Afghanistan adrift to more uncertainties
Senator John McCain in an interview said: “Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan could be blamed for the situation in Afghanistan, as these were Obama’s policies that worsened the situation.”
Afghanistan is already in the throes of a multidimensional civil war, and with the rift between the partners of the Unity Government and intensified Taliban attacks, the country is adrift to more uncertainty, chaos and anarchy. In an August 11 speech in Kabul, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah had criticised President Ashraf Ghani for taking unilateral decisions on various issues including the appointment of ministers. He accused President Ghani of not implementing the power-sharing arrangement, his failure to hold a Loya Jirga, and amending the constitution to create the position of prime minister. The deadline for implementation of political agreement brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry that formed the current coalition government is September 21. But nothing so far has been done in this regard. President Ghani perhaps feels that with the amendment of the constitution, he would become only figurehead of the government.
The dispute had also figured at a State Department news briefing when a journalist asked for comments on a videoconference between President Barack Obama and Afghan leaders. The journalist quoted media reports as claiming that President Obama asked Afghan CEO Abdullah not to interfere with the Afghan president’s constitutional powers. A fourth meeting was held late on Wednesday in an attempt to break the deadlock between the two leaders, who reportedly agreed to create a commission to amend the constitution and create the position of prime minister. After this, parliamentary and provincial council elections will be held, and a Loya Jirga will discuss transformation of Afghanistan’s political system. However, amid this bickering and debating, according to Tolonews, Taliban militants are making advances in the north; some districts are being contested while others have already fallen to the Taliban.
In April 2016, Ahmad Zia Massoud, younger brother of Ahmad Shah Massoud, was critical of the government for its failure to defeat the insurgency. More recently, Ahmad Shah Massoud’s son Ahmad Massoud, without taking names, criticised both President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah for their ineptness, which means more trouble for the government. To cover up their failures and conflicts, a campaign has been launched in electronic and social media in Afghanistan that militants of Daesh are Pakistanis, alleging that Pakistan is supporting Daesh in Afghanistan. Arguably, this is being done to convince the people of the Central Asian Countries, Russia, Iran and other nations that Daesh’s threat is emanating from Pakistan. But founders of Daesh namely Abd-ur-Rauf Khan (late) and Abd-ur-Rahim Muslim Dost are said to be Afghan nationals. Hafiz Saeed Khan Orakzai and his followers were previously affiliated to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Of course, a number of TTP militants have joined the ranks and files of Daesh. After the launch of the Zarb-e-Azb, militants from Pakistan had fled to Afghanistan, and Pakistan claimed that they were provided sanctuaries. Even special cards for movement without any check were issued to them, and medical facilities and ration, etc., were provided to them. But when they joined IS (Daesh) and turned on their patrons, Afghan government functionaries started blaming Pakistan for their failure to root out a few hundred militants of Daesh from its soil. Majority of militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have announced their allegiance to the Islamic State Khurasan (ISK). Militants of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Tajikistan, Chechnya etc., have also joined the ISK. Nevertheless, Taliban still controls 36 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts. The Islamic State has also increased its attacks.
IS had claimed responsibility for July suicide bombings in Kabul that killed more than 80 people. At this point in time when the Taliban groups are uniting, and ISIS is gaining foothold in Afghanistan, the conflict between the Unity Government partners is fraught with dangers. To make things worse for Afghan government, the Mullah Dadullah Front of the Taliban has recently rejoined the Taliban. Mansoor Dadullah had developed differences with the Taliban leaders after he opposed the installation of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor as Taliban emir after announcement of Mullah Omar’s death. He was killed during clashes with the Taliban in Zabul province last year. Several Taliban leaders that had parted ways with the Taliban following the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as emir have started rejoining the Taliban. All the family members of Mullah Dadullah and mujahedeen of the front have already pledged allegiance to the Islamic Emirate’s emir Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada.
There is a perception that Abdullah and his colleagues’ strategy has been to create rift within the Taliban ranks to sabotage peace process. By announcing the death of Mullah Omar, they succeeded in creating a rift between the Taliban during appointment of the new emir. Former president Hamid Karzai is said to be the mastermind behind this strategy. He does not wish to see a strong government and peace between the government and the Taliban. His government was indeed inept, corrupt and incompetent, and had failed to deliver and rule. In 2009, a foreign study group had stated that 70 percent of Afghanistan, much of south and east, was outside of his government’s writ, though to the great ire of his US-led coalition allies. Yet Karzai had talked of Taliban’s foreign sanctuaries.
Why would the Taliban need shelter outside Afghanistan when much of their own country was under their control, where they could rest, recuperate, train and groom freely for their fight? Last month, United States Senate Armed Services Committee’s Chairman Senator John McCain in an interview said: “Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan could be blamed for the situation in Afghanistan, as these were Obama’s policies that worsened the situation.” During his visit to Delhi, Karzai had appreciated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on human rights situation in Balochistan saying that India had every right to respond to Pakistan’s provocations. “Pakistani authorities have spoken freely on Afghanistan and India, but this is the first time that the prime minister of India has spoken about Balochistan,” he added. Anyhow, US President Barack Obama had supported President Ashraf Ghani in March 2016 in a dispute between the Afghan leader and Abdullah Abdullah, his chief executive.