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Afghanistan: Origins of the war

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As a multi-ethnic and landlocked country, Afghanistan has faced its fair share of foreign invaders. History has not been kind to the many emperors or invaders that have ambitiously entered this region to expand their empires hence Afghanistan infamously earned its title of being the “Graveyard of empires”. From the Greeks and Mongols to the Arab-Muslims, the indigenous Afghan tribes persisted under various foreign occupiers until the modern state Afghanistan was founded by Ahmed shah Durrani. The next phase of history brought a century long power struggle between Britain and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Coined as the “The Great Game”, the British and the Soviet’s fought for dominance in Central Asia and its surrounding territories during the three Anglo-Afghan Wars[1].In 1919,the end of the third Anglo-Afghan marks the official date of independence of Afghanistan.

US invasion of Afghanistan

The United States of American first became involved in Afghanistan in the 1950’s through a series of infrastructural projects which aimed to rebuild the country after decades of conflict. They started funnelling significant amounts of money into Afghanistan in the 50’s and 60’s.At this point the USSR and USA were both funding large development projects in Afghanistan. During the 1970’s Afghanistan started titling towards the Soviet Union as its king at the time – Daoud Khan tapped into the USSR for economic and military help hence he was keen on being a stronger Ally to the Soviets which made the Americans increasingly nervous. He perfectly summed up this uncomfortable relationship when he famously said that “ I feel happiest when I light my American cigarettes with my Soviet matches”.[2]The country took a nosedive into communism as Daoud Khan was overthrown and a Marxist-Leninist government was established as a part of the Saur Revolution in 1978.[3]The repressive government faced uprisings from factions all over the country, soon the deteriorating domestic security and collapsing army prompted a full blown soviet invasion. Initially the US had no unified strategy to counter Soviet influence in Afghanistan, the strategy was limited to funding scattered resistance groups whom had no common ideology or objective. Whereas the soviet invasion gave birth to a coalition between these groups known as the “Mujahedeen” which received regional and international support from the world. The Mujahedeen were culmination of many different ambitions and the US strategy aimed to selectively train the relatively more reactionary elements from amongst them to have a better chance against soviets. The CIA was not training the ordinary people that picked up a gun amidst the war, it focused on organising two prominent groups. The Islamist faction led by Gulbuddin hekmatyar and the freedom fighters under Ahmad shah Massoud. In addition, the US pressured Egypt to release a group of Islamist prisoners including Ayman al Zawahiri to bring foreign fighters to Afghanistan. The Americans made every effort to protect their self-interest in region, however in doing so they brought a faction called the Arab Mujahideen to Afghanistan which later went on to form Al-Qaeda. The country found temporary once again as the soviet troop withdrew in 1989 after the signing of the Geneva accords. The fall of the communist government and the failure of the U.N. to create an inclusive interim government, created a power vacuum in Afghanistan. The US had already withdrawn all economic and military help from Afghanistan. Under this backdrop, civil war emerged between former warring factions of the Mujahideen. The Taliban emerged as the newest actors in the conflict.[4]

The Taliban captured the majority of Afghanistan, they controlled areas from Kandahar to Kabul but revived extreme resistance from the Northern Alliance. They were received support from Osama bin laden in 1997 and were successful in creating the Islamic Emirate. At this point US footprint was still minimal in the region despite of Al-Qaeda being responsible for bombing two US embassies in Africa[5].The events of September 11, 2001 shaped the future US policy in Afghanistan. The Bush administration lauded mission “enduring freedom” in Afghanistan. The primary objective of this mission at the time was to bring Osama bin laden to justice and prevent all future terrorist attacks on US soil. Through an aggressive bombing campaign, the US started to weaken the Taliban until their government toppled and they were reduced to small ppockets of insurgency in remote areas of the country. The Taliban regime fell relatively quickly. Without the resources or the organization of the US military, they were in a weaker position. This is part of the reason why Bush choose to push forward instead of negotiating with them when they offered to to hand over Osama bin laden to a third party for trial[6].The 2002 National Security Strategy states that a failed nation is more dangerous to the United States than a conquering nation. Hence US and NATO forces turned towards rebuilding Afghanistan into a stable nation which could never be exploited against their interests.

US Strategy in Afghanistan

This paper examines the post-9/11 strategy in Afghanistan under the four successive administrations which propagated, inherited and continued the war for the next 20 year. Over the course of these 20 years, US objectives primarily stood on three pillars. Initially the US arrived in Afghanistan to dismantle and destroy Al-Qaeda. A few years later, they returned to overthrow the Taliban government, in the wake of which the state and its institution were left in shambles. Finally the US took it upon itself to restructure and rebuild the Afghan governance system, so that no terrorist network could thrive on its soil. Each administration with its own national security strategy documents attempted to steer the US in a new direction which would eventually lead them out of Afghanistan. 

Bush Administration

After accomplishing the narrowly established goals set after the events of 9/11, a key feature of the security policies were to strengthen and stabilize Afghanistan. The more ambition their objectives grew, the longer they stayed in Afghanistan. The US adopted the rhetoric that only a stable and socio-economically sound Afghanistan would guarantee no future attacks on US soil. Nation building in Afghanistan was always an ambitious task, the tribalism, ethnic hostilities and physical terrain were big challenges to counter, especially when the US itself was not fully committed to its goals. Funds started pouring into Afghanistan at unsustainable rates from the US and NATO. Afghan institutions were too weak to handle such a out-pour hence it bred corruption in the country. Simultaneously many of the US reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan such as the $36 million dollar marines HQ or the $246 million ring road were either left incomplete or were never used in the first place. A lot of the funds allocated by the US to institutions or forces like the Task force for business and stability operations were spent “on indirect and support costs, not directly on projects in Afghanistan”.[7]

Consequently the wealth accumulated amongst politicians, military officials and war lords while society made little to no progress. The development projects often lacked the resources and personnel required for efficient results. The bush administration deployed 10,000 – 20,000 military troops during its first term, which was not sufficient enough in the first place considering the ambitious task at hand. However the administration approved minimal civilian deployments due to which the task of nation building was left to untrained military troops.

Official in Washington were also cautious of the consequences which would follow if a power vacuum was created in Afghanistan again. They feared that radicalism would devour the country hence Americans did what they do best – resort to the democratic peace theory as a one size fits all solution. However Washington choose to support a democratic government which centralized power in Kabul without taking the political history into context. The government of Hamad Karzai not only excluded tribal leaders but also participated in widespread corruption[8].Bush himself, hardly sugar coated the situation in Afghanistan, he acknowledged the bitter realities of the intervention. The interventions entailed more than just isolated strikes and covert missions, Afghanistan required a top to bottom socio-political restructuring. Internally, the US officials knew they could neither commit nor were they equipped to make that happen. However the administration firmly believed that the intervention was necessary hence the mediocre progress made in Afghanistan was more than enough to justify their presence. The 2004 elections and constitution gave an illusion of a politically stable state[9].

Under the strategy of this administration, military became the primary tool to achieve the security and diplomatic objectives of the US. The idea was the military success would be followed by stability. Moreover a vast military footprint also allowed the US to deploy more quickly from its bases and ensure a non-threatening state in the region. As diplomacy took a back-foot, the administration missed many opportunities that could have potentially cut the war short. However the bush administration was not open to negotiations with Taliban in 2001 or 2004.In 2003,the US took the decision to invade Iraq and naturally the attention and resources started to shift around[10].The NSS does not clearly define the conditions or elements which call for an intervention. The “war on terror “is narrowly defined and with time it had ever evolving objectives- perhaps which is why the US invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and could not be proven as a threat to US security. The war in Iraq removed the majority of resources and the best minds from Afghanistan which could be used to judge the level of US commitment to Afghanistan.

The bush administration’s “light approach” in Afghanistan gave time to the Taliban to regroup as a political force. They gradually regained ground in the remote areas, neglected by US forces. The Taliban were a different organization this time, they were the second generation to grow up in refugees camps on the borders of Pakistan and Iran. They had the will and purpose to fight. They had accumulated large funding’s and technology such as IED’s. The insurgency picked up momentum in a frustrated environment where the Afghans still felt occupied. While the US and its allies had poured a lot of money into the nation, the economic disparity was still intact. The Taliban had reinvented themselves but the US still lacked a clear vision and a unified strategy amongst themselves.

Obama Administration

The Obama administration, after an intense internal debate decided to approve of a surge in troop deployments to Afghanistan. Obama’s counterinsurgency strategy was relatively more nuanced, the 2010 NSS clearly defines Al-Qaeda and its affiliates as the prime threat to US security. However this strategy was anachronistic because by 2010, the US was at war with a different element than the one they originally started with. By August 2010, US forced in Afghanistan has reached 100,000.Obama ensured the American public that the surge in troop deployments were to create a stable environment which would allow for a peaceful US exit. He also set a timeline for the troop withdrawal which meant that the US would begin pulling troops out by 2011.Although the officials in Washington were aware of the mediocre progress in Afghanistan, they stayed involved to represent a greater US commitment to “Freedom”. In reality the US was committed to Afghanistan as long as it could keep a lid on the number of troop deployments. They always had one foot out the door which seriously undermined any effort to build a government or army that could stand on its own[11].

A major policy change was made after the killing of Osama bin laden by the Obama administration. Troop levels started to decrease and the administration indicated that they were prepared to place security responsibilities under the Afghan army. By his second term in office, Obama was at a crossroads. The majority of the American public were not in favour of staying in Afghanistan. In contrast the pentagon pressured the administration stay in order to avoid the same as the Iraq withdrawal. In December of 2014, the US and NATO officials held a ceremony to mark the “end of the war” in Afghanistan[12].10, 800 troops were withdrawn while the remaining were to be sent back to the US by 2016.These troops stayed behind to train and supervise the Afghan army hence the US and NATO claimed that their troops had adopted non combative roles. The pentagon created a special combat troop to target specific security threats and counterterrorism operations. Hence on ground, the US was still a major combative actor. The administrations was successful in disillusioning the world as news about Afghanistan did die down.

The emergence of the Islamic state in 2016 added another dimension into the Afghanistan war. The organisation quickly expanded into Afghanistan from Iraq and Syria. Washington introduced new rules of engagement with the Islamic state and approved troops to take an offensive strategy toward the organisation in Afghanistan. The majority of the combat was centred in eastern Afghanistan. New actors on the horizon forced the US to revaluate its strategy towards the Taliban. The officials in Washington places the Taliban under a nebulous category. They were still a hostile force but no longer an enemy of US interests. By the end of his tenure, Obama concluded that they security situation in Afghanistan was not stable enough for the full withdrawal that he had once promised. About 8,4000 troops remained in Afghanistan.

Trump Administration

As trump came into office, the Taliban insurgency had developed into a violent force which grew progressively stronger in the rural terrain. Under the Trump administration, the 2017 NSS states that the US would refocus its strategy towards its original objectives in Afghanistan – counterterrorism engagement. The administrations had inherited an internally weak Afghanistan with the Haqqani network, Islamic state etc contributing to the deteriorating security situation. The administration decided to stay in Afghanistan with an enlarged military footprint however this strategy gave little to no importance rebuilding the fragile governance system in Kabul. In a major foreign policy development, Trump announced his wider “South Asian Strategy” which is most notable for its regional myopia[13].The new strategy identifies Pakistan and India as as they two key players in the Afghanistan issue and makes no mention of other regional stakeholders I.e. Russia, China and Iran. Under this strategy, trump highlights Pakistan transgressions in the region by providing safe havens for terrorists. He was relatively more assertive than the previous administrations by urging that “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorists organisations, the Taliban and other groups”, and he did so without taking any of the regional tensions into consideration. All previous administrations has deep rooted mistrust in Pakistan’s double role in Afghanistan, however none of them made it a cornerstone in their wider Afghanistan policy like trump. Predictably these are the allegations that might force a Pakistan to forge closer ties with regional giant – China. Pak-US relations have been under constant stress after the killing of Osama bin laden in Abbottabad, however China investing billions of dollars in Pakistan through CPEC has changed everything. Pakistan is more than ever a Chinese client state hence the USA’s deteriorating influence might be a caution to tread lightly. Moreover while addressing regional actors in Afghanistan, trump managed to set the course for heightened tensions between the two most volatile rival in the region – India and Pakistan. He highlighted India’s contributions to the peace process in Afghanistan and called for a strategic partnership to increase its involvement. In contrast to Obama, trump’s strategy tilts in the favour on India which would naturally make their eastern neighbours nervous. While the contents of the strategy are up for evaluation, some analyst focus on the elements that were omitted from trump’s South Asia policy. Firstly the omission of China from this regional strategy indicates the government’s inability to think along strategic lines. China has many security and economic interests in Afghanistan. It has consistently displayed willingness to negotiate with the Taliban because of its security concerns in the Xinjiang region. The Chinese have ascribed these tensions to transnational forces operating out of Afghanistan. This in combination with the fact that China heavily relies on regional stability for its “one belt one raid” project, gave the US more than enough bargaining chips to negotiate with China. Yet the quadrilateral cooperation group-comprising of China, US, India and Pakistan failed to reach any kind of multilateral solution in Afghanistan. While talking about the peace process in Afghanistan, it is usually cited that it is hard to bring in any kind of stability without any assistance from Iran for numerous reasons. After the war in terror reached Afghanistan, millions of immigrants escaped to Iran because of their close cultural and religious ties. Iran shares and approximately 900km border with Afghanistan hence is an economic partner for trade and trade routes.Consequently Iran has considerable influence over Afghan politicians and war lords.US and Iran’s strategic rivalry escalated after trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018,claiming Iran has failed to curtails its missile programs. A confrontation of this nature jeopardizes any cooperation in Afghanistan .Undoubtedly Iran has interests in Afghanistan from refugee influx to counter-terrorism.Taking the domestic politics into context, Iran could have considerable influence over Shia Hazara community in Afghanistan which could facilitate the Intra-Afghan dialogue however this “ maximum pressure” strategy from trump could lead Tehran to retaliate against US forces in Afghanistan which would further deteriorate the security scene and prolong conflict, by setting up the stage for proxy war.

It was clear that the administration wanted to cultivate an environment for a full US withdrawal however optimism inside the pentagon was low. As the Taliban grew stronger, they started using remote areas to launch attacks on urban cities. They were able to capturing many strategically important areas such as Ghazni between Kabul and Kandahar although the US retrieved it in a bloody five day counterattack.

The US strategy indicated that the administration wanted to force the Taliban to the negotiating table in order to launch a full troop withdrawal. By this point, the regional actors had also realized that they could no longer depend on external forces to make headway in the Afghan peace process. Many of the stakeholders such as Russia, China, and Pakistan were on the same page for the first time. Therefore in order to protect their own interests, the US and NATO could no longer be allowed to function unilaterally in Afghanistan. Once the US found its exit strategy, it was only a matter of time before the region faced the consequences of the civil unrest inside Afghanistan. Consequently many of the regional formats such as the Moscow talks[14], Istanbul conference[15] and Murree talks[16] aimed to strengthen the Intra-Afghan dialogue which eventually paved the way for the Doha agreement. Finally a deal was struck between the Taliban and the US in February of 2020 which guaranteed a US withdrawal in exchange for reduced violence by the Taliban and elimination of all terror activities in Afghanistan.

Biden administration

During his initial months in office, the Biden administration did not hesitate to change major policy decisions undertaken by the previous administration however Biden himself was adamant on following through with the Doha agreement. This policy continuity stems from two important factors. Firstly Joe Biden, since 2008 has held an unwavering belief that the war in Afghanistan is “unwinnable” and that the 20 year US presence in Afghanistan no longer had a purpose. Under the Obama administration, Biden quickly assumed the role of the “in house pessimist” regarding the war in Afghanistan. He persistently advised the administration against troop surges and urged them to limit US involvement to an overt counter terrorism mission. His conviction was that the US entered Afghanistan with a set of open-ended goals, many of which were unachievable. Notably he was not in favour of a full withdrawal at that point in history.

His scepticism accompanied him into office 2020,intact a full withdrawal was one of his campaign promises. The withdrawal is part of Biden’s wider foreign policy plan which aims to recalibrate US focus towards the upcoming challenges of the decade. Therefore in order to bring the American foreign policy out of the shadows of 9/11 and its response-Biden needed a “reset”. The administration rejected the strategy of maintaining a light military footprint and President Biden initially announced a full withdrawal by August 31st.This serves as an indication that Biden aims to approach future foreign policy arenas with diplomatic power rather than military. The administrations is no longer interested in bleeding resources and time into “nation building” of other countries and in the case of Afghanistan, Biden made it very clear that the sole US interest is to ensure that Afghanistan is never used to launch an attack on US soil.

Although Biden was warned by the pentagon about the chaos that will follow a US withdrawal, Biden was adamant about putting an end to this “forever war”.

The US withdrawal strategy displayed no coherence between the defence and state Departments, while the military initially opposed the withdrawal they quickly fell into line after Biden announcement. However the embassies started to shrink in size also simultaneously with the military troops, in fear of a Taliban takeover. However this closed all doors of diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban which could have protected the Afghan population for when the Taliban actually captured Kabul. While Biden chose to blame the administration on tying his hands on many occasion with his deal with Taliban, his own withdrawal strategy also faced a lot of sharp criticism. Predictably, chaos ensued in the country and the administration was forced to send 6,000 troops back into Afghanistan to secure evacuations. Upon international pressure primarily from the G-7countries, Biden also extended the deadline for the troop withdrawal to September 11 in 2021.

After the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, Biden assailed the Afghanistan government and its security forces for its failure, completely ignoring his own administration’s poor risk assessment before leaving Afghanistan. He deafened his evacuation strategy on many occasion. “The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens” Biden told ABC news. The hasty and mismanaged evacuation strategy was planned under the pretence that this was the best that they could do. Along with the administrations misplaced trust in the central government in Kabul, Biden also adamantly repeated- there was no right time to exit from Afghanistan.

















Undergraduate student studying Government and Public policy from National Defence University in Islamabad, Pakistan.

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Pakistan’s Priority Ranking of SDGs

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Sustainable development goals are also known as Global or Universal goals that are meant to guide developing and underdeveloped nation-states to a sustainable and peaceful future. Development is a combination of innovation and improvement over a consistent time. It requires the collaboration of several social, cultural, economic, legal, and political sectors. All such sectors are interdependent and function sustainably when allied towards the same goal. 

What are SDGs? 

Developmental goals outline the priorities of a state in terms of its international progress. They are meant to track and counter non-traditional security threats. Such threats are somewhat intangible and have a deeper, more impactful presence. If not countered through structured programs, infrastructure, and policymaking; they will only become a visible reality once the issue is nearly impossible to resolve.

Origin and purpose

These were born from the United Nations Conference that was hosted in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. Global issues of all sorts were raised which revolved around aspects such as the environment, clean energy, sanitation, education, health, and security. 

Goals and Commitments

The year 2015 decided that within the upcoming 15 years, there will be an active and hopefully successful attempt at ushering in a future of dignity and peace also known as the 2030 Agenda. 

For each nation, there is a different ranking of the goals following their level of need and priority. Following is the ranking for Pakistan.

Priority I

Goal 2 Zero Hunger

The second goal defines eradicating global hunger and reaching food security for all. This involves the production, processing, and distribution of food and sustainable agriculture. This goal is at the top of Pakistan’s priority list due to its status as an Agrarian State. Due to the recent inflation in the state, the food crisis has become a reality for a sizable portion of the Pakistani population.  

Goal 3 Good Health and Well Being

Places focus on the overall health of all people. The focus is on preventative strategies for all ages. This goal covers the improvement of life expectancy in all developing and underdeveloped nations. It also includes immunization coverage, epidemics such as malaria and dengue, the Covid-19 pandemic, and emergency aid going out to all in times of global distress and disaster. 

Goal 4 Quality Education

Good quality education that is inclusive and available to all is a cornerstone of a prosperous and peaceful society. This includes not only various education sustainability initiatives but also caters to accessible and high-caliber school and university infrastructure. This goal works for a bright future for not only the global youth but for the global economy as well.

Goal 6 Clean Water and Sanitation

Universal access to clean water and a hygienic living environment makes up Goal 6. This will help counter water pollution and reduce the spread of diseases like cholera, malaria, dysentery, typhoid, and Hepatitis A. Clean water and sanitation will ultimately lead to water efficiency and its use as a renewable energy source. 

Goal 7 Affordable and Clean Energy 

Clean Energy is the key to having a future landscape that this generation can pass on to the next. This goal works for the distribution of electricity across the globe, in poverty-stricken and hard-to-access areas. Renewable energy sources (windmills, hydro-electricity, solar power) are being focused on so that there can be a time when weaning off of non-renewable and quickly depleting fuels such as coal, gas, and oil is not harmful to both society and the economy. 

Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

Economic growth is a necessary factor to keep states progressing and afloat. Goal 8 emphasizes the importance of productive and decent employment. It promotes a greener economy, sustainable tourism, and social protection for all. 

Goal 16 Peace, Justice, and Security

Accountable and Just national institutions and law enforcement is the path to peace, justice, and security. There is an active need for local participation at the grassroots level. Peace can only ever be delivered from the bottom up. Pakistan has always had a conflict simmering at some level. Be it a population overflow at the borders or a politico-religious conflict. Effectively working on prevention and counter operations can foster peace and security for all. 

Priority II

Goal 1 No Poverty

The first goal is to end poverty globally. The poverty line has been decided over various factors and definitions in the past few years. Once it was declared that any person who consumed less than 2400 kcal over twenty-four hours was under the poverty line. Currently, it is set for members of society who live under Rs. 3000 monthly, in Pakistan.

Goal 5 Gender Equality

It is common knowledge that we live in a majorly patriarchal society that is disadvantageous to women and girls all over the world. Goal 5 aims to fix that by focusing on the elimination of gender-based violence and empowering more women to step into professional and operational roles by reducing in-house gender discrimination. There is also special care taken to recognize and reduce the unpaid labor and double standards which women face daily.

Goal 9 Industry. Innovation, and Infrastructure

A resilient and good quality infrastructure is a must to keep a state of more than 220 million people functioning properly. The innovation of the tech industry is the spearhead for Pakistan’s entry into a competitive future. There is still a need for better infrastructure including highways and high-rise buildings with proper sewage piping as well. Inclusive industrialization will bring about better credit, a more stable economy, and reduced unemployment.

Goal 10 Reduced Inequalities

The focus lies on reducing international inequalities and reducing the massive chasm existing between different classes of society. Income equality is directly tied to gendered equity, improved industrialization, and economic growth. Apart from reducing financial disparity, this also focuses on socio-political, cultural, and religious inclusion. Pakistan is a multicultural and diverse state with citizens belonging to various religious sects, castes, and ethnicities. However, this has often led to intersectional conflicts. This goal aims to counter that through various representative policies and global cooperation.

Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

These are such areas that practice, promote, and support sustainability in every aspect – energy, water, economy, infrastructure, and environment. This goal aims to ensure that due to the massive population migrations from rural to urban, there is no concentration of poverty due to the economic shift. Cities are to be safe havens for their constituents with public transport, parks, recreational spaces, and economic opportunities. 

Goal 17 Partnerships for Goals

No system of such a scale can work in isolation therefore, to bring sustainability to Pakistan, there needs to be a joint effort by international powers and national institutions. Global platforms such as the UN, WTO, SAARC, ASEAN, and IMF are all contributing their part be it through funding, medical aid, or economic policing. Pakistan also partakes in multiple confidence-building measures and FTAs to live up to this goal. 

Priority III

Goal 12 Responsible consumption and Production

Focuses on management and usage of natural resources to not run out before other renewable sources are in place. This goal actively works to reduce the negative impact of state consumption on the environment – be it through chemical dumping, food waste, or wasteful consumption. 

Goal 13 Climate Action

The recent floods in Pakistan and the searing temperatures in June and July point to the absolute necessity of taking climate action. Extreme temperatures, droughts, and flooding are all contributing to the deterioration of human and environmental health. Being a primarily agrarian exporter, Pakistan needs to be vigilant regarding any threat to its agricultural economy and counter it through planning, policies, and preventive strategies. 

Goal 14 Life below Water and Goal 15 Life on Land

The sustainable Development goals have provided guidelines to ensure a hospitable future. This includes protection and conservation of the living habitat aka Oceans and Land. Due to the rapid rate of globalization, modernism, and human development, ecosystems both above and below have suffered. Many species have gone extinct as well, due to unregulated hunting and fishing throughout the year. Ocean acidification and pollution are major concerns due to it being a major food source for the global population. Similarly, deforestation, desertification, and poaching need to be eliminated on land. Pakistan has participated in such initiatives to conserve and protect forests through artificial reforestation – the Changa Manga Forest.

Pakistan is constantly making progress in seeing the SDGs through. Consistency is key to success and in this case, sustainability. 

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Breaking Diplomatic Norms: Indian Response to OIC & Turkish Support for Kashmir Issue




Recently, the Indian government has been facing backlash for its highly undemocratic and derogatory remarks on Turkey’s support to the Kashmir issue at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The Indian government has also criticized the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for its statement on Indian Human Rights Abuses in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

India’s long-standing hostility towards Pakistan has been a subject of much criticism in international diplomatic circles. While the two countries have a history of conflicts and disputes, India’s approach towards Pakistan has often been seen as unconstructive and counterproductive. The Indian government’s hardline stance on Pakistan has resulted in a deepening of the mistrust between the two countries, which has had serious implications for regional stability and security.

India’s rhetoric towards Pakistan has often been marked by derogatory and aggressive remarks, particularly in the context of the Kashmir issue. In recent years, India has sought to internationalize the issue of Kashmir and has baselessly accused Pakistan of supporting terrorism in the region. This has resulted in a hardening of positions on both sides and has made any meaningful dialogue between the two countries almost impossible.

India’s recent criticism of Turkey’s support for the Kashmir issue at the UNHRC and its condemnation of the OIC’s statement on Indian human rights abuses in IIOJK is another example of its obsession with Pakistan. The Indian government’s response to these developments has been highly un-democratic and derogatory, with Indian officials using aggressive language and personal attacks to discredit Turkey and the OIC.

India’s preoccupation with Pakistan has also had implications for its relationship with other countries in the region. India’s increasingly assertive foreign policy and its strategic partnership with the US have raised concerns among its neighbors, who fear that India’s pursuit of its own interests could undermine regional stability and security. India’s aggressive stance towards China and its border disputes have also added to regional tensions and have led to a deterioration in its relationship with Beijing.Bottom of Form

It is important to note that Turkey has always been a strong supporter of the Kashmir issue, and has been vocal about the human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the region. In September 2021, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue of Kashmir during his speech at the UN General Assembly, stating that the “Kashmir conflict, which is also key to the stability and peace of South Asia, is still a burning issue.”

In response to Turkey’s support of the Kashmir issue, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement condemning Turkey’s stance, claiming that it was “completely unacceptable” and that Turkey had no right to interfere in India’s internal affairs. India’s statement also accused Turkey of using the Kashmir issue as a “distraction” from its own internal problems.

This reaction from the Indian government is highly undemocratic and uncalled for. It is the right of any nation to express its views on global issues, and India’s attempt to suppress Turkey’s support for the Kashmir issue is a clear violation of this right. The Kashmir issue has been a longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan, and the international community has a responsibility to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Turkey’s support for the Kashmir issue is a step in the right direction towards achieving this goal.

Furthermore, the Indian government’s criticism of the OIC’s statement on Indian Human Rights Abuses in IIOJK is also highly inappropriate. The OIC, a group of 57 Muslim-majority countries, has expressed concern over the human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in IIOJK, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances. The OIC’s statement is a reflection of the international community’s concerns over the situation in IIOJK, and it is the right of the OIC to express its views on this matter.

India’s response to the OIC’s statement has been highly critical, with the Indian government accusing the OIC of interfering in India’s internal affairs. This response is yet another attempt by the Indian government to suppress international criticism of its human rights abuses in IIOJK. The Indian government’s stance on this issue is highly hypocritical, as it has repeatedly called for international support in its own disputes with other nations, including Pakistan.

Indian government’s highly undemocratic and derogatory remarks on Turkey’s support for the Kashmir issue at the UNHRC, as well as its criticism of the OIC’s statement on Indian Human Rights Abuses in IIOJK, are reflective of its lack of respect for international law and global human rights standards. The Kashmir issue is a longstanding dispute that requires a peaceful and just resolution, and the international community has a responsibility to support this goal. The Indian government must recognize this and work towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict, rather than resorting to undemocratic and inflammatory rhetoric.

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The Taliban’s Loss of Popular Support in Afghanistan

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image source: Tehran Times

Afghanistan is currently facing an unprecedented crisis due to the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August 2021. Despite initially claiming to have widespread support from the Afghan population, reports from within the country now suggest that the Taliban’s grip on power is increasingly fragile. The Taliban’s regime has been marked by egregious human rights violations, economic hardship, lack of inclusivity, international isolation, and brutal tactics during the war, all of which have contributed to their diminishing popularity. The people of Afghanistan continue to suffer under the oppressive rule of the Taliban, and urgent action is needed to address the humanitarian crisis and restore stability to the region.

Economic Hardship

One of the most pressing issues facing Afghanistan under the Taliban is the economic crisis that has emerged in the wake of their takeover. The country is facing inflation, food shortages, and job losses, all of which are having a significant impact on the lives of ordinary Afghans. The prices for basic goods such as flour and sugar have skyrocketed and many families are struggling to afford even one meal a day. In 2022, many reports emerged that people are selling their kidneys to feed their families.

The Taliban has struggled to revive the economy, and their policies have not been effective in addressing the economic crisis. According to the New York Times, “the Taliban’s financial plan relies heavily on the illicit drug trade, a strategy that may provide some short-term gains but will ultimately lead to greater instability and economic hardship for ordinary Afghans.”

Human Rights Violations

The Taliban’s history of human rights violations, particularly their treatment of women and girls, has also contributed to their loss of popular support in Afghanistan. The Taliban has a reputation for imposing strict restrictions on women’s rights, including banning girls from attending school and requiring women to wear burqas in public. Various media outlets report suggest that women and girls have been virtually invisible in public since the Taliban took over. The Taliban has also used violence against civilians, including women and children who raised voice for their rights. We see constant demonstrations against ban on girls’ education in Kabul and Taliban use to suppress them by using force. No one is allowed to held a protest against the Taliban repressive policies.

Lack of Inclusivity

The Taliban’s government has been criticized for its lack of inclusivity and representation of Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic, political and religious groups. The Taliban is dominated by Pashtuns, and there are concerns that other groups may be marginalized or excluded from political participation. No previous polit al leaders who are in politics for decades is a part of the new set up. Taliban have imposed a narrow interpretation of Islam that does not reflect the country’s diversity and tolerance as well as equal opportunities to men and women. The Taliban’s cabinet is made up entirely of men, and there are no non-Pashtuns or Shia Muslims in key positions.

International Isolation

The Taliban’s return to power has resulted in international isolation, with several countries imposing sanctions and restrictions on the Taliban regime. This has limited the Taliban’s ability to access international aid and resources, which has further exacerbated the economic crisis in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reports that “the Taliban’s international isolation is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” and that “the country desperately needs international aid to address its economic woes and provide basic services to its people.” Unless the Taliban bring a change to their repressive policies, they will remain isolated in the international community.

Taliban’s Tactics During the War

The Taliban’s tactics during the war against US-led NATO and ISAF forces, including their use of suicide bombings and targeting of civilians, have also contributed to their loss of popular support among Afghans who have been affected by the violence. The New York Times reported in September 2021 that “the Taliban’s brutal tactics during the war have left a legacy of fear and trauma among the Afghan people.” Many Afghans are deeply distrustful of the Taliban because of the group’s violent tactics during the war and the atrocities they committed against civilians. The Taliban’s reputation as a violent and extremist group has made it difficult for them to gain the trust and support of the Afghan population.

Addressing the Issues

The Taliban faces a significant challenge in regaining the trust and support of the Afghan people. They will need to address the economic crisis, provide basic services to the population, and create an inclusive government that represents Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic, political and religious groups. They will also need to address human rights concerns especially women rights and restore the rule of law. Also, they will need to make significant concessions if they hope to regain the trust of the Afghan people and the international community. They need to create a more stable and predictable environment for the Afghan people if they hope to build a functioning state. The Taliban has taken some steps to address these concerns, including pledging to respect women’s rights and promising to form an inclusive government. However, the effectiveness of these measures remains to be seen.


The Taliban’s loss of popular support in Afghanistan is a significant challenge for the group as they seek to govern the country. Economic hardship, human rights violations, women rights, lack of inclusivity, international isolation, and the Taliban’s tactics during the war have all contributed to their declining popularity. The Taliban will need to address these issues if they hope to regain the trust and support of the Afghan people and build a functioning state. The Taliban’s future depends on their ability to govern effectively and address the concerns of the Afghan people. If they fail to do so, they risk losing the support of the population and facing significant challenges in the years to come. It remains to be seen whether the Taliban can rise to this challenge and create a stable and prosperous Afghanistan for all its citizens.

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