The United States has formally begun withdrawing its last troops from Afghanistan, bringing its longest war near to an end after nearly two decades. This war-ravaged nation was on high alert as it heralds into an uncertain future as the Taliban tighten their grip on power.
The US had agreed to retreat on May 1 but President Biden pushed the date to September 11, a day which remains in infamy as it unleashed the so-called war on terrorism. The day also comes as the US marks ten years since it killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. The geo-political and security situation has changed a lot since then but ordinary Afghans are still yearning for peace.
The US army commander has warned the Taliban from attacking their forces as they leave the country. US officials will gradually retreat to avoid any losses from miscreants. It reminds us how the Soviets after being defeated in 1989 retreated from Afghanistan and suffered massive losses at the hands of the Mujahideen. The US certainly doesn’t want a humiliating exit and went to the extent of securing their military bases from attack by rogue groups under the pact with the Taliban.
The Taliban instead intensified attacks on Afghan government forces and civilian casualties spiraled. The peace talks between the militants and the government have made no significant headway despite the passage of eight months. The Turkey-hosted peace summit collapsed after Taliban refused to attend. A meeting of the extended troika – US, Russia, China and Pakistan – have urged Afghan parties to reach a negotiated settlement and reduce violence leading towards a ceasefire. However, the Taliban appear undeterred knowing well that they would seize control soon.
A key demand of the withdrawal deal was ensuring that Afghan soil would not be used for attacks on military installations. But the question remains on what would happen when the US departs as Afghan forces are ill-equipped to ward off any militant attacks. The Taliban would surely choose war in an attempt to grab power after US troops completely exit.
All efforts are being made to bring back the Taliban to the negotiating table. There is still a glimmer of hope that peace can finally be achieved in Afghanistan. As the US would mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it would serve as a stark reminder that it was a no-win situation right from the onset. For ordinary Afghans, it is still a way towards peace and prosperity.