Thursday December 02, 2021

Taliban’s Afghanistan: Certain projections, predictions, calculations proven wrong

August 27, 2021
Taliban’s Afghanistan: Certain projections, predictions, calculations proven wrong

ISLAMABAD: The Taliban’s strategy and approach in the wake of their takeover of Kabul has disproved certain projections, prognoses and scenarios that were being made in Pakistan, the United States and in the capitals of several US allies.

The US and its partners waged a war against the Taliban for 20 years before Washington decided to withdraw its forces from the country. Most analysts painted a gloomy picture and chaotic and anarchic conditions in the aftermath mainly because of the Taliban’s style of governing after taking over in Afghanistan in the past. They took a clue from the group’s previous capture of Afghanistan and the subsequent five-year rule and felt that the Taliban would not abandon their past and repeat it once again.

These states have a sprawling network of the best spy agencies that were concentrated not only in Afghanistan but were also working in many countries to keep tabs on the precise ground situation. Apart from the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), undercover agents of all the US allies had a heavy presence in the war-torn neighbour of Pakistan. But their forecasts and predictions fell flat with the Taliban’s victory march on to Kabul and its subsequent policy. They are now faced with monumental embarrassment. Every American ally is now dissatisfied with the US decision of withdrawal without prior preparations to meet the ensuing situation.

There was a widespread view not only in government circles but also political quarters in Pakistan that the country would be inundated with refugees once again as the Taliban overran Afghanistan without any resistance. It was believed that this time the influx of Afghans would be far greater than earlier, and Pakistan would be greatly burdened financially because of this exodus. No such thing has happened so far, giving the impression that Afghans are not inclined to leave their homeland even in this time of uncertainty. Islamabad has heaved a sigh of relief and is relieved that Afghans are not as anathematic to the Taliban rule as the world wants us to believe. The arrival in and departure of Afghans from Pakistan is of a routine nature that has taken place for decades. There has also been no mass migration from Afghanistan to Iran, which also had to bear such a brunt, though far less than Pakistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion.

The Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan has given a boost to supplies of goods from Pakistan with the volume of trade having significantly gone up. The truckers are not confronted with any serious law and order problem inside Afghanistan. Even in the absence of a formal force deployed at the border on the Afghan side, the vehicular traffic is facing no hurdles at entry points. The Taliban are manning these spots.

Another scenario bandied about by the US and its partners in the assault on Afghanistan, which is being persistently publicized, is that the Taliban would instantly ensure with force that all females wear burqa or head-to-toe covering and that none of them come out of their homes. This conclusion was based on their views about the past rule of the Taliban. Until now, the Taliban have proven them wrong.

The US and its allies also claimed that the Taliban would quickly start lashing and stoning errant women and cutting the hands of thieves even before a formal justice system was in place. Thus far, no such incident has been seen. The US and its allies have also been asserting that the Taliban would commit human rights violations.

They had projected that the moment the Taliban would get control of Afghanistan, girls’ schools and colleges would be locked and the doors for female education would be shut. Nothing of the sort has occurred thus far. On the other hand, the Taliban are urging the people not to flee Afghanistan and stay in the country as their rights would be ensured there.

It was also said that a civil war would engulf Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover and the warlords would engage in pitched battles. However, there is complete calm in the whole of the country except the Panjshir valley where efforts are on to work out a truce and reconciliation between the Taliban and Ahmed Shah Masood’s son, even when there is no formal government working. Bedlam, however, prevails around the Kabul airport, controlled by American troops till Aug 31 for evacuation purposes, where thousands of Afghans are struggling to catch US aircraft to go move to greener pastures. They include a large number of interpreters, who closely worked with the American forces over the past two decades, facilitating them during their occupation.

There is a widespread impression, based on the way the Taliban have behaved during the last 12 days since Aug 15 when they took over Kabul, that they now have a changed their ways having learnt lessons from the past. The tone and tenor and substance of what their spokesmen have said is measured, cautious and guarded. Their apparent effort is not to annoy any segment of society or foreign country.

Many are anxious to know what the Taliban will do in different spheres of life once they have formally put their government in place. At this stage, it is premature to hazard a guess about that because this will unfold only after the government is formed.

Simultaneously, several people are keen to know what the US will do after it has completed its evacuation. It is fesared that the US may do something unusual to cover up its humiliation. However, what is clear to Pakistanis right now is that the US has not acknowledged and recognized the sacrifices Pakistan has rendered in its war against terrorism. This is extremely painful not only for the government but also the entire Pakistani nation. Only the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have lauded Islamabad’s cooperation in the evacuation of their staff from Afghanistan.