THE US wants to leave Afghanistan. Its lukewarm allies, including India, dragged their feet when the US asked them to contribute foot soldiers to fight the Taliban (Trump mocked at India’s contribution of a library).
The post-exit situation is complex. There are many points to ponder. For instance Taliban’s foreign guests include Islamic State and Al Qaeda warriors from the Middle East and Central Asia.
Isn’t it against Pakhtunwali tradition to stab protected ‘guests’ in the back? Where will they go? Will the US revamp its Middle East policy to deal with them?
The US, Pakistan and Taliban, India (Chabahar Port), Iran, China and Turkey (Turkmen-Turkic community) have stakes in Afghanistan. The Afghan economy is in shambles. Can the US spend $43 billion (it will save annually from exit) on Afghanistan’s development? Can China, India, Iran and Turkey together (besides the US) start a nouveau Marshall Plan in war-ravaged Afghanistan to avoid a clash of interest?
What about the post-exit 250,000-strong Afghan army ties with the Taliban? Can there be spill-over effect of Taliban-enforced Sharia on modernist Pakistan?
Can India stop isolating Pakistan from Saarc? How will rebellious Pakistani Taliban and recalcitrant elements in Balochistan react to the US exit?
Above all, will Ashraf Ghani’s government and other puppets reconcile, at heart, to US exit?
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019