The US and Afghan governments are quickly finding out that a negotiated settlement with the Taliban to hasten the departure of Isaf troops may be even more disastrous than they had first imagined. After Taliban fighters stormed a hotel in Kabul, an 11-hour gun battle ensued in which nearly a dozen people were killed, including the seven militant attackers. The ostensible reason for the attack was that the hotel was frequented by foreigners and Afghan government officials and that it served alcohol. Consider this a preview of what is likely to happen to Afghanistan should the Taliban take over after Nato troops withdraw from the country. Another bout of Taliban rule is sure to be a rerun of their first rule, with anything that deviates even slightly from their harsh interpretation of religion to be treated with brute force.
The problem the US faces is that even though it knows that a return to power for the Taliban will hurt it as well as Afghanistan, there is little it can do to prevent that. Its troops are bogged down in Afghanistan and unable to make any significant progress. The Afghan Army is wholly ill-equipped to keep the Taliban at bay and is suffering from mass desertion because of the danger involved in the job. As bleak as it seems, the Taliban simply have to wait out the US and then it will have a very real chance at regaining power.
Part of the blame for that has to go to Pakistan. The US has blamed the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network for the attack. The Pakistan military has repeatedly refused to take action against it, making up what some would say are excuses for why it cannot do so. There is also the perception that Pakistan sees the Haqqani Network as an asset that will help it maintain influence in post-war Afghanistan. However, this tactic risks alienating the US. We are walking a fine line between the US and the Taliban but are increasingly finding ourselves on the wrong side of that line. We need to seriously rethink our policy towards the Haqqani Network.
Published in The Express Tribune, 25th, 2012.
More in EditorialEco-friendly toilets