We will discuss the below 3 questions in this article.
- Why Afghanistan is easy to capture, difficult to conquer and impossible to rule?
- Can Taliban rule Afghanistan?
- What should be the solution?
Lets come to first question. There are 3 major reasons – as follows:
- Strategic location of Afghanistan: Afghanistan is located on the main land route between Iran, Central Asia, and India. The major trade routes pass through Afghanistan. Any one power capturing this area will have immense control of the economic artery which affects entire of Europe, Asia, Indian sub-continent, China and Middle-east. If any one wants to reach anywhere, the land route has to pass through Afghanistan. For e.g. If India wants to move goods to Russia/Europe, then it needs Afghanistan. If China needs to ship its goods to Europe it needs Afghanistan. Due to this strategic location multiple powers having interest in Afghanistan. Hence, “NO” power can let any other power capture and rule Afghanistan.
- Inhospitable terrain of Afghanistan: The physical terrain of Afghanistan makes conquest and rule extremely difficult. Afghanistan is dominated by some of the highest and more jagged mountains in the world. These include the Hindu Kush, which dominates the country and run through the center and south of the country, as well as the Pamir mountains in the east. The Pamir Knot — where the Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tian Shan, Kunlun, and Himalayas all meet is situated in Badakhshan in northeast Afghanistan.
- Extreme poverty in Afghanistan: There is absolutely zero natural resources and means of livelihood in Afghanistan. This has kept the people of Afghanistan predominantly tribal and poor. Due to this extreme poverty it becomes very easy for conflicting powers to lure the Afghanistan people to bear arms. When Russia captured Afghanistan, British and US financed the Mujahids. When US wanted to rule Afghanistan, Iran/Pakistan/China funded Taliban to fight US. Due to extreme mountainous nature of Afghanistan, guerilla warfare becomes very easy and hence the most powerful armies are defeated. Had Afghanistan been a plain/flat region, then it would have been possible for any power to rule.
In nutshell, Other powers wont afford one single power capture Afghanistan.
Lets come to second question. Can Taliban rule Afghanistan?
My answer is a loud “NO”. The Taliban is being sponsored by Pakistan and backed by China. So surrounding powers like Russia and India (and US, EU, NATO)will never let China and Pakistan rule Afghanistan peacefully. Taliban will capture Afghanistan, but as soon as it tries to settle down, India and Russia(backed by US and West) would sponsor other rival groups and ensure Taliban remains unsettled. For e.g. when Taliban tried to settle down in 1990s, many other countries sponsored rival Northern alliance who played a major role in dethroning Taliban.
Next, what should be the solution? How will this musical chair end?
The answer is simple, leave Afghanistan alone. All the powers(Russia, India, China, US, NATO, Iran) need to come to an agreement that no single power can rule Afghanistan and hence they “MUST” all put off their hands off Afghanistan.
Actually, this arrangement had worked out once in modern history. During 19th Century British and Russia had fought a long tug-of-war for controlling Afghanistan. After both failed, they decided to leave their hands off and use Afghanistan as a buffer state and then things became peaceful – in fact Afghanistan prospered. How long did the peace last – Till communist Russia invaded Afghanistan.
We need to learn from history and repeat it.
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