Code 45925
PublishDate: Saturday, November 26, 2011 10:38

How it will affect Afghanistan?

Instead of prolonging the two wars, America has now turned its face towards the Asia Pacific region

The ground realities at Afghanistan and Iraq show us that the US political rhetoric has come to denote one thing and that’s its deep hanker after to hold on to a world and options—economic, financial and diplomatic. But the matter is that those are beyond the reach of the US. This is what the US has realized it better than us, and that is the reason, it is winding down its wars in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq. Instead of prolonging the two wars, it has now turned its face towards the Asia Pacific region. Thought it wants there no military engagement however this change in approach is as pretentious as it is self-serving, for this reveals the US weaknesses. And now that the Afghan government has succeeded in mustering up support from more than 2000 Jirga elders on the strategic partnership agreement with the US, the seismic change in the US approach is quite eccentric. When the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime, it fought with consolidated approach nonetheless when it created a new front in Iraq by invading it in 2004, there came a split and rupture in its policy and focus. Its policy went further down when it opened another front in Middle East. Though the approach it want to pursue in Asia-Pacific is not military one, however it can leave indelible imprints on the political pulpit of Afghanistan as it needs US support more than ever and the US distraction from here can bring all the achievements to ground-zero, which for the entire Afghan nation sustained too many miseries and troubles. Moreover we have seen a gradual shift in the approach of Islamabad as well because it has un-shelved dialogues with Taliban and by now two rounds of discussions have been held by a 10-member negotiating committee with a focus on South Waziristan region. Taliban have also set forth their demands that include troops withdrawing to barracks, military compensating losses, swap of prisoners and end of the alliance with the US. As a goodwill gesture, Taliban have also released five ISI officials. It denotes one thing—that’s Islamabad has now felt that it cannot see itself in bleedings for a next ten years term, which is why it wants to roll back its program. But before doing so, it should revise its policy towards Afghanistan and back democracy here, for a true friend and neighbour is he, who likes for you whatever he likes for him/herself. It is quite evident that it likes democracy for itself at home then we expect the same from our neighbour for us. Thought there have been so many peace deals with the Taliban, but yielded no results but this time we wish it could because peace in Pakistan is key to peace in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless the demand from the Taliban that Pakistan should break its ties with the US is beyond acceptance for the Pakistani government. As violence breeds violence and if there is no violence in Pakistan it would not breed violence in Afghanistan and definitely it will have its positives impacts here. Albeit we worry about the renewed peace process in Pakistan as the Pakistani successive governments have carried out many peace deals with the Taliban but with no results, what will make us believe that this time it will be different. This chapter yet to be unfold.

HOW SHOULD BE OUR FUTURE ALLIANCE?

Garnering support from more than 2000 elders at the Traditional Loya Jirga, the Afghan government has earned wherewithal of change. It was quite unexpected that the Jirga would give a unanimous backing to the US presence on Afghan soil however the Afghan elders, who had come from every nook and hook of Afghanistan with a number of Afghan expats, showed their political acumen and came up with a conjoint aim.
And at length we as a nation did what our neighbours wanted not to let us—and that’s milking out more and more from the US presence on our soil. Now that Afghanistan has suffered for three decades, first as a last battlefield against the then USSR, and now in alliance with the US against militants, we deserve the right to get some of benefits from the alliance.
One of the likely benefits is getting the US support in case of any aggression on Afghanistan from outside. And this is what the Jirga also demanded of the government and Washington, in the collectively passed resolution. The region where Afghans are residing in is mired in perpetual hostilities whose backlashes have always hit Afghanistan badly. In addition, we have a bad history of subversive interferences from our neighbour, Pakistan, having a worse track record.
Therefore, the thing that needs to be stressed is that the US will have to stand with Afghans through thick and thin and should not treat Afghanistan like a client and satellite state. As the fear is looming larger that our approval to American presence on Afghans’ soil for a next decade would spur our neighbour’ deadly activities inside Afghanistan, therefore, both the Afghan government and the US should remain in clasp against any foreign threat. The US will have to sincerely come up to the fore and help us in fighting future threats. Besides that, another responsibility also falls on the shoulders of Americans and that’s to avoid covert talks with the Taliban, without the knowledge of the Afghan government, for this is the issue that can put our ties with Washington at contentions. Therefore our alliance should be of ionic bonds based on trust and mutual respect especially in the face of a common cause—to subdue militancy, a shadowy force.

THE ASIA FOUNDATION SURVEY: WHERE ARE WE HEADING ANYWAY?

Just four days before the Traditional Loya Jirga made its consent public, the Asia Foundation, a non-profit and non-government organization with 18 offices across Asia released the seventh in a series of public opinion surveys of the Afghan masses. With high hopes on good future, the Jirga recommended the strategic partnership pact with the US however the survey plays as a barometer to gauge the prevalent public opinion. Though the survey has not touched the subject matter of the pact yet despite that the pact is not irrelevant to our discourse.
Now let’s see how the pact will affect the future course of Afghanistan.
The most important question that was raised in the survey was, is Afghanistan headed in the right direction? The response that came from a little less than half of respondents 46 percent (pc) say things are moving in the right direction whereas 35 pc the highest proportion since the start of the survey say things are moving in the wrong direction. Besides that 17 pc of the respondents hold a mixed opinion—some things are moving in the right and some in the wrong direction. The most important question which stood out is that 38 pc respondents believe insecurity the biggest problem and challenge. After that comes unemployment with 23 pc, corruption with 21 pc, poverty with 12 pc, poor economy with 10 pc, education with 10 pc, Taliban with 8 pc, suicide attacks with 8 pc, foreign influence with 7 pc and weak governance with 6 pc.
Now that insecurity has been pinpointed as a plague spot, it seems necessary to discuss it in the face of overwhelming support for strategic agreement with the US in the Traditional Loya Jirga.
Will it usher in any major breakthrough and how? To be optimistic our response to the question is definitely ‘yes’. However the ‘how’ part of the question is going to be discussed in the lines ahead. The US is a dominant economic and military power and various tools are at its disposal to build the capacity of the Afghan state to maintain security at home and defend its borders besides delivering social services effectively and efficiently. Nevertheless it is still unclear on the part of the US that how it sees our perpetual border issue with Pakistan—the Durand Line? And the Pashtuns’ land that the Punjab-dominated establishment has turned it into a nurturing land of terrorism

ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS OF THE STRATEGIC PACT

Deliberations in the ongoing Loya Jirga have been largely remained focused on the security implications of the Afghan-US strategic pact and the economic dimension of the strategic pact has so far received very little attention both in the discussions of the Jirga delegates and mainstream media. Therefore the Afghan government and the Traditional Loya Jirga should give equal importance to economic incentives alongside security guarantees.
It is not difficult for Afghanistan to get the churn out the same outcomes.
With estimated natural entrails worth $3 trillion, Afghanistan would break the shackles of economic inertia and would become producing nation. With liberal aiding hand of world community, Afghanistan has landmark achievements in banking, telecommunication, media and transportation. Being an arduous and industrious nation, Afghans can transform the bleak and barren mountains of Afghanistan into hubs of economic activities.
The economic incentives of the strategic agreement should not be just confined to the payment for military bases in Afghanistan and official development assistance, but it should also open up Northern American market for the products on concessional terms and transfer of American managerial skills and technology to Afghanistan. Therefore, we cannot relegate the importance of economic dimensions of the proposed Af-US strategic pact.
CONVENING THE TRADITIONAL LOYA JIRGA: A WAY FORWARD OR CUL-DE-SAC

The violence in Afghanistan today is so complicated and unsettling that Afghans as a nation feels troubled over untangling its roots. That’s why the Afghan leadership convened the 5th Traditional Loya Jirga (TLJ) to hear its say on ‘strategic pact with the US, peace and reconciliation with the Taliban.
Lets hope that the TLJ be the eventful step to untangle the skein of Afghan conundrum as other than now, the need for convening the TLJ has never been too crucial as it is these days because it is a make-or-break situation for Afghanistan. And if we commit any lapse now, we will have to bear its repercussions at least for next thirty years, and played well this time, we will have to bite at its fruit for longer. Now that the TLJ has been kicked off at the capital city—Kabul with an eye of the world and our neighbours on it, we will have to come up with a unanimous voice and lived up responsibly—keeping our sovereignty alive at all costs, and ensuring our neighbours that our land would not used against them. This is what, Karzai in a dexterous attempt, underlined in his speech to the Jirga. To opine on the Jirga’s certain aspects and possible outcomes, it would be too premature to have a say on; yet what the president said can be termed the true voice of every Afghan—yearning for equal and honoured status of Afghans among the nations of the world. So, it would not be needless if repeated the actual words Karzai spoke in his address.
“We want to have a strong partnership with the US and NATO, but with conditions. We want our national sovereignty, an end to nighttime raids and to the detention of our countrymen. We don’t want parallel structures alongside our government.” It were the words that won war applauses and if we look into the wordings meticulously, it would not be difficult to say that it is what every Afghan hankers after.
Karzai during his speech once again reiterated his words of friendship for Pakistan and Iran and called on elders assembled for a national conference to help create a fair framework for ties with the US and find a path to peace. During his discourse at the TLJ which will discuss a proposed strategic pact with the US that would oversee the American military presence and military basis, troops drawdown and as well as peace talks with the Taliban he clearly said no parallel structure is acceptable . Currently as many as 100,000 US troops are stationing all over Afghanistan but they operate without any bilateral agreement governing their actions, though the majority of them are under a UN mandate nevertheless with a UN membership Afghanistan needs to be treated as an independent state, therefore in signing the strategic partnership pact with the US it should be made obligatory that we should be accepted as a sovereign nation and not a subjugate one.
Now that Karzai has spoken well, we will have to see how it comes into practicality especially when the US does not accept what we seek for. However we are sanguine the US would come to an agreement what we expect of it. And What Karzai has set out as terms for a possible partnership - such as banning international troops from entering any Afghan house and taking control of all detention facilities almost immediately - that have so far been unacceptable to American officials, the US would come to its acceptance. It is a welcoming gesture that the US officials responded they support the Jirga and its attempt to make sure tribal leaders are girded up to accept a partnership pact.
We expect the four-day loya Jirga would produce much of substance and would not turn out to be a cul-de-sac either because of the interference of our neighbouring states or the obduracy of the US.

Source; Afghanistan Times


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