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Afghanistan – rendering the Great Game to a New Game

The ‘international community’ that has been silent for last 20 years of American invasion and abuses in Afghanistan, now appears to be outraged as US forces withdrew while Taliban took over. Having been warned about the future of Afghanistan under brutal Taliban rule, the world watches apprehensively, well aware of the continuous suffering of people of Afghanistansince Soviet invasion in 1979.

Twenty years ago, the US entered Afghanistan and declared war on Taliban.  Forty years of foreign military intervention killed a million Afghans and displaced millions more, resulting in refugees fleeing to neighbouring Iran and Pakistan. Afghanistan’s misery and pain is clearly reflected in Pakistan; two countries divided by the Durand line which hasaccommodated Taliban of ethnic Pashtun living either side of the border.  Pakistan continues to house 4 million Afghan refugees who cross the porous border.

Twenty years later, America has now politically accepted Taliban through Peace Agreement and have begun negotiation.  America’s withdrawal earlier than the scheduled timeframemade it an easy takeover by the Taliban without expected bloodshed. Taliban has guaranteed amnesty to American/NATO trained Afghan security forces and people who worked with the US-backed Ghani government.  Ghani himself absconded along with millions of dollars according to some reports, leaving his people at the mercy of the Taliban.  Throughout the conflict in Afghanistan there are those Afghans who were groomed in the US or UK and held positions under the US Army, brought to implement American interests and not those of Afghans.  They never shared the pain of ordinary Afghans but instead lived incomfort while their countrymen suffered. 

One of the challenges identified in the Agreement was working out how to reach a working relationship between Ghani regime and the Taliban. Now that burden has been effortlessly removedafter the trillion-dollar-U. S/NATO-trained ‘Afghan Army’surrendered. Was this an unwritten condition in the Agreement? 

US and its policy makers are highly conscious of increased Chinese influence in the region. The CPEC elevates Pakistan’s geo-political importance enabling Pakistan to unshackle its unholy alliance with the US/Saudi nexus, which once radicalised Pakistan to near-collapse. Further to that, the Iran-China 25 year-agreement consolidates the power sharing between Iran-China-Pakistan, distancing away US and its allies. Have the Taliban changed? The new generation Taliban, who matured over the last 20 years of conflict may have recognised the shifting political equation and sufferings of Muslims around the world due to US-imposed wars in the Middle East.

Today, Taliban want to fill the political vacuum by power-sharing through an inclusive government in Afghanistan. Will this frustrate countries who invested in Afghanistan hoping for a long-lasting American presence? Ahmad Masoud, son of the slain Afghan Mujahideen hero appears to have just popped up inthe climax of chaos. He has lived most of his life outside Afghanistan, educated in England and is now seeking help from the West to fight Taliban. This can only bring about perilous andnonstop civil war which will not only be destructive but will prolong the suffering of the people. However surprisingly, he has just confirmed his willingness to enter into political negotiation with Taliban for the sake of peace. Will the US groom him for another civil war in Afghanistan, an alliance that discredits his father?

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesperson has clarified its futurepolitical vision of an inclusive system based on consultations and consideration. So far, no bloodshed been reported other than media hype fuelling fearmongering loaded with speculations and uncertainty based on the legacy of Taliban’s dark past.

What Americans didn’t learn from history is history itself. But what have Afghans learnt from history?

Written by Hanif Bismi

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