by Sahibzada M. Saeed
In 72nd UN General Assembly session, Prime Minister Shahid KhaqanAbbasi has categorically told the international community that “Pakistan won’t be a scapegoat in Afghan War.” This statement is an indirect response to Trump’s new Afghan policy. Pakistan P.M. Abbasi’s Speech on Afghanistan clearly indicates that Pakistan believes in “urgent” and “realistic” goals in Afghanistan and wants complete elimination of all terrorist organizations including Daesh, Al-Qaida and TTP. He further denotes that apart from the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and its people have suffered the most from four decades of foreign intervention and civil wars in Afghanistan. For 16 years of ongoing war in Afghanistan, peace has not achieved which clearly depicts that now we should ponder upon some other options.
Before analyzing PM Abbasi’s speech, it is important to discuss American role in the region generally and in Afghanistan especially. As after 9/11 incident, the US has deployed more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, did massive bombardment with strategic bombers, conducted more than 10,000 intelligence-based operations in almost every corner of Afghanistan. But what was achieved? Obviously nothing! After spending 1 trillion dollars and deploying massive military might with modern weaponry, still more than 60 percent Afghanistan is under Taliban’s control. Unfortunately, today Kabul government has no writ outside its presidential palace. Infrastructure has totally demolished, agriculture sector of Afghanistan has entirely ruined and Human Development Index (HDI) of Afghanistan became one of the lowest.
Because of all these failures and decimations, I am not reluctant to say that American role in Afghanistan is to achieve the maximum level of “unrest” and “instability” instead of peace and stability. Without the slightest doubt, Uncle Sam has badly failed to assess and understand Afghanistan. Realities at the ground are utterly different. Afghans have their own socio-cultural values but tactlessly America is looking it by its peculiar spectacles. For instance, most recent power transition in Afghanistan under American supervision within different ethnic groups was nothing more than a spoof. People at grass root level were displeased with this transition of power and ultimately Taliban took advantage of the politically vulnerable situation and allied them against Kabul government.
Similarly, in the economic development of Afghanistan, Trump’s policy has failed to posit any development plan. The world is aware of the worse and poor socio-economic conditions of Afghanistan. Humans are being deprived-off the basic facilities of life. Socio-economic degradation causes frustration among the masses which ultimately leads to aggression. And this is an admitted fact that you do not win the wars by using force, rather you only win the wars by winning people and creating opportunities for them. But unfortunately, America is in Afghanistan without any kind of a long-term economic plan. While some experts openly claim that America is facing an inextricable situation and Trump’s new Afghan policy merely consists of delaying tactics.
Great power comes with great responsibility and being a great power America is alacritous to play a larger role in contemporary geopolitical dynamics of South Asia with its “new fella” India. In fact, the new policy allows the United States to engage the region with long-term political and strategic objectives. Here the US has to deal with multiple fronts. For instance, first, the US is inclined to stay in Afghanistan to keep watchful eye on growing Beijing’s influence. Secondly, Russia is prone to re-engage in this region as well, that will be defiantly noticeable for Trump administration. Thirdly, America has to monitor Tehran’s growing nuclear program and fourthly ISIL Khorasan, which is an emerging non-traditional security threat in South and Central Asia. And the US has to “deal” with it. So, Trump administration would increase its military and intelligence capacity in Afghanistan but not for peace rather for playing a larger role in new developments in the region.
Coming back to PM Abbasi’s speech, while discussing Afghanistan he firmly said that the only solution of the issue is negotiation and the US will not achieve anything anymore while using force. PM Abbasi’s stance aptly represents our state’s policy on Afghanistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is highly important for regional stability and Pakistan always encourages peace process in Afghanistan. But unfortunately, the international community is reluctant to acknowledge our sacrifices and devotions for regional peace and stability.
All regional and extra-regional players couldn’t deny the geographical realities of south Asia. Cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan is extremely essential for regional peace and stability. And all those actors who are creating mistrust between the two countries are actually not in the favour of regional peace and stability. Therefore it is dire need of time that ongoing mistrust between Kabul and Islamabad must come to an end. More than that Kabul must be aware of all those elements including India which are not willing for regional peace and stability.Now it puts great responsibility on policymakers in Islamabad to look the things in a broader spectrum. Along with it, Islamabad must move cautiously and avoid siding with any of the two contending powers in this New Great Game.
Opinion By: Sahibzada M. Saeed, IR Analyst and Freelance Columnist based in Islamabad.His research interest lies in the areas of International Political Economy, Geopolitics of Indo-Pacific region and Foreign Policy Analysis. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.