By Haider Abbas
No news is good news, for news is always bad, but there is also an adverse news which is coming from Afghanistan as US is packing-off from Afghanistan in almost a spree. US was supposed to move out completely by Sep 11, 2021 but the speed suggests it is likely to bow out earlier. In the last 28 days of May, according to NYT, ‘at least 26 outposts and bases in four provinces – Laghman, Baghlan, Wardak and Ghazni’ have surrendered to Afghan Taliban (AT) as ‘security forces ( of Ashraf Ghani ) had surrendered all seven outposts and at least 120 soldiers and police were given safe passage to the government-held provincial center in return for handing over weapons and equipment’. The AT have this time risen as serious players as AT ‘ In several cases, have given surrendering troops money- typically around $130 – and civilian clothes and sent them home unharmed. But first they videotape the men as they promise not to rejoin the security forces. They log their phone numbers and the names of family members-and vow to kill the men if they rejoin the military’ tells the same report. Imagine US army bases being vacated with the best radar and communication system in place along with tanks and ammunition-all as leftovers.
US is in such a terrible haste that it is sole Aircraft Carrier Ronald Reagan from Japan, is being recalled to help the US pullout from Afghanistan. Something which has happened for the first time in recent years as Asia-Pacific had always seen US presence, informed a report from WSJ on May 26. Isn’t it interesting that Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier which was deployed in South China Sea to counter China has to be routed for the safe return of US forces? The fact of the matter is that the US idea has boomeranged as it considered that AT and Ashraf Ghani would fight-in-the-streets after US leaves but on the contrary AT are reported to have capitalized while in US presence.
What has given a further headache to Ghani’s National Directorate of Security and Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) is the killing of Mir Abdul Nabi Bangulzai, one of the top-commanders of Baluchistan liberation movement in Kandahar on May 27. It was on May 24, when Aslam Baluch too had been killed in a suicide attack in Kandahar, told ArianaNews.Af and now Ashraf Ghani himself, has expressed grave danger to his life as he addressed Kabul University on May 30, tells 1TvNews.AF. Ghani while addressing has tried to extend an olive branch to AT as he said, “Taliban want to kill me. But, I want to hug them.” He also did warn that Taliban cannot win militarily and that Taliban should cut ties from outsiders (Pakistan). Ghani’s NSA Hamdullah Mohib, stunned everyone as he called Pakistan a brothel-house in a speech at Nangarhar province, accusing Pakistan of supporting AT, which has prompted Pakistan to snap any official contact with Mohib, on May 29, tells VoANews.
Ashraf Ghani retort to AT had to come as the Afghanistan peace summit which was to be hosted by Turkey between April 24-May 4, had been called-off, towards which Pakistan was also equally serious to find out a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan, informed Al Jazeera on April 16. Hence, there is no more scope for a dialogue now. US now has a further strategy which is to make Pakistan accede to US making its military base in KPK or at Shamsi base, towards which AT has warned Pakistan of any such misdemeanor as AT would then thwart any such historic blunder, reported Economic Times on May 26. This is of course for Pentagon to ‘round-up’ AT in future. There are also two attacks in Baluchistan on Frontier Corps troops of Pakistan and on FC vehicle in which four were killed on June 1.
US is also likely to leave the Bagram military base in a matter of few days. It is the largest military and airbase and is like a city spread into kms. Its airport runway is about three-and-a-half-kms and surely a place where billions of US dollars were invested-a place where the highest US authorities like President Donald Trump or Barack Obama had been visiting. This is where US is to bid farewell and hand it over to Ashraf Ghani. It can easily be concluded that AT will find it hard to wrest it out from Ghani. Meanwhile, UN has also sounded an alert that AT and Al-Qaeda are still close, told CNN, which is to set the alarm bells to constantly ring around AT.
Islamabad has also expressed it concerns over the emerging security vacuum in Afghanistan, as the conflict between AT and Ghani government is likely to add to a great amount of destruction as well as migration which may result into a renewed influx of Afghans into Pakistan. Pakistan PM Imran Khan has also expressed that ‘regional progress depends on India and Afghanistan’, as he addressed a joint-press conference with Tajikistan President on June 3 and that Pakistan is ready to work for peace with India provided India revokes its August 5, 2019 decision to abrogate Article 370 over JK&L, which is an impossibility.
Amid all this ensuing chaos the big question is whether Pakistan would oblige US with a military base? Perhaps not, as it has in the past two decades already burnt its fingers by this US war on terror ion which Pakistan lost more than 70,000 of its army-men, lost thousands of civilians in blasts, hosted more than 4 million Afghan refugees apart from the loss of trillions of dollars of economy while Afghanistan lost around 2.5 millions of its civilians. It is leant that Pakistan has refused to allow any such base to US, as Pakistan would thereafter, also hazard the risk of making US to ‘keep an eye’ on China Pakistan Economic Corridor-the most ambitious project of China.
While Afghanistan is expected to further descent into turmoil, England has announced to relocate more than 3000 Afghans who mostly worked as interpreters into England as a reward. Told BBC on June 1, as AT consider them as traitors, something which was echoed through a report in The Guardian on May 29, in which it was feared that Afghan allies will be the first to be killed. This came after Australia had decided to close its embassy in Kabul.
The writer is a former State Information Commissioner and a political analyst.