Everything is not very well in India’s neighborhood. Recently, the Taliban has seized Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, raising questions over the US and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) trained Afghan Forces.
The Taliban have proclaimed that there will be no witch hunt, that it will respect a transitional process, and that it will work for a future Islamic system that is acceptable to all.
India and its Neighbors:
Things aren’t looking good in India’s vicinity. The Taliban has seized Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, raising concerns about Afghan forces trained by the US and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
The Taliban have stated that there will be no witch hunts, that the transitional process will be respected, and that they will strive for a future Islamic system that is acceptable to all.
What is Taliban? Who are these people?
The Taliban, or students in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.It is an Islamic fundamentalist political and military organisation operating in Afghanistan. They have dominated Afghan polity for quite some time and feature regularly in international affairs.
The Taliban have been fighting against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for around 20 years. They seek to reimpose their strict version of Islam in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s History :
On 11th September 2001, terrorist attacks in America killed nearly 3,000 people.So, a month after 9/11, the US launched airstrikes against Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom).After the attacks, the NATO coalition troops declared war on Afghanistan.
The US dislodged the Taliban regime and established a transitional government in Afghanistan.The US had reached the conclusion long ago that the war was unwinnable and approached for peace talks.
Peace Talks in Murree :
In 2015 the US had sent a representative to the first-ever meeting between the Taliban and the Afghan government that was hosted by Pakistan in Murree in 2015.However, the Murree talks did not progress.
In 2020, before the Doha Talks started, the Taliban had maintained that they would hold direct talks only with the US, and not with the Kabul government, which they did not recognise.In the agreement, the US administration promised that it would withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by 1st May, 2021.
The deadline has been pushed to 11th September 2021.This provided the Taliban a sense of victory and demoralised the Afghan troops.The Taliban promised to reduce violence, join intra-Afghan peace talks and cut all ties with foreign terrorist groups.
By July 2021, the US claimed that it had withdrawn 90% of the troops and Taliban claimed that it had controlled over 85% of the Afghan Territory.
By August 31 2021 the United States evacuated its citizens and soldiers and bade goodbye to the country which it visited 20 years ago.
Taliban has seized Kabul and Many ministers along with the former President have fled the country.This is the first time since their ouster 20 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 strikes that Taliban fighters have entered the city — they first seized the Capital in 1996.
Among the cities that fell is Jalalabad in the east, and many evacuation missions are set in motion.
Cause of Capitulation:
- US’ Unconditional Exit
The US decision to pull out its troops unconditionally without waiting for a negotiated political settlement regardless of consequences that were almost entirely predictable other than the speed with which it occurred.
- Afghan’s Psychological Denial:
Afghan’s psychological denial that the US would indeed leave as they warned, a lack of military strategy, poor supplies and logistics, indefensible and thinly manned posts, unpaid salaries, phantom rolls, and a sense of betrayal, abandonment and demoralisation, all played a role in the capitulation.
The Afghan had technical dependence on the US for air support, weapon systems, intelligence etc.
- Lack of Preparation
The Afghan Army was unprepared and caught by surprise by the Taliban offensive.
- Lack of Training of Afghan Forces
The Afghan National Army (ANA) was never really trained and equipped with the normal attributes of a national army capable of defending territory with adequate mobility, artillery, armour, engineering, logistics, intelligence, air support etc for rugged terrain; and infantry battalions and doctrines designed for it.
Role of US in Current Situation :
1. Invested on the War on Terror:
Most of the US’ effort went into grooming Special Forces units meant to recover targets of urban terrorist attacks, at which they acquitted themselves admirably, but not offensive operations.
In sum, they invested just enough for the war on terror, but not the defence of Afghanistan although it was perfectly aware of the connection between the two in the Pakistani role in nurturing the Taliban.
No Strategic Importance:
After the end of the Soviet intervention and the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has never really considered Afghanistan of strategic importance.
What were the Implications for India ?
- Securing Indians:
The first concern is for Indian diplomats, personnel and citizens based in Afghanistan.
- Strategic Concern:
The Taliban’s control will also mean a bigger hand for the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies to influence outcomes for the country, which will mandate a much smaller role for Indian development and infrastructure work that has won it goodwill over the past 20 years.
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan after the collapse of the Afghan government has caused anxiety in international capitals that the chaos and instability that has consumed the country will spread to its neighbours, potentially driving a flood of refugees as far as Europe.