Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Home OP-ED Editorial Exit strategy from Afghanistan

Exit strategy from Afghanistan

US Acting Secretary Defence, Christopher Miller has announced about 50 percent reduction in in American troops in Afghanistan by January 15, 2021. Earlier, President had decided to withdraw all US forces before Christmas. The unilateral decision was by US allies. Again in response to the Christopher Miller announcement, NATO Secretary General Jean Stoltenberg has warned against the speedy withdrawal of international forces from the war torn Afghanistan. He cautioned of a “high price” “if western allies pull troops” out of Afghanistan too quickly as it will allow Islamic State militants to regroup. Giving a pragmatic assessment of situation on ground, Stoltenberg said that Afghanistan’s risks becoming once again a platform of this international terrorist organisation to plan and organize attacks on our homelands. And ISIS could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq.
ISIS has already established strongholds inside Afghanistan and has claimed the responsibility of several terrorist attacks including the ones on Hazara community in the Afghan capital Kabul. President Ashraf Ghani government also does not want quick drawdown of US-NATO forces. A clear stance in this regard was given by the Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar, while speaking at the United States Institute of Peace USIP) few months ago. Atmar had rightly argued in support of gradual withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan and before that a robust action for purging the country from foreign fighters. The wiping out of ISIS Khorasn fighters and other militant groups such as TTP is inevitable before the complete draw down of US forces from Afghanistan. Jalabad’s Prison attack on August served a grim reminder. There seems no reason that the Taliban will be oblivious of this threat to peace and security of the region, although they had welcomed President Trump decision of total troops withdraw before Christmas, underestimating the threat of ISIS. It is a part of the Doha agreement that soil of Afghanistan should not be allowed to be used by ISIS Khorasan, the outfits that operate under its umbrella and Al-Qaida. If all US and NATO troops leave Afghanistan before inclusive political settlement is reached, then smashing of militant groups will be very difficult for the Afghan forces alone. Pakistan’s position on the restoration of peace in Afghanistan is very clear.

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