In Afghanistan, we are witnessing a humanitarian and strategic disaster. The anxiety and panic of Afghans who want to flee the nation at any cost can be seen in videos of women giving babies and children to soldiers through barbed wire at Kabul airport. The sight of two young boys falling from an American military plane has stunned the world.
A bomb blast killed more than 170 innocent Afghans including American soldiers. US drones killed ten members of an Afghan family, including seven children, on the final day of the US withdrawal. After the humiliating US retreat, the Taliban, a terrorist organisation intimately linked to ISIS and Al-Qaeda, has gained control of Afghanistan. The whole world including Americans are asking the same question, “Was it worth fighting for 20 years?” The world has lost trust in America. The world is shocked and confused. How a civilized country like the US can become a partner and ally with a terrorist group like the Taliban.
The self-inflicted defeat is a strategic nightmare for Americans, they have lost an important war against terrorism. Rather, terrorists have been rewarded with a country through the Doha agreement, from where they (Taliban) can target the whole world with impunity. The US has rewarded those who have been involved in gross human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
This exit has raised many questions on the credibility of those think tanks and universities which have been devising policies and planning strategies to win the war on terror in Afghanistan.
I would like to warn those Afghans particularly Pashtuns to refrain from blindly supporting the Taliban. Those who have been trained for terrorism and violence, cannot be reformed within days and become human rights champions. So, the only option we have is to resist them.
Taliban have their internal conflicts to be resolved. The Taliban leadership in Doha who adopt a bit pragmatic approach to garner international support will clash with the harsh ideological approach of operational commanders and foot soldiers on the ground who want a purely theocratic state, which will result in internal conflicts and tug of war. This so-called pragmatic approach to deceive the world will give ground to ISIS and Al-Qaeda which will weaken the Taliban in future.
This takeover will further increase enmities between the north and south of Afghanistan. As, Tajiks, Uzbeks and even Hazaras will feel threatened, isolated and betrayed. So, Afghans need to work hard to stop an imminent war between Tajiks-Uzbeks and Pashtuns, which may cause unimaginable destruction to Afghanistan.
The Taliban victory will inspire and encourage the radicals and terrorist groups in the region which points towards the fact that south-east Asia is going to be affected and there is an immediate threat of an increase in ISIS activity in Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan and India.
Pakistan, a state sponsor of terrorism, is fully supporting the Afghan-Taliban relation. But Pakistan will ultimately be affected by terrorist activities as the takeover will further radicalise the Pashtuns living in Pashtun-dominated areas of Pakistan like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The authoritarian states like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, interested in exploiting the mineral resources and rare-earth metals will support hardliners ideological elements in the Taliban while the West will try to force the so-called pragmatic leadership of Taliban to strengthen democratic institutions and promote & protect human rights particularly the rights of women. Which is nothing more than daydreaming. So, this war between authoritarian states and the liberal Western democracies will further weaken Afghanistan and can result in further conflicts and bloodshed.
Pakistani Military will use violence to pacify Pashtuns which will result in the persecution of Pashtuns and an increase in enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
So, Afghanistan particularly Pashtuns are faced with astronomical challenges of how to protect their lives and basic fundamental freedoms in the Taliban era.
Fazal Ur Rehman Afridi is currently the President of Paris based Think Tank, Khyber Institute for Research and Strategic Studies. He is also a Writer, Journalist and Human Rights Activist.