This Fellows Colloquium consisted of a two-part presentation by Professors Paula Banerjee and Nergis Canefe. IWM Permanent Fellow Ludger Hagedorn was the discussant.
When the U.S. government announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Afghan government folded, the president abandonend his people and the army surrendered to the Taliban. Many people, including the U.S. president looked askance at this development. Banerjee argues that such a development was hardly surprising. When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan, it was to create a client state that would protect U.S. interests, not those of Afghanistan or its neighbours. In fact, the nascent process of nation-building was halted. The US wanted to impose its values and most Afghans who went along with it did so out of self-interest. At best, the U.S. created a “creamy layer of collaborators” that in no way had deep rooted impact. When the U.S. left, there was nothing to hold the amorphous group together and they could not think of themselves as one nation. Many have fled, the others have surrendered to the Taliban, portraying clearly that it was never their war. Rather, it was another episode of the great game.
Nergis Canefe discussed the history of the Afghan refugee crisis that predates the withdrawal of the U.S. troops and the regional containment and redistribution of the dispossessed Afghan populations.
Paula Banerjee is Professor at the University of Calcutta.
Nergis Canefe is Associate Professor of Political Science at York University, and Associate Director of the Centre for Refugee Studies.