Afghan end game: Who wins
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 – According to Daoud Sultanzoy, a former member of the Afghan parliament and political analyst, “The U.S. political climate is such that the administration has to show some sort of good news to justify [the troop exit], and that is dictating what is being shown in terms of progress, even if there isn’t any.”
President Obama has repeatedly announced that, after 2014, there would be no US troops in Afghanistan. In terms of fatalities, the year 2012 has been the deadliest. Even in the last six months of the year, 473 Afghan soldiers lost their lives during encountering the insurgents. Besides, 163 NATO troops were killed, which include 127 US troops. There has been a substantial reduction in the fatality rate in last two months. Nevertheless, this does not mean that, U.S and its allies are winning the war, though General Allen has acclaimed a victory, upon completion of his term in Afghanistan.
There may be many contributory factors to this. One factor could be the onset of severe winter in Afghanistan, which traditionally reduces the quantum of insurgent operations against the coalition forces in Afghanistan in last one decade. Another could be that, with the help of Pakistan, United States has initiated a reconciliation process with Afghan major insurgent group, the Taliban, which has minimized its attack on US forces for the time being. There is yet another reason, that, President Obama has announced a clear policy of pullout from Afghanistan by 2014, which has positive impact on Afghan warring factions.
Whatever be the contributory factors, the peace in Afghanistan is much desired by its over 30 million population, its immediate neighbours, especially Pakistan and definitely the NATO and US for an honourable exit from Afghanistan. For attaining a peace in Afghanistan, there is a requirement that, all should work in a close harmony for a better future of Afghanistan in particular and region in general.
Such an approach will provide a win-win situation for all stakeholders. From the Pakistani perspective, stability and peace in Afghanistan is most needed. A stable, peaceful and friendly Afghanistan would indeed guarantee a stable and peaceful Pakistan. Indeed, the international players and especially its eastern neighbor, India, have always misread Pakistani association with Afghan people.
Everyone including United States has misperceived that Pakistan desire a political role in Afghanistan. Historically, Pakistan and Afghan societies share many commonalities. There live people of the same tribes on either sides of the Pak-Afghan border. Then Pakistan has been providing all administrative and economic help to this land locked country throughout its history. Even today, bulk of Afghan transit trade is through Pakistan. In its over six decades of history, Pakistan in fact did not gain anything from Afghanistan, nevertheless, it lost its internal stability due to instable environment in Afghanistan.
Through years of instability and civil war like situation in Afghanistan, Pakistani nation has learnt that, stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is interlinked. It is not the misconstrued concept of strategic depth, but, social bondage and interdependency that provides solid foundations for the bilateralism between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even during the era of strained relationship, where King Zahir Shah was hostile to Pakistan, Afghan people maintained brotherly relationship with Pakistan and so did Pakistanis.
In the recent past, after almost a seven months disentanglement (post Salala attack), United States had to recognize the role of Pakistan for any meaningful move forward in Afghanistan. It has desired for better relationship and cooperation from Pakistan. In fact, US has finally conceded to the Pakistani point of view that, peace in Afghanistan could only be restored once there is a reconciliation and all Afghan factions and ethnic and religious groups are incorporated into a broad based political setup.
Under the renewed circumstances, where Pakistan is facilitating the NATO and US for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, following the drawdown of 2014, there are interest groups, indeed opponents of the peace, who developed a new theme that Pakistan has finally succeeded in securing its interests in Afghanistan. Misconstrued statements and analysis like; “For decades Pakistan has been involved in power politics next door and that “Islamabad attempting to control proxies in Afghanistan are nothing new” are based on ill intent with an effort to derail the process of attaining peace.
At this critical juncture of history, where everyone is pinning hopes for a peace in Afghanistan and restoration of friendly relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, our analysts, writers, academia and most importantly the media has to play a positive role for the success of this initiative. This would be a great contribution for bringing peace and stability in both; Pakistan and Afghanistan, and creating a win-win situation for all, particularly the people of Afghanistan.(Dr Raja Muhammad Khan)