Afghanistan, Taliban and the capitulation by the US

Lalit Shastri

The United States has buried the past and seems to have forgotten its war against terror that started in the wake of the 9/11 attack on America. For the purpose of counterterrorism, the US wants to engage with the Taliban that unleashed terror and violence against the people to capture power and formed a government in Afghanistan along with other terrorist outfits like the Haqqani network using weapons of mass destruction left behind so insanely by the US and its allies.

Look at the travesty – the Taliban Government will be inaugurated on 9/11.

With the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, the US has changed track. Now the US will not be engaged in any war against terror. The war has ended and there are no enemies. Now the buzzword is counterterrorism. The spirit – when it comes to confronting terror and fighting terrorists and those harboring the terrorists – has mellowed down and the (US) approach now is outright sheepish.

Of course, one would be totally off the mark if one were to give the US any credit for acting against the harbourers of terrorists all these years because it remained in the forefront when it came to funding and arming Pakistan to the hilt and using it as a US colony to train, arm and build an army of jihadis and terrorists to fight the Russians when they were in Afghanistan before 9/11. The trend continued even long after the Russians left Afghanistan.

Look at the language of diplomacy they – the Americans – are using after The Taliban have created a new interim government that includes Sirajuddin Haqqani as Afghanistan’s interior minister. As leader of the Haqqani network, known for its al-Qaeda links, he is on the FBI’s most wanted list and is a designated global terrorist. On the surface, the Taliban is opposed to the Islamic State of Khorasan but the knowledgeable are talking of the links between the Haqqani network and ISIS-K. The link between the Haqqani group and Al-Qaeda is also too well known and thats where lies the convergence among terror groups that are now in power in Afghanistan.

The much hyped Doha talks that culminated in the sudden capitulation by the US

The US is neither naive nor ignorant not to understand the Jihadi ideology and goals. The way the Americans and partners left Afghanistan after a series of Doha talks can be summed up as nothing else but as capitulation. The Americans chose to leave the hapless citizens of Afghanistan at their own mercy after promising them the moon and this is one of the darkest chapters in human history. The world has watched the horror unfold – we have seen how people wanting to flee from the Taliban were clinging to a US Boeing C-17 on the Kabul runway. We have seen women being lashed, beaten and even killed by the Talibani fighters only because they were women. But all this has failed to stir the sensibilities of those in power in the US.

On 8 September, coinciding with the announcement of an interim government in Afghanistan, and following the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken’s talks with allies and partners on Afghanistan, the readout by the US State Department spokesperson said that the US will continue to press for an orderly transition of power to an inclusive government with broad support, especially women and minorities.

Blinken has gone on record seeking unity among nations to hold the Taliban accountable on counterterrorism while stating that every diplomatic, economic, political, and assistance and tool will be used to uphold the basic rights of all Afghans; support continued humanitarian access (obviously with the support of Pakistan, which has all along been and still remains a safe haven and breeding ground for terrorists) to the country (Afghanistan); and ensure the Taliban honors its commitments (what about the commitments at Doha that were blown to bits when the Taliban unleashed terror and violence against the people of Afghanistan).

On leaving Afghanistan, the way it did, the US in an effort to salvage its image, now at the rock bottom, tells the world that its a mission brought Osama bin Laden to a just end along with many of his Al-Qaida co-conspirators. The US also reminds all about the cost in terms of 2,461 U.S. service members and civilians killed and more than 20,000 who were injured, including 13 U.S. service members who were killed in the second fortnight of August by an ISIS-K suicide bomber.

Is it only failure of the US intelligence to forwarn about the collapse of the Afghan military and the opening up of Kabul to the Taliban within a matter of 24-hours or there is more to it …? The world expects the knowledgeable to throw light on this…. At this stage one cannot help but throw up this question.

The US President and others in the US administration have gone on record saying that they have succeded in insulating their country from terrorist threat like necver before. Well thats too self-centred a position to be taken by a nation that shouts from rooftops about its might, both military and ecomomic, and pretends to be the saviour of democracy and protector of human rights across the world. The terrorists in Pakistan and their operatives and sleeper cells in India are bound to be emboldened with the Taliban now in power in Afghanistan.

The US has left a gaping gap by abandoning the war against terror. For a country like India which is busy restoring normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, a new war begins. If India joins the chorus with the US, it would only end up turning a blind eye to the new dangers and threats the country now faces due to the abdication of the role, the US undertook 20 years ago. In this abdication the US media too has chosen to become a partner: For the New York Times, those who have usurped power in Afghanistan are “Stalwarts” (Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts). As per the Cambridge dictionary, “stalwart” means “loyal, faithful and dependable”.

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