The Taliban in Afghanistan is very much alive and killing
Kabul is far from ready to defend the country against the fanatical outfit — Kunduz is the evident example of that writes Viju Cheriananalysis Updated: Oct 08, 2015 07:41 IST
On September 28 the Taliban decided to complicate matters for Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, a day before his government completed one year in power — by capturing the former Northern Alliance stronghold of Kunduz. Thus Kunduz became the first major city to fall to the Taliban after it was routed in 2001. Three days later on October 1, the Afghan forces, with aerial support from the United States, recaptured the city.
The siege of Kunduz shows that 14 years after it invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the US has not been able to defeat the Taliban.
The fall of Kunduz, however, thoroughly exposes the Afghan forces, especially given that signs of unrest in the northern city were visible from as early as April. But there is little to be surprised, because this is not the first time US-trained forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been defeated when left to fight on their own.
Temporary as it may have been, this is a victory for the Taliban, which has been struggling to stay united ever since the death of its leader Mullah Omar was announced. It is also presumed that with the attack on Kunduz, Mullah Mansour, Mullah Omar’s successor, has put to rest murmurs about his leadership. Reports also suggest that the Taliban is gaining momentum after the September 28 attack.
This setback of the Ghani government is bad news for India, which has a lot riding on Afghanistan’s stability. Unlike his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, who was close to India and gave Pakistan a wide berth, Ghani believed stronger ties with Islamabad would influence the Taliban to negotiate with Kabul. But things went from bad to worse with multiple bombings across Kabul, including at the international airport and a US army base, forcing Ghani to say in August that “we hoped for peace but we are receiving messages of war from Pakistan”.
On Sunday, in Kabul, the National Directorate of Security killed two suicide bombers belonging to the Haqqani network while they were attempting to bomb the police training centre, and on Wednesday, a suicide bomber, trained in Peshawar, was detained in Kabul. All these point to Islamabad’s plan to further weaken the government in Kabul.
These developments do not paint a bright future for Afghanistan, and further vindicates India’s position that it is impossible to strike a deal with the Taliban. India must reiterate its message to the US and the international community that there is no ‘good Taliban’ and that Pakistan should not be allowed to use Afghanistan as its terror backyard to control the region and use it to launch attacks on India.
The Washington Post reported recently that US President Barack Obama was considering a proposal to station about 5,000 troops post 2016 (against a complete pullout). This is welcome news, and Obama’s decision will also influence Nato’s post-2016 commitment in Afghanistan. The flaw in the US’ plan to limiting its role to aerial support for Afghan troops, and not committing boots on the ground, was evident in the October 4 US air strike on a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital, killing 22 civilians, which included doctors and patients.
Kabul is far from ready to defend the country against the Taliban — Kunduz is the evident example.