44. The Taliban have made significant inroads in the recent months, consolidating their grip in the South and East, securing their safe havens inside Pakistan and opening new fronts in the North. Taliban leaders are now convinced that the US and its allies will soon be compelled to accept the facts on the ground and abandon Afghanistan in a few years  . Although the American led WOT had broken the back of the Taliban regime and the Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, there groups have regrouped and have started threatening the fragile peace prevailing in the region. Evidence of the resilient character of the Taliban’s structure is the fact and the killing of major Taliban leaders has not reversed the Taliban’s momentum. In fact, the Taliban have always been able to regroup after tactical setbacks due to the resilience of their political structure. Meanwhile, the Taliban have built on the growing discontent of Afghans through a relatively sophisticated propaganda apparatus, which employs radio, video, and night letters. Videos, made in Al-Sahab, the Taliban’s media center in Quetta, Pakistan, are readily available and have had a devastating effect to sow seeds of anti US feelings in the region.
45. Upsurge in Violence. Since 2005, there has been an upsurge in the levels of violence in Afghanistan against the US led forces. This has led to the policy change by the US in terms of its engagement with Pakistan with a lot of pressure being exerted on the Pakistani Military establishment to take concrete actions against the Taliban and Al Qaeda elements operating from its territory. The US has increased the employment of drones to carry out attacks inside Afghanistan and Pakistan to target hundreds of terrorist leaders in these precise attacks. As a matter of fact the number of drone attacks in the last two years i.e. since 2009 have increased manifold.
46. Increased cooperation by Pakistan. There has been a perceptible increase in cooperation from Pakistan especially in terms of precise human intelligence required for various operations being carried out by the US forces. Pakistan however has been selective as regards its actions against various Taliban leaders is concerned, often distinguishing them on the basis of those under its control and those who have become too independent. An apt example is the dramatic arrest of Mullah Baradar in Karachi, who was reportedly getting too independent for the ISI to control  .
47. Public perception: Role being played by the Afghan State. Perceptions of Pashtuns and other groups are diverging due to the role of the Afghan state and the international community. Most Pashtuns regard the central government as being in the hands of non-Pashtuns. Even though, President Karzai is from an aristocratic family from Kandahar, he is often seen as being under the influence of the US. On the other hand the non-Pashtuns feel that they are being neglected in light of greater monetary
benefits to the Pashtuns .The Afghan state, being weak and lacking neutrality, is unable to effectively sort these issues out thereby resulting in deepening of the ethnic divide. The problem is further compounded due to the interference by few foreign donors, promoting particular ethnic populations.
48. The Resentment against the International Community. The relationship between foreigners and Afghans has reportedly deteriorated due to three decisive factors-
(a) The isolation of Civilian Westerners. More than 10,000 foreigners, most of them living in Kabul, maintain a distance from the Afghan population and enjoy a lifestyle in stark contrast to the locals. Instead of securing the population, the international community has opted for the limited protection of embassies and key administrations.
(b) Arbitrary violence and civilian casualties. There are numerous reports of arbitrary violence against the Afghan civilians by the Taliban and at times by the International security forces. Although the number of air raids have been reduced drastically, there are still a number of cases of collateral damage being reported during operations.
(c) Lack of integrity in International Aid Distribution. There are reports that the large numbers of subcontractors are dispersing the international aid with too little coordination and accountability to Afghans and their interests. The
population especially resents the accumulation of wealth by the new Afghan elites. In addition, the insurgency has also benefited from this influx of money through extortion.
49. The situation around Kabul. For obvious reasons, the Taliban put a high value on controlling Kabul and are moving now to penetrate south and east of the capital. The Taliban have systematically organized the destabilization of Wardak and
Logar provinces, which (outside the towns) are now largely under the control of the insurgency. The Musayi district (Kabul Province) is also under Taliban influence and hundreds of Taliban propaganda DVDs have been distributed in Qala-i Niyazi, a few miles from Kabul. To the east of Kabul, the Taliban (and the Hezb-i islami) have a strong presence in Kapisa Province and the North of Sarobi district. The Southeast of the capital is open to Taliban infiltrations. Considering that the Pakistani border, which is under Taliban control, is only 90 kilometers away, it seems vulnerable. The resulting calm is, however, fragile and the insurgency has quickly reorganized. In Kunar, the U.S. forces are currently deployed in a series of isolated posts and it is relatively simple for
insurgents to infiltrate between them. Even in Kabul, buying weapons is extremely easy, even in relatively large quantities. There is more demand in the South due to the fighting, so the prices are higher than in the North.
50. How the present situation will evolve in the short or medium term, is anybody’s guess. There are numerous challenges and security implications for the world and especially for India which the policy makers will have to consider seriously while
determining the various policy options. Inter ethnic and tribal relations in Afghanistan are as yet far from smooth, and the international power play continues to take advantage of the internal divides within Afghanistan. Not enough money has been directed toward institution building and the justice and police programs have been a total failure. Practically speaking, there are no state judges. The few police officers that exist are poorly paid, prone to corruption, and poorly trained and armed.
51. Role being played by US and its Allies. With the arrival of the Obama Administration, the US government carried out a detailed analysis of the security situation in Afghanistan in light of increased Taliban activities in Afghanistan. The Obama Administration announced the revised AfPak policy on 27 March 2007. He acknowledged that the situation was increasingly perilous and had become most serious since 2001. He explained the US plans for the Afghan future as follows-
(a) Laid down a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent their return to either country in the future.
(b) US will no longer deny resources for Afghanistan due to its commitment in Iraq .
(c) US would actively participate in anti-Taliban operations inside Pakistani territory with the cooperation of Pakistani government.
(d) US would support Pakistan economically and militarily for its contribution in this fight against terror.
(e) US would seek to work with the moderate factions within the Taliban who are willing to talk peace.
(f) US would continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans including women and girls.
(g) US would work towards strengthening the international organizations to do the ongoing work collectively along with its allies.
(h) US would focus on training the Afghan security forces to make them capable of taking on the full responsibility of their country’s defense.
52. Role being played by Pakistan. No matter what crises hit diplomatic relations, Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably tied to each other. The leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan got the dialogue process going in Colombo, on the sidelines of the 15th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, SAARC. The talks resumed after a brief period of suspended relations in protest against Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. , Afghan president Hamed Karzai had a breakfast meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM), Yousuf Raza Gilani, to discuss further cooperation in the struggle against extremism and terror. The Pakistani PM assured President Karzai of full support in the fight against Terror.
53. Role being played by Iran, India and Tajikistan. Fortunately, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iran are coming closer to one another and there is talk of greater cooperation. This is due to a number of factors, such as all three having elected governments that can facilitate cooperation in the fields of economics, trade, the war on terror, and the fight against illicit drugs. Afghanistan, a war-ravaged country which is vulnerable to terrorists, needs to rebuild its economy, and both Iran and Tajikistan have significant role to play in this. At the Tokyo conference in 2002, Iran pledged 500 million US dollars for the Afghan reconstruction  . Investment by firms from neighbouring countries not only paves the way for better economic relations among regional states, but will also help stop foreign interference in Afghanistan. Stability in Afghanistan will undoubtedly benefit all the countries in the region as well as the world.
54. Role of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi policy in Afghanistan has shifted from defeating communist ideology to containing Iranian influence in
South Asia and the newly liberated Central Asian Republics. It is noteworthy that Saudi Arabia was among three countries that officially recognized the Taliban regime in 1996.
Saudi Arabia’s role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction seems nonexistent when compared to that of other countries. The people of Afghanistan expected the Saudi government to make enormous financial contributions toward enhancing social and economic development in the country. The same goes for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, whose mission is to consolidate relations among Islamic countries
and find viable solutions for challenges facing the Islamic world  .
55. Role of China. Until recently, China was a passive player in Afghanistan, and exclusively supported Pakistan’s policy there, owing to its close alliance with
the country. However, Chinese policies toward Afghanistan are shifting
for two reasons. First, the Chinese have growing economic interests
in Afghanistan’s underground mineral resources. Second, they see
Afghanistan as important for maintaining their own internal security  .
56. Role of Russia. Russia is again asserting itself in the region, and its objectives are closely linked to its national interests in Central Asia. Russia has never
abandoned its strategic interest in Central Asia and it is believed to be the sole protector of Central Asian Republics against foreign threats such as radical Islamist movements, including al-Qaeda. Thus, the presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is of serious concern for the Russian government, as it nullifies its influence in the region.
This concern was substantiated by Ambassador Zamir Kabulov (the Russian ambassador in Kabul), who noted that the expansion and modernization of Afghan military bases such as the Bagram air base (north of Kabul) is worrisome for Russia, as it might signal a longterm U.S. presence in Afghanistan  .
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