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Path to stability in Afghanistan

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With the fall of Kabul on 15th August, the Taliban are now the de facto rulers of Afghanistan. Their military gains amid little or no resistance from the Afghan force has come as a surprise to the world including the USA. The change in the United States’ intelligence assessments shows how quickly the tables have turned. Two months before the Taliban takeover, the US intelligence reports estimated Kabul could fall in 6 to 12 months after the US withdrawal of troops. But, according to an intelligence report a couple of days before the Taliban takeover, it was estimated that the Taliban could take Kabul in 90 days.
The hastiness with which the Afghan troops have surrendered undermines the claims of the US of a highly capable and resistant Afghan force. For example, according to the data shared by BBC, the Taliban controlled 117 districts on 11th August but they were in total control of Afghanistan on 16th August facing resistance only from Panjshir valley.
For now, it is the Taliban who are emerging victorious after twenty years of war and the US is losing it out in Afghanistan.
Here, it should be clear that the current victory is the victory of the Taliban and not the victory of the people of Afghanistan. They will only get a sigh of relief when an inclusive government is achieved, socio-economic development starts and human rights are protected.
The Taliban might have seized power militarily but the way ahead is far stiffer. Afghanistan, despite getting billions of dollars from the US and its allies, remains dependent on international aid. According to the World Bank, more than 40% of its GDP is international aid. The state of people remains dismal due to extreme poverty, illiteracy and inadequate health care facilities.
For example, 47.3 per cent live below the national poverty line while around 90 per cent of people find it difficult to live on current income.
Similarly, the Healthcare system is also underdeveloped. According to the statistics shared by Statista, the infant mortality rate in Afghanistan in 2021 is 106.75 making it the country with the worst mortality rate among other countries. Moreover, the UN World Food Programme has warned of a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan with 14 million people at risk of acute hunger. It turns out to be 1 in 3 Afghans at risk of severe hunger.
Having said that, the situation is likely to deteriorate further with the Taliban assuming power.
As a countermeasure to the Taliban offensives, the US has frozen the $9.5 billion Afghan Reserves in the US to make sure they do not get access to currency easily. Similarly, the IMF has also halted its $450 million aid because of the current situation. Because of limited resources and rising inflation, analysts are predicting an economic collapse in Afghanistan.
The given circumstances ensure that the Taliban cannot rule alone. They cannot survive without international recognition. The world is more globalized than ever and no state can live in alienation.
Taking stock of the looming crisis, their brutal rule in the past, and to make their image better internationally the Taliban are posing as a changed entity. In their bid to get international recognition, they have pledged general amnesty to all and promised better treatment of women including their participation in the government.
After twenty years of war, the ones who are at loss are the people of Afghanistan. Those living in Afghanistan are going through extreme despair and pain while those living as refugees are striving for their identity.
For 20 years, Afghanistan lacked nation-building efforts. As pointed out by Joe Biden, nation-building was never a US goal in Afghanistan. But now, the world should listen to the plight of the people of Afghanistan. The world must strive for peace, stability and an inclusive government in Afghanistan that is accepted by all.
Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic state where no single entity can rule and create peace. An inclusive setup with due representation for all ethnic groups is the only solution. It will bring stability to Afghanistan. As the Taliban are also rooting for stability and the formation of an inclusive government, therefore, the formation of an inclusive government will be a litmus test of their claims. There should be an international consensus on the recognition of the Taliban. And the decision should be mutual to make sure the world looks at Afghanistan from the same lens rather than being divided into two blocks.
International media, Human rights organisations and world powers should monitor the new regime and its rule for a specific period before taking any decision. The question of international recognition should only be considered if the Taliban regime remains committed to their claims of protection of Human rights, better treatment of women and security of other states.
An inclusive government is indispensable not only for political stability but also for the stability of the state. Because, if that does not happen there is a possibility of continuity of proxy war. The underrepresented groups might be backed and strengthened by some states ultimately resulting in destabilisation.
The Taliban should be realised that they no longer can rule the way they did in the past. The world has changed now. It is more connected through the internet and social media. According to the data provided by Datareportal, there are 4.40 million social media and 8.64 million internet users in Afghanistan therefore their actions will be watched and judged all over the world.
The Taliban might have announced control on Panjshir but its resistance has proved that a civil war can erupt at any time if ethnic groups are not given due representations and treated with kindness.
Currently, the world is divided on the Afghanistan issue. Some states are ready to cooperate with the Taliban regime while some are skeptical about their promises. It is now on the Taliban to act wisely and show responsible behaviour in dealing with their apprehensions.
The last couple of weeks have revealed India’s discontent and uneasiness about the situation in Afghanistan. India, which has exploited the Afghan soil for the last 20 years to destabilise Pakistan, would never want a stable government in Afghanistan. And, if the Taliban leadership is unable to shape an inclusive government and deal with the resentments of all ethnic and religious groups, it will allow India to play its dual game in Afghanistan.
Having said that, the repatriation of refugees will also be a concern for the new government. Their settlement and economic integration will be a tough task. But, for lasting peace and stability it is imperative to repatriate them.
To sum it up, the ultimate aim should be stability in Afghanistan as the path to stability in Afghanistan also leads to the stability of the entire region.