Kunduz: A political and strategic failure

By Nasurullah Brohi

The recent besiege and takeover of Kunduz from Afghan forces showed a political victory over the Afghan and ISAF forces in fact it was seen as an indication of strategic failure at their part though it happened in a period of less than one year of the drawdown of U.S and allies’ forces. Most alarming is the fact that only 500 Taliban fighters drove over 7,000 Afghan National Security Forces out of the Kunduz in a very short period of less than a day without any sturdy resistance. This in a broader spectrum raises questions about the success of the U.S and Afghan forces in the coming future and many analysts believe that the fall of Kunduz has unveiled many lies about the promises of delivering stability, security and an inclusive peace process.

This also proved that the Taliban are still highly effervescent that they can easily capture many other major cities. The northern province Kunduz has always a remained a stronghold of the Afghan Taliban. The Kunduz incident dramatically erupted at the time when the US military strategists were exploring variety of options about keeping the troops’ presence beyond the withdrawal deadline of 2016. However, the Afghan security officials claim that the Taliban insurgents have been pushed forward and the parts of Kunduz city have been cleared. The Northern Kunduz Police Chief Quasim Jangal Bagh, claimed that the clearing operations is still underway and the Taliban are pushed forward to the Takhar –Kunduz highway and in the Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz.

The First Vice President of the Afghanistan General Abdul Rashid Dostum, also claimed that the government was aware of the plans of the Taliban attacks on Kunduz, Faryab, Helmand and Kunar provinces and he further claimed that the people in these areas should not think that we are careless and obviously we are ready to prevent their further penetration in other areas in the coming future. During his recent visit to Russia, General Dostum emphasized that the Russia should help them by proving military equipment such as attack helicopters and long-range mortars and other latest weapons to the Afghan Security Forces in order to counter the Daesh and the Taliban militants.

Previously, the Taliban insurgents had assaulted on a prison of Ghazni province and released more than 350 most wanted Taliban insurgents and commanders and as a consequence it further has aggravated the situation and has brought serious concerns about the prevalent impulsive security situation in the country. For some reasons, the partial failure of the Afghan strategy is also because of the U.S and its allies had been largely relying on their alignments with the corrupt warlord, drug-lords and corrupt politicians whereas, the current Unity Government under President Ashraf Ghani is still divided on many issues.

The matter of peace in Afghanistan in the near future seems obscure because of the breakthrough in the peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government and the Taliban demands of a complete withdrawal and the revoking all military and security accords with the foreign troops in Afghanistan. The other side of speculation is also based on the hypothesis that the U.S and its allies are not that serious about the complete withdrawal of the ISAF forces and therefore, the ‘dragging-on’ policy will hardly bring complete peace in Afghanistan. Most importantly, the Afghan government and the Taliban had been engaged in a process of peace talks this summer and another round of talks under mediation of Pakistan was also expected whereby it was strongly believed that the two sides would reach at a consensus about seize fire and develop confidence building measures (CBMs) but unluckily the process was also halted with the revelation of the news about the death of Supreme Taliban leader and consequently the leadership crisis among Afghan Taliban. It is worthwhile to note here that a over-delayed peace process between the two parties would further fuel the ongoing tension in the Country and ofcourse, at a point it will encourage some other militant groups to make their place in the Country. As an immediate neighbor, for Pakistan it is also the need of hour to play its effective role to revive the stalled peace process.

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Nasurullah Brohi

Nasurullah Brohi works as a Research Fellow at the Strategic Vision Institute in Islamabad and can be reached at [email protected]

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