The US war with the Taliban and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan since 2001 has invited a serious academic attention not only for being a tragedy costing thousands of lives and lasting too long, but also for the American hidden agenda of controlling oil and gas reserves, pipelines, and petroleum consortium in the region – the prizes of the new Great Game.
Pentagon repeatedly claimed over these years that the US War in the region was fought with the purpose of eliminating the roots of global terrorism and to establish political stability and ensure economic development. However, weary of the high cost of the campaign in blood and treasure, forced the US to withdraw from the region therefore, leaving the job of stable Afghanistan unaccomplished and pushed the region deeper in the sea of instability.
All that one experience during these niggling years is the human rights violations perpetrated both by the Taliban and the US and NATO forces on the Afghan men, women and children.
The recent report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reveals that during the first six months of 2013 i.e., between 1 January and 30 June 2013, 86 unfortunate civilian were killed and 146 injured from illegal pressure-plate IEDs which increased to 161 and 147 respectively during the same period in 2014, increasing the figure therefore by 33% (UNAMA, 2014). Similarly, we have a long list of such violations by the US and NATO forces, killing tens and hundreds of innocent men, women and children during air strikes, drone attacks, kidnapping and night raids in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively. This underscoring the false statements repeatedly issued by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) denying Afghan civilian casualties.
As per the ground reports, the US and NATO forces on the ground displayed too great a readiness in their use of devastating firepower. Whenever, forces were ambushed or pinned down by enemy fire, they called in airstrike. As token references of the gross human rights violations, we are reported that in 2014, nine Afghan children and a teenager were killed in Ghazi while playing marbles in the dirt. The killing of sixteen innocent civilians including three women and nine children by an American Staff Sergeant, Robert Bales, on March 11, 2012 – a worst atrocity of the war.
However, NATO shooting of the children while playing and innocent Afghans while celebrating marriages do not make different cases either. All this human rights violation aroused anti-US reactions in different parts of the Afghanistan over these years which are generally given no space by the US diplomatic reporters.
What forces led to the US forces to withdraw from "the graveyard of empire" is a complex question. As per Ahmad Rashid, an authority on Taliban, the shift of the US attention towards Iraq once Taliban surrendered in 2002 proved detrimental for the US. The shift of attention provided the Al-Qaida and the Taliban a chance regroup and consolidate their positions and shattered strength.
This as per the analysts was a blunder that consequently forced the US to pack up from Afghanistan in 2014. A recent book of the Carlotta Gall, The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan 2001-2014, however, tries to explain the Pakistan-Taliban nexus in the furtherance of the anti-West insurgency in Afghanistan. In the book the author writes: "Supposedly an ally to the US, Pakistan has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons".
"This (Pakistan support to Taliban) is as bright as the sun" maintained Amrullah Saleh, head of the National Directorate of Security of Afghanistan. Political analyst, Mushtaq A. Kaw, pointed to the same nexus while quoting in one of his writings that Afghan problem could be sorted out in week's time if Pakistan holds back support to the Taliban (Greater Kashmir, 22 Oct., 2014).
The US leaving from Afghanistan without accomplishing the job of stable Afghanistan leaves behind volleys of questions for further probing by the academicians. To what extent did Pakistan contribute to the US failure in "the graveyard of empires"? What would be the future of Afghanistan? Would Taliban as a dominant insurgent faction form government? Would it be through a predicted civil war or political dialogue with the new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani?
Nevertheless, in conjunction with these questions, need of an hour is to draw a road map of getting Afghanistan out from imbroglio, and explore the reasons for human sufferings that has been far too great for the people of Afghanistan.
Afghan society needs all support to ensure peace and tranquility, economic and psychological development and let all major powers in the region work together selflessly for the cause and let human consideration prevail over the geo-strategic terrain till at least Afghan society stands on its legs!