The fate of 12th September 2020 in the history of Afghanistan is still not clear, some might say that this is the historical day on which the peace process called Intra-Afghan Talks began in Qatar the way of which paved in the peace deal between the Trump administration and the Taliban or The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan(that is what they call themselves)and some realist chaps may say this was a futile exercise because the Taliban had more leverage than the current Afghanistan Government in the deal.
The Peace deal or the acceptance of defeat
Image Source -BBC
The agreement which was signed on 29th Feb of this year specified not only the date of the Intra-Afghan Talks on March the 10th but also the timeline for the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan. The deal specifies, ”The United States is committed to withdraw from Afghanistan all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and support services personnel within fourteen (14) months following the announcement of this agreement”. In return, the Taliban only need to commit that it will not allow any group or individual to do anything against the United States and its allies but the deal does not specify at least in the overt part that how a non-state entity which is not even recognised by the USA, which doesn’t have control over the whole territory can guarantee it.
The United States has committed that she will not meddle in the “domestic” affairs of Afghanistan ultimately allowing a free run for Taliban, thus it and its allies will refrain from using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Afghanistan. The States will ensure the releasing of the prisoners, removal of sanctions in a way restoring legitimacy to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which they called, a few years back, a terrorist organisation. On the issue of the Intra-Afghan Talks, the agreement specifies that a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire will be an item on the agenda of the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, for now, the Taliban can fight as long as the cease-fire is not achieved.
“Time in jail and time in the jihad means nothing to us. … Your watch’s battery will run down, and its hands will stop. But our time in the struggle will never end. We will win.”
– Mujahid Rahman Afghan fighter, Newsweek, 2011
The “deal” only emboldens this statement. The USA has tacitly accepted that it is neither possible nor suitable for them to revive Afghanistan. The “deal” does not make any imperative on The Taliban Apart from international migration law, the fate and rights afghan women, religious minorities, The Constitution and the leaders have been left to perish like that was the case in Vietnam.
The Ground Reality of Afghanistan
Some Scholars view Afghanistan as an accidental Nation it is a geographical expansion where many tribes live without any specific social cohesion apart from Islam. The land of Afghanistan has always been used as a buffer or as a battleground by the big powers, as that was the case in the 19th century between the British and the Russian empire. The same was the case between Soviets and the Americans in the 80s and then it became a battleground between Pakistan backed Taliban and Soviet Backed Government of Najeebullah in the late 80s and 90s. This perception and reality of being the proxy of the other still continues, the Taliban sees The current Afghan Government and the leaders like Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah as the puppets of the United States, and the government believes that the Taliban is an offshoot of Pakistan.
According to the Long War Journal(LWJ) the government only controls 30 percent of the 407 districts of Afghanistan, The Taliban has control over 20 percent of them, the presence of the Islamic State can be felt as they control 5 districts, the rest is contested. The government has control over the capital, provincial capitals, major population centres and district centres. Afghanistan lost 45000 security personnel since Ashraf Ghani took the reign in 2014 till January 2019. The Afghan Forces are not able to make any significant advances after they lost the Logistics, air and intelligence support in 2014 when NATO stopped its combat mission even after being almost double in numbers to the Taliban.
The Non-Violent Ally
The Indian Foreign Minister addressed the Intra-Afghan Talks virtually and said that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, this is the first time any Indian foreign minister is taking part in any conference over peace in Afghanistan.
India also sent a senior official to Doha to observe, which some experts see as a change in the outlook of India. The concern of The Indian Government and their Afghan counterpart is the Pakistani menace which was rampant in earlier Taliban Tenure. Both the governments and some scholars also see it coming after the withdrawal of Allied Forces from Afghanistan. The Democratic Government which will lose its biggest support after the withdrawal is looking for serious allies which can provide them with the military edge over the Taliban. Earlier there were some talks of India sending its troops to Afghanistan but nothing came to reality.
After the Fiasco Of Indian Peace Keeping Force in Srilanka which was because of the incompetent Government of V.P. Singh, Indian Foreign Policy has tried to win every war with non Violent Diplomatic methods and they failed miserably from the hands of Taliban when they were not able to airlift Najeebullah. This tendency of non-violent methods made India a Reactive State. Every Indian Empire be it the Mauryan or Gupta or Mughal or the British they have understood the importance of Afghanistan, the geographical cover, or now a state which can give us an advantage in dealing with Pakistan or a state which can open the gates of Central Asia. To support the current Afghan Government, The Government of India may not even need the troops on the ground, it can use its airforce base in Tajikistan.
“If blood is the law then only the sword can bring the order.”
-Atal, content writer