(1) A momentous cessation for the prolonged U.S. war:
The President of the United States (POTUS), the newly elected veteran Democrat, Joe Biden said Wednesday (April 14) that his administration has resolved to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by September 11, ceasing America’s role in what will eventuate as its emphatically protracted and most exhaustive warfare in its splendid military history of nearly two-and-half centenaries. A salient (and epoch-making for those monitoring the sharp vicissitudes and irresolutions of the contemporary geopolitics) extract from the President’s long-winded, articulate, and circumstantial speech, which was later posted on his official Twitter handle reads, quote, unquote, ‘We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal, and expecting a different result. I am now the fourth United States President to preside over a American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth. After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our developments experts, with the Congress and the Vice President as well as with Mr. Ghani and many others around the world, I’ve concluded that it is time to end America’s longest war.’
The withdrawal of the order of 2,500-3,500 American service members (the figure is cumulatively close to 9,600 owing to the NATO presence, and the withdrawal would be in collaboration after coordinating with the stakeholders) concurs with the world-lamenting 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, terror attacks which spurred America’s substantial entry into prolonged wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. It has partly wound up after barbarous culminations, ensuing the death of well-nigh 2,400 American troops in the rugged war zones and cost the country an exorbitant expenditure of around 2 trillion Dollars.
The President affirmed the U.S. achieved its germane objectives a decade ago when it eliminated Osama bin Laden, the kingpin of Al-Qaeda, the pan-Islamist-cum-prejudiced Wahhabi militant organization, that orchestrated and effectuated the concatenation of four lethal and property-deleterious September 11 attacks on the nucleus of the world. The U.S. rationale of retaining its combative stance in Afghanistan has become inexplicit as terrorist threat has dispersed across the globe, Biden stated (words are revamped in this segment of the write-up in accordance to the author’s writing caliber to make the information more intricate and succinct).
Ashraf Ghani, the frail Afghan President posted on Twitter, ‘The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan respects the U.S. partners to ensure a smooth transition; As we move into the next phase in our partnership, we will continue to work with our US/NATO partners in the ongoing peace efforts; Afghanistan’s proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along, and for which the Afghan nation will forever remain grateful.’
Furthermore, Biden warned the Taliban that the U.S. would defend itself and its strategic partners from probable attacks as it draws down its forces over the impending months. The President said the U.S. would reorganize its counterterrorism capabilities (the forte of the U.S. Army) and assets in the perilous region to avert the inception of another terrorist hazard.
This portentous pronouncement also unraveled the much-anticipated Biden’s Asian policy, which was obscured hitherto in the document cases of the White House. It could be deciphered in 2 compendious points:
(A) Biden comes from the long-established multilateral tradition of American diplomacy, forged in the Second World War and aggrandized through the Cold War. America is best able to advance its interests by working in a coalition through established structures. So, we envision a significant upgrade in multilateral engagement with ASEAN, SAARC, and APEC for starters, rich with a stable administration, working groups, and summits. Antony John Blinken (the U.S. State Secretary), Llyod James Austin (the U.S. Defense Secretary), Jake Sullivan (the U.S. NSA), and Katherine Tai (the U.S. Trade Representative) are also well-grounded in this approach. So we’ll perhaps perceive a brawny improvisation in day-to-day policy management.
(B) The growing weight of the Asia-Pacific region in economic, strategic, and political matters has been heightened by a parallel concern in Washington about China’s evolving role in the region. Both trends argue for an emphatic U.S. engagement. To be honest, Trump also made some moves down this path with the invigoration of the Quad (the U.S.-Japan-India-Australia consultative body), but reluctantly paved the way for Biden to take this to the next level.
However, CIA Director William Burns acknowledged in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Washington’s ability to act on threats emanating from Afghanistan will be diminished by the U.S. withdrawal. Burns said some U.S. capabilities will remain unaltered, as the tally won’t attain an absolute nought mark.
(2) The aftermath: Taliban’s aversion to amity and a permanent truce to the ceaseless bloodbath
Taliban, the fanatic Sunni Islamic military organization, which is currently waging jihad (insurgency) against the democratically elected Afghan government in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan, zealously believes that it could militarily triumph Afghanistan by dint of its chauvinist, zealot, totalitarian, Islamic-jingoistic, and ruthless Mujahideens. It has already proclaimed its long-awaited victory against its arch-enemy- the U.S.
Formulation of a peace deal seems a mirage, as per the South Asian geopolitics wizards. The detrimental modus operandi of the Taliban has already constrained them to publicize its resolution of not attending a fresh round of dialogue to decide Afghanistan’s future scheduled in Turkey later this month. The withdrawal of the American troops will inevitably flare up the acute tug of war (for holding the political, geopolitical, and militaristic rein of Afghanistan) betwixt the now-debilitated Afghan government and now-more-formidable and more potent-than-ever Taliban. Rudimentary human rights of the citizenry besides already-smothered women will be further subjugated. The civil war in Afghanistan is at the sill of its landlocked fringes, fervently kicking its heels for the ostensible retreat of the dog-tired U.S. troops from the periphery of the state to ensue.
This staggering yet prophesied withdrawal is engendering an insinuation of a nasty déjà vu in the geopolitical-cum-bureaucratic world. It may lead to a recur of the 1975 Fall of Saigon- when the capital of the US-subsidized South Vietnam fell to the tenacious clutch of Communist-ruled North Vietnam two years after the withdrawal of American military presence of 19 years. The city’s conquest (it was later renamed Ho Chi Minh City) gesticulated the end of the Vietnam War, and the North stiffened its nefarious sway over the entire country in the next few months. There is a critical and appalling likelihood that the gloomy clouds of Taliban, hovering above Afghanistan’s ill-lit fortune could entirely devastate and decimate its inhabitants.
Nonetheless, other experts advocate that the withdrawal would succor Washington move past its ‘9/11 fixation’, in which counterterrorism and self-defense had retained their hierarchical rank to be the most prominent foreign policy objective. Egress from the war-torn country would mean that the U.S. could devote considerable verve and financial reservoir in tackling the Chinese and Russian threats, as well as can concentrate on Biden’s domestic policy objectives, which are utterly contrasting when juxtaposed with Trump’s administration. They also insist that a ‘conditions-based’ Talibani-stratagem towards the termination of troop involvement would have conspicuously meant that the U.S. endures in Afghanistan for eternity.
Eventually, it’s the Afghan population that has to confront this soul-stirring havoc by this death-dealing geopolitical fluctuation. After the desertion of the American troops from the Afghan soil, the Taliban will brazenly masticate the penurious Afghan population with its horrendous fangs and the rest of the courteous and developed world would remain unenlightened of the despotic Taliban rule intimidating the Afghans.
(3) Pakistan: A menace to India’s security and integrity
The notable defense analyst (highly esteemed in the diplomatic sphere), and public policy expert, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, who traveled to Afghanistan, elucidated that Pakistan is an innate foe of the Afghans, who reckon them as an interloper illicitly meddling and stealthily aiding the Talibani extremists and their radical-adhering Islamist ideology that is steadily dwindling their once-sturdy Afghan nation. Conversely, India has a virtuous and amiable image; the Afghans venerate the Indian authorities and tourists (who seldom visit their perilous land) and are appreciative, obliged, and morally beholden to be benefiting from the Indian investment, subvention, and infrastructure. India is the most prodigious regional donor to Afghanistan and has aided it with 3 billion-plus USD. It is relatively a benison for the pauperized, repressed, and furor-scarce Afghan population who face a paucity of elemental sanitization and subsistence.
In President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September, Pakistan’s formidable military establishment ultimately get its long-craved wish after decades of gruesome intrigue: the exit of a disruptive superpower from a backyard where the ISI had established substantial influence through an affable Taliban regime before the U.S. invaded and grappled in 2001.
A reappearance of the Taliban in the region’s horizon to some embodiment of power would dial the clock back to a time when Pakistan’s faint-hearted military played gatekeeper to Afghanistan, perpetually functioning to impede the leverage of India. But the Pakistani military’s sheltering of the Taliban insurgency over the past two decades- doggedly pursuing a narrowly defined geopolitical triumph next door- risks another wave of turmoil at native soil. Pakistan is a fragile, nuclear-armed state already reeling from a crashed economy, a deluge of social tumult, legitimate agitation by persecuted religious minorities, and a percolating Islamic militancy of its own that is wrestling to restrain.
If Afghanistan descends into mayhem, Pakistanis are bound to feel the encumbrance anew just as they did after Afghanistan disintegrated in the 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal. Millions of Afghans fled and took asylum in Pakistan’s cities and towns, infiltrating the penetrable border to seek relative safety.
If the Taliban resuscitates to power, either through a civil war or through a peace deal that gives them a quantum of power, it would bolster the extremist movements in Pakistan that share the same fountainhead of ideological mentorship in the thousands of religious seminaries that find its footprint across the length and breadth of Pakistan.
In recent years, as U.S. officials endeavored a way to evacuate Afghanistan, they had to turn to Pakistan- to coerce the Taliban to come to peace talks and to volunteer assistance when the United States needed to move Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group affiliate in the region.
When the U.S. intent to leave publicly declared, Pakistan did away with any semblance of denial that the Taliban leadership is harbouring there. Taliban leaders flew from prominent Pakistani cities to engage in peace talks in Qatar. When negotiations reached their pinnacle moments that required consultations with field commanders, they flew back to Pakistan.
When the United States finally signed a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban in February last year, under the Trump administration, the mood in some high-profile milieus in Pakistan was one of overt jollification.
The once-annihilated Pakistan Taliban has increased its activities in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Ambushes against security forces are now more recurrent.
Just how wide the problem of extremism might stretch has been on display in recent days on the streets of two of Pakistan’s vital cities, Lahore and Karachi.
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a far-right movement that deems itself as insulating Islam against blasphemy, thrashed uniformed members of Pakistani forces and took dozens hostage for hours. Videos emerged of Pakistani army officers trying to reason with the vicious protestors. Officials said two policemen had been killed and 300 wounded. The showdown continues, as the government moved to ban the group as a terrorist outfit and impose perfidious charges.
Such a cold-blooded and terrorist-sponsor state like Pakistan is very much liable to choreograph a pigeon-hearted terrorist attack on India. This surmise is corroborated by a vague prophecy of the latest Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Agency Community, which was publicized on April 9. In the punctilious report, paragraph 3rd of page no. 25 divulges with a dreadful accentuation, ‘Although a general war between India and Pakistan is unlikely, crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations, and heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints.’
This rationally catastrophized report is copper-bottomed and nearly infallible as it is published by the top-notch intelligence agency of the world and is palpably pointing towards a potential terrorist attack by the Pakistan-endorsed Taliban.
Donald Trump, the former U.S. President, who often passed contentious remarks during his term in the Oval Office, once propounded that India must fight the terror group ISIS. Initially, his remarks, as usual, drew verbal fulmination, but today, after nearly four months of his abdication from the office, the dumbfounding avow of the U.S. intelligence report illuminates he was erroneously adjudicated by the media and misconstrued by the Indian diplomatic elite. Today, it’s of utmost gravity for India to combat the Taliban, not for international serenity, or to manifest an act of philanthropy or humanitarianism, but in the interests of its own defensive measures and regional tie-ups. If India intervenes, mediates, arbitrates, or instead fights concurrently with the Afghan Armed Forces to exterminate the Taliban, it would send a precise intimation to the international community, that India, being a conscientious and hawk-eyed emerging superpower of Asia after China, is concerned about hostilities in its contiguous as well as non-contiguous neighbors. Also, it would slacken the Taliban threat, as the Taliban would have to face up to a professional and battle-hardened force that tackles China and Pakistan simultaneously along with a rarely enraged incapacitated neighbor like Nepal.
To hegemonize, India needs to transpire from the echo chamber of Lutyens Delhi and should emulate numerous U.S. policies of strategic and political intrusion to have an ascendancy over the gigantic realm of Asia, the fulcrum of the 21st-century world.
(4) A dejected termination
We have to assent that the future of Afghanistan is undetermined, unpredictable, and fluctuant. The only prognostication is of a despondent, gloomy, and tenebrous Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s cloud has literally no silver lining. In the long run, the experts are low-spirited and pessimistic. There’s no felicitous or perpetual panacea to the deep-seated Taliban ideology. Harmony and tranquility are only possible in Afghanistan when the Taliban is extirpated from its bastion. To make it certain, the two superpowers of Asia need to consolidate to safeguard the pregnable people of Afghanistan. To ensure this, China must abandon its land-annexing and militaristic-brawl policy. Stable Afghanistan is a stable South Asia and an emblem of the unfolding Asian primacy!