Afghan Flag - Photo via pixabay.com

Afghanistan has a history of conflicts. It is a volatile region. It has been undergoing various tensions since last 40 years. Afghanistan is also known as “graveyard of empires”. At first, it appears in international media due to its internal conflicts. However, currently, Afghanistan is facing political and military turmoil after 9/11. This article covers the current situation of Afghanistan and the role of regional powers like Russia, China, Pakistan and also the role of NATO troops under the command of the United States of America.

Afghanistan was the first victim of the war on terror. Al-Qaeda of Afghanistan claimed responsibility of 9/11 debacle. The United States of America attacked Afghanistan in 2001. However, this war was proven very hard and lengthy. Now, almost 18 years have passed, but no one is emerging is as victorious in this war. Afghanistan is still an unstable country and its government is dependent on foreign troops to run the country.

Current war was being fought among three parties. One party is Afghan government, the 2nd party is The Taliban and the third party is ISAF troops working under US command. Afghan army consists of more than 300000 troops. While The Taliban has more than 60000 trained warriors. US and allies have more than 24000 well-trained and equipped army personnel. The joint force of US and allies is called ISAF.

ISAF logo – Photo via wikipedia.org

However, the 4th party is also emerging in Afghanistan. And this party is ISIS’ Afghan group named as Khurasan branch of IS. IS has more than 5000 active fighters in Afghanistan. Currently, Afghanistan is divided between the Afghan government and The Taliban. A deep look at Afghan geography reveals that about 30 percent of Afghan territory is controlled by the Afghan government. It means the government controls about 122 districts of Afghanistan. However, these regions face attacks by the Taliban, then and now. It means despite the government control these regions face terrorist attacks by the Taliban.

Meanwhile, about four percent of the territory of Afghanistan is in direct control of The Taliban. This area contains about 13 districts. In these districts, Taliban rule and government forces are not allowed to go into these areas. On the other hand, 66 percent of Afghanistan (263 districts) is a bone of contention between the Afghan government and Taliban. We can call it an open area. In this area, both the Afghan government and The Taliban are active against each other. Conclusively no party can claim the control of entire Afghanistan.

Now let’s have a look at ISIS activities in Afghanistan. This group is posing a threat to both the Afghan government and the Taliban. ISIS is active in Eastern and Northern Afghanistan. America accuses Iran of arming Taliban against the Afghan government. American experts opine that Iran is doing this to take revenge of scrapping the  nuclear deal by Trump administration. Similarly, China and Russia are also believed to support the Taliban to counter ISIS.

Image by husssam jaafar from Pixabay

In the same manner America, Afghan government and India believe that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban against the Afghan government. Here it must be noted that Pakistan enjoyed good relations with Afghan Taliban in the 1990s. The Taliban regime was recognized by only three countries. These three countries were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Arguing on these facts Afghanistan blames Pakistan of supporting Taliban. Pakistan is accused of giving refuge to the central leadership of the Taliban in Quetta (City of Pakistan’s Balochistan). This Taliban branch is named as Quetta Shura.

However, Pakistan denies these allegations and stresses the US and Afghanistan to take steps against terrorists inside Afghan territory. Pakistan’s former foreign minister Mr. Khwaja Asif opines that the Taliban control a large territory in Afghanistan, therefore, they do not need Pakistani soil. Pakistan thinks that Afghan soil is safer for the Taliban than Pakistani land. However, America urges Pakistan to use its (Pakistan’s) influence on the Taliban to bring them on the negotiation table. Pakistan assures that it will do its best to serve peace in Afghanistan, but currently Islamabad has no influence on Afghan Taliban.

Army Jeep – Photo via pixabay.com

Currently, the Afghan Taliban are in a state of war with American troops and the Afghan government. However, they are also negotiating with America. For negotiations, the Taliban has opened their office in Qatar. However, no practical development was seen in negotiations.

18 years have passed since the arrival of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan but still, the future of Afghanistan is uncertain. USA and allies lost about 3500 soldiers in this war. Among these 3500 soldiers, about 2500 belonged to the USA, 455 from the UK and more than 600 from other allies of America. Half of these dead personnel were killed in just two provinces, namely Qandhar and Helmand. Afghan forces appear to be the biggest victim of this war. According to a New York Times report on the average, about 20 Afghan troops get killed by Afghan Taliban daily.

This was all about the current situation in Afghanistan. Many experts claim Afghanistan as another Vietnam for the USA. After 17 years, peace could not be sustained in Afghanistan while the  insurgency is still rising in different areas of Afghanistan. Experts believe that no party can control Afghanistan solely. Only a negotiated settlement can bring peace in Afghanistan.