The key objectives of American engagement in Afghanistan were elimination of terrorism and fight against narcotics. Even after a decade and a half of American presence and heavy costs in blood and treasure, not only have the two objectives not been accomplished, but the situation has also aggravated in both areas. The number of terrorist groups has further increased in Afghanistan, and it still remains the world’s biggest producer of drugs.
The US-led NATO coalition also acknowledges its failure in both aspects. A spokesperson of the NATO’s Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan has recently said there are currently 13 active global terror groups in Afghanistan, while Al-Qaeda was the only foreign terrorist group operating here prior to NATO presence, and also the level of poppy cultivation during the Taliban regime cannot be compared with today.
The chief of National Directorate of Security (NDS) -- Afghanistan’s intelligence agency – has also admitted that foreign fighters have increased in the country. Only the counting of foreign fighters is not the responsibility of NATO forces and NDS. According to security pacts Afghanistan has inked with NATO and US, decimating the terror groups is their shared duty. Afghans agreed to forge security cooperation with NATO and America because of the threat of these very terrorist outfits, thus if their presence cannot extricate and protect Afghan people from the evil of terrorism, there is no any other benefit for the sake of which Afghans can sacrifice their good relations with the regional powers.
Taking into account the country’s deteriorating security situation, Afghanistan should take the nature of current counterterrorism efforts up with NATO and US. If they do not fulfil their commitments to eliminate terror groups, Afghanistan should also not solely pay the price for maintaining relations with them, and needs to mull over alternative options.