If peace is not established in Afghanistan, South Asia could be in turmoil. When regional peace and security are disrupted, they have a direct impact on world peace. Therefore, to establish peace in Afghanistan and bring progress to the country, all the powerful nations must come together
Exactly 20 years ago on September 11, the terrorist attacks in the United States were the largest massacre since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. The disastrous day in history, which is referred to as 9/11, was a black day of terror.
It's been 20 years since, and the horrific shocking event still shakes the world today.
The attack, which killed almost 3,000 civilians, has caused widespread terror and fear around the world.
On top of that, a larger number of people are believed to have died from afflictions connected to 9/11 than were killed on that day in the Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.
Officially, from yesterday (9/11/2021), American troops no longer remain in Afghanistan.
From Geroge W Bush to Joe Biden's presidency, the US-led war on terror in Afghanistan is over. One of the longest wars in U.S. history, it has cost the US 2 trillion dollars and thousands of lives.
The Taliban, which unexpectedly managed to take control of Afghanistan within three weeks of U.S. withdrawal, proclaimed that they were back by seizing Kabul on August 15.
On September 8, the Taliban formed an interim government in Afghanistan, now an Islamic Emirate.
With the announcement of the Islamic Emirate, many questions have arisen in the international arena.
Will the Taliban government gain legitimacy? What are the implications of the rise of the Taliban for regional security in South Asia? Will the Taliban stop terror? Will the people undoubtedly recognise the Taliban? Surely, it is not easy to answer these questions.
Firstly, the interim government that the Taliban has formed has given lead roles to some with a notorious terrorist background.
In particular, Sirajuddin Haqqani, commander of the Haqqani insurgent network, and Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a UN blacklisted person.
As a result, the world is unlikely to easily accept these persons and the new government.
Also, so far, no inclusive government has been formed, as promised earlier by the Taliban. Women and people from other minority groups have been kept away from this government.
Secondly, due to two decades of war, Afghanistan's economy is very fragile.
The Taliban government will face significant challenges in stabilising the economy and achieving international recognition.
For example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not immediately sanction loans and other vital resources to Afghanistan.
So a sharp depreciation of Afghan currency is possible in the near future.
This can directly impact Afghanistan's international trade.
Furthermore, establishing peace and security in the country is not going to be easy. As per the US Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, the Taliban have a core strength of 60,000 fighters.
This figure might go up to 200,000 if it includes other militia organisations and sister organisations. The Taliban's biggest challenge is the management of weapons, ammunition and fighters. If they do not manage the fighters in time, there is a possibility of another civil war erupting.
So the fighters' disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration into society are going to be harder than we think without international support.
With the Taliban in power, the level of threat has dramatically increased at the regional level. There are fears that Afghanistan could develop into a safe haven for terrorists. Some people strongly believe that Afghanistan has returned to the pre-9/11 era.
Afghanistan has just the geography for being a paradise for transnational terrorist groups.
The Taliban's firm establishment in Kabul could hearten Al Qaeda, jihadi groups, ISIS, ISIL and many more terrorist organisations.
Recently, Chief of British MI6 Richard Moore, CIA Chief Bill Burns and Russian NSA Nikolay Patrushev visited New Delhi for talks over Afghanistan with the Indian Intelligence.
This sends a clear message that the world is seriously watching the activities of the Taliban interim government.
Among the South Asian nations, India faces the greatest risk.
Simultaneously, Pakistan is also in a difficult position.
Interestingly, Pakistan's intelligence chief visited Afghanistan on September 4, just two days before the formation of the Taliban's cabinet.
The ISI chief's visit could have been to make sure that the new government was notanti-Pakistan.
For a long time Pakistan's ISI has been accused internationally of aiding the Taliban.
But, Pakistan is also suffering from terrorism.
It is obvious that the war on terror is never going to end because there is no generally accepted definition of terrorism.
One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.
For example, in 1994, Yasser Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize, the former leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, once considered a terrorist group by the West.
There is an enormous gap in the definition of terrorism at the national and international level.
One country puts a certain group on the list of designated terrorist organizations while another country could consider itas a criminal organisation.
But a terrorist is a terrorist, and the world must adopt a single definition.
There is a religious wave of terrorism with Al Qaeda and ISIS fighting for the establishment of Islamic states. These terrorist groups are dreaming of a Caliphate.
Undeniably, terrorism is being used as a geopolitical crossfire tool. Terrorism should not be used for geopolitical games. No country in the world can achieve peace and prosperity with the help of violence and terrorism. Afghanistan should not be a playground for power show-off.
Overall, if peace is not established in Afghanistan, South Asia could be in turmoil.
When regional peace and security are disrupted, they have a direct impact on world peace.
Therefore, to establish peace in Afghanistan and bring progress to the country, all the powerful nations must come together.
A version of this article appears in the print on September 13 2021, of The Himalayan Times.