Afghanistan’s 'Never-Ending' War

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Over the years bloodshed is a norm in Afghanistan. With a protracted war with all its ferociousness going on in the country since late 70s of the last century, regular atrocities can go almost unmarked in Afghanistan. It is all too easy to become desensitized to the horrors the war has brought to the country over the decades. An incisive look at the history of war in Afghanistan lays bare the fact that it is the so-called world powers—(first now defunct USSR and then America)—who drove the country into the abyss of deaths and destruction. Both, the US and “USSR” invariably justified their indiscretions through their own contrived values and interests. Since the defeat and disintegration of USSR at the hands of resilient Afghans, it is the quintessential urge of the US that fans the war in Afghanistan and, as a corollary, piles miseries on the people thereby. It is, in one way or the other, either directly responsible for the continuing conflicts to achieve its own perceived national and strategic interests. But true to their history and nature, the Afghans are little ready to accept the American hegemony in their country. Taliban, which represents the defiant face of Afghans, has thrown out the US-supported Ashraf Gani government from more than 60% of the country’s area. The government’s control is limited to Kabul and some other restricted areas only. With America seeing its interests in Afghanistan going haywire, the president Donald Trump has declared to send in more troops to Afghanistan. That is likely to push the war to more intensity and to more areas. America’s desperation in Afghanistan could be understood from its threat to Pakistan. Trump has warned of taking Afghanistan war into Pakistan if Islamabad did not restrain Taliban. America has sought the support of India to further its military agenda in Afghanistan. America has demonstrated an impulsive propensity to solve problems through the use of sheer force rather than preferring diplomacy. The dilemma of the mighty is that they were and still continue to be trapped by their egoistic inclinations rather than perceiving issues from rational and human perspectives. The result of this skewed approach is extension in war and destruction. America has failed to understand a brute fact about Afghanistan that whatever interventions have been made over the last decade by foreign powers in Afghanistan have largely failed be they military or in the cause of nation building. The continued presence of NATO troops – nearly 14,000 – in Afghanistan further complicates the situation. As long as foreign forces are behind the Afghan government and army, militant groups will continue to be able to recruit foot soldiers by portraying themselves as a resistance to foreign occupation. The recent review by the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies in the US which recommended sending even more troops to Afghanistan will only exacerbate the situation. It is no more a secret that besides Pakistan, Iran and Russia too are supporting Taliban for geopolitical reasons. Even China, of late, is taking interest in Afghanistan. For China’s growing influence in the region, China would not like America-influenced Afghanistan in the region. All this makes clear that war in Afghanistan could only but protract. Afghanistan can only begin to be peaceful through negotiations between the government and the Afghan Taliban. The role of Pakistan is crucial to the success of talks. For its geographical and political proximity with Afghanistan and the influence Islamabad yield on certain rebel groups, more particularly, Taliban, Pakistan should take a proactive role. Pakistan’s civil and military leadership are interested in peace in Afghanistan. Because Pakistan is facing worst kind of terror attacks, and it is generally believed in Islamabad that terrorist come from Afghan soil to carry out their activities in Pakistan. It would be in the interest of Pakistan to have peace in Afghanistan. Afghanistan government should understand this political imperative and instead of showing back to Pakistan, it needs rather to hug Islamabad.

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