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South Asia

Backchannel Engagement: Resolve or Compromise?



The bitter relations between the arch-rivals are not a shocker to either side of the border. The duo has rarely witnessed a prolonged episode of alliance since the British departure following the split of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. While the escalation back in 2019 severed the remains of the already wavering relations, the contention over the Kashmir violation has since gradually picked pace: from a regional tension point to a large-scale global agenda peddled by Prime Minister Imran Khan to win the basic human rights for the illegal detainees of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) territory. While the contentious region remains under brutal scrutiny of the Indian army, the stagnant bilateral relations between the rival states have seen prospects of normalization after over 2-years of a hard impasse.

A backchannel engagement and a subsequent reconfigured ceasefire at the Line of Control (LoC) seems all good to be true, especially in retrospect of all the violations that wiped the relations in the first place. However, a truce is an apparent reality today for India and Pakistan. With a conceptual plenary attended by the respective Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs), a hotline contact between the two militaries sounded berserk. However, the establishment of a mutual understanding seems only the tip of the iceberg scrapped by the spokesmen of either military. While a tread to peace is welcomed on either side of the LoC, with the fate of IIOJK still under haze and the occasional skirmishes miring the nascent stability in the diplomatic relations, the future seems vague at best as it unravels behind the bureaucratic drapes under equally mysterious terms and conditions.

The point of dispute between India and Pakistan somehow always spirals back to the position of the IIOJK territory. The present state of deadlock was reached when the Indian government revoked the special status of the IIOJK region through a series of ordinances. The special status of the IIOJK region was protected under Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India. Article 370 of the Indian constitution came into effect in 1949, exempting Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) from the jurisdiction enforced by the Indian Constitution. Simply put, the clause allowed the region to stand liberal from the rest of the Indian states and legalized the region to formulate its very own code of law and policy framework except the matters befalling in the perimeters of foreign affairs, defense, finance, and communication. Moreover, Article 370 allowed the native Kashmiris to formulate their own constitution, design their own flag and establish their separate parliament.

Expanding onto Article 370, Article 35A was introduced by a Presidential Ordinance in 1954 to cement the property rights in the region to safeguard the historical demography of the territory. The appendage allowed exclusive property rights to the natives of the IIOJK region, barring any and all citizens foreign to the region from acquiring property, gaining education, or settling in the territory. Both Article 370 and Article 35A ensured a separate and liberal identity of the regional Kashmiris within the peripheries of India, preventing the demographic dilution over decades. Snapping away the clauses in the name of a ‘Monolithic India’ came about as a devious agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to erode away the guarded status of the Kashmiris by allowing all the citizens of India, primarily the extremist Hindus, to settle in the region thereby dissipating the historical lineage attached to the region for over a century. The attempt was hailed as a step towards a unified and secular India, free of religious discrimination. However, the underlying intent was criticized as a rightest attempt to wipe away the symbolic Muslim majority in the region through war crimes against the Tehreek e Hurriyat, also known as All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), and ultimately evening out the resistance over time.

While the atrocities inflicted by the Indian army were domestically and globally criticized, Pakistan turned out to be the flag bearer of the campaign that resonated around the world in the form of anti-India protests pouring throughout the streets of London, New York, and Dhaka. Whilst the lockdown persisted in the IIOJK region with perpetual reports of genocide and gang rapes, Pakistan stood as a ray of hope for the innocent Kashmiris. Known to be a retaliation by the regional militants, a suicide attack in Pulwama, a heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway, withered the Indian echelons to the core. The convoy of an estimated 78 busses carrying battalions of the Indian troops was allegedly targeted by the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad in one of the most brutal attacks against the Indian army in recent years. The attack claimed the lives of 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers in the name of Jihad against the Indian army: a revenge strike to answer the inflicted atrocities over innocent Kashmiris in IIOJK.

The following retribution came as a wave of surprise as India infiltrated the Northern Balakot region of Pakistan. This came as a direct face-off between the two nuclear powers in over 2 decades and shook the world as global powers raced to dormant the seething nations at the brink of a standoff. What was claimed by the Indian army as a successful surgical strike against the ‘Terror camps’ of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militants masterminding the Pulwama attack, Pakistan claimed the strike as a futile bombing of the natural habitat and a violation of the LoC ceasefire. The Pakistani retaliation and the subsequent capture of an Indian soldier simmered the tensions for days before ultimately culminating in an absolute detachment of all diplomatic, economic, and militaristic affairs. Prime Minister Imran Khan went on to release the Indian soldier to situate his advocacy of the rights of Kashmiris on the grounds of Humanity in the forums of the United Nations (UN). Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pivoted his successful election campaign on the facade of a true patriot and an avenger of the blood of the Indian soldiers.

The following year proved tough for either nations as the vices of the pandemic gripped the world alike. The bilateral trade between India and Pakistan amounted to a modest sum of $2 billion back in 2019 before the relations were severed. With such a minuscule part of trade being hampered, the economic repercussions were hardly hurting either of the countries. The blockage of routes, however, made it difficult for India to trade with Afghanistan as the traditional land routes were jammed shut for the Indian commodities. That being the case, however, the flip-side wasn’t all that great either. The sluggish Pakistani economy isn’t a mystery to anyone, certainly not to India. In the tenure of Imran Khan, Pakistan’s GDP growth has staggered from a respectable 5.6% to a dismal -0.4% year on year. Coupled with reinforced lockdowns and mounding foreign debt, India now stands as a cheaper option to evade the rankles of inflation in the aftermath of a devalued rupee.

“Even limited trade with India will certainly help Pakistan’s sluggish economy”. These were the words of an Indian economic expert in hindsight as Pakistan’s political circles thoroughly denounced the move of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Pakistan to import sugar from across the border to avoid extreme inter-provincial shortage. The decision was later overturned amidst high political pressure. The expert went on to further add: “By resuming the economic ties, for instance in specific commodities like food items, Pakistan can help control food inflation pressures”. The claims follow through as an estimate puts the bilateral trade to bloom to a touted $35 billion/annum mark given all the restrictions are lifted off the trade suspension that has lasted for more than 20 months now: a bliss for both an economically distressed Pakistan and a paralyzed Indian economy.

The position of the Indian side isn’t exactly a sight to marvel. The BJP regime struggles to get ahold of the transitioning Indian democracy. While India grapples with the strongest surge of the coronavirus in the world: battling over 350000 daily cases, the BJP stronghold is losing grip in both the wider strata of the Indian society and the global arenas of diplomacy. With the recent criticism by the House of Commons regarding the Indian atrocities in IIOJK, the death-graze demonstrations in Bangladesh in the backdrop of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Dhaka and even the poster-long tirades of opposition in multiple cities around the globe, the surge of unpopularity has gone beyond the secular boundaries of India. When the jolts of the protests launched by the Indian farmers throughout the streets of Delhi weren’t enough, the recent turmoil in the guise of a loss in West Bengal elections would’ve waned the aspirations of a majoritarian BJP regime. The Kolkata-upset, though not the strongest of blows, does fortify the fraying opposition in the democratic echelons of India and sure weakens the broader agenda of Prime Minister Modi to cinch the 2024 elections. Combined with a vice grip of acrimony in the form of a resounding China-Pakistan alliance and an inflating Indian notoriety in the world, the bastions of enmity against the BJP-regime continue to threaten the arching vision of the Hindu rightists to turn India into a powerhouse of Hindu-extremist stronghold.

While it is clear that both countries would offer an open-arm welcome to a resumption of bilateral relations than opting otherwise, the road to harmony is the question of a sage mind. The normalized relations have been encouraged by the United States; going as far as offering mediation between the duo. The incentives for either side are not concealed nor too intricate to identify. As India wants to avoid China establishing reinforcements along the LoC, Pakistan seeks to avoid a similar reality of India setting camp in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal. The resultant seems to be a re-establishment of the military hotline, going up and beyond the complexities of bureaucracy, to reach an agreement to reinstate the LoC ceasefire and end the violations that have killed roughly 28 people in 2020 alone.

The violations peaked since the BJP-regime gripped the reigns of power: committing over 3000 violations to the Working Boundary Accord in a gruesome show of aggression. While the agreement assures absolute compliance on either side of the LoC, the chinks in the armor could already be seen mere days later. Earlier in March, roughly 15 BSF troops crossed the Working Boundary and showed artillery over the Pakistani side despite being bounded by the replenished ceasefire agreement. With this fragile state of understanding, the only material success of the backchannel talks being the already failing peace accord along the LoC, further dialogue grows more and more weak as the engagement moves along whilst lacking strategic clarity. The position of Kashmir remains a paradox, India continues to invade Pakistan through Afghanistan, and militants like Kulbhushan Jadhav continue to monger terrorism in the dissident strata of Pakistan.

The diplomats and ex-military officers are in tandem to cite the recent turn in relations as nothing but a surge of whelming optimism of Pakistan in the face of a fascist and opportunist BJP-led India. If the regional elections and protests allude to anything, it stands brutally clear that the BJP agenda has been widely rejected by the secular mentality within India. That being said, India now stands desperate to dilute the tensions both within its own peripheries as well as the growing dissent in the world. The tactical move to normalize relations with Pakistan could, however, be salvaged given Pakistan manoeuvres the talks instead of beckoning to the plans of India.  A Pakistani Ambassador, Mr. Abdul Basit, deftly encapsulated the whole scenario, stating: “If we [Pakistan] get invested into a situation where we agree to another round of formal talks, structural talks, that will take us nowhere. The emphasis at this stage should be on ascertaining as to what would be the roadmap on Jammu and Kashmir [IIOJK]”.

The author is an active current affairs writer primarily analyzing the global affairs and their political, economic and social consequences. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree from Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, Pakistan.

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South Asia

The Post-US Withdrawal Afghanistan: India, China and the ‘English Diplomacy’



The recent developments in Afghanistan, the impatient Tri-axis and the emphatic India at SCO, with the ‘English Diplomacy’ at display that tends to blunt the Chinese aggressiveness in South China Sea mark a new power interplay in the world politics. It also shows why the US went for AUKUS and how it wants to focus on the Indo-Pacific.

Afghanistan has turned out to be the most incandescent point of world politics today deflecting the eyes from the South China Sea and Gaza Strip. What is more startling is the indifferent attitude United States has shown to the other stakeholders in the war torn state. While Brexit appears to have created fissure in the European Union the AUKUS effects further marginalisation of France and India against the US-British and QUAD understandings. The vacuum that US have created in Afghanistan has invited several actors willing to expand their energy access to central Asia and Afghanistan provides an important bridge in between. The TAPI economics (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline) and huge Indian investments are endangered by the Afghan security question and make it imminent for India to stay in Afghanistan as a reckoning force.

The Taliban and the Troika

While the Russo-Chinese and Pakistani engagement with the Taliban’s takeover was visible the US exit has invited the wrath of other stakeholders like India, Saudi Arabia and Iran. India is significantly affected because of its huge investments of over 3 billion dollars over two decades in Afghanistan that would become target of the orthodox retrogressive Taliban regime. The government of India’s stand on Afghanistan is that an ‘Afghan peace process should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled. Any political settlement must be inclusive and should preserve the socio-economic and political gains of the past 19 years. India supports a united, democratic and sovereign Afghanistan. India is deeply concerned about the increase in violence and targeted killings in Afghanistan. India has called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire’(MEA).

However, the takeover by Taliban that endangers India’s strategic and capital interests has made it pro-active in the state. Probably for the first time in Afghan history, India has shown aggressive tones against the militant government which may create problem for Kashmir in the longer run. The Pakistani air force’s engagement over the Panjashir assault by Taliban has unravelled the larger plans of destabilisation in South Asia.

In the meantime China has unequivocally expressed its willingness, as was expected to work with Taliban. The visit of Taliban delegation, led by Abdul Ghani Baradar who also heads the office of Taliban at Doha, met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials in Tianjin, on July 28, 2021. The visit followed the Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Kureshi’s visit to Beijing and unravelled how the two states have been supporting the Talibani cause. Although, China has its own perceptions about Xinjiang and Mr. Wang even told the Taliban “to draw a line” between the group and terror organisations, specifically the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which has carried out attacks in Xinjiang. Russia too has shown interest in Taliban and it didn’t plan to evacuate its embassy at Kabul. Its foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov said that Russia will carefully see how responsibly they (Taliban) govern the country in the near future. And based on the results, the Russian leadership will draw the necessary conclusions.

The little Indo-Russian engagements over Afghanistan have minimised the scope of cooperation over the decades now. Although, Russia has been trying to follow a balancing policy between India and Pakistan yet its leanings towards the latter is manifest from its recent policies. “The extent of Russia-Pakistan coordination broadened in 2016, as Russia, China, and Pakistan created a trilateral format to discuss stabilizing Afghanistan and counterterrorism strategy. In December 2016, Russia, China, and Pakistan held talks on combating Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), which were widely criticized in the U.S. for excluding the Afghan government.” (Ramani). The deliberate neglect of Afghan government and Indian role reveals the neo-Russian policy in South Asia that de-hyphenates India and Pakistan and sees Pakistan through the lens of BRI and at the cost of North-South Corridor. The Chinese and Russian belief that by supporting Taliban they will secure security for their disturbed territories and escape from terrorism appears to be unrealistic keeping in view the Taliban’s characteristics which are chameleon like i.e. political, organizational and jihadi at the same time looking for appropriate opportunities.

Is it the Post-Brexit Plan?

The Brexit ensures a better space for Britain; at least this is what Brits believe, in international politics following the future US overseas projects. However, it for sure annoys some of its serious allies with the new takes. The announcement of the AUKUS (Australia, UK, US) pact, a historic security pact in the Asia-Pacific to contain China is an important step in this direction. The Brexit and the US-withdrawal seen together mark a shift in US policy perception of Asia that aims at Asia Pacific more as compared to Central Asia. It has not only betrayed India in Afghanistan but also France through AUKUS which sees an end to its multibillion dollar deal with Australia. France now shows a stronger commitment to support India in its moves against Taliban and Pakistan’s interventions.

President Macron recalled French ambassadors for consultations after the AUKUS meet that dropped France deliberately from the major maritime security deal. The French anguish is not about its absence in the deal by the Canberra, Washington and London but being an allied nation, its neglect in the secret deal. “The announcement ended a deal worth $37bn (£27bn) that France had signed with Australia in 2016 to build 12 conventional submarines. China meanwhile accused the three powers involved in the pact of having a “Cold War mentality”(Schofield 2021). It also reminds one of the Roosevelt’s efforts at truncating French arms in Asia, especially in Indo-China and the consequent sequence of betrayals by the US. AUKUS also symbolises the ‘English diplomacy’ of the English speaking states just like the Five Eyes (FVEY), an intelligence alliance consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Started around 1946 the member countries are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence. Recently there have been voices for taking India, Japan and South Korea also into its fold to strengthen the contain China job.

The Wildered QUAD

While the first ever in-person QUAD summit approaches near, the announcement of AUKUS shows haze that prevails over the US decision making. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japan’s Yoshihide Suga meet at the White House for the summit on September 24, 2021. This follows the virtual meet held in March 2021. How apposite it would be to declare a maritime deal at a time when the QUAD meet is about to take place with the same motives and plans, notwithstanding the fact that QUAD has a wider platform for discussion like climate change, cyberspace, pandemic and Indo-Pacific. Is there an uncertainty over the realisation of QUAD? However, AUKUS  unravels the US intentions of first line preferences and second line associates in its future projects that will further marginalise its allies like France, Germany and many other states in future.


At SCO meet at Dushanbe India has unequivocally announced its view of the situation that takes Taliban as a challenge to peace and development in Afghanistan and South Asia. Prime Minister Modi remarked that the first issue is that the change of authority in Afghanistan was not inclusive and this happened without negotiation. This raises questions on the prospects of recognition of the new system. Women, minorities and different groups have not been given due representation. He also insisted on the crucial role that UN can play in Afghanistan. India’s investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar and the International North-South Corridor along with TAPI are central to its argument on the recent developments in Afghanistan. Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar had also remarked in July 2021 that the landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with the huge market of India and the future of Afghanistan cannot be its past and that the world must not let the new generation of Afghans down (Hindustan Times). The Indian message is clear and received huge support at Dushanbe and India is poised to play a greater role in Afghanistan, where the US and Russia have failed miserably.

The Internal Dynamics

The internal dynamics in Afghanistan presage a government by uncertainty in the coming months as Sirajudin Haqqani of Pak supported Haqqani network, captures Mulla Baradar, the man who settled the deal with US at Doha. It appears from the Pakistani backed government of Haqqani that Baradar has been dumped for his commitment for inclusive government expected to be pro-west against the Sino-Pakistan expectations. The US reluctance to remain engaged in the troubled region marks a shift in US foreign policy but the exclusion of its allies from Indo-Pacific plan are bound to bring new engagements in world power politics. While US dumped Afghans France and Israel appear as new hopes for Indian led moves against the undemocratic terrorist forces in Afghanistan.

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South Asia

Opposing Hindutava: US conference raises troubling questions



Controversy over a recent ‘Dismantling Global Hindutava’ conference that targeted a politically charged expression of Hindu nationalism raises questions that go far beyond the anti-Muslim discriminatory policies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and ruling party.

The conference and responses to it highlight a debilitating deterioration in the past two decades, especially since 9/11, of the standards of civility and etiquette that jeopardize civil, intelligent, and constructive debate and allow expressions of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes to become mainstream.

Organizers of the conference that was co-sponsored by 53 American universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers, insisted that they distinguish between Hinduism and Hindutava, Mr. Modi’s notion of Hindu nationalism that enables discrimination against and attacks on India’s 200 million Muslims.

The distinction failed to impress critics who accused the organizers of Hinduphobia. Some critics charged that the framing of the conference demonstrated a pervasiveness of groupthink in academia and an unwillingness to tackle similar phenomena in other major religions, particularly Islam.

The campaign against the conference appeared to have been organized predominantly by organizations in the United States with links to militant right-wing Hindu nationalist groups in India, including some with a history of violence. The conference’s most militant critics threatened violence against conference speakers and their families, prompting some participants to withdraw from the event.

Opponents of political Islam noted that Western academia has not organized a similar conference about the politicization of the faith even though powerful states like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have lobbied Western capitals against the Muslim Brotherhood and its Turkish and Qatari supporters with notable successes in France, Austria, Belgium and Britain.

Academia was likely to have been hesitant to tackle political Islam because Islamophobia is far more prevalent than Hinduphobia.

Moreover, perceptions of political Islam, are far more complex and convoluted. Islam is frequently conflated with political expressions and interpretations of the faith run a gamut from supremacist and conservative to more liberal and tolerant. They also lump together groups that adhere and respect the election process and ones that advocate violent jihad.

Scholars and analysts declared an end to political Islam’s heyday with the military coup in Egypt in 2013 that toppled Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brother, who was elected president in Egypt’s first and only free and fair poll. Political Islam’s alleged swansong loomed even larger with this year’s setbacks for two of the most moderate Islamist political parties in Tunisia and Morocco as well as hints that Turkey may restrict activities of Islamists operating in exile from Istanbul.

A more fundamental criticism of the framing of the Hindutava conference is its failure to put Hindutava in a broader context.

That context involves the undermining of the social cohesion of societies made up of collections of diverse ethnic and religious communities since Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The attacks fueled the rise of ultra-nationalism and politicized expressions of religious ultra-conservatism not only in the Hindu world but also in the worlds of other major religions.

These include politicized ultra-conservative Islam, politicized Evangelism and Buddhist nationalism. Right-wing religious nationalism in Israel, unlike Islamism and politicized Evangelism, is shaped by ultra-nationalism rather than religious ultra-conservatism.

The worlds of religious ultra-nationalism and politicized expressions of religious ultra-conservatism are often mutually reinforcing.

Scholar Cynthia Miller-Idriss’s assessment of the impact of Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on the United States is equally true for India or Europe.

“In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the rise of violent jihadism reshaped American politics in ways that created fertile ground for right-wing extremism. The attacks were a gift to peddlers of xenophobia, white supremacism, and Christian nationalism: as dark-skinned Muslim foreigners bent on murdering Americans, Al-Qaeda terrorists and their ilk seemed to have stepped out of a far-right fever dream,” Ms. Miller-Idriss said.

“Almost overnight, the United States and European countries abounded with precisely the fears that the far-right had been trying to stoke for decades,” she added.

The comparison of politically charged militant nationalist and ultra-conservative expressions of diverse religions takes on added significance in a world that has seen the emergence of civilizationalist leaders.

Scholar Sumantra Bose attributes the rise of religious nationalism in non-Western states like Turkey and India to the fact that they never adopted the Western principle of separation of state and church.

Instead, they based their secularism on the principle of state intervention and regulation of the religious sphere. As a result, the rejection of secularism in Turkey and India fits a global trend that conflates a dominant religious identity with national identity.

Sarah Kamali, the author of a recently published book that compares militant white nationalists to militant Islamists in the United States, notes similar patterns while drawing parallels between far-right xenophobes and militant Islamists.

Militant Islamists’ “sense of victimhood […] is similar to that of their White nationalist counterparts in that [it] is constructed and exploited to justify their violence… Both mutually – and exclusively – target America for the purpose of claiming the nation as theirs and theirs alone, either as a White ethno-state or as part of a global caliphate,” Ms. Kamali writes.

Similarly, the Taliban defeat of a superpower energized militant Islamists, as well as proponents of Hindutava, with Islamophobic narratives spun by Mr. Modi’s followers gaining new fodder with the assertion that India was being encircled by Muslim states hosting religious extremists.

Modi is essentially helping the recruitment of…jihadist groups by taking such a hard, repressive line against the Islamic community in India, who are now being forced to see themselves being repressed,” said Douglas London, the CIA’s counter-terrorism chief for South and South-West Asia until 2019.

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South Asia

Panjshir – the last stronghold of democracy in Afghanistan



The Taliban’s rapid advance in Afghanistan has briefly stalled only in the face of strong resistance mounted by the people of the country’s recalcitrant mountainous province of Panjshir. Whoever controls the region’s passes controls the routes leading to China and Tajikistan, but to seize this mountain valley and, most importantly, to keep it permanently under control has always been a problem for all invaders. Eager to let the international community see for the first time in 40 years a united Afghanistan as a sign of their final victory, the radical Islamists were prepared to make any sacrifices, including filling the approaches to the Panjshir Valley up with dead bodies. Moreover, the Taliban’s longtime ally Pakistan, which, regardless of its status of an ally of the United States, has provided them with direct military support. In fact, Islamabad admitted its less than successful role when it proposed signing a truce to find and take out the bodies of its special Ops forces who had died during the attack on the valley. However, drones flown by Pakistani operators, professional commandos (possibly once trained by the Americans), air support and other pleasant gifts from the allies eventually bore fruit letting the Taliban be photographed in front of the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Massoud Sr., the famous “Lion of Panjshir,” who controlled the valley from 1996 to 2001. The Islamists also took control of the province’s central city of Bazarak.

Having deprived the province much of its Internet access, the radicals, who control most of the Afghan territory, found it easier to wage an information war. Their claims of victories were now more difficult to contest, even though information about their retreat did reach the outside world. Reflective of the heavy losses suffered for the first time by the Taliban and their allies – the Haqqani Network and other remnants of al-Qaeda, as well as by the regular Pakistani army is the brief truce arranged by Islamabad. Looks like the mountain passes leading to Panjshir were literally filled up with corpses…

As for Massoud Jr., the young lion of Panjshir, and his supporters, they retreated to the mountains. In fact, they had nowhere to fall back to. The problem of Afghanistan is its ethnic diversity. Thus, the country is home to 23 percent of ethnic Tajiks, most of whom live in the Panjshir Valley. However, the Taliban rely mainly on the Pashtuns, who account for over 50 percent of the country’s population. As for the new masters of Afghanistan, they are ready to carry out ethnic cleansings and even commit outright genocide in order to bring the valley into submission. To make this happen they are going to resettle there their fellow Pashtun tribesmen. Local men aged between 12 and 50 are already being taken away and, according to the National Resistance Front, no one has seen them again. However, due to the information blockade, the Taliban will not hesitate to refute such facts. One thing is clear: Massoud’s Tajik fighters and the government troops that joined them are fighting for their lives, and there will be no honorable surrender!

The main question now is whether the young lion of Panjshir will receive the same support as his father once did, or will find himself without ammunition and food. After all, the Taliban leaders have reached certain agreements with the United States. Suffice it to mention the numerous remarks made, among others, by President Biden himself about the Taliban now being different from what they were 20 years ago.

But no, the Taliban`s remain the same – they have only hired new PR people. Meanwhile, hating to admit their defeat, Brussels and Washington will have to engage in a dialogue with those who are responsible for the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and for the numerous terrorist attacks in Europe. The Taliban are pretending to make minor cosmetic concessions. Minor indeed, since they are still depriving women of the opportunity to work and study, destroying higher and secondary education and brutally clamping down on people who simply do not want to live according to religious norms.

The United States is actually helping the “new-look” Taliban. Their potential opponents, including the famous Marshal Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, left the country under various guarantees, and Washington is trying to keep them from any further participation in the conflict. Democratic politicians naively believe that by creating an Islamic state and ending the protracted civil war in Afghanistan the Taliban will ensure stability in the region and will not move any further. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan do not think so and are strengthening their borders and preparing to protect their Afghan compatriots, because they know full well that the Taliban`s are not a national political party; they are a radical Islamist ideology.

It knows no borders and spreads like a cancerous tumor, destroying all pockets of Western culture. It can only be stopped by force. However, the two decades of US military presence in Afghanistan showed that Washington, which quickly took control of the country in 2001, simply had no strategy to keep it. The Afghans were given nothing that would appear to them more attractive than the ideas of radical Islam. As a result, the few Afghans who embrace European values are fleeing the country, and those who, like Massoud Jr., decided to fight for their freedom, now risk being left to face their enemy all by themselves.

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