Yet an other year to end, which seems to be no way different from the previous ones. The turmoil in the world is still persistent, and it seems that people are deliberately bent on destroying the mother earth. Our immediate Muslim neighbor country Afghanistan, seems to be in the situation of 80’s if looked upon the other way. The Taliban summer offensive, rise of IS (Islamic State) and the armed rally of the son of Ahmed shah Massoud is the remake of the ‘ethnic cum religious war’ fueled by the neighbors and global hegemon.
It goes with out saying that Afghanistan is geographically a landlocked country, but Geo-Politically situated on prime location. It is a gateway to the energy rich CARs (Central Asian Republics). According to Islom Karimov: ”It’s not a secret that after the Soviet collapse and especially in recent years, Central Asia has become the focus of interest of major nations because of its geographic location and rich mineral resources”.
For the same reason both regional and global powers are flexing their muscles for supremacy in central Asia. Henceforth, Afghanistan has become the battleground for US, China, Pakistan, India, KSA and Iran’s conflicting interests. Besides, they all are vying hard to secure their vested interests at the expense of the Afghans and the entire region.
After the end of the combat mission of ISAF and US in 2014, only 12000 troops were left for the training of ANA (Afghan National Army) and law enforcement agencies. Chinese abhor the presence of American troops near its border. Sino-US struggle for global dominance is an open secret. The militarization of South-China sea and the presence of the US 7th naval fleet in IOR (Indian Ocean Region) are all adding to the belief that US is not going to leave Afghanistan in the near future. Therefore, some political pundits are suggesting that US doesn’t even want peace in Afghanistan because to thwart Chinese global designs, peace in Afghanistan can never be a priority for America.
Iran is also a participant in this tug of war, which will never allow power sharing formula with Taliban in Afghanistan. The essential ideological difference and the anti-Shia posture of the Taliban are perceived against the interest of Iran. Therefore, Iran might opt for direct confrontation with the Taliban (if an agreement brokered) that he considers the proxy of Gulf monarchies.
Pakistan and India are also playing the zero sum game in Afghanistan. Owing to this, the Afghan government is unable to maintain the balance between the two arch-rivals. Therefore, whatever Afghan government does is considered to be against the interest of Pakistan or India. But the Afghan Unity government (AUG) should show some restrain in dealing with rivalries of regional and global powers. The posture of Afghanistan in the Heart of Asia conference is not going to benefit its cause.
The issue of Afghanistan is in no way an internal one. Therefore to solve the issue from within is a futile exercise. The peace processes in the shape of ‘Murree Talks’ and ‘Qatar Talks’ are the right approach to solve the enigma of Afghan peace process. However, the one thing which was missing is the inclusion of all the stake holders in these dialogue processes. The Murree Talks (if it reached to an agreement) wouldn’t bear fruition in a long run due to absence of India. Similarly Qatar Talks was incomplete without the presence of Pakistan and Iran.
The 2017 can be a different year for Afghanistan and the region as a whole, if the regional and neighboring powers sit on a table. Henceforth, present their fears and prospective interests. The platform which can be best suited for the purpose will be Shangai cooperation organization (SCO). Russia and China has to play their role in their vicinity to exert the multipolarity in the world order. Otherwise the coming year will be the repeat telecast of the saga of 80’s for Afghanistan. Moreover, the ambitious project OBOR (One Belt One Road) of which CPEC is a part will be an elusive dream.
By Noman Wazir
The writer is a socio-political analyst from FATA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PASHUTN TIMES