International concerns on Taliban takeover of Afghanistan
Violence in Afghanistan will impact the spread of violent extremism, movement of jihadis, deluge of Afghan refugees in Middle East and south Asia with increasing logistical, technical and financial support from Pakistan. — Vinod Johri
The Taliban’s stunning takeover of Kabul sent shock waves around the world — with immediate implications for the complicated knot of three regional powers in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood - Pakistan, Bharat and China. The whole world is keenly watching swiftest Taliban takeover of Afghanistan within 40 days of USA pull out of its armed forces. Already the Taliban has killed around 900 people in Kandahar province in the past month and a half. Advancing Taliban soldiers have been summarily executing detained soldiers, police and civilians with alleged ties to the previous Afghan government. President Ashraf Ghani who fled Afghanistan, claimed at a conferencein Tashkent, Uzbekistan, that 10,000 jihadis had travelled from Pakistan to join Taliban.
Violence in Afghanistan will impact the spread of violent extremism, the movement of jihadis, increase in attacks, influx of Afghan refugees across the entire Middle East and South Asia.Bharat currently presiding over the United Nations Security Council says that logistical, technical and financial support for the Taliban continue to emanate from Pakistan. The U.N. refugee agency says there are nearly 2.8 million registered refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan, the third-largest refugee population in the worldbesides millions of undocumented people in neighbouring countries.
President Abdul Ghani’s escape to Oman is ominous to stability of Afghanistan. The way foreign nationals as well as Afghan nationals are fleeing Afghanistan desperately, this terror ridden country will take decades to regain global faith for restoring economic revival and sustenance.Even entire Afghanistan including Panjshir 125 km from Kabul, is not in control of Taliban. Fierce fighting is going on in Panjshir between Taliban and Northern Alliance forces for gaining control over Panjshir.Taliban is not likely to announce Government until USA leaves Afghanistan. However, 12 member council comprising of present and past Taliban members, has been announced to look after various Departments. There is widespread accusation of Pakistan’sactive support to the Taliban’s offensive. Most recently twin suicide blasts carried out reportedly by ISIS / IS-K (Khorasan) near Kabul Airport on 26th August 2021 killed 75 people including 12 US soldiers and severely wounded 143 people. Former President Hamid Karzai and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have been put under house arrest. US has vowed to punish the perpetrators of blasts. Bharat has criticized the blasts.
Afghanistan’s economy is shaped by fragility and aid dependence. GDP in Afghanistan was expected to reach 20.46 USD Billion by the end of 2021.The illicit economy accounts for a significant share of production, exports and includes opium production, smuggling and illegal mining.
It is pertinent to briefly discuss how different countries having security and strategic stakes in Afghanistan and Global media have viewed Afghanistan situation.
In Bharat, there is strong criticism of Taliban takeover in view of Pakistan’s direct support. Lives of sizeable number of Hindu and Sikhs who are still living there, are in extreme danger. More than 900 citizens have been evacuated on top priority.
Bharat had completed about 500 projects of vital roads, dams, electricity transmission lines and substations, schools and hospitals, etc. worth $3 billion. The Taliban regime heightens anxieties from Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and the TTP about militancy in Kashmir in view ofhostilities with Pakistan and China.
Taliban terrorists on directions from ISI, entered our consulates in Kandahar and Herat and took away documents and vehicles. In the all-party meeting held on 26th Aug 2021, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar stated the situation in Afghanistan extremely critical. Mentioning that Bharat is trying to rescue as many persons as possible, he expressed solidarity with the people of the war-torn country. He made it clear that the Taliban didn’t stand by its commitment to have a peaceful transition of power as per the Doha agreement, known as the ‘Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan’, signed by the terrorist group and the US on February 29, 2020.
Mixed reactions are coming out of Pakistan. There is denial of interference, sense of victory, concerns of terrorism spilling out in Pakistan, hobnobbing with Taliban, alliance with China to gain control, concerns for refugee problem. For decades, Pakistan has served as a sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban, who have often crossed the countries’ rugged, 1,660-mile border with ease. Pakistan host most of the Afghan refugees, estimated at more than 2 million.
For Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban’s return delivers a strategic defeat to rival Bharat, but also potentially a boost to an affiliated insurgent group, Pakistani Taliban, that threatens Pakistan itself. Pakistani Taliban (TTP), a banned terrorist group, has carried out hundreds of attacks on Pakistani security forces and civilians, including an assault on a school in 2014 that killed at least 145 people, mainly children. Last month alone, TTP claimed responsibility for 26 terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Pak government said that TTP carried outin July 2021 blast at a hydroelectric plant that killed nine Chinese workers and four others.
United States of America
USA is being criticized for hasty withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan thus giving this country in platter to China & Russia. President Joe Biden has stood with his decision of pull out.Former President Donald Trump has made scathing attack against Joe Biden for resurgence of Talibans. The Afghan Taliban had pledged in its 2020 deal with the United States that it would not harbour extremist groups such as al-Qaeda if the U.S. military withdrew in a timely fashion. In the 20 years since September 11, 2001, the USA has spent more than $2.26 trillion on the war in Afghanistan. There have been 2,500 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, and nearly 4,000 more U.S. civilian contractors killed, beside the estimated 69,000 Afghan military police, 47,000 civilians killed, plus 51,000 dead opposition fighters. Biden blamed Taliban’s takeover of the country on the unwillingness of the Afghan army to fight the militant group. Washington has accused Iran in the past of providing covert aid to Taliban fighters against U.S. forces.
USA’s hostility with China, Iran and Russia as well as Pakistan in close neighbourhood of Afghanistan has made it difficult for USA to counter Taliban resurgence with the support of these countries.
For China, the U.S. withdrawal has raised fears of a widening network of militant groups targeting the ambitious infrastructure projects westward across Eurasia. China’s conciliatory posture toward the Taliban marks a stark public turnaround from previous decades, when it voiced concerns that the group was harbouring ethnic Uyghur fighters plotting separatist war in their homeland of Xinjiang. China is tempted to Afghan mineral wealth worth between about $3 trillion.
Chinese social media blamed USA being unreliable country abandoning Afghanistan at critical time. The Global Times denied sending Chinese troops to fill the vacuum left by the U.S.
Beijing, has also sought a deal with the Taliban so that militant groups will not attacks Chinese targets. As the Chinese presence in countries such as its ally Pakistan, has soared over the past decade, so, too, have attacks against its citizens. In April 2021, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacked the Chinese ambassador with a car bomb outside his hotel in Quetta. A suicide bomb ripped through a bus by the Pakistani Taliban, carrying Chinese construction workers in northwest Pakistan, killing 13 as admitted by Pakistan Minister.A massive blast in Gwadar by TTP, Afghan Taliban supported terrorist, killed 6 persons including Chinese engineers on 20th August 2021.
There is conflicting scenario in Russia over present Afghanistan situation after take over by Taliban post hasty withdrawal of US armed forces. The 1979-1989 Soviet invasion and the subsequent civil war killed more than two million Afghans. The USSR’s decade-long intervention in Afghanistan was too a debacle.
With the collapse of the Afghan government, President Vladimir Putin has managed friendly ties with Taliban. The Taliban is however, officially banned by Moscow.
There are reports that the Taliban received weaponry from Russiaand paying bounties for killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, though vehemently denied by Russia. But with Washington’s exit, the Kremlin finally has its long-sought opportunity to enhance its diplomatic and military muscles in the region.Russia is too apprehensive of terror and drug trafficking from Afghanistan.
Iran, ruled by Shiite clerics, and Taliban, a radical Sunni movement, are at fundamental odds and Iran has long bristled at the Taliban’s treatment of non-Sunni minorities. In one incident seared in Iranian memory, Taliban insurgents in 1998 attacked the Iranian Consulate in Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan and killed nine Iranians. It is alleged that when United States prepared to invade Afghanistan in 2001, Iran had aided USA with intelligence inputs and other logistic support. Now Washington has accused Iran of providing covert aid to Taliban fighters against U.S. forces in recent takeover by Taliban.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi looks for an opportunity to establish lasting peace in the country after United States’ military failure in Afghanistan.
Tehran fears both Taliban rule and Afghanistan civil war likely to imperil the country’s ethnic Persian and Shiite communities and consequent more waves of Afghan refugees across the border and empower Sunni militancy in the region. Iran has 2 million Afghan refugees. But Iran’s increasingly public overtures to the Taliban has been perceived at home as miscalculation within the country foroverlooking Taliban’s bloody history of attacking Iranian Shiite minority Hazaras.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey announced that he would work with Pakistan to stem fresh waves of refugees streaming into Turkey. NATO Member Turkey’s president said that his country would negotiate with Taliban in a bid to operate and secure the airport with its 500 troops in Kabul.
Turkey wishes to remain as the main influencer in Afghan affairs, and consequently, increase Turkey’s clout in the Muslim world.
Turkish-American relations have been rocky for the past few years over a host of problems, including Turkey’s human rights issues, Ankara’s purchase of a Russian-made missile system, US support of a Syrian Kurdish group and the continued U.S. residency of a Muslim cleric accused of masterminding a bloody failed coup. Turkey wants to undermine Saudi Arabia as well and inflate its position as a leading Islamic nation vying for a broader role in Afghanistan.
However, to the contrary, Turkey has built a border wall to stop an influx of Afghan refugees from entering the country and also reinforced its border with Iran to stop those fleeing Taliban rule.
Western governments have been caught off guard by the stunning speed of the Taliban’s advance on Kabul. European Union countries are mainly concerned about refugee influxand pressed for a unified international approach to dealing with a Taliban government. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the situation extremely difficult and called the Western countries to collectively work together to get over to that new government. U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi di Maio denied their plans to send troops back to Afghanistan.
The Author is Sah Vichar Pramukh, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Delhi Prant.