US defines ‘victory’ in Afghanistan

IT is, perhaps, for the first time that the United States has verbally clarified what it meant by victory in Afghanistan. Talking to newsmen during his un-announced visit to Kabul on Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis defined victory in Afghanistan as a political reconciliation with the Taliban. He said victory is possible by facilitating a Taliban reconciliatory process with the Afghan government.
It was because of the undefined goals in Afghanistan and confused policy, focused mainly on use of force, creating an impression that the US has wasted sixteen years in Afghanistan and might waste another sixteen without reaching at some respectable wind up of the conflict. It is rightly pointed out that in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, there were two main goals in Afghanistan. First, to deny Al Qaeda safe havens from where it could plan, launch terrorist attacks on a global scale. Second, to remove the Taliban regime as punishment for not cooperating with the international community and harbouring ‘terrorists’. Both the goals were achieved with relative ease in 2002 but strangely enough instead of leaving Afghans to sort out their own affairs or entrusting the task of transition to the United Nations, the United States decided to remain militarily engaged in Afghanistan, killing and maiming people and destroying property and infrastructure of the already impoverished country. Today, the government in Kabul has control or influence in 56 percent of its 507 districts. Remaining territory is either under control of Taliban or being contested. This is despite the fact that hundreds of air strikes have been carried out since August and 4,361 in total last year. Pakistan has long been pleading that dialogue should be given a chance but both the United States and Kabul were not inclined to accept the idea. However, after President Ghani now the US is also gradually becoming receptive to talks but there is need to create conducive environment for such a process. Taliban would never surrender at gunpoint.

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