By: Asif Somairi
The US mission in Afghanistan and its sudden collapse have devastated the political and economic atmosphere of Afghanistan. On 15th August 2021, Taliban insurgents besieged the capital territory of Afghanistan and took control in a very short period. The then President Ashraf Ghani fled to Uzbekistan and then to UAE by a chartered flight. His departure left the Afghan government with no other choice except admit the rule of the Taliban. No doubt, the abrupt withdrawal of the US troops and the inability of Afghan government to protect itself are responsible for the current chaos in Afghanistan. The bitter truth is that Kabul has always been taken by force, even after the 9/11, the US military installed the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan after defeating the Taliban.
However, the Afghan people are confronted with the reality of renewed Taliban rule and the International leaders are scrambling to figure out how to respond. Meanwhile, within the region Afghanistan’s stability represents a significant national security concern for South Asia’s two nuclear powers- Pakistan and India. These two nuclear powers are again indulging in very heated rhetoric about each other. From India’s perspective, Taliban control over Kabul cannot be good news. The Afghan government was quite supportive both in Hamid Karzai’s time as well as Ashraf Ghani’s time. India was doing a lot of infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban means India cannot pursue their projects in Afghanistan. While for Pakistan, it is a bigger concern as compared to India because Pak-Afghan relationship has historically been under tremendous stress irrespective of the kind of government in power in Kabul. The 2,011km long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has long been difficult for the Pakistani army to control. However, since mid-2017, Pakistan has been working on installing a pair of nearly 3-metre-high chicken wire fences, with a 2-metre gap between each one, and topped with razor wire, along the whole border with Afghanistan, most of which is porous. The vision of insurgents groups operating freely across the border may not be good for Pakistani military strategists.
After the exodus of government employees from the country, Taliban are facing governing difficulties. On 8th September, Taliban officially announced the names of the cabinet members. The supreme leader or Amir al-Mu’minin appointed Mullah Hassan Akhund as Prime Minister and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi as Deputy Prime Ministers. Further ramification of government took place and ministries have been distributed among other key leaders of Taliban. However, in future power may vested in Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek communities.
In addition to these political ramifications, economic challenges are also rising. Economic uplift is necessary to pay the salaries of government employees who have been deprived of their salaries for the last few months. After the takeover of the Taliban, US completely froze all the foreign reserve accounts of Afghanistan, and IMF and World Bank have paused their projects in Afghanistan as well. In all these consequences Afghanistan may face a shortage of cash and very high inflation. Pakistan does not have an option to turn its back towards Kabul in the current scenario because 54% of transit of Afghanistan take place via Pakistan and Afghanistan is a land-locked country. The relationship between the two is so fragile that a single terror attack on either side can trigger a blame game against each other that could potentially end in a new conflict in the region
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