The situation in Afghanistan, over the last 40 years, has been oscillating between hopes and fears. Violence and conflict have been seen by generations of Afghan people endlessly. The current situation too does not exude any signs of peace and normalcy. It is time to do stock taking of recent events in Afghanistan.
On 29 Feb 2020, Trump administration (Zalmay Khalilzad — US negotiator) had signed a secret deal with Taliban (Mulla Abdul Gani Bradar — likely president of Taliban Govt). According to agreement it was agreed that:
- USA would pull out all its troops by 31 May 2021.
- Taliban would not attack US soldiers till then, which is a reality. Taliban stood by the deal.
When Joe Biden became president in January 2021 — he was reminded by Taliban of the deal and told his reps that Taliban would start attacking US bases. Biden administration signed another agreement to say
Vacate by 11 Sept 2021. In so doing, Ashraf Ghani would be asked to resign and a national government with the Taliban as main partner would be formed. Taliban had agreed to adopt a moderate approach and treat women respectfully.
However, Ashraf Ghani was unwilling to resign. He thought that he can fight the Taliban with his army. He depended on his negotiators with Taliban, ex-President Hamid Karzai and Abdulla, his foreign minister, an Uzbek, who were allegedly seeking a major role for Ashraf Ghani in post-Taliban takeover.
At the Doha Talks in May/June 2021, Taliban threatened that they would begin their attacks by 01 Sept 2021, if Ghani did not resign. Thus USA changed its deadline of withdrawal to 31 August 2021. But Ashraf Ghani still refused to go. To teach him a lesson, USA suddenly and quietly pulled out almost 25 days before fresh deadline, creating a chaos everywhere.
Meanwhile Ashraf Ghani negotiators, Abdulla and ex-President Hamid Karzai switched sides towards Taliban. Army Chief and other Generals were bought over with the tacit knowledge of USA. Afghan forces Collapsed. Ashraf Ghani was denied asylum in USA. He is in UAE.
Mulla Abdul Gani Bradar is an American sympathiser, and he is likely to be new president. He had been in Pakistani Jail from 2010 -2018— was released on US request. He was arrested by Pakistan in 2010 when he tried to negotiate peace with then Afghan President, Hamid Karzai — a member of interim Council of Taliban.
Ahmed Masood of Panjshir valley has not joined Taliban and he has made a request to America for weapons and other support, ex-Vice President has joined Ahmad Masood in the Panjshir valley. Amrullah Saleh was made a compromise Vice President by Ashraf Ghani to keep Panjshir valley war lord amused. Khalid Amiri, Ex General has joined Panjshir valley. Northern Alliance is again reviving itself.
Some analysts say that USA did not want a solution to Afghan problem but a stalemate. And Abdul Ghani Brader is their man. His becoming the President was probably a secret deal.
However, one ought not go by what is visible outwardly — a lot remains hidden below the surface. Some analysts also claim that USA deliberately vacated Afghanistan to entice China into it so as to reduce pressure on Taiwan. It is yet to be seen whether China bites the bait, though it had met Taliban delegation. Some say USA had prompted TALIBAN to send its delegation. Whatever — how China behaves is yet to be seen.
A bigger game is on the cards. It is the game of superpowers wits — who blinks first will be known only after a year or so. It is expected that anti USA nations like China, Russia, Iran and even Pakistan would recognise the Taliban Government, after due course of time.
Russia has a clear motive with an aim of seeking revenge on Taliban and USA. It is watching from the sidelines to ensure that two giants, USA and China, fight in Taiwan-Afghan imbroglio and it should regain its lost status.
Development on 23 August 2021 have further confused the situation in Afghanistan. Forces led by ex-Defence Minister of Afghanistan, General Khair Mohammed Andrabi and Ahmad Shah Massoud of Panjshir have begun a revolt against Taliban.
According to Reports
- Civil war has begun in Afghanistan. Taliban will not have a smooth going. According to reports Taliban tried to negotiate with Ahmad Masood but he declined to accept Taliban rule. Some news channels have reported that around 300 Taliban’s were killed when they tried to force their way into Panjshir valley.
- Resistance forces, led by General Mohammed Andrabi and have recaptured five districts of Balgan province. They are Pul-e-Hesar; Dar-e- Salah, Andrab, Khinzan and Banu. Around 60 Taliban fighters have been killed or wounded Many have been taken as prisoners of wars. A lot of weapons and vehicles of Taliban have been captured.
- Taliban Governor of Kunduz province has surrendered to anti-Taliban forces. Fighting is going on. Latest report is that Taliban Governor and Deputy Governor of Balgan province have also surrendered to Northern Alliance forces.
- Panjshir valley is swarming with ex-Afghan army Soldiers. War lord Ahmad Masood has sworn to fight the Taliban. Ex Vice President Amrullah Saleh had joined him and has declared himself as caretaker President.
- Taliban had sent a team to negotiate. The team is led by ex-President Hamid Karzai and Abdulla. They had switched sides and forced Ashraf Ghani to flee. Amrullah Saleh, caretaker President of Afghanistan refuses to listen to Hamid Karzai and Abdulla.
- In most of the cities of Afghanistan, Taliban is facing protest marches. People are moving around with Afghan national flag in defiance of Taliban. Retribution attitude of Taliban has further fueled anti-Taliban sentiments.
- Tajikistan has dispatched the military to assist Northern Alliance headed by caretaker President, Amrullah Saleh. Most of the Afghan soldiers who had fled to Tajikistan earlier, are now joining the Northern Alliance.
- In my final analysis, the last bullet has not been fired. There is a dark tunnel of conflict ahead.
Now consider where does India fit in? What else, other than wait and watch? However, India should reserve its right to safeguard its interests. It should openly warn Taliban not to indulge in promoting militancy in Kashmir. If need be, it should support Northern Alliance of Panjshir warlord with weapons and logistics.
It should also warn Pakistan to mend its fences. One might ponder about that Pakistan Army might have misled India by requesting stoppage of exchange of force in February 2021, on the LOC, in Kashmir and managed to pull out its troops to support Taliban on its western border. Pakistan and its Generals are the last commodities India should trust.
As a Kashmiri friend, Kalmuddin of Kupwara, had once told the author “If you add sugar to poison, it does not become a sweet dish. Should you consume, you will die. Pakistan was a pure venom for India. Talks or no talks, it will always harm India.” It is time for India to be careful with Pakistan.
About the Author
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected]
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')