The US ended its two decade long occupation with what amounts to a transfer of power to the Taliban. What are the implications of these developments, and what are our obligations as Indian citizens towards the Afghan people in this time of crisis and transition?
In this feature we will closely analyse the agreement between the US and the Taliban – a document which is being wilfully ignored by many analysts at this juncture because it contradicts the narrative being pushed by the US, the Taliban, the mainstream media and many commentators on the global left. We will also highlight Afghan women’s voices which demand to be heard, and which the above-mentioned forces are erasing from the discourse surrounding Afghanistan.
The agreement signed between the USA and Taliban in February 2020 is worth a close look. It is titled ‘Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America”.
This puzzling phrase (why is the USA signing an agreement with an entity calling itself a state, which it does not recognise as a state?) is repeated in every section of the agreement.
An editorial in The Hindu last year summed up the implications of the agreement:
“The fundamental issue with the U.S.’s Taliban engagement is that it deliberately excluded the Afghan government because the insurgents do not see the government as legitimate rulers. By giving in to the Taliban’s demand, the U.S. has practically called into question the legitimacy of the government it backs. Second, the U.S. has made several concessions to the Taliban in the agreement. The Taliban was not pressed enough to declare a ceasefire. Both sides settled for a seven-day “reduction of violence” period before signing the deal. The U.S., with some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, has committed to pull them out in a phased manner in return for the Taliban’s assurances that it would sever ties with other terrorist groups and start talks with the Kabul government. But the Taliban, whose rule is known for strict religious laws, banishing women from public life, shutting down schools and unleashing systemic discrimination on religious and ethnic minorities, has not made any promises on whether it would respect civil liberties or accept the Afghan Constitution. The Taliban got what it wanted — the withdrawal of foreign troops — without making any major concession. Lastly, the U.S. withdrawal will invariably weaken the Kabul government, altering the balance of power both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. A weakened government will have to talk with a resurgent Taliban. The U.S., in a desperate bid to exit the Afghan war, has practically abandoned the Kabul government and millions of Afghans who do not support the Taliban’s violent, tribal Islamism, to the mercy of insurgents.”
The agreement makes it clear that it is now the Taliban which is the agent and enforcer of US interests in Afghanistan. It ends with these two promises of
US support to the Taliban:
“1. The United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban seek positive relations with each other and expect that the relations between the United States and the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations will be positive.
2. The United States will seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post- settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, and will not intervene in its internal affairs.”
16 August 2021
We are deeply concerned over ongoing developments in Afghanistan. The dramatic capture of state power by the Taliban has plunged the country into tremendous chaos and uncertainty amidst reports of violent crimes against civilians, oppression of women and systematic assault on human rights and liberties.
American foreign policy is squarely responsible for the current mess. From the days of facilitating the rise of the Taliban in the 1980 and 1990s through the post-9/11 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan to the current juncture of unplanned exit of American forces, it is the American design of military intervention and occupation which has brought Afghanistan to this sorry pass.
The past experience of Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and the extremely regressive and regimented nature of its ideology and politics are making the whole world and especially for all of us in South Asia deeply disturbed about the future of Afghanistan and South Asia. We hope global public opinion and the international community can have some restraining influence on the upcoming Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan will be able to fight their way to peace, progress and democracy in the trouble-torn country.
We call upon the Indian government to ensure safe evacuation of Indians from Afghanistan and safe stay and protection for Afghan citizens currently residing in India for education, jobs or other purposes. The Afghan crisis is bound to force many Afghan citizens seek refuge and asylum abroad till restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan. The absurdity of India's discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act which places Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan to India at a grave disadvantage can be easily felt in the present juncture.
While standing with the Afghan and world people in the quest for peace, stability and democracy in Afghanistan we must be alert to rebuff any attempt to use the Afghan developments to instigate Islamophobic hate and violence within India. The rise of the forces of bigotry in Afghanistan should encourage us to reject bigotry in India and strengthen our own resolve for communal harmony, social progress and democratic rights.
- CPIML Central Committee