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A new challenge for Afghanistan

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced that come September 11, the last US troops would be leaving Afghanistan, ending a 20-year presence in what he terms as America’s “forever war”. The date itself is significant, marking two decades since the terror attacks on the US that initiated the invasions of both Afghanistan and later Iraq, perplexed the administrations of four separate US presidents and cost countless thousands of lives.

As things stand now, there are some 2,500 US servicemen and women stationed in Afghanistan and knowing that their mission is about to end will be a source of joy to their families at least. Yes, it is a mission coming to an end, but whether it is a mission accomplished remains to be seen — only the determination of the government and people of Afghanistan can truly create the conditions for peace and stability in the months and years to come.

For years now, the abilities of the Afghan security forces have been strengthened by training and assistance from US and Nato partners. In the coming months, this training will need to be stepped up, finally setting the security forces to stand as fair, cohesive and competent stewards in their homeland.

Gulf News

The drawdown of US troops will being in the coming weeks but there still remains a Nato presence on the ground, a multinational force now focused on ensuring that Afghanistan’s national security forces have the training and skill sets to maintain stability as their nations forges a new brave path after so many decades of foreign intervention and occupation. European officials said that they too would follow the lead of President Biden in ending their mission there

For the government of President Ashraf Ghani, the challenge now is to ensure it has the strength to build peace and prosperity for all its 38 million citizens. That process includes ensuring its institutions of government are transparent, flexible, inclusive and, importantly, free of corruption and favour.

For years now, the abilities of the Afghan security forces have been strengthened by training and assistance from US and Nato partners. In the coming months, this training will need to be stepped up, finally setting the security forces to stand as fair, cohesive and competent stewards in their homeland.

Afghanistan is a nation far changed since the days when US and Nato troops first put their boots on the ground. It is more secure, women’s rights to education and in society have been largely affirmed, and a nation with a higher urban make-up than before. In its rural hinterlands however, traditions and loyalties remain strong — so too the propensity for extremist groups to take hold.

The challenge for the Taliban now is to participate fully in building a new inclusive nation. Any dialogue involves compromise — but too many have suffered these past 20 years for all to allow Afghanistan to recede into chaos. Let the guns be silenced forever.