Afghanistan Political Puzzle
By Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
The withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in 2014 certainly has decisive impact on both Afghanistan’s domestic situation as well its relations with its neighboring states. Afghanistan’s internal political environment will inescapably transform, once the foreign troops depart from the country.
The makeover of new Afghan ruling elite would determine and chalk out Kabul’s foreign and strategic policy. The success and failure of the new ruling elite’s policies would be having lasting impact on the internal security of the neighboring states of Afghanistan. That is why everyone is seriously focusing on the perceived political setup of Afghanistan and preparing to benefit from the new developments in Afghanistan.
The US/ISAF/NATO and Afghan troops have failed to impose unconditional defeat upon the Afghan insurgents. The international coalition forces, therefore, would be leaving Afghanistan in 2014 without establishing a stable political system. This kind of withdrawal has both positive and negative consequences. Immediately, after the withdrawal of foreign troops, the anarchical situation within the country, especially in the Southern and Eastern Afghanistan could be intensified. The deterioration in the governance would incur more miseries upon the common man in Afghanistan.
The withdrawal of foreign troops without leaving any stable political system may provide an opportunity to the people of Afghanistan to constitute their political systems according to the requirements of their own political culture. It is an established fact that imported or externally imposed political systems always fail to establish harmony with the native political culture of the state. The disharmony between the political system and political culture always sustain instability in the country. Hence, it’s in the interest of Afghans that they should envisage and frame their own constitution.
The neighbors of Afghanistan ought to realize and chalk out their Afghan policies which avoid giving an impression to Afghans about the external inference. Indeed, the Afghans are too sensitive to the external interference. If any neighbor of Afghanistan believes that it could play an effective role in the political engineering of the Afghanistan’s political system, it is miscalculating its potential. Notably, if a mighty international alliance is unable to tame the dissidents in Afghanistan, how one can be optimistic about the neighbors’ interference in Afghanistan in the aftermath of foreign troop’s withdrawal. The unbeatable Afghans definitely play a significant role implicitly and explicitly in reshaping the Afghanistan internal politics and its foreign and strategic policy.
Presently, the external parties to the Afghan conundrum stand as, Pakistan-China, US India, Russian Federation-Central Asian States and Iran. India, Iran, China, and Russian Federation could form a strong alliance. Though China desires to keep Pakistan on board, the new Silk Route/Road constructions underline Pakistan’s irrelevance in the emerging land routes network. It is because of Pakistan’s fixation with strategic-cum-unresolved chronic issues rather than economic dimensions of relations between India and Pakistan.
Though Islamabad agreed in principle to provide India MFN status, it is not ready to open up its motorway for the Indians consignments destined to Afghanistan and Central Asian States. The United States strategic partnership with Afghanistan post-2014 would continue, despite the recent announcement of President Obama to keep very limited number of American troops in Afghanistan. Although, the Americans gave an impression to keep five bases under their control in Afghanistan even after the withdrawal of troops in 2014, they did not spell out the exact number of bases and troops.
India is one of the most vocal supporters of continued engagement and has given Afghanistan more than $2 billion since the US-led invasion in 2001. The cementing relations between Kabul and New Delhi obviously depend upon the new political setup in Afghanistan and its linkages with China, United States and Pakistan.
In the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas, the extremist will maintain their hold because of the weak government in Kabul. The presence of these groups will sustain the presence of Al-Qaeda and Pakistani dissident groups. Hence, the low-intensity conflict would continue in the border area, which is obviously perilous for the Pakistani national interest and equally taxing on Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. The political stability in Afghanistan is not only in the interest of Afghans, but also to the advantage of Afghanistan’s neighbours.