Hard truth is that operations conducted by our army in 2014 merely pushed these terrorists back from where they came
The capture of the city of Kunduz by the Taliban did not come as surprise to anyone. Similarly, the apparent retaking of Kunduz by the Afghan forces is not fooling anyone either. The attack on Kunduz was preceded by a year-long buildup of Taliban forces around the city. And yet the Afghan security forces, including more than 700 elite special forces troops, were inept when it came to defending it. Early reports indicate that roughly 500 Taliban fighters managed to defeat as many as 7,000 security forces. Many chose to leave everything behind and retreat to the airport, even forgetting their uniforms in some cases.
Defence forces were unable to prevent the fall of Kunduz and their initial effort to retake the town also was met with failure. With the help of Nato special forces and US air strikes, most of Kunduz was reportedly recaptured after the third day of fighting. Meanwhile, the Taliban overran Warduj district in northeastern Badakhshan province.
In Kunduz, the Taliban met such little resistance that they were able to go door to door and take young boys as recruits while also freeing hundreds of prisoners. There is little doubt that many of those freed were Taliban members. Weapons and vehicles left behind by Afghanistan’s security forces found their way into the hands of the people they held captive just a day earlier.
How much of the $60 billion spent by the United States on the Afghan National Army, in terms of weapons and training, has gone to waste? Actually, it’s much worse than just a mere waste of resources. The investment has directly aided their enemy in this situation, while their trainees fled in fear. Without the American air strikes and military advisers still on the ground, a city of 300,000 people would be firmly in Taliban control for the foreseeable future. President Obama is now forced to reconsider pulling out the 9,800 remaining American troops by the end of 2016 deadline that he has advertised.
Afghanistan is conveniently placing the blame for its misery on Pakistan. The hard truth, however, is that the operations conducted by the Pakistan Army in 2014 merely pushed these terrorists back along the route from where they came. This was a predictable outcome and there was no attempt by the Americans or the Afghan Army to stop them or launch a counteroffensive. Instead, these terrorists were allowed to regroup and capture territories in Afghanistan.
There’s no easy answer to the problem in Afghanistan. The extremists believe they are fighting for a holy cause with God’s blessing. What do the soldiers of the Afghan National Army have to fight and lay down their lives for? ‘Not enough’ seems to be the answer when you read about all of the abandoned uniforms, weapons, vehicles and families. The lack of willpower to stand up to lesser equipped and smaller forces means something. An entire fortune can be spent on training and weapons, but it’s useless without a cause to believe in.
The only easy lesson from this debacle lasting for over a decade is that powerful nations should seriously reconsider future ideas of destabilising perceived threats because the outcome may be even worse than the conditions prevalent in the present time. Iraq, Yemen and Libya are glaring reminders of this and Afghanistan is no better off than it was in 2001.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2015.
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