By Col. Rajinder Singh (Retd)
“It is the Collapse of US will……..They (Afghan People) know that Taliban was supported by ISI of Pakistan……….they also know that whole defence budget of Pakistan was supported by US financial aid…….US had the option to choke Pakistan and stop Taliban in its strides”
-Tucker Carlson, on current Afghan Situation
Joe Biden, 46th President of USA, is the target of world’s most analysts for the state of affairs in Afghanistan. It is incorrect to entirely blame Joe Biden. His was a political decision. What about the US Military leadership? Is the chaos a deliberate exercise by US Generals, who have close relations with Pak military, as Tucker Carlson hints? May not be so, but negligence of duty, if not dereliction of duty, does exist.
It is felt that the blame should be entirely on Generals of US military who had not planned an organised withdrawal. It is they who are responsible for the chaos at the Kabul Airport, now. They failed in their duty to do justice to it. Withdrawal plan should have been worked out and kept ready for implementation with all its implications, which included US soldiers, Afghan collaborators and citizens of its NATO and non- NATO allies.
Generals had known about incoming withdrawal after the Doha agreement with Taliban in February 2020, but more particularly after the agreement in May/June 2021. They had known about their Afghan supporters, translators and interpreters. Generals had enough time to work out an evacuation plan of not only US Military but also US citizens and Afghan supporters. But it did not happen.
It reflects upon the poor state of Generalship in US army. This has led to present chaos where US soldiers had to return to Kabul airport to carry out evacuation. Generals should have advised the President about the likely impact of sudden withdrawal. Running away like thieves in the hours of darkness reflects badly upon the US military .
What is worse is the fact that US Army left behind guns, tanks, helicopters, aircrafts, unlimited quantity of modern rifles and rocket launchers. One fails to understand if US Army had the basic principle of “Scorched Earth” policy while withdrawing. All these weapons have landed in the hands of Taliban in the working conditions. Some say that truckloads of them have been moved into Pakistan.
What is more laughable is the recent statement by President Joe Biden that he was considering to destroy them. This should have been thought about before making a decision to pull out from Afghanistan. God alone knows as to what were US and NATO fears to commit this blunder of thoughtless withdrawal. Why didn’t US military carry out an appreciation of likely developments and consequences of such a withdrawal?
Along with US Military, it is also felt that two close confidants of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, namely Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah and also US negotiator Zalmay Khalilizad are also to be equally blamed. It seems Ashraf Ghani and USA were made to believe that Taliban would not enter Kabul in next six months. This was probably the agreement arrived at Doha in June 2021.
It was “six months” assurance that Ashraf Ghani did not allow Afghan army to contest Taliban, who ran through most of the provinces without a fight. Did Taliban back out from its agreement of not entering Kabul for six months? But to trust Taliban was the biggest folly of Zalmay Khalilizad and Afghan negotiators.
The worst is when Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah ditched Ashraf Ghani and joined hands with Taliban. They are the traitors of the people of Afghanistan, who forced Ashraf Ghani to flee for his life. It is their betrayal which led everyone to believe that Taliban would form a national Government of reconciliation.
To trust Taliban, deliberately or otherwise, was the single most factor, responsible for the present chaos in Afghanistan. In doing so, Zalmay Khalilizad, Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah are primarily the culprits. The latter two are more to be blamed because of their advice which led Afghan Army to give up without a fight. History of Afghanistan would hold them responsible for treason.
US Generals would be responsible for poor or lack of proper advice to their 46th President. They had undone the sacrifice of around 3000 American soldiers and incapacitation of more than 24000 soldiers, who lost their lives and limbs over 20 years in Afghanistan. What more they betrayed the people of Afghanistan who had trusted USA?
Worse was when Joe Biden changed the goal post of US aim and objectives in Afghanistan. He is reported to have said that nation building of Afghanistan was not the aim of US military in Afghanistan. It was to eliminate and neutralise Al- Qaeda.
If so, then what was US army doing for over 10 years since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, on May 2, 2011? He was the Vice President in 2011, why did he not impress upon then President Obama to pull out. In fact there was US military surge after this incident. Unfortunately, it is this thinking which has led to this ill- fated decision, where Afghanistan was betrayed.
Thousands of people who throng Kabul Airport and hope to be evacuated, give a clear indication that people do not like to be under Taliban. It seems that Ashraf Ghani, Zalmay Khalilizad, Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah and Joe Biden have left Afghanistan citizens at the mercy of Taliban wolves.
Worst is the plight of Afghan women. It should have been appreciated by the western world that Taliban’s promise of “Women freedom and liberties under Sharia Laws” was a bait to hoodwink the free world. The shape of things to come should have become obvious when Taliban issued a notice to people in captured provinces in July 2021 to hand over women over 15 years and the widows under 45 years to Taliban fighters.
Not to have awaken to the rising storm is the biggest blunder of these five people, as mentioned above. And US Generals added to this disgrace by their lack of proper appreciation. Afghanistan has a dark tunnel of torture and hardships before one can see a ray of hope. A very very long way to go.
Those neighbours of Afghanistan who rejoice and celebrate Taliban victory, should know that a cobra would still sting, even if you offer milk to it. Of course some of them are also responsible for present state of affairs in Afghanistan. The day is not far when TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan) and ETIM (East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement) would play merry hell with them too. These “snake charmers” should know that it does bite its owner too. Can Taliban be any different? Trust it at peril to your own peace and harmony.
-An ex-NDA and Wellington Staff College graduate, Col Rajinder Singh is a renowned author and security analyst. He has authored four books, two individually and two in collaboration. His best-selling books are Kashmir – A Different Perspective and The ULFA Insurgency. The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda.