Hammering new policy in the face of international community withdrawal

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

This year Afghanistan has been on a sticky wicket, and experiencing its most serious political and economic crisis since 9/11. Perhaps not since then, has Afghanistan been thronged with such political and democratic deadlock with its reverberations exponentially felt in the very pillars of economy and fabrics of the society. The feud on the democratic transfer of power, the dragging election process has ratcheted up political stalemate and extensively triggered escalation of violence, leaving the country in a sate of confusion. Although many believe hold to optimism but what the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in the recent NATO summit held at Wales—UK, is the writing on the wall. He said that without a resolution to Afghanistan’s presidential election standoff, and signing of a bilateral security agreement (BSA), there would be no mission at all. In fact, the US administration has indicated that without an agreement between the presidential candidates over forming a national unity government, financial assistance to Kabul will come to an abrupt end. And also UN warned to cut off its aid, if once again slogan chanted against this international organization that have come to Afghanistan to put a peaceful end to the prolonged election deadlock. Moreover, when our political elites have locked their horns over power clinching, world political pulpit has been changing. And if no wiser decisions are taken in this critical juncture, Afghanistan will witness a free fall.

NATO has been focusing on Ukrain crisis while the US has started wrestling its muscles to fight ISIS, which clearly means Afghanistan’s importance for the international community will wane. With such a situation there will be a sharp decline in international aid.

This is known to almost all the people of Afghanistan that their country is too much reliant on international donors and if they suspend their aid, Kabul will be unnerved for paying salaries to its army, police and those who work for the government.

Barack Obama’s administration has been changing its foreign policy in the face of changing landscape of international politics. Now it’s Ukraine and Iraq that have become the focus of the world because as far as Russian troop’s presence in Ukraine is concerned, NATO and the US are compelled to bid adieu to Afghanistan and spend their energies on Eastern Europe.

Unlike the Taliban issue in Afghanistan, sectarian-war in Iraq and Syria conflicts have already put NATO’s mission abortive in this region. Currently, Russia offers a much more tantalizing enemy.

Not only does President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical objective directly threaten NATO member nations, but the war in Ukraine encroaches on Europe’s core economic interests.

It’s also believed that ISIS is a threat more serious than the one being posed by the Taliban. It’s because the US and NATO believe that al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has been defeated and Taliban couldn’t make a comeback until there is a democratic set up and no serious internal bickering broken out. That’s why they are of the opinion that they are leaving behind somehow a stable Afghanistan. Since Iraq issue calls for urgent international attention, which is why  Canada, being a closest ally of the US has already committed to send a group of 100 military advisers to Iraq’s north, including special operations soldiers. NATO will have its own opinion regarding successes and failures in Afghanistan, but we the people of this country believe that the biggest failure of NATO is due to participation of too many countries with too many diverging national interests that led the failure of this international mission in our land. Besides that the top US official for monitoring aid to Afghanistan paints a grim picture of the country’s future. And perhaps its the right picture he paints, but unfortunately our political elites don’t look at it and ponder over ways and means how to take the country out of the jaws of these pressing challenges.

With most American’s attention riveted to Iraq and Syria, John F. Sopko, the US special inspector general for Afghanistan, said the United States’ unprecedented $120 billion reconstruction investment is at risk.

Amid such a situation, the election deadlock must end soon, as it is taking a heavy toll on security situation and economy. It has spurred instability and insecurity is visible across the country even now in those areas where once the insurgents couldn’t dare to keep their foot in. The only hope for general public is their reliance in Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) — the true sons of the soil – who are highly apolitical and capable of defending this land from Taliban’s comeback. Pinning high hopes on them, security will restore in the country. In current situation, it’s perhaps not the insecurity but the fragile and weakening economy that’s posing a serious menace. Because of it the county may face a bleak future. Only a stronger economy may sustain a stronger defense force and powerful writ of the government.

World Bank opines that Afghanistan’s political uncertainty, has led to a slowdown in economic growth in 2013, following strong growth in 2012. In its 2014 “Doing Business Study,” the World Bank ranked Afghanistan 164 out of 189 countries.

With the US attention shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria and Ukraine crisis, it is quite clear that Americans have no long-term economic strategy for Afghanistan. Now, Afghanistan will have to paddle its canoe. It’s being felt now, while sitting in Kabul that Afghanistan will have to carve out regional alliances and will have to rely in its own resources and strengths. Allies such as India and China could play an effective role in Afghanistan. India has repeatedly pledged support to Afghanistan on different occasions. And indeed it has been doing well here. Recently at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj called on the international community to stand united in support to Afghanistan. She said Kabul needs stronger world support in dealing with security and economic challenges.

India is the first country with which Afghanistan inked a strategic agreement. With the drawdown of international troops looming, India is highly likely to fill the void.

“India strongly believes Afghanistan could successfully complete security and political transitions and regain its historical place as a hub of regional trade and transit routes while connecting Central Asia with South Asia,” she said.

With hoisting 60×90 ft flag at Wazir Akbar Khan Hill in Kabul, Swaraj pledged $1 million for making the mount a recreational park. This mammoth flag reveals much more about the deepest, cordial and historical friendship between Kabul and New Delhi. Swaraj said that the Indian government will extend cooperation to whoever becomes the president of Afghanistan. It clearly means India has nonintervention policy unlike our close neighboring countries—Pakistan and Iran. Indian has invested $2 billion in aid to reconstruction and training of Afghan security personnel. India is also constructing the Afghan Parliament building.

Despite several development projects, one of India’s important infrastructure projects in southwestern Afghanistan is the highway from Zaranj to Delaram which is considered a symbol of India’s commitment to reconstruction of the country.

China also is a big investor in Afghanistan. Though China is considered to be a closest friend of Pakistan, but its investment in Afghanistan could play a constructive role.

Six years ago, China’s largest mining company signed a $3 billion agreement on extraction of Aynak copper mine. According to archeologists, Mes Aynak is a 9,000-acre archeological site in Logar province, and it was once a major city on the ancient Silk Road and is home to structures dating back more than 2,600 years. If someone says Afghanistan has the potentials to lead Asia it wouldn’t be any exaggeration. For instance, China hosted a number of international summits including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Moreover, it has already become giant economic power.

Unfortunately, some rumors have been doing rounds in media that China’s economic interests in Afghanistan are losing ground. However, those who emanate such rumors don’t look at it that China has already been investing and cooperating in the mining sector.

China’s “Silk Road Economic Belt” project would build up crucial regional infrastructure connecting the Central Asian countries with Afghanistan. It will give Afghanistan access to Central Asian markets and beyond. As the international community has already started off its exit, our leaders shouldn’t hesitate in enhancing strategic bonds with India and China. In post-2014 times, this is the only viable option. To be at it, our political elite shouldn’t be at bickering rather they should consume their collective energies for taking this country out of the whirl of challenges. Its better the political deadlock is over as soon as possible and national interests are prioritized over their personal interests. If this around this country descends into chaos, it will be because of just two men.

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