Former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Husain Haqqani, who is now a senior fellow and director for South and Central Asia at Hudson Institute, said at The Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi that “Taliban should know the people of Afghanistan are not in favor of the return of an Islamic emirate and the people will fight against the group to safeguard current achievements.”
Haqqani says Taliban will gain the upper hand if the US withdraws troops from Afghanistan without a peace deal.
“If there is an exit without a deal, it will put the Taliban on the mat because the Taliban will then have to show they are the great fighting force they claim to be,” he said.
He believes that the reason behind the Taliban success is that US has failed to target them in their safe havens.
“I think the reason they have succeeded is because the Americans made a fundamental decision that they will only fight Al-Qaeda, then they will fight the Taliban, but only on Afghan soil, and since they did not pursue the Taliban to their safe havens, they have actually fought from a very comfortable position,” he added.
Taliban are divided in two – one division supports the current changes, while the other wants the return of the Islamic emirate, according to Haqqani.
“There will be some Taliban who say our concern is only our village, our district and our province. Then there are some Taliban who will say, ‘now we have an Islamic emirate back in Afghanistan’. I don’t think the latter will easily happen because the people of Afghanistan will fight to preserve the gains of the last 17 years,” he said.
Talking about the development in Afghanistan’s post-Taliban regime Mr Haqqani said “More girls are going to school in Afghanistan, women have much more participation in urban life if nothing else, the economy is a lot better than it used to be, the cities that were reduced to rubble have been rebuilt. I don’t think the people of Afghanistan will let that go easily,”.
Also, during the debate, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said, “There should be talks with Taliban as long as they don’t come with preconditions and as long as they are looking at lasting peace in Afghanistan and bring about stability in that country.”
“Pakistan has always treated Afghanistan as its backyard. They are concerned about it and, as a military leader, I would say why not be concerned about their backyard., he added.