Washington has been oblivious to Islamabad’s funding and supply of the Taliban. Afghanistan is now paying the price.
According to C Christine Fair’s article in Foreign Policy, Pakistan and the United States have betrayed the Afghan people.
In 1990, the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan in charge of the country’s future. Today, it is committing the same error. When the Taliban re-establish Afghanistan as a base of operations for modern Islamist terrorist organisations, Washington will have only itself to blame, Fair asserts.
Pakistan has reaped substantial benefits from US emoluments, aided and abetted the Taliban, and sabotaged US efforts. Pakistan is the primary sponsor of the Taliban.
Without the Taliban’s unwavering support from Pakistan’s intelligence and military establishments, the group would be a nuisance rather than an effective fighting force.
The US has consistently refused to do what it could have done long ago: impose targeted sanctions on those in Pakistan’s deep state who sponsor Islamist militants, Fair wrote.
Pakistan has continued to recruit, train, and fund numerous other Islamist terrorist groups operating in India and Afghanistan over the last two decades. According to Foreign Policy, it has hailed terrorist leaders as national heroes.
Despite Pakistani authorities’ claims that Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaeda, had not visited the country in over a decade, he was discovered hiding in plain sight in Abbottabad. Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder, most likely died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan’s port city. Pakistan’s long-standing ties to the Jalaluddin Haqqani network are well-known. Pakistan even requested from the United Nations that Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and a United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist, be permitted to access his frozen accounts for basic expenses, Foreign Policy reported.
The US remained convinced that Pakistan was too dangerous to sanction, punish, or hold accountable.
While Pakistan nursed its militant assets, US pundits rehearsed fears that it would collapse, provide nuclear weapons to terrorists, or provoke an escalatory and possibly nuclear war with India, Fair reports.
However, Pakistan cannot be held solely responsible. The United States’ capacity-building efforts have always been woefully inadequate. The failure to establish a functioning state was especially disastrous for the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior Affairs, which controls the police.
The United States and NATO partners have struggled from the start to develop effective training programmes. Training concepts and doctrines evolved frequently as different components of the recruiting and training mission were contracted out to different contractors and subjected to different national oversight.
The US has always sought shortcuts, such as training “Afghan local police,” which Afghans more accurately refer to as militias. Unlike training Afghan police, which required more resources and was provided by contractors, training these militias required fewer resources and was provided by contractors, Foreign Policy reported.
Furthermore, the US has maintained a commitment to the country’s security architecture but has reduced its willingness to pay for it. Since 2014, Washington has provided approximately 75% of the USD 5 billion to USD 6 billion annually required to fund the Afghan National Security Forces, with the remainder covered by US partner nations and the Afghan government.
However, the US Congress appropriated approximately USD 3 billion for Afghanistan’s fighting forces in fiscal year 2021, the lowest amount since fiscal year 2008, Fair reported.
Even as Kabul falls to the Taliban and desperate Afghans scramble for last-minute flights out of the country, US President Joe Biden has defiantly stated that he does not regret withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan.
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