A Land Forgotten

It is difficult to suggest a particular formula to rebuild Afghanistan. A number
of practical measures can be adopted which would help the country avoid a
further waste of time and resources.

By Shahwar A Khan | October 2020

From what the world knows, the U.S. and Afghanistan struck a peace deal in February 2020 allowing the U.S.A to exit Afghanistan militarily with some face-saving measures. Donald Trump, a long-standing critic of America’s Afghan adventure has managed to pull back 5300 troops out of a total of 14,000 troops and intends to pull the entire force by soon. The deal was also signed with the hope of reaching a political settlement within Afghanistan. The Intra-Afghan peace process seems very difficult because of the weak Afghan government, presence of a very powerful factor known as the Taliban that controls most of Afghanistan, and groups like Al-Qaeda and IS-K that have been responsible for destruction in Afghanistan. So, the expectation that either the Taliban or the Afghan government that lacks legitimacy, will be able to ensure peace within the land is a mistake. Although Washington’s heavy intervention somehow provided legitimacy to Ashraf Ghani’s government after the highly controversial general elections but that has instilled more mistrust in the Afghani people. But for an honourable withdrawal, the U.S. needs to leave behind a stable Afghanistan.

Amidst all this, United States of America has lost its interest in the region. Afghanistan has always been considered a “no man’s place” which is evident from the world’s behaviour towards it. The country has long been war-torn and no one seems to care anymore. Now in its fifth decade, the Afghan crisis is in a dire need of attention and support from not just the host countries but the wealthy nations that have conveniently forgotten about the conflict and its consequences - primarily because it has dragged beyond its expected expiry date.

Pakistan has hosted the Afghani refugees for a long time. Pakistan is currently home to 80 per cent of the 2.7 million Afghans registered as refugees worldwide. After decades of conflict, Afghanistan remains a volatile place. More than 400,000 people were displaced inside the country by conflict, drought and other natural hazards. At the same time, just 8,000 refugees were able to return home through the voluntary repatriation programme. Yet global support for Afghan refugees and Pakistan as the host country, has been on the decline. These shortfalls, year on year, have put a heavy strain on refugees and the host, Pakistan. As programmes are scaled back, the host government has to deal with the fallout.

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