Twenty years is a long time for stabilising any conflict-ridden country, but Afghanistan has frequently defied timelines and solutions. It has been one year since the United States and the Afghan Taliban signed a landmark agreement leading to a political settlement between Kabul and the Islamic insurgents.
However, the February 2020 Doha agreement and the subsequent negotiations have failed to bring Afghanistan anywhere near peace, even as the Joe Biden administration is hard-pressed to make a final decision regarding the withdrawal of the US troops. For obvious reasons, India wants the US to remain invested in Afghanistan, militarily, diplomatically and economically.
The US-Taliban agreement had stipulated the exit of American troops; extracted guarantees from the Taliban to end its terrorist activities; and required a negotiated settlement leading to a ceasefire among warring factions. However, the pace and the manner of implementation of the agreement have caused worry for Washington, Kabul, and other stakeholders.
With the deadlines on many important components – release of prisoners, lifting of sanctions, etc. – being postponed several times, the negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul have not made much headway.
But neither side has kept all its commitments; the Taliban has not reduced attacks on government troops; the Afghan government has not pursued the negotiations seriously; and the US has not taken decisive steps to lift the sanctions against the Taliban following the stalemate in talks.
As all sides are feeling extremely dissatisfied in the current scenario, the Biden administration needs to clarify its position regarding the deal as well as drawdown of troops.