Monday July 22, 2024

On reconciliation

By Saleem Safi
March 14, 2018

A wounded superpower under an overambitious and interventionist president, George W Bush, invaded Afghanistan soon after the 9/11 attacks. With sheer arrogance – backed by ignorance and miscalculation, the US tried to eliminate the Taliban along with Al-Qaeda by putting them in a do-or-die situation.

In addition, the US and its allies caused civilian causalities through indiscriminate bombing, disrespected Afghan cultural values and committed grave crimes against human rights. Their inhuman treatment and humiliation against the people of Afghanistan instigated the Taliban to respond with impunity and without any heed to moral obligations and the laws of war.

Although the Taliban government had come to power with the gun and the bayonet, it was a reality that had control over a large part of the country. In addition, the Taliban were primarily Afghans who held on to notions of Afghan pride. The degrading and disrespectful treatment meted out by the Americans led them towards giving out a befitting response.

Moreover, once in Afghanistan, the US and her allies not only staged conspiracies against neighbouring countries but also invaded Iraq. This strengthens the Taliban’s narrative that the US intervention was not meant to bring peace into Afghanistan but was rather an attempt to fulfil the US’ greater strategic interests in the region.

However, it also cannot be denied that the foreign intervention in Afghanistan was a result of the Afghan Taliban’s arrogance and blunders. Their myopic approach and flawed policies attracted the wrath of the superpower and augmented the suffering and miseries of the Afghan nation. It has now been 16 years since Afghanistan is in a state of war but the Taliban have shown no leniency in their attitude.

The Taliban’s stubbornness and their inflexible approach towards negotiations with the Afghan government is beyond comprehension. Yes, the Afghan government under President Ashraf Ghani is weak and the Taliban have established influence – or fear – over more than 50 percent area in Afghanistan. But it is also a glaring reality that the Taliban can never occupy Afghanistan or establish their rule by power the way they did in the 1990s.

It is a fact that for the last 15 years the Taliban have managed to keep alive their resistance despite strong pressure from the US and its allies and Afghan forces. But it is equally true that the Afghan Taliban failed to win the majority of the Afghans or overthrow the Afghan government in Kabul. The Taliban may fight with a typical Afghan attitude, but this fight has brought them under the influence of other external powers; it is natural that one needs to bow before one to fight against another.

I find it hard to understand the logic of the Afghan Taliban when they say that will talk only with the US – and not with the Afghan government. At the same time, they precondition the talks with the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

For the withdrawal of the troops, reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban is very important. Once the two sides reconcile, there will be no excuse for the presence of these foreign troops. However, if they do not withdraw after the reconciliation, the Afghan nation and regional powers will definitely pressurise them to leave Afghanistan.

Without reconciliation, though, the withdrawal of external forces will pave the way for more chaos and bloodshed in Afghanistan. History is a true witness of this fact; the world saw how chaos and a bloody civil war descended on Afghanistan when the Soviet troops left the country without there being any reconciliation between the government of Dr Najeebullah and the mujahideen in 1990.

The writer works for Geo TV.

Email: saleem.safi@jang