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The Taliban are gaining ground and control across swathes of the country Image Credit: Reuters

There is a sense of trepidation and growing concern over the events currently unfolding in Afghanistan as Taliban forces gain ground and move to exert control in swathes of the restless country.

This growing momentum comes at a time when the United States is drawing down its forces and other nations involved in the Nato-led International Stabilisation Forces re-access their roles after almost two decades of presence in Afghanistan.

In recent days, the Taliban have captured major border crossings with Iran and Turkmenistan in a sweeping offensive across Afghanistan, with the group saying it seized two key border towns – Islam Qala near Iran, and Torghundi bordering Turkmenistan.

Significantly too, India has withdrawn around 50 diplomats and security personnel from its consulate in Kandahar on Sunday because of deteriorating security situation as the Taliban look to consolidate its growing presence in areas around the southern Afghan city.

The situation is changing rapidly and barely a week ago, officials in the Indian embassy in Kabul said it had no intention to shut the consulate in Kandahar.

If Taliban claims are to be believed, the group says it now controls 85 per cent of the country – hotly disputed by the central government in Kabul.

Certainly though, at least a third has returned to effective Taliban control. What is clear is that the hard-earned peace and growing relative stability are now under threat as the Taliban seek to exploit the vacuum caused by the drawdown of boots on the ground.

What is vital is that there not be a return to the lawlessness that defined Afghanistan for so long. Nor can the country become a haven for terrorist groups that can undermine the peace of nations across this region. That cannot be allowed to happen.

It was the presence of groups such as Al Qaida there two decades ago that led to the invasion of Afghanistan by multinational forces.

Now, after thousands dead, countless millions injured, many millions displaced, many others forced to join a diaspora of refugees across the region and beyond, there is a foreboding gloominess descending on Afghanistan – an inevitability that after the lives lost and money spent, there may well be a return to square one.

The prospect of the gains of the past two decades being lost is a painful one. We are fast reaching a juncture where that tipping point is being reached in Afghanistan.