Taliban rule in Afghanistan now seems inevitable
The latest and most significant achievement of the Taliban has been their takeover of Kandahar—Afghanistan's second-largest city after Kabul—on Friday. Now, only Kabul and some other territories remain under the Afghan government's control. With this, the United States intelligence's recently reported assumption that it could take the Taliban up to 90 days to take over Kabul, is starting to seem grossly inaccurate. This newest acquisition of the Taliban's, paired with the speed with which they are nearing total dominance over the country, is somewhat of a shock to the whole world. But more than anything, it speaks to the incapacity of the US and of the NATO alliance as a whole.
The two-decades-long presence of the US in Afghanistan seems to have accomplished very little in terms of establishing peace and security for the Afghanis. But what is more disappointing is how, now that the US is finally withdrawing itself—a move that has been hinted at for the last few years at least—their actions not only seem unprepared, but have left vulnerable both the Afghan people and American citizens deployed in Afghanistan.
While the Taliban started out with rural takeovers many months ago, it was not until early June this year that they began taking over the cities as well, and with surprising ease and speed. Just in the past week, they have managed to conquer at least 12 provincial capitals. Now, Kabul does not seem a far cry, given the fall of Ghazni on Thursday and of Kandahar on Friday—the former creating a pathway from the southern Taliban territories into the major highway leading to the capital city. Since the beginning of this year, around 400,000 Afghan civilians have been forced out of their homes, with 250,000 of them being evicted in May alone, a UN official conveyed in reports.
One thing that the Taliban's progress of the last couple of months has made certain is that the US's credibility as an ally to ailing nations has been greatly and strikingly dented. But, as the west fears the threat a Taliban rule of Afghanistan would pose for it, and many are busy only criticising President Biden's policy and its inadequacy, we in South Asia must start preparing for the real-life impacts that this takeover may have on our people.
It would unfortunately be safe to assume that the accomplishment of such a sizable feat by the Taliban would morally boost like-minded individuals and organisations throughout the subcontinent to act on their fundamentalist beliefs. Moreover, people being connected across borders has never been easier, which makes it hard to detect communication between fundamentalists of different countries and even continents. While the temptation of governments may be to meet such occurrences with force, the importance of physiological countering through de-radicalisation—of those likely to fall prey to recruitment by fundamentalists—needs to be established and practiced. We must remember, given the fifth anniversary of the Holey Artisan attack this past July, that Bangladesh itself has faced a handful of instances of militant activities and we have only seen those being dealt with by the police and other law enforcement agencies. However, we believe that an approach combining soft and hard power will be more effective in countering and eventually eradicating extremism of any origin and in any region.