Recently, the US troops departed from the biggest airbase in Afghanistan after the 20-year-long war, effectively ending their military operations in the country.
- On 11th September 2001, terrorist attacks in America killed nearly 3,000 people.
- Osama Bin Laden, the head of Islamist terror group al-Qaeda, was quickly identified as the man responsible.
- The Taliban, radical Islamists who ran Afghanistan at that time, protected Bin Laden, and refused to hand him over. So, a month after 9/11, the US launched airstrikes against Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom).
- After the attacks, the NATO coalition troops declared war on Afghanistan.
- The US dislodged the Taliban regime and established a transitional government in Afghanistan.
- The US had reached the conclusion long ago that the war was unwinnable.
- The US administration had sent a representative to the first-ever meeting between the Taliban and the Afghan government that was hosted by Pakistan in Murree in 2015.
- However, the Murree talks did not progress.
- The US appointed a special envoy for Afghanistan with a mandate to directly negotiate with the Taliban. They held talks with Taliban representatives in Doha that led to the February 2020 agreement between the US and the insurgents.
- Before the Doha talks started, the Taliban had maintained that they would hold direct talks only with the US, and not with the Kabul government, which they did not recognise.
- The US effectively accepted this demand when they cut the Afghan government off the process and entered direct talks with the insurgents.
- It dealt with four aspects of the conflict — violence, foreign troops, intra-Afghan peace talks and the use of Afghan soil by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (the IS has an Afghan unit).
- In the agreement, the US administration promised that it would withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by 1st May, 2021.
- The deadline has been pushed to 11th September 2021.
- The Taliban promised to reduce violence, join intra-Afghan peace talks and cut all ties with foreign terrorist groups.
India’s reach out to the Taliban:
- India made contacts with the Taliban in Doha.
- This signals a late but realist acknowledgement from the Indian side that the Taliban would play a critical role in Afghanistan in the coming years.
- India has three critical areas in dealing with the Taliban.
- Protecting its investments, which run into billions of rupees, in Afghanistan;
- Preventing a future Taliban regime from being a pawn of Pakistan;
- Making sure that the Pakistan-backed anti-India terrorist groups do not get support from the Taliban.
- In the past, India chose not to engage the Taliban (New Delhi had backed the Northern Alliance) and the costs were dear when the Taliban was in power.
- In November 2001, the Northern Alliance took control of the Afghanistan capital Kabul. The Northern Alliance fought a defensive war against the Taliban government and were being helped by the US and other countries that agreed with it, including the UK.
- After the agreement was signed, the US put pressure on the Afghan government to release thousands of Taliban prisoners.
- A key Taliban precondition for starting intra-Afghan talks.
- Talks between Taliban representatives and the Afghan government began in Doha in September 2020 but did not reach any breakthrough. At present, the peace process is frozen.
- The Taliban reduced hostilities against foreign troops but continued to attack Afghan forces even after the agreement was signed.
- Kabul maintains that the Pakistan support for the Taliban is allowing the insurgents to overcome military pressure and carry forward with their agenda.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT