Friday, April 26, 2013

ISAF widrawal from Afghanistan and implications on Pakistan

      Since decades Afghanistan is in a state of turmoil in one way or another; at time in the name of " Great Game" foreign nations played their political moves and then in 80's people of Afghanistan were stuck between " Capitalist and Communist". In 1989, after the withdrawal of Soviet forces, Afghanistan had seen a period of peace, however, in 1994 Taliban started to rises. They came in power and except for small chunk of land in northern Afghanistan, major part was under their control. Taliban leader Mullah Omer was in a process to receive International recognition, once 9/ 11 shock the world. Taliban welcomed " Osama Bin Laden" in Afghanistan and provided sanctuary. 
     US launched Operation Enduring Freedom and toppled Taliban Government in Afghanistan. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by NATO were employed in Afghanistan and US is contributing major portion of military troops. It is more than a decade that US along with his allies had started Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). At present, Osama Bin Laden and many high ranking members of Al-Qaeda have been killed, Al Qaeda has been dis organize and only small packets of resistance is left; but above all US as well as its allies are exhausted ( economically, militarily and politically). General public and tax payers of these countries are forcing them for withdrawal. US is at a great pressure from its allies and from within its own country to pull out from Afghanistan.
      The nightmare of hasty pull out from proxy war of 1989 in Afghanistan, the fall out and instability caused by the sudden disengagement still haunts the world in general and US particularly. Withdrawal of ISAF by the end of 2014 has been planned and stabilization of Afghanistan before 2014 is very crucial for South and Central Asian region. Apart from US various other countries like Pakistan, China, India and Iran are having their vested interests and concerns related to vacuum created by withdrawal of ISAF troops in 2014.

Area of Emphasis.  Systematically and analytically assessing the ISAF withdrawal plan and interests of regional power in Afghanistan with implication on Pakistan's concern in the South and Central Asian region.

  • Important Conferences and meetings
  • US Strategic Objectives
  • China Interests in Stabilization of Afghanistan
  • Indian and Iran Concerns
  • Implication on Pakistan     
  • Recommendations
Important Conferences/ Meetings 
  • International Conference on Afghanistan, Bonn (2001).  After Operation Enduring Freedom, conference of Afghan leaders was held and Hamid Karazi was selected as leader for Afghan Interim Authority and later on he was elected as President in 2 004
  • International Conference on Afghanistan, The Hague (2009). Conference was held to discuss the future of Afghanistan. MAjor out come of the conference was , all participants agreed to strengthen Afghan Army, Police and Security services. Considerable amount of funds were allocated for equipping  and training of Afghan forces.
  •  International Conference on Afghanistan, London (2010). Main aim was to set timetable for Afghan forces to take over responsibilities of security and to lure in Taliban fighters with incentives.
  • International Conference on Afghanistan, Bonn (2011). Conference was focused upon the smooth transition of civil aspects by 2013, role of international forces after transition and prolonged stabilization of political process in Afghanistan.
  • January 2013 Obama- Karazi Meeting (Washington). Both the leaders mutually agreed that transition would be completed as per planned and US- SOF(Special operation Force) will remain in Afghanistan. Although, it was agreed that ISAF role would be supportive in nature,
US Strategic Objectives related to Afghanistan. As apparent from the beginning , US is having primarily two major objectives.
  1. Elimination of bases inside Afghanistan and Pakistan to be used by terrorist   organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and other groups which are in support ( Mullah Omer or Haqqani Group).
  2. Realize the world that the war is against terrorism which is a global issue and not war against Afghan Government.
  3. Stabilization of Afghanistan to bring economic prosperity in the region, which would gran teed long lasting peace. New " Silk Route" will connect South and Central Asia, Middle East and East Asia.
China's Interests in Stabilization of Afghanistan.  
       Although China has not contributed in ISAF even then China's interest in Afghanistan stability can not be undermined. China has invested heavily with billion's of US Dollar after the fall of Taliban Government. China economical interests are inter linked with economical development of its Western Provinces. As a growing economy, energy and raw material
China Western provinces   
requirements are driving it towards Afghanistan.

      There is an active plan for a quadrilateral freight rail road from Xinjiang in western China through Tajikistan and Afghanistan to Pakistan. This would extend their land connectivity to other power centres in Asia like Iran, and the greater Central Asian region. All these projects are to support China's western development plan and supplement its basic raw material requirement. Ultimately, China aims to develop Afghan gas and oil deposits.
      2009 violent clashes in Western (Xinjiang) and Southern (Guangdong) provinces has convinced China that Stabilize CAR and Afghanistan would be in benefit.

Indian and Iran Concerns.
     Afghanistan is having of long history of remaining a breeding ground for jihadi organization. These organizations no doubt remain vigilant to create problems inside mainland India and in Disputed Kashmir. India is a growing economy and number of mining contracts received by Chinese firm is a major concern for her. With an effective Afghanistan- India partnership, India can keep a constant pressure on its arch rival from eastern and western borders.
    Due to unstability in Afghanistan, flow of millions of refugees in Iran creates economical/ security problems. Stability in Afghanistan can provide access to Central Asian Region Market. On the other side, Iran is also under the fear that after ISAF withdrawal in 2014, Taliban may gain power and their anti- Shiite activities are not suitable for its internal/ external policy.

 Implication on Pakistan.   Due to decades of instability in Afghanistan Pakistan has suffered from various social maniacs like
  1. Drug  trafficking.
  2. Kalashnikov Culture.
  3. Smuggling.
  4. Human trafficking.
  5. FATA has been " No Go Area" which had become safe heaven for criminals.
    Being an economically weak country, Pakistan can not bear the burden of present Afghan refugees. In case of instabilty in Afghanistan after 2014, additional flow of refugees would be devastating.
    On economical front, Pakistan needs a stable Afghanistan to have safe access to energy rich Central Asian Region. Being part of new Silk route Pakistan would be able to tap full potential of Gwadar Port.
   Although, US ad China interts are not effecting Pakistan, however, Indian strategic alliance (including the training of security personals in Indian Academies) is serious issue which Islamabad sees with great concern. India has provided road access to Iranian Chahbarar Port(Iran) is taken to some extend as economical blow against Gwadar Port.

 Recommendations for Pakistan.
  1. Pakistan should develop a national consensus to accept Afghanistan its friendly neighbor. 
  2. Old Doctrine of "Afghanistan as Strategic Depth" should be overlooked and sovereignty of Afghanistan should be respected.
  3. Pakistan should benefit from the Geo-strategic location of Afghanistan. Economical policies should be formulated to develope Pakistan, Afghanistan and CAR as economical regions.
  4. Pakistan- Afghanistan are having tradition ties, people to people contact should be encouraged as Cofidence Building Measure.
  5. Joint Border Monitoring Patrols should guard the porous border against drug and arms trafficking, smuggling and other criminal activities.
  6. Tribal areas should be given provisional states and writ of Government should be established.
Conclusion.   People of Pakistan and Afghanistan had already suffered alot due to foreign interventions, now it is time to eliminate the influence of " non state actors" once and for all. Time has changed and economical power has replace military muscles. This region has already witness so many conventional and proxy wars, that now Pakistan is having neither the thirst nor the appetite for another conflict. Stable  Afghanistan  is key for stability in Pakistan.

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