Afghanistan Has Fallen to the Taliban
[LOOKING BACK means – this article was published after two days of Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan]
Kabul has fallen, and the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan A terrible fate that is likely to play out for the women and children of that country, considering the horrendous rule by the Taliban until two decades ago.
Now, it has been two days for the Taliban running the country.
But the news to note in this regard is that the Taliban has officially offered amnesty to all of the employees of the previous government, has asked them to return to work, and surprisingly, women journalists have continued to work today. But, for how long will this ‘granting of liberty’ continue?
The question that has now been brought up by the world leaders as well is, whether Afghanistan is likely to turn into a haven for terror, as it was during the previous rule of the Taliban between 1996 and 2001! Based on estimates during that rule, there were 20,000 terrorists who were trained in Al-Qaeda camps that functioned in Afghanistan under the umbrella of Taliban between those years, who then went in function across the world.
So, is this likely to happen again? – one of the biggest concerns around the world. In the UN security council meet on Monday, the U.N. chief urged the security council to use all tools at its disposal to suppress the global terror threat coming out of Afghanistan.
The U.K. Prime Minister said “Afghanistan shouldn’t lapse back into terror.” The same was the sentiment across France and all parts of Europe. The NATO countries said that they had worked, fledged their troops over the last 20 years to remove global terror coming out of Afghanistan.
Now, does it concern India too, given that many of the insurgence which operated in Kashmir back in the day were also trained in Afghanistan?
An Unpopular Opinion on the resurrection of Taliban in Afghanistan
The Taliban attempts, in its communication with the civilians and the world, to say, ‘Afghanistan has now been emancipated. We seek no revenge.’ Should we see any reason to take that communication seriously?
Talmiz Ahmad, Former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE said that the world must see the new developments with fresh eyes. He went on depicting how we encountered the Taliban when they burst upon the Afghan battle fields, nearly 30 years ago.
If we recall the context in which they arrived, there were five years of violence among the war lords and the political party after the Soviet withdrawal, and more people were killed in that period than the entire period of the soviet occupation.
Thereafter, because Afghanistan wasn’t being stabilised, the Pakistanis nurtured and sent the Taliban into the battlefields, who then penetrated in 1994, and with active Pakistani support, within two years, they were already occupying about 90% of the country, followed by the setting up of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan at Kandahar in 1996.
The Former Indian Ambassador said, “What happened decades ago emerged from a conflictual scenario. But, what we are witnessing now in 2021, is an attempt to form a government in Kabul. We now are getting into a situation where a government is to be formed.”
The unpopular opinion of Mr. Talmiz Ahmad, apparently, was dependent on a few factors. The first factor to be noted is that Afghanistan is a land locked country; it can only survive if it has constructive relationship with its neighbours. The second factor is that the Taliban would intend to project a positive image in front of the people of Afghanistan and the world.
Earlier there were no any sign or responsibilities of governance from the Taliban; there was an extremely cruel justice system back then. But ‘governance’ as a term reflecting much more than seeking revenge by destroying lives, it is based on law and order, rules, norms and also commitment to development and welfare.
None of these were apparent 20 years ago before Taliban was ousted by the U.S. Besides, the fact that Afghanistan is a land locked country, the other positive aspect is that the Taliban are consciously engaging with people outside their boundaries such as, previous administrations etc. regarding assuring them of the ‘New age Taliban.’
They have gone beyond quite a bit to talk to people who are not a part of their community. The statements that have been forwarded ‘seems’ encouraging, urging people not to leave the country, and asking the government employees to return to work, urging women not to be afraid etc.
Moreover, the three countries that are involved directly with Afghanistan are Pakistan, China and Russia; all of these countries have serious concerns about extremism owing to their domestic situations. Both China and Russia have been involved with Afghanistan for a fairly long time now, but what China has done is engage with both the Kabul government as well as the Taliban simultaneously.
“China is clear about making contribution in the country in various sectors, but they have this condition of not supporting extremism of the Taliban, and certainly not exporting extremism.
So, I think that the domestic factors, what has happened domestically, and the concerns of the three major powers likely to be involved with Afghanistan – all of these taken together gives an impression that there could be a new Taliban,” the Former Indian Ambassador further said.
Is the rise of the Taliban a threat to India too?
When we go back to decades ago, the Afghans had no jihad in their country. When the soviet occupation occurred, the Afghans were fighting the occupation forces on their own. A deliberate decision was taken by the U.S., with the help of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to convert this national struggle into a Jihad.
The jihad of Afghanistan was constructed by these three countries, led by the Americans. Now, if we go through the American policies through the 1990s, they engaged very closely with the Taliban; American diplomats were regularly interacting with the Taliban, and two major Taliban delegations even visited Houston.
Thereafter, in 1998, when the Americans demanded that Osama-bin-Laden be handed to them, the Taliban refused. When the U.S. launched the attack in 2001, the target wasn’t the Taliban at all, it was Al-Qaeda, but they couldn’t hit Al-Qaeda unless they hit Taliban, and as a result both of these groups were demolished.
Besides, given that the Prime Minister of Pakistan is fairly close to the Taliban, Talmiz Ahmed said, “Pakistan is wedded to the Taliban.” Any serious literature on the Taliban discloses an indomitable nexus between the ISI and the Taliban itself.
Firstly, post the 9/11 attack, it is Pakistan that had assembled the Taliban together and encouraged them to resurge, and pledged to offer them sanctuary after they carried out the operations.
Secondly, it was Pakistan that co-ordinated between all the leaders that emerged, and facilitated their interactions, leaderships, elections etc. Pakistan has been central and crucial for the resurrection of the Taliban after 9/11. These have all been well documented.
“In fact, Pakistan provided the weapons to the Taliban. If we witness the weapons that the Taliban are roaming around with now, these haven’t emerged from the thin air. These are all from Pakistan. Pakistan alone is a state sponsor of Jihad, it sees Jihad as an instrument of state policy,” the Former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE said.
“While Pakistan has, until now exercised control over Taliban, I don’t believe that today we are likely to see Taliban as puppets of Pakistan,” he further said.
Now, there are questions before India on whether or not to engage with the Taliban as a government of any sort! India hasn’t been involved with Afghanistan for 40 years as far as fighting or war is concerned.
India has a relationship with Kabul which dates back a thousand years. If we take into account the historical connection that India has with Afghanistan, anyone whose name is Khan in our country is, apparently, originally a ‘Pathaan’, and how can we forget the short story of Rabindranath Tagore, Kabuliwala (1892) depicting an old Kabuliwala coming and selling their dry fruits etc. in different parts of north India.
“The role assigned to India by the U.S. was to strengthen the government in Kabul by providing development and welfare. India spent 3 billion dollars over the 20-year period with massive projects which are of long term value to the country – construction of highways, roadways, education facilities, damps, hospitals, parliament buildings etc.
India was backing the Kabul government, and not the players in the politics of Afghanistan, unlike China which was backing both the Kabul government as well as engaging very closely with the Taliban with the help of Pakistan.” Mr. Ahmad said.
In terms of what India must do now Talmiz said, “My advice is to just sit it out. Patience is the key because India has no role to play in it now. India has nothing to be concerned over; Pakistan, China and Russia are most vulnerable, if Afghanistan were to become a haven for terror.”
But, the question that we ask is – how could the Americans not manage to control the Pakistani relationships with the Taliban for 20 years, even as the Americans have fought the Taliban for decades now, even as the Americans are funding Pakistan and to build up its capacity against extremism, even as Pakistan used those resources to hit the Americans through the Taliban? There is no explanation to this yet.
To conclude, if we take a moment to focus on the women of Afghanistan, when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan in 1996-2001, the women weren’t allowed to go to work, girls were not allowed to go to school, women had to cover their bodies entirely, they had to always be accompanied by a male relative when they left their home, women who broke their rules suffered extreme humiliation, stone pelting, beating by the Taliban’s religious police, as they basically administered a very strict interpretation of Islamic Shariah law.
Thus, no matter how profound the former Indian Ambassador, Talmiz Ahmad’s ‘unusual faith’ in the new Taliban is, given the gut-wrenching violence on women by the Taliban decades ago, their ‘absurdly sweet words’ toward ‘change’ can’t be taken at face value.
What’s in store for the people of Afghanistan and the world in general, only time will tell. Kabul has fallen – is it for worse? The world awaits.
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