Afghan debacle

The situation in Afghanistan is getting out of hand as the Taliban widens control. The hardline insurgents have already seized more than 100 districts and claim to control over 85 percent of Afghan territory. The Afghan armed forces are gradually surrendering and the fledgling Afghan government can collapse within months.

The Afghan forces resorted to airstrikes to repel attacks by the Taliban in several northern provinces. Many soldiers recently fled to neigbouring Tajikistan and were later airlifted back. The Taliban have surrounded Kandahar, their formed capital in the 1990s, and could capture it any day. India had to send its air force to evacuate its consulate staff members from there and even ended up supplying weapons to the Afghans. The situation is desperate and violence could further escalate in the country.

The United States is now rushing to complete the withdrawal and leave the country in a quagmire. While the US commander in Afghanistan has stepped down in a symbolic move, special envoy Khalilzad is once again on a whirlwind tour to try and reach a political settlement. Afghan foreign minister said Pakistan should help them against the Taliban, saying there are terrorists and deceiving the nation. Pakistan is also being expected to play its role in reaching a deal with the Taliban to possibly avert civil war.

The Afghan Taliban are in no mood to return to the negotiating table. Taliban spokesman Sohail Shaheen said in an interview that Pakistan cannot dictate terms to them. We also heard from DG ISPR who said that Pakistan is only a facilitator of peace, not a guarantor. Even the Chinese Foreign Ministry has stated the US is leaving in a hurry and the situation is getting worsen. Other regional countries have also maintained that the US has shrugged its responsibilities and is blaming others for the debacle.

Regarding the political future, the Taliban have categorically claimed to impose an Islamic system. This would prohibit women from stepping out of their homes without a veil. Many Afghans have started leaving the country before the situation worsens. Pakistan should brace itself for the imminent fallout as it cannot handle the refugee influx. The future of Afghanistan looks bleak and it could become another failed state.