Afghanistan will still face dozens of terror organisations and a number of internal problems, but the US withdrawal will also present a “wonderful opportunity” for the Afghan people simply because it will push them to sit down for talks and bridge their gaps.
At the beginning of May, the US started its final phase of a pullout from Afghanistan, where American troops have been stationed for the past 20 years. According to reports, the 2,500 US troops will be gone from the war-torn country by September 2021, a move that has already raised major concerns.
The main fear is that terrorists will take over and this will eventually cause Afghanistan to fall into a state of collapse.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan
But Mariam Wardak, a former aide to Afghanistan’s national security adviser, believes the pullout will not lead her country into an abyss.
Withdrawal as a Challenge
Nevertheless, that withdrawal will not go unnoticed. Right now, the Afghan security forces are handling 22 active terror groups, including al-Qaeda* and Daesh*.
They are also facing the threat of the Taliban, an extremist organisation that controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s and that enforced strict Islamic law or Sharia. Their current strength is estimated at 200,000 troops and while the Afghan security forces boast a much larger contingent (325,000), their ability to cope with the group is rather limited.
A U.S. Army Soldier patrols with Afghan soldiers to check on conditions in the village of Yawez in Wardak province, Afghanistan, Feb. 17, 2010
The prime reason for this is Afghanistan’s security forces are in charge of not only fighting with the insurgents but are also responsible for policing and providing the population with security, law, meaning their resources are often stretched thin.
The Neverending War
Yet, fighting insurgents is not Afghanistan’s main issue and Wardak believes her country’s major problem lies elsewhere.
One such problem is Afghanistan’s civil war. From 1978, the year when it first erupted until 1989, the country lost an estimated 1.8 million people, 1.5 million became disabled, and 7.5 million turned into refugees.
The invasion by US forces in 2001 following Washington’s decision to track and kill the then-world’s number one terrorist Osama bin Laden further worsened the situation, costing the country more than 240,000 people.
Yet, for Wardak, it is not only about physical destruction. For her, the decades-long war has devastated the values of the Afghan people, something she says can hardly be repaired.
Injured Doctors Without Borders staff are seen after explosions near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015
Now looking at what seems to be a new chapter in Afghanistan’s history, she says the pullout from the war-torn country could be a “wonderful opportunity”.
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