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What is next for India and the United States under the Taliban’s Afghanistan

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agarwalvj
agarwalvj
Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to the US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently, he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.

The decision and events leading to the fall of Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban are touted by President Biden as an “extraordinary” success at an “incredible” scale. In my view, it is the beginning of the radicalization of the Taliban of Afghanistan all over again. An opinion in New York Times calls it, “America’s longest war is over,” which is America’s extraordinary and biggest failure yet. Wall Street Journal’s opinion page calls it Biden’s Vainglory Brings Abject Humiliation in Afghanistan and I could not agree more.

Whatever the opinions and claims are, the people of the largest and the oldest democracies (India and the United States) are likely to be the biggest losers of their peace of mind with the radicalization of the Taliban who are now in full control of Afghanistan. How can America so easily forget the biggest terrorist attack on 9-11 which prompted the American war machine to move to Afghanistan about twenty years ago? Is it a sign of memory loss of most Americans or just the age-related dementia of the Commander in Chief?

Let us give full credit to President Biden for his extraordinary efforts but he must also take full responsibility for handing Afghanistan back to the Taliban on a silver platter. The U.S. had touted to rid of Taliban and other terrorist groups from the rugged terrain of Afghanistan 20 years ago but returned it to the Taliban as the breeding ground for a new crop of terrorists again? How much public and social good the U.S. could do globally with $300 million/day for 20 years. We should have known that the Taliban and their collaborators with hatred for civilized humanity could not be deradicalized?

What India has to lose in Taliban’s Afghanistan- a friendly neighbor with a good political equation between India’s Modi and Afghan Presidents until a couple of weeks ago? India was helping reinvigorate Afghan’s economy and development worth billions of dollars. India has been home to thousands of Afghans for generations and an educational hub for Afghan students. All that came to a screeching halt when America decided the hurried pull out without much planning and letting the Taliban just walk in without much resistance.

It will be wrong to assume that every Taliban Afghan is a radical Islamist but it won’t be an exaggeration, based on our experiences, that another unfriendly neighbor (Pakistan} is ready to move across the porous border of Afghanistan and radicalize every Afghan they can. India was just beginning to see the bright light beyond the dark tunnel connecting Jammu and Srinagar. The valley was beginning to experience relative peace, stability, and calm leading to reduced cross-border skirmishes from the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

I am afraid that India will soon begin to see large-scale acts of terrorism with the increased number of ISIS and Al-Qaeda radicalized believers becoming active. Unfortunately, the extraordinarily sophisticated military and tactical hardware left behind by the U.S. in Afghanistan is likely to be used against India’s borders. Reportedly, a call has been made by radical Islamists to free Kashmir from India.

How can the U.S. forget when Afghan’s mujaheddin were aided to fight against the then occupiers of Afghanistan, the former USSR? Over time, the same mujaheddin got radicalized, turned against the United States, and terrorized the rest of the civilized world. What forbids the Taliban for not reorganizing themselves twenty years later under the leadership of an equivalent of Osama bin Laden (OBL). Reportedly, many belonging to OBL philosophy and possible collaborators, who were in hiding, are already returning to Afghanistan. I call upon President Biden to be true to his words, “We will hunt you down to the ends of the earth.” It should apply not only to those who killed army personnel in the recent attacks but to every terrorist hiding anywhere on the earth.

India and the U.S. should be wary about the impact of Biden’s promise to bring back every loyal Afghan to the United States who supported American forces. I support America’s moral responsibility but I am afraid that the U.S. is opening the floodgate for tens of thousands of Afghans to seek asylum fearing threatened and insecure under the Taliban regime. In fact, over 100,000 loyal Afghans are already evacuated and more are being promised. Have we wondered why the Islamic countries are not accepting the Afghans who after all are believers of Islam religion and culture?

The Americans must get ready to host the Afghan refugees which come at the taxpayer’s expenses and possibly higher taxes. The process of screening the loyal moderate Afghans from the more radicalized must also be an important consideration. The refugees will require assistance for decades before becoming productive and tax-paying immigrants. Another consideration must be the fate of tens of thousands of hardworking immigrants in the IT industry alone? They have been legitimate taxpayers, given their sweat and blood in making the U.S. a global leader in IT, and contributed to the U.S. economy.

However, their adjustment of visa status and citizenship continue to be waitlisted for as many as 10-15 years. While the true loyal Afghans deserve a safe passage to the dreamland but it should not be at the detriment and delayed process of other immigrants in the pipeline for Green card and/or nationality. Indians in the United States constitute a large workforce for the adjustment of visas and therefore India must use its diplomatic channels for their rightful immigration status. The NRIs are a major source for building the cultural and social bridge between the people of the two democracies and strengthening India’s image in the U.S.

I am appalled that the U.S. foreign policy under Biden is a catastrophic failure and a tremendous risk for the Americans and India in the coming months and years. I ask what lessons have been learned by the U.S. from the past mistakes- the North Korea policy; failed Vietnam war, unimaginable global terrorist attacks, and now a total collapse of security and Jihadist uprising in Afghanistan? While India and the U.S. are good allies, the recent events of Afghanistan must make India rethink the consequences for its own protection and security. The U.S. continued giving billions in aid to Pakistan in the past while OBL continued to live there. OBL was eliminated when Biden was the Vice President. Let us hope that now President Biden does not forget it and refrains from giving any aid for harboring the terrorists.

Giving credit to President Biden for his “extraordinary” efforts in pulling out of Afghanistan on August 30 as promised may be justified. But, let him also be credited for the extraordinary losses of life ( about 60,000 Afghan and 2,500 U.S. military/security personnel), an expense of more than one Trillion dollars, and strengthening Jihadis with the billions of dollars worth of military and tactical hardware. All we have left is to keep tuned with the White House justifying its extraordinary efforts at an incredible scale but the people of India and the U.S. must be prepared and vigilant for what may be coming?

As a long-term resident and taxpayer of the United States, personally, I had not liked the then President Bush’s decision of U.S. entry in Afghanistan nor did I approve the extremely hurried and poorly planned exit strategy of the current administration. However, the circumstances were very different immediately following 9-11 and perhaps most Americans supported Bush’s decision. Now, most Americans disapprove of Biden’s decision because there was no urgency for not allowing the planned pull out at a more moderate pace for removing all human and military/tactical assets away from the Taliban regime.

What has transpired for decades and happening now in the so-called moderate Taliban’s Afghanistan does not lend much credibility for a peaceful legacy. Therefore, the people of India and the U.S. remain most vulnerable. I wish I could speak positively with confidence and knowledge about Afghan’s fate in their own homeland. Just hours and days after the American pullout, the undue atrocities and killings are underway on the young girls and women, and Afghans are being hunted who may have been loyal to America. Right now the uncertainty and chaos are back in the closed territory of Taliban’s Afghanistan. Only time will tell who is heading the country, who moves in, and how fast the orderly transition, peace, and stability may be restored, if ever again.

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agarwalvj
agarwalvj
Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to the US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently, he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.
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