By Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
So now another QUAD is proposed by the US to be formed on the western neighborhood of the long gestationed QUAD in the Indo-Pacific region, also led by the Super Power US and comprises India, Japan and Australia, all four members have been at loggerheads with emerging Super Power Communist China, found highly belligerent since ascendancy of Xi Jinping as Paramount Leader of his country manufacturing conflicts with neighbors over territories to trade in the region. Like older gestationed QUAD, which is in fact China-centric, the newly proposed QUAD has an undeniable China angle as later is lately found poking her nose in civil war infected Afghanistan in collaboration with its all season iron-brother Pakistan -one of the three major sponsors (other two being Soviet Russia and United States) of four decades’ long bloody civil war in hapless Afghanistan- on the pretext of building infrastructure the landlocked nation in fact is badly deprived up.
As reported, the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity, the Biden Administration has said. “The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing,” the State Department said. Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing interregional trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties, and agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus.
After reading the above quoted US State Department statements and other related propositions, this author had an instant laugh as he believes this is nothing but a cleverly drafted face saving attempt to placate all round criticisms and possible bashings of Biden Administration policy of abandoning hapless Afghanis to bloodthirsty Islamic terrorists called Taliban, who so far have not shown any sign of respect to any bilateral agreement signed between them and the US Administration, and its sponsor Islamic terror infected Pakistan Army, which in the meanwhile –as reported by media– ordered its forces, already infiltrated into Taliban ranks, to target economic, social, educational and democratic infrastructures built by India. What the US had done in Vietnam in 1970s that caused loss of lives to thousands of Vietnamese who supported former in three decades long Vietnam civil war, the same is repeated in Afghanistan now. This Biden Administration’s policy reminds the world Henry Kissinger’s infamous statement, “It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.”
If the latest report to be believed, Taliban claims, its forces have already occupied 85% of Afghanistan territory. To say the least, why the Taliban claims should not be believed when it is known that India, which has invested $3billions for economic, social, educational and democratic infrastructures development in Afghanistan, closed her three Consulate-General offices in Afghanistan’s Mazar-e Sharif in north, Herat in west and Kandahar in south, certainly out of fear of brutal overrun by aggressive Taliban and its sponsors. These diplomatic mission offices were opened with purpose to implement India sponsored development works in the respective region. In the meanwhile, as reported, Taliban brutally killed a team of Afghan Special Forces which had gave up arms and raised their hands to surrender, and ordered local religious leaders in their occupied territories to give the list of unmarried girls above 15 years of age and widows below 45 years of age for its forces marriage/entertainment, the tendency that ISIS exhibited while they were in occupation of Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq in mid-2010s. Apart from the above, the 7th Century Sharia Law has already been implemented in Taliban occupied territory at gun points in defiance of elected Afghan Government’s policy.
In regard to allegation of Pakistan sponsoring Taliban expansion, this author quotes here Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s 16th July 2021 tweet that reads “Breaking: Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and replied by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas.” Going further, Mr. Saleh tweeted on the same day, “If anyone doubts my tweet on Pak Air Force and Pak Army warning to d Afg side not to retake Spin Boldak I am ready to share evidence through DM. Afghan aircrafts as far as 10 kilometers frm Spin Boldak R warned 2 back off or face air to air missiles. Afg is too big to be swallowed.”
When the above kind of critical security related tweets could be made against Pakistan by none other than the Vice President of Afghanistan, how could the world believe Biden’s plan that Afghanistan and Pakistan would work together along with the US, which could not discipline Taliban and its sponsor despite long two-decades of physical presence at a cost of $1.5trillion and loss of 2400 US force lives, and Uzbekistan, a small neighbour on the north of Afghanistan which in fact a subordinate nation of Putin’s Russia, that is often at loggerhead with the US over Syrian civil war to Crimea encroachment and interference in US Presidential election to cyber security, in newly constituted QUAD?
Mr. Biden and his administration have taken the decision of the US Forces withdrawal to satisfy their domestic audience, who are in fact no less losers for their governments’ misadventures of building Taliban into a formidable force between 1979 to 1990s, which had later facilitated attacks on US, propagating that when the two terms President Obama and one term President Trump -later is now working to contest for The White House in 2024 election- from 2009 to 2021 failed, their administration succeeded within six months in power. And for the world audience, they have institutionalized the new QUAD comprising the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan to take care of Afghanistan post-US withdrawal.
Wow, what a great diplomatic move? In recent past, Mr. Biden made a statement that US Forces were not in Afghanistan for “nation building”. For Mr. Biden’s information, nobody also asked the Uncle Sam to build others’ nation. And, at the same time, nobody asked the Uncle Sam to destroy the nation? Why then the Uncle Sam built Taliban with guerrilla warfare training and provisioning of arms and ammunitions? Since the US built Taliban, it is its moral responsibility to tame them. After collapse of Soviet Union, the US virtually left Afghanistan in 1990s in the hands of well-equipped Taliban and Taliban boomeranged on US decade latter on 9/11. Now, again, the US leaves Afghanistan when Taliban is much powerful than earlier, and has in the meantime secured legitimacy as the world’s Super Power sit with it for negotiation bypassing elected Afghanistan Government for devising means for future Afghanistan governance.
In view of the above, the new QUAD is just eyewash. In a short while, China domination in the region looks certain. And, at the same time, nobody can assure that China would not be another Soviet Russia and Uncle Sam in the infamous Graveyard of Empires. All these mean a prolonged geopolitical mess in not only Afghanistan but also in Pakistan to where Taliban has in the meanwhile expanded its terror networks with strength not seen before 9/11. Who is responsible for this? Already the former Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and later CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus forecasted that within two years Biden Administration will regret for its present decision in Afghanistan. And former US President George W. Bush, who removed Taliban and installed democracy in Kabul post-9/11 attacks, vociferously opposes US Force withdrawal at a time when Taliban is expanding its area of influence in South Asia.
(Author is Honorary Research Fellow in Defence Research and Studies (DRaS) and Assistant Professor of Management Studies in Trident Group of Institution, Bhubaneswar. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)