Before President Barack Obama goes back to the Americans seeking re- election, he has set in motion the process of drawing down the troops in Afghanistan. This was the commitment he had made on the c&aign trail back in 2008. So, expect the numbers of American troops to come down by some thirty thousand- odd by the time the Americans elect the next president late next year. Looking at the move purely from the American point of view, there can be no objection, especially when a substantially large contingent of American troops would stay back to assist in restoring normalcy. After all, the Americans had gone to Afghanistan chasing the chief conspirator behind the 9/ 11 attack. The recent killing of the al Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden, and the complete disarray in the ranks of the terrorist outfit is cause enough for the Americans to declare mission accomplishedand get back home. But considered from the broader perspective, the public commitment to start the pull- out from Afghanistan is fraught with risks. For, in their hurry to hand over the reins of Afghanistan to the most dominant force on the ground, the Americans have undertaken parleys with the Taliban, the very terror outfit it was committed to eliminate all these years. At the US behest, the United Nations recently lifted sanctions against the Taliban, while still retaining al Qaeda in the condemned list.
Yet, it is questionable that the Taliban have changed their stripes in the decade that the Americans have been waging war against them. It makes immense sense for the Taliban to sit across the table with its tormentors in a triumphant mood and negotiate the terms of the American withdrawal. But it makes no sense for the Americans to certify them as goodwhile dubbing al Qaeda and other terror groups as bad.A terrorist organization is a terrorist organization; it can neither be good nor bad but always evil. Therefore, the proposed American plan to virtually restore power to Mullah Omar, the Taliban boss, and withdraw from Afghanistan does not inspire confidence. Before long, the same ISI- Taliban twosome would begin to play havoc in the region. And one of the first targets would be India. The terrorists to be rendered redundant once the Americans install the Taliban in Kabul would certainly be put to use by the ISI to create mayhem in Kashmir. India, therefore, cannot be too happy at the prospect of the return of the Taliban. Yet, we cannot determine the national interests of the Americans. They are weary of a war which they know it is hard to win. They have poured billions in this war and lost hundreds of their young men and women. Osama bin Laden is safely resting at the bottom of the sea. Why should Americans expend more money, and men, in a war which they know they cannot win. So, they must devise ways for an eventual pull- out.
But India will have to gear up for a stepped- up terror c&aign. Are we ready? We do not think so. We go and talk to Pakistan in Islamabad. And talk about Kashmir in the belief that it would assuage the feelings of an intransigent neighbor.
The recent jail break near Kandhar which allowed hundreds of hard- core Taliban terrorists to flee is a reminder that the jehadissuperannuated by the Taliban settlement with the Americansare certain to be encouraged to turn their attention to Kashmir. Of course, there is no question of India being allowed to continue its infrastructural development work in Afghanistan. Building roads, power plants, telecom towers, schools, etc. is inimical to the core philosophy of the Taliban Under its version of Islam, the living conditions should proximate as far as possible to the period when that great religion was born. Only the ISI, another jehadi outfit in the garb of a State intelligence agency, can be at peace with this distorted view of Islam. But while it is the American prerogative to chalk its own pull- out schedule, it would abandon its wonted role as global policemen and, consequently, command reduced respect in world capitals.
Yes, a war- weary America losing its econo