Afghanistan’s Quagmire

Afghanistan has been remained the place of proxy wars by the superpowers for the last forty years, initially by the Soviet Union and then by the United States. War has remained the only industry that would not have any fiscal issues. It is strange that every international player wants a peaceful, prosperous, flourishing and stable Afghanistan. Different countries intervened in Afghanistan for their vested interests and demolished its culture, traditions and left behind a country in devastated and dilapidated condition.

After 17 years of long war, a parley between the U.S and the Taliban occurred in Doha regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan without any representation of the Afghan government. America’s apparent interest is that Afghanistan should not become the hub of any terrorist activities or any militant organization after the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Now, alongside the Taliban, Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has also held its bastion in Afghanistan. How it became possible for the terrorist organization, ISIS, to have stronghold in Afghanistan under the nose of U.S. forces? ISIS is a threat to the U.S., but it is the same U.S. that agreed to give safe passage to ISIS from Raqqa.

The U.S. is an antagonist to China and Russia; all these international players have their interests in Afghanistan. It is incomprehensible that the U.S. would give a free space to emerging China and reasserting Russia in Afghanistan.  The U.S. has replaced Pakistan with India as its ally in South Asia to contain China. It is worthy to mention that Afghanistan also has mineral resources with an estimated worth up to $3 trillion.

China is interested in Afghanistan for the success of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a flagship project of One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. It is investing almost $60 billion in CPEC, which would link the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar with Xinjiang. Any skirmish in Afghanistan would directly affect Pakistan and Central Asia.  China is very serious regarding tacking the issue of terrorism. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Xinjiang also works under the flag of the Taliban and has their full support. It is important for China to tackle the menace of terrorism for its economic dominance.

Russia is also reasserting itself in South Asia and Indo-Pacific politics; it has already shown its dominance in Syria where the U.S. couldn’t succeed in its attempt to dethrone the Syrian President Bashar al- Assad. Russia is sympathetic to the Taliban and will host talks between the Taliban and Afghan politicians who have anti-government stance.

When the Soviet Union departed Afghanistan in 1989, they left behind a shabby and devastated country. Different extremist groups like the Taliban and Tahrik –i-Taliban Pakistan emerged and states are still fighting against them to end the menace of those militant organizations.

World’s emerging superpowers are trying to assert their influence on another land where their own countrymen are not the victim of violence. Apparently, the U.S. has decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, but where the eye of hurricane would be shifted. Has America decided to give a full space to China for its OBOR initiative, or to Russia to reemerge itself again like Syria? Would the ravaged country be converted into a peaceful land after becoming the graveyard of another empire? Would Russia’s intervention in Afghanistan not be an attempt to sabotage the Afghan peace process? Afghanistan has also seen the exclusion of then superpower, the Soviet Union, but could peace achieved? Another superpower is also leaving, but who would guarantee that a peaceful and nonviolent future is awaiting Afghanistan?