War on terrorism in Afghanistan must reach at its logical end

The insurgency remains resilient nearly two decades after US-led forces toppled its regime in leading to the US longest war. The Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners, crashed them into the World Trade Center(WTC) on 9/11 in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and the fourth plane crashed in open fields in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. About three thousand people die in these terrorists’ attacks. In Sept18 2001, on  War Footing, US President George W. Bush signs into law a joint resolution authorising force against those answerable for attacking the US on 9/11. The Bush administration later quoted this joint resolution as a legal basis for its choice to take far-reaching actions to combat terrorism, from attacking Afghanistan to snooping on US citizens without a court order to set up the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Thus US-led allied forces declared ‘War On Terrorism.’

On Oct 7, 2001, the US military, with British support, starts a shelling crusade against Taliban forces, thus formally beginning the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’. Canada, Australia, Germany, and France pledged the support in future. Initially, the ‘War on Terrorism’ was mainly involved in the US bombing on both al-Qaeda and Taliban forces assisted by a partnership of about one thousand US special forces, the Northern Alliance, and ethnic Pashtun anti-Taliban forces.

On 9/11, the face of global terrorism was changed totally. The world faced a new brand of terrorism whose scope and severity was not known. To comprehend the consequence of danger modelled by new terrorism, there is a need to go back to Afghanistan’s history. In 1979 former soviet union invaded Afghanistan to support the pro-communist government against the threat of Mujahideen. These Mujahideen called for global support from the like mind people to wage war against the superpower. Of course, they had the backing of the US through Pakistan. Thousands of fundamentalist volunteers worldwide poured into Afghanistan to fight the war against former USSR Armed Forces. After one decade USSR left Afghanistan; thus, Mujahideen claimed victory and grabbed power. These mercenaries were then divided into three groups: one group was launched as al-Quaeda under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden based permanently in Afghanistan, the second group of mercenaries went back to their countries of origin and formed the terrorist network. The third group headed toward the US and the West under the guise of refugees and started radicalisation, recruitment, and indulging in violent extremist activities. This is how this terror network was spread all over the world. Thus the existence of global terrorism is not new but unique to modern history. So terrorism did not come up on 9/11 but has its roots deep in history. India and Israel are facing terrorism for the last seven decades.

The war on terror is a failure in Afghanistan. As per the news Taliban sized about two-thirds of Afghanistan as the US and NATO forces were completing their withdrawal. There were reports of Afghan Army soldiers fleeing from the nation in droves. In advance of the US withdrawal, Biden had reportedly concluded that it was an “unwinnable war” and a situation without “a military solution.”

Afghan officials have pursued to tone down the effect of the US-led military withdrawal on their own forces’ capabilities, but it is assessed to indicate that the withdrawal could lead to Taliban gains on the battlefield. By many counts, the Taliban are in a stronger position now than when they were at any point since 2001. Operations by the Taliban, whose strength has been estimated at 60,000 full-time fighters, against Afghan government forces continue. Targeted attacks have risen in recent months. Many analysts have a reservation that the Taliban would agree to shun the violence, arguably their primary source of leverage, before an intra-Afghan political settlement, though targeted reductions in violence could pave the way for a more comprehensive ceasefire.

There are roughly 2.5 million recorded refugees from Afghanistan. They encompass the most significant long-drawn-out refugee populace in Asia and the 2nd  largest refugee population in the world. In light of the increasingly worsening security situation in many parts of the country, the violence continues to drive people from their homes.

What is the way forward? The solution to the problem in Afghanistan lies in political, not military, actions. Bringing the Taliban to resolve or reach an agreement will require a ready mix of carrot and stick policy. This policy would require encouragement to terrorists to lay down their arms.  But this should be done in a manner that does not estrange those members of the populace that have remained loyal to the Afghan government.

The chances of a large number of former terrorists joined with Afghanistan’s mushrooming youth bulge generates the scenarios for new waves of social unsteadiness and which is potential radicalisation. Thwarting future insurgency or prolonged criminal activity needs simultaneous economic and human capital development investments to provide a perceptible opportunity for the youth population and former insurgents.

The basis for advancement in Afghanistan will be built on the Afghan government’s capability to rally the people through inspiration operations. Altering Afghan perceptions will require a long-term, synchronised strategic approach that merges words and actions with a united account for Afghanistan.

The Afghan government requires to set the circumstances for more extensive geographical collaboration external to Afghanistan. Ingenuities leveraging the Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) can inspire regional partnerships and upsurge interoperability with partners to encourage regional security and cooperation on other issues.

Conclusion: In sum, the route to the end of the conflict in Afghanistan will be political, and it will be in the hands of the Afghans only. Miller’s pointed recognition of this fact creates the space for a fundamental reframing of this foreign policy challenge, and we have sought, for our part, to provide some ways forward.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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