By Akram Dilawar
After the decades of Soviet troops withdrawal, Afghanistan is facing another historical crossroads, this time on the eve of limited withdrawal of US combat troops, earlier scheduled to depart by the end of 2014. It was pretended that due to certain changes in the regional and international security calculus; the resultant decision struck on retaining a limited but effective number of troops in Afghanistan till 2024. The country’s present situation is making swings between the marks of progressive development and regression. It is more or like the same situation, when soviet troops were withdrawing from Afghanistan.There are complex possibilities of the prospects for either renewed civil war or stable peace in Afghanistan. Experts suggest that political reconciliation with Taliban leaders, sustained peace, and stable economic growth are possible ventures if not over-ridden by the competing stakeholders and their stampeding of interests in Afghanistan. In addition, it was speculated that reduced American military presence and weaker US interest in Afghanistan could increase the role of other great powers and neighboring nations to take part in enchasing interests for the betterment and development of their respective countries.
It is very obvious that Afghan people are now fed up with the orthodox and monotonous type of fighting governments. Despite the ongoing settling of Afghanistan, there are certain lobbies in Afghanistan, who are influenced and dictated by the same old hands and faces, considering themselves the final word for the future of Afghanistan. Whereas, their failed past performance speaks louder than what they pretend before the innocent Afghans. The retention of a limited US military contingent and continued US support for the Afghan government would generally help and avoid instability besides facilitating a softer resolution to the question of the country’s future. In said scenario, for Russia, which prioritizes a stable Afghanistan, the current status would be the most desirable solution, provided that foreign troops remain in the country under a UN Security Council mandate. Russia’s primary concern in Afghanistan is maintaining security in the Afghan–Central Asian region.
Moscow seeks to prevent instability in Central Asian countries, some of which like Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan are its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of post-Soviet states. In addition, Russia has a vested interest in stemming the flow of extremism and drugs coming from Afghanistan. It is also believed that Russia could maintain ties with any potential leaders in Kabul as long as they do not engage in activities directed against the Russian Federation. At the moment, Moscow has no significant economic interests in Afghanistan.
Russia had long hoped for a balance between its Western and Asian foreign policy directions. In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, this balance seems to be no longer there. The need for balance is now a need for Moscow’s policy in Asia and elsewhere outside the West. Aware of this, Russia is also seeking to balance its all important relationship with China by an outreach to India and Vietnam in Asia; Brazil within the BRICS group. It is quite interesting that Russia’s approach towards India is also becoming cautious because of her unpredictable friendship swings with US.
Experts analyse that India is also moving very tactfully to tackle China in the region and Afghanistan in particular because of the obvious economic competition and upcoming flow of required energies. India can not disengage herself from containing China on the behest of US and due to her own interests in the regional and its global positioning, mainly encouraged and supported by US and Israel. India’s top priority is to hurdle any Chinese economic or political initiatives in Afghanistan and create rifts and mistrust between the Afghanistan and Pakistan by utilizing the remnants of former President Hamid Karzai and his affiliates in Afghanistan.
The growing confidence and improving relations of Pakistan and Afghanistan is also not considered positive for India and she apprehends that if the current pace of cooperation and collective efforts for counter terrorism continued between Afghanistan and Pakistan, it could expose the dirty game of India being played in Afghanistan. Recently, the signing of memorandum of understanding(MOU) between the intelligence agencies of both the countries regarding the intelligence sharing and taking actions against the terrorists and ongoing terrorism waged by third country have raised the temperament of the quarters; not interested in bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.
However, a certain group of personalities created tides of misperception and negativity by criticizing the said MoU. Mostly the involved group comprised of current and former Afghan officials besides some few pseudo intellect writers, to damage a potentially groundbreaking attempt to improve ties with Pakistan by the Afghan Unity Government. Among them one of the prominent personalities related to parliamentarian group in Afghanistan is led by Chairman of Afghanistan’s Senate, Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, who instead of appreciating the ongoing progressive development against the terrorism is criticizing the Afghan government and trying to derail the peace process and igniting anti government sentiment against the sitting government led by Mr. Ashraf Ghani.
Besides, he seems to be making efforts to portray the Afghan President as a traitor in front of Afghan public and Parliament. A simple glance into the events easily suggests that there is an element of third hand working behind the scene and needs to be exposed prior to any major damage. The increased attacks in Afghanistan as well as recent attacks on Pakistani post in Bajur is a key reminder of the existence of miscreants and terrorist gps on either side exploiting the porous border and lack of effective communication and commitment between the officials of both the countries at bordering areas.
Security experts unanimously agree that such kind of incidents could be effectively dealt and neutralize by having effective intelligence sharing on both sides. Although volumes are required to understand the complexities of events which are happening in Afghanistan and the region, but the reasons behind the unrealistic uproars against the positive initiatives of the Unity government and the recently signed MoU regarding the intelligence cooperation, can be understood by analysing few basic points. Firstly, after the practical manifestation of the said MOU, the third hand involved in the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be exposed, besides its active involvement in constantly exploiting the grown mistrust and misunderstanding, crafted and created under the former Afghan government machinery led by Hamid Karzai.
Secondly, now there would be obvious chances of addressing and resolving all the lingering issues at local and regional level. The said outcome is also going to be a set back for the conspirators; aiming at deteriorating the security situation in Afghanistan and mulch the ground for the Great game.