While now Afghan government, Afghan Taliban and ISIS are ready to have share in the cake. Then Afghanistan was handed over to Pakistan and anti-Pakistan powers but now India, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Arabs and European countries are stakeholders in Afghanistan. Afghanistan now is bigger war-field with a large number of proxies than ever. Whether Afghan Taliban or ISIS get hold of Afghanistan or not? Sooner the time will make it clear. This decision has psychologically strengthened Afghan Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan. With the withdrawal of US troops Afghan Taliban and ISIS believe that they have defeated USA and NATO in Afghanistan like ‘Mujahedeen’ of SU time. This believe and confidence of Afghan Taliban and ISIS certify that puppet government of Dr Ashraf Ghani will not last longer. Ghani’s government has been surviving because of presence of US troops as that of Dr Najeebullah’s by the SU. Rightist wings are Jubilant over this withdrawal terming it a big defeat of USA same as the departure of SU and GB from Afghanistan. Afghanistan of present day is going to face more serious situation as compared to that of 1988-89. Beside Afghanistan, Pakistan will suffer more than that time of 90s. Invasion on Afghanistan was unwise decision of Bush but decision of quitting of US forces from Afghanistan after negotiations with Afghan Taliban leaving Afghan government aside is more unwise of Trump. American General McKenzie says that if US were to withdraw now it would likely result in the collapse of Afghan government and the military. For the last many months USA Establishment and State Department have been of the concern that Afghan issue should be resolved negotiating with Afghan government and Afghan Taliban as soon as possible otherwise President Trump might solely decide to withdraw and one sided decision will be more fatal and disgraceful for USA. Trump had already made mind of withdrawal. As he just got the rare opportunity of talks with Afghan Taliban he announced long awaited withdrawal.
After seventeen years of Afghan war he believes that Afghan Taliban are the only power and major stakeholder to whom USA should negotiate presently. Sharply, understanding the importance of the moment before any probability of derailment of the US Taliban talks he announced the partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. In this regard he didn’t even bother to take Dr Ghani government in confidence perhaps knowing that Afghan government and USA are one of the same. He also knows that Afghan Taliban will never negotiate with Afghan government because they believe that Afghan puppet government can’t decide of its own. But Trump’s this way of perception of the matter has created new phase of complications. In Syria he even didn’t bother to negotiate with any of the stakeholders and decided to quit. America has not claimed its unprecedented successes in both of the worst war torn countries. Has peace, stability and prosperity been attained in Syria and Afghanistan? Trump’s this way of decision has weekend Afghan government in front of Afghan Taliban. Now no one knows the fate of Afghanistan ahead. After Trump’s this decision, morale and confidence of Afghan Taliban have gone very high. Throughout, Afghan Taliban have been firm on their demand of withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan which they got and USA has to step back. Undoubtedly, this demand was justified. But it is partial withdrawal. America will retain its half number of troops back in Afghanistan with Military and Air bases in hand.
To my understanding USA has met same fate of the SU in Afghanistan. Both couldn’t achieve their high objectives here. In future Afghan governments and different groups will remain dependent on America. Like the Middle East to hold the control of the region USA will continue using its bases in Afghanistan. After withdrawal America will not be as dependent to Pakistan as before. This situation will make America more arrogant with Pakistan. In case of civil war and killings of Afghans on either side more than any other neighbour Pakistan will be directly affected. It will affect Central Asia and Russia as well. This disorder will directly damage CPEC but America will not be directly affected. At this stage Afghan Taliban and Afghan government should reach on comfortable dialogue level to save Afghanistan from fatal weapons in future. China, Russia, Iran, Central Asian countries and Pakistan should find peaceful ways between Afghan Taliban and Afghan government based on dialogues because mere withdrawal can’t bring peace, stability and prosperity in the country. Same is the situation in Syria. Syrians shouldn’t be left on the mercy of those still fighting. Afghan rulers shouldn’t titter and growl to Pakistan because we are permanent neighbours. Afghans shouldn’t spoil their relationship with Pakistan for the sake of India and USA. It is already too late but its once again right time for all Afghan groups and political powers to maintain peaceful relations for the better and prosperous future of Afghan nation. Learning lesson from the past, all Afghans can oust rest of the foreign forces with dialogue, patience and political vision. Otherwise it will be out of the frying pan into the fire like situation.
— The writer is political analyst based in Islamabad.