Taliban Made Rapid Inroads, Surprises Pakistan

muzzamil mehboobWeb Editor

28th Jun, 2021. 11:59 am
The Taliban Made Rapid Inroads, Surprises Pakistan

Pakistan was not expecting the Afghan Taliban to make rapid inroads after the US and NATO forces started to withdraw from Afghanistan from May 1.

When the US and NATO forces started withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have took control over 69 of the 407 districts in the country, including the northern districts that were formerly considered off-limit to insurgents and a government stronghold.

Insurgents now have control over 1402 districts and are currently fighting for the control of 170 more.

This week, the insurgent took control over Shir Khan Bandar, the main northern gateway to Tajikistan.

“This is unprecedented. In our assessment we never thought Taliban could make inroads that fast after the beginning of the US withdrawal,” said a senior official.

“They (Taliban) have stretched their influence as far as along the Tajikistan border,” he said.

The thing that worries Pakistan is the lack of resistance of the Afghan security forces against the Taliban’s fierce attack.

The Afghan National Army has 300,000 troops, while the Taliban has 10,000 well-armed foot soldiers.

“The information we are getting from the ground is that Taliban riding on bikes are taking control of APCs [Armored Personnel Carriers]. This is unbelievable,” the official added.

The Taliban claimed that they took control over the districts where Afghan forces have either surrendered or left the field.

President Ashraf Ghani insisted that the Afghan forces are resisting the Taliban and have successfully taken back six districts.

But President Ghani is seen as an obstacle to peace by many within Afghanistan and outside.

“The reason is that he is neither interested in peace talks nor willing to fight the Afghan Taliban. If he thinks someone else will fight the Taliban he is surely mistaken,” the official said.

A diplomat in Kabul told the media that President Ghani does not talk to everyone. He only consults with the Chief of Staff, his national security advisor, and perhaps his wife.

He may have gained some boost after the Washington visit, but the message that US President Biden delivered made it clear that Afghanistan has to decide its future itself.

“This is exactly our position. We believe Afghans have to make a clear choice. If they can’t sit and talk among themselves nothing can work,” another Pakistani official said.

As the Afghan situation remains in ambiguity, Pakistan continues to make efforts to find a political solution. Islamabad has contacted Afghan leaders from all political parties, pressing them to seek a political solution.

As the conference could not be held in Turkey, attempts are underway to bring the Afghan government and Taliban to the negotiating table in Doha or Islamabad.

As the Taliban is making rapid gains on the battlefield, it is feared that there will be no hope for negotiations in the near future.

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