By Saikat Kumar Basu
The Taliban unofficially has control over 70% of rural Afghanistan and is in a position of hard bargaining for power rather than a mere peace negotiation. With numerous safe heavens in Pakistan and constant financial and logistic support from Middle East and Gulf nations, Iran, China and Russia who want to teach US a lesson for life and push them out of Afghanistan; peace seems to be a distant objective to achieve in current Afghanistan.
The US being stretched into several war fronts do not have the energy, logistics and military power as well as the interest to continue for very long in Afghanistan with formidable power. US have also failed to push Pakistan in closing the terror camps along the Durand Line and far inside her tribal areas or been able to destroy them by US air and ground forces directly other than repetitive warnings which has and/or had very little or no impact on Pakistan. The US has also failed miserably to destroy hidden terror camps and support system for the Taliban on the Afghanistan side of the Durand Line too.
As a consequence, the Taliban are a formidable force and power to reckon with within the region; which both the US and the Afghan governments do not want to officially acknowledge. India is too meager a power without consistent US support to make any significant political change within Afghanistan; other than humbly serving as a good will neighbor. With such huge socio-political base within and around Afghanistan; Taliban will not come to the discussion table for mere peace negotiations; but, a major power sharing deal extremely difficult or almost impossible for US and her Western allies to accept.
The Afghan regime has merely any control of the nation outside the capital region of Kabul in spite of billions of dollars of aid and infrastructure provided till date by several nations and aid agencies. The nation has failed to move by an inch in spite of extensive support system suggesting that the regime does not have the ability to steer the country towards significant economic development and self sufficiency. It continues to be completely dependent on financial aids from other countries with rampart corruption, nepotism and poor governance weakening the country from within.
The constant ethnic tensions within Afghanistan between the Pashtun majority and several minority groups like Tajiks, Ujbeks and Hazaras for centuries is too delicate for any true, meaningful and fragile peace process to take shape. Furthermore is the challenge or influence of numerous warlords and their mercenaries across the nation with highly self-destructive socio-economic activities that have crippled Afghanistan for decades. Will it be possible to include all these possible factors in the equation for peace negotiations and power sharing system of the nation anytime soon?
I am hopeful for peace; but, extremely doubtful as the ground conditions and the socio-political situations do not reflect the same. The constant violence, blood shed, armed campaigns, wars and terror attacks have broken the backbone of Afghanistan’s socio-political ad socio-economic life devastatingly. It is just a matter of time for Afghanistan to be Talibanised once again as soon as the frustrated US and the NATO forces quit the region; with peace light years away from taking shape.
(Author is a Canada and India based freelance journalist specializing in global geo-political, strategic and foreign policy issues, science & technology and environment & conservation related themes. Regularly contributes to newspapers, newsletters, bulletins, magazines and journals in Asia, Africa and the Americas)
Photo credit- Foreign Policy