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A lot of chatter from American media about "Time to bring our boys home" & wasting "hundreds of billions of dollars" on #Afghanistan's "endless war". Well, let me tell you the story of the US led presence in #Afghanistan from an Afghan perspective based on facts.Follow my tweets.
1-After 9/11, US led international forces with support from anti-Taliban fighters defeated the extremist group in a few weeks. Having been tired of Taliban's repressive regime which had pushed #Afghanistan to dark ages, the #Afghan people welcomed the US led international forces.
2-The Afghan people, who were traumatised by years of conflict under #Taliban &warlords, came out in large numbers to participate in the country's 1st presidential elections in 2004. They elected Karzai. Optimisim for a brighter future was palpable across the country.
3- The era of hope for the Afghan people lasted from 2002-2006 but things were starting to go bad. The US shifted a lot of troops & resources from Afghanistan to #Iraq where violence was at its peake. Meanwhile, American media started calling #Afghanistan "The forgotten War."
4-Sensing the opportunity, #Afghanistan's neighbors, esp #Pakistan, started helping regroup the #Taliban, providing the extremist group shelter in Quetta and arms. Then in 2006, #Taliban sent the first suicide bomber to target an internet cafe in #Kabul, killing many civilians.
5- From there, Afghans were being killed in scores as the #Taliban, having been inspired by their fellow terrorist allies in #Iraq, unleashed terror & brutality like never before. Our own friend, Ajmal Naqshbandi, who was working as a media fixer, was beheaded by the #Taliban.
6- As violence was raging, the US was still focused on Iraq & continued to provide #Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid. Meanwhile, Pakistan used the money to support the Taliban. Iran was also now in the game, providing Taliban new types of IEDs which were used in Iraq.
7-By 2008, the US realized the #Taliban were making a real comeback & violence was out of control. The new President Obama promised a surge. But he made a huge mistake by giving a timeline for the US exit in 2011, giving the #Taliban & their Pakistani sponsors the time to wait.
8-Meanwhile, #Afghan politics was falling apart. In 2009, #Afghanistan held its 2nd presidential elections which was marred by fraud. Pres Karzai was paranoid & accused the US of trying to dislodge him from power. Corruption was rife as money poured in with no proper oversight.
9- By 2011, violence was out of control. The #Taliban's strategy was to send few suicide bombers to takeover a building & fight to death. These complex attacks were militarily useless but brought ample international media coverage, giving the impression that Taliban were winning.
10- Instead of countering this strategy of the Taliban, Pres Obama announced a new exit timeline: the ominous year of 2014. This was a huge mistake because Afghans were holding a fateful 3rd pres elections. The Western media began predicting the collapse of Afghanistan in 2014.
11-Despite Taliban & other terror groups' violence & grim predictions by the so called international experts about low turnout, millions of Afghans turned out to vote. Yet again the election was marred by fraud as the two candidates, pres Ghani & CEO Abdullah fought each other.
12-Fmr Secretary of State Kerry stepped in and the National Unity govt was formed. It was a failed experiment. The two leaders, instead of focusing on the larger picture, engaged in petty politics. But the Afghan National Security Forces bravely fought to keep the Taliban at bay
14. Thanks to the sacrifices of Afghan forces & their international & American colleagues, #Taliban failed to capture any province in its entirety. By this time, the US was calling out #Pakistan for its sponsorship of #Taliban &other terror groups,esp after OBL was killed there.
15-Then came Pres Trump's South Asia strategy in 2017. It was very welcomed because it finally called Pakistan for its sustained support for the Taliban& other extremists & gave a conditioned based timeline for the US troops exit. It also provided more support for Afghan forces.
16-But now Pres Trump wants US troops out, has engaged in talks with an extremist group which has killed thousands of US troops and is responsible for killing tens of thousands of Afghans. His tough rehtoric against #Pakistan for sponsoring terrorists were just words.
17-So what has changed in #Afghanistan since 2001? Despite all its flaws, the country enjoys a vibrant &free media. Afghan women have regained rights. Afghan national army has been restablished. Afghan forces are fighting the Taliban. Afghan air force is rebuilt to some extent.
18-Litracy rate is up from 12% under #Taliban to ~38%. New businesses & industries have emerged. #Afghan youth are connected to the world through internet. Around 18% of the population are on Facebook regularly. There are women serving as politicians, news anchors, doctors, etc.
19-Despite being let down by their leaders since 2001, more Afghans believe and support a democratic process for electing their leaders than people of many established democracies. #Afghanistan is more open & democratic compared to all its neighbors or even across the region.
20-Unfortunately, these gains are at risk if the US exits now& leave the country to its neighbors to resume their dog fight. And international terrorists are looking for exactly such moment to set up a base & terrorize Afghans & the world. The saga of the Afghan people goes on...
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