ISLAMABAD - The United States of America is seeking a political solution to end Afghan dispute after 17 years of its war. 

Has its military strategy to fight war against terror failed or has the US achieved the war objectives over the years, and is now seeking a political solution?

On the face of it, the US seems to have lost the Afghan war after 17 years of full-fledged combat mission to eradicate terrorism. In this lengthy course of its war, the US has ploughed billion of dollars. So are the losses it had suffered in terms of men and materials.  At least 6,334 of its citizens including soldiers and contractors have been killed in Afghanistan since October 2001. More than 1,100 allied troops have also been killed in this fight.

According to the US estimates, more than 150,000 people have been so far in this unabated ‘blind war’.

Many believed that half-hearted approach of the US to fight Afghan war is the main reason behind faltering its military strategy.     

On the other hand, military strategy adopted by Afghan Taliban, adversary of the US and its NATO allies, had confronted and routed their government for being a key ally of Al-Qaeda still remains a major challenge.

Despite scant means to fighting and heavy losses inflicted on them through state of the art war machine the Afghan Taliban have been successful in the enduring the worst time.

They have been resisting the US-led forces on the pretext that they are fighting foreign invading forces and would not succumb to pressures come what may.

Some analysts believed the Afghan Taliban have driving the strength from the thinking their forefathers had never accepted invaders, and perhaps that is why they kept on resisting the US imposed war in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Interestingly, Afghan Taliban have made significant gains over the past few years against their adversary because of their guerrilla warfare orientation.

They have been making visible gains ever since they were pushed out from Pakistan territory following the major military operation Zarb-e-Azb launched in 2013 in the tribal districts especially North Waziristan bordering Afghanistan.

Many believed they would not be able to continue their resistance to the US-led multinational forces because of their support allegedly from Pakistan.

But, the Afghan Taliban have proved it otherwise by taking more territory inside Afghanistan and the propaganda they would not sustain their resistance after Pakistan abandoned their alleged support has died its natural death. The growing insiders’ attacks have also made ground situation graver as the powerful attack in Kandahar last month in which a key Afghan military was killed along with others is being seen by the US and Afghan forces as an eye opener.

What the Afghan Taliban have been doing since then was largely out of change of their military tactics and their strategy has paid them dividend by gaining more territory and spreading their influence all over Afghanistan.  Today, they seem more confident and muscular. For the first time since their government in Afghanistan was removed by the US-led multinational forces, they have successfully established themselves on the ground with more territory under their influence.

Now they have shifted their presence from the eastern and southern provinces to north and western Afghanistan, putting more pressure to make it further difficult for the adversary to act against them with freedom.

This strategy has greatly helped Afghan Taliban in securing support from countries other than Pakistan which have also borders with Afghanistan.

They are no more dependent on Pakistan for essential logistical support they used to have prior to Zarb-e-Azb. They have found other multiple sources to support and sustain the insurgency. Perhaps that is why the US and the Afghan governments are lately seeking to engage Taliban in peace talks.

Another key factor that helped Afghan Taliban founded and groomed by the US against the then USSR seem more stable and confident today. They also managed to keep themselves separate from the emergence of Islamic State (IS) also known as Islamic State Khorasan which has established its footprints in Afghanistan after heavily losing its position in Syria and Iraq.

Despite, some clashes that took place between Islamic State Khorasan and Afghan Taliban forces, the later managed to subdue the new challenge.

Instead, some major powers in the region which felt threatened with the emergence Islamic State in Afghanistan stood with Afghan Taliban and according to the assessments of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Afghan Taliban are getting all kind of support from these countries.

The US strategy unveiled by President Trump employing increased number of armed forces to combat Taliban has been faltering from the day one.

The counter-terror operations planned and supervised by the US-led NATO’s Resolute Support mission to use ‘quick-fire airstrike missiles’ prompted more attacks by Taliban.

On the other hand, as a grand military tactic, Taliban used the populated villages as shield making the US airstrikes ineffective, making this option difficult for the US and Afghan forces giving Taliban a strategic advantage.  Some analysts who closely follow the developments in Afghanistan insist that the option of US and Afghan forces to airstrikes against Taliban has virtually become ineffective in the given circumstances.

They are of the view that at the end of the recent battles between the US-led NATO forces and Afghan forces, strategic balance remained in favour of Taliban.

The growing insiders’ attacks have also made ground situation graver as the powerful attack in Kandahar last month in which a key Afghan military officer was killed along with others is being seen by the US and Afghan forces as an eye opener.

Consequently, Taliban have gained more political support today. Now many countries in the region including Russia and China are supporting political solution to the Afghan conflict.

On its part, Pakistan being a major stakeholder in Afghanistan supports all efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan and that is precise reason of its insistence on Afghan-led Afghan-owned peace process for fear of Indian ambitions.

However, Islamabad’s main concern remains the India’s hegemonic ambitions and potential role the US wants to give to New Delhi in Afghanistan in the future.

It would be largely depend on how the US and its allied countries make the political option fruitful proposition, otherwise  it would lead to change geopolitical dynamics and the US sticking to its military option would make its war counterproductive and Afghan conflict more complex.