On 29 February 2020, the US and Taliban signed an agreement that would see US withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. The first phase would see the number of troops decreasing from 12,000 to 8,600 by July. Complete withdrawal would be done by May 2021 under specified conditions. For the Taliban, the deal compels the group to act in the interest of peace while maintaining separation from Al-Qaeda.
However, the US is seeking earlier withdrawal of troops due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Besides affecting the economy with the burden of placing troops in distant nations, there is a threat of the soldiers contacting the virus as Pentagon has reported Covid-19 in around 50% of Afghan forces. Consequently, President Trump has planned to have the soldiers back by presidential elections. Instead of reducing numbers to 8,600 by July, the number has decreased to 8,500 already by May.
The agreement also compelled the exchange of around 6,000 prisoners between Afghanistan and Taliban. More importantly, a cease-fire was observed between the 2 forces on occasion of Eid. The step marked a severe reduction in civilian deaths, which has garnered worldwide appraisal.
India welcomes the understanding reached for a ceasefire in Afghanistan for three days during the Eid. We hope that this ceasefire would extend further and become permanent to address the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and pave the way for durable peace and stability to Afghans.Ministry of External Affairs, India
Peace With India?
After recent social media posts claiming the Taliban’s imminent attack on Delhi for its stance on Kashmir, a Taliban spokesperson has refuted the claims, declaring Kashmir as “India’s internal affair”.
The statement published in the media about Taliban joining Jihad in Kashmir is wrong. The policy of the Islamic Emirate is clear that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.Suhail Shaheen, Spokesperson, Taliban
Nevertheless, experts have warned India to keep an eye on the Taliban as one of its supporters is Pakistan’s ISI, which claims Kashmir its own.
Afghanistan Before 2001
- 1978: People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDA) replaces Govt in a coup allegedly backed by Soviet Union.
- December 1978: Deal with Soviet Union to provide military assistance. Revolt ensued against Soviet interference and negation of Islamic faith by radical secularization.
- 1979: Soviet invades Afghanistan. US retaliates by arming Mujahideen against Soviets as part of its “Cold-War”.
- 1992: Civil war in Afghanistan.
- 1996: Taliban, risen from Mujahideen funded by US-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia, attacks Afghanistan and gains control. Imposes orthodox Islamic rule.
US Enters Afghanistan
- 2001: US launches an attack on Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. Temporary government set up in Afghanistan.
- 2001-2009: Attacks on Afghanistan by resurgent Taliban.
- 2009: President Obama shifts forces to Afghanistan.
- 2014: Coalition of international forces withdraws, leaving a few troops to train Afghani forces.
- 2017: Mutual aggression between US-Taliban continues
- 2020: US-Taliban sign peace-agreement
US- A Timeline of Pull Outs
- 2011: Obama announces withdrawal of 33,000 troops by 2012.
- 2014: Obama announces complete withdrawal by 2016. Posits only 9,800 troops to remain beyond 2014.
- 2019: Trump calls off peace talks amidst renewed Taliban attacks.
- 2020: Trump orders phased removal of troops.