Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, February 24th, 2020

War in Afghanistan Complicated and Controversial

The protracted war in Afghanistan has been changed into a highly controversial issue, mainly after the revelation of an investigative report “The Afghanistan Papers” in the Washington Post. All three American presidents since 2001 – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump – and their military commanders were not able to make good on their promises to win in Afghanistan.
The US administrations had fundamental disagreements on the objectives of the operation in Afghanistan. While some officials wanted Afghanistan to become a political democracy, others wanted the war to change Afghan culture, including its views on women’s rights. Some considered a broader picture, wanting a regional balance of power among the nearby states, according to the report. Perhaps, the biggest confusion among various US departments has been whether Pakistan is a friend or an adversary.
Lately, US Senator Lindsey Graham is cited as saying, “As to negotiating with the Taliban, I think we got this wrong. I think what we should do is start negotiating with Pakistan. If Pakistan denied the Taliban safe haven in Pakistan, the war in Afghanistan would end in a matter of weeks.”
On the contrary, Pakistani officials have stated on several occasions that Islamabad had played an instrumental role in Afghan peace process. Despite claims made that Pakistan harbors the Taliban and many other terrorist networks, Islamabad denied such statements. Worst, a number of Pakistani officials and political analysts claimed that Afghanistan has been a threat to Pakistan.
It is self-explanatory that an unstable Afghanistan will not be in the interests of Pakistan and it should put its weight behind the peace talks and pressure the Taliban to negotiate directly with the Afghan government.
The resumption of peace talks between the Taliban and US representatives in Qatari capital of Doha will generate a gleam of hope for the people of Afghanistan. However, the Taliban leadership is still likely to bargain as it hashed out that it was willing to agree to a “complete ceasefire” with the United States during talks if Washington agrees to eventually withdraw all troops from Afghan territory. The group added that the ceasefire would not include Afghan troops.
It seems against the Taliban’s ideology as the group, on the one hand, claims that it was fighting to put an end to the foreign “occupation” but on the other hand, it has aired its readiness to declare truce with the foreign troops but not with Afghan soldiers.
The Taliban should note that the people of Afghanistan have been the main victims of the war since a countless number of Afghan civilians trapped in a cycle of endless conflict they have nothing to do with. In September, the US Air Force has reportedly dropped more bombs and other munitions in Afghanistan than in any other month in nearly a decade. Civilian casualties are appallingly high. In addition to being the main reason behind the civilian casualties, the Taliban has also been largely involved in civilian casualties as its fighters carried out suicide attacks in public and residential places. If the Taliban does not reduce violence, the graph of civilian casualties will grow higher, which will generate hatred among the public.
With this in mind, the Taliban has to stop bargaining for higher price and try to reach an agreement with its US interlocutors and start talks with the Kabul administration since the war has been confessed unwinnable.
In the meantime, a regional and global consensus is needed to be formed and regional stakeholders have to engage in Afghan peace process more practically rather than giving lip service to the issue. The international community should not play the role observer as Afghan combatants and non-combatants lose their lives on daily basis.
Moreover, Muslim clerics around the world, including Pakistani Mavlawis, have to fulfill their religious obligations through issuing fatwa against Jihad in Afghanistan. To one’s unmitigated chagrin, Pakistani clerics have remained silent about the ongoing conflict and the Taliban’s terrorist activities in Afghanistan and denied to issue fatwa against them. Worst of all, even some of them supported the war in Afghanistan ideologically. Those religious scholars who remain silent are responsible.
Afghan clerics, however, challenged the radical ideology of the Taliban in Afghanistan and condemned their terrorist activities on several occasions. Feeling weak ideologically, the Taliban targeted the clerics, which indicates that it will respond to logical reasons with bombs and guns. But if all Muslim countries issue fatwa against the Taliban’s terrorist activities in Afghanistan, it will reduce the violence to a great extent.