Bhatnagar writes: Taliban has asked Donald Trump to review Afghanistan Policy and withdraw all foreign forces from the insurgency-plagued country. Should Trump who envisions achieving a stable and peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground; review, in the short term, America’s strategy in Afghanistan in light of a re-surging Taliban?
The Taliban has asked US President Donald Trump to review America’s policy in Afghanistan and withdraw all foreign forces from the insurgency-plagued country. In a statement released on Saturday following Trump’s inauguration on Friday, the group said violence in Afghanistan will continue if the new administration continued to follow the approaches of the previous governments led by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush. The Taliban also claimed that the US-led invasion supported by the coalition forces resulted in destruction, loss of lives, and billions of financial loss in the past 16 years. It has also resulted in increasing hatred towards Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan began with the invasion of the US-led coalition forces against the Taliban regime, accused of harbouring the then Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of September 11, 2001, attacks in America.[i] The article also said that though America has never waged a war so long and passionately intense in its entire history, but if she insists on continuing her failed arrogant policies, one can foresee that she will ruin herself beyond repair due to a historically shameful defeat.[ii]
Trump is yet to make an official pronouncement about US policy in Afghanistan, but the Taliban threat forced his predecessor Barack Obama to slow plans for a drawdown in US troop numbers. Some 8,400 will remain in the war-torn country this year, compared with 5,500 initially planned.[iii]
Trump’s Afghanistan strategy, based on his public statements and policy proposals is likely to emphasize preserving short-term stability in Afghanistan and containing Pakistan. While Trump has vacillated repeatedly on whether the US should maintain a long-term military presence in Afghanistan, he has consistently opposed US nation building efforts in Afghanistan, a contrast to Obama administration’s focus. Trump had insisted that troops should abandon institution-building objectives and focus on combating more imminent security concerns. This could strain the Washington-Kabul relationship and reduce Afghan military support for US counter-terrorism operations.[iv]
The Obama administration had consistently argued that US troops were merely playing a support role in Afghanistan to help the Afghan military combat terrorism and the Taliban. While Trump feels that Afghanistan’s security is dependent on the retention of US troops. Though, Trump has not provided specific details on how he intends to defeat the Taliban, his rhetoric during the election campaign leaves the door open for a long-lasting US military presence in Afghanistan.[v]
Trump envisions achieving a stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground. It looks at advancing America’s core national interests, promote regional stability, and produce an easing of tensions in the world.[vi] Should Trump, in the present geopolitical environment in Af-Pak region, which is witnessing a resurgence of Taliban, review America’s current strategy in Afghanistan? It is America’s strategy in Afghanistan which steers the efforts of the entire international community. Transition of Afghanistan into a stable and peaceful state not only demands intelligence based military operations against the terrorist outfits but also nation and institution building efforts. Moreover, US cannot ignore Afghanistan’s importance in its fight against the ISIS and spread of radical Islamic terrorism. Therefore, US should not in the short term consider reviewing its strategy in Afghanistan. However, if the US is serious in its global war against terrorism it should review its strategy in dealing with Pakistan, ‘the real enemy’ in the overall imbroglio.