Published:  05:51 AM, 20 July 2021

Afghanistan is a Place of Fear, Terror

Afghanistan is a Place of Fear, Terror

Afghan war on the part of America was quite an unjust war. It was to destroy a country, a nation, a civilization with no reasonable ground, at all. You cannot punish millions of people for the sake of one man only! Thanks to President Bush, a war criminal, rightly had to face shoe-throwing protest. He shall surely suffer now and after death for his heinous crime committed against humanity.

It is also likely that the humanitarian crisis will spill over into neighboring countries. The more than 2.5 million Afghan refugees worldwide remain one of the largest and longest-running displaced populations. Iran and Pakistan host the vast majority. Millions of Afghan refugees have returned home since 2001, including almost 860,000 last years as the pandemic ravaged communities and economies in their host countries. But those flows could soon be moving in the opposite direction. Over 100,000 civilians have been displaced internally already this year. If civil war now continues, many will have no choice but to flee the country.

It's possible Afghanistan will avoid a return to the chaos and brutality of the 1990s, but the memory of that time will drive many Afghans with means to leave home. If past is prologue, the withdrawal of Western troops will be followed by a reduction in the foreign aid upon which the government and economy are existentially dependent.

A combination of brain-drain, economic implosion, and collapse of public services will drive many more into grinding poverty and across borders in search of a better future.The bottom line is that the region is facing the prospect of another major displacement crisis. Donors will need to surge support to neighboring countries that host Afghan refugees.

In return, donors should seek better treatment and conditions for refugees by regional host countries. Compact experiments like the one in Jordan build resilience by creating jobs and education for refugees and host communities alike. They offer an important model for the way forward.European countries also have a responsibility to act. NATO is pulling out of Afghanistan in parallel to the U.S. withdrawal. As fighting spreads, Afghans will seek refuge in Europe, where they already make up the second-largest group of asylum seekers.

Yet tens of thousands of Afghans have been forcibly returned to Afghanistan from Europe and Turkey in recent years, and the number granted protection in EU countries is rapidly decreasing. Europe will need to change course, suspend deportations, and open its doors to Afghan asylum seekers. A first step would be for European leaders to acknowledge what their troops already know: Afghanistan is not safe for return - not any part of it.

"The only thing we learn from history" - in the words of German philosopher Friedrich Hegel "is that we learn nothing from history". Consequently, "those who fail to learn from history" - as per British PM Churchill - "are condemned to repeat it". All the main stakeholders in Afghanistan like the United States, Taliban and Pakistan et al have badly failed to learn from Afghanistan history's black chapter of the 1990s and are on the path of committing the same blunders. It seems history is bent on repeating itself in Afghanistan, with repercussions of unmanageable magnitude.

In 1989, the (former) USSR left Afghanistan - 'the bleeding wound' as Mikhail Gorbachev called it - without healing it and without bringing any reconciliation between the smug Mujahideen and the weak and handicapped government of the then president Dr. Najibullah. The reconciliation between the two warring parties was also ignored by the Mujahideen's supporters in the Geneva Accord signed in 1988. Moreover, the US abandoned Afghanistan after bleeding the USSR (Soviet Union) for a decade and disintegrating it with the help of Afghan blood.

These blunders led to the civil war and chaos of the 1990s which ultimately paved the way to the rise of the Taliban.Though the US and Pakistan were said to have learnt from their blunders of the 1990s and committed that they would not be repeated, unfortunately, the fact is that they have learnt nothing from the past and have been repeating the same blunders.

In addition, the Taliban are also repeating the same blunders committed by the Mujahideen in the 1990s. Reconciliation between the Dr Najibullah government and Mujahideen was a prerequisite for peace and stability in the post-Soviet withdrawal. But the Soviet Union, the US and Pakistan agreed on a roadmap in the Geneva Accord and left intra-Afghan reconciliation for the future. This weakened Dr. Najibullah's government and boosted the morale of the Mujahideen.

The Mujahideen considered Dr. Najibullah's government as a puppet of the Soviet Union and thus gave no importance to it. And, while the Mujahideen's victory became possible with the sophisticated weapons of the US, overflowing money by the Arabs, unflinching support by Pakistan and blunders of the Soviet Union, they started to attribute it to their own strength and faith. So, they insisted on the occupation of Afghanistan by force.

Meanwhile, different Mujahideen groups became embroiled in a civil war that devastated Kabul and created chaos in Afghanistan. This brought the Taliban on the scene who ultimately defeated and kicked out the Mujahideen and established their regime. The US also faced the music of its blunders when Afghanistan became a nightmare and a base camp for Al-Qaeda. The 9/11 incident brought back the US to Afghanistan, but this time as an occupier.

Now the US is going back after two decades of a futile stay in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, it has repeated the blunders of the 1990s and pushed Afghanistan towards devastation, civil war, and chaos. Ideally, the US should have brought about a reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban prior to its withdrawal. That would have helped the US pressurize the warring parties for a meaningful solution.

President Ashraf Ghani also considered reconciliation with the Taliban to be the end of his own government. Which is why he did not seem too pushed about reconciliation. Pakistan, being prone to any fallouts of Afghanistan, should have pressured Kabul and the Taliban for reconciliation prior to facilitating the US-Taliban deal. But Islamabad too left the intra-Afghan reconciliation for the future and helped the US-Taliban deal.

As long as American troops were present in Afghanistan, the most difficult task of bringing stability was on their shoulders and the easiest task of creating instability was in the hands of anti-American powers. But now once all the American forces withdraw, Washington's dependency on Pakistan will end. The equation will reverse and the challenging task of stability in Afghanistan will fall on neighbors like Pakistan.

It is common sense that if the US wants to create trouble for Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan, then the easiest way to do so is to cause instability in Afghanistan. That is why intra-Afghan reconciliation is the primary need of Pakistan and other regional powers, and they should use all means at their disposal to bring together Afghan warring parties for a meaningful reconciliation.

Moreover, the Talibans should also keep in mind that as long as they were fighting against the US, they had the sympathies of some of the local population and regional powers like Russia, Iran, and Pakistan etc. But the local population and regional powers will not support their fight against Afghans and will not endorse their regime.The Taliban should not make decisions on the basis of the current weak position and broken morale of the Afghan government. This time strong resistance will not come mainly from the Afghan government but from Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, and Turkmen nationalities of Afghanistan.

Though today these communities seem somehow weak or uninterested, if the Taliban establish their regime by force, then some regional powers - like in the past - will jump on the bandwagon in support of ethnic resistance. If today they do not come out in direct resistance, the only reason is that Afghans are fed up with war and bloodshed. But if the Taliban continued its war in Afghanistan like the Mujahideen did in the 1990s, then the Afghans will certainly rise leaving the Taliban's will have the same fate like the Mujahideen. Considering the present status, Afghanistan is now a place of fear and terror.

The writer is an independent political analyst who writes on politics, political, human-centered figures, current and international affairs.

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