By Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
Difficult to digest that within a week of Biden Administration’s open admission that ‘Taliban might capture Kabul within three months’; the terror outfit could reach the Afghanistan capital that houses country’s 12 percentage population and took over the control of the same in four to five days. Taliban strength is 60 to 70 thousands fighters spread over the entire country of 38 million population in over massive 0.65 million Sq KM. By the time Kabul takeover was complete, Taliban fighters have almost captured the landlocked nation’s other major cities and rural geography but Panjshir Valley.
Panjshir Valley is a small piece of land near Hindu Kush, strategically located 150 KM north of capital, that dares to defy Islamist Taliban rule now a la the same did under legendary war-lord and guerrilla fighter Ahmed Shah Massoud under banner of Northern Alliance during earlier phase of Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001.
In the meanwhile, First Vice President in deposeed Ashraf Ghani government, Amrullah Saleh, an ethnic minority Tajik, former spy and native of the valley, has reached the valley and has announced that as per Afghanistan Constitution, he is rightfully ruler of the country post-flee of President though no ally of Ghani regime give due importance to his statement. But, he is a force to reckon with along with his ally Panjshir Valley’s present de-facto ruler Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmed Shah Massoud.
Going further, it is also difficult to believe that three lakhs strong US and its allies trained and built Afghan National Army with modern war gears could surrender to 60-70 thousand Taliban within a month. And the US and NATO armies present in Afghanistan soil backed by USS Ronald Reagan in north Arabia Sea -sailed to the region from her base in Japan to support Afghanistan evacuation- remain silent spectators.
There is no doubt that either there was a complete intelligence failure on the part of the US or Biden Administration knowingly allowed Taliban conquest or both. But this author assumes that it is a complete intelligence failure on the part of US which was present in Afghanistan for two decades and had forecasted Taliban win in three months while the same happened in a week time. Three months time and one weak time are two big different numbers in war strategy formulation. And, at the same time, this author assumes that the US allowed Taliban to capture the hapless country despite pronouncement of its administration that the same will happen in three months.
Of course, with the passing of time, the truth will come out. But, in between, due to above development, the lives lost, misery done to the humanity and loss of image of Super Power, which leads democratic movement in the world, remain unrecovered forever.
Here, the world Super Power, which gives lecture on liberal democratic value and human right, should not forget that a country’s entire population for more than four decades suffers or paying price for none of their fault. The US cannot simple say ‘we cannot fight and die in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves’ and leave in mid-night when there is allegations, and in some case, there are proofs of Pakistan -a former US ally in her so-called war against terrorism- provides moral and materials support to Taliban taking advantage of porous border.
Where there is no internal strife? But, it is Afghanis who suffer for generation. In fact, Afghanis are victims of external interferences. First, it was due to the USSR. After the collapse of USSR, things would have been different were the US not trained and equipped Pakistan ISI backed Mujahidin (now called Taliban) to fight Red Army, part of Cold War between two Super Powers, and after the collapse of the USSR, were the US not left poisonous snake to rove free till 2001.
Now, President Biden says that ‘we did not go into Afghanistan to nation building or establishing democracy’. “It has always been our decision to get those who had attacked us and we did it. We got Osama,” said the US President. Here, he is reminded that you were there to defeat Red Army. After Red Army retreat, you left unconcern of poisonous snakes you built till the latter bite you in style and manner Americans never forget. Now, you are leaving the snakes much sophisticated but without loss of 1996-2001 instinct and with latest arms and ammunitions, and above all, two formidable allies such as Russia and China, who are now at severe loggerhead with West, apart from their(Taliban) born dreaded ally Pakistan -having dubious vested interest in the region- which waited for two decades for today’s moment.
Now, the entire Afghanistan and world are aghast of Taliban take over. While within Afghanistan there are pockets of resistance including in Panjshir Valley, there are huge cry on the part of Afghanis to get out of their motherland which means Taliban and its sponsor are not so popular in the country. Clearly, they have taken over the country at gun point. The resistance could have been well exploited for building an orderly Afghanistan without safe haven for terror. But, this was not done for reasons best known to Super Power. India shows the way though with a small investment compare to West’s trillion dollars but mocked. The goodwill India won has been reaped during evacuation of its diplomats, security forces and citizens’ post-Taliban take over. So question arises: Is there a vested interest on the part of West like Britain, a constituency of Western forces in Afghanistan, had when they left India pushing the region into chaos and bloodshed which haven’t yet subsided even after seven and half decades of self-rule?
(Author is Research Fellow in DRaS, Ernakulam and Asst. Professor in Trident Group of Institution, Bhubaneswar. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)