Divergent Perspectives on Afghanistan: Contrasting Views between the US, Regional Countries, and the Ongoing Crisis of Uncertainty
The Taliban negotiator once responded to the American representatives’ emphasis on expediting negotiations during the talks in Doha. The American representatives warned that if they did not reach a result together promptly, the Taliban would miss important opportunities. The Taliban negotiator stated that “You have the clock, and the Taliban have time.” The Taliban negotiators took advantage of the time constraints that the Americans faced in achieving immediate and usable results for electoral purposes. Some regional countries also rushed the United States to achieve immediate results, and with diplomatic and military support for the Taliban, they tried to make the cost of negotiations heavier for the United States.
Now, it seems that the equation has been reversed. The United States and its allies in dealing with ambiguity in Afghanistan have time on their side, while the Taliban and neighboring countries that have planted their eyes on the seat of power in the Taliban in the short term are counting the days and months and want negotiations with the Taliban over the “comprehensive government” and its formal recognition to conclude as soon as possible.
While the immediate danger of the gathering of extremist groups and international terrorists on the soil of Afghanistan and any instability caused by the continued rule of the illegitimate Taliban affects the countries in the region more than others. The reduction of economic activity in Afghanistan and the influx of migrants to Pakistan and Iran over the past two years have cost these two neighboring countries dearly. The sustainability of this situation will pose many risks for a long time, particularly if it continues. China and the Central Asia countries are also looking forward to lifting this pitfall from their trade and transit routes.
America and its allies are still spending a considerable amount of money to maintain the current situation, but the amount they spend is incomparable to the instability that China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and the countries in the region suffer from in Afghanistan.
The reason why regional meetings about Afghanistan repeatedly fail to produce any result is due to the difference in perspectives among the main actors in the region and the world. The boredom of the countries in the region is evident. Despite Iran’s boasting of its special relations with the Taliban and its intelligence and propaganda support for that group’s Emirate, it occasionally complains and expresses dissatisfaction with the continuation of a situation in which the Taliban’s mouth is still tied to the aid of the United States and its allies, and Iranians cannot invest and “work” in Afghanistan without fear. They are particularly dissatisfied with their inability to benefit much from Afghanistan’s water and market after the Taliban’s return. Especially in terms of water, the warnings of Iranian officials have been repeatedly reported by the media.
Pakistan is looking to establish major oil, gas, and electricity transmission projects and improve transit routes to help stabilize Afghanistan, as groups of Afghans leave the country in droves every day. Pakistan cannot afford to sit idly by as it watches the country succumb to years of instability and chaos, with new dangers emerging over time. Pakistan seeks to establish a responsive agency in Afghanistan that can facilitate the transfer of energy from Central Asia to Pakistan, as well as certain products from Pakistan to those countries. However, such initiatives cannot move forward until the Taliban is officially recognized. As a result, Pakistan has been tirelessly working to stabilize the Taliban government, just as it could not conceal its happiness during the early months of its rule. China and other regional countries are similarly dissatisfied with the continuation of this situation and are counting the days and months. Meanwhile, the United States has put the clock on the Taliban and its regional allies, waiting for the right time, while remaining distant from the conflict.
The Afghan people have found themselves in such a quagmire before, and recent decades have been marked by falling from one pit to another. Unfortunately, there is no hope for change without action from internal or external actors who prioritize their interests over those of the Afghan people. Regional and international meetings can only temporarily control or escalate the crisis due to the absence of a representative of the people. However, ending the crisis requires internal measures. The country must eventually abandon its dependence on foreign negotiations and have control over its calendar and timeline for developments.