Renaissance of terrorism
WITH the dramatic and surprising return of the Taliban in our neighbourhood Pakistan and the world community are still not sure of what to make of the socio-political changes in Afghanistan.
One major question being asked all over the world what did the US and European nations achieve by their twenty years conflict and bloodshed in Afghanistan? Will we now see a return of the brutal, obscurantist and intolerant government in Afghanistan?
The world as we know it today changed completely after the traumatic events of 9/11.
Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden managed to damage the arrogance of a superpower by making use of a weapon nobody imagined could be used so successfully but they also enraged and awakened a sleeping giant bent on retribution.
Immediately after the attack on the twin towers in New York a visibly enraged American President George W Bush thundered on national TV “The leadership of Al-Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country.
In Afghanistan, we see Al-Qaeda’s vision for the world. Afghan people have been brutalized many are starving and many have fled.
Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a TV. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.
The United States respects the people of Afghanistan after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid but we condemn the Taliban regime”
All other presidents of the US after George W Bush continued the policies of conflict with the Taliban and Barak Obama sent more troops to the war zone and renewed efforts to train the Afghan Army to defend their country.
It was only in 2021 that the new American President Joe Biden resolved to end the conflict in Afghanistan and get their forces out of the country.
The sudden and surprising withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan resulted in the immediate takeover of the country by the rag tag army of the Taliban.
The departure of the American forces was not only hasty but also very irresponsible and inconsiderate of the American leadership.
The war-torn country is once again in the brutal grip of the Taliban that after decimating the Afghan national army are once again in the process of renewing their old ideological ties with many terror groups from all over the world including the TTP who have found safe havens in their country.
It is now quite obvious that the Taliban regime will once again provide a safe haven and an umbrella for international, regional and local terror outfits and this cancer of religious extremism and bigotry will spread across the region with Pakistan as its very first victim.
The Doha agreement was just a stop gap arrangement for the US and Pakistan. The US government to satisfy their voters just expressed satisfaction over the Taliban’s assurance to stop support for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and to ensure that Afghan territory is not used to launch attacks on the US and their allies.
All these assurances appear to be just political ploys and the present actions of the Taliban are no indication that they will honour their commitments and assurances.
According to the latest reports published by the US defence intelligence states that “the Taliban continue to maintain its relationship with Al-Qaeda, providing safe haven to the terrorist group in Afghanistan” This just shows that the immediate withdrawal by the Biden government was a wrong political move full of serious and damaging implications for Afghanistan, neighbouring countries and the entire region and beyond.
The American President is living in a fool’s paradise if he actually believes that the Taliban are going to honour all the commitments made in the Doha Accord.
The Taliban themselves are a group of very different opposing factions with different ideas and ideologies.
Even if the government of Taliban agrees with the US to forge lasting cooperation with them some other factions could disagree and splinter off from the main ranks of the Taliban.
It is very likely that the future grouping of various Taliban factions could be like a Middle Eastern like scenario where politically disillusioned Sunnis joined the ranks of ISIS and thus seriously complicated the security landscape of the entire region.
We already see that the anti-Pakistan terrorist group the TTP has shown a steady resurgence after the Taliban victory in Afghanistan. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad a TTP leader in Afghanistan, has been set free.
TTP’s chief Mufti Noor Wali and Faqir Muhammed have already vowed their allegiance to the Afghan Taliban. The tentacles of the TTP also go beyond Afghanistan to meet other regional terror outfits, like the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).
On the one hand, where the TTP has increased attacking Chinese citizens in Pakistan, the anti-China East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), has forged closer collaboration with Al-Qaeda, TTP and Afghan Taliban in the war-torn country.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.