Dr. Muhammad Akram Zaheer
PhD in Political Science
Today, Afghanistan has emerged as a more concerning country for its neighbors, regional and international powers. During the twenty years of intervening, the United States has suffered 22000 causalities and approximately $143billion in Afghanistan. In January 2021, the United States announced, “it had reduced its forces in Afghanistan to 2500, the lowest level since 2001, in advance of the potential full military withdrawal by May 2021”. The expected withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is difficult to be optimistic because there are various actors within Afghanistan and its neighborhood. So it can be said with certainty that no country in the region may remain untouched of its consequences. The neighboring states are reviving their older geostrategic objectives. Though, no one neighboring state wants to see unstable Afghanistan and any kind of threat from the diverse Afghan groups and the destabilized country. But the new commitment of the international community for Afghanistan may hold potential threat of disruptive political culture, uncertainty and insecurity.
At Bonn, the responsibility was divided among the several countries to train national army and police; disarming of private militias; reintegration in to society; eradication of poppy; constructing of legal system. The financing to humanitarian and development of the country was shared project of the international powers. But the international community failed because they could not assign and define the role and long term partnership of regional powers in the recovery of Afghanistan. While the regional states have their permanent interests in Afghanistan therefore; they may also have opportunity to compete constructively in providing developmental assistance.
Post withdrawal of Soviet Union from Afghanistan the international community also backed away from their commitment and washed their hand during the civil war in the country. The repugnant act of Taliban brought Afghanistan back on to international platform to discuss. The event of 9/11 pushed the world into war against terrorism and Taliban regime in Afghanistan. On October 2001, U.S. and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan to removed Taliban regime which harbored Al-Qaida. The presence of foreign forces remained since the last twenty years with the mission of counterterrorism in the country but the level of financial assistance declined over the times. In December 2017, the US national security strategy launched a commitment to support Afghan Government and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in the fight against terrorism and Taliban. Despite their reaffirmed commitment and deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan the United States desired to withdrawal their forces. The scholars have many concerns about the outcome of the United States withdrawal from the specious and unclear environment of Afghanistan. The experts of security studies think that if the United States leaves Afghanistan then Taliban may resume control over the vast area and the country return into same situation of 1990s with the characterize of sharia rule. The Talban has also emerged as a legitimate political actor and has made deal with the government and the international actors. The leadership of ethnic groups and small war lards are willing to support Taliban regime on sharia. The return of Taliban regime cannot address the grievances of the Afghans population. The security situation may also erode and the country again becomes the platform of terrorist activities. This situation may also lead towards civil war and fragmentation of ethnic groups. It will be more difficult for young population particularly women and minorities. The negative impact will be more noticeable in the country where health care and education will be decline and the movement and freedom of women will also be decrease.
The withdrawal of U.S. troops followed the withdrawal of finance by the international community and the country will face more difficulties for public development sector. The flow of Afghan elite, refugees and brain drain will increase. As the reaction of this Afghanistan may become a new front of regional and international actors like China, Russia, Pakistan, India and Iran to engage Taliban to achieve their own geopolitical interests. This situation brings back the environment of proxy wars. The sustainable peace depends upon the support of regional actors particularly Pakistan, Iran China and Russia. Neighboring states may continue their support Afghanistan’s local beneficiary groups to maintain stability in the regional balance of power. Moreover the peace of Afghanistan and the region depends on the Afghan government stability and capacity of dealing with challenges of corruption, trade of opium, human right, minority and patron-client system of the population.
Whether the United States withdraw from Afghanistan, the country will remain engaged with international powers particularly its neighbor states. Peace will neither come automatically but it will come with well design agreement of all stack-holders in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. As portrayed different future scenarios above will bring different level of difficulties, the Afghanistan may need of comprehensive measures and plan of action by international community to safeguard its interest in future۔