Foreign Policy Blogs



Afghanistan may be one place, where its people have legitimate worries after the elimination of one of the strongest points of the U.S. war on terror. Now that the “terrorist” is gone, the war might be shortened, making the Afghan lands abandoned once again.

No surprise that there were no scenes of celebrations in Kabul on May 2, as news of the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden spread among residents of the Afghan capital.

Instead, today many Afghans found themselves worrying about their future and once again for Afghanistan’s stability. Will bin Laden’s death cause the U.S. military to accelerate the pace of its withdrawal from Afghanistan? Will the international community turn away from the nation once more, as it did after Soviet forces withdrew in 1989? And will al Qaeda strike back?

Even though, the answers are not possible to predict at this point, President Hamid Karzai responded quickly to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that American forces had killed bin Laden during an attack on his complex, located not far from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. News agencies quoted the Afghan president making an example of the situation for the Taliban and urging to consider cooperation with his government: “We call on the Taliban to learn from what happened yesterday and stop fighting.” Karzai also used the occasion to announce that terrorism is centered across the border inside Pakistan, a case that his government has been making for years.

“Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan offers proof that most of al Qaeda’s senior leadership is not in Afghanistan,” said Shah Mahmood Miakhel, the chief of party for the United States Institute for Peace.  Many other U.S and Afghan analysts shared the same point of view and asked Afghanistan’s neighbors, with the help of the international community, to cooperate and root out the main culprits of terrorism from Afghanistan, and from this region and the world.

Suffering from many wars and two major long lasting conflicts in the last 30 years, Afghanistan’s development however, will not be a quick or an easy one. Before the war, Afghanistan was already one of the world’s poorest nations. The prolonged conflict left Afghanistan ranked 170 out of 174 in the UNDP’s Human Development Index, making Afghanistan one of the least developed countries in the world. Therefore, it is safe to expect a Vietnam-like country if the U.S. and international community repeat the mistakes they made after the Soviet Union decline. 

Once the Soviets withdrew, US achieved its chief strategic goal in Afghanistan. The close neighbor, Pakistan, quickly took advantage of this opportunity and forged relations with warlords and later the Taliban, to secure trade interests and routes. From wiping out the country’s trees, which has destroyed all but 2% of forest cover country-wide, to displacing of wild pistachio trees for the exportation of their roots for therapeutic uses, to opium agriculture, the past ten years have caused much ecological and rural destruction in the country.

The abandonment of the country also socially and psychologically prepared today’s young population for Taliban to take advantage greatly and to impose its radical ideologies. As a Soviet soldier described in 1989; children born in Afghanistan at the start of the war, were brought in war conditions and this will be a way of life for many other generations to come. This prediction came true; unfortunately Taliban finds itself a place in the Afghan society from its neglected and uneducated youth who played with guns instead of toys.

Many other lessons like this one should be learned from Afghanistan’s bloody history and not to shed more through other civil wars and conflicts, international community should act sooner this time to prepare Afghanistan for a post-war era development.