In truth, the hope for lasting peace evaporated not lengthy after the settlement, because the Taliban stepped up violence in the final quarter of 2020 for a greater cut price throughout negotiations with the Ashraf Ghani authorities. But on the similar time, it ensured that no hurt got here to international forces in order that there was no excuse for the US to unilaterally withdraw from the settlement.
But that is what the US and its allies appear to be planning. Before doing so, the US wanted to seek the advice of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) nations, who even have a major presence there. It was then logical that the US secretary of defence Lloyd J Austin made his first name on assuming workplace to the NATO normal secretary, Jens Stoltenberg. Later, briefing the media on February 19, a day after the primary digital convention of NATO defence ministers, Austin echoed the emotions of his president that the organisation faces “challenges, together with a resurgent Russia’s disruptive applied sciences, local weather change, the continued battle in Afghanistan, the persistent risk of terrorism, and an more and more aggressive China”. On Afghanistan, Austin clarified that no choice in regards to the future drive posture had been made.
Earlier, on January 28, US secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke to Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and hinted that the US was reviewing the February 2020 settlement to find out whether or not the Taliban had been residing as much as their commitments to chop ties with terrorist teams, scale back violence and to interact meaningfully with the Afghan authorities. The similar message was repeated a day later by the White House nationwide safety advisor Jake Sullivan to his counterpart in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of the US withdrawal, China had synchronised its place with that of Pakistan on Afghanistan. In the joint assertion issued after the assembly between the international ministers of China and Pakistan on August 22, 2020, China appreciated Pakistan’s contribution to the Afghan peace course of. Returning the favour, Pakistan supported “China’s core pursuits and points of main concern, similar to these associated to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong”.
Using Pakistan’s affect, China is eager to entry the mineral wealth of Afghanistan by integrating it into the Belt and Road Initiative and additionally shield its personal comfortable underbelly in Xinjiang province. The proposed change in the US coverage is a shot in the arm of Ashraf Ghani and a setback to the ambitions of the Taliban.
A day earlier than the NATO assembly, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy chief of the Taliban, in an open letter, referred to as upon the US to honour the Doha settlement. He warned that the Taliban wouldn’t enable anybody to intrude in their inside affairs and would defend the land of Afghanistan and its individuals. Unfortunately, nobody appears to be in the plight of the individuals of Afghanistan, who, for many years, proceed to undergo because of financial, political and strategic ambitions of world powers and neighbours like Pakistan. Mineral wealth of the nation is the brand new attraction.
According to a New York Times report titled ‘US Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan — revealed on June 10, 2010 — the US had estimated the untapped mineral wealth to be in the vary of almost $1 trillion. Besides different metals, Afghanistan can also be believed to have massive deposits of lithium, which is crucial for making batteries used for cell phones, laptops and electrical vehicles. Therefore, the US and Chinese corporates are competing to entry huge reserves of lithium.
In anticipation, the worth of the US electrical automotive producer Tesla shot as much as $516 billion early this yr, making Elon Musk, its chief government, the richest particular person in the world. Similarly, if China has to stay the biggest producer of cell phones, it might want lithium in abundance. The new nice game in Afghanistan is just not solely for fulfilling strategic ambitions of imperial powers but additionally to facilitate loot for their respective corporates. The mineral wealth belongs to the individuals of Afghanistan and none of the international entities and even the Taliban have any declare over it. It additionally applies to Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank worker. It can solely be utilised to rebuild the nation after true democracy takes root.
(The author is a former Intelligence Bureau officer, who served in Pakistan)