Are United States and Taliban on the Same Page?


By Agha Iqrar Haroon

In an interview with Marco Werman of the public radio “The World” US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has indicated that only Afghans will decide what kind of government they wish in Kabul and what role women will have in their social system?

Writer of this article Agha Iqrar Haroon while covering the Afghan War in 1996.

Zalmay Khalilzad during his interview was asked that was there also the additional and noble goal of improving the lives of women and children in Afghanistan and how will the US continue to advocate and support that?

His answer was modest but enough to understand that the US does not want for the time being to meddle more with the Afghan issues.

Zalmay said: “Well, the decision about the future is up to the Afghans. It’s not the responsibility of the United States to organize other Countries.”

His statement indicates the following;

  • The US is no more interested in what kind of government and what kind of role of women in the Afghan society will be after the withdrawal of US forces and this is up to the Afghans to decide this issue.
  • The imposition of western democracy in Afghanistan is no more a must option for NATO and the United States for developing a workable contact with the future government of Afghanistan and a moderate Islamic system would also be acceptable for the western world in Kabul.
  • The Taliban are following their commitment of not attacking the US or NATO forces for the last 16 months.
  • Relations between the United States and the Taliban are comfortable because the US has accepted the core demand of the Taliban that let Afghans decide their future government and the mode of their future government.
  • The US government is least bother about the fate of the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who according to the US intelligence, has already lost control over the Country and the Taliban, standing just out of Kabul, do not want to create any situation for the US forces; therefore, they are waiting for smooth withdrawal of the US and then they can guillotine Ghani’s government any time of their (Taliban) choice.

The United States, according to the official data, spent somewhere around a trillion dollars to wage a war in Afghanistan. The US troops are now leaving a very uncertain situation for the Afghans: 45,000 Afghan security forces have died, 111,000 civilians dead, the US troops’ fatalities far lower but still at 2,300. One wonders what the sacrifices were about.

News coming from Kabul suggests that NATO and the US forces are concentrating on their smooth withdrawal and avoiding engaging in local issues or increasing attacks of Taliban on Afghan security forces.

Those who understand the currents and undercurrents of the Afghan war are of the view that massive advantage of the Taliban is not possible if the US and NATO are seriously providing air, ground, and intel cover to Afghan security forces.

There are reports of delays in the disbursement of salaries for the Afghan security forces and Afghan police due to the incompetence and corruption among the Afghan government and such a situation is helpful for the Taliban because there are chances that thousands of personnel of the Afghan security forces and police can shift loyalties to the Taliban. Such a situation would not only help the Afghan security and police staffers to get economic benefits from the Taliban rather they can avert their possible massacre at the hands of the Taliban who are already knocking the the door of the Presidential Palace.

Robert M. Gates, who served as the Secretary of Defense for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in his article “We Cannot Afford to Turn Our Backs on Afghanistan” published in NYT explains well why the US faced the worst defeat after Vietnam.

Gates writes:

“Even as the United States, allied and Afghan forces tried to deal with the deteriorating security situation — which included the deployment of ever-larger numbers of troops between 2007 and 2010 — the corruption, incompetence, and infighting among officials in Kabul, the provinces and the districts left many ordinary Afghans indifferent, or hostile, to the government. The massive influx of US dollars for assistance programs, construction, and contractors, together with the deeply rooted and extensive narcotics trade, turbocharged corruption. It even extended to Afghan security forces: Promotions were for sale, officers stole troops’ wages and weapons appeared on the black market. Of course, many Afghan soldiers fought courageously to protect their country from the Taliban. But for many other Afghan soldiers, there was simply little motivation”.

Gates rightfully explains that all Afghan governments since the US invasion of Afghanistan were ruthlessly corrupt and incompetent.

I remember that in late 2009, over 100,000 active US troops were present in Afghanistan and over 20,000 troops of other Countries under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were available to support the US troops but the Afghan military always stood behind them instead of at the front due to fear of being killed by Taliban; therefore, one can understand the level of fear among the Afghan military after complete withdrawal of foreign troops.

The US understands the situation very well for a long and was trying to face-saving to leave the land of graves and the dust of foreign troops so why should not Zalmy has a doable understanding with the Taliban for safe passage instead of wasting time to work out things with Ashraf Ghani who, according to US intelligence report, is “no more” an operational President?

Note: Agha Iqrar Haroon is a senior journalist from Pakistan working in the field since 1988. He covered the Afghan war during 1995-97 and then during 2001-2006 while working with national and international media outlets including WTN News Agency, ETN News Agency, the News International, Abu Dhabi Television, and Al-Jazeera News.



The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

Central Desk
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