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May 30, 2020

US pullout

Editorial

 
May 30, 2020

There are certain developments in the region with relation to Afghanistan that need our attention. After the signing of the US-Taliban Accord in February 2020, initially the Kabul government showed its displeasure at the accord which was signed without involving Afghan President Ashraf Ghani or representatives of his government. The Kabul government was also reluctant to abide by the provision of the agreement according to which it was bound to release five thousand Taliban prisoners. Then in the past two months, the Taliban accelerated their attacks in Kabul and other cities, targeting the official security forces of the Kabul government and also those who had a soft corner for it. The US also was not interested in prolonging its stay in Afghanistan and persuaded Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to reach a settlement for sharing of power.

Now with Ghani and Abdullah in the same boat again, and the release of over a thousand Taliban prisoners by the Kabul government, the US is all set to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. The US had agreed to withdraw several thousands of its soldiers from Afghanistan by July 15. As the violence has been flaring again and again, the peace process kept stalling but now there is hope again – after the release of the Taliban prisoners – that the Kabul government and the Taliban may finally sit together to negotiate and find a mutually beneficial solution to this seemingly never-ending tragedy. The Kabul government has been struggling in a political deadlock for nearly a year now, but perhaps this is the best time to end the deadlock. US officials have once again reiterated their commitment to reduce the number of their troops to just eight thousand and also abandon five bases. Afterwards, all foreign forces are supposed to withdraw by the second quarter of 2021. If that happens, it will end the US’s longest war in a century.

If the Taliban remain at war with the Kabul government and keep refusing to negotiate directly with it, the Afghan peace talks will keep lingering on. The persistent war efforts by the Taliban may dampen the prospects for full withdrawal. The US may finally decide to keep military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan to prevent groups such as Al-Qaeda or Islamic State from forming safe havens in Afghanistan. That will be a dangerous situation for Pakistan too as these militants have no loyalty with anyone but their own concocted versions of politics and religion. Pakistan has also suffered a lot by terrorism in this region and lost thousands of civilians and military personnel. Pakistan must exert as much influence as it can on the Taliban to finally ditch their war-mongering and give some respite to their own country and to the people in this region at large.