By Shuja Awan
The emerging fate of Afghanistan and the conquest of Afghanistan’s peace and stability would largely be deliberated by the current and future policies of Afghan government and its corresponding responses by regional and extra regional countries. More than a decade, Afghanistan has focused on the policies being dictated and pursued by US and coalition partners, instead of viewing and resolving her problems within the regional context.
There is no doubt that Pakistan, Iran, India, China, Russia, and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) have the capacity to exert their influences; positively or negatively on the course of developments in Afghanistan. There is a need of sincerely persuading the plan of action for Afghanistan’s evolution towards a stable and vigorous State for reaping benefits by the entire region and beyond. The role of regional countries have been a fact of life for the Afghan State throughout most of its history and same has offered limited options for Afghanistan and it might found the basis to Afghans for choosing both isolation and resistance.
Presently, openness and cooperation with regional powers offer the best prospects for security and economic progress for Afghanistan; whereas the region’s political stability and economic potential are broadly influenced by the ability of Afghanistan to succeed in its recovery from security, political and economic crisis. It is a well understood fact that the regional States are liable to revive their engagements in Afghanistan, not only to help in securing and rebuilding for Afghanistan but also for the obvious corresponding results for own prosperity and of the region as a whole.
There is a widespread belief among Afghans and others in the region that US interests in the country would very quickly grow fainter; once its major objectives in the region are realized, which are still ambiguous and not very clear to many regional countries. While an arguable expectation, perceptions alone are enough for many Afghan and regional power brokers to begin to hedge their bets in supporting the Ashraf Ghani’s regime.
Afghanistan’s future in terms of becoming the transit hub of energies and resultant economic activities are very hopeful and become the bright prospect of economic boom in the region. Endemic economic and physical constraints and retrogressive political developments; is presently blocking the progress of Afghanistan towards the region forming a vital new economic entity. Besides, the undue interventions in Afghanistan by the internal negative forces led by ex- Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his infamous group is dedicated to resist the forthcoming progress in the country and above all in the region. Unfortunately it is being done on the behest of India for curtailing the China’s increasing economic and political influence in the country and beyond. Besides, the devil group is involved in damaging the progressive bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Initially, it seemed that the leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan are trying to be on one page, but unfortunately the deteriorating security environment and Afghan security failures have frustrated the government and due to the involvement of India the blame game is always directed towards Pakistan without having tangible proofs. Until and unless the suspicious environment exists between Afghanistan and Pakistan, they would not be able to take simultaneous and coordinated efforts for exposing the negative elements and enemies of both the countries. Besides, no concrete milestone for achieving the envisaged economic prospects could be achieved by both the countries.
The future of Afghanistan and the regional States is closely bound, the constructive partnerships involving Afghans and their neighbours are essential for regional stability and economic boom. Just as the capacity of Afghanistan to overcome its political and economic deficits would have deep bearing on the region’s security and development, the domestic stability and foreign policies of the neighboring States will also affect the prospects for progress in Afghanistan.
The strategic approaches to Afghanistan by its neighbors are, however, always subject to readjustment. No regional State is prepared to allow another to gain a preponderance of influence in Afghanistan. More immediately, the political currents in several regional countries may also be influencing the economic forces on which more optimistic projections for regional cooperation have been based.
The dynamics of contemporary political and economic relations among countries of the region would impact the future of Afghanistan in addition to her own internal situations. However, the regional fulcrum in Afghanistan would be largely leveraged by the external powers pursuing the competing interests in Afghanistan.
The increasing Chinese endeavors of uplifting the economy of Afghanistan and facilitating the political environment suggests a long term planning of development and prosperity for Afghanistan. In such a situation Afghanistan needs to gauge the stakes and changing parameters of engagement for countries interested to help Afghanistan. Above all, Afghanistan must abide by her commitment of not allowing any country to utilize its land against any country.
It could only become possible through the positive and constructive interventions of big powers by facilitating to create the opportunities and conditions that could foster cooperation in the region and safeguard against future instability. Responsibility for much of the political instability and misery of people in Afghanistan can be traced to external powers seeking to realize their own strategic, ideological, and economic interests in the country. Although renowned for resisting foreign intruders, Afghans cannot thus be absolved of responsibility for much of the fratricide and destruction that has occurred in recent decades.
Still, the aggravating role of outside States, near and far, has also made civil conflicts more sustained and lethal, which needs to be addressed for achieving the global peace. It is a well known fact that all of the region’s economies carry on the greater portion of their trade outside the region. Every country in the region, not just landlocked Afghanistan, is anxious to create alternative routes to international markets. Road and rail transportation projects are also likely to promote intra-regional economic growth.
Afghanistan is particularly handicapped by a badly deficient infrastructure. Its rail and road system is limited. Huge investment would be required for building and repairing roads and for the eventual construction of an internal rail network linked to Afghanistan’s neighbors, in this context Pakistan’s government should offer its expertise and offer to build such projects with the help of international community.