With US president Joe Biden declaring that US forces will fully leave Afghanistan in Sept 2021, there are many media reports that Taliban will take over Afghanistan. Even Taliban seems excited thinking that they have prospects of taking over Kabul and have made some advances. How much, that no one knows?
But, it is a fact that the Afghan Govt cannot and must not have remined under the NATO umbrella for an infinite period. One day or other, NATO would have left. And that time is now, and the Afghan Govt has to face the Taliban on its own.
But, let me bring up the below facts.
- Where from Taliban derive it’s strength: The Afghan citizen is unhappy with the presence of so many foreign troops in Afghan soil. Taliban has been tapping on this dis-satisfaction to derive its popular mass support.
- Afghan Armed forces are not that weak as in 1996: When Taliban took over in 1996, the Govt in Kabul was weak. But now the scenario is greatly changed. More importantly, the current AF Govt has an (small)AirForce. Taliban doesn’t have any anti-aircraft weaponry. So, since, Afghan Govt has some number of attack helicopters, Taliban wont find it easy to take the major cities.
- Will Afghan people tolerate Taliban after NATO troops leave: After NATO troops leave, when Taliban would start attacking the Afghan armed forces, the questions would arise why Taliban is killing its own (Afghan) people and would lose public support. And that would cause the downfall of Taliban.
But, can Taliban overrun entire Afghanistan? “NO”. Why?
- I had mentioned here that it is impossible for a single power to rule Afghanistan.
- Taliban is supported by China and Pakistan. India cannot let China and Pakistan have their proxy come to power.
- On top of that, US, EU, NATO and Russia would never want China rule Afghanistan.
Hence, it is absolutely impossible for Taliban to take over full Afghanistan.
What is India doing and should do (as it has made billions of $ investments in Afghanistan)?
- Strengthen the Afghan National Army: India has been doing this already. Afghan cadets are being trained in our defense academies. There was a rumour in Pakistan Media that India has shipped huge quantities of arms and ammunitions to Afghan National Army very recently. I don’t deny the possibility of India taking such a step.
- Strengthen the Afghan Airforce: India has given few helicopter gunships to Afghan air-force. Afghanistan is primarily a mountainous country and this is where Taliban hides. In such mountainous areas, Helicopters are the best to deal with Taliban fighters(not fighter jets). China and Pakistan cannot provide anti-helicopter missiles to Taliban, as you never know, they may use them against China/Pakistan.
- Strengthen Democracy: Though no one speaks about this, if democracy is strengthened at grass root levels in Afghanistan, then common men and women would not accept the Taliban rule, as they are orthodox and undemocratic. We see many young men and women contest elections, become MPs, debate in parliament after the Taliban was removed by US. Will the new political leaders go back to the dictatorial Taliban regime, I dont think so. They had not tasted democracy in 1996.
- Improve Afghanistan financially: India, US, EU are actually working on this. India has built many dams, electricity lines, Roads etc. in Afghanistan. This has certainly improved the standard of living of Afghan people.
- Help Afghanistan’s export economy grow: India is a big export market. India can give a share of its market to help the Afghan people improve financially. Afghanistan can export stuff like handicraft, dry fruits, shawls etc. to India.
- Build a perception that China is a colonial predator: Pakistan is not alone in the game. Pakistan is a non-entity without China who is the real villian. Pakistan is very much hated in Afghanistan. It is also important to build the perception how China is using its debt trap diplomacy to colonialize several countries. Once this perception is build, Afghanistan will be safe.
.Taliban is not prepared for a long war, it wants to win quickly. And if it cannot win quickly, then it will shrink and may as well vanish.
Hence, I think US did the right thing by evacuating Afghanistan. Taliban needs to be defeated at the hands of Afghan people for complete victory.
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