Quitting the Great Game


Then foreign secretary Boris Johnson with British soldiers during a visit to Kabul in November 2016 (© Mohammad Ismail/AFP via Getty Images).
Then foreign secretary Boris Johnson with British soldiers during a visit to Kabul in November 2016 (© Mohammad Ismail/AFP via Getty Images).

By Amit Roy

NOW that the US and the UK have announced they are to withdraw all their remain­ing troops out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the chances are the Taliban will eventually makes its way back to power.

As a consequence, girls will be stopped from going to school and to college.

One article I read summed up the dangers of the premature American and British withdrawal of troops: “Twenty years on, we’re pulling out of Afghani­stan with the Taliban ram­pant. So did 456 British he­roes die in vain?”

General Sir Nick Carter, the chief of defence staff, said it was “not a decision we hoped for” although the UK respected the view taken by the administration of US president Joe Biden.

But Sir Nick added: “We went into Afghanistan back in 2001 to prevent interna­tional terrorism ever emerg­ing from Afghanistan…

“The Afghan armed forces are indeed much better trained than one might im­agine. I think they could eas­ily hold together and all of this could work out. We will just have to see.

“At the end of the day, the Afghan people are looking for stability, they are looking for peace, and that is not lost on the Taliban.”

He may find his optimism is not entirely justified. Brit­ain has been involved in “the Great Game” – the his­toric confrontation over Af­ghanistan between the Brit­ish and Russian empires – for centuries.

Sherlock Holmes, a bud­ding detective, deduces where Dr Watson has been when they first meet in A Study in Scarlet.

Holmes surprises Watson: “How are you? You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.

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