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EDITORIAL: It’s not very long now before it will become clear whether the long Afghan war will quietly fizzle out or if a 1990s-like internecine civil war will break out once again. That’s why the slow, directionless movement of the Kabul-Taliban talks in Doha has got everybody holding their breaths. The biggest fear is that the Taliban might be delaying matters to buy time till September 11, when all US forces will roll out, and simply run over what little part of the country that they do not presently control. And since they’ve increased the temperature of the on-ground conflict since May 1, when US President Biden announced the final withdrawal date, chances seem to be increasing that the insurgents will go back on their word of not storming Kabul and make a mockery of the long war on terror by reclaiming the seat of power in that country.

That’s precisely how the European Union’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, sees it, which shows how the EU feels about the matter. Most likely they are feeling completely helpless about the state of affairs and they are convinced that the Taliban will take power again and ridicule the entire war effort, which is why they’ve started blaming the insurgents already.

The way things are going isn’t exactly good news for Pakistan. A destabilised Afghanistan means civil and economic strife in addition to a security nightmare for Pakistan. Already, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights is warning that “fresh batches” of Afghan refugees could flood into Pakistan after the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. And since we are the world’s largest refugee host country, and know only too well the “Kalashnikov and drug culture” that these neighbours bring with them, more war over there is the last thing anybody over here wants.

The EU’s concern that the “insurgent group is already considering itself victorious” also betrays a divorce from reality that only goes to show how little they understand the dynamics of this stage of the conflict. The Taliban had been steadily gaining ground for at least a decade when Washington suddenly decided against throwing any more money into propping up the Afghan National Army when the whole exercise was quite clearly an unmitigated disaster. And no matter how western media spins it, the fact of the matter is that the Taliban’s victories on the battlefield forced the occupying forces to negotiate an exit without so much as talking to the legitimate Afghan government about talking to the Taliban. President Ghani must have cut a sorry figure as he got to know of this monumental turn of events on the evening news.

It is a sad commentary that as America’s longest foreign military engagement comes to an end there is no mention at all of the cause that took them there, and how they have nothing to show for the so-called war against terrorism except for trillions of dollars of waste and a red nose. But nothing can be sadder than the fate of poor Afghans, who had to endure, and continue to endure, utter endless madness as death and destruction all around them all the time became the normal way of life for no real reason whatsoever.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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