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The New Quad Group and its Future

The United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan will join a new quadrilateral diplomatic group to support the Afghan peace process, regional stability, and commerce, the US State Department said on July 16, 2021. “Representatives of the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on strengthening regional connectivity,” the State Department stated in a news statement.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan.

According to the State Department, the parties believe that long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan are important to regional connection and that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing. The Quad partners see the group’s formation as a way to boost regional commerce, create new transit lines, and enhance commercial relationships. “The parties have agreed to meet in the coming months to discuss the details of their future collaboration, which is expected to be based on mutual consensus,” according to the statement.

This event comes as Afghanistan’s security situation has deteriorated as a result of the withdrawal of US armed personnel from the nation. The drawdown is expected to be finished by the end of August. As the Taliban continues to capture more area, US officials have been in negotiations with neighbouring nations about assisting the Afghan Defence Forces. Other South and Central Asian countries are also involved in peace negotiations. This article will talk about the Future of the newly formed Quad group and its implications for India.

Afghanistan tested the US military’s limitations. It emphasised the seeming contradiction of winning battles while losing wars. A technologically superior army can kill more effectively than its opponent without achieving a victory-like outcome. It showed that in the twenty-first century, it takes more than a conquering army, even one as well-armed as America’s, to bring down a dictatorship like the Taliban’s. It showed that Americans were sluggish to learn about local politics, history, and culture.

The US underestimated how much the invasion fueled Taliban fervour and hampered Kabul’s ability to unify. Despite the death of bin Laden and the demise of al-Qaida as a global threat, Afghans remain caught in a cycle of carnage and misrule with no end in sight.

Carter Malkasian, a former adviser to senior US military officials in Afghanistan and Washington, claims that Islam and hostility to foreign colonisation were factors in the US defeat. Americans, he argues, did not completely grasp such facets. This stomped on Afghan identity. “They had to protect their integrity, faith and home. Fight-or-flight, it So did the Taliban. It undermined Afghan troops’ and cops’ commitment.”

The US troops may have missed opportunities to stabilise Afghanistan when the Taliban, a worldwide pariah since 1996, were ousted. But the bigger question is whether, despite early success, the military was miscast as the key force to stabilise Afghanistan.

The US military does not wage wars exclusively on its own terms. It is commanded by civilians. Civil authorities may have overreached in their desire to turn Afghanistan into an independent democracy, but the military ultimately agreed. Senior military leaders often claimed they had “rounded a corner” in Afghanistan, leading opponents to question if the military was going round in circles.

According to former Army Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, the US military first baulked at an open-ended nation-building effort in a poor country traumatised by decades of civil war.

A military approach that was not driven by meaningful policy deliberations in Washington about what might be achieved and at what cost deepened the US’s involvement. Based on calculations, the costs were significant. Thousands of Afghan troops and civilians died. The US lost 2,440 troops and the allies about 1,100. the Biden administration plans to urge Congress for billions more to support Afghan soldiers, including paying their pay checks.

A decade of renewed insurgency began in 2005, when the tragic hijacked aeroplane strikes on 9/11 killed almost 3,000 people. The killing of bin Laden in 2011 seemed to end the battle, yet it continued.

Some experts believe President George W. Bush’s 2003 war on Iraq was the key reason the US failed to stop the Taliban from resurrecting. Afghanistan was officially downgraded to a secondary priority within a few years due to the fighting. A decade after bin Laden’s death, President Biden determined that fighting was futile. He terminated it in April, citing the Trump administration’s 2020 pullout commitment to the Taliban as justification. The last troops should leave on August 31.

Defeating al-Qaida and preventing Afghanistan from becoming a breeding ground for another attack on the US had been achieved, according to Biden, thus no longer putting American troops in risk was necessary. Despite Biden’s pledge to keep US diplomats in Kabul and strive for a peace settlement, the Afghan government might fall and terrorist dangers return.

On Oct. 7, 2001, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forecast an endless battle, but no one anticipated it to become the US’s longest war. But, he told reporters, “our aim is far bigger than the Taliban and foreign terrorism.” “Our objective is to defeat terrorism and those who support or harbour it.” He made it obvious that the fight against terrorism was global, not just Afghan.

In Afghanistan, the war dragged on long after all hope of triumph had faded. “We fought the war in Afghanistan because we could,” Eikenberry said. “With no peer opponent, a volunteer military, and deficit spending, we might wage an endless war.”

Worsening Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan

Afghanistan-Pakistan relations have not been the greatest of neighbours since 1947, with Pakistan expressing worry from its inception as an independent state. When you combine this state of things with the rivalry of Pakistan’s large Indian neighbour, which one could say borders on obsession, it is simpler to grasp why Pakistan would like a friendly neighbour on its west border. The right of Pakistan to pursue its regional national security goals is indisputable. The manner it tries to achieve that was far more dubious in its operations. In a dangerous neighbourhood, Pakistan resides, but it can be claimed that Pakistan itself is the most troublesome neighbour.

The stability Afghan may attain beyond 2014 relies on how the Taliban can continue their campaign in Kabul against the government. In turn, this is primarily conditional upon the maintenance of their rear-guard sites in Pakistan and then on the backing of the ISI and the Pakistani military. As in the 1990’s, this support would not need the Pakistani troops to intervene directly, but instead a permanent supply, consultative support from the army, and influx of fighters from Pakistan’s border districts.

This is one of Pakistan’s alternatives for advancing its interests in neighbouring Afghanistan. Another, probably the most obvious, would be the creation of honest diplomatic ties which would strengthen mutual confidence in the Kabul administration. But this would prevent control of their connections with Afghanistan by Pakistani authorities. The Pakistani authorities have in reality created major concerns about the legality and likelihood of survival of the Afghan Government.

Any government will include a Taliban compromise. This gives Pakistan considerable influence in Afghan politics. It’s vital not to overlook Pakistan’s own internal Taliban struggle. If the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan, it may become a sanctuary for Pakistani brethren. Clearly, that would not please the Pakistani authorities, who may be urging peace and Taliban involvement in Kabul. The US ascendancy of the new Quad group will be a flop. Afghanistan’s Vice President has accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban in their future conquest of Afghanistan. Still, the two countries’ relations are deteriorating. Forming a new Quad group will not solve any problem. Russia protested to the organisation, citing Uzbekistan as a former USSR country that should have more influence in Central Asia. India is also not pleased with the US plan to establish a new Quad group, since it can suit China’s interests in the long term with Pakistan as a member.

Disclaimer: I certify that this is my original piece of writing neither published nor in the consideration of any publication. This is exclusive to “Defence and Security Alert (DSA).”

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