A Po­si­tion of Strength

The Tal­iban may join Afghanistan’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem at some point in fu­ture but they would like to do so from a po­si­tion of strength.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Dr. Raza Khan

Tal­iban will play a key role in fu­ture The po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in Afghanistan.

As the United States has pulled out most of its se­cu­rity forces per­son­nel from Afghanistan with­out fully restor­ing sta­bil­ity and or­der to the coun­try, it has started tak­ing a new look at the po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity dy­nam­ics there in the post-with­drawal pe­riod. The White House spokesman did not la­bel the Afghan Tal­iban as ‘ter­ror­ists’ and in­stead called the move­ment an ‘armed in­sur­gency’. This is of ex­treme sig­nif­i­cance.

Ac­cord­ing to White House spokesman Eric Schultz, there is a distinc­tion be­tween the Is­lamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion and Afghan Tal­iban, which is an armed in­sur­gency. In re­ply to a ques­tion re­gard­ing Jor­da­nian plans to swap ISIS pris­on­ers with hostages held by the ISIS, Shultz said, “The Tal­iban is an armed in­sur­gency, ISIL is a ter­ror­ist group. We don’t make con­ces­sions to ter­ror­ist groups.”

How­ever, when re­minded by a re­porter of a sim­i­lar prisoner swap by Wash­ing­ton with Afghanistan’s Tal­iban last year, re­leas­ing sev­eral Guan­tanamo Bay pris­on­ers in ex­change for the free­dom of US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held by the Tal­iban as a prisoner since 2009, Shultz said the sit­u­a­tion was dif­fer­ent be­cause Is­lamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is a ter­ror­ist group while “in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s think­ing” the Tal­iban were not.

The state­ment clar­i­fied US pol­icy re­gard­ing the Afghan Tal­iban. How­ever, the think­ing com­mu­nity in the US and in sev­eral of her al­lied coun­tries has ex­pressed sur­prise over this stand by Wash­ing­ton. The fact of the mat­ter is that the new pol­icy state­ment about the Tal­iban re­flected the re­al­ism pre­vail­ing in the Amer­i­can pol­icy cir­cles. The Afghan Tal­iban in­sur­gency could not be de­ci­sively de­feated by the US-led North At­lantic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion (NATO) mil­i­tary al­liance and even af­ter 13 years of con­tin­u­ous fight­ing, it is quite strong in many ar­eas of Afghanistan.

As the in­ter­na­tional coali­tion forces had dis­lodged the Afghan Tal­iban regime way back in 2001, soon af­ter the Septem­ber 9/11 at­tacks on the US main­land owned by the

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