Afghanistan After The US Withdrawal: Implications For Pakistan


Afghanistan has consistently remained a hot-spot for conquerors because of its proximity to warm waters and other natural resources. After the Soviet’s had left the nation, and failed to arrive at warm waters, and acquired no impact in the region, the country became fragmented and divided internally. Then, at that point, Taliban arose as a significant political and diplomatic power in 1996. They remained in power until the occurrence of 9/11 attack. After the incidence of September 2001 attack, the USA invaded in Afghanistan and fought a war on terror for about 20 years. They deployed their troops in Afghan soil to eliminate terrorism and to bring peace and stability in the country.

The country has stayed under the war zone for two decades. The US intervention in Afghanistan has disturbed the internal stability and created a political turmoil within the country. Now, after twenty years of battle in Afghanistan, the time has finally come for the US to completely withdraw its forces until 11th September 2021. The withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from the Afghan land will have enormous effect on the country, on Pakistan and on the region as a whole. The inquiries arise that what will happen after the total withdrawal of US soldiers? Will the Afghan government be able to survive? Will there be peace or turmoil in Afghanistan? There are various scenarios that may happen after the withdrawal of the US troops.

Firstly, the accelerated withdrawal of the US military soldiers from the Afghanistan soil is creating a vacuum the Taliban are anxious to fill. As Taliban are rapidly acquiring power in Afghanistan and half of the Afghan Taliban district centers are under the control of Taliban, then there are prospects of civil war if the stakeholders in Afghanistan could not come out with certain strong decisions. The fight for power between the Afghan government and Taliban can have far-reaching consequences with greater ramifications for the entire region. The civil war will bring instability in the country. As there will be civil war, then it will create a refugee influx in the country. The large number of Afghans will move to the neighboring country, Pakistan, in search for shelter. Along these lines, this refugee influx will have a direct impact on the security and on the economy of Pakistan. The Afghan civilians will become a burden on the Pakistan’s economy. Pakistan have already spent more than $ 200 million on the war on terror. But, if this time instability prevail again in Afghanistan then it will have consequences on Pakistan. It will regenerate the element of extremism, terrorism, drug trafficking and other evil activities in the Pakistani society. Due to this, Pakistan will lose Foreign Direct Investments (FDI’s) and will economically suffer a lot.

In addition, the withdrawal of the US troops will likewise create a vacuum for other international players to intervene in the country to safeguard their interests. It will pave the way for a regional proxy war in Afghanistan. Pakistan, China, India, Russia, Iran and the Arab Gulf states could all resort to military rivalry through their proxy clients inside Afghanistan. This would result in a civil war, and no one Afghan group being able to control the circumstance. The vacuum would be an optimal incubator for violent extremist gatherings to regroup and develop, including the Taliban.

On the other hand, there will be peace only when there will be political settlement which will only come when the intra-Afghan peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government succeed. Only then there will be stability in the country which will be a positive sign for Pakistan and for the whole region. The stability in Afghanistan will boost the economy of both the neighboring countries. They might initiate bilateral projects and expand trade activities in future which will be a good drive for the development of both states. The international development community will also invest in both states which will result in the developments.

Furthermore, Afghanistan might stand with Pakistan on Kashmir issue. Pakistan with the support of Afghanistan will be able to resolve the Kashmir conflict. Previously, it was done by Mujahideen with the help of ISI but a while later, they stopped the movements because Pakistan was lacking financially. In any case, if there will be political settlement in Afghanistan and if it became a cordial ally of Pakistan then with the assistance of Afghanistan, Pakistan will be able to get into the Kashmir game again.

Thus, after the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, the regional and extra regional actors need to pressurize both the Taliban and the Ashraf Ghani’s government to politically settle their issues in order to bring harmony in the country. A political solution is the solitary way this war ends – and not one forced by the US, but one consented to by Afghan factions. President Ghani must get the Taliban to the table to discuss a permanent cease-fire and a political settlement.

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