Home Editorial Editorial: The Afghanistan Conundrum

Editorial: The Afghanistan Conundrum

In direct violation of the Doha Accord, the Afghan Taliban continue to ‘tolerate’ the presence of Al Qaeda and TTP

by Editorial

File Photo. Aref Karimi—AFP

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Kabul in August 2021 left the Afghan Taliban back in power, with little indication of the country proceeding toward a democratic state in the near future. Rather, in direct contrast to the Afghan Taliban’s promises in the Doha Accord, Afghanistan has turned into a hotbed of terrorist activity. The latest quarterly report to U.S. Congress from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) notes Al Qaeda maintains a safe haven in Afghanistan, with the Taliban “tolerant” of its presence, as well as that of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. It said a U.N. team had identified up to eight new Al Qaeda training camps; one stockpile weapons base; and five madrassas, adding the first quarter of 2024 saw the interim Afghan government assigning Al Qaeda members to various ministerial and military positions in eastern Afghanistan.

The U.N. team also said Al Qaeda continues to support other violent extremist organizations in Afghanistan, such as the TTP, through weapons and operational support. This declaration supports Islamabad’s assertions of the Afghan Taliban failing to curb terrorism emanating from its soil against Pakistan, and proves false President Joe Biden’s 2021 vow of no further terrorism emerging from Afghanistan. Positively, for the U.S. at least, the report says Al Qaeda is currently unable to project “sophisticated attacks at long range.” This offers little succor to Pakistan, however, which is in the midst of resurgent terrorism that authorities squarely blame on Afghanistan’s failure to take any action against militants on its soil.

While Pakistan is currently facing the brunt of terrorism emerging from Afghanistan, the rest of the world cannot afford to ignore it. Counterterrorism experts maintain that if left unchecked Al Qaeda could again acquire the capabilities to strike the West, particularly the U.S. The state of Afghanistan, and the wider South Asian region, remain at risk and any entrenchment of militancy would inevitably strive for global expansion. The time to act is now; waiting for the inevitable risks re-igniting a global war on terror the world can ill afford.

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