~Prakriti, Vanshika, Harshitaa, Madhushekhar
SOURCE – https://www.army.mil/article/249700/
COLD WAR AND ITS AFGHAN EFFECT
Afghanistan has been a centre of unrest since the Cold War era and even before. After getting independent from British rule in 1919, Afghanistan remained disturbed by coups and civil war that ensued because of power politics. Although at the beginning of the Cold War it was a part of the non-aligned movement, conditions soon tilted in favour of the USSR when a communist party called PDPA did the Saur coup and took over the entire country. PDPA made radical religious reforms that enraged the extremists. Another political party called the Islamist Party declared civil war and in 1979 the then Afghanistan president Nur Muhammad Taraki got assassinated by fellow communist leader Hafizullah Amin due to factional rivalry in the PDPA.
USSR INVADES AFGHANISTAN
Even after Hafizullah Amin took over, the revolt of the Islamist Party was very much alive and thriving. In fact, it got a boost in the wake of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 where Islamists had taken over. The USSR could not afford to lose another nation under its ambit. Therefore, it invaded Afghanistan to protect the communist ideology. And from here begins the struggle of Afghan people who will bear the consequences of rivalry between two prospective superpowers.
US SUPPORTS REBELS
The USSR assassinated Hafizullah Amin, considering him unsuitable for the promotion and preservation of communism in Afghanistan. Babrak Karmal was installed as the new head of the Afghan government. Karmal brought good political reforms and tried to establish peace. The US was not happy with this new development. It did not want such a big nation to fall into the kitty of the Soviet Union. So, it started supporting Islamists and Mujahideen financially. Other nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan also did the same.
SOVIET ARMY WITHDRAWS, TALIBAN RISES
However, during the late 1980s, the USSR was getting weakened. It entered into negotiations with the United States and finally struck a compromise. The USSR agreed to withdraw its army and the US in return promised to stop supplying financial and military aid to the rebels. In February 1989, the USSR army withdrew. But the US kept supplying arms to the Mujahideen and the civil war continued. A peaceful Afghanistan was still a distant dream.
In 1992, Mujahideen won the Civil War. It was around this time that the Taliban rose. Mullah Omar, a religious extremist and a Pashtun nationalist, was the founder of the terror organisation. In 1996, the Taliban captured Kabul, the capital city, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
9/11 AND THE US INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN
Source – The Indian Express
In 2001, a terrorist outfit named Al Qaeda hijacked 4 aeroplanes and attacked various spots in New York City. It came as a shock to the United State which was proud of its national security system. To seek revenge, it vowed to hunt down the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. The Taliban gave refuge to Laden. When the US came to know this, it decided to invade Afghanistan.
The US not only killed Osama bin Laden but also pushed back the Taliban with the help of the Mujahideen. However, it did not retract its army till 2020 when the newly elected Donald Trump started negotiations with the Taliban.
US ARMY RETREATS AND TALIBAN TAKES OVER AGAIN
Source – The Times Magazine
The Doha Accord was signed between the US and the Taliban. It was decided that the US troops will be brought back in 14 months. Current American President Joe Biden continued with the Trump administration’s policy.
As soon as the American army retreated, the Taliban took over. In August 2021, the Taliban seized the Afghan state. All Afghan ministers including President Ashraf Ghani fled to seek refuge in various parts of the world.
The present situation in Afghanistan has changed drastically after the U.S troops left Kabul. Taliban’s takeover of Kabul sends shock waves across the world. And many human rights activists and NGOs, especially UNHRC, are worried about human rights violations in Afghanistan. The major victims of this takeover are women and girls. To make the situation even worse, food and medical supplies in Afghanistan are declining day by day. And many people might face hunger, especially the people in rural areas. On the other hand, thousands of people are rushing towards the Kabul airport for evacuation. Many countries are trying to evacuate their people, armed personnel, and diplomats from Afghanistan.
RESPONSE BY THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT
The Indian government announced the operation “Devi Shakti”, with the evacuation of Indian Hindus, Sikhs as the main goal. The Taliban announced that the United States got only time up to 31st August for the evacuation. At the same time, the Taliban are trying to form a government, which may take some time. And also the Taliban had taken control over various projects constructed by India including dams, schools, and newly constructed parliament buildings. Meanwhile, the Taliban is conducting meetings with various media outlets and also trying to form diplomatic relations with other countries. They announced that they are changing the name of Afghanistan into the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan.
HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED FOR A COMMON AFGHANI?
The Taliban have ordered people to perform their regular duties including women, but only with restricted clothing. Many women who are working at hospitals are afraid to attend their jobs which delays the medical operations.
And the situation in the airport is not getting better. Food prices around the airport have increased drastically. A bottle of water is being sold for 40 dollars.
TRIGGER WARNING – On 26th August there were two suicidal bomb blasts, killing more than 200 people including 13 U.S army personnel at the airport, which was later confirmed by various news outlets.
Many people are trying to resist Taliban rule, which they think will take them back to the 90s Taliban rule. The Taliban finally was able to take over the Panjshir valley, which is considered the iron fortress with the help of Pakistan. And many fear that the Taliban takeover might encourage various terror groups. And the Taliban announced that they will take care of the security and also said that they have captured the men behind the airport incident.
The Taliban Government
Source – The Indian Express
On 8th September, the Taliban had announced the new cabinet which had 33 members. And the irony is that nearly 17 members of the new cabinet were blacklisted by the US. And many countries believe that dealing with the Taliban is like “ walking on a double-edged sword”. The Taliban announced that women do not have any role in the newly formed government. And also they banned Afghanistan women’s cricket team from playing international matches. Above all this, they held hostages of other country citizens to fulfil their demands. They also encouraged the men’s cricket team. And assured the safe and secured society in war-ridden Afghanistan. Despite their assurances, many afghans are afraid of the aftermath of this crisis. Meanwhile, many NGOs and country governments are trying to help Afghanistan to fight not only the food crisis but also helping to tackle COVID-19.
Contribution of NGOs
NGOs have been working for Afghans in every possible way for a very long time. Helping the people of Afghanistan by providing them through agriculture, health, education, water supply, sanitation and income generation programmes.
After the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, All the work of the NGOs in Afghanistan in the education sector has been ruined.
Since the Taliban took over the country, educationists and civil society members and women’s rights activists feel they are in grave danger.
It is estimated that NGOs have been contributing around 40% of the total services. By creating public awareness of various issues, contribute to policy-making and monitoring and build capacity in a variety of sector
There are a total of 298 Afghan NGOs and 182 International NGOs in Afghanistan.
NGOs have played an important role in Afghan society since 1979. During the Soviet-Afghan War, workers were provided food, medical care, and shelter to Afghans.
What lies ahead?
Well, no one knows. It’s difficult to predict what new turn would life take for the people of Afghanistan. Although experts around the world are busy analysing the turn of events and predicting what can happen, it is still more of a shot in the dark. With the formation of a new Afghan government and the fall of Panjshir, the world is bracing itself up for what all can come forth. For now, all we can do is wait and watch what lies ahead of this Afghan crisis.