Why US-Led NATO’s Decision To Keep Troops In Afghanistan Could Prove Disastrous For Everyone?

OPED by Zamir Ahmed Awan

The US-led NATO coalition’s decision to keep their troops beyond May 2021 is against the spirit of the Afghan peace deal. Any extension of foreign troops in the war-torn country may increase human disasters.

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Afghanistan is a small landlocked country and has been suffering from War for almost four decades. Its economy, infrastructure, education, health, agriculture, etc., everything has been damaged virtually. Afghan people are suffering from imposed War by superpowers. Its strategic location – connecting Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Eurasia, and China, is on an important trading route. For centuries, Chinese and Arab traders were passing through Afghanistan for their business trips between Europe, Asia, and Africa.

War, unrest, and uncertainty in Afghanistan have adversely impacted the region and caused a major obstacle in developing the whole area. Poverty, extremism, terrorism, and drugs were the outcome of instability in Afghanistan.

There is complete consensus that peace and stability in Afghanistan are vital not only for Afghanistan or its immediate neighboring countries but also for the whole region or global economy. All the regional countries are playing their role for permanent peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan being the immediate neighbor of Afghanistan has suffered heavy losses in terms of precious human lives and economic loss, as well as suffered social evils like drugs and gun culture, extremism, terrorism, and polarity in the society. Pakistan will be the first country desiring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan understands Afghanistan very well as we share mountains, rivers, ethnicities, religions, cultures, history, and traditions. Pakistan has played a positive role in restoring peace in Afghanistan. It has recently played an instrumental role in bringing the Taliban to negotiating table with the US, known as the Doha negotiations.

As a result of Doha negotiations, a peace deal was reached between the Taliban and the US under President Trump Administration. As part of the peace deal, President Trump has withdrawn its troops leaving behind only 2,500, scheduled to be drawn by May 2021.

The peace deal was admired and supported globally, especially the regional nations. However, unfortunately, NATO has expressed its intentions to keep foreign troops beyond May 2021. It is an open violation of the peace deal and a breach of trust. It has warned the world that the US does not respect its moral obligations. It did a similar thing with the Iran Nuclear Deal and lost its image and global reputation.

The rivalry between ex-President Trump and President Joe Biden is their internal rift and part of American politics, but it should not harm global peace. One can have a different opinion about ex-President Trump and may oppose some of his policies or decisions, but not necessarily nullify all of his policies.

It is appreciated that President Joe Biden has changed his policy toward the Yemen war and may save human lives. It is again appreciated that he is considering restoring the Iran Nuclear deal. It is desired that all policies should aim to protect human lives and to lead toward peace and stability.

However, NATO’s decision is obviously against this spirit. Any extension of foreign troops in Afghanistan may increase human disasters. Opposing all acts of ex-President Trump may not be the necessarily right policy; it should be studied wisely and then judge which of his acts need to be rectified, which are to be continued.

On the other hand, the US policymakers should understand that the US spent two decades, deployed troops up to 120,000, spent trillion dollars, and suffered heavy losses of soldiers, yet could not conquer a single inch of Afghan soil. Still, the Taliban are holding 70% of Afghanistan. The actual pillar of power is the Taliban.

The US supported puppet governments of ex-President Hamid Karzai, and President Ashraf Ghani is not true representatives of the Afghan people. The US could not achieve anything by extending blind support to them. They will have no role in Afghanistan’s future political set-up; even they might not be able to live in Afghanistan.

China and Russia are the stakeholders in Afghan-Peace, along with the regional countries. The US policymakers may consider the ground realities and fulfill its commitment to the complete withdrawal of troops by May 2021. An Afghan-owned, Afghan-led, political solution may be the only feasible wise option.

(Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan is a Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), editor, analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of Center for China and Globalization, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan. Views expressed are his own) 

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