Graveyard of Empires

MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY !!!!! I wish the pilots of American Airline Flight 175 and Flight 11 on the early morning of Sept-11 2001 had gotten the chance to say these three words. An unimaginable amount of destruction, millions of lives, trillions of dollars and everlasting instability would have been saved. And today after two decades its repercussions have culminated in a situation whose MAYDAY calls can be heard all over the world. You must have figured by now that we are talking about 9/11 attack leading to  the US invasion of Afghanistan which is the longest running war in the history of mankind.

Although most of you must be aware these things but let me give you a brief overview of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is our neighbour ( at least according to our official map), it’s a gateway to Central Asia for all the eastern and south-eastern asian countries. It’s the most crucial and middle member of the GOLDEN CRESCENT ( Pakistan, Afghanistan & Iran) famous for its Poppy cultivation(Opium production). It is divided into 34 provinces with almost 400 districts with numerous tribes fighting for their dominance in the area.

It’s rightly said the ‘Graveyard of empires’, and every big empire have tried to conquer it but none of them succeeded. From Mongols in the past to the British empire in the Colonial Era and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and now the U.S. It’s like getting cut by your knife sharpened to wound someone else.

It all started in the late 80s, when the Soviet Union tried to capture Afghanistan and the invasion was opposed by some tribal gorilla fighters. As it was a bipolar world at that time, the CIA started to support these fighters with funds, weapons and even trained them. A  power vacuum was created when Soviet forces were called back in 1989 After its dissolution. This gave raise to these USA aided rebel group started to conquer more and more territories of Afghanistan.

This power thirst lead to the formation of TALIBAN by MULLAH OMAR in 1994. It is a very well organised and managed outfit with a top leader heading many area commanders who subsequently manages the local leaders and fighters. A major source of income is the opium trade which is carried out by the passages and safe havens provided by HAQQANI NETWORK. Taliban also procure their weapons through this network only.

 They conquered the whole country including the capital Kabul. as we know they are hardline Islamic fundamentalists for whom most of the basic human rights don’t hold any value making women are the biggest victims. Under Taliban rule, the country went to dogs which ultimately led to something the world had never seen.

Now lets go back to the of 9/11 was masterminded by Osama Bin Laden of Al-Queda operating from somewhere in the mountains of TORA-BORA. The attack was heinous and cruel, killing over 3000 persons, but more than that it was an insult to the biggest military power of the world. The USA gave an ultimatum to the Taliban to hand over Osama but they refused, this led to Americans putting their boots on Afghan soil for the first time along with the NATO ( North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ) forces.

More than 10,000 American soldiers were deployed to find Osama and counter the Taliban in the treacherous terrains and harsh climate of Afghanistan. Both conflicting forces lost lives in thousands but the most unfortunate in this situation were the poor Afghan civilians, they bore the brunt of losing  lives in millions. We have all heard the stories of suicide bombers and inhumane interrogation in the detention centre of Bagram Airbase which is famously known as Guantanamo bay of Afghanistan.

 A ray of hope arose when Bin-Laden was killed after a decade in Abbottabad, Pakistan when US Navy Seals eliminated him in a covert operation named NEPTUNE STAR, but the USA could not withdraw their troops as the situation was very volatile and  the Afghan government and military was not capable of handling Taliban. Now there was nothing left for the USA, and it started to become another Vietnam for them. Since then, efforts of face-saving have been made to cut a dignified exit from Afghan soil. Under the Trump administration, the USA even sat across the table with the Taliban during the Doha Accords.

Doha accords was an attempt to bring all the stakeholders i.e. The USA, Taliban & Afghan Govt. to a consensus so that after the exit of US forces, power transfer can be peaceful and non-violent. But it lasted less than marriage of KIM KARDASHIAN as Afghan govt. refused free 5000 Taliban prisoners.

Trump decided to withdraw American forces by sept-2021 (20 years of 9/11) and Biden followed the same policy and even accelerated it. With the withdrawal of US and NATO forces, the Taliban has again shifted gears and captured more than 100 out of 400 districts of Afghanistan. With the handing over of Bagram Airbase to the Afghan military, all the US soldiers have left Afghan soil and the Taliban is on the loose again. Taliban has 85,000 highly trained fighters with the latest weaponry and even aircraft, whereas Americans have not left any weapons and technology  as they think that afghan military is not capable enough safeguarded  them and they could be captured and misused by Taliban.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is trying to get as much help as he can,but we all know the reality. Even a CIA report says that the current govt. will collapse within six months and Afghanistan will be under Taliban rule.

Now let’s understand how this development affects us. First of all, Afghanistan has the most sophisticated and hardcore training camps for terrorists and if Afghanistan falls in the lap of the Taliban, it will become a breeding ground for Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed which can cause havoc in Kashmir region. Also, we have made a lot of investments in Afghanistan like roads and hospitals including the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project (currently slipping out of our hands) to counter the Gwadar port of Pakistan, developed by China as a pearl in her policy of ‘String of Pearl’s for India.

This might be the reason, the Indian govt. is trying to normalise the situation in Kashmir by meeting all the political parties for the first time after the revocation of Article 370 and simultaneously engaging in secret talks with Taliban so that whenever this wild elephant is on the loose, damages can be minimised.

America need the support of Pakistani military and ISI to keep Taliban in check and this might be harmful to us as ISI can use the Taliban to fulfil its evil intentions in Kashmir or there can be an addition of a small green grave beside the graves of these big powerful empires. Let’s wait and watch … but the signal is definitely MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!!!!!!!

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