Friday, March 5, 2021
Home OP-ED Editorial Afghan peace deal at risk

Afghan peace deal at risk

It was almost certain that once the Biden Administration took over, it would review many of the foreign policy decisions made by the outgoing Trump Administration. The Afghan peace deal is such an agreement that the Biden White House wants to take another look at. Signed a year ago, it set out a US troop withdrawal in 14 months if the Taliban upheld its promises. Although there had been some initial reduction in violence with the Taliban not attacking international forces, it continued targeting the Afghan government. More recently, especially after the change in the White House, violent attacks and targeted killings have increased. With only a few weeks to go before the USA has to begin ending its 20-year military deployment in Afghanistan, it seems unlikely that it will completely pull out at a time when the security situation is so volatile. The Taliban are understandably furious over the Biden Administration signaling a revision in the agreed upon withdrawal schedule, with veteran leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar going as far as to warn that the presidential palace would be surrounded if the deal is violated and their demands are not met. It is clear that the Biden Administration has no good option with regards to Afghanistan. On the one hand it has to ensure that there is a manageable level of peace in the country before it leaves in order to avoid another Iraq-like situation where ISIS emerged and wreaked havoc in the country and region as a whole for years before being taken out. The Taliban will certainly dial up its attacks against the Afghan government which is still unable to protect itself owing to an undertrained and under equipped security apparatus. No easy or early exit-routes therefore exist at the moment for the USA. In this backdrop, Pakistan’s strategic position becomes all the more important as it will be looked upon by the USA to placate the Taliban on the likely event that the deal falls through. Pakistan will be asked to ‘do more’ and help clean up the USA’s mess across the Western border yet again.

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