Shafaat Yar Khan
The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31, 2021, following the agreement reached between the U.S. and the Taliban in February 2020. This withdrawal has sparked concerns about whether the U.S. left behind weapons and equipment in Afghanistan that could potentially be used against Pakistan or other regional actors.
The hasty and chaotic nature of the U.S. withdrawal resulted in reports and images suggesting that a substantial amount of military equipment, including firearms, ammunition, vehicles, and other supplies, was left behind. This equipment ranged from small arms to larger military vehicles and aircraft.
The caretaker prime minister of Pakistan has asserted that military equipment left behind by the U.S. during the withdrawal from Afghanistan has found its way into the hands of the Pakistani Taliban. Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar stated that this equipment has become a fresh and concerning challenge for Islamabad, as it has bolstered the combat capabilities of the Pakistani Taliban.
The concern regarding the potential use of this left-behind equipment against Pakistan is not unfounded. Afghanistan shares a long and porous border with Pakistan, and historically, various militant groups have operated in both countries. There are worries that some of the weapons and equipment abandoned by the U.S. military could fall into the hands of extremist groups with hostile intentions towards Pakistan.
The Taliban, now in control of Afghanistan, inherited much of the equipment left behind by the U.S. military. While they have publicly stated that they do not intend to use this equipment against neighboring countries, there is uncertainty about their ability to prevent it from being acquired by various militant factions or individuals with differing agendas.
The potential proliferation of military equipment to non-state actors is a concern not only for Pakistan but also for other neighboring countries and the broader international community. Such a scenario could destabilize the region and exacerbate existing conflicts.
The U.S. government has expressed its concerns about the possibility of weapons and equipment being used against its interests or allies, including Pakistan. They have noted that they are closely monitoring the situation and engaging in discussions with regional partners to address these risks.
However, addressing a press conference, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said America did not leave behind any military equipment for terrorist organisations in Afghanistan.
His remarks came after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar and Ambassador Masood Khan had reportedly said the weapons left behind by America had fallen into the hands of terrorists.
Kirby said the US had left only a limited amount of equipment and aircraft in Kabul. At the airport, he said, America had left trucks, and technical and firefighting equipment.
When a journalist drew his attention to reports that the $7 billion worth of weapons in Afghanistan had fallen into the hands of terrorists, the National Security Council spokesman said the military equipment being talked about had been actually handed over to the Afghan defence forces.
The Taliban, which now controls Afghanistan, inherited much of the equipment left behind by the U.S. military. While they have stated that they do not intend to use this equipment against neighboring countries, it remains to be seen whether they can effectively prevent it from falling into the hands of various militant factions or individuals with different agendas.
Accurately assessing the equipment left behind and its current status is challenging due to the absence of on-the-ground verification. Reports and claims regarding specific equipment can be conflicting, making it difficult to provide a precise inventory of what was abandoned.
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised legitimate concerns about the potential use of left-behind military equipment against Pakistan and other regional actors. The extent of this risk remains uncertain and will depend on various factors, including the Taliban’s ability to control the equipment, prevent its proliferation to non-state actors, and uphold their commitment not to use it against neighboring countries. The situation is evolving, and ongoing monitoring and diplomacy are essential to address these concerns and maintain regional stability.Top of Form
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance