If the last two weeks of this month are any guide, there is a disturbing pattern that points to the feeling that the chaos in Afghanistan is likely to continue – at least in the foreseeable future. Thursday saw Kabul engulfed in a series of violent blasts, claiming nearly a 100 lives, most of whom were Afghan citizens waiting to leave the country. The blast at Kabul Airport has been claimed by the Islamic State or Daesh. In keeping with the US’s imperial hubris, US President Joe Biden spoke about the American lives lost – 13 soldiers as per reports – and vowed to ‘go after’ those who had attacked. Needless to say, Biden and his predecessors’ misplaced policies in Afghanistan have left the country in a mess and its people in ruin. Thousands of Afghan allies who had worked with foreign forces are stranded in an environment that is easily hostile to them. The unconscionable way the American and Nato forces have abandoned the land they forcefully occupied for 20 years should – but will not – haunt them.
The question is whether there can be success in achieving peace in a country that has been torn apart by empire, and from which hundreds and thousands of people are attempting to flee despite the Taliban’s calls on them to avoid doing so. Though the Taliban leaders in their interviews have asked all Afghans – especially skilled professionals such as doctors and engineers – to stay in the country, the uncertain atmosphere has generated fear, forcing thousands of Afghan to attempt escape. Further, the vague statements by the Taliban regarding the status of women – asking women not to leave the houses for now until Taliban fighters are trained in how to handle them – are all rather ominous.
Sadly, neither the world powers nor the militant factions in Afghanistan are showing any empathy for the main victims of this war and violence: the people of Afghanistan. If the country were safe and secure, why would desperate Afghans – including children and women – risk their lives in this manner? The tragedy Afghanistan is going through has laid bare the bitter truth that cannot be brushed aside by reassuring interviews that sound appealing and hollow at the same time. As the political temperature heightens, the leaders and people of Afghanistan, and the region as well, will need to show that they have the capacity and will to restore peace in Afghanistan.
The glimpses of chaos are heartrending and show clearly how any efforts at nation-building – if there were any – were half-hearted at best. The IS/Daesh is an even more ideologically extremist outfit. Despite all claims by the Taliban there is potential for further terrorism, and this is something Afghan society can hardly afford after over 40 years of continual fighting. Serious threats to human rights, particularly those of women and girls, have emerged as the main concern in Afghanistan. As the country’s economy is hurtling towards the edge of the cliff, the financial challenges the Afghan people are about to face should also draw the attention of the world’s financial institutions and humanitarian organizations. Averting a full-fledged humanitarian crisis should be the top priority of all stakeholders. And let this be known to all: if American intervention of 20 years in Afghanistan has made any difference, it is surely for the worse.
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