Go­ing in Cir­cles

Southasia - - Contents - Syed Jawaid Iqbal

As U.S. and other forces be­gin leav­ing Afghanistan, tar­geted Tal­iban vi­o­lence has es­ca­lated through­out the coun­try. The crash of a U.S. mil­i­tary helicopter in east­ern Afghanistan re­cently, killing 30 Amer­i­can Navy SEALs, is one of the dead­li­est in­ci­dents in­volv­ing U.S. troops since the war be­gan. This high­lights the fact that Tal­iban power is resurg­ing in a ma­jor bid to re­gain con­trol over lost ter­ri­to­ries. Prior to the helicopter crash, some key po­lit­i­cal fig­ures were as­sas­si­nated and, who knows, there may be many more on the list. Among those elim­i­nated were Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai’s half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the provin­cial coun­cil of Kan­da­har; Da­wood Da­wood, po­lice chief of north­ern Afghanistan; Jan Mo­hammed Khan and law­maker Hashim Watan­wal while there has been an at­tempt on the life of Home Min­is­ter Bis­mil­lah Mo­ham­madi.

Some 10,000 U.S. troops are al­ready lined up to leave Afghanistan while lo­cal se­cu­rity du­ties are be­ing grad­u­ally trans­ferred from NATO forces to Afghan po­lice in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try. This is the most crit­i­cal phase for the U.S. forces as their in­va­sion of Afghanistan in 2001, fol­low­ing the 9/11 at­tacks and their decade long pres­ence in the coun­try has not pro­duced the kind of re­sults they were look­ing for and they still do not seem to have any clue as to how the sit­u­a­tion will de­velop in the com­ing times. The U.S. strat­egy to weaken Tal­iban re­sis­tance and get rid of the top Al Qaeda and Tal­iban lead­er­ship has also not seen much suc­cess.

The U.S. had pinned high hopes on the Afghan National Army to take over the coun­try’s se­cu­rity but that does not seem to be hap­pen­ing as the lo­cally re­cruited army does not ap­pear to be ad­e­quately trained for the new re­spon­si­bil­ity. There­fore, once the ma­jor com­po­nent of the U.S. forces leaves, Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai would not be left with much sup­port to stop the in­gress­ing Tal­iban or to take over Tal­iban-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ries. The big­gest threat is from South­ern Afghanistan which was some­how held to­gether by the slain Ahmed Wali Karzai.

All along, the U.S. has been mak­ing ef­forts to en­gi­neer some kind of a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with the Tal­iban but that too has fiz­zled out, es­pe­cially since Washington re­quires Tal­iban lead­ers to dis­arm, dis­own Al Qaeda and rec­og­nize the govern­ment in Afghanistan be­sides ac­cept­ing the con­sti­tu­tion and giv­ing due value to ba­sic rights for women. It is ob­vi­ous that since no el­e­ments in the Tal­iban lead­er­ship are any­where near to ac­cept­ing these con­di­tions, they will con­tinue to re­sist and fur­ther es­ca­late the vi­o­lence while the oc­cu­py­ing forces will con­tinue to go around in cir­cles. The only prob­lem is that while the U.S. and other for­eign forces re­set their pri­or­i­ties, the hu­man cost of the pro­longed Afghan con­flict will con­tinue to be paid by the in­no­cent civil­ians.

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