…instead of staying in Afghanistan and helping Pakistan get over the impact of the war, the US pulled out immediately after the Soviet forces withdrew from that country, leading to factional fighting with its negative spill over to Pakistan
In my columns regarding US policies in the region and the emerging global scenario I have invariably maintained that US would stay in Afghanistan for an indefinite period in pursuance of its policy to foment instability in the region to achieve its strategic interests. The new policy announced by US President Donald Trump has vindicated my stance. It is a perfect recipe for unending blood-shed in Afghanistan with its debilitating impact on the regional countries, especially Pakistan. That is the way US has been treating Pakistan all along.
Ever since Pakistan joined the American camp during the cold war era, the US invariably has been working against the strategic interests of the former in the region. It has invariably shown a visible tilt towards India whenever its ally needed support in crisis situations. Pakistan was member of the SEATO and CENTO but when in 1965 war broke out between India and Pakistan, the US instead of helping its ally banned supply of military hardware and spares to Pakistan, undermining its military response to the Indian aggression. Pakistan supported US in fighting against and defeating Soviet Union in a decade long war in Afghanistan that had a devastating impact on its economy and security. But instead of staying in Afghanistan and helping Pakistan get over the impact of the war, the US pulled out immediately after the Soviet forces withdrew from that country, leading to factional fighting with its negative spill over to Pakistan. The USA also used all kinds of pressure and sanctions to dissuade Pakistan from pursuing its nuclear programme which it perforce had to undertake in view of the security threat emanating from India.
Pakistan after 9/11 has been supporting US-NATO war against terrorists in Afghanistan and as a frontline state against war on terror has suffered the most. It has done all that it could do to eliminate the scourge but the US administration has always looked askance at these efforts and kept on harping the mantra of ‘do more’. Not only that the US has always sided with India in regards to terrorist acts within India pressurising Pakistan to take action against Mumbai attackers and those responsible for Pathankot incident, showing complete indifference to acts of terrorism in Pakistan sponsored by India and its support to insurgents in Balochistan, notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan has handed over dossiers to US and UN in this regard. While it has persistently accused Pakistan of being responsible for terrorists acts in Afghanistan and providing sanctuaries to the terrorist outfits, it has remained oblivious to terrorism within Pakistan executed from the Afghan soil, training camps of TTP on the Afghan territory and the nexus between RAW and NDS against Pakistan, which is a hypocrisy of the first order.
Giving India greater role in Afghanistan is a dangerous proposition to say the least. On the urging of US, India has already upgraded its military cooperation with Afghanistan. The Indian involvement in Afghanistan is an ominous development as far as reconciliation in Afghanistan is concerned. Taliban are not only hostile to US but also to India and they would never accept their role in any process of reconciliation. Further Indian military cooperation with Afghanistan against Taliban will further perpetuate the already existing hostility towards the Indians. Their involvement will also undermine Pakistan’s strategic interests in the region. The US is so blinded by its obsession with ‘ counter-balancing China’ with help from India and propping her up as the super regional power that it cannot see the ground realities and the sensitivities involved in the Afghan conflict. The foregoing facts prove that USA was an unfriendly friend of Pakistan and was out to destabilise South Asia like it has done in the case of Middle East. It is not just a coincidence that mostly the Muslim countries have been affected by the US policies.
If the USA was really interested in peace in Afghanistan and eradicating terrorism as it never tires to claim, then it can only be accomplished through Quadrilateral arrangement already in place that comprises US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan or through the newfound forum of QCCG consisting of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The countries represented at both these forums are the ones who are directly concerned with situation in Afghanistan and its fall-out. They are surely better placed to play their role in this regard. India is not affected by the situation in Afghanistan. It may have good relations with Kabul regime but it is not in a position to woo the Taliban to the negotiating table.
It is an irrefutable reality that the process of reconciliation and tackling terrorism in Afghanistan cannot be accomplished without involvement of Pakistan. That role is dictated by historic bonds and geographical proximity. The way to settlement in Afghanistan leads through Pakistan and US needs to understand it and be very clear about its desirability. India also needs to understand that its alliance with US in checking the burgeoning Chinese influence in the region and beyond and a belligerent stance against Pakistan, constitutes a grave threat to peace and security in the region and its boomerang effect might ultimately harm the Indians themselves. India belongs to South Asian region and its security and economic interests are linked with the countries of the region. Viewed from a long term perspective, peaceful co-existence between the countries of the region and their cooperative efforts to lift the economic profile of the region for shared economic prosperity, can only guarantee peace and security in the region.
The US must give due consideration to the ground realities in Afghanistan rather than pursuing its perceived strategic interests in the region, which are terribly out of synch with the geographical and geo-strategic realities. It is a very sensitive region where four nuclear powers including Russia, China, Pakistan and India exist in close geographic proximity. The US therefore, needs to exercise utmost caution in dealing with the countries of the region making sure that it does not do anything that could lead to a disastrous confrontation between the nuclear powers, particularly Pakistan and India. If terrorism is terrorism no matter from where it comes and whoever commits it, then the US must also condemn the Indian terrorism in Pakistan and atrocities in Kashmir to prove its credentials as a true believer in the concept. Will it?