WAR on terror and return of Taliban: who won?

The myth and tautology: Afghanistan is an immediate neighborhood of Bharat. Bharat and Afghanistan has shared heritage and history. From Gandhari to Shershah Suri, and from Bemiyan to Banaras we have a common history of ancient times. The land presently, however, is important to India for the turmoil that it is in. The surge of Taliban in Afghanistan since its creation has been only upward.


For scholars of international law and relations away from security experts this development is perplexing. Is there role of UN in Afghanistan? If it does, UN should not breach the mandate of Art.2(7), UN charter which proscribes the UN to intervene in a matter which is domestic in nature. It is, of course, open to argument that whether a violent take over of government by its own people is internal matter or not. The argument that Pakistan was lynchpin in the coup d’etat is of little help unless Pakistan itself acknowledges dangers to it or its long-term interests.


However, more than legal question at hand my interest is in busting the peddling of certain theories, which are absolutely bogus and are oversimplification of certain historical accounts.


Afghanistan has always remained unconquered: One can not deny that prior to arrival of Islam in the land of Afghanistan, it was a land Hindus and Buddhist ancestry. Advent of Islam in Afghanistan to the credit of expeditionary forces of Caliphates of Ummayad and Abbasids in the province of Balkh, Saistan and Hindukush region. The brute force and intolerance led to complete annihilation of Buddhism and Hinduism. Afghanistan was subjugated and tamed and had to adopt the new religion and no defence could be mounted against the invasion.

Image: Taller, 55 meter Buddha in 1963 and in 2008 after destruction under Taliban rule


Maharaja Ranjit Singh tamed it once again when he established sikh empire there by extending the territorial boundaries of kingdom till Kabul.


The ‘Forward Policy’ of British in India was carefully drafted to keep the Afghani invaders at bay. No Afghan invader could ever breach the firewall of forward policy. For instance, The Second Anglo-Afghan War was fought in 1878-80, because of Britain's demands that Afghan foreign policy should come completely under its control. In the Treaty of Gandamak concluded in May 1879, the Afghan amir ceded his districts of Pishin, Sibi, Harnai, and Thal Chotiali to the British.


The negotiation of Durand line:


Further, in 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand negotiated an agreement with Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan to fix an only partially surveyed line (the Durand Line) running from Chitral to Balochistan to designate the areas of influence for the Afghans and the British. Each party pledged not to interfere in each other's lands. This agreement brought under British domination territory and peoples that had not yet been conquered and would become the source of much difficulty between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the future.


Most recently, the USA could dislodge the Taliban government through its aerial bombing without even sending its boots on the ground. Taliban fled the scene in less than a week, creating a power vacuum and strengthening the return of Northern Alliance. American presence ensured no surge of Taliban. Vast majority of the people of Afghanistan were happy with the presence of American boots on their soil. Kabul flourished and so did the civil liberty of its masses.

Image: Events that followed 9/11 attacks


Therefore, the theory that Afghan has never been conquered is another myth which has been peddled to keep democracy away from citadel of Islamic rule.


Did the USA lose the war: War is a means for political goals in international relations. A war without a well-defined political goal would not be war at all and country like the USA would never undertake it. So, what was invasion of Afghanistan for the USA? The Afghan invasion took place when the then Taliban government refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to the USA. Once should not forget that Taliban ministers did pay visit to the USA few months before the invasion of Afghanistan.


Afghan war was an extension of ‘war on terror’. This begs the question what was the objective of war on terror for the USA in Afghanistan? This question is as simple as it gets, the objective was to neutralize Al-Qaeda and its leader Usama Bin Laden. Osama was killed in 2011, that objective was achieved. Al-Qaeda is no threat for the USA from the territory of Afghanistan in recent years. Nevertheless, the new de facto government of Taliban has made this pledge to unequivocally that its land would not be allowed against any foreign country.


The USA extended its stay in Afghanistan because it did not want to draw bad blood and worsen the already negative public perception that it has in Islamic world. It tried its best to promote liberty and freedom. However, Sharia law got better over freedom and liberty in the conscience of masses.

Image: Women under Taliban rule in Afghanistan


Biden is right when he says nation-building or capacity building in Afghanistan was not the object of ‘War on Terror’. Objective was to ensure elimination of Usama, neutralizing Al-qaeda and ensuring Afghanistan is not a threat to American security interest in form of terror attack. All these objective has been achieved. America won the war. It came in Afghanistan for war against terror not for imperialist purposes.


Author: Abhishek Mishra


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