President Donald Trump and his Democratic contender Joe Biden both seem to have the same fix for Afghanistan.

It has been the longest running war for the United States - 19 years and the bloody conflict involving the Taliban insurgents continues to take its toll on the Afghan people. 

Washington has spent hundreds of billions of dollars, lost more than 2,400 soldiers, and even signed a peace deal with the Taliban to bring stability in the war-torn country. Yet, none of that has contained the attacks in which tens of thousands of ordinary Afghan people have lost their lives, with many more losing their limbs. 

Despite the heavy military and diplomatic American involvement, neither President Donald Trump nor his main contender in the election, Joe Biden, talked about Afghanistan during the presidential debates. 

Now that the Americans go to vote, there remains a big question mark on the Afghan strategy of whoever becomes the next US president. 

“If Trump remains in office, we will see continuation of the current policy. But even if Biden gets elected we won’t see a collapse of the process like it happened in the Iranian case,” says Amina Khan, Middle East and Africa director at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) think-tank. 

Soon after he got elected in 2016, President Trump withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. 

The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February this year as part of an exit strategy for American troops, which also cleared the way for intra-Afghan talks. 

Those talks, which took place in September between the Kabul government of President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban representatives, have not helped reduce the violence.

Trump has made withdrawal of the remaining 8,600 US troops  a centre point of his Afghan strategy. But his unpredictable and often confusing statements have left many wondering about his commitment to the human aspect of the Afghan conflict. 

As per the agreement with the Taliban that binds the insurgent group to cut ties with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, the US wants to fly its soldiers home by next year. 

But on October 7, Trump shocked everyone by suggesting in a tweet that US troops should be called back by Christmas. 

Khan says Trump’s real intention will become clear if he gets reelected, but she warned that even the idea of a hasty withdrawal can damage the ongoing peace talks and further embolden the insurgents. 

“Remember what happened in 2014 when initially Americans said we are leaving and it led to an extreme surge in violence and insecurity in Afghanistan.” 

On his part, Biden has said that he is in favour of keeping just a small band of American soldiers - between 1,500 and 2,000 - for counter terrorism operations. 

Despite the peace initiative, both the Afghan government and the Taliban have intensified attacks against each other in which more and more civilians are being killed, says the Human Rights Watch (HRW). 

What happens after the election is particularly concerning for Afghanistan's neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, which host millions of Afghan refugees. 

A worsening conflict can push more civilians to migrate and result in chaos for the region, says Amina. 

Whoever wins the elections, “Taliban will certainly come under pressure to reduce violence,” she says. 

Source: TRT World