By Zabih Ullah*
President Trump recently declared his troops withdrawal from Afghanistan calling it a burden on U.S economy and fighting for the sake of others. To give an end, envoy Zalmai Khalilzad was appointed as U.S representor in the peace talks with Afghan Taliban to result in peace agreement between Afghan government and Taliban.
The Afghan war is the longest war in U.S history that has been going on from the last two decades which is called the US “forever war”. U.S since 2001 has spent more than 51 billion dollars per year in its war and reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, in addition to this more than 2300 American forces have been killed in their war with Afghan Taliban and caused causalities to thousands of them.
The possible peace deal is based on four main pillars, one of which is the foreign troop’s withdrawal from Afghan land which is the core demand of Afghan Taliban in their negotiations with envoy Khalilzad.
The U.S placed its foothold in Afghanistan to eradicate militancy specifically the Taliban on Afghan soil, but on the ground we have witnessed the opposition’s enhancement in terms of military and worsening of security circumstances inside the country which has created certain doubts in Kabul regime and in the world about U.S role in the peace building in Afghanistan.
Today Afghan Taliban are stronger than they were in 2001 due to their support from many sources both regionally and globally in the presence of U.S and NATO forces. Beside this civilian casualties has increased, according to 2018 UNAMA report there were 10993 civilian casualties which includes 3804 deaths and 7189 injured. As compared to 2017 its graph could be 5% increase in overall casualties and 11% increase in deaths.
Moreover, Taliban’s influence has improved in many areas. According to various reports Taliban controls more than 45% of Afghan territory, in contrast President Ashraf Ghani in his interview with Turkish TRT news broadcasted on Tuesday July 16, 2019 declared that out of 400 districts, 22 are under Taliban’s control.
Beside this there is increase in civilian casualties in Afghan and foreign forces raids, therefore it shapes a complexity to U.S win in its war in Afghanistan. Today Americans also accepts that in their presence there is insecurity, corruption, and growing number of extremist groups in Afghanistan.
The Asia Foundation in a survey from 16 ethnic groups in 2016 has revealed that 40% of the Afghan people are bored or pessimistic of the insecurity in Afghanistan, but today this number has increased due to the worse security circumstances, especially the year 2018 and doubtful stance of U.S in Afghanistan peace building.
In addition to this according to the Charles Koch Institute of Arlington Virginia 2018 survey which concludes that 57% of the Americans and 69% of military veterans declared that they are going to support the president Trump decision in the removal of troops from Afghanistan. Beside this two out of three U.S citizens that also includes 73% of military veterans believes they cannot say the U.S war in Afghanistan has been a success.
To add more, YouGov (an international opinion and data company) had a survey on behalf of the Charles Koch Institute of Arlington Virginia prior to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of NATO organization, where key member states of the NATO were asked about the relevance and efficiency of the organization in respect to the military intervention in Afghanistan. Based on the survey 46% of the Germans, 47% of Turkish and 41% of the responders from United Kingdom believed that NATO mission in Afghanistan has failed.
Moreover, about half of the responders from Germany and more than half of them from United kingdom were based on the hypothesis that their country shouldn’t sent their troops to Afghanistan at start. Interestingly, Americans and French were asked with the same question and the consequences were that they do not know the answer for the question.
Meanwhile, the regional states like China, Iran and Pakistan are also on the notion that it’s time for U.S to withdraw from Afghanistan, Russia as a global power is also on the same page with these states therefore it fully supports the Washington effort in the reconciliation process of Afghan Taliban and hosted rounds of dialogues between Afghan political leaders and Taliban leadership recently.
The people inside Afghanistan assumes the foreign troops are in their land for their own sake and proxies which could reversely effect their future because the security conditions are worsening day by day due to contradictory interest of regional and global powers. Afghan government has also claimed several times the support of neighbor and global powers for the insurgency in Afghanistan.
On the national level in Afghanistan some prominent political leaders are also either in opposition to U.S and foreign troop’s presence or calling them responsible for the insecurity in the country. Gulbaddin Hikmatyar, one of the prominent former warlord in a recent visit to Islamabad has appreciated the role of regional states specifically Pakistan in the reconciliation process of Taliban and hoped for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, which is a key for the stability in the country.
With the same token, ex-president Hamid Karzai in a gathering at Kabul on July 18, 2019 has expressed his concerns about the future implications of the peace talks. Karzai said, “We want peace, not external deals on our soil”. In addition, he added that we want to be back to our normal life to have cordial bilateral relations with all the countries, though “we don’t want our country to be used for the interests of others in the pretext of friendship”.
Consequently, the output could be that prevailingly all the major stakeholders in Afghan conflict has reached the consensus that peace with Taliban is a major step for stability in Afghanistan and the region, for which U.S and foreign troops withdrawal is for sure.
*Zabih Ullah, graduate student of International Relations from International Islamic university Islamabad, Pakistan
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