Afghanistan is a mess and it's spreading fast as the US retreats after two decades of muscle flexing. But two decades ago the US was the top super power, a past tense. Worse, Russia didn’t wither away after socialism died and China has grown and grown. Even the Taliban, the reason cited for the US presence in Afg didn’t vanish and are about to take over. However, the US is not alone in looking lost. Please add India and Pakistan to the list.
Pakistan is so desperate that it’s PM Imran Khan is speaking for peace. He wants a “government of understanding “including the Taliban in Afghanistan. Khan is known as a Pak military sponsored PM but his love for peace is being caused by the army’s own realization that running Imran Khan is probably easier than running Pakistan not to mention its tense borders with Afg while managing China.
In case of an Afghan civil war border crossing begins, most will cross into Pakistan. It was fun playing cards in Afg and hoping to produce anti-Indian militants there but China and Russia won’t be so tolerant about Pakistan. It supports the Taliban and hopes that China will go easy on its failure to manage the Chinese killing militants in Balochistan and its huge debts which the Chinese have refused to go easy on.
India’s situation is not that bad but it isn’t sure what it is. India is with the US , the Ghani government’s only ally but for both, time is running out. India is hoping that a UN force will arrive and save Kabul. Meanwhile much hope is on the multi- billion dollar arms supply including aircrafts to Ghani hoping it will turn the Taliban tide.
But what it really wants is a link with the Taliban to prevent anti-Indian militancy support. India had to toe the US line and that has meant no hand shaking with the Taliban. They had been keen to have India as an ally as it isn’t fond of Pakistan. But India kept rebuffing the moves and made no contacts until the US started departing and the Taliban advance began. And now the Taliban are angry with the Indians and said that India can’t expect friendship while supplying arms to Ghani’s Kabul. Now, it has to wait and see what happens next and what the Sino-Ruso alliance decides in response to US actions.
Everyone is playing their own games and for India and Pakistan it’s each other that matters. The world has moved on but these two ancient enemies are metaphorically speaking stuck in the Battle of Panipat in the 15th century or whatever. The last two of the “political states” in South Asia, they have not prepared for the future and Afghanistan may come as a rude shock that its old fashioned policy of “We hate our neighbor” is over. China and Russia’s alliance should be a good lesson for all erstwhile enemies on mending fences and become stronger.