Trump’s new strategy a threat to Talibanization in Afghanistan?
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Afghanistan has a long history of war and conflicts, the geostrategic status in the region attracting powerful states invasions. Prolonged legacy of violence has been a crucial part of the complex society of Afghanistan. The current social crisis is the Islamic extremism in the form of Talibanization mixing and diverting into the war of ethnic and centralization of power.
Tribalism has always played an important role in political structure of Afghanistan. The group in power had little interest to share it with others. The central political issue is Pashtun representation at the center, Pashtun political leaders typically use group identity in their competition for power and resources by reconstructing history around symbols of ethnic or religious differences. As far back as the country’s independency or even before the time the county has mostly ruled by Pashtun rulers who has always taken a very rigid and harsh stands against other political groups. Abdurrahman khan, a Pashtun ruler ruled over the country from 1881-1901 tried harshly to expand and legitimize his absolutist empire. The genocide of Hazaras is a prominent example in this regard, their lands and properties have been gifted to Pashtuns.
The dominance of government by Pashtun rulers has led to a strong feeling of Pashtun nationalism, which has incited the sentiment of ethno-phobia and hatred among the different ethnic groups subsequently leading to increase inter-ethnic tensions, national fragmentation and social unrest. Pashtuns has been claimed to be privileged over other ethnic groups which dates back to the mid-18th century, they were exempted to pay taxes, and decisions were made for deliberate prevention of sharing higher governmental posts with other ethnic groups rather than Pashtuns and the idea of absolutism.
Similarly the post-Taliban era which is marked by enormous presence of international community leaded by United States in order to bring peace, prosperity, democracy and human rights protection in Afghanistan was influenced by the ideology of Pashtunism. The Bonn agreement brokered by the UN which was held on December 2001 introduced Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun leader whom the US was promoting him as a viable candidate leading the interim administration for a period of six months followed by a Loya Girga (Grand Assembly) inaugurated by Zahir Shah, a Pashtun leader to form a transitional government again leading by Hamid Karzai for a period of 2 two years to pave a path for a general election. However, a mindset already existed to form Pashtun-inclusive government in order not to let them feel alienated.
Hamid Karzai was elected as president of Afghanistan in 2004 through a democratic general election subsequently he won the second election and continued to his tenure up to 2014. However, it is hard to say that pashtunism didn’t have a place in Karzai’s administration, sooner Karzai’s sentiment of brotherhood for the Taliban and ethnic based feeling which was against the majority of Afghan people was sensible through all media which later on could be felt through preaching in the mosques and madrasas by clerics to support Taliban ideology. Despite constant efforts to attract Taliban and absorb them in Afghan society, they never accept the offer rather increased violence and insurgencies, taken more lives of civilians and continued destroying the country by any possible means. Karzai didn’t stop supporting Taliban and calling them brothers, taking all steps to please them by limiting the operations of NATO and Afghan security forces on the strongholds of Taliban and followed by taking the risk to release the Taliban prisoners from Bagram jail in bulk. Afghan experts believe the irrational step taken by Hamid Karzai increase instability and insurgency in the country which has already suffered a lot. Most Afghans worry if their county embrace peace one day.
Karzai’s administration gone with all its ups and downs and unclear peace strategy with Taliban, the new National Unity Government with Ashraf Ghani as the head does not seem to be very different from previous administration towards policy of war against insurgency. Likewise Ex-president, Ashraf Ghani stated a vivid matter claiming why ninety eight percent of Bagram prisoners (Taliban) speak the same language which is spoken by Pashtuns only and he promised for unconditional release of the prisoners. Against public opinion, Ashraf Ghani, who was expected to be more educated and having scholarly background in the west to decrease a very longstanding legacy of violence, bring national integration and establish a culture of tolerance in the country, he failed to be so. Centralization of the power is a key feature of his administration, key posts are given to Pashtuns. Pashtunisation of administration is raising. Karokhail, an Afghan lady ambassador in Canada is accused of privation of the posts in the high commission of Afghanistan in Canada and providing them to Pashtuns only. In the same way Ashraf Ghani’s Administration has encountered with the other ethnic group revolts, accused of ‘Pashtunization’ of the government and marginalization of the other political groups. The Political groups of Afghanistan also claims the current and previous government of Afghanistan to be focusing of the attraction of International funds to Pashtun regions and inequitable development procedures which is very likely to see in Central regions of Afghanistan which has been the most peaceful areas in the last 16 years and most neglected in the terms of public services, infrastructures, constructions of the roads and health related developments. Categorizing minority regions and provinces as 3rd level provinces limits the budgets and intentions of Afghanistan’s farmer and present administration towards development of these regions.
Afghanistan like several other countries in the world is multi-ethnic, religious and linguistic hence the only way to maintain peace, stability and national integration is to have a responsible government in order to build a common-ground to engage all ethnic groups leading toward changes for the public good. Despite major presence of international community to support, promote and protect democracy and human rights in the country through establishing a peaceful circumstance to combat against longstanding inter-ethnic hatred, distinction and distrust resulted from prolonged war it the country. The lack of efforts from international community in this area and deliberate actions inside the government prohibited to build a culture of tolerance and living at peace with diversity. Although all political groups came up with a common interest and supported the newly formed government, another attitude emerged inside the cabinet sympathizing Taliban and segregating them into groups of good and bad terrorists further reinforced the feeble mindset of Talibanization among Pashtun community. Despite constant efforts by government in order to bring the Taliban in peace negotiation, they have shown little or no interest to this offer rather expanded violence and aggression. Hamid Karzai continued calling Taliban brothers, additionally he ordered to ban attacks on Taliban sanctuaries and surprisingly accommodated haven for them.
The key question is, whether Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan can put an end to the strategy of pashutinsm and sympathy with Taliban? How far Trump acknowledged the internal problem of Afghanistan as he claimed that he had studied Afghanistan in great detail and conceivable angles. Trump, in his speech indicated to have a clear definition towards terrorism in the region eliminating Taliban and other insurgents. His new strategy is more on the use of military operations rather than nation building by which it is expected that America is close to the understanding of Problems in Afghanistan. Previously Afghan government and American Securitas, together had prioritized to bring Taliban to desk of discussion, invoking national interest and Afghan former president acquired UN for delisting of some Taliban members of UN sanctions and commanded the rapid release of Taliban prisoners from the Bagram Jail. These strategies had no little impact to bring peace in the country.
Trumps strategy had a clear message of successful win by taking steps to eliminate Taliban and their safe ground on the other side of the border has pressurized the Pakistan to take a stand against groups that support insurgency. With this, there is a need to understand the complex circumstances of which Talibanization get supported for movements in the towns creating pathways to rebuild. As well as Afghan government should have a clear definition of enemy by standing against Taliban and other insurgent groups rather than differentiating them in to categories of bad and good terrorist which has so far been proven wrong after the leaving of NATO troops in 2014 that resulted in expansions of Taliban in more peaceful areas of Afghanistan capturing almost more than 40% of territory in Afghanistan. The strategies has to end the war and eliminate the international threats from the terrorism. The people of Afghanistan deserve to live in peace and continue to rebuild the country and government of Afghanistan is responsible to bring peace and provide civil rights under the constitutions of Afghanistan and stand beside international communities for putting end to terrorism.