It has been four decades since the communist coup in Afghanistan on April 27, 1978, which was followed by the Soviet invasion of the country in December 1979, triggering an upheaval that had bloody and disastrous consequences for Afghans as well as for the region and beyond.
Peace in Afghanistan has become a puzzle because all attempts since the Geneva Accords signed on April 1988 between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the United States and the former Soviet Union serving as guarantors, have failed so far.
By 2001, Afghanistan’s old social and political structures, considered the bedrock of stability during the 40-year reign of King Mohammad Zaher Shah (1933-1973), were completely destroyed and the country became a pariah state facing an imminent threat of ethnic cleansing.
In addition, the traditional Afghan economy was devastated, narcotics became a major source of national income, and basic healthcare and education were absent. A majority of Afghans depended on international humanitarian aid for their subsistence and survival, and the per capita GDP in 2001 was estimated at $176. Poverty reached an unprecedented level – in geographically isolated central Afghanistan, people were forced to eat grass-like plants to survive.
However, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, an unprecedented tragedy for the American people, brought salvation to the impoverished population of Afghanistan. The US-led military intervention against the Taliban regime was perceived by many Afghans as a miracle that no one had ever expected to happen.
The defeat of the Taliban regime in November 2001 gave people hope after decades of strife, suffering, and bloodshed. It looked like Afghanistan might be brought out of the vicious circle of conflict and poverty. But it was a short-lived opportunity that only lasted until 2006, when the country started sliding back into bloodshed and desperation.
Today, there is unanimity among experts that the Afghan government is in a military stalemate vis-à-vis the Taliban, and defeating them in an unconventional war, where their leadership and networks of logistical support remain out of reach in Pakistan, is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
There is a growing consensus among regional and international stakeholders in Afghanistan that the solution to end the conflict lies in a political settlement
In addition, there is a growing consensus among regional and international stakeholders in Afghanistan that the solution to end the conflict lies in a political settlement through a consensus among regional and major international powers.
Nevertheless, the latest attempt for a political solution, through a unilateral concession by President Ashraf Ghani last February, has been ignored by the Taliban. Meanwhile, they announced the start of their new spring offensive dubbed “Al-Khandaq” on April 25, which is considered a categorical rebuff to the latest peace initiative.
In addition, they have followed through on their threats by attacking government forces throughout the country and conducting horrifying terrorist attacks against civilian targets in major cities such as Kabul. Their aim is to create mass panic and thus paralyze an already dysfunctional government.
Decisions concerning war and peace are now up to the Taliban, and the Afghan government can now only shamefully try to justify its tragic failure to prevent abominable casualty rates in the Afghan security forces and among the civilian population.
In addition, US President Donald Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan, which consists of turning up the heat on the insurgents by increasing Special Forces operations and pressuring Pakistan to deny them safe heaven has not yet lured them to the negotiation table.
Meanwhile, the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan is not limited to the goodwill of the Taliban, and there are major regional players who have a big stake in the country. Sadly, Afghanistan is caught once again in the middle of competitions between major regional powers: Pakistan versus India and Saudi Arabia versus Iran.
For instance, the presence of a large number of Afghan Shiite fighters, such as the Fatemiyoun Division, in support of Iran’s effort in Syria, and Saudi Arabia’s insistence on enrolling Afghanistan in its Sunni coalition against Iran, will make diplomatic efforts for a renewed regional consensus more challenging.
The United States and its coalition partners in Afghanistan are struggling to find a regional solution because it requires them to talk with Afghanistan’s neighbors and regional powers. This is despite the fact that the recent realignment of some regional countries opposed to NATO’s military presence and a shift in the balance of power in the region have seriously undermined the US position.
For example, the Istanbul process, also known as the “Heart of Asia,” has been perhaps the best approach for reaching an unequivocal consensus on regional cooperation for a secure and stable Afghanistan. Since the inception of this dialogue among Afghanistan’s neighbors and supporting countries in 2011, seven annual meetings have been organized but no significant progress has occurred because the process has been undermined by growing regional tensions.
In addition, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group framework, where Afghanistan and Pakistan started negotiating in 2015 in presence of the United States and China, was aborted in its initial stage.
Therefore, in the past four decades all military efforts and diplomatic initiatives have failed to pacify Afghanistan, and we Afghans are wondering what alternative could be used to end the cycle of violence in our country.
"9/11 brought salvation to the impoverished population of Afghanistan and the US intervention considered by Afghans a miracle", says it all. Now, why would Afghans want this war to end when it brought them unpresidented riches and wonders?
Mr. Haroun Mir skirts his own question, in doing so he is saying in so many words that the answer is: No.
a) The religion Islam. to begin with is the proverbial elephant in the room that isn’t even metioned, just hinted at that there is a Shiite element along with the Sunni the two great factions of Islam and anthema to each other.
Plus the presumption not just the contention that Islam is or offers the Muslim "ummah" the perfect way of life, that is to say for the temporal life here on earth where laws are mutable i.e. written by the legislature as they are subject to changes, amendments, or even nullifications and then there is for the life hereafter, the spiritual or the eternal realm where laws are God given and are immutable: Islam tells the Muslim that it ofers solution for both the realms, when clearly it isn’t the case. All one has to do is take a gander at the world of Islam, and that would satisfy any deluded mind that Islam does not offer a system of geovernance.
b) Pakistan, the neighbor, that is in the grips of an Army Cabal Inc, that has the Pakistani polity arrested in its iron cage, it rules it as a fiefdom from cereal for breakfast to fish-market to the choice firms are all run by the Army brass. It is corrupt to the core. In Pakistan the school children even read their history that is thoroughly doctored designed to brainwash into supporting the Army rule and never to trust the venal civilians.
For that rule to continue the Army has to maintain things at a boil both domestically and regionwide, for, well, it’s the perpetual emergency, the ever threatening RAW, the Indian intelligence agency is behind everything: any complaint, any criticisms, people are abducted, tortured, murdered; it’s an outright reign of terror.
They see Afghanistan as their vassal state and nothing more, god forbid should they become democratic prosperous, then that is surely going to give the citizenry notions and they dread that thought, can’t have that.
(Break up Pakistan (b) is eliminated)
c) Iran, the Shia presence in the region. With Israel in conjunction with the US under President Donald J. Trump…I am not qualified to even speculate, I have a front row seat and popcorn handy I can bet it would be rock n roll time.
My pronosis, solve b, and then solve c, a can be managed in samll chunks: Lots of semi autonomous nation state surrrounding mighty India, call them the satrapies of India.
Thank you dear readers.
Pakistan army is not that smart and powerful to challenge and humiliate NATO and Afghan forces plus keep fighting Indians and home grown militancy simultaneously, but if you don’t agree then they are the world’s best armed forces.
Taliban is going to win this war and american will face defeat , and american enemies like russia china and want america’s defeat at any cost , which are slowly reaching to its culmination.
Hidayat Khan Not only do I agree with you but I’ll go several steps further and declare that the Army brass to singularly stupid and poorly, forget that, not at all educated: to not know Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, among the ancients; Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, among the moderns who have admonished us of the dangers and perils of having Army becoming in charge of the reins of any society/country, which is doomed to self destruct. But such is the vanity of these numb skull thick individuals that think of themselves so highly. For instance just look at Bajwa doesn’t he appear like some thud in a dinjy tank-top sitting over hot kudhai in some bakery sweating his balls off over cooking julaibies?
No, they have ompressed me tremendously as being the dumbest people in uniform ever had the misfortune of walking this earth of ours. Thank you.
It is very astonishing the Saudi nationals are enjoying and Afghan are dying as well as some other nations are doing shameful act such as Iran and Pakistan they both are using Afghanistan as strategic depth for nothing but to achieve their own ulterior motives. Afghan are dying, let them die these powers are securing their interests very much embarrassing
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