Fall of Kabul: On Afghanistan crisis

With Afghanistan under the total control of the Taliban, the future looks bleak

This is a historic development that will have lasting implications for global geopolitics. Unlike 1996, this is not only about the Taliban taking power. This is also about an Islamist group with a medieval mindset and modern weapons defeating the world’s most powerful country. The U.S. can say in its defence that its mission was to fight al-Qaeda and that it met its strategic objectives. But in reality, after spending 20 years in Afghanistan to fight terrorism and rebuild the Afghan state, the U.S. ran away from the battlefield, embarrassing itself and leaving its allies helpless. The images from Arg, the presidential palace in Kabul, and the airport will continue to haunt President Joe Biden and the U.S. for a long time. In 1996, when the Taliban took Kabul, the government did not flee the country. Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani retreated to the Panjshir valley from where they regrouped the Northern Alliance and continued resistance against the Taliban. This time, there is no Northern Alliance. There is no government. The whole country, except some pockets, is now firmly under the Taliban’s control. The Taliban are also more receptive to regional players such as China and Russia, while Pakistan is openly celebrating their triumph. It remains to be seen what kind of a regime a stronger Taliban will install in Kabul. If the 1990s are anything to go by, darker days are ahead in Afghanistan.

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