What Will Be Afghanistan’s Future?
A country, which is landlocked and multiethnic, located in the heart of south-central Asia, has always been struggling for freedom. From playing host to a liberal monarchy to a communist takeover to being the centre-piece of the Cold War to a civil war-ravaged country to one under an externally sponsored religious movement and finally to the one from where began the historic post-9/11 ‘war on terror’, it would be an understatement to say that Afghanistan has witnessed a lot in a relatively short span of six decades.
Political stability in Afghanistan has always been critical. Unfortunately, the efforts of the international community to bring peace to Afghanistan have not succeeded so far. For more than a decade, the US-led international forces have been fighting a resurgent Taliban without much success. In fact, the Taliban appear to go from strength to strength, while the international forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan trying to convince themselves that they are going to leave at a time when Afghanistan has become a much better place than when they came in.
Against this backdrop, The Unfinished War In Afghanistan 2001-2014 is thus a timely effort in answering this key question and in doing so, appraises the reader with an overall sense about the country, its recent history, its neighbours, challenges and the road ahead. This book is a modest attempt to contribute to the ongoing debate on future challenges for Afghanistan as the largest ever coalition of Western forces prepares to withdraw. It seeks to examine key political developments within Afghanistan over the last one decade in response to the US-led Western military and political intervention. Perhaps, much more is still to come in a war that could aptly be termed as the last big war of the twentieth and first long war of the twenty-first century. The emerging social and political narratives are unmistakably old and echo the sentiments of the past. Though a ‘New Afghanistan’ has emerged in the meanwhile, it remains fundamentally an urban phenomenon.
The author, Vishal Chandra is Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi. His core area of research is politics of Afghan conflict, with special interest in Taliban resurgence, politics of reconciliation, making of the Afghan National Army, role of political opposition, shaping of regional perceptions, past political transitions and trends in Indo-Afghan relations.
The book is divided into eight chapters with each looking into significant developments in the internal politics of the country since the overthrow of Taliban regime. The finding of each chapter, treated as possible pointers to perhaps what awaits Afghanistan, is summarised in the last chapter.
In summing up, Chandra’s book is a detailed effort at helping readers better understand a country whose fate will influence not just its neighbours but the world at large. For anyone interested in geopolitics, history and terrorism in south Asia, The Unfinished War in Afghanistan should be part of your arsenal.
By Rohan Pal