Exiting Afghanistan: On U.S. troop pullout

The U.S. pullout without any settlement leaves the Taliban stronger

This leaves the already shaky Ghani government in an even more precarious situation. After September, the government will be left with itself on the battleground against the Taliban. For now, Mr. Ghani has held together the powerful sections of the state and society against the Taliban at least in the provincial capitals. But once the Americans are gone, the balance of power in the stalemated conflict could shift decisively in favour of the Taliban. In the recent past, whenever the Taliban overran cities, U.S. air power was crucial in driving them back. The country is already witnessing a series of targeted killings of journalists, activists and other civil society members opposed to the Taliban. This does not mean that the government is on the verge of collapse. The U.S. has promised that it would continue remote assistance to the government. The role of regional players such as Russia, China and India, which have a shared interest in a stable Afghanistan, will also be crucial in deciding the country’s future. But one thing is certain: the U.S., despite all its military might, has lost the war and its withdrawal, without any settlement or even a peace road map, leaves the Taliban stronger and the government weaker. That is an ominous sign.

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