According to the agreement with the Taliban that the Trump administration had signed in 2020, the troops were supposed to withdraw by May 1, 2021. Per the new announcement, the troop withdrawal will start by May 1, 2021 and will be complete by September 11 this year that will also mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre twin towers in New York and on the Pentagon complex in Washington, DC. The US still has some 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. When the Trump administration signed the deal with the Taliban in Doha last February, it appeared to be in a hurry to dissociate itself from the Afghan imbroglio that has sucked American resources for two decades now. President Biden has taken a more circumspect approach to face this challenge. He has found a midway between meeting the May 1 deadline and not withdrawing the remaining troops. In a way, this appears to be a better solution as the remaining troops will start leaving Afghanistan this month and the next five months will give both the Kabul government led by Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban to hold some intra-Afghan dialogues and find a solution that may hammer out a power-sharing formula. In the absence of an agreement of a future dispensation in Afghanistan, a complete withdrawal of foreign troops may result in chaos and a more intensified civil war on the pattern that Afghanistan witnessed in the 1990s. When the Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, there were repeated offers by the Najeebullah government in Kabul to the so-called Mujahideen groups led by various warlords who refused to negotiate any power sharing with Dr Najeeb. That resulted in internecine conflicts which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Now the Taliban appear to be planning an action replay of the situation in the 1990s. The fact that the Biden Administration is starting to withdraw troops by May 1 should serve as an indication that America is still determined to respect the agreement signed by their predecessors.
Now the Taliban must realize that the best path forward to advance Afghan interests is to end the war in Afghanistan after 20 years. The past four decades in Afghanistan have seen a lot of bloodshed and no one party has been able to control the country and elicit universal acceptance and recognition. The concern that Afghanistan will become a safe haven for terrorists if left without a stable government is serious and all neighbouring countries – and the world community as well – are keen to see an end to war in Afghanistan. The persistent stubbornness with which the Taliban have been pursuing their single-point agenda to occupy Kabul and rule all over the country is not likely to bear fruit. The only possible solution is perhaps to declare an immediate ceasefire, initiate intra-Afghan dialogue, and reach a power-sharing deal to establish peace.