by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
Like the rock of Sisyphus, Afghanistan has come back to the very point where it was twenty years ago. The government and Afghan National Army (ANA) collapsed in days as Taliban’s fighters rode into Kabul without any resistance.
The sad part is not that the government and army of Afghanistan withered in thin air but that they left millions of people to fend for themselves against a foe that is known for its repressive, vengeful, and regressive ways. Ashraf Ghani and his government are the criminals of Afghan men, women, and children who have to leave their homeland to seek a safe, brighter future elsewhere. It is true that the Taliban may not be the same organization from twenty years ago but it is also true that Afghanistan is also not the same country from two decades back. Those who grew up in a connected world, those who know the rights, freedom, and liberties till Aug 15, 2021, will not easily accept the oppressive ways of the new regime. If going to a coffee shop or listening to music is going to be ‘Haram’ from now on then no sensible Afghan would want to live in such an environment and this is why we are witnessing people desperate to leave the country at the Kabul airport.
It is heart-wrenching to see parents willing to give away their children to soldiers of the American military so that their children at least have a chance to grow up in free air because for those remaining in Afghanistan, the fate is already sealed. The progress made on women’s rights, their education, and their right to work will come to a grinding halt. The religious minorities such as Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, social activists, reformers, former government employees, and those Afghans who worked with the coalition forces in the past, will now have a target on their backs. They will perish at the hands of the Taliban if the international community does not make haste in getting them out of Afghanistan.
The instability will only increase from here as life will become much harsher and desperate under an extremist government that brooks no dissent but it will no be a cakewalk for the Taliban to rule Afghanistan. It is one thing to conduct hit and run suicide attacks and quiet another to efficiently run a government, maintain telecommunications or pay salaries on time but despite the difficulties in governance the Taliban, with help from China and Pakistan, can continue its hold onto Afghanistan for years to come. Both China and Pakistan have economic and strategic interests in Afghanistan and they will do everything to keep Afghanistan under their sphere of influence. Also, there is a strong possibility that with the return of the Taliban groups like Al-Qaeda will also return to Afghanistan. The return of these terrorist groups in Afghanistan will open doors to future bloodshed and conflict in that region and beyond.
All we can do now is pray for the people of Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires has become a graveyard for its own people.