Article by Mr. Shantanu K. Bansal
The transition of power has been done in no time with Taliban now set to take throne of Afghanistan as the democratically elected government has exited with no choice in hand. It has never been thought by any expert worldwide not even by the people itself living in Afghanistan that Taliban can take on this country so effectively in such a short period of time.
Taliban Towards Throne: Multiple Lessons to Learn
There are multiple reasons which in turn helped Taliban to secure its ever cherished goal to rule this country or better to say this piece of land as the things are unfolding. It all comes on a silver platter to Taliban especially after US showed its back, abandoning Afghanistan without any long-term plan, in the midway to nowhere.
Seeing 20 years of US aid and efforts to build a new Afghanistan fall like a ‘house of cards’ in a matter of few months if not days. This major event of contemporary world politics also shows the hollowness in approach- both on the part of Americans and Afghanis, itself. The US chest-thumping to provide a safe, secured and democratic Afghanistan and Afghanistan leaders’ willingness to change the very face of the country, in reality these were never the motive of either sides.
The onus to restructure and re-stabalise Afghanistan from the very scratch should have been upon not only on Afghan government and U.S. but on whole international community per se.
Moreover, it is also true that non-other country except few like India really did actually care about Afghanistan and its importance towards regional peace and stability. Having seen wars for over 5 decades of history, the onus to restructure and re-stabalise Afghanistan from the very scratch should have been upon not only on Afghan government and U.S. but on whole international community per se.
Especially, after realising the very fact that terrorism is not limited to certain boundaries, its impact can be widespread as seen in the case of ISIS. The rise and fall of ISIS had given lesson to the governments around the world that it is important to not allow a ground for terrorism to breed as it further complicates things at many levels.
What Afghanistan needed was ten times more support from around the world rather what US has done alone over these decades. Powers like China and Russia moved by rivalry with US further helped Taliban hence destabilising the limited status quo which existed there.
Pakistan role in deteriorating Afghanistan peace and prosperity remains predominant as it supported Taliban ever since the inception. That too under the very nose of US operating there, having warned several times by various think-tanks that the real Afghan problem starts from Pakistan but US kept on ignoring this very fact in expectation that Pakistan will render support in building better Afghanistan.
All this in the end made Taliban look stronger then it appears to be in reality. With mere a number of 75,000 fighters (at least as what ground reports suggest) won over what acclaimed to be world’s strongest country like US and Afghan leaders running this country over decades now. It seems that the US had chosen a very wrong ally in the first stance when trying dealing with Afghanistan as Afghan government and its leaders itself found to be ineffective.
The reality is that more than any external power, it was actually the corrupt governance running Afghanistan having no affection towards its people and the nation itself made it easy for Taliban to capture the royal gates in Kabul. More than Talibani forces on ground, it was the psychofobia of Taliban cruelty which ran over the already spiritless governance system in power lacking basics of integrity and the spirit of nationalism.
The lack of political will in turn deceived the military morals and the Taliban marched unchallenged on the streets of Kabul. Most of the Afghani military men were not given their dues since months as US stopped its aid to Afghanistan, empty stomach and abandoned, looted by its own leaders found itself better surrender to rather fight the enemy.
It is worth mentioning the level of corruption prevailing in Afghanistan, eating-up the resources available for its soldiers to fight against Taliban. As on paper Afghan army was reported to be having strength of 300,000 soldiers in contrast to 75,000 Talibanis. In reality, as per latest reports, 70% of Afghan Army consisted of “ghost soldiers,” with major portion of aid from America consumed by corrupt system in power.
In the end, it seems that every major power in the contemporary international politics besides India have secured their end-goal(s) in Afghanistan conundrum with U.S. relieving itself and going back, Taliban getting the throne, China, Pakistan and others having their ally taking over the country. Who suffers is the hundreds and thousands of innocent Afghani people with inflation soaring heights, widespread poverty and illiteracy grappling whole country.
New Order Unfolding?
Whether US show the back or Afghani people didn’t resist enough or the world didn’t provided enough support to Afghan – there will be many theories in support and opposition. At present, there is no way anyone can undo all this. We have to deal with this situation as given. All said and done now we have to look for the future.
The merits and demerits of Taliban taking on Afghanistan is well analysed and talked about on various forums. With regards to India, majority of the experts believe that Taliban rule in Afghanistan can increase Indian security concerns especially the fragile Kashmir region with major portion of Pakistani army will now be diverted towards the Eastern borders with India as Pakistan enjoys close knit relations with Taliban there will be less force to be employed on that side.
China, Russia, Pakistan and Turkey have now openly come in support of the new Afghanistan regime. Therefore, any distant resolution on Talibani rule in Afghanistan at the UNSC level remains futile due to veto power. It is a lesser known fact but Russia since at least last 7 years has been maintaining good relations with Taliban, it has recently supported Taliban by saying that Kabul seems safer under Taliban than it was under previous government. Further, these 4 countries have denied even closing their embassies in Afghanistan as all major countries decide to pull back.
It is also evident that Russia and China besides of having motive to have greater connectivity in terms of air land and rail route in Afghanistan, ultimately having eyes on the resource rich land of Afghanistan which they expect to secure through Taliban. Afghanistan has vast reserves of gold, platinum, silver, copper, iron, chromite, lithium, uranium, and aluminium.
Afghanistan has vast reserves of lithium in provinces such as Ghazni, Herat and Nimroz. Lithium is a key component in building the lithium-ion batteries that power everything from mobile phones to electric vehicles to new generations of submarines. It’s an open secret that China wants to dominate lithium market around the world. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance Limited report in 2020 noted China led the world’s lithium-ion battery supply chain market, given its dominance of raw material mining and refining. China believes that their security concerns in Xinjiang region and its vision related to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can well be served under new regime in Afghanistan.
The present dilemma of international politics looks quite familiar, like a new power block in the making as what we studied during the cold war; at one side is the Russia, China, Pakistan and Turkey and on the other America (regardless of mistakes committed) backed by NATO allies and country(s) like India who genuinely have stakes in this region.
It is highly recommendable, at this juncture that these countries maintain close communication on Afghan issue. Whether these countries ever recognise new Afghanistan under Talibani regime or not, one thing is clear that it is in the interest of a better world to see Afghanistan further disintegrate itself. There seems to be far more reasons to support further disintegration of Afghanistan rather making a strong republic and it don’t require much of an effort.
Talibanization of Afghanistan may not be a new start but an end game, itself.
Making Sure the New Afghan Collapse Under Its Own Weight
Post Talibani regime starts formally governing Afghanistan, having not even iota of experience and knowledge in governing a state it is well believed by many that the state will go through more chaos in the coming future. Many local leaders who were fighting on behalf of Taliban may aim there barrels against Taliban itself, many may come-up against so called liberal policies of new Taliban, many local chiefs trying to make their own confederation, many may come to demand democracy back and so on.
It’s a new type of cold war in the making and it’s time for to pull socks and get into realpolitik. Talibanization of Afghanistan may not be a new start but an end game, itself. As what Kautilyan theory had suggested 2400 years back that before the problem arises suppress it. One famous quote from Arthashastra is that “an arrow shot by an archer may or may not kill a single person; but skillful intrigue, devised by a wise man, may kill even those who are in the womb.” In case of new Afghanistan the womb has still not even been formed, a weaker Afghanistan may still have to arise yet!