Updated: Mar 6
Image Courtesy: CGNT
Article Courtesy: aviation-defence-universe
Taliban which is a terrorist organisation and claims it’s led nation is Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, has captured more or less complete Afghanistan including its capital Kabul. In past Taliban has ruled Afghanistan for about five years with an iron fist, imposed Sharia, usurped all rights of women, gave shelter and training to Al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits, and made the country as epicentre of terrorism. Taliban is an ultra-conservative, radical terrorist Islamic outfit but when they were taking over the country all international forces remained silent observers.
Taliban have started killing of civilians, kidnapping young girls, murdering government employees and their family members in the areas under their control. Taliban are ruthless Islamic zealots; they destroy religious places of other religions and force the minorities to convert especially young girls. They are also involved in looting and arson of properties of their rivals.
Under the elected government of Afghanistan, the women progressed and worked at several high-ranking positions and were playing important roles in the society. Nevertheless, Taliban have issued instructions that women should remain confined to their houses till the next order. Large number of Afghans believe that Taliban would restart the abuses of stoning, lashing, hanging etc. under the name of Islam.
General Masoud Andarabi former interior Minister of Afghanistan claimed that triumph of Taliban is a political defeat and not a military defeat of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). He mentioned that ANDSF was an efficient, fully equipped and a well-trained force but former President Ashraf Ghani has not only ruined it but also escaped from the country. General Andarabi also cautioned that Pakistan, China, Iran, and other countries should not help Taliban as they would convert the country as centre of terrorism. Terrorist organisations like Islamic State and al Qaeda would get not only safe heaven but Taliban would also help them in getting training. Taliban are in touch with other international terrorist organisations of Syria, Iraq, and other countries. He stated that Taliban would not only destroy Afghanistan but also harm its neighbouring countries.
The victory of Taliban is a big setback to the whole democratic world including India. Delhi has invested about $3 billion in different developmental and infrastructional projects. U.S. and NATO forces left Afghanistan without fulfilling their main objective of establishment of democracy in the warn-torn country. Although they equipped and trained Afghan security forces but could not eliminate Taliban, al Qaeda, Islamic State as well as other terrorist outfits. Taliban captured large quantity of U.S. arms which were handed over to Pakistan and ISI would give these weapons to terrorists and infiltrate them to India. The fighters of Lashker-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed would be sent to India from Afghanistan.
In fact, when Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad started negotiations with Taliban without the representative of elected government it was clear that U.S. wants to leave Afghanistan without caring what would happen to the country after its departure. U.S. remained indifferent even when Taliban continued violating the terms of agreement.
Now after capturing Afghanistan Taliban wants to build its image. Last time it was recognised by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. but this time it appears that Pakistan, China, Russia, and Turkey are willing to recognise Taliban. Although Taliban are claiming that they have changed and are promising that the women can work outside, there will be no retribution to pro-government forces, journalists can work freely, rights of minorities would be honoured and there will be no human rights violation however, the ground reality is different. Taliban made it clear that Afghanistan would be an Islamic State and rights of women and other human rights would be according to Sharia. It is visualised that the interpretation of Sharia would be same as it was in 1990 hence the persecution of women, minorities and rivals would be same as it was before. Taliban also burnt down amusement park after using it for few days.
A recently released report of Amnesty International mentioned that the Taliban has tortured and then mercilessly killed several members of Hazara community after taking control of the area. Human Rights Watch also mentioned that Taliban are brutally killing the people under suspicion of links with U.S. or Afghan government. As expected, Taliban are also torturing ethnic and religious minorities including Shia Muslims.
Although Taliban asserted that India could continue with its projects and they will neither harm Indians nor its projects. Nevertheless, India always supported the elected government and Pakistan has massive influence over Taliban hence the chances that Taliban would not harm Indian interests are remote. Taliban had already looted two consulates and killed an Indian photo journalist. There are also reports that Haibatullah Akhundzada supreme commander of Taliban is in the custody of Pakistan army.
China is directly as well as through Pakistan in touch with Taliban. Recently a nine member Taliban delegation headed by Abdul Ghani Baradar went to China and met Chinese foreign minister. The Taliban delegation visited soon after the visit of Pakistan foreign minister to China. Chinese foreign minister also mentioned that Taliban are “a pivotal military and political force”. On one hand China wants that Taliban should not render any assistance to Uighur Muslims and on the other hand it wants to exploit vast mineral resources of the country. Beijing also wants to extend Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Afghanistan and will like to use land route to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan through Afghanistan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin showed his concern as Afghans are taking shelter in neighbouring countries and the chances that terrorists may also enter in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and from there they may penetrate in Russia. The extremists among refugees may instigate Muslims in Russia against the present government.
People in Afghanistan are becoming restless and there is overcrowding in Kabul international airport. Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani who has close relations with Al Qaeda and is in the wanted list of U.S. was given charge of the security of Kabul. Haqqani network is one of the most cruel faction of Taliban. Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani is a global terrorist and U.S. announced a reward of $ 5 million on him. Taliban are entangled in house-to-house searches and embroiled in violence against unarmed citizens.
Several countries including U.S. allies are criticising Biden for sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan but it appears that it is a well-planned strategic move of U.S. Baradar was released from Pakistani prison on behest of America in 2018 while Khairullah Khairkhwa and four others were released from Guatemala jail by President Obama in 2014. Not only this William Burns Director of Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) met Baradar in Kabul on August 23 and discussed important issues secretly. The analysts claim that President Biden realised that although U.S. and allies spent billions of dollars but terrorism could not be eradicated from Afghanistan and their adversaries like China and Russia are progressing. Hence if U.S. wants to remain as lone superpower it must utilise its resources on its development instead of spending in Afghanistan.
Fierce fighting occurred in Panjshir valley under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud, Amrullah Saleh and Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. They constituted National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. Panjshir valley has mainly Tajiks while Taliban are mainly Pashtuns. However, negotiations were held between Taliban and Panjshir leaders but the details are awaited. Taliban is also taking help from Russians to negotiate with fighters in Panjshir valley. The borders of Panjshir valley do not touch with any country hence it will be difficult for any foreign power to assist them.
Although Pashtuns are the biggest ethnic group but there are other important ethnic groups like Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Almaq, Baloch, Pashai etc. most of these groups fear domination of Pashtun dominated Taliban. Tajiks of Panjshir should try to unite few of these groups against Taliban.
The future of Afghanistan as well as of the democratic world is in jeopardy. Taliban with medieval mindset would halt the progress and development of the country on the name of religion. Al Qaeda, Islamic State and other terrorist outfits would be strengthened. The terrorist outfits may plan attacks similar to September 11 attack in New York or plane hijacking. Taliban consists of several small groups and few extremists have a lot of hatred towards democracy and other religions therefore the possibility of sponsoring terrorist acts cannot be ruled out. The probability that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and The Ministry of State Security (MSS) also render assistance to the terrorists cannot eliminated. Hence the democratic world should be united so that the terrorist activities of the Taliban as well as atrocities on their public especially ladies can be prevented.
(Jai Kumar Verma is a New Delhi based strategic analyst and member of United Services Institute of India and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.)