US re-engagement in Afghanistan

Dr Muhammad Khan

Two US scholars, Ashley Tellis and Jeff Eggers written a paper, entitled as, ‘US Policy in Afghanistan, Changing Strategies, Preserving Gains’. The paper has been written at a critical time, just few days before the Kabul Process Meeting on Peace, scheduled for June 6, 2017. Indeed, like Wilson’s fourteen points, this paper has set the agenda for the Kabul Process. As envisaged, “The Kabul meeting will focus on peace. Afghanistan aims to get countries in the region to cooperate with the peace process and to get regional consensus.”
The salient of this policy paper are; owing to continuous poor security and governance situation in Afghanistan, there is requirement for the political settlement of Afghanistan, which also includes reconciliations with Taliban. Pakistan has since long emphasized on this process of reconciliation with Taliban and other warlords. The Tellis-Jeff policy guidelines lay emphasise on the enhance role of US diplomats in Kabul, rather the policies of military generals, as practiced in past.
Calling for an initiation of a serious national dialogue for reconciliation by Afghan National Unity Government, this report also calls for “inducing Pakistan to constrain Taliban sanctuaries and evolving support for a political settlement.” Contrary to the ground realities the paper did not talk about restraining India for its dreadful role in Afghanistan. Sooner the report was made public; there started a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan, indeed, in the high security zone of Kabul, killing over hundred innocent people, tempting India and Afghanistan to blame Pakistan.
Major Robert, a British Army Officer, who has been on foreign assignments in Afghanistan for quite some time (three tenures) said in a recent statement that, the increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is the real cause of instability in that country. He even acted as an instructor to Afghan Military Academy, training potential officers for Afghan National Army. He rejected the impression that, Pakistani spying agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has any role in Afghanistan. In an interview, the British officer was categorical in his statement that, growing Indian role will be very dangerous for the regional peace and security. In his opinion, heavy funding is being done from India for causing instability in Afghanistan.
It is worth mentioning that, most of the bomb blasts, especially in high security zone, where Taliban or other militant groups like ISIS (ISK) have no access are planned and implemented by Indian spying network, RAW, later blaming Taliban, Pakistan and ISI. India is doing all this so meticulously and cleverly that, people of Afghanistan are made to believe that, these attacks are done by Pakistan, thus, creating a hate against Pakistan. These attacks are done with multiple objectives; to defame Pakistan internationally for destabilizing Afghanistan, to create a hate against Pakistan in the hearts of Afghan masses and create feeling to Kabul regime and masses that, India is the real friend of Afghanistan, who can counter Pakistani policies.
Analysing the pattern of these attacks, one would find that, most of these attacks are done, once there is a development for a likely rapprochement between Pakistan and Afghanistan. While being on Afghan soil, the Indian spying network, RAW has total control over Afghan spying network, NDS. Indeed, RAW has major contribution in the training and setting up of NDS and five RAW advisors are still advising the NDS in its day to day functioning. All terrorists’ attacks in Pakistan are also being planned and executed from Afghan soil with consistency and Pakistan has been protesting against these with Kabul regime.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former US commander of ISAF has indicated to Obama Administration in 2009 that, Indian massive involvement in Afghanistan and destabilising Pakistan while making use of Afghan soil is the major cause of Indo-Pak tension. This involvement is greatly contributing towards Afghan instability, directly and indirectly. General McChrystal, indeed asked Washington to influence New Delhi for reducing its negative engagement in Afghanistan, which has prolonged the Afghan conflict. Unlike early years after 2001, today, there is total Indian control in Afghanistan including the policy formulation in Kabul. Indeed, Afghanistan is behaving as a vassal state to India, at least to the level of Guards at Kabul.
There is no doubt that, the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating with each passing day and India has major role in this precarious security situation, since an unstable Afghanistan suits India and its strategic partners, desiring to penalise Pakistan and contain China. The US sponsored National Unity Government of Afghanistan is divided on almost all issues, with high rate of corruption without any positive reform package. There is no worthwhile economic growth in Afghanistan and its unity Govt is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Owing to New Delhi led policies, Pak-Afghan relationships have further deteriorated to lowest ebb.
Whereas, the Tellis-Jeff report recommends for US to devise a strategy for protecting its gains in Afghanistan preferably through a political settlement, engaging Taliban towards mainstreaming and bolstering the Afghan state and its security forces, the mother of all evils in Afghanistan has not been addressed. It is India, which is continuously destabilizing Afghanistan through its RAW and anti-Pakistan sentiments, pushing Afghanistan towards uncertain future. Afghan Taliban are a reality and they act independently, therefore, Pakistan can morally appeal them for re-conciliation as done in July 2015 (Murree Peace Process). For a real gain, U.S will have to restrain the Indian role inside Afghanistan, being its strategic partner.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.

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