Following the United States and NATO’s invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 attacks in 2001, Pakistan became the frontline state as non-NATO ally of the US in the war on terror. Islamabad provided the required logistic support to the US/NATO mission in Afghanistan besides deploying security forces on the Durand Line to seal the border. After 18 years of this relentless war, attempts are now underway to get rid of this war and create an environment for durable peace in Afghanistan. The peace talks entail all stakeholders including the US, Taliban, and the Afghan government. The incumbent US administration led by President Trump has time and again criticized the unnecessarily protracted nature of this war, which has resulted in huge economic losses to the US tax payers. In the 2016 election manifesto for his Presidential run, he promised to end this war and bring the US troops home. Since then, several unsuccessful attempts have been made to engage all stakeholders in a dialogue process. The US appointed Former Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as its special envoy to Afghanistan to fast track the dialogue process. Now, as the 2020 Presidential Electionscome close, the US troop’s proposed withdrawal from Afghanistan might be consequential for President Trump to win the second term in office.
The war in Afghanistan has resulted in a humongous economic and physical cost to the US. In the last 18 years, the US has suffered approximately 2,4001 military casualties in Afghanistan, and the financial cost has been around $975 billion.2 The US military engagement in Afghanistan appears closer to ending as the US officials negotiate directly with Taliban representatives on major issues like the withdrawal of US troops, and preventing Afghanistan from being used by terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Despite exclusion of the Afghan government from the talks, the US’ official claims regarding the progress made received setbacks when Afghanistan witnessed Taliban attacks that claimed several lives including a US soldier. Consequently, just before the Afghan presidential elections, President Trump announced withdrawal from the talks amid apprehensions that Taliban might not respect the peace agreement in future.
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