President Joe Biden said in his speech on 14 April 2021 that he is “the fourth American president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan”. And he added that he “will not pass this responsibility to a fifth”. He also announced that the troop’s withdrawal would start on May 1 and complete by September 11.
Last week, General Scott Miller, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan since 2018, said that foreign military bases would be gradually handed over to Afghan forces. The “local action” has begun as part of the planned withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. “All of our forces are now preparing to retrograde. Officially, the notification day will be 1 May, but at the same time as we start taking local actions, we have already begun that,” he said.
The State Department is downsizing the U.S. embassy in Kabul, ordering some nonessential personnel to leave amid concerns about heightened violence as U.S. and NATO troops pull out of Afghanistan. The department “ordered the departure from U.S. Embassy Kabul of U.S. government employees whose functions can be performed elsewhere,” it noted in a travel advisory issued Tuesday.
It is decided that American troops will leave Afghanistan, but American Interest will never end in Afghanistan. The fundamental importance of Afghanistan to America is its strategic location, from where the U.S. can monitor Iran, Pakistan, Central Asia (Russia), and China. Even though the U.S. can not sustain itself in Afghanistan but wanted to keep its interest in Afghanistan from neighboring or nearest countries by keeping military bases from where they can reach Afghanistan conveniently and quickly, they might use Figher Jets or powerful Military drones to control the situation in Afghanistan during the evacuation period and beyond.
Afghanistan is a landlocked country, bounded to the east and south by Pakistan, to the west by Iran, and to the north by the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The most suitable places for US-Military bases can be one of the neighboring countries. Of course, the possibility of having bases in Iran is excluded. The Central Asian states are another option, and the U.S. was keeping good relations with C-5 nations in the early days, But since the last decade, the Russian revival has witnessed, and C-5 (5 countries in Central Asia with their names ending with …tan: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan), are more inclined with Russia and member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which Russia and China lead, so the possibility of having military bases in any one of C-5 is also minimum.
Pakistan, a long-term ally with the U.S., has experienced betrayal every time whenever the U.S. needed Pakistan, become a friend, and after achieving its strategic goals, they turned a cold shoulder and imposed sanctions on Pakistan, like Pressler Amendment, Karry Logar Bill, etc. However, since 2005, the U.S. took policy decisions and shifted its focus toward India- a traditional rival of Pakistan. Pakistan has no objection if US-India relations grow healthy. But the problem starts when American support is used against Pakistan by India. Although the U.S. extends Military and economic assistance to India to counter China, India used all American support against Pakistan. It was witnessed in an unpleasant incident in February 2019. The U.S. has written off Pakistan completely. Its allies in Europe are also keeping their distance from Pakistan. International organizations under American influence are treating Pakistan as a step relationship.
Pakistan experiences a bitter lesson from being an American friend. A quote by Hennery Kissinger that “it may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.” People of Pakistan understood his quote very well and may not be willing to trust America any more. The public opinion in Pakistan is not to grant any Military bases to America.
The visionary leadership of Pakistan, PM Imran Khan, has expressed on several occasions that Pakistan loves Peace and promotes Peace; we can not be part of any war but will play a proactive role in bringing Peace. Pakistan believes in resolving all disputes and differences amicably and opposes military solutions to any dispute ant in the world.
The U.S. has signed a series of Defense Agreements with India and has become the “Major Defense Partner” and can use Indian military bases. But India has no common border with Afghanistan, and the U.S. operations need to pass through Pakistan’s air space. Moreover, the presence of American troops in India is a direct threat to China and may not be welcomed by Russia too.
The options left for America is to use military bases from oil-rich Gulf states is also not so much optimal as it has to pass through the air space of neighboring nations. Keeping military bases in any friendly country far away from Afghanistan will create logistic issues and may not be effective.
The regional nations are in close cooperation, either SCO platform or BRI; Russia and China lead both. The American interests in Afghanistan have to be compromised and let the people of Afghanistan decide their future. Afghanistan is a country which was existing for centuries and has never accepted foreign rulers in their history. Americans should learn a lesson from history and forget Afghanistan.
The safe and honorable withdrawal is guaranteed as there was no direct attack from the Taliban on American troops since the signing of the Doha peace agreement in February 2020. Americans should give up their unnecessary support for the current Government of Ashraf Ghani in Kabul and focus on their withdrawal only. The Government of Ashraf Ghani or Hamid Karzai were not legitimate and only American puppets, having no roots or rit in Afghan society. It was the Taliban who controls 70% of Afghanistan and the real pillars of power in Afganistan. The Regional countries should cooperate with the Taliban and work closely for sustainable, permanent Peace and stability. Peace and stability in Afghanistan are pre-requisite for regional development.
It is desired that the International community may also think sincerely and understand the ground realities. The U.N. and big powers may play an essential role in the restoration of Afghanistan. Russia and China may be a guarantor for any peace deal. America and India may not see any role in future political setup in Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to contribute its due part for permanent and sustainable Peace and stability of Afghanistan.