Defense ministers of the NATO member countries will discuss level of forces presence in Afghanistan in Belgium this week. In the Thursday’s summit, the NATO member states would make choices that would have a long-lasting impact on Afghanistan’s security and policies. Similarly, the United States is also considering a proposal related to presence of the troops in the war-hit country. Unofficial reports suggest that President Barack Obama will sanction presence of 5,000 US troops beyond 2016.
From Afghans’ viewpoint, the coming NATO summit and decision of the Obama administration would make it clear that to what extent they are sincere in the war against terrorism, especially in the aftermath of the Taliban attacks on Kunduz and Maimana.
Elimination of militants or forcing them to join the reconciliation process is a hard nut to crack. It is a thousand pities that the strike capability of ill-equipped Taliban has grown despite presence of sophisticated foreign forces in the country. The US and its NATO allies could get into a scrape if Afghanistan was abandoned at this critical hour. The allies should go all lengths in safeguarding the achievements made since 2001 in the war-hit country. They are not on the horns of a dilemma. Growing insecurity demands presence of coalition forces to help the Afghan government and defeat the belligerent insurgents.
The US should not jump to the conclusion that the war on terrorism is over now because different terrorist groups still pose serious threat to the world and region in general and to Afghanistan in particular. It is an open secret that Haqqani Network, Daesh, Lashker-e-Toiba and the Taliban are still enjoying safe havens in Afghanistan’s neighborhood. These groups are getting intelligence and financial support. Insurgents injured in Afghanistan during clashes are treated in Pakistani hospitals. The war will continue to drag on unless the US forces were on the ground in Afghanistan and Washington pressurized Pakistan to nab all those who are supporting terrorism.
Insecurity in Afghanistan would not remain limited to its borders but could spread to other countries. The blame will fall on the NATO for its failure to respond quickly to the existing and emerging threats.
Afghan insurgents, flanked by regional terrorist organizations, are kicking up a row to prove their power to the world. Therefore, leaving the Afghan security forces alone to face them with minimal facilities will not be a wise choice. If the NATO member states are unwilling to leave their forces in Afghanistan beyond 2016, then they should chalk-out a short-term military strategy to eliminate shelters of insurgents—no matter where they are. Moreover, financial sources of the Taliban should be clearly identified and cut.
In addition to that Afghan pilots shall be trained on emergency basis. Required military hardware including gunship helicopters, bridges, tanks and armored vehicles should be provided. These steps are vital to lay the axe to the root of insurgency. Mere hollow statements about support to Afghan government and presence in military bases will yield no result. Comforting Kabul through flattery speeches is an obsolete way that failed to win hearts and minds of Afghans. Afghanistan should not be left in lurch but taken out of the mess created by the West and its blue-eyed states in the neighborhood.