“The superpowers who won all the battlegrounds were defeated in Afghanistan.”
ASVAKA: the horsemen or war horsemen, soldiers, combatants, harbingers, knights. Whatever we noun them, though they are fighters, fighters of the land, fighting for the land-The Asvaka fighters for The Invincible Afghanistan. A warrior will not give what he loves; he finds love in what he does. Although, Afghanistan became a country in 1880 after the end of the second Anglo-Afghan war, the written recorded history of the land presently constituting Afghanistan is often traced back to around 500 BCE, when the region was under the Achaemenid Empire. Many kingdoms ruled Afghanistan after that, including the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Timurids, Mughals, Hotakis, and Durranis.
Even in recent times, Afghanistan was a battleground for several wars. By the 1970s, both civil wars and external wars were erected either in proxy games or straight fights in the battlegrounds of Afghanistan, including the Soviet-Afghan war [1979-89], the civil war in Afghanistan [1989-2001] with changing thrones and opponents, including the Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Mujahideen, and then the ongoing war from 2001 between the Afghan government and the International Security Assistance Force [ISAF], a NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan, established by the United Nations Security Council in December 2001 against Taliban, and al-Qaeda. If the USA and its allies decide to leave Afghanistan, they are not the first and last in a long series of nations to do so.
Afghanistan has never had peace.
Is it a cursed place? Let’s go for the analysis.
1. What makes Afghanis great warriors?
1) The spirit of the fight is grown by none other than the people of Afghanistan. If we want to understand the soldier, we have to understand his mind. Who are the Afghanis? Afghanistan is a tribal country, for instance, Afghani society has dozens of tribes, like Pashtuns, Hazara, and Baloch.
If we analyze the social hierarchy of tribes, the insights are that every tribal society has its own Kabila. They are hostile to each other and outsiders, therefore, every person, house, and village are made like a fortress or qalat. The men have a responsibility to patron their family and land. They are born to fight, so they are trained to fight.
2) The lethal terrain of Afghanistan is found in Southern-Central Asia. The region centred on Afghanistan is taken into account as the “crossroads of Asia”, and therefore, the country has had the nickname Heart of Asia. Afghanistan has a lot of harsh mountains in its lap, for instance, the Hindukush, Pamir, Tianshan, Kunlunshan, and the Himalayas. Therefore, Afghani men are trained in guerilla warfare, which makes them the deadliest soldiers.
3) The location of Afghanistan, the country has been a strategically significant location throughout history, for instance, The land served as “a gateway to India, striking on the traditional Silk Road, which took the business from the Mediterranean to China”. Resting on many trades and migration routes, It could also be called the ‘Central Asian roundabout’ since routes concentrate from the centre East, from the Indus Valley through the passes over the Hindu Kush, from the Far East via the Tarim Basin, and from the adjoining Eurasian Steppe.
Geopolitics of Afghanistan.
Looking at the commercial location of the country and the treasure of natural resources, every superpower wants to control it at any cost. But they were unaware of the Afghani military potential, either the democratic government’s army or the Islamic separatists’ armies of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The Afghani blood is always hot to cut down every barrier that comes on their way to the throne.
According to the theory of geopolitics, one who controls Afghanistan will control Central Asia, and one who controls Central Asia will control Eurasia, and one who controls Eurasia will control the world.
“The theory of the heartland and rimland” also confirms this, as Afghanistan is a part of the rimland.
2. The land of the Great games.
Afghanistan has always been a place for great games and proxy wars.
Earlier, Afghanistan became a buffer state between the Russian empire and the British empire. The British made the Durand line as a boundary between British India [Pakistan] and Afghanistan. Then, in the 1980s, the USSR was successful in maintaining its control over Afghanistan.
Ultimately, the USA was successful in ending the influence of the USSR through its proxies. They built an army of Islamic fighters-Mujahedeen. Pakistan became a sanctuary for the training of mujahideen. After the withdrawal of the USSR, seven Sunni mujahideen factions formed the Afghan Interim Government (AIG), backed by the USA, Saudi Arabia, and China. AIG became a mess, notably because it could not solve the disagreements between the factions. Later, a faction of mujahideen formed the Taliban, which became a lethal Islamic fundamentalist organization.
3. The players of the great game.
i) The USA
To contain China’s expansionist policy and to control non-state Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic militancy.
China wants to expand its influence, tap resources, and places for investment. To contain the engagement between the Taliban and the Uighur Muslims of China.
Russia wants to ensure that Islamic militancy doesn’t reach its troubled regions of Chechnya and Dagestan.
Iran wants to dilute Saudi Arabia’s influence and protect itself from the Sunni orthodox Islamic militancy.
v) Saudi Arabia
They want to strengthen the Sunni orthodoxy to contain Iran.
Turkey wants to re-establish its lost leadership in the Islamic world.
Pakistan wants to have strategic depth in the country, i.e., it means Pakistan wants to keep the ruler of Kabul under its control at all times.
The old Durand line is the biggest concern, as Pashtuns in Pakistan want either a separate state or a merger with Afghanistan.
Besides the above, Afghanistan serves many objectives of Pakistan’s policy, including the containment of India.
4. India’s policy to the afghanistan.
• India needs to be present in Afghanistan for geo-strategic and geo-economic reasons. Since the end of the cold war and the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, India has restricted itself to soft power diplomacy.
• India had earlier outsourced the security concerns of the USSR and the USA. Therefore, India needs self-reliance to address its security concerns. India should not have excessive reliance on superpowers for its security.
. strengthening our relations with Iran.
Collab with regional powers such as China and Saudi Arabia.
• Explore the possibility of any fissures between Afghan and the Taliban.
• We should have a military footprint in Afghanistan, as no country can become a superpower with soft power. India is most vulnerable to the threats emerging from Afghanistan.
If India doesn’t have its own military footprint, India will not have any leverage in its political scenario. India is not seen as a stakeholder despite millions of investments. India needs to maintain its presence in Afghanistan. Afghanistan should not become a single-strategic space for Pakistan.
Though India has developed a positive image among ordinary Afghans, India restricts itself to a developmental role. India is not a key player in Afghan power equations. Major powers ignore India in any of the major formats for talks, whether the quadrilateral process or US talks with the Taliban.
5. What is the current scenario?
The Taliban is bouncing back. They are taking control of several districts and military bases in Afghanistan. The equation in the game has changed now. Many anti-US countries support the Taliban. The Taliban can win because they have access to heavy artillery, intelligence, and other war equipment either captured by them or provided by other countries.
The major countries are talking with the Taliban isolating India, which is an alarming situation for us. Our only partner is the government of Afghanistan, which may continue for a short time. We can go at least with back-channel talks.
6. Learning from the Great game.
➢ The biggest reason why all the expansionist powers are looting and crushing Afghanistan is their internal disturbances. Afghanis are not one, neither in society nor in politics. The fall of democratically elected governments, fragmented politics, the rise of Islamic militants, and tribal uprisings led to the whole big problem.
Afghanistan should consider uniting politics so that it can govern its land. To fulfil the aspirations of tribal communities, Afghanistan should focus on decentralisation of the government
➢ The so-called superpowers that are using Afghanistan as a battleground for their international wars should stop proxy wars immediately as they are only strengthening non-state militants. Militants are not loyal to anyone, as the US had already experienced in the case of Osama-bin-laden.
In the name of checking their inter-continental enemies. They are erecting non-state powers that are a major threat to humanity and themselves.
For further reading – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Afghanistan
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Content editor- Subham kumar, Graphic designer- Pratiksha Gulave