Seventeen long years have gone by since the war against the Taliban ended. But peace has not returned. The Taliban regrouped, thanks to the unceasing support of Pakistan, and returned with vengeance in less than a year and have since managed to wreak havoc all over the country. Since 2014, the Islamic State has joined in to find a niche for itself as it faces stiff resistance and rout in West Asia. Since 2001, the total number of Afghans killed in war is a staggering 111,000. APRATIM MUKARJI explains what is wrong with Afghanistan
However, there are three distinctly new trends in the situation. The most significant of these is the people’s frustration and anger over the never-ending warfare and a devastated life they are being forced to live. This was manifest in a long march which common Afghans took out in early July covering 700 km. from the north to Kabul, demanding that the fighting be stopped by both the insurgents and the government and that peace negotiations begun. Peace activists in the march questioned the efficacy of the billion-dollar-worth international efforts to bring peace and reconstruction to the country.
However, the people’s search for peace and the government’s and the international players’ desperation to get the Taliban to the negotiating table underscores just one thing, and that is the unquestionable ascendancy of the Taliban in the intervening years since their ouster at the end of 2001. The fundamentalist force is now said to be controlling half of the country.
But the Taliban’s territory has for some years been gnawed at by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (IS; Khorasan is an allusion to an historical entity comprising the modern-day Afghanistan, Central Asia and parts of Iran) as the latter first quit Iraq and then Syria, being worsted by the Russian and Iranian forces in conjunction with the Syrian government forces. Afghanistan with its continuing turmoil appears to have proved the perfect haven this murderous hard-line Islamists were looking for. In order to prove a far worse nuisance than the Taliban, the IS seems to be exulting in unheard-off cruelty, flourishing on increasingly heinous assaults it is mounting on civilians.
How did the IS, estimated to be 10,000 fighters-strong, manage to sneak into Afghanistan? Russia has alleged and gone to the United Nations Security Council with its allegation that it was the US helicopters which had secretly transported these men into Afghanistan, a charge corroborated by the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai who quoted villagers describing how these operations were conducted. However, the US has so far succeeded in stonewalling the Russian complaint.
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