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The Reality of Taliban’s Takeover of Afghanistan - August 24, 2021

Taliban has taken power in Afghanistan forcibly as Americans have ended their longest war and has completed the troop withdrawal. Taliban is toning down rhetoric about violence of 1990s. All these exercises are for gaining recognition by the world. Recognition would give access to international market. The monetary resources are essential for survival of Taliban government. What is startling at the moment is the images of Afghans flocking towards Airport to leave the country. They feel Taliban could take revenge as memories of 1990s are still vividly embossed in the minds of Afghans. The Taliban rule over Afghanistan in the 1990s was known for its brutal actions such as ban on music, closure of schools, horrible human rights abuses of minorities and women. Taliban is pretending to have taken itself to a kind of maturity at the International level. Taliban has not attacked the exiting US military providing a sigh of relief to the wold superpower. At least on this count the agreement worked out at Doha between Taliban and USA has worked. However, Taliban has not kept its words on negotiation with the Afghan national government and has recklessly captured towns, cities and provinces before approaching Kabul. The question is how long the Taliban would continue to endeavour into the moderate projection at the international level while being the same old folks domestically?

While Pakistan has welcomed the takeover by Taliban, China and Russia have accepted the fait-accompli. It suits their larger interest checkmating the United States. China’s hosting of the Taliban leaders at the Foreign minister’s level is a sign of things to take place in Afghanistan. Afghanistan holds a geostrategic importance for China and Russia. Therefore, the Chinese and Russian governments have already engaged the Taliban through Pakistani facilitators. Pakistan is also facilitating the strategic points of trade. It is going to be the source of revenue for Pakistan.

Now we have to wait and watch on how Taliban rule would take a shape. Will it take route of working in tandem with international rules or will be a safe haven for terrorists? How much the Chinese would tolerate the presence of extremists on its borders that has all the potentials to influence the Uyghur Muslims? Russia would also be equally anxious about possible influence of Afghan developments on the Central Asian republics.

Has the USA absolved itself from the responsibility towards Afghanistan and its people? Many Afghans have sacrificed their lives and many Afghan families have supported the US-led international security forces in the war against Taliban and Al-Qaida since 2001. One thing is sure America has lot to do convincing with its allies for abandoning Afghanistan in such a haste. This has diminished or considerably reduced the power of Uncle Sam as it would affect the confidence level of its allies who are depending on the United States for security purposes. The American establishment seems to be still in the unpredictability mode of the Donald Trump presidency despite the Democratic Party’s triumph in the presidential election, which is an indication that Trumpism is alive and kicking.

Now is the time to ponder over the world politics at large. Will China fill in the vacuum created by the US retreat in Afghanistan but also at the global stage? Whether China and Rusia would expand their geo-strategic presence through Afghanistan? How the Americans and Europeans are going to counter it? What will be the effects of Talibani surge on Pakistan’s socio-political landscape? These are all unanswered questions. India needs to define its stand by attempting to find answers to these questions.

- Dr. Ganesh Mantri