The political instability is staring at Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan due to internal threats of corruption, lack of reforms, growing number of political factions, utter lack of economic revival and his alleged failure to run the government.
Afghanistan is facing numerous threats from insurgent activities of Talibans,ISIS khorasan, ethnic and sectarian divisions, is now in a very fragile and precarious condition, as new political fronts and their heads have intensified their campaign to dislodge the Ashraf Ghani government.
Not only the U.S.-backed Afghan government is losing its grip on the country but the insecurity and instability in Afghanistan is also threatening stability beyond its borders. Knowing the facts on ground, the United States has also delayed its much hyped and awaited policy on Afghanistan after the report presented by Defense Secretary James Mattis last month, who told the Congress that the U.S. is “not winning” in Afghanistan and the Taliban is “surging”.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, known as the ‘butcher of Kabul’ has given a new twist to the political developments of Afghanistan by declaring his desire to fight presidential elections. Hekmatyar, a former anti-Soviet commander in the 1980’s, has called for reconciliation talks with the Taliban,to enhance his chances in capturing power as Taliban represents the identify of Afghanistan and he has shown interest in forging alliance with to form country’s largest political faction that could result as a deciding factor in 2019 elections.
Hekmatyar, a warlord, who is known for receiving the bulk of arms and financial assistance from the C.I.A. to defeat the Soviets and was seen as close to Pakistani government and ISI, is although supporting President Ghani and the Talibans as of now but can instigate an uprising against the government.Leader of the National Participation Party of Afghanistan and former lawmaker Najibulllah Kabuli has urged him not to act on the instructions of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) .
Meanwhile,Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum, who had been exiled to Turkey by Afghan President Ghani, has recently accused the President for breaking the promises on government appointments for his party. Dostum along with Balkh governor and Jamiat-e-Islami chief executive Ata Mohammad Noor, and deputy chief executive Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq have formed a new political front to destabilise the Ghani government.
Talibans, representing Pastuns, are violently asserting their authority for government formation in Kandahar and Nangahar, while ISIS Khorasan an offshoot of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant is increasing their influence in Afghanistan.Therefore, both ISIS and Taliban are in direct conflict for seizing power in Afghanistan.
In a country polarised by ethnic and sectarian divisions,Taliban has emerged successful in controlling territory much larger than 2001 according to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Western-backed Afghan government has lost control of nearly 5 percent of its territory to the Taliban since the beginning of this year.
The report says the area under Afghan government “control or influence” decreased to 65.6 percent by the end of May from 70.5 percent last year, based on data provided by US forces in Afghanistan.That amounts to a loss of 19 of the country’s approximately 400 governing districts.
The recent campaign of Taliban is aimed to project the failure of Ghani government in controlling violence as institutions and diplomatic offices are being targeted and to ensure that their authority is not taken over by the ISIS fighters.
In April, the United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” on an Islamic State position in Nangarhar Province, which is the group’s stronghold in the country.
Keeping in view the changing scenario,U.S. President Donald Trump has delayed its U.S. policy on Afghanistan and its region and apparently his confidence in Ghani government has waned.
“The situation in Afghanistan continues to be geopolitically volatile even as President Trump and Secretary Mattis strive to formulate a pragmatic strategy. However, it has been sixteen years now, and a decision to expand U.S. troops there is nothing more than an operational issue. We can’t call it a “strategy” anymore,”Faisal Ahmed, an associate professor at FORE School of Management and an expert on trade and geopolitical issues based at Delhi said while talking to ANI.
Now, the U.S. is facing another challenge in the form of Russia’s increasing interest and influence in Afghanistan as Vladimir Putin may consider that businessmen turned President Donald Trump will not be able to bring stability to Afghanistan. Moscow has organized many conferences on Afghanistan and is in favour of talks with Taliban.
Therefore, it is pertinent to mention that Trump administration should put forth a new, comprehensive strategy to win the 16-year war against the Taliban and establish peace and stability in Afghanistan rather than just providing additional troops to the war-ravanged country.
“In fact, the United States now needs a multi-pronged strategy to initiate peace talks, and to effectively engage NATO and empower the joint security forces in combating resurgence on ground. Moreover, strengthening the U.S. backed government there should be a priority, and helping SAARC to geo-economically engage in Afghanistan is always a possibility,” Faisal added.
China has a strategic interest in Afghanistan as it lies at the crossroads of Central and South Asia,Beijing has also become pro-active on the issue of Afghanistan and trying to take the lead in mediating between Kabul and Islamabad. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Kabul and Islamabad recently and sought to mediate to normalise the relations between the two countries. Beijing is also a part of the four- nation group of Quadrilateral Coordination Committee formed in 2016 that includes Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. The Quadrilateral group is meant for Taliban reconciliation process – direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
As Afghanistan is India’s gateway to Central Asian republics, the New Delhi is likely to play a more meaningful role in stabilising Afghanistan as recently it supplied eight MI 25 attack helicopters to Kabul as enlarging the sphere of assisting the war-ravaged country. India organised Heart of Asia Summit in Amritsar last year. The summit pointed to the Pakistan’s undeclared war against India and Afghanistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for “resolute action” not just against forces of terrorism but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them, saying silence and inaction will only embolden terrorists and their masters.India has been assisting Afghanistan in the civilian field especially in power plants, road construction and medical aid amounting to US$ 2 Billion. Moreover, the Ghani Government in Afghanistan has developed more trust on India in bringing peace and stability to the region and also maintaining close ties with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led India government in the fight against terrorism.