The invasion story of a country, Afghanistan.
It was a bright sunny morning of September 11, 2001 and New York city was beginning a new day when the news channels made astonishing headlines, ” World Trade center’s (WTC) North Tower hit by a plane around 8:46 am and it crashed into floor 93–99 of WTC, killing 92 passengers on board and hundreds inside the building.” Even before anybody could recover from this shocking news, the South tower of the Twin towers was hit by another plane, which indeed confirmed this was not an “accident” but a terrorist attack.
9/11 is termed as the deadliest attacks on American soil, the attack killed more than 2,750 people at site, 184 at the Pentagon and 40 in Pennsylvania (where flight 93 headed to attack the White House, it crashed after the passengers attempted to retake the plane.)
The terrorist attack was suicide mission planned by 19 terrorists of Islamic extremist group Al- Qaeda. The leader of Al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden considered USA a “Paper Tiger”. Kasim` sheikh Mohammed (KSM) who was the key operational planner of the attack who held a degree from a University in North Carolina, USA became an active member of Muslim Brotherhood. In an interview with Al-Jazeera in 2002 he confessed that he planned to blow up dozen American planes in Asia but lacked resources and failed.” I think by putting my dreams in hands of Laden, my dreams stand a chance of being a reality” said KSM.
The attack had hit American Psyche, it could not stand the fact that its powerful continent has been hit by a small terrorist organization operating thousand miles away.
Weeks after 9/11 attacks, American military invaded Afghanistan, destroyed Al-Qaeda operating under safe haven of Taliban regime. US conducted many surveillance operations and many counter terror activities.
Taliban was almost defeated by the US military. Now, the onus lied on US military to keep Taliban in check in addition, the US took the initiative of rebuilding Afghanistan. It switched its focus from war to create a foundation of a stable and peaceful nation.
Afghanistan is a nation with different ethnic groups and communities which operated autonomously from different regions of the country. To bring these communities together by building a common road of unity was necessary. United States decided to build a Ring Road which would bring four major cities of Afghanistan- Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-sharif closer to each other. The road was partially built by Soviets in 1960’s but the decades of warfare wrecked the road completely.
The 3,200km corridor costs billions of dollars to build, several countries such as Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and International Banks like Asian Development Bank, World Bank along with USA financed the initiative.
What changes would a highway bring to a war-torn country?
The Trade circulation in the country surged and it was easier to get the supplies to the country via the road. An Afghanistani child said “We like the road because now it is easy for cars to go here and there and easy for us to get to school. Not only are my parents, but all the villagers are happy with the road because we can get sick people to the clinic faster.”
But United States didn’t finish the job.
In 2003, US invaded the Iraq and Afghanistan became a second priority. Diplomacy, Funding, reconstruction, resources were all diverted to war in Iraq. The funding was cut down by $1.2 billion dollars which was a dip in supplies by 38%. Ring road which still was far from completion had a long way to go.
The Taliban saw this as an opportunity to win back the territory it had lost and gain back their control over the region. In 2004–07, Taliban spread out its branches and began to grow rapidly and by 2008 it reached the ring road and took major territory along Kabul-Kandahar Highway. They led road side bombs, took US soldiers as hostages and bombed their vehicles and road construction crews.
The cost of construction skyrocketed a mile costs $ 5 million dollars mostly because of security. In 2009 former US President Barack Obama admitted” Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There is no eminent threat to the government, but the Taliban has gained momentum.”
US again committed itself to Afghanistan and sent a troop of about 1,700,000 soldiers.US and NATO made some progress but it quickly became clear that Taliban can’t easily be crushed, it stood stronger than before.
Eighteen months later Obama decides to call back the troops. Road building, construction of infrastructure became responsibility of Afghan government which was already paralyzed with corruption. In 2016 Audit survey by US found that Road was ‘beyond repair’ and needs to be rebuilt.
As of recently, Taliban controls almost half the country and mainly large portions of the ring road. In 2017 US President Donald Trump made it clear that “We are not nation building again, we are killing terrorist.”
The Ring road symbolizes the failed efforts of US to rebuild Afghanistan. The road as of now is 80% deteriorated and continues being wrecked.
There is a potential pact of Peace to be signed between US and Taliban to end the 17 year long war on condition of preventing all terror groups like Al-Qaeda to operate from Afghanistan.
In this battle of victory and defeat, let us all stand together and help humanity and peace triumph.