By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
The war on terror is entering a new phase. It is like a game of chess and every player is trying to get maximum benefit out of it. Pakistan is again entrusted a new role of using its links to start negotiations among Afghan Taliban, Afghan government and America. How this new role will benefit Pakistan it depends on Pakistan willingness how far it will go ahead in this respect. It will be a blunder if Pakistan only concentrates on extremists for having upper hand in Afghanistan. Now Afghanistan issue is not this much simple what our intelligentsia is thinking.
The present war on terror is the next phase of the Holy Jihad started by western powers against USSR. At that time Pakistan was made a frontline state and pushed in the war. The result is now in front of us. Today’s enemies are the friends of the past. The present rulers of Afghanistan, commanders of Northern alliance, Afghani and Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda and US, all were fighting from the same platform 30 years back. Their common enemies were Nationalist Afghans and Soviet Troops. After Russian withdrawal, the nationalist elements were either put to death like Dr. Najib or they fled out of Afghanistan. In this way a larger portion of Afghan leadership was deprived of playing any role in future. After Civil war in Afghanistan Taliban come to front and in the recent history Afghans saw a deep divide in Pashtuns and non Pashtuns. All the extremists gathered under the umbrella of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. And finally a next episode was of 9/11 which brought International forces to Afghanistan. Again Pakistan halfheartedly took part in this adventure. Apparently this war was prepared for Afghanistan but today Pakistan is the main victim of it. Pakistan started a war against terrorists but today again Pakistan is trapped in the new development of reconciliation- basically the old concept of strategic depth.
Our experts of Afghanistan politics are announcing the withdrawal of US from Afghanistan and that Pakistan is the only power which can provide a safest way for US exit. They are dreaming that a time will come that Pakistan will be the sole driving force in Afghanistan. India will be kicked out of Afghanistan. General (Retd) Hamid Gul is of the opinion that armies from the time of Aryans to Mehmood of Ghazna successfully reached India, so now the army of Taliban will march from Afghanistan to India. He forgets the reality that after the revolution of Industry and democracy in the world and especially in India, the world’s outlook is changed. Today India is militarily strong economic and democratic power. These terrorists can create some hurdles in its development but it is not possible for terrorists to bring any big change in India. Suppose terrorists succeeded in destabilizing India but in that case General Hamid Gul must know that Pakistan will also burn in that fire.
In the recent 9 years a lot of changes have taken place in Afghanistan. After 2008 Russia is present in Afghanistan with a new approach. In Logar Province China has invested almost 4 billion dollars. Central Asian countries have opened their embassies in Afghanistan and they are busy in trade and production in Afghanistan. Iran and India has a prominent role there. Almost 30 thousand Indian security forces are there in Afghanistan whose role is different from US and NATO forces. India is not a party to this coalition.
If Pakistan will go forward in search of new role in Afghanistan with the limited vision of relying on extremists, it will surely make our role limited in the Afghanistan of future. These extremists are not permanent friends of any one. Only a power with extra money can make these forces happy. Today our defense experts are propagating the concept of reconciliation with Taliban but no one is thinking over its consequences. This reconciliation process has two possibilities.
- The negotiations are successful and Taliban creates space for them in the new system of Afghanistan.
- The negotiations fail and there is no solution for sharing the government.
In the first possibility we can not assume that International forces will exit Afghanistan and Taliban will rule the country. Still Afghanistan will be at the mercy of western powers and we will have to deal with them. Secondly after successful reconciliation Pakistani Taliban will also wish for the same kind of reconciliation with Pakistan. But will they respect the constitution of Pakistan? Even now these areas are out of our control then it will be very difficult to control these areas – the main route to Afghanistan and beyond. It must also be noticed that around Durand Line a lot of mineral resources are found. It means it will be the next sphere of great game.
In case of second possibility the Western forces will exhibit the show of negligence and they will suggest the division of Afghanistan into Pashtun and non-Pashtun belts. But if Afghanistan goes through the process of division Pakistan can not be exempted.
The solution lies in the regional approach towards Afghan issue. Regional powers must come forward as guarantors and facilitators in Reconciliation with Taliban. This will fasten Taliban to stick to the peace process for a longer period. Till the beginning of Taliban they never cooperated with the regional powers. Taliban can save themselves by reconciliation with regional powers too. Pakistan and Afghanistan now can not afford any proxy war in future. Pakistan and Afghanistan has the potential to develop provided regional countries and international powers promise not to interfere.